Friday, November 1, 2013

MILF: BDA invited anew to Mindanao Young Leaders Programin Japan

From the MILF Website (Oct 31): BDA invited anew to Mindanao Young Leaders Programin Japan

The Embassy of Japan in the Philippines once again invited the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) to participate in this year’s Mindanao Young Leaders Invitation Program. This program aims at deepening the participants’ understanding of Japan through the exchange of views with Japanese experts from government and private sectors as well as through visits to industrial and cultural institutions.
The program kicked off on October 21, 2013 and will run until October 28, 2013, said the report by BDA News and Information on October 27.

This year’s participants were composed of representatives from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Ceasefire Committee of the Government of the Philippines, Bangsamoro civil society and the BDA.Engr. WindelDiangcalan, Program Division Head, represented the BDA.

It was noted the BDA participated in the Mindanao Young Leaders Invitation Program in 2011 and 2012. “We are very grateful to the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines for inviting the BDA in three straight years to participate in this program”, said Dr. Mohammad Yacob, BDA Executive Director.

Japan is supporting the BDA, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), since 2006 for the drafting Socio Economic Development Plan under the Socio Economic Reconstruction and Development in the Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao (SERD CAAM) project. Currently, JICA partners the BDA in the implementation of the Community Development in the Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao (CD CAAM) Program. BDA has partnered with Embassy of Japan on the facilitation of the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).

JICA is likewise among the development partners providing support to BDA in the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan both the Phase 1 – Transition Development Plan (2014-2015) and Phase 2 – Medium Term Development Plan (2015-2019).

During the send off meeting on October 21, 2013 at the office of the Embassy of Japan in Manila, H.E. Toshinao Urabe informed the Mindanao participants that the Japan Government is highly committed in supporting the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process.

While this program provides opportunity to learn how Japan carried out its reconstruction effort and speedy economic recovery after the war, Ambassador Urabe encouraged the Mindanao participants to share their experiences to the Japanese experts from government and private sectors in Japan during their visit.

The participants arrived in Tokyo on October 21, 2013. From October 22-23, 2013, they visited the government and private offices that include: a) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and b) Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Mindanao participants had also paid courtesy call to Ambassador Manuel Lopez at the office of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

The program participants will also visit Hiroshima, Kyoto and Osaka on October 24-27, 2013.

As of posting, no information whether the Mindanao young leaders have arrived from Japan.

PMA to adopt ‘peace curriculum’

From the Business Mirror (Nov 1): PMA to adopt ‘peace curriculum’

“The soldier always fervently prays for peace. For the soldier, of all people, will suffer the deepest wounds of war.”

