Saturday, October 19, 2013

Palace sympathizes with Kirams over sultan’s death

From GMA News (Oct 20): Palace sympathizes with Kirams over sultan’s death

Malacañang on Sunday sympathized with the friends and relatives of the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who died after a battle with a kidney condition.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also said the Palace continues to study how the Philippines would go about its claim to Sabah.

“We offer our condolences to the bereaved family and to his loved ones,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.

Kiram died before dawn Sunday at the Philippine Heart Center. His remains were brought to his house in Taguig City and then to the Blue Mosque.

Before he died, he had "ordered" his followers to continue their efforts to “repossess” Sabah.

However, Valte said President Benigno Aquino’s order to the government to study how to go about pursuing the Philippine claim to Sabah is “still ongoing.”

She added Philippines' efforts to pursue Sabah will not be dependent on Kiram alone.

“The study is still ongoing,” she said.

Last March, two party-list lawmakers had asked Aquino to elevate the Philippines' claim to the International Court of Justice.

The appeal was done  days after conflict erupted in Lahad Datu in Sabah, between Malaysian authorities and followers of the Sulu sultanate.

In February this year, Kiram's followers engaged Malaysian forces in an effort to assert their claim on what they call their ancestral territory.

Based in Mindanao, the Islamic sultanate once controlled Sabah in northern Borneo, including Lahad Datu, the site of the stand-off.

Until now, the sultanate's heirs have been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah.

Malaysian forces conducted offensives in Sabah to flush out Kiram's followers, and have since charged several of the "intruders" with terrorism and waging war on the King.

The second offense carries the death penalty upon conviction.

US generals face tougher scrutiny for personal conduct

Posted to the Manila Times (Oct 20): US generals face tougher scrutiny for personal conduct

For cases ranging from adultery to illegal gambling, US generals are facing tough punishment for personal misconduct in an online era that has placed the top brass under unprecedented scrutiny.

Misbehavior could be quietly hushed up in the past without disrupting careers. But generals are now disciplined in the public spotlight, military officers and analysts said Friday.

“The bar has gotten higher,” said one senior officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “And the margin for error has gotten smaller. They are under the microscope.”

Last week, the number-two ranking officer overseeing the country’s nuclear forces, Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, was fired over allegations he used counterfeit chips at a casino in Iowa.

Two days later, Major General Michael Carey, who was in charge of hundreds of land-based nuclear missiles as head of the 20th Air Force, was removed from his post due to “a loss of confidence and trust.”

Carey is under investigation for personal “misbehavior,” which officials said allegedly involved alcohol.

Last year, the four-star officer running Africa Command, General Kip Ward, was reprimanded after a probe found he misused funds for lavish travel. Ward was stripped of a star and retired at a lower rank.

In January, US Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair will face a court martial over alleged forcible sodomy and other charges, in a case rife with sordid allegations.

The military’s most prominent general, David Petraeus, was never disciplined while in uniform but was forced to retire last year as head of the CIA after admitting to an affair with his biographer.

The legal rules that apply to generals have not changed but recent high-profile cases have shined a brighter light on the enforcement of those standards, said David Barno, a retired army general.

“What in the past might have been handled by quiet retirement today inevitably goes right to newspaper headlines. And it’s not a bad thing,” Barno told Agence France-Presse.

“It’s definitely a more transparent world than I think maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago, where these things probably occurred but were handled more quietly out of the public view.”

Dismayed over the scandals, the military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey, is overseeing a sweeping review of training and education for generals that aims to place a greater emphasis on ethics and personal character.

Dempsey has said the military needs leaders with both competence and character, and that a decade of war and big budgets had made for “some bad habits.”

“I think on a larger scale, we are seeing a tightening of standards in the military coming out of the two wars we’ve been in,” said Barno, now a fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

When generals are exposed for blunders or worse, there is a degree of “voyeuristic interest by people in the military,” said Eugene Fiddell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School.

“It’s what I call khaki shadenfreude.”

A frequent theme running through the cases is that senior officers, having worked their way up a rigorous system, seem to lose their bearings when they make it to the top.

“It has long fascinated me that people who reach a certain pay grade may conclude that they are bullet proof,” he said.

“And it’s always a surprise when you see this.”

Although held to account for personal misconduct, generals and admirals are rarely if ever fired over their professional performance.

But last month, the Marine Corps sacked two generals for failing to prevent a disastrous attack on a major NATO base in southern Afghanistan—a decision that sent shockwaves through the military.

It was the first time since Vietnam that generals had been relieved of command over their battlefield performance.

“For some years now there has been a trend toward reduced tolerance for personal misbehavior in senior officers, but this hasn’t generally extended to accountability for their professional military performance,” said Stephen Biddle, professor of political science at George Washington University.

“Perhaps the Marine Corps action signals a new trend on this score. After 12 years of warfare this would seem overdue,” he said.

But other analysts said the military holds top officers accountable at every step of their career, declining to promote them if they fail to make the grade.

“It is true that most of these cases involve personal conduct rather than professional malpractice, but what the critics forget is that the military’s ‘up or out’ promotion system involves regularly holding people accountable, just in the form of not getting promoted,” said Peter Feaver, a professor at Duke University.

Duterte: Don’t touch Nur’s wife

From the Philippine Star (Oct 19): Duterte: Don’t touch Nur’s wife

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte yesterday asked authorities not to touch Tarhata Misuari, the wife of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari.

Misuari’s wife sought refuge in this city during the almost month-long clashes between MNLF forces loyal to Misuari and government forces in Zamboanga City.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Misuari following the Zamboanga siege that left several people dead and thousands others homeless.

“The family must be spared from this,” Duterte said, adding that those who are not involved in the standoff like Misuari’s family must be spared from the manhunt for the MNLF chairman.

Misuari is also married to Eleonora “Roida” Tan and Fatima Celia Kiram.  
Duterte said Tarhata sought his help as she wanted to relocate her family here.

“Tarhata, the wife, she has been here and she intends to relocate. I said fine, come here. She was complaining that they are being followed by the military in Zamboanga.

Well, in Davao City, that cannot happen because I will not allow it,” Duterte said.

Local authorities vowed to protect Misuari’s family while they are here. Duterte refused to divulge the exact location of Misuari’s wife.

2 church workers abducted in Basilan freed

From GMA News (Oct 20): 2 church workers abducted in Basilan freed

Two lay Church workers who were abducted in Basilan last September 4 were freed Thursday night after 43 days in captivity, a religious group said over the weekend.

