Sunday, July 21, 2013

Three years of Benigno Aquino III – success for US imperalism and the ruling classes, betrayal and misery for the Filipino people

Posted to the CPP Website (Jul 20): Three years of Benigno Aquino III – success for US imperalism and the ruling classes, betrayal and misery for the Filipino people

Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
NDFP Mindanao Chapter
On his fourth SONA, Benigno Aquino III will face the Filipino people to once again delight over his regime’s supposed successes of the previous year, and to beguile with plans dictated by his real bosses. His US imperialist boss, beside big bourgeois compradors and landlords, will, on one hand, applaud him for the unhampered expansion and plunder of the environment by multinational businesses, particularly large-scale mining and plantations, and for totally countenancing US intervention in the country; while continuing, on the other, to ram anti-people policies that push millions of Filipinos, especially workers and peasants, to further desperation, poverty and misery.

He will once again bombard the people with a plethora of mind-boggling statistics to show that its so-called “corruption-free governance” is the key to its “success,” while blaming his detractors, the revolutionary movement in particular, for its “failings.” He will never be able to hide the fact however that, in the last three years, he has only been successful so far in leading the country to fall much deeper into the ravine of social inequity and chaos, which has only inflamed the people into ever intensifying the struggle against massive exploitation and oppression.

In the run-up to his mid-term SONA, Aquino III has only succeeded in the sabotage of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization in the country, stalling, in particular, the immediate and real distribution of land at Hacienda Luisita, and galvanizing further, in general, landlord ownership by extending the bogus CARP.

By way of EO 79, Aquino III has defended his imperialist bosses by further opening up Mindanao to the plunder of large-scale mining, which has already laid waste mountain ranges such those in Surigao by TMC, in South and North Cotabato by Glencore-Xstrata, in Compostela Valley by Russel Mines Inc. and in Zamboanga Peninsula by Toronto Ventures Inc.. Moreover, once the pacification of the MILF succeeds, the influx of investors that will exploit and eventually ravage the natural gas-rich Liguasan marsh in the Cotabato province will be expected.

The US-Aquino regime has encouraged massive land conversions that give way to the expansion of Dole, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations, which have already taken monopoly of Mindanao’s rich arable lands. With this, Aquino III goes on to deprive millions of peasants of land on a much larger scale. The uninterrupted expansion of these plantations as well as mines, exacerbated by drastic changes in the climate, induces the worst of disasters, such as the catastrophe wreaked by super typhoons Sendong and Pablo that claimed the lives of thousands and further damaged the environment.

The US-Aquino regime has succeeded in further increasing the army of the unemployed in the country by having the establishment of national industrialization completely jettisoned. In the onslaught of the utter lack of meaningful employment, many job-seekers, especially in Mindanao, turn to demeaning, hazardous and even sub-human work for their daily subsistence. Even more contemptible, Aquino III’s government has never, not even once, given Filipino workers a significant increase in their wages, thereby decreasing their purchasing capacities in the face of continuing peso devaluation. The recent shocking “sex-for-flight” scandal shows how the Aquino government eggs on the rape of our overseas Filipino workers, even by Philippine consulate officials themselves. The US-Aquino regime has sorely failed to defend the rights of Filipino workers abroad, who in turn are protesting at present these dastardly human rights abuses.

Aquino III’s guarantee to bring “peace and order” to Mindanao has been by way of deploying battalions of fascist AFP forces to various provinces in the island, which has only embroiled the people in an unjust war and brought nothing but un-peace and dis-order. The US-Aquino regime has not only neglected most, if not all, of Mindanao provinces economically, it has also placed them under the mercy of the gun and has further sown discord in its continuing slaughter of the Moro, Lumad and Mindanao peoples.

The US-Aquino regime has politically maneuvered to trap the MILF under its obscure framework of “peace,” and has inextricably tied it to conditionalities that smack of capitulation, including among others the reckless “decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force,” which is meant to emasculate their most powerful weapon. While Aquino III continues to crank out every trick to hoodwink the MILF into capitulating, he has miserably failed to address the issue of genuine autonomy in Mindanao, inciting the Moro people to continue waging armed revolution despite the signing of the GPH-MILF’s Framework Agreement. Further enraging the Moro people is the fact that the Aquino government has opened Moro land to multinational corporations, bringing them further misery, poverty and hunger. The GPH is now more desperate to seal the deal the soonest time possible with the MILF because it intends to isolate and focus its attacks on the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.

The US-Aquino regime has sown further discord by shamelessly bolting from the peace talks with the NDFP, falsely calling previous agreements, such as the release of NDFP consultants, as a “pre-condition.” The GPH panel has spread malice and intrigue against the NDFP to cover up for its resistance to accept the provisions under the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), specifically items related to national industrialization and genuine agrarian reform.

Instead of showing its sincerity by pushing for the resumption of the talks, the GPH has instead harped on “local peace talks” and “local peace zones.” But, these are inept assertions because, learning from history, “local peace talks” have only been divisive, chaotic and have led nowhere but to illegal arrests and more confusion. As for “peace zones,” they were advertised to be so-called “gunless communities,” but in reality ended up as AFP military garrisons, causing more insecurity than ever to civilians who were forcibly made to reside in them.

On the podium on Monday, Benigno Aquino III will try to exonerate himself from any human rights violations in his first three years. However, over 140 extra-judicial killings have been recorded from the start of his presidency, apart from several cases of abuses committed by the AFP, PNP and Cafgu during the three years he is in power, which does not include yet the escalating state-sponsored killings of suspected drug pushers and other criminals in many cities in Mindanao.

Since Aquino III’s Oplan Bayanihan took over the reins from Gloria Arroyo’s brutal Oplan Bantay Laya, the AFP has conducted, without let up, military operations in all five regions in Mindanao, causing unimaginable devastation to communities in the countryside and the massive displacement of peasants and Lumads. Even urban communities and school campuses are not spared from their so-called Special Operation Teams (SOTs).