Borrowing these words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Vice Adm. Edgar Abogado, who heads the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), said the school is not training cadets to be soldiers proficient at killing the enemy but to be active agents of peace.
“Yes, you may not believe it, but the soldiers are the very first people who pray for peace, who pray that the conflict among warring brothers be put to an end, and who pray that no more blood be shed in the battlefield,” he said during the Multistakeholders Engagement and Community Development training workshop for civilian and military professors at the International Center for Peace in Mindanaw (IC Peace in Mindanaw) of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI) recently.
The training workshop was designed to help PMA professors understand the concept of peace-building and teach them how to integrate peace-building and multistakeholder engagement into the PMA curriculum, as it gave them the opportunity to better understand the dynamics of multistakeholder-engagement processes.
In particular, the training allowed the PMA professors to analyze the dynamics of a community situation and identify stakeholders with their perspectives and interests; develop strategies for effective communication and interactions with their stakeholders; and formulate key learning objectives and design key processes for the cadets’ deepening understanding of community development through multistakeholders engagement and partnership as key to peace-building work.
“The integration of peace-building courses in the curriculum endeavors to equip cadets to become peace-builders and not just combatants,” Abogado stressed as he explained that “peace curriculum” completes the tripod of the Armed Forces’ Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan that will eventually “shape our cadets as professional soldiers [who are] ready and capable of undertaking Civic Military Operations [CMO] activities as part of the counter-insurgency equation. This is PMA’s contribution to the new but noble role of the Armed Forces.”
Maj. Ronald Illana, PMA assistant chief of staff for education, plans and programs, said that PMA has tapped the “peace expertise” of the BMFI in the achievement of that vision.
PMA’s first engagement with the BMFI was on February 2012 during a training-workshop for the graduating PMA Class of 2012 to help them better understand peace-building and conflict transformation.
This was followed by the Trainors’ Training for PMA faculty mmbers in May 2012 at the IC Peace in Mindanaw, and a case writing workshop in Manila in August 2012.
PMA and BMFI formally forged their partnership with the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on January 23, 2012, symbolizing their mutual commitments to help each other. The MOA also allows the BMFI to help the PMA in mainstreaming peace-building modules in its curriculum.
“This MOA was jointly crafted by PMA and Balay, and its primary purpose is for BMFI to provide assistance to PMA to build its capacity for conflict management and peace-building toward the institutionalization of peace-building and multistakeholder engagement in the academy, following the IPSP of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Illana said.
On June 28, the “Soldiers for Peace” forum was held at the PMA in an effort to:
Impart the wealth of experience of soldiers who were into peace-building, their insights, mind-sets, challenges and orientation on peace-building in their areas of responsibility; and
Share the reflections of the partners of the military in the area like the non-governmental organizations and local governments in implementing peace efforts through collaboration and partnerships at the local level.
The forum, which was attended by 234 first-class cadets and tactical officers, PMA coordinating staff officers and military officers from the headquarters Academic group, had as speakers former Lt. Gen. Raymundo B. Ferrer (Ret.), former Eastern Mindanao Command chief; Brig. Gen. Lysander Suerte, deputy commander of the Central Command (CenCom); and Lt. Col. Krishnamurti Mortela, commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry “Agila” Division. They shared their experiences in peace-building and community development. All three are senior fellows of the IC Peace in Mindanaw and regularly teach-speak at BMFI’s Operation Peace Course (OP Kors!) training workshops.
“The PMA is very much aware of the significance that these peace efforts may carve in Philippine history. So, a command directive was approved by the superintendent, which specifed that peace concepts shall be integrated in the PMA curriculum, specifically community development, international humanitarian law and leadership concept. This formally indicates that the PMA is serious in reinforcing the integration of peace-building, one of the pillars of the IPSP Bayanihan, in its curriculum. Aside from that, we have programmed immersion of cadets in local communities which will serve as their laboratories on community-based peace and development efforts. This is to teach cadets on how to engage stakeholders,” Illana said.

Traders cautioned against kidnappers

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 1): Traders cautioned against kidnappers

Cotabato City — Police here have appealed to businessmen to take precautionary measures amid resurgence of kidnapping cases.

Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, city police director, said the police and the Philippine Marines have prepared security plans to prevent a repeat of the abduction of Indian businessman Mike Khemani Tuesday night.

“Please take steps to avoid getting kidnapped,” Balquin said, adding that manhunt is still ongoing against Khemani’s abductors.

Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani also admitted that the kidnapping of Khemani has tainted the image of the city which for the last three years have been kidnapping-free.

Guiani said he has already coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to help in the rescue of Khemani, owner of Sugni Superstores in Cotabato and in North Cotabato.

Guiani said the MILF’s help is necessary since the victim, who was taken in front of his store along Bonifacio Street, was believed brought to Kabuntalan, Maguindanao where the MILF operates.

Khemani has been a long time trader in the city and very active in civic organizations like Rotary Club, among others.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction and no ransom demand has been raised so far.

Balquin said the case is still abduction and not kidnapping for ransom.

Guiani appealed to traders to always alert the police with suspicious men near their homes or business establishments.

He also urged the business community to put up CCTV cameras as a deterrent against abduction.

Military struggles with communication lines in area hit by typhoon

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 1): Military struggles with communication lines in area hit by typhoon
At least one person was reported missing Friday in the aftermath of Typhoon “Vinta”, which lashed at Northern Luzon for almost two days, cutting off communication lines in Cagayan province so that even soldiers conducting clearing operations lost contact with the headquarters of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command for nearly 12 hours.

The authorities said Loridel Baldos of Quidaoen, San Juan, Abra was reported missing by his friend on Thursday.

Baldos and his companion were fishing in a river when he was washed away, said Major Rey Balido, spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

There were no reports of casualties yet from the NDRRMC late Friday afternoon.

Army Major Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the Nolcom’s 1st Civil Relations Group, said he briefly lost contact with troops from the 21st Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Felix Benitez  who were conducting clearing operations in Cagayan.

The battalion, as well as civilian authorities in the area, could not be reached from 9 p.m. on Thursday until 8 a.m. Friday, Garcia said.

On Friday morning, the battalion was able to report through traditional radio communication that roads and bridges from Tuguegarao City to Aparri were already passable.

The troops continued to clear the Maharlika Road in the coastal towns of Cagayan and were still conducting damage assessment in the area, Garcia said.

The NDRRMC said 116 families or 491 individuals were evacuated in Gonzaga  in Cagayan and in Maconacon in Isabela province.

