Sunday, August 25, 2013

CPP/NDF: NDF releases POW Arigonan in Maco

Posted to the PRWC blog site (Aug 24): NDF releases POW Arigonan in Maco

Rubi del Mundo
NDFP-Southern Mindanao
August 24, 2013


Upon orders of the National Democratic Front Southern Mindanao, Private First Class Rodello Canada Arigonan (serial number 776045) was released today in Barangay Panangan, Maco town, Compostela Valley at 1pm.

Arigonan, a 1001st Brigade Headquarters utility personnel of 23 years, was released to members of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace and to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Arigonan's wife was prevented by the military from meeting with her husband at the New People's Army release site. She was, instead, confined to the Brigade headquarters in Brgy. Mapaang, Maco.

The NDF cited humanitarian grounds as reasons for the release of Arigonan, who was captured by NPA operatives belonging to the Comval Davao Gulf Sub Regional Command last August 3 in the vicinity of the military headquarters.

The 1001st Brigade-10th Infantry Division has stepped up its offensive military operations in Pantukan, Maco and Mabini towns, affecting peasant and mining communities to pave the way for the resumption of large-scale gold mining operations of American owned Russel Mining and the NADECOR (Nationwide Development Corporation) now owned by the Villars and Calalang group. The 28th Infantry Battalion was already augmented by another company-sized soldiers.

As more and more troops abuse communities and occupy civilian facilities to ensure the entry of big mining operations, more and more fascist troops would become targets of NPA's punitive actions. The People's Democratic Government will continue to impose its  revolutionary policies on environmental protection and in defense of affected masses. It considers as enemies big foreign mining operators in cahoots with Filipino partners.


http://theprwcblogs.blogspot.com/2013/08/ndf-releases-pow-arigonan-in-maco.html

 

MNLF: Bangsamoro Constitution -- Road Map to Independence and National Self-Determination

Editorial posted to the MNLF Website (Aug 23): Bangsamoro Constitution: Road Map to Independence and National Self-Determination



MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari flanked by MNLF political, military and religious leaders taken just before the declaration of independence on August 12, 2013.

"Bangsamoro constitution is an idea whose time has come", declared Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City during the last week of July, 2013.

In a gathering of MNLF political, religious and military leaders from the different state revolutionary committees and mass supporters from all over the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan (MINSUPALA), a revolutionary government constitution was unveiled. This led to the proclamation of the establishment of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (UFSBR), embracing the islands of Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan and North Borneo ('Sabah'). The declared capital of UFSBR is Davao City.

The Preamble of the drafted different nineteen (19) Articles of the Bangsamoro Constitution read:

"We, the united people, Lumads, Muslims and Christians of Bangsamoro Republik, exercising our inherent sovereignty, do hereby establish this Constitution.

We manifest our common wish to live together in peace and harmony, to preserve the heritage of the past, and to cherish and sustain the promise of the future.

We uphold the diversity of our religions, cultures and traditions. Our differences enrich us. The seas bring us together, they do not separate us. Our islands sustain us, our aspirations and dreams as a nation enlarge us and make us stronger.

Our ancestors, who made their homes on these islands, displaced no other people. Having known war, we hope for peace. Having been divided, we wish unity and we seek freedom.

We extend to all nations what we seek from each: peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity.

With this constitution we humbly implore the aid of our Maker and do ordain this constitution." 

The reading of the Bangsamoro Constitution and the proclamation of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik in Zamboanga City on July 28, this year, was simultaneously conducted in the different MNLF camps throughout the Bangsamoro homeland.

Thus, with the official proclamation of both the Bangsamoro Constitution and the UFSBR government, the next peaceful political initiative of the MNLF is to bring the case to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The MNLF holds a 'permanent observer' status in the global pan-Islamic body, which has been for years recognizing MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari as the 'spokesman' of the Bagsamoro people of Filipino-occupied Mindanao.

After dispensing with the protocol of formality in the OIC, the MNLF will again in due time advance the cause of Bangsamoro freedom and independence to the United Nations (UN). 

It is recalled that on December 10, 2000 the MNLF had already elevated the demand and clamour of the oppressive Bangsamoro people of Mindanao under Philippine colonialism during the Arroyo regime to the UN Committee on Decolonization. But this was not seriously followed up following the controversial arrest of the MNLF Chairman and five escorts in Sabah by the Mahathir regime. He was later turned over to the Manila government to be charged for rebellion case, but was eventually released upon the diplomatic pressure of the OIC being a principal signatory to the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements.