An article posted on the Claretian Missionaries website identified the two as Fredrick Banut, 24, and Cherben Masong, 25, workers of the CSFI Bajau Literacy Program.

"(Both) were finally released, handed over to the military and arrived in Zamboanga City early morning of Friday, October 18, 2013 after (43) days of being held captive [by] armed men who took them at 9 in the evening of the 4th of September, 2013 at the Bajau Learning Center in Sitio Pangasaan, Brgy. Tairan, in the town of Lantawan, Basilan.," the Claretian Missionaries said.

It said the two met their families in the afternoon of Friday.

"We thank the Lord for this grace and we thank all those who have prayed for their safety," it said.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said Saturday night the two were released in Jolo, Sulu on Thursday night.

On the other hand, the CBCP said the armed men who took the two Church workers remained unidentified.

Spokesman: Before dying, Kiram ordered sustained fight to repossess Sabah

From GMA News (Oct 20): Spokesman: Before dying, Kiram ordered sustained fight to repossess Sabah

Despite the death of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, his followers will continue efforts to "repossess" Sabah for the Filipino people, the sultanate's spokesman said Sunday.

In a radio interview, Abraham Idjirani said repossessing Sabah for the Philippines was one of the last decrees issued by the sultan before he died early Sunday.

"(His third decree was) not to waive the objective to repossess Sabah for the sake of the Filipino people... Isulong at ituloy ang mission, dapat maibalik ang Sabah sa Pilipinas for the sake of the Filipino people (Kiram decreed that the mission to repossess Sabah should continue)," Idjirani said in an interview on dzBB radio.

The sultan's two other orders were for his brothers to be closer together, and for their families to unite, he added.

Earlier this year, Kiram's followers engaged Malaysian forces in a standoff that ended in bloody encounters starting March 1.

Malaysian forces conducted offensives in Sabah to flush out Kiram's followers. Malaysian authorities have since charged several of Kiram's followers with terrorism and waging war on the King.

The second offense carries the death penalty upon conviction.

Idjirani said the sultan talked to his two brothers, including Agbimuddin Raja Muda Kiram – who led an armed group to Sabah earlier this year – before he died.

For now, he said arrangements are being made for the sultan's remains to be brought to Taguig City. He said the sultan had wished to be buried in Sulu.

3 die, 3 hurt, 3 arrested in Lanao Sur clan war

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): 3 die, 3 hurt, 3 arrested in Lanao Sur clan war

CAMP SK PENDATUN, Maguindanao --Three persons were killed and three were hurt when two warring Maranao clans clashed during a wedding reception in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur Saturday.

In his report to Philippine National POlice-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao(PNP-ARMM) regional office, based in Cam SK Pendatun, Parang town in Maguindanao, Senior Superintendent Nickson Muksan, Lanao del Sur police provincial director, said the Dimaampao-Diamla clan and Tuba-Bilao clan who are locked in a long standing family feud or "rido," accidentally met at a Maranao couple wedding ceremonies.

Since they were both armed, they shot at each other, leaving three persons dead on the spot as civilians present during the party scampered for safety.

The arrival of responding joint elements of the Army's 51st Infantry Battalion and Lanao del Sur public safety battalion resulted in another clash, this time between government forces and an armed group believed to be supporters of one of the two warring clans.

The running gun battle left two armed men killed and three others wounded. Government forces recovered three M-16 Armalite rifles.

Police have already filed charges against the gunmen involved in the wedding shooting incident.

Muksan said his office has solicited the participation of Muslim religious leaders in bringing the warring Dimaampao-Diamla and Tuba-Bilao clan to settle their differences amicably and prevent bloodshed.

He said the incident has nothing to do with the coming October 28 balloting.

Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III dies

From Rappler (Oct 20): Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III dies

CONTINUE THE CLAIM. Sultan Jamalul Kiram III dies of organ failure Sunday October 20. Photo by Arcel Cometa
CONTINUE THE CLAIM. Sultan Jamalul Kiram III dies of organ failure Sunday October 20. Photo by Arcel Cometa
MANILA, Philippines (2nd Update) – Jamalul Kiram III, leader of the Sultanate of Sulu, died Sunday morning, October 20, of organ failure at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, his spokesperson Abraham Idjirani said.
He was 75, his daughter, Princess Jacel Kiram, said in a DZBB radio interview.
Idjirani said relatives will still discuss the funeral arrangements Sunday morning but Kiram made a wish before he passed away to be buried in the traditional capital of the Sultanate of Sulu, in Maimbung, Sulu.
In February, at least 100 armed followers of Kiram trooped to Lahad Datu, Sabah to revive the Sultanate's claim to the Eastern Malaysian state. The move resulted in a standoff between Malaysian security troops and Kiram's "Royal Security Force." (READ: Sultan infuriates PH, Malaysia)
Kiram asked his siblings to continue the Sultanate's fight to reclaim Sabah, Idjirani said, adding that Kiram spoke with his brother Raja Agbimuddin Kiram, who led the Sabah standoff, over the phone a day before he died.
But this did not mean renewed violence, Kiram's wife, Fatima, told Agence France-Presse.
Fatima said the family was willing to enter into negotiations with Malaysia.
"The sultan died a poor but honourable man," she said. "His last words to all his brothers and followers were, 'It has already begun. Let us continue it for the good of our people. Do not abandon our people."
Several followers of the Sultanate of Sulu are presently facing terrorism-related charges in Malaysia over the Sabah incident.
In 2007, Kiram ran for senator under then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Team Unity slate.
Prior to his senatorial, Kiram was a member of the Legislative and Executive Advisory Council (LEDAC) on the Sabah Claim. He was also Arroyo's Presidential Adviser on Muslim Royalties' Concern.
The Sultan of Sulu once ruled over islands in Mindanao, as well as Sabah. But the sultanate lost control of Sabah to European colonial powers in the 18th Century.
In 1963, Sabah voted to become part of the federation of Malaysia.
Kiram and his family, still receive annual compensation from Malaysia – the equivalent of about $1,700 – but he had previously said this amount was far too low.
Aside from Kiram, there are other descendants of the sultanate who also claim to be the true sultans of Sulu.
Fatima Kiram said her husband's younger brother, Bantillan, would take over as sultan, stressing he had "the legal authority."