In the face of the Philippines’ stand-off with China over the Spratlys, the Panatag Shoal and the entire West Philippine sea, the Aquino regime, in a most perfidious act, has explicitly given way to the unmitigated intervention of imperialist US in Philippine affairs. The US-Aquino regime has treasonously made possible the return of the US bases by giving US armed forces and their war aircraft or vessels full access to virtually all airports and sea ports in the country, fixing the country in place within the design of the US’s contention with China.

Benigno Aquino III, who has himself benefitted greatly from the pre-programmed PCOS machine, will again thank hi-tech cheating in the recent automated elections for putting his most trusted allies in both Houses of Congress by means of the hocus-PCOS “60-30-10 pattern.” This has very well consolidated his hold on power, and he will use this as leverage to fast track, albeit surreptitious, charter change, which is aimed at totally expunging all provisions that safeguard patrimony and sovereignty.
In the remaining three years, we cannot expect anything from the US-Aquino regime but for it to push the country further beyond the brink of desperation and destitution, squeezing out the last ounce of blood from every Filipino in order to satisfy the whim of its imperialist master and the ruling classes. However Benigno Aquino III blindsides the masses once more in his upcoming SONA, it is imperative for the Filipino people not to lose sight of the revolutionary road towards national liberation and democracy by way of the people’s war.#

The Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation

 Posted to the CPP Website (Jul 21): The Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation

Luis Jalandoni
NDFP Negotiating Panel

26 December 1968 marked the historic event whereby the Filipino people acquired a proletarian revolutionary leadership with the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, the CPP declared its program for the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. Three months later, it founded the New People’s Army (NPA) and in 1973 the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The re-establishment of the CPP was the culmination of an accumulated revolutionary tradition of the Filipino people. They launched more than 200 revolts against Spanish colonialism. Then, led by Andres Bonifacio, they waged the armed struggle for independence against Spain. When US imperialism invaded the country in 1898, they fought against the US war of aggression from 1899 to1913. More than 20% of the population then, that is, 1.5 million Filipinos died in that war of resistance.

The tradition of resisting foreign exploiters and oppressors continued during US colonial rule, also against the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1942 to 1945, and has continued since 1946 against US neocolonial rule and the local exploiting classes of landlords and big compradors. The revolutionary movement is aimed at realizing the national and social liberation of the people.

The revolutionary forces survived the massive attacks of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship from the early 1970s up to 1986. They grew through valiant struggle. They built mass organizations and organs of political power. By 1980, they had established 29 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

In February 1986, the dictator Marcos was overthrown by a people’s uprising. Through dint of hard struggle, the revolutionary movement established its presence throughout the country in urban and rural areas with a mass base running into millions and an armed force operating nationwide under the guidance of a central political authority that functions within the framework of the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government.

Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Sessions on the Philippines

In 1980, revolutionary organizations in the Philippines and abroad organized the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) Session on the Philippines in Antwerp, Belgium. The 10-member international jury, headed by Nobel laureate, US Professor George Wald, declared the NDFP “legitimate representative of the Filipino people”. While judging Marcos guilty of crimes against the people and unfit to govern, the jury declared that the armed struggle of the Filipino people enjoyed the status of belligerency and deserved the support of the international community.

A Second PPT Session on the Philippines was held in The Netherlands in March 2007. The jury headed by Prof. Francois Houtart condemned the US backed-Arroyo regime for crimes against humanity and numerous crimes against the people. Human rights and peace organizations in the Philippines provided compelling evidence based on meticulous research and testimonies of courageous victims of human rights violations.

The Second Great Rectification Movement

The revolutionary forces of the NDFP also survived major internal errors committed by elements among their leadership, many of whom became renegades. The Communist Party of the Philippines launched the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM) in July 1992. Its aim was to identify, repudiate and rectify the major errors of subjectivism and opportunism, especially what caused the most damage, namely, insurrectionism, prematurely building big NPA formations and, upon failure of the incorrect line, carrying out an anti-informer hysteria.

The rectification movement was an educational campaign. It was embraced by the masses and the broad membership of the revolutionary movement. It was completed in 1998 and reinvigorated the revolutionary movement. It was reminiscent of the success of t he First Great Rectification Movement from 1965 to 1971, which gave birth to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as a consequence of criticizing and repudiating the major errors of the old communist party and the old people’s liberation army.

After the success of the SGRM, the revolutionary movement has been able to consolidate and expand. It is now rooted in 70 provinces, out of a total 81 provinces. It has built mass organizations of workers, peasants, women and youth, children, indigenous people, urban poor and fisherfolk. The NPA is now operating in more than 110 guerrilla fronts wherein organs of political power form the backbone of the people’s democratic government.

Program of Genuine Land Reform

The people’s democratic government carries out programs of genuine land reform, health, education and literacy and culture.

With 75% of the 100 million population consisting of the exploited and oppressed peasantry, the program for agrarian revolution is the main content of the revolutionary program. It responds to the basic aspirations of the peasantry.

The revolutionary movement’s minimum land reform program consisting of lowering land rent, elimination of usury, and raising of farmworkers’ wages is carried out widely. There are also campaigns to increase agricultural production through mutual aid teams in planting, harvesting and distribution of produce, in developing irrigation, vegetable farming, poultry and husbandry. The program is benefiting millions of the rural population.

The maximum program of confiscation of land and free distribution to tillers is carried out where feasible in certain areas where the revolutionary movement is sufficiently strong. The vision for the future, upon nationwide victory, is the free distribution of land to the peasantry with the provision of support services like irrigation, farm to market roads, assistance for mechanization and building of cooperatives and collectivization towards greater productivity for the benefit of the peasantry and the entire population. Nationwide implementation of land reform will be coupled with national industrialization to lift the backward agrarian economy to a developed and prosperous one.