Just like the Arroyo regime, Philippine colonialism under present President Benigno S. Aquino III has no political will to fully implement the 1996 Peace Agreement, but instead is committed to implement the highly suspicious Malaysia-brokered 2013 framework agreement on Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This was after closely examining that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a bogus regional government created by Philippine Congress under President Corazon C. Aquino, is a "failed experiment."

On this political end game when the present Aquino regime informed the OIC of its intention to abrogate the peace process with the MNLF but only retracted to mean the termination of the GRP-OIC-MNLF peace agreement committee review,  this deceptive political maneuver only set free the MNLF from fulfilling its binding commitment to consider the concept of autonomy without sovereignty. This all started with the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement mediated by the OIC.

Hence, this has given the MNLF the historic opportunity to resume the original objective of independence for the Bangsamoro homeland MINSUPALA and national self-determination for the Lumad (Animist) and Muslim natives as well as the Christians of the Filipino-occupied territory. Clearly now, the road to 'just and lasting' peace in finally ending the 4-decades long Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Mindanao is the freedom and independence of the colonized Bangsamoro people. This road leads now to the United Nations (UN). On this historic journey for UN recognition and acceptance by the whole humanity of the newly established nation state in Southeast Asia - the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik - MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari has issued this appeal: "We hereby call upon the people of the world, most particularly the United Nations and the UN Secretary General, His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, to extend their formal recognition and support behind this new state." The rest is future history.

 

The Grand MNLF Bangsamoro Convergence-Rally at the New Tulay Central Mosque complex on August 19, 2013 explaining the steps to be taken following the declaration of independence on August 12, 2013 at Lampaya, Talipao, Lupah Sug.

http://mnlfnet.com/Articles/BYC_23Aug2013_Bangsamoro%20Constitution.htm

GPH, MILF to meet for 10 days next month to finish annexes

From MindaNews (Aug 25): GPH, MILF to meet for 10 days next month to finish annexes

UNTIL NEXT MONTH. GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal exchange copies of the Joint Statement in the presence of Madame Che Khasnah, head of the Malaysian Secretariat. MIndaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

UNTIL NEXT MONTH. GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal exchange copies of the Joint Statement in the presence of Madame Che Khasnah, head of the Malaysian Secretariat. MIndaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels on Sunday afternoon ended the four-day 19th round of talks under the three-year Aquino administration, with both panels agreeing to meet for ten days next month to finish the annexes on power-sharing and normalization.

The seven-paragraph Joint Statement signed at 3:55 p.m. said the panels “worked towards the resolution of  some of the most crucial issues” and that despite the “sensitivity of these issues,” they remain “committed to the problem-solving approach in order to reach consensus.”

In the spirit of partnership and mutual understanding, they are confident that an agreement will be reached soon,” the statement read.

GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that they hope to finish the two remaining annexes in next month’s round.

 
“We will try our best to finish,” she told MindaNews.  “We will find a way to complete the annexes,” she said.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said the ball is in the GPH court. “Ang problema hindi sa MILF” (the problem is not with the MILF), he told MindaNews.

In their opening statements on Thursday, Ferrer said she hoped the parties would “put to sleep the infamous devil in the details and awaken the angel of creativity and compromise.”  Iqbal on the other hand said he saw a “ray of hope that the Annex on Power-sharing will be settled and signed by the parties during this meeting” so they can “pour all our remaining stamina on normalization, an issue that is not too difficult to overcome by willing and committed peace partners.”

As early as Day One, however, there was no sign of any signing by the end of this round. Malaysian facilitator, Dato’ Tengku Abd’ Ghafar bin Mohamed had told MindaNews the parties were “working on the language” of the annexes and were expected to bring back the drafts their respective principals.

The panels were supposed to have a plenary session at 9 a.m. Sunday to continue discussions on the Power-sharing draft but Tengku fell ill and was unable to come. The panels cannot hold a plenary session in the absence of the facilitator.

Both panels were ready to stay until late Sunday evening. In fact, GPH panel members had their flights to Manila rebooked from 5:30 p.m. Sunday to Monday morning.