Jamalul Kiram III dies, daughter says sultan wants Pinoys to continue fight for Sabah

From InterAksyon (Oct 20): Jamalul Kiram III dies, daughter says sultan wants Pinoys to continue fight for Sabah

File photo of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Bernard Testa/

Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III passed away Sunday morning at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) in Quezon City, the sultan's daughter Princess Jacel Kiram, told dzMM radio.

Kiram, who fought to reclaim Sabah from Malaysia, died at 4:42 a.m. He was 75. 
He was supposed to undergo dialysis but his blood pressure dropped drastically prompting his family to rush the sultan to the PHC where he died due to multiple organ failure, according to Princess Jacel.

"Iniwanan n'ya tayo [He left us] with something to move on. We have to continue fighting for the Filipino people," his daughter said.

"Ang gusto n'ya tayo na lang ho ang magpatuloy for the Sabah case [What he wants is for us to pursue the Sabah case]," added Kiram's daughter.

Princess Jacel said that before he died, her father said that, "You have to be strong dahil meron pa tayong misyon sa buhay. Kailangang maibalik kung ano ang dapat na maibalik sa atin You have to be strong because we still have a mission in life. What needs to be returned should be returned to us] ."

She said Kiram also always told his family that, "Everything happens because the Almighty allowed it to happen."

Kiram's remains were brought to his residence at Maharlika Village in Taguig City. Princess Jacel said their family would like to bury the sultan in Maimbung, Sulu within 24 hours.

In February this year,  Kiram sent about 400 of his followers to Tanduao village in Sabah's remote coastal town of Lahad Datu to reclaim the territory.

Kiram said he was prompted to send his people to Sabah after the Philippine government left them out of the framework agreement signed in October, which only catered to the interest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

It was Malaysia, which took over Sabah in 1963, that brokered the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF.

While the MILF respects the Kiram family's claim to Sabah and won't stand in the way of that claim, it "will not revive the claim," according to Khaled Musa, deputy chairperson of the MILF's committee on information.  

Kiram, who ran but lost in the 2007 senatorial elections, was the acknowledged leader of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. The sultanate based in Southern Philippines once controlled North Borneo, which is now known as Sabah.  

The sultanate acquired Sabah as a prize for helping the Sultan of Brunei against his enemies.

According to the sultante, it did not relinquish its sovereignty over Sabah and only leased the territory to the Briitish North Borneo Company starting in 1878.

Pajak, the keyword in the 1878 pact

The keyword in the 1878 agreement between the Kiram family and Gustavo von de Overbeck of the Briitish North Borneo Company was pajak. The Kirams maintain that pajak means lease. But Malaysian authorities define pajak as sale.

The lease continued until the independence and formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963, which included Sabah.

Because of Sabah's inclusion, the Philippine government during the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal, broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia.

It was during Macapagal's term when then reigning Sultan of Sulu, Muhammad Esmail E. Kiram I, ceded to the Philippine government the full sovereignty, title, and dominion of Sabah to the Republic of the Philippines. This gave the Philippine government the full authority to pursue its claim to Sabah in international courts.

But starting in 1989, succeeding administrations put the Sabah claim on the back burner and instead decided to pursue economic and security relations with Malaysia.

P70,000 for 7 million hectares 

Up to now, the heirs of the sultanate receive rental money for Sabah from the Malaysian government.

Sabah’s total land area is 7.36 million hectares or almost one-fourth of the Philippines, which is 30 million hectares.

Annually, the Malaysian government pays the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, 5,300 Malaysian ringgit currently equivalent to P70,000. If pajak is defined as rent, it means that Malaysia’s annual rent of Sabah is only .009 centavos per hectare.

According to Kiram, the rent they receive only proves that the sultante owns Sabah.
"Why should we leave our own home? In fact, they are paying rent (to us)," Kiram earlier told reporters in Manila.

"Our followers will stay in Lahad Datu. Nobody will be sent to the Philippines. Sabah is our home," he added.

New video of Zamboanga fighting surfaces, civilian hostages attacked

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 19): New video of Zamboanga fighting surfaces, civilian hostages attacked

They were waving white flags and crying for a cease-fire in the middle or a road, many were screaming as shots rang and followed by a random volley of automatic gunfire. Voices can be heard telling a group of civilians to stay put despite the firing and later telling them to hit the ground as the shooting intensify. 

Those were the scenes in a 3-minute video clip taken during a street battle between security forces and separatist Moro National Liberation Front rebels who had taken more than more than 200 civilians and used them as shield in Zamboanga City in September. The horrifying video surfaced on the social networking site Facebook, but it was unknown who uploaded it.

 But while the hostages, numbering about three dozen, were pleading to security forces for a cease-fire, one rebel, clad in military uniform, was also spotted hiding among the group of civilians who continued waving white flags. Other rebels were hiding inside buildings as the video - probably from a cell phone camera - recorded the shootings outside. The area was either Santa Barbara or Santa Catalina village, scenes of deadly clashes.

Cease-fire, cease-fire

“Huwag, huwag doon kayo. Huwag kayong umalis. Diyan kayo, huwag kayong umalis,” a voice in the video can be heard as telling the hostages, some of them minors and women, who were trying to run for cover as the shooting intensified. 

 The hostages were forced to hide behind a jeep, some crawling on their stomach to avoid the whizzing bullets fired by government troops positioned from the end of the road. The captives continue to wave their white flags and shouting “cease-fire, cease-fire,” but the deafening sounds of gunfire drowned their scream.

The rebel, who was hiding among the hostages, ran in a building where his group was hiding. On the road, slippers and bags of clothes of the hostages were scattered and captives were disoriented, crying, screaming and begging for the firing to stop, but the shooting continued. Some of the captives were shouting “cell phone, cell phone, please tawagan ninyo sir,” apparently appealing to rebels to phone  security forces and tell them that they were firing on civilian hostages. 

 One rebel ordered the hostages to stay on the ground. The rebels were talking among themselves in their local dialect, Tausug, and all appeared calm. One rebel fired his bazooka towards the position of government troops, where the firing was emanating. 

It was unknown if any of the hostages were killed in the shooting, but the whole three minute scene in the video showed the safety and lives of the civilians were put on the line. The attack on rebels and their hostages caught on video has put to light a small preview of what really took place during three weeks of street battles between protagonists and antagonists.


 The fighting in Zamboanga killed and wounded over 400 people, among them hostages and innocent civilians caught in the violence. More than 100,000 people had fled the fighting and sought refuge in temporary shelters as war ravaged their villages to ashes.