Educational and Health Programs

Revolutionary education on the history of the Filipino people and their culture is widely carried out. So are programs of literacy and numeracy which are enthusiastically welcomed by the masses. Revolutionary schools have been set up benefiting many thousands of peasants and national minorities, especially children and youth. Educational materials and works of art and literature have arisen from the revolutionary struggle. The revolutionary movement has promoted the use of Pilipino as the national language, and regional languages among the people.

Health programs popularize the use of acupuncture, herbal and traditional medicines culled from the age-old practices of the masses. Western medicine is also utilized. These programs respond to vital health needs of the people. Health campaigns like proper sanitation, building outhouses, anti-malaria and people’s health clinics have been successful. Health professionals have been encouraged to serve the people in the countryside and in the urban slum areas. They have also trained paramedics to provide first aid and treatment for common illnesses.

Special Office for the Protection of Children

In April 2012, the NDFP National Council set up its Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC). It proclaimed a comprehensive program for the protection of rights and welfare of children. A committee has been appointed to carry out and monitor the implementation of the program all over the country. The NDFP has frustrated the repeated attempts of the imperialists and local reactionaries to misrepresent its policy regarding children. In a statement on
July 1, 2013, the SOPC Head, Coni K. Ledesma declared the reports of the UN Office of the Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict on the so-called recruitment and use of children by the NPA as “false, biased and baseless”.

Revolutionary Justice System

The revolutionary movement has a justice system far superior to the corrupt anti-people justice system of the reactionary government. It has won the support not only of legal experts in the Philippines, but also international lawyers. In November 2012, the International Legal Advisory Team (ILAT), was set up to advice the NDFP on international legal matters. It is composed of more than a dozen experts in international law from different parts of the world.

There is a growing number of cases wherein the victims of human rights violations by the regime approach the revolutionary forces to obtain justice. Recently, a teenager was a victim of gang rape by three soldiers of the reactionary army, filed her case before the justice system of the revolutionary forces. She had been denied justice by the soldiers’ officers. Furthermore, she and her family were subjected to threats. Hence, she, her family and supportive organizations filed the criminal case of rape against the soldiers before the people’s court.

Peace Negotiations

The NDFP has forged twelve bilateral peace agreements with the reactionary government with the aim of addressing the roots of the armed conflict. These agreements, in particular, The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) are of the highest standard and widely appreciated by peace advocates in the country and abroad. In 2004, the Joint Secretariat (JS) of the Joint Monitoring Committee under the CARHRIHL was set up. It holds office in Metro Manila, with both Parties represented in the JS. It is supported by the Royal Norwegian Government, the Third Party Facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Manila government and the NDFP.

The aim of the NDFP in peace negotiations is to address the roots of the armed conflict through fundamental economic, social and political reforms. But the Manila government only wishes to impose capitulation and indefinite ceasefires. Despite the widespread calls of peace advocates, the Aquino government has paralyzed the peace talks after failing to impose its unjust wishes on the NDFP.

Nevertheless, the NDFP Negotiating Panel has declared its openness to continue peace talks. It demands respect for and compliance with The Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG (1995), the CARHRiHL (1998) and other bilateral agreements. Therefore, it demands the release of political prisoners in accordance with the CARHRIHL and the NDFP Consultants arrested and detained in violation of the JASIG. It also calls for the independent investigation of the killing and disappearance of NDFP Consultants, family and staff.

The NDFP also welcomes the positive actions and recommendations of peace and human rights advocates for the resumption of the peace talks.

Overseas Filipinos

The NDFP firmly supports the just struggles of the millions of overseas Filipinos. Their struggles for their rights and welfare, to organize themselves, to work and be treated fairly, not to be subjected to racism and xenophobia, to understand well the roots of their migration, and to return to their home country and serve the nation. These deserve support and solidarity. The NDFP is firm in upholding their right to voluntarily return to the Philippines and contribute their skills and talents in land reform and national industrialization, in building a free, prosperous, democratic and peaceful Philippines.

International Solidarity

The revolutionary Filipino people have won the international solidarity and support of revolutionary, anti-imperialist and progressive organizations and individuals from different parts of the world. They are also contributing their solidarity to the just causes of other peoples’ struggles in the spirit of proletarian internationalism and anti-imperialist solidarity.

From strategic defensive to strategic stalemate of people’s war

The revolutionary forces led by the CPP are intensifying their revolutionary armed struggle. They aim to advance in the coming few years from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate of people’s war. The US-directed reactionary government is hell-bent on seeking the destruction of the revolution for the benefit of US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are justified to persevere in the revolutionary struggle.

In celebrating the glorious victories and achievements of the Filipino people over the last 44 years of revolutionary struggle, we must render honor to the many martyrs and heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the people’s struggle for national and social liberation and for a just and lasting peace. The revolutionary masses must be honored. As the great Chinese revolutionary, Mao Zedong, declared: “The masses, and the masses alone are the makers of history!”

But there are some individual revolutionary heroes and martyrs, we wish to especially honor today: Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, NPA Commander and CPP Spokesperson, Antonio “Manong” Zumel, journalist, first Chairperson of the NDFP, and Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, the Chief Legal Counsel of the NDFP.

MILF: PNoy redeems public trust in govt

From ABS-CBN (Jul 21): MILF: PNoy redeems public trust in govt

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has lauded President Noynoy Aquino for redeeming the trust of the people in the administration.

MILF First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar on Sunday said Aquino was able to change the perception of the people towards the presidency amid the controversies faced by the administration in the past.

“This accomplishment ay napaka-importante. Mahalaga na may tiwala sa ‘yo ‘yung mga followers mo just like in an organization,” said Jaafar.

However, there are still issues in the country that the MILF official thinks have not been addressed, such as poverty alleviation, peace and security.

In terms of Aquino’s approach in resolving the Mindanao conflict, Jaafar said the president did well, despite some of the problems faced in the peace talks.

Meanwhile, the Kabataan partylist in Cotabato City believes nothing has changed under Aquino’s watch.

Kabataan partylist Cotabato spokesman Joseph Succor said it had been three years of bloated problems under Aquino.