Special Team

The panels opted to have the Special Team on Power-sharing meet instead on Sunday morning to resolve issues that they can, on their level, resolve, even as they remained stuck on some provisions in their working draft, including newly-introduced issues from both sides.

Late Saturday afternoon, sources from both panels and observers who attended the plenary at the State Room of the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel, told MindaNews that issues already resolved at the level of the Special Team on Power-sharing were shot down during the deliberations on the draft, prompting Tengku to ask aloud where the direction of the talks was headed.

“There are conceptual barriers that have to be overcome,” summed up a member of the MILF panel in the Special Team told MindaNews, specifically noting that the future Bangsamoro government is a ministerial form of government, much different from the current system. A member of the GPH panel in the Team acknowledged there are still several issues where both positions are still far apart but “we are in a problem-solving mode.”

The Special Team on Power-sharing and the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Normalization actually began their meetings on August 21, a day before the formal talks opened.

The TWG on Normalization ended Saturday noon its four-day talks with the contentious issues still up for consultation with their respective principals.
Negotiations on power-sharing started in August last year while negotiations on normalization started in November.

The annexes on power-sharing and normalization and the signed annexes on transitional arrangmenets and modalities, and wealth sharing, along with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that the parties signed on October 15 last year, will complete the comprehensive peace agreement which the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) needs to draft the  Basic Law for the Bangsmaoro government, the new autonomous political entity that both parties hope to set up by June 30, 2016.

Language

Unlike the Special Team on Power-sharing, the TWG on Normalization has yet to come up with a common draft and will still be exchanging notes between now and the next round of talks.

The Special Team on the other hand has a common draft whose paragraphs are color-coded: black for approved final text at their level,  gray for almost, red for the government’s proposed wording and green for the MILF.

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process had told the Mindanao Business Conference on August 8 in Davao City that while there are still “very difficult issues to be negotiated,” both sides have expressed a “shared commitment to complete the remaining Annexes on Power Sharing and Normalization to be able to sign the comprehensive agreement in the soonest possible time.”

She explained that as agreed upon in the FAB, the relationship of the Central Government with the Bangsamoro Government shall be “asymmetric” and therefore different from local government units.

“The Power-Sharing Annex sets out to delineate what are the powers reserved for central government, the powers fully devolved (or “exclusive”) to the Bangsamoro, and which are concurrent powers to be shared by both.  The Normalization Annex, on the other hand, will lay out the simultaneous, phased and calibrated actions that will be taken, by both parties, to include the reform and strengthening of the police, the control of loose firearms in private hands, the redeployment of the military, the delivery of socio-economic peace dividends and the decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons so that, in the words of the FAB, ‘they are put beyond use.’

Optimism

An air of optimism marked the start of the four-day talks on Thursday, the first time the panels had 11 observers attending the plenary and the negotiations of the special team on power-sharing and TWG on normalization.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte of the House of Representatives sent three Mindanawons to observe on Thursday and Friday – Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and North Cotabato Rep. Jesus Sacdalan.

Five of the seven government nominees to the 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission were also here on Thursday and Friday: former Ambassador Akmad Sakkam; Johair Wahab, former chief legal counsel of the GPH peace panel;  Froilyn Mendoza, aTeduray who co-founded the T├ęduray Lambangian Women’s Organization, Inc.;  Talib Benito, Dean of the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City and former Isabela City councilor Eisma of  Basilan.

Mindanao’s civil society had three representatives as observers — Patricia Sarenas, chair of the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (Mincode); Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus; and Salic Ibrahim, chair of the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, Inc.

It was the first time in 12 years that civil society representatives from Mindanao attended the talks as observers.

Salic told MindaNews he was “lipay” (happy) to have been allowed to observe and listen to the discussions. “The talks are not easy. The stance of the negotiators can influence the process, whether to hasten or to delay,” he said.

http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2013/08/25/gph-milf-to-meet-for-10-days-next-month-to-finish-annexes/

AFP to maintain normal alert for rally vs 'pork'

From ABS-CBN (Aug 25): AFP to maintain normal alert for rally vs 'pork'

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will maintain its normal alert status for the “Million People March” against the corruption-tainted congressional pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in Rizal Park tomorrow.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs chief, said the military would closely monitor security developments in connection with the protest action.