Hundreds of rebels from the provinces of Basilan and Sulu and Zamboanga Peninsula led by Ustadz Khabir Malik stormed Zamboanga after their leader Nur Misuari, who signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996, accused President Benigno Aquino of reneging on the accord. 

Malik escaped a tight military dragnet in Zamboanga, while Misuari has gone into hiding after close to 300 rebels have surrendered or captured. More than 200 civilian hostages have been freed or escaped during the fighting, but the trauma and terrifying ordeal they went through remain with them.  

Prior to the Zamboanga attack, police in the Muslim autonomous region has said that it is gathering evidence to charge Misuari of sedition because his fiery statements in public meetings and pronouncement against the Aquino government. Police accused the former Libyan firebrand of fomenting sedition in the restive region of Mindanao.

 Investigations into attack, termination of tripartite review of MNLF peace deal

Representative Lilia Nuno, of Zamboanga City, has filed a resolution in Congress to conduct an official inquiry into the atrocious rebel attack. 

Two other lawmakers - Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares - have also filed a resolution that would investigate Manila’s decision to terminate the tripartite review of the 1996 government peace agreement with the MNLF. They filed House Resolution 302 directing the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity to conduct the investigation.

In their joint resolution, the two lawmakers said MNLF spokesman Emmanuel Fontanilla confirmed that rebel forces launched the attacks in Zamboanga City in response to the government’s termination of the tripartite review of the peace deal and to defend their leader from possible arrest following his declaration of Mindanao independence and militarization in areas controlled by rebels in southern Philippines.

The resolution further said that President Benigno Aquino has applied “divide and rule” tactic in dealing with separatist rebels and the ongoing peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the agreement on the Bangsamoro government entity and the disregard to the MNLF peace accord.

Recall note verbale to OIC

In August, a group of senior MNLF leaders have passed a resolution asking the Aquino government to recall its note verbales with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for the closure of the tripartite review of the peace accord. It was signed by signed by Abebakrin Lukman and Abuamri Tadik, both acting secretaries of the MNLF Senior Leaders’ Forum and attested by Yusop Jikiri, its presiding chairman.

The former rebel leaders said they would only support the peace process as long as the Aquino government agreed on their condition to recall two diplomatic communications sent by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on January 30 and March 21 this year.

The two diplomatic communications also sparked a widespread condemnation from Misuari, who repeatedly threatened to secede after accusing Manila of failing to honor provisions of the peace deal.

The OIC helped broker the peace talks between the MNLF and the Philippines that led to the eventual signing of the agreement. Misuari said it has been three decades now since the OIC mediated in the peace talks, but Manila has failed to comply with the provisions in the accord. 

Misuari has repeatedly accused the Aquino government of trying to abrogate the peace accord. He also denounced the peace talks between the Aquino government and rival rebel group MILF after peace negotiators signed an accord last year that would create a new Bangsamoro state. Misuari said the new deal violates the 1996 peace accord.

The Muslim homeland would replace the existing Muslim autonomous region which is composed of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao provinces, including the cities of Marawi and Lamitan. And several more areas in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato would also be included in the new autonomous region.

2nd time

After the 1996 peace accord with the MNLF, Misuari became the governor of autonomous region. But many former rebels were disgruntled with the accord, saying, the government failed to uplift their standards of living. The rebels accused Manila of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the South, which remains in mired in poverty, heavily militarized and dependent financially on the government.

In November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari again accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and his followers launched a new rebellion in Sulu and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed.

Misuari escaped by boat to Malaysia, but was arrested there and deported to the Philippines. He was eventually freed in 2008 after Manila dropped all charges against him for lack of sufficient evidence. He was also ousted by Muslimin Sema, the MNLF Secretary-General, but Misuari maintained that he is the true leader of the former rebel group.

Misuari ran for governor in Sulu province three times and failed. He again ran for governor in the Muslim autonomous region in May this year, and also failed.

Several screen shots from a video of September fighting between security and rebel forces in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. Images show civilian hostages waving white flags and how they scampered for safety after troops fired at them, and one rebel aiming his bazooka towards troops at the end of the road in the village.

4 NPA rebels trade guns for peace

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 20): 4 NPA rebels trade guns for peace

After thinking about the future of their families, four New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents in Capiz abandoned the armed struggle and traded their firearms to live in peace.

Maj. Ray Tiongson, the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) public affairs officer, said Celso G. Francisco alias “Cielo” or “Celo,” Joey O. Francisco alias “Palos,” and Jimmy S. Jacinto alias “Gimo,” Rodelio Delia — all residents of Capiz and are members of the Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay (CF, KR-P) — received P50,000 livelihood assistance from the government to help them and their families as they start a new life.

Capiz Gov. Victor A. Tanco, Maricel Bantilo of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and Violeta Silva of the Capiz Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office led the turn-over of the financial assistance to the former rebels during the awarding ceremony held at the Capiz Provincial Capitol in Roxas City on Friday.

Soldier dead, rebel captured

From Tempo (Oct 16): Soldier dead, rebel captured

SANTIAGO, Agusan del Norte – An Army soldier was killed and scores of New People’s Army (NPA) fighters were believed either killed or wounded while the rebels’ alleged rebel platoon leader was captured in two separate encounters in Palo 9 and Palo 8 of Barangay Poblacion 1, Santiago town, Agusan del Norte, yesterday.

Supt. Martin M. Gamba, spokesman for Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), identified the slain Army soldier as Pfc. Rey A. Pastrana of 29thInfantry Battallion (29th IB).

The identity of the captured Platoon 1 commander of the Sanga Samahang Partido Platoon, Front Committee 16-A of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee, is temporarily withheld pending investigation, said Gamba.

NPA hitman nabbed, CAFGU hurt: Army

From the Visayan Daily Star (Oct 17): NPA hitman nabbed, CAFGU hurt: Army

A suspected New People's Army hitman was arrested Sunday in Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, when his comrades harassed and fired at an isolated military outpost that day in the adjacent Brgy. Sandayao in the city.

Lt. Col. Wilfredo Isaac, 11 th Infantry Battalion commander, yesterday said the arrest of Juan Butalid in Sitio Punong, Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, yielded an improvised 5.56 Springfield gun with six live ammunition. A fragmentation grenade was also recovered from his military backpack, he said.