Progressive groups and militants will stage a protest on Monday during Aquino’s State of the Nation Address calling for the stopping of Private-Public Partnership program and urgent increment on employees’ salary.

MNLF to gov’t: What about our pact?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 22): MNLF to gov’t: What about our pact?

MNLF chairman Muslimin Sema: What about us? AFP FILE PHOTO

With the spotlight on the current breakthrough on a wealth-sharing agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), questions remain regarding the status of the peace agreement entered into by the government with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996.

According to former Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, who chairs an MNLF faction, informal talks with government representatives may push through this August in Manila under the auspices of the regular tripartite review on the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between the government and the MNLF.

According to Sema, the last tripartite meeting was held last year in Indonesia. Regular reviews are conducted with the Organization of the Islamic Council (OIC), with Indonesia as facilitator.

The current negotiations with the MILF, a breakaway faction of the MNLF, are being held through the facilitation of Malaysia.

Sema said it was important to reconcile the two agreements before a new Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed.

If this is done after a basic law is passed, the agreements “may already be irreconcilable,” Sema said.

Sema was reacting to an Inquirer report published on Sunday on how the government and the MILF reportedly agreed on a 75-25 revenue-sharing deal (in favor of the new Bangsamoro homeland) and a 50-50 deal on energy and gas resources in their peace agreement.

Sema was quick to add that this would not be the first wealth-sharing agreement signed by the government with a Moro rebel group.

“Is this the first time the GPH (Government of the Philippines) negotiated on the wealth-sharing issue? This issue (wealth-sharing) was settled in the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and even in the tripartite review on the implementation of the FPA. The latest agreement with the MNLF in Surabaya, Indonesia, is that the government and the autonomous government will comanage the mines and minerals,” Sema said.

“What remains to be discussed is how many percent for each. But the comanagement understanding is a welcome development,” he said.

Even as President Aquino has called the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) a “failed experiment,” the government and the MNLF continue with the tripartite review of the status of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement, he said.

“We are not having negotiations. We are just trying to put back on track the derailed implementation of our FPA,” said Sema, who sits in the tripartite meetings.

Sema warned that “destroying the FPA (between the government and the MNLF) would have far-reaching consequences on the search for a negotiated settlement of the Moro question.”

“We have in fact made it easy for (the government) to resolve the issue of implementing the FPA by agreeing to just amend Republic Act No. 9054 or the Organic Law that created the ARMM to settle remaining contentious points on the area of autonomy, transition mechanism and identification of mines and minerals. We hold onto the FPA and the Tripoli Agreement,” Sema said.

The Tripoli Agreement was the basic framework for a Muslim autonomous state drafted in Tripoli by the then Marcos regime, through the mediation of then Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

Sema was circumspect when asked what the MNLF would do if the government fails to reconcile its agreements with the MNLF and the MILF and proceeds to establish the Bangsamoro political entity to replace the ARMM.

“It’s a question I have no ready answers for. But the MNLF, like a child, has grown up,” Sema said.

“But we were informed informal talks will be held in August in Manila. I hope they will push through,” he said.

The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, said at a dinner with reporters last week the government hoped to have a final tripartite meeting “to say that the implementation review has been completed.”

“We are engaging the communities directly. What’s difficult with the MNLF is they are so split up. What you are interested in is the people, their communities, because they feel they never had the peace dividend,” she said.

Should there be a Bangsamoro political entity in place, MNLF leaders could also “run in the elections” in 2016, Deles said.

The MNLF’s legal counsel, Yasser Omar Sema, questioned the silence of the government-MILF wealth-sharing annex on the so-called Regalian Doctrine, which is enshrined in the Constitution.

The Regalian Doctrine, embodied in Section 2 of Article XII of the Philippine Constitution, states that all lands and natural resources in the public domain belong to the state.

Lawyer Armi Bayot, a member of the legal team from the Office of the Solicitor General, said the government panel negotiating with the MILF agreed to remove references to the Regalian Doctrine in the wealth-sharing annex to show respect and acknowledge the history of the Bangsamoro people.

US access to bases? Learn from Iraq, Afghanistan, PH warned

From Rappler (Jul 21): US access to bases? Learn from Iraq, Afghanistan, PH warned

 Will the US help the Philippines defend its territory against China? Think again, warned US-based lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani, president of National Lawyers Guild.

Shahshahani is among a delegation of human rights defenders who are in Manila to support the calls of progressive groups against the US military presence in the Philippines and the continuing human rights violations perpetrated by government security forces.
READ: From Arroyo to Aquino, impunity continues

"Look at the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Direct US military intervention led to the devastation of those countries. After decades of US aggression in different forms, Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroyed," she said.
"Afghanistan has finally realized that military aggression is not the answer... their peace negotiations with Taliban," Shahshahani added.

The government announced in June that it was drafting a plan that would allow US as well as Japanese forces to spend more time in Filipino bases.
READ: PH wants to give US, Japan more access to bases

Shahshahani also warned that the US could turn the Philippines as a launching pad for its drones.
"We are also concerned that the bases could serve as launching pad for US drones that have already led to the deaths of thousands people in the Middle East and South Asia, including significant numbers of civilians," she said.

ICHRPP spokesperson Teddy Casiño said the US military's pivot to Asia could worsen the human rights situation in the country. "The situation is seen to worsen with the continued local crisis and the pivot of US militarism from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific, especially the use of the Philippines as launching pad for increased US military aggression in the region," he said.
Various concerns were raised when fishermen found a US drone off Masbate in January.

The US said the drone was fired 4 months earlier during an American naval exercises off Guam.

30 NPA members surrender to military

From the Manila Times (Jul 21): 30 NPA members surrender to military

Some 30 members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Oriental reportedly defected to the side of the government over the weekend.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the defection practically broke the backbone of the communist insurgency in the area.

First Lt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, chief of the Public Information Office of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), said on Sunday that 28 of the defectors belonged to the Sangay sa Partido sa Localidad led by Rosalie Nama and Yunit Militia of Lubos na Asosasyong Masa/Solid Mass Association under Diosdado Nama, while the other two defectors were regular NPA fighters.