“We are monitoring the developments on the ground and closely coordinating with our police counterparts,” Zagala said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has been placed on full alert status to ensure peace and order during the rally.

If requested by the PNP, Zagala said the AFP is ready to deploy its troops to augment law enforcement operations.

Thousands or even millions are expected to converge in Rizal Park tomorrow to call for the total scrapping of the pork barrel system in both houses of Congress.

The scheduled protest has gone viral in social media with thousands responding to join the “One Million March.”

A group of retired military officers, along with their families, has expressed intent to join the rally to demand the return of the stolen funds and punishment of those who plundered taxpayers’ money.

Left-wing groups from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog are also expected to join the protest action in Rizal Park.

“We have not monitored any threat. But we are on the lookout because some groups with vested interests can infiltrate the peaceful assembly,” a senior security official said.

The PNP yesterday said it would be using social media to coordinate security matters with organizers and convenors of the “Martsa sa Luneta” tomorrow.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said they are relying on announcements and posts on Twitter and Facebook to coordinate its own security preparations for the event.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima has ordered National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo Jr. and the Manila Police District under Chief Superintendent Isagani Genabe to ensure peace and order during the assembly.

The PNP’s main concern is to prevent lawless elements and threat groups from taking advantage of the situation, Sindac said.

He urged convenors of the event to coordinate their activities with police authorities through PNP SMS hotline 09178475757 or emergency hotline Patrol 117.
Meanwhile, an environmental group yesterday reminded the rally participants not to leave their trash in Rizal Park.

“As citizens from all walks of life assemble in Luneta tomorrow to appeal for truth and accountability, we urge everyone not to defile the historic park with litter,” said Aileen Lucero, acting national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our demand to end corruption is not an alibi to turn the park into a dump for cigarette butts, food leftovers and wrappers, plastic bags and even political leaflets,” she added.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08/25/13/afp-maintain-normal-alert-rally-vs-pork


Pentagon chief to stress US ‘pivot’ in Southeast Asia tour‎

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 25): Pentagon chief to stress US ‘pivot’ in Southeast Asia tour‎
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel kicks off a Southeast Asian tour on Sunday meant to stress Washington’s so-called “pivot” back towards the Asia-Pacific but with attention diverted by trouble in the Middle East.

The Pentagon chief’s week-long trip is part of a concerted effort by Washington to rebalance America’s strategic priorities towards the Asia-Pacific.

But crises in the Middle East continued to demand Hagel’s attention, particularly accusations that the Syrian regime had carried out a chemical weapons attack that left hundreds dead.

He told reporters aboard his plane that the US military had provided President Barack Obama with a range of options for possible intervention and forces had been redeployed as required.

With Egypt in turmoil after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi and a subsequent crackdown, Hagel also spoke Saturday night to Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about the volatile situation, US officials said.

On Sunday, Hagel is due to meet his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein as well as Prime Minister Najib Razak, before delivering a speech later.

US officials said Washington wanted to cultivate military ties with Malaysia and other governments in Southeast Asia to ensure stability in the region and to encourage a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China’s assertive stance over the waterway has raised concerns in Washington.

Beijing claims virtually all of the South China Sea and has stoked rising concern among rival claimants, particularly the Philippines, of a gradual takeover of disputed islets.

The Pentagon is offering help to Southeast Asian countries with ships, aerial reconnaissance, joint training and other initiatives as they try to better monitor their coastal waters.

A senior defence official, briefing reporters travelling with Hagel, rejected speculation that budget cuts hitting the Pentagon’s military spending would spell an end to the “pivot”.

“There’s a myth out there,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But he said “reports of the end of the rebalance, that we can’t fund the rebalance, are greatly exaggerated”.

“We have adequate means to support this strategy and to do so for the foreseeable future,” the official added.

The United States was increasing the number of ships based in the Asia-Pacific and pursuing agreements with a number of countries to allow ships, aircraft and troops to rotate through key ports and airfields, while avoiding permanent American bases, the official said.

US defence officials are negotiating an accord with the Philippines to allow for the rotation of more US forces and military assets through the country on temporary deployments.

After his two-day stop in Malaysia, Hagel heads to Indonesia and then Brunei for a gathering of defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The discord in the South China Sea is expected to feature high on the agenda of the ASEAN discussions in Brunei on Wednesday and Thursday, officials said.