The arrest of Butalid was made several hours after suspected NPA rebels harassed a military detachment in Brgy. Sandayao, Guihulngan City, where a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, identified as Ariel Celestino, was hit in the abdomen during the harassment.

Isaac, however, said Celestino, who is now in stable condition, is being treated at the Camp Lapu Lapu Station Hospital in Cebu City, where he was evacuated by an Air Force helicopter from the military outpost.

Based on the confession of Butalid, Isaac said the NPA retaliated after nine members of its Yunit Militia in Brgy. Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental and Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, severed ties with the revolutionary movement, and surrendered 17 assorted firearms, including an anti-tank weapon, ammunition for 60mm mortar, and 12 rifle grenades.

Butalid admitted that the NPA is trying its best to win back the sympathy and support of their mass-based supporters in Guihulngan, where Army Bayanihan Teams are immersed with the populace in conflict-affected depressed communities in central Negros, Isaac added.

The 11IB is facilitating the availment of cash assistance for the nine ex-rebels, who surrendered firearms and explosives to its unit, under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Guns for Peace Program.

Military counts 3 election-related killings in Lanao Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 19): Military counts 3 election-related killings in Lanao Sur
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The Army has listed at least three killings in Lanao del Sur related to the October 28 barangay (village) elections.

Colonel Glen Macasero, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday that the latest election–related violence in the province took place on Thursday, when re-electionist chairman Hadji Mohammad Tomimbang of Barangay Ririk in the municipality of Taraka was shot dead by a lone assailant.

He said Tomimbang was on his way to a mosque in the neighboring barangay of Sambolawan for the early morning prayer when he was shot.

Macasero said that on October 12, an aspirant for the position of chairman in Barangay Oriental Beta in Lumba Caunayan town was shot dead. He did not identify neither victim nor attacker.

On Oct. 11, Salman Abdulrahman, the re-electionist chair of Barangay Bansayan in Piagapo town was also killed during an ambush by still unidentified gunmen, he said.

Abdulrahman, Macasero said, had just filed his certificate of candidacy and was on his way home with two others when the pick-up truck he was riding was fired upon by the perpetrators, using automatic rifles.

The village official’s two companions were wounded in the attack, he said.

Macasero said while the three incidents were confirmed to be election-related, Wednesday’s gun fight at the wedding of a Maranao couple in Barangay Lige that claimed the lives of three people and wounded several others, was determined to be the off-shoot of a family feud.

He said armed members of the Diamla-Dimaapao and the Tuba-Bilao clans unexpectedly met at the wedding and immediately opened fire on each other. Three gunmen died there and then, he added.

Macasero said responding members of the 51st Infantry Battalion engaged another group, suspected to be part of one of the feuding clans, and killed two gunmen.

“Three other armed men were also captured during the firefight and our soldiers recovered three M-16 rifles,” he said.

Macasero said the police have filed charges against those involved in the wedding incident.

He said because politics was heating up in Lanao del Sur as the elections draw near, the military has deployed an additional battalion in the province.

Macasero said the military was also trying to bring political aspirants to peace dialogues and possible signing of covenants on non-use of violence.

In Maguindanao, Moro rebels said to be supportive of a still unidentified politician stormed two villages in Pagalungan town and scared away residents as they strafed houses while searching for the most likely rival of their candidate on Thursday.

Captain Anthony Bulao, spokesperson of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, said members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under Buto Sanday and two other rebel commanders descended on the villages of Bagoinged and Kudal as the filing of COCs for the barangay elections was coming to a close. The MILF guerrillas were reported to be supporters of a candidate and were looking for his opponent.

Bulao said some 300 villagers fled but no one was reported hurt in the incident.

He said the military has sent peacekeeping forces to the two villages and has informed the joint ceasefire committees about the incident for possible intervention so that the situation would not escalate.

Harry Thomas ends tour of duty

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 19): Harry Thomas ends tour of duty

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

American Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. has ended his tour of more than three years as the United States envoy to the Philippines on Thursday, just a few days after making a farewell call on President Benigno Aquino III.

US Embassy spokesperson Kurt Hoyer said on Friday Thomas’ appointed successor is Philip Goldberg, Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) at the US Department of State, but his appointment has yet to be confirmed by the US Congress.

US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Brian Goldbeck, who arrived in Manila in August last year as Thomas’ deputy chief of mission, will be on top of the mission’s affairs pending the arrival of the new envoy.

Before leaving the Philippines, Thomas received the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Grand Cross, Silver Distinction from President Aquino on Monday.

He was cited for his key role in enhancing the long-standing defense alliance between the Philippines and the United States, in particular the 2011 signing of the Manila Declaration which reaffirmed the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty on its 60th year.

Thomas left Manila just as the two countries continued to nurture this alliance, highlighted of late by negotiations on the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country as part of the United States’ strategic pivot to the Asia Pacific and the Philippines’ external defense buildup.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier welcomed the appointment of Thomas’ replacement, with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario saying the career diplomat “will be a very good ambassador.”

Goldberg, 57, was one of eight officials that US President Barack Obama nominated to key administration posts on July 30, along with America’s new envoys to Indonesia, Argentina, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago, Cameroon and Niger, and a new deputy interior secretary.

Prior to his INR stint, the official, who had served important posts overseas and at his home office, was posted as envoy to Bolivia from 2006 to 2008.

His time in the South American state ended in controversy when he was kicked out by Bolivian President Evo Morales for allegedly meddling in state affairs amid political unrest in his country. Goldberg denied the charges. Morales is known to be an ally of fierce US critic Venezuela.

CPP/NDF: Solidarity message to the 10th General Assembly of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns

Posted to the PRWC Blog site (Oct 16): Solidarity message to the 10th General Assembly of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns

Coni Ledesma
NDFP Special Office for the Protection of Children (Special Office for the Protection of Children)
The Special Office for the Protection of Children of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines extends warm congratulations to Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns on the occasion of your 10th General Assembly from 14-16 October 2013.

During the past year, since the Second National Conference spearheaded by you together with the Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Gabriela Alliance of Filipino Women, you have made big strides in your work among children, defending and upholding their rights, caring for those who need special attention and psychological help, and continuing to bring the situation of children to the general public. We continue to support you in your line of work and consider it a major part of caring for children.

The overwhelming majority of Filipino children are the sons and daughters of workers, peasants and urban poor and are victims of an unjust social system which consigns them to a life of exploitation, poverty, ignorance, malnourishment, disease and underdevelopment as human beings.