Calulot said that, the defectors also took their oath of allegiance to the government in Siaton town in the presence of provincial and municipal officials.

“They symbolically highlighted their act of finally defecting from the NPA by burning the NPA flag and embracing the Philippine flag,” Calulot said.

The defectors surrendered to the troops of the 79th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion under Ltc. Marion Sison.

The 28 members of the two NPA militia units, the military said, were employed as informants and sometimes work as untrained fighters for the underground group.

“They admittedly decided to turn their backs [to the NPA] after realizing they have been fed with lies by the NPA Leadership,” said Maj. Ray Tiongson, 3ID spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Jonas Sumagaysay, acting 3ID Commander, said that the surrender was a welcome development in the province of Negros Oriental.’

“Let us help each other in the spirit of [Oplan] Bayanihan to end the menace of insurgency and move forward towards development in the countryside,” he added.

Sumagaysay was referring to Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program.

He further said that, the snowballing of surrenders could be attributed to social pressure generated by civil society organizations, local officials, and other stakeholders who have been persistent in calling for peace coupled with sustained combat operations in the region.

According to the first semester report of the 3ID, 62 regular members of the NPA have already surrendered.

The number includes 26 members of Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay, 33 from Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros and three from Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral-Bisayas.

The tally did not count NPA members who were monitored to have left the movement for the period.

This year’s first semester surrenderee count is up by 18 percent or 40 percent compared to the number recorded during the same period last year where 44 NPA rebels surrendered to the government.

“We expect more rebels to surrender in the coming days because we know that they are already tired of the futile armed struggle and wanted to go down and abandon the armed violence,” Sumagaysay said.

KL rounds up 50 Pinoys, probes ‘commando plot’

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 22): KL rounds up 50 Pinoys, probes ‘commando plot’

Malaysian authorities have detained 50 Filipino residents of Sabah in connection with an alleged threat by  a group reportedly associated with the Sulu Sultanate to attack Tambunan district, the Malaysian media reported on Sunday.
Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib said the suspects were rounded up as part of the ongoing investigation  on a July 3 letter sent to the Tambunan District Office by the “Militant Commandos” threatening to raid Tambunan, a farming valley located in the Interior Division of Sabah.

The New Strait Times  quoted Hamza as saying that the letter warned Tambunan residents, police officers, and security forces that the group’s “Secret Sulu Army” has surrounded Tambunan and is prepared to attack the district anytime within this month or August.

“We are investigating the claim and tracing the source of the letter. We believe the individual responsible for it had acted on his or her own accord and had no links to the Sulu militants,” Hamza said.

“However, the police and the security forces are taking all these threats seriously and we are investigating the case under Section 505 of the Penal Code (for statements conducing to public mischief),” the Malaysian official said.

Hamza said the Militant Commandos threatened to terrorize and burn down Tambunan to avenge the deaths of 68 followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in the hands of Malaysian security forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah on March.

Tambunan, a valley district located 80 kilometers east of Kota Kinabalu, has a population of 36,000 composed of Malay, Chinese and other Sabahan ethnic groups. It has a land area of 1,347 square kilometers.

Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi assured that the East Sabah Security Command (Esscom) is ready to face any threat from the “Sulu terrorists.”

“Don’t try to threaten us. Don’t try to do anything because it is not just the police and army, but also the people of Malaysia who will rise to oppose the threat from the terrorists from Sulu,” he said, as quoted by Bernama, Malaysia’s state news agency.

In Taguig City, Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said it has no information about the armed group or its plan to attack Tambunan.

Idjirani said Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, the sultan’s brother and commander of the 166-member Royal Security Forces (RSF) in Sabah, did not say anything about the reported threats when he called up over the weekend.

“Raja Muda and the RSF are observing Ramadan in Sabah. They would not do anything like that because they are still complying with the unilateral ceasefire ordered by Sultan Kiram,” he said.

Idjirani, however, hinted that the so-called Militant Commandos could be the 1,000 “volunteers” who sailed from Sulu to back up RSF. He said the group could have been angered by the continuous illegal arrests and harassment of Filipinos living in Sabah.

In one occasion, Idjirani recounted that a Malaysian security unit recently raided a house being occupied by Filipinos who were then taking their morning meal.

“What the government of (Malaysian) Prime Minister Najib Razak’s been doing is un-Islamic, arresting their fellow Muslims who were fasting in observance of Ramadan. I would like to personally ask Najib Razak if he is indeed a true blood Muslim,” the sultanate official said.

While not condoning the Sulu militants’ threat to use violence, Idjirani said the Sulu Sultanate “understands” their sentiments against the Malaysian government.

The Sulu Sultanate’s RSF battled Malaysian security forces on March, a month after covertly going to Lahad Datu to revive the sultanate’s long-standing claim over Sabah.

The sultanate insists that it owns Sabah, which Malaysia annexed as one of its 13 states when it gained independence in 1963.

Human rights group to join anti-SONA protests

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 21): Human rights group to join anti-SONA protests

An international coalition of some 250 human rights advocate launched a campaign in Quezon City on Sunday in a bid to end all forms of human rights violations in the country. They are also expected to participate at the people's mobilization as counter to the State of the Nation Address of President Aquino (SONA) today July 22 at the Batasang Pambansa.

More than 50 organizations joined the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) in the hope of bringing justice and showing the plight of the abused Filipinos to the world. The international peace conference was attended by human rights supporters from the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. 

After several years of campaigning, the ICHRP was formed by international solidarity groups for the Philippines to call for freedom for political prisoners, end to political killings and enforced disappearances and put a stop on militarization of rural communities.

The solidarity coalition also vowed to bring their lobby and advocacy work to the United Nations, national parliaments and other relevant international institutions and to make Philippine Presidents accountable for their alleged crimes against the Filipino people and to mobilize the international community for human rights in the Philippines.