Hagel is due to meet his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, on the sidelines of the ASEAN session, after having hosted the general in Washington earlier this month.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/473975/pentagon-chief-to-stress-us-pivot-in-southeast-asia-tour%e2%80%8e

Hagel to meet with Aquino on US troops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 25): Hagel to meet with Aquino on US troops

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled to meet with President Benigno Aquino III this week to discuss the current negotiations for the framework agreement on the increased rotational presence of American soldiers in the Philippines, the US Department of Defense said Friday.

Hagel will also be meeting with his counterpart, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

The framework agreement that would pave the way for more US troops coming to the Philippines and giving them access to military facilities is largely viewed as a deterrent to China’s increasing presence in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

The Philippines and China continue to be locked in a territorial dispute, particularly in the Panatag Shoal off Zambales and the Ayungin Shoal in the Kalayaan island group or Spratlys.

According to the Department of Defense statement released Friday, Hagel will talk to President Aquino, Gazmin and Del Rosario “about ongoing negotiations for a framework agreement that would allow US forces to operate in Philippine military bases and in Philippine territory and waters to help build the Philippine armed forces’ capacity in maritime security and maritime domain awareness.”

Hagel is in Honolulu, Hawaii, his first stop on a weeklong, four-nation tour of the Southeast Asian region where he would be attending the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting Plus in Brunei.

Hagel will be in Manila on Aug. 29 and 30.

Two weeks ago, the Philippines and the United States began the negotiations for the framework agreement on the increased rotational presence of US soldiers in the Philippines, where the Americans can have access to the military facilities of the country.

The framework, however, would not include the operational details so as not to compromise national security, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had said.

Philippine negotiators have explained that having a framework agreement was necessary as military activities are not specified in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

The DFA has explained the need for an increased rotational presence of US troops to have “a minimum credible defense posture… to enhance maritime domain awareness and develop a deterrence capability.”

“This can be accomplished through high-impact and high-value joint exercises which promote interoperability and capacity building that will also bolster humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” it said.

The Philippine government has stressed that its new defense policy was not for a basing agreement for the US military which the Constitution prohibits.

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/84015/hagel-to-meet-with-aquino-on-us-troops

US firm to construct PHL Nat'l Coast Watch Center

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): US firm to construct PHL Nat'l Coast Watch Center
 
US defense giant, Raytheon Company, said it has been contracted to build the Philippine National Coast Watch Center for USD18 million.

The contract was awarded July this year and will end July 31, 2015.

Dept. of National Defense officials are still to give an official statement on when and where the contract was signed and the exact date it will be implemented.

This is Raytheon's first border security-related contract in Southeast Asia.

Under the two-year base contract, Raytheon will design and construct an NCWC; support integration of data from various agencies into the NCWC; and provide acquisition, installation and training on an automatic identification system as well as radio communications for the Government of the Philippines.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=558519

PHL gov't, MILF panels to meet again in September

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): PHL gov't, MILF panels to meet again in September

Both panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have agreed to meet again in September.

This was gleaned from a press release by the Office of the Presidential Peace Process after the two sides ended four days of talks Sunday in Kuala Lumpur.

An official statement released to media said the two sides achieved "substantial progress in the discussions towards finalizing the Annexes on Power-sharing and Normalization to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

During the four-day meeting, the Parties tried to resolve some of what it called the crucial issues without identifying these.

It only said "In the spirit of partnership and mutual understanding, they are confident that an agreement will be reached soon.

"They agreed to meet again in September 2013." It did not say where the meeting would be held.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=558548

GPH, MILF reps to verify presence of foreign terrorists in Lanao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): GPH, MILF reps to verify presence of foreign terrorists in Lanao Sur
 
While talks are under way in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the GPH and MILF ceasefire panels will conduct an onsite verification on Monday on the reported presence of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)-linked terror group in Lanao del Sur.

Representatives from both sides will start the visit with a "kanduli" (thanksgiving) in the form of "boodle fight" among soldiers and MILF leaders inside the 603rd Infantry Brigade camp in Barangay Tugaig, Barira, Maguindanao.

Both the joint GPH-MILF ceasefire committee and the joint AHJAG (Ad Hoc Joint Action Group), composed of MILF, representatives from the rebel group, the Philippine police and Army, help enforce the anti-crime drive against lawless elements and terrorists in areas identified with the Moro rebel group.