We consider it timely now for the development of a comprehensive organization for children, one that will uphold, protect and promote the rights of all Filipino children to participate in ways appropriate to them, in the overall struggle of the Filipino people. We call on you to help in developing such an organization.

We must assist the children to participate in educating and organizing themselves, so they contribute their skills, talents and creativity to the overall struggle. In this way, they can realize their full potential as children, together with the rest of the entire Filipino people, as active participants in the struggle for a just and democratic Philippines.

I wish you great success in your work.

CPP/NPA: Video: Status--Negros

Posted to the PRWC blog site (Oct 2013): Video: Status--Negros

Sine Proletaryo
Oktubre 2013
Status: Negros, Sine Proletaryo's latest video featuring the interview of Ka Marco Marasigan, CPP spokesperson for Negros Island, relating revolutionary work and people's war development in Negros island...

Status: Negros

An interview with Ka Marco Marasigan, spokesperson for the Negros Island Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, on the current status of the Negros revolutionary forces and mass movement. This is part of the "Status of the Revolution" series which will tackle the situation of the revolutionary forces in various regions and islands, in line with the CPP's upcoming 45th anniversary on December 26, 2013.

MILF: Editorial--Changing the Status Quo

Editorial posted to the MILF Websites (Oct 18): Changing the Status Quo

There is only one sure way to change the status quo: launch a revolutionary armed struggle and once victory is attained, everything falls in place. The other way is through reforms, but this approach is held by the neck by the power-that-be. It hardly changes anything. The third option is through negotiation after a long and bloody engagement between the warring parties. This is what the MILF and GPH is doing for the last 16 years.
However, common in all three options is that all takes too long to see results or to achieve the avowed objectives. Sometimes, the situation worsens in the transition. Besides, armed struggle is bloody and destructive and the outcome cannot be ascertained until all the prerequisites needed for victory are present. Mere reforms will hardly make any difference. The powerful will only listen with closed ears and minds to people’s voices and rumblings. Sometimes, force is used to cow people and kill their aspiration dead on track. Similarly, negotiation is not an assured menu for solving, say, the Bangsamoro Question. Without effective safeguards and people’s participation and foreign good offices or helping hand, agreements can be set aside by powerful partners in negotiation.

However, in the case of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation, there is clearly enough goodwill on both sides. The MILF has found a fitting and reliable peace partner in President Benigno Aquino III. This alone gives enough reason for the success of these peace talks.

However, much of the difficulty in the current peace negotiation between the GPH and MILF is about the mistrust for the future. Both sides have legitimate fears and risks that cannot be aside just that. However, between the two partners, the MILF is clearly the weaker partner and, therefore, its fears shall be seriously considered by government. There is no guarantee for the uncertain future except good agreement and effective implementation mechanism. More importantly, this agreement should be enshrined in the Constitution to make it difficult for the next administration in Manila to change.

Moreover, the GPH should be magnanimous enough to give enough powers and resources to the Bangsamoro, so that it can stand on its feet, without detaching the umbilical cord that connects the son to the mother. The Bangsamoro is still part of this country and it is still Filipino by citizenship. The real guarantee for the unity of this country is to give what is fair and due to everybody, especially to the Bangsamoro. On top of it all, this government must have the political will to overcome all challenges to the deal with the MILF.

MILF: Moro leaders air sentiments to LGU Gensan in a peace forum

From the MILF Website (Oct 18): Moro leaders air sentiments to LGU Gensan in a peace forum

Moro leaders in General Santos City aired the sentiments of the Muslim constituents during the peace forum with the city officials stressing that peace will be realized “when there is justice, equity and no discrimination against the Muslims.”
The Peace Forum held at Venue 88 Convention Hall in this city on October 10, 2013, was attended by Moro leaders, City Councilor Jeng Cagal, City Administrator Atty. Arnel Zapatos, and City Police Director Senior Superintendent Froilan Quidilla provided a venue to discuss on how cooperation with Muslim communities will strengthen peace in town.

“We, the Muslim, are natives in this town, yet we seem to be treated like second class citizens,” Esmael Mutalib, Chairman of the Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi Association in Gensan (SUBATAGEN), lamented.

He said Muslims in the city are left behind in terms of social, political and economic development.

“People here seem to forget that Gensan is part of Moroland. We have been here in our homeland since time immemorial but we’re treated like strangers,” Mutalib, also a prominent Tausog leader, further lamented.

Mutalib related the difficulty for Muslim job seekers to get hired in private companies due to discrimination. “Our job applicants are told ‘tatawagan ka lang namin (we will just call you up)’ but that is it, their applications are trashed,” he explained.

He also noted that some hospitals refuse to release cadavers of hospitalized Muslim until bills are settled. “We hope the city government can look into this because Muslims must be buried within 24 hours,” he explained.

Mutalib also said that there are Muslims who are disapproved by lending firms or appliance stores to avail their products.

Datu Alimudin Hassan, Raja Muda of Sugoda Buayan, noted that Muslims in the city are participative in activities inclined to peace. He said that the Muslims want harmonious relationship with the Christian Settlers and Indigenous People (Blaan).

Professor Isnira Baginda from Mindanao State University disclosed the insensitivity of some police or security personnel in establishments while checking customers’ belongings using bomb-sniffing dogs.

“Our bags or clothes should not be touched nor sniffed by dogs which Muslims consider dirty like swine,” she explained. “The inspection should be done manually,” she suggested.

She also asked if the city government can do something to persuade mall owners to put up Musallah “prayer area” for Muslim shoppers.

Gacal responded that they will look into the possibility of coming up with an ordinance that will address discrimination.

He announced that the City Council has already deliberated in their session the restructuring of the Office on Cultural Communities Affairs, an institution under the Office of the City mayor that will handle concerns of the Muslims.

The city councilor suggested for another forum specifically to discuss issues and concerns of the Muslims.

Zapatos said there will be programs for the Muslim communities through the said office.

He thanked the Muslim leaders for their support to peace. “We always look forward for your participation in peace dialogues,” he added.

Police Community Relations Group Director Chief Superintendent Sonny David, Chief of the Police Community Relations, also graced the affair.

He said “Respect and understanding are key to peace” and added that the national headquarter will back up the maintenance of good relationship among the people.

Quidilla enjoined Baginda to be the resource person for orientation of his policemen on cultural sensitivity.

There are reports that some Muslim job applicants changed Islam as their religion to other Christian denominations in their resume and use Christian when applying for work in malls.