Prior to the international conference and the launching of the ICHRP, solidarity activists joined international fact-finding missions in Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao to investigate and document cases of human rights abuses and the people's economic and social conditions. 

The peace and human rights activists have also called on the Aquino government to immediately resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and to respect previously signed agreements.

The ICHRP has elected an 11-person global council composed of prominent human rights and peace advocates, church leaders, jurists, lawyers, academics, journalists, and community leaders.

Palace tells NDF: You have no right to talk peace for now

From GMA News (Jul 21): Palace tells NDF: You have no right to talk peace for now

Until it shows some sincerity in the peace process, the leftist National Democratic Front has “no right” to talk about peace, Malacañang said Sunday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said this after presidential peace process adviser Teresita Deles was quoted as saying the NDF was making “impossible preconditions.”

“Ang NDF, walang karapatan magsalita, sila mismo ayaw makipag-usap sa amin ng kapayapaan. Magpakita muna sila ng sinseridad bago namin sila kausapin," Lacierda said on government-run dzRB radio.

He also advised the NDF to observe the peace efforts between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which recently signed a key annex to a peace agreement.

But for now, he said the NDF has yet to show its sincerity with the attacks by the New People’s Army on civilians.

“Mas mabuti na lang makisama sila, tingnan ang development sa peace process with the MILF. Kung talagang kapakanan nila damdamin ng taumbayan siguro isipin nila makipag-usap sa amin tungkol sa kapayapaan," he said.

“Wala kaming nakitang sinseridad sa kanila, patuloy ang pag-atake [ng New People's Army] sa civilian," he added.

An earlier Philippines News Agency posted on the government-run Media ng Bayan website had quoted Deles as saying peace talks with communist rebels have been stalled because they are imposing impossible preconditions.

Deles said such preconditions included the abrogation of international treaties.

She said another demand of the NDF is for the government to stop the implementation of the economic development program called PAMANA, or PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn.

She particularly cited a condition raised by the NDF for the government “to abrogate international treaties.”

The PNA report quoted her as saying another condition made by NDF for the talks to resume is for government to release so-called political prisoners.

MILF: Moro women leaders welcome GPH-MILF wealth-sharing deal

From the MILF Website (Jul 21): Moro women leaders welcome GPH-MILF wealth-sharing deal


Moro women leaders welcome the deal on wealth-sharing recently concluded by the negotiating panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the culmination of the 38th round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 13, 2013.
Baibon D. Sangid, former chairperson of Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) said, “Personally, I am pleased that the government panel agreed on the percentage of wealth-sharing at 75% in favor of the Bangsamoro and 25% to the national government.”

The two parties agreed for a 75-25 sharing on the taxes collected in the proposed Bangsamoro territory in favor of the Bangsamoro.

Bangsamoro is the new political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao by 2016.

The new political entity will also get 100% revenue share for exploration, development and utilization of non-metallic minerals while it will get 75% share for metallic resources. However for fossil fuel, there will be equal share.

She opined that the agreed ratio is the “government’s modest and sincere effort to propel development in the Moro communities.”

“I thought it could have been 20%-80% in favor of the Bangsamoro.  Be as it may, am glad the Bangsamoro Panel has accepted it knowing how contentious these issues were.”

Sangid continued, “I congratulate the Bangsamoro panel for their unwavering efforts to negotiate and demand economic justice for our homeland to restore economic freedom of our people.”

“To correct historical injustice and build confidence for the leadership in the Bangsasamoro, the provisions in the wealth sharing annex is truly a welcome development,” Zuraida Anayatin, convener of Mothers for Peace in General Santos City said.

She added, “We commend both panels for seeing to it that they will bring home a signed agreement.”

“I am particularly pleased with the special allocation for women (5%). This supports advocacy for gender and development and reaffirms women’s role in the peace process,” Anayatin noted.

“If it will be implemented, well and good, but when will this happen?” Wahida Abtahi asked, President of Katiyakap, Incorporated, a peace advocacy group.

She hopes that the agreement will be realized during the administration of the incumbent president.

On wealth sharing from fossil fuels, Dr. Bae Hanina Tito, Chairperson of Halal Consumers Association in General Santos City, suggested that the ratio should be 60:40 in favor of the Bangsamoro.

She, however, congratulates the two panels for surmounting one of the contentious issues of the peace talks. 

Tito, former Education Secretary of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, echoed the position of MILF Vice-Chair Ghadzhali Jaafar which suggests 60:40 formula on energy resources in favor of the Bangsamoro.

MILF: Moro information runs on air

From the MILF Website (Jul 21): Moro information runs on air

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) long obsession and undying vision to strengthen its information drive will soon be realized. This is through the fastest and most convenient way of informing the people in far-flung areas in Western Mindanao.
The Information Committee of the MILF – Western Mindanao has taken another step in their advocacy and information drive initiatives. More people in the remote areas are not fully aware of what is going on in the GPH- MILF Peace Process and other crucial programs that has been initially undertaken by the Philippines Government and the Moro Front. The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) is among the issues to be aired. 

Local and tribal dialects shall be utilized so that listeners can clearly understand the program contents.

The program shall start on July 13 in a two-hour airtime weekly. The specific day of the programs have not been determined depending on the agreement with the management of the local radio station in Sulu. It will be anchored by selected individuals from the Information Committee in their respective provinces.   

This kind of information campaign is very crucial as far as public awareness is concerned. It has significant effects on certain situation especially when the Transition Commission (TransCom) starts to draft the Basic Law in the coming days.

The Information Committee of the MILF would do its best to ensure that every Bangsamoro be they are Muslims or non- Muslims living in the core areas or in contiguous areas shall be properly informed and consulted on matters that affect their interest and well-being.  Active involvement and participation in peace building endeavors are highly encouraged by the MILF hierarchy as peace and prosperity are everyone’s concerned.

Police agents shadow human rights confab in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 21): Police agents shadow human rights confab in Philippines

International peace activists and human rights defenders attending the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines condemned the deployment of military and police surveillance agents in their activities.