Col. Noli Orense, 603rd Army brigade chief, and his staff will lead the send-off rite for the joint verification team. The team will inspect alleged JI hideouts in Lanao del Sur where alleged bombers that carried attacks in Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato City were trained.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu said his office gives all-out support to the verification mission of the government, the MILF and the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team.

Army and police intelligence units claimed Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a senior leader of the JI, was reportedly in Lanao del Sur or Maguindanao and supervised the bombing incidents in southern Philippines.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=558515

MILF focuses on peace process than to oppose or favor increase US forces in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 25): MILF focuses on peace process than to oppose or favor increase US forces in PHL

Officials of Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF)are not affected by the plans of Manila and the United States to increase American forces in the country as it has something to make itself busy with - the Mindanao peace process.

Asked for comments about impending additional US forces in the country as territorial dispute with China remains a contentious issue Philippines is facing, Ghadzali Jaafar, speaking for the MILF as political affairs chief, said the GPH-MILF peace process in southern Philippines is taking a different path and objectives with that of the US and Philippine governments.

"Our concern is more of the peace process, its gains and its future," Jaafar said in a national radio interview."We would rather have a hands-off policy in the issue of the GPH-US talks in increase military presence in the country."

The panels of chief government negotiator Prof. Miriam Ferrer-Coronel and her counterpart in the MILF, Mohaqher Iqbal, are currently in Malaysia trying to finish the annex on power sharing of the soon to be established Bangsamoro government. A framework agreement had been signed in last October, three months after Philippine President Aquino met personally with MILF chieftain Al Haj Murad in Japan.

The new autonomous political entity will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which both Malacanang and the MILF described as "failed experiment."

Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman of ARMM on Friday reiterated his support to the peace initiatives of the Aquino administration and expressed willingness to step aside to pave the way for the new political unit in Mindanao.

"ARMM leaders are moving forward to fulfill our mandate, as elected officials, while supporting the ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF,” Hataman said, adding that officials elected in May 2013 polls were in agreement they will all step down to welcome the new political entity that will replace ARMM.

According to Hataman said regional officials from appointed cabinet secretaries to the elected regional assemblymen are as ready to step down peacefully.

"ARMM has always put enough premiums to the peace process. In fact, we made `peace and security’ as one of our pillars in pursuing much-needed reforms in the regional bureaucracy," Hataman told reporters.

ARMM is composed of the Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

But while all are supportive of the peace process, the GPH and MILF are dealing with three major threat groups - the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Jemaah Islamiyah-linked local terrorists and Nur Misuari, chair of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, who declared independence of Mindanao recently.

But Coronel and Iqbal were as optimistic of the success of the talks. Both said a well-entrenched political autonomy for Muslims in southern Philippines will erase efforts to derail the attainment of peace in Mindanao.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=558516

'Big chance' last 2 annexes signed in September - Iqbal

From Rappler (Aug 25): 'Big chance' last 2 annexes signed in September - Iqbal

END OF ROUND 39. (L-R) Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Malaysian facilitators' secretariat head Che Kashna, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal sign the Joint Statement at the end of their four-day exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur on August 25, 2013.Photo by OPAPP

END OF ROUND 39. (L-R) Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Malaysian facilitators' secretariat head Che Kashna, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal sign the Joint Statement at the end of their four-day exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur on August 25, 2013.Photo by OPAPP

Will the final peace agreement for the Bangsamoro be signed in September?

As the government and rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended the 39th round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday, August 25, both sides expressed confidence that the final peace pact would be completed soon.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told Rappler there was a "big chance" the last two annexes to the comprehensive peace agreement will be signed in the next meeting.

"No documents were signed except for the joint statement [for this round]. There is some window of opportunity," Iqbal said in a text message.

In their joint statement, the parties said:

"During the four-day meeting, the Parties worked towards the resolution of some of the most crucial issues. Despite the sensitivity of these issues, the Parties remain committed to the problem-solving approach in order to reach consensus. In the spirit of partnership and mutual understanding, they are confident that an agreement will be reached soon."

Both sides still have to complete the annexes on normalization and power-sharing before the comprehensive peace agreement can be signed.