MILF: Local feud between forces of MILF and MNLF in Matalam resolved

From the MILF Website (Oct 19): Local feud between forces of MILF and MNLF in Matalam resolved

The feud that entangled members of the 108h Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Command (SKSRC) of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Matalam, Cotabato since May this year was finally resolved.
In a Reconciliation Kanduli held at Matalam Municipal Gymnasium right after the congregational prayer to commemorate the Eidl Adha, the feuding parties celebrated with warm embrace their reconciliation.

Commander Haji Bayan Abbas of the 108th Base Command – BIAF and Datu Dima Ambil of the SKSRC led the reconciliation ceremony which the honorable Governor Lala Talino-Mendoza had organized.

Both Datu Dima and Hadji Bayan made their commitment to ensure that the reconciliation of their forces got involved in the feud will be lasting, adding “what happened between their men and their families were challenges that had been overcome.”

The high ranking commander form the MILF and MNLF stressed the feud was not organizational involving the MNLF and MILF.

“This reconciliation is very momentous as it is forged during the Eidl Adha."

“We will impose disciplinary actions to anyone under our command that will willfully violate our commitment,” they said.

Gov. Talino-Mendoza conveyed her full support to the reconciliation and vowed to step up the province development and unity programs.

Talino reiterated all-out support to the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and MILF under the facilitation of Malaysia.

The leadership of the MILF and MNLF, the government and MILF ceasefire committees, Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team, the Provincial Government of Cotabato, Mayors Valdivieso of Matalam and Pagalungan former Mayor Datu Norodin Matalam, former congressman Datu Jimmy Matalam and Jabib Guibar, Chaimrna of the Local Monitoring Team exerted all the efforts that led to this reconciliation.

The displaced families had returned to their communities of origin right after the reconciliation ceremony.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission and CSO sign MOA on public consultation

From MindaNews (Oct 18): Bangsamoro Transition Commission and CSO sign MOA on public consultation

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body tasked by the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law,  and the Mindanao Civil Society Organization Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) signed Thursday afternoon a memorandum of agreement on the conduct of “public engagements and consultations from the drafting of the Basic Law up to its enactment.”

The partnership between the 15-member GPH-MILF BTC and the MCSOPP, a platform comprising at least 120 groups and networks, aims to “promote transparency, inclusiveness and active participation of the local stakeholders” to generate “massive public support and ownership of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

SIGNING. Members of civil society with Bangsamoro Transition chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent MILF peace panel chair, at the signing of the memorandum of agreement on public consultations Thursday at the BTC office in Cotabato City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
SIGNING. Members of civil society with Bangsamoro Transition chair Mohagher Iqbal (center), concurrent MILF peace panel chair, at the signing of the memorandum of agreement on public consultations Thursday at the BTC office in Cotabato City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012 the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 23-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by June 30, 2016, the end of the Aquino administration.

Four annexes to the FAB are needed to complete the Comprehensive Peace Agreement: power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization, and transitional arrangements and modalities. They should have been finished before December 31, 2012 but only two have been signed thus far: transitional arrangements in February and wealth-sharing in July.

The MOA provides that at least 128 consultations will be conducted at the district level in the proposed core areas of the Bangsamoro and in every municipality included in the target expanded areas, with the consultation design approved by both the BTC and the MCSOPP.

The MCSOPP will submit the results of the consultations to the BTC.

The MOA signing was done shortly before 3 p.m. at the BTC office along Magallanes St.

Address expectations and fears

BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent chair of the MILF peace panel and MILF information chief, said public consultation is “indispensable” in the writing of the BBL because the public “must be consulted on matters affecting them.”

Once done, the draft law will be submitted to Congress and certified urgent by the President. When passed, a plebiscite will be conducted to determine if residents in the proposed areas want to be part of the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal said consultations will ensure “greater chances of public ownership of the process and the basic law” and allow the BTC to know the “expectations and fears of the people” so they can address them in their drafting of the Basic Law.

CONSULATIONS. Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal signs the memorandum of agreement on public consultations with lawyer Mary Ann Arnado and other leaders of civil society organizations on Thursday, October 17 at the BTC office in Coatabato City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
CONSULATIONS. Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal signs the memorandum of agreement on public consultations with lawyer Mary Ann Arnado and other leaders of civil society organizations on Thursday, October 17 at the BTC office in Coatabato City. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

“This engagement will not only be regional but also national in character. If possible, everyone, every household and every stakeholder will be reached out  so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission will have the widest support and reliable feedback mechanism in writing the Basic Law,”  said Iqbal.

“ I must say here for the nth time that the issue of peace is more important than the issue of war. Peace-making is essentially more complex than war-making. It is very easy to destroy but it is very hard to construct. This is the reason why all of us should nurture peace carefully; because it is only through this that the future is bright. In war, all of us will suffer and this country will never ever progress. War is the mother of all forms of poverty,” Iqbal stressed.

“Social contract”

Guiamel Alim, chair of the MCSOPP Steering Committee, described the MOA a “historic social contract that provides for the formal cooperation of CSOs and the BTC to give the public an opportunity to participate in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

Alim, also executive director of Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said the BTC is deeply committed to the Bangsamoro but needs help because it is faced with 3 Ks:  “kakulangan sa human resources; kakulangan sa financial resources; and kakulangan sa panahon” (lack of human resources, financial resources and time).

Aside from helping in the consultations, CSOs will also help in lobbying for the passage of the BBL in Congress, as well as help in the plebiscite and beyond 2016.
For Alim, “the real transformation of the Bangsamoro will be seen in 2016 and beyond.”

TRANSFORMATION. MCSOPP steering committee chair Guiamel Alim says the transformation of the Bangsamoro will come in 2016 and beyond. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
TRANSFORMATION. MCSOPP steering committee chair Guiamel Alim says the transformation of the Bangsamoro will be seen in 2016 and beyond. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

“In the end, the CSOS want to be part of a historical process of setting up a society where peace and development are felt not just by a few but by all. We are going to sign the MOA as part of this history for Change,” he said.

Julaida Juanday of the United Youth of the Philippines (Unyphil), said: “we want peace, we want change and we don’t want to suffer again from hardship and violence caused by armed conflict or war. As youth, we should support this because this is for us. This is for the new generation.”

The birthing of peace

Fr. Roberto Layson, parish priest of  Datu Piang in Maguindanao who witnessed the signing, imagined peace in the womb of a mother about to give birth.