Human rights group called Karapatan said security personnel of the conference apprehended a police officer and suspected military informant in two separate incidents.

Caught taking photos of delegates and conference vehicle plate numbers was a certain Kenneth Mendez, who claimed to be a reporter but could not mention what media outfit he was working for.

Also apprehended was PO2 Emilio Fetalvo Jr. who admitted being ordered by his  senior officer who was only identified as Superintendent Pelibilio to conduct surveillance of the conference. 

Fetalvo was previously seen shadowing staff members of the Karapatan national office.

“I am indignant at the covert surveillance of conference participants . But we will not be intimidated from joining the Filipino people in the vigorous protests tomorrow,” Paul Murphy, an Australian labor rights activist, said in a statement sent by Karapatan to the Mindanao Examiner.

Delegate Ron Gochez, an American teacher who joined a team that visited Davao City’s militarized Paquibato district recently, described his group’s encounter with soldiers in the area: “We were there for less than five minutes and this is what we saw - the military, and military intelligence operatives taking pictures when we arrived, taking pictures of the people and  trying to intimidate the people.”

“The people do not want any more militarization. They want schools, they want health care, they want roads,” Gochez said in the same statement.

Ironically, the issue of “national security” and the consequent violation of the people’s socio-economic  and civil and political rights was the focus of discussions in the past two days of the ICHRPP.

Such concern was summed up by international lawyer Anna Morris from the U.K., who said the concept of national security “should center on securing the economic and political rights of the people. It is those rights that the President should put in the heart of his State of the Nation Address on Monday.” 

Morris said: “This is my third visit here in the Philippines and on each occasion, the level of repression increases, not decreases, against those who are legitimately engaged in the protection and representation of the vulnerable, the dispossessed and the poor. In a modern society, it should be that impunity decreases and accountability increases, but sadly  that is not the case in the current government.”

3 NPA rebels yield to military in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 21): 3 NPA rebels yield to military in Southern Philippines

Three New People’s Army rebels have surrendered separately to the Philippine military in the southern region of Mindanao, officials told the Mindanao Examiner on Sunday.

Officials said two rebels - Elizar Tabon and Mario Peding – surrendered in the town of Glan in Sarangani province, while the other Gilbert Meniano, yielded in Tago town in Surigao province.

Tabon, 34, and Peding, 28, are members of a propaganda unit operating in Sarangani and both rebels also surrendered their weapons. The duo said they were being hunted down by their unit after splitting with the NPA, which recruited them in 1999.

“Both decided to coordinate with the government troops, under Capt. Melvin Asuncion of 72nd Cadre Battalion, 10th Infantry Division when they received a letter from their former leaders forcing them to join again and help in recovery efforts of their former mass base in Glan, Sarangani,” said Capt. Severino David, a spokesman for the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.

He said Meniano also surrendered his rifle to Lt. Col. Joseph Norwin Pasamonte, commander of the 36th Infantry Battalion, in Surigao province. Meniano surrendered following a negotiation with tribe leaders in the Tago town.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, the regional army commander, said: “We have many surrender feelers from the NPA and we are optimistic that more of our brothers in the mountains will soon mainstream back in the communities. Let us hand-in-hand welcome them and help them experience abundant inner peace with their families.”

He said the trio would be given financial and livelihood aid through the Armed Forces’ Guns-For-Peace Program and the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process.

The NPA is fighting for a separate state in the country.

10 killed in clan war in Lanao Sur town

From MindaNews (Jul 21): 10 killed in clan war in Lanao Sur town

Armed clashes brought about by a long-standing “rido”  (clan feud) in Bayang, Lanao del Sur claimed the lives of ten persons since Friday, with five others suffering injuries, the military said.

Col. Glen Macasero, commanding officer of the 103 Infantry Brigade, said the fighting between the Capal and Macugar families erupted when clan members gunned down a rival family member in Barangay Linao, Bayang town early Friday morning.

Macasero said the killing prompted the rival clans to retaliate and soon, intense fighting involving heavy caliber firearms erupted around the villages in Bayang town.

“By this time, the two families had called their relatives to come to their aid. The call went through nearby towns of Malabang and Lumbaca Unayan and every relative who had a firearm came to join the fighting,” Macasero said.

The Army has identified five of the 10 fatalities as Hadji Naim Macabago Capal; Latip Macabago Capal; Abar Tanggor Balt; Al-radji Tanggor; and Salahoden H. Acmad Dimacota.

Only one of the five wounded was identified: Arip Bacolod.

Macasero said the fighting stopped when the Army and police sent teams to separate the warring clans.

Initial reports identified the warring families as the Capal and Macugar families but non-governemental organizations (NGOs) in Lanao del Sur said the fighting has dragged other families to join the fray.

Ustadz Tahir of the Kasalimbago Movement, a Marawi-based reform-oriented NGO said there is still a danger that the situation could erupt in another violent fighting again.

He said army and police forces sent to pacify the warring families in Bayang town could not even enter the villages controlled by the clans.

“We heard the clan members had fortified their positions in the villages and were prepared to repel rival family members planning to attack them,” Tahir said.

Tahir urged the Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to increase their patrols in Marawi City, fearing the clan war will spread into the provincial capital.
He said the warring families have relatives living in Marawi City.

“It is very hard to understand our culture but if efforts by the Army and PNP to settle this will fail, the clan war will escalate into Marawi City,” Tahir said, as he expressed fears innocent persons may be harmed.

Earlier reports said at total of 16 persons have been killed but ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman told MindaNews on Sunday noon, “I have yet to get final info.”

Also on Sunday noon, Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, ARMM police chief, told MindaNews in a text message that the Lanao del Sur Provincial Polic Office has “not yet provided the specific number of casualties.”

He said the feedback on the ground from other sources indicated “four to ten persons killed but I still have to get the official tally.”

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council, the leading international body monitoring internal displacement worldwide, said “rido” has regularly triggered displacements of residents in the region.