The documents contain arrangements on how power will be shared between the central government and the envisioned Bangsamoro political entity, as well as details on how the MILF and other armed will be decommissioned and how the Bangsamoro police force will be created.

They will meet again in September.

Independent Commission on Policing could convene next month

'BIG CHANCE.' Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (L) shake hands with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (R) during the the closing of the 39th round of talks. Looking on is Che Kashna, head of the Malaysian secretariat. Photo by OPAPP

'BIG CHANCE.' Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (L) shake hands with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (R) during the the closing of the 39th round of talks. Looking on is Che Kashna, head of the Malaysian secretariat. Photo by OPAPP

For this round, technical working groups on the normalization annex flew to Kuala Lumpur two days before the formal start of the talks to have more time for discussions.

Among the items discussed in this round was who would compose the Independent Commission on Policing, which is tasked to produce recommendations for the creation of a police force for the Bangsamoro.

The 7-member team will be include a local expert, a representative and an international expert from each side, with both parties selecting the chairperson.

According to their joint statement, the commission could be convened during the next meeting.

This round saw an "unprecedented" number of observers from various sectors.

Aside from regular observers from the International Contact Group and civil society, three members of Congress attended the talks as observers. They were Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, Cagayan de Oro Rep Rufus Rodriguez and North Cotabato Rep Jesus Sacdalan.

Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the body tasked to craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, also sat as observers.

SUPPORT. Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong joins the 39th round of GPH-MILF talks as an observer. Photo by OPAPP

SUPPORT. Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong joins the 39th round of GPH-MILF talks as an observer. Photo by OPAPP

Congress has to pass the basic law, which will serve as the legal basis for the Bangsamoro political entity, before the new political entity can be established. Once it is in place, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be deemed abolished.

During the last round, the government and the MILF reached a breakthrough when they signed the crucial on wealth sharing.

READ: Inside story: The deal breaker in GPH-MILF talks

The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF. Under the Ramos government, the MNLF signed a peace pact that put an end to their rebellion, but the former rebels are now saying some of the provisions of the agreement have not been fulfilled.

This round of talks were held weeks after bombings in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato City.

The talks aim to end more than 3 decades of armed struggle in Mindanao.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/special-coverage/peacetalks/37256-gph-milf-round-39-talks-end

NPA releases captive soldier to Duterte

From InterAksyon (Aug 25): NPA releases captive soldier to Duterte

A soldier who was captured by rebels on August 3 in Compostela Valley was turned over to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte Saturday “after the family requested for assistance,” the military said Sunday.

Capt. Severino David, spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), identified the freed soldier as Private First Class Rodelio C. Rigonan, currently assigned at the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade of the 10th Infantry Division.

Rigonan’s capture was followed by a landmine explosion near the headquarters of the 71st Infantry Battalion in Barangay Pangibiran, Mabini, where the NPA claimed 6 soldiers were killed and 5 others wounded.

But this was vehemently denied by the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Borja, saying the rebels were “fabricating.”

“We had no casualties. What they did was terror to civilians in the area because the landmine explosion was just several meters away from the nearest neighborhood,” Borja said.

“The bomb explosion last 5 August at 8 p.m. was preceded by the arrest of Private First Class Rodello Canada Rigonan, a 1001st Brigade Headquarters utility personnel. Rigonan was caught by the NPA operatives on 3 August, at 11 p.m. in the vicinity of the military headquarters at Barangay Mapaang, Maco town,” said a statement released by Daniel Ibarra, spokesman of the NPA Sub-regional Command of the Compostela Valley-Davao Gulf Sub-region.

Ibarra said the attack was to avenge the killing of Eddie Canon, a civilian and municipal coordinator of a progressive partylist group in Barangay San Isidro, Mawab town last 25 May and of Ramil Lintas, a motorcycle driver of Barangay Calabcab, Maco town last 25 July allegedly by members of the 1001st Infantry Brigade.

But David had a different version of the circumstances behind Rigonan’s capture.
“Rigonan, a specialized electrician of the unit, was taken by force on August 4, 10 p.m. at the vicinity of their village in Mansaka, Barangay Langgam, Maco, Compostela Valley Province. The latter, who was off-duty, left their house to check on the electrical connection in their community upon the request of their neighbors when he chanced upon a group of men digging holes on the ground,” David said.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/69293/npa-releases-captive-soldier-to-duterte