“Soon, the mother will give birth and all of us will be happy,” Layson said in Filipino. But everyone, he said, needs to help the mother to ensure the baby she delivers, lives.

“Yung sanggol na yun ay yung kapayaan na matagal na po nating hinihintay. Sana po sa tulong ni Allah, ang Panginoon nating lahat, makita natin na buhay siya pagdating ng panahon.” (The newborn child is the peace that we have long been waiting for. With the help of Allah, our God, we will see the baby live).

BIRTHING OF PEACE. Fr. Roberto Layson, parish priest of Datu Piang in Maguindanao, says everyone must help to ensure that peace will live on.  MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
BIRTHING OF PEACE. Fr. Roberto Layson, parish priest of Datu Piang in Maguindanao, says everyone must help to ensure that peace will live on. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

As parish priest of Pikit in North Cotabato and head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), Layson experienced four wars in six years – 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003 – in Pikit.

Laywer Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus said they hope to achieve their “modest contribution” within a six-month time frame starting Thursday.

Even if the Kuala Lumpur talks did not yield positive results last week, “we already want to hit the ground so people will feel there is something going on already,” Arnado said of the consultations.

She explained that the participating CSOs are a mixed group of “Muslims, Christians, indigenous peoples, all wiling to accompany the Bangsamoro.”

Cotabato City Councilor Jojo Cortez said peace will benefit everyone in Mindanao, especially in his city.

Active peace builders

Kristian Herbolzheimer,  Director of the Philippines and Colombia Programmes of Conciliation Resources, an NGO-member of the GPH-MILF peace process’ International Contact Group  (ICG) said the challenge for the BTC is “really to make  each and every person in the Bangsamoro feel they are part of this process, that they are not passive listeners to the armed actors taking decisions on behalf of them building peace (but) they are active peace builders because their voice and their opinion are being listened to and responded to and reflected in the new constitution which is what the basic law, at the end of the day, is all about.”

He said a momentum must be created where everyone in the Bangsmaoro feels “there is a better future for all of us and we will be part of it.”

Malaysia’s Maj. Gen. Dato Fadzil bin Mokhtar, head of mission of the International Monitoring Team, said the partnership between the BTC and the CSOs will “strengthen ownership” of the peace process and a “step towards realizing aspirations of parties to have inclusive peace, durable, lasting, acceptable to all.”

Gus Miclat, executive director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) said the signing of the MOA is a “mere formalization of what has already been there.”

He recalled that CSOs have been doing public consultations in the past and submitting them to the panels for consideration but the MOA “formalized and institutionalized what we have been doing.”

DND official says bidding competition to ensure quality ships for PHL frigate program

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): DND official says bidding competition to ensure quality ships for PHL frigate program

With 11 shipyards expressing interest in the Department of National Defense's P18-billion frigate program, DND spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez expressed confidence the competition will ensure the delivery of quality ships to the Philippine Navy.

He added this also meant the competing shipyards will do their best to come up with suitable and innovative designs which are within the DND's budget.

"Hopefully, we (will) get the best quality and more capabilities for the budget we have," Galvez stressed.

Earlier, 11 firms have expressed their interest to participate in the DND's frigate program.

These companies are Piriou Naval Services, Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures), Thyssenkrupp Marine System, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Damen Shipyards, Fincantieri, STX France SA, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Inc., Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd., DCNS France and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd.

The frigates will be the most heavily armed vessels in Philippine Navy service.

Technical specifications obtained by MaxDefense: Philippines, a blogsite for Philippine defense related matters, revealed that the ships, at minimum, will be armed with:

-76mm gun at forward section with target tracking radar and/or electro-optical target acquisition and fire control computer;

-one stabilized secondary gun;

-four . 50-caliber machine guns;

-primary and secondary guns shall be integrated to combat management system;

four surface-to-surface missile launchers, minimum 50km range, active homing seeker and ECCM capability;

-surface-to-air missile launching system, minimum quadruple launcher, minimum 6km range, IR or semi-active homing seeker, with ECCM and/or IR CCM capability;

-anti-submarine torpedoes, minimum range 2km, minimum depth 500m, with acoustic countermeasures capability, two triple launchers (one on each side).

With these armaments, the ships will capable of engaging any aerial, surface and sub-surface threats that may intrude in Philippine territory.

At present, the most potent weapon system in PN service is the 76mm Oto Melara main gun and Mark 38 Model 2 25 mm "Bushmaster" auto-cannon fitted in the Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates and Emilio Jacinto class patrol vessels.

23 NPA members in Ilocos Region running in Oct. 28 barangay polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 19): 23 NPA members in Ilocos Region running in Oct. 28 barangay polls

Top military and police officials declassified an intelligence report showing that the local communist terrorist New People's Army (NPA) has fielded its own men to run for barangay chairman and councilman in the barangay elections in Region 1 this October 28.

Senior Supt. Sterling Raymund Blanco, chief of the regional intelligence division of the Region 1 police, said in a briefing Friday afternoon at Camp Florendo that at least 23 NPA members are being monitored to be running in the barangay polls in the provinces of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and La Union.

Blanco said some of these NPA members are even incumbent barangay officials.

Aware of the NPA plan to take advantage of the barangay elections, either to penetrate the local government or stage terrorism activities, police and military officials have prepared a tight security plan to prevent any untoward incident during the election period.

Chief Supt. Ricardo Marquez, Region 1 police director, said the strengthened security in the four provinces will be in effect during and after the elections.

“We have come up with security plan before and after the elections to ensure our peace and order situation,” Marquez said, adding that the Army and the Navy have joined the police in these preparations.

Meanwhile, Col. Vic Castro of the 72nd Infantry Brigade said they will be on alert during the election to help policemen prevent any attack by the rebels.

“The NPA might take advantage of the election period because this is the best time to stage ambush or any kind of sabotage of facilities, including vital installations,” Castro stressed.

The police and military together with the poll body have identified 171 barangays in Region 1 as election areas of concern. At the same time, they also put on watch at least 14 criminal gangs and two private armed groups.

For his part, Atty. Noli Pipo, Comelec regional director, asked for tight security of election personnel and teachers to avoid any untoward incident while they are performing their election duties.

“We all know that there is tension, intense political rivalries in the barangay level because those contesting are relatives, families, friends and neighbors,” Pipo said.

Overall, Pipo expressed confidence that elections in Region 1 would be peaceful and orderly.