Navy exercise turns into actual rescue of 38 tourists

From MindaNews (Jul 21): Navy exercise turns into actual rescue of 38 tourists

RESCUED. Navy personnel (in black and red suits) prepare to board the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft with some of the tourists they rescued Saturday at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island, about 1.9 nautical miles off Zamboanga City. Photo courtesy of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao

RESCUED. Navy personnel (in black and red suits) prepare to board the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft with some of the tourists they rescued Saturday at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island, about 1.9 nautical miles off Zamboanga City. Photo courtesy of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao

Day 1 of the “At Sea Events” of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao’s Exercise “Pagsasama” 2013 on Saturday turned into an actual rescue operation as the participants rescued 38 local tourists who were stranded at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island due to inclement weather.

Among those rescued were two infants and eight Philippine Army personnel, NFWM commander Rear Admiral Isabelo Gador said in a statement on Sunday.

Pagsasama’s “At Sea Events” Day 1 consisted of the Maritime Interdiction Operation Exercise (MIOEX), Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), and Gunnery Exercise (GUNNEX).

Gador immediately ordered the deployment of the two Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs) “to respond to the situation” after he received reports that local tourists were stranded at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island.

The Greater Sta. Cruz Island, approximately located 1.9 nautical miles south of this city, is a favorite picnic ground both for local and foreign tourists since its beach is known for its pinkish sand.

“The supposed simulation of conducting search and rescue turned into actual rescue operations,” Gador added.

The local tourists were stranded after the Coast Guard suspended Saturday the voyage of all vessels in this city due to inclement weather brought about by the Low Pressure Area (LPA) that hit Mindanao.

Day 2 of the “At Sea Events” culminated Sunday with the Amphibious Operations and Civil-Military Operations activities.

Exercise Pagsasama, which started July 17 and ends July 22, is designed to test the readiness and interoperability of Western Mindanao PN Reservists and PN Affiliate Reserved Units (PNARUs) with the PN regular force in case of national emergencies.

Naval forces rescue 38 stranded local tourists

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21): Naval forces rescue 38 stranded local tourists
The Naval Forces Western Mindanao rescued Saturday 38 local tourists who were stranded due to inclement weather at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island, 1.9 nautical miles off this city.

The rescue took place at the height of the Day 1 of Exercise Pagsasama 2013’s At Sea Events at the Basilan and Sulu Straits.

“The supposed simulation of conducting search and rescue turned into an actual rescue operations,” Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander Rear Admiral Isabelo Gador said Sunday in a statement.

The Day 1 of the At Sea Events consisted of the Maritime Interdiction Operation Exercise (MIOEX), Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), and Gunnery Exercise (GUNNEX).

Those rescued include two infants and eight Army personnel, who were stranded at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island, a favorite picnic ground both for local and foreign tourists because of the island’s pinkish sand beach.

They were rescued by Navy personnel manning the two Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs), which Gador deployed after he received report that tourists were stranded at the Greater Sta. Cruz Island.

They were stranded after the coast guard suspended boat trips Saturday due to inclement weather brought about by the Low Pressure Area that hit Mindanao.

Army, police peacekeepers sent to Lanao Sur to stop clan wars

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21): Army, police peacekeepers sent to Lanao Sur to stop clan wars

Policemen backed by soldiers have been deployed to a remote town in Lanao del Sur following a clan war that killed seven and wounded five others, police said.

Chief Superintendent Noel Delos Reyes, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where Lanao del Sur is a component province, said policemen belonging to the Public Safety Battalion of Lanao del Sur police office and soldiers from the 102nd Infantry Brigade to the town of Bayang to serve as “peacekeepers.”

On Saturday, the four families of Kapal and three from Macugar clan clashed leaving seven persons killed from both sides, according to the Lanao del Sur police office.

Delos Reyes, citing report from Lanao del Sur police, said the two clans are locked in a long standing family feud, locally known as “rido.”

Police could not say what triggered the “rido” but many of clan wars in Lanao del Sur have been over political, business, economic and crimes.

The fatalities were separately buried Sunday by the warring clans under heavy police escorts to suppress retaliation from either side.

Solaiman Macapaar, a village official of Bayang, said the conflict erupted after one of the Kapal family members was shot allegedly by another member of the Macugar family.

The wounded family members are now confined at a private hospital in Iligan City with police escorts for fear of further reprisal.

Police authorities in Lanao del Sur could not say why the clan members are armed.

The province has been known for having high number of loose firearms in the hands of its residents.

MILF, MNLF clash anew in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 21): MILF, MNLF clash anew in North Cotabato

Rival Moro rebels on Sunday clashed in a remote village in Kidapawan City sending several families to temporarily leave their homes, the military here said.

Capt. Antonio Bulao, speaking for the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said the fighting which lasted for about an hour was between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

No casualty was reported on both sides, Bulao said of the 8:00 a.m. skirmishes which happened about a kilometer from portions of the national highway in Barangay Patadon, Kidapawan City.

Bulao said Sunday's armed confrontation between the two groups was still part of the conflict involving the same groups in nearby Matalam town, also in North Cotabato.

He said at about 5:00 a.m., the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion learned about the massing of about 100 MILF forces near Barangay Patadon where the MNLF and their families were about to harvest corn and other crops.

Bulao also said that the MNLF first learned of the planned harassment by MILF. So the MNLF sent its armed followers in the village of Patadon.

The MILF forces withdraw after former congressman Jimmy Matalam appealed to Commander Noah Sabel of the MILF 108th base command.

The MNLF forces are already considered part of the government after its leaders signed a peace deal with the government in 1996 while the MILF is still negotiating peace with Manila.

Last May, MILF and MNLF forces clashed in Barangay Marbel, Matalam, North Cotabato over land dispute.

Bulao said the conflict in Matalam, which is now escalated to Kidapawan interior villages, was not an organization conflict but more of a land dispute involving Moro families who have ties with the revolutionary movement.