The government has P95 million worth of emergency relief resources, which include P3.7 million standby funds, nearly 50,000 family food packs worth P12.9 million, and P78.75 relief items that could still be augmented for any type of disaster that would hit the region, the NDRRMC said.

Army trooper wounded; NPA firearm, ammo seized in Iloilo encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 1): Army trooper wounded; NPA firearm, ammo seized in Iloilo encounter

A trooper assigned at the 3rd Infantry Division's 82nd Infantry Battalion was wounded while a M-14 automatic rifle and assorted munitions belonging to New People's Army (NPA) forces during an encounter in Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan, Miag-ao town, Iloilo Thursday afternoon.

Aside from two 40mm M-203 grenade launcher rounds, government troopers also recovered three backpacks containing subversive materials.

Major Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson, said the encounter took place around 4:05 p.m. He identified the wounded trooper as Pfc. Cris Garbo. The latter sustained a gunshot wound at the shoulder during the firefight.

The soldiers were on routine security patrols when the incident took place.

He added that the rebels quickly retreated after sustaining an undetermined number of casualties. NPA wounded was confirmed when pursuing soldiers saw several blood trails.

3rd Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad commended his men for their vigilance in protecting and securing the civilians from the lawless armed elements.

Ex-soldier in P1.4-M malversation case still at large

From the Philippine Star (Nov 1): Ex-soldier in P1.4-M malversation case still at large

A former disbursment officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who allegedly pocketed P1.4 million of the agency’s funds for the “Balik-Baril Program” remains missing more than six months after a malversation case was filed against him.

Major Christopher Lee Patindol has yet to be arrested by authorities and that the case against him may soon be archived, according to an employee at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 85.

In April, Judge Maria Filomena Singh issued an arrest warrant for Patindol, a former special disbursing officer of then Commodore and now retired Rear Admiral Miguel Jose Rodriguez, the deputy chief of staff for Civil-Military Operations at the time.

Patindol – who has been absent without leave since Aug. 1, 2011 – is facing three counts of malversation of public funds for allegedly falsifying the signature of Rodriguez to encash three checks on July 4, 5 and 8, 2011.

Various groups appeal for Khemani's release

From the Philippine Star (Nov 1): Various groups appeal for Khemani's release

Traders and members of civic groups have appealed to the captors of Indian trader Mike Khemani to set him free, citing health and humanitarian reasons.

The group said Khemani is  involved in various humanitarian projects in the city and his freedom will ensure that he will be able to continue these projects.

Sam Fontanilla, past district governor of the Rotary International District 3870, said while Khemani is of pure Indian descent, he is a key benefactor of the Rotary’s yearly “Handog Pabuka,” which provides dinner banquets for Muslims during the Islamic Ramadhan fasting season.

“He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Cotabato City-South. He is a stern advocate of Muslim-Christian unity,” Fontanilla told The Star via email.

Fontanilla, a human-rights lawyer, said Khemani is also an active supporter of their “adopt a mosque” project and the Rotary’s medical and dental outreach missions to underdeveloped Moro villages.

Fontanilla said Rotarians are saddened by Khemani's abduction. The Indian trader was snatched by gunmen in his department store along the busy Bonifacio Street here Tuesday night.

Khemani owns the Sugni Superstore here, which has branches in Kabacan town in North Cotabato and in Kidapawan City.

Witnesses said four gunmen, who spoke to each other in the Maguindanaon dialect, gunned down one of Khemani’s bodyguard and wounded another before they forced him into a getaway car parked nearby and spirited him to a riverside district where a motorized boat was waiting.

Khemani was also close to local members of the Free Masons fraternity, whose members are mostly affiliated with civic and peace-advocacy organizations.

“He is not a Mason, but he is close to many masons and have been very supportive of the community service programs of the Masons,” Fontanilla said.

Fontanilla said Khemani had petitioned to join masonry.

The Kampilan Press Corps, which groups together  journalists in Central Mindanao covering the activities of the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division, condemned Khemani’s abduction in an official statement.

Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, director of the Cotabato City police, said they have found leads on the identities of the kidnappers behind Khemani’s abduction, but declined to reveal names pending further investigation.

Detained rebels to be moved to Manila

From the Philippine Star (Nov 1): Detained rebels to be moved to Manila

At least 275 suspected members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) detained at the city jail here will be transferred to the Bicutan Jail in Manila anytime, a jail official said yesterday.

City jail warden Chief Inspector Julius Arro said they have received an order from the Supreme Court for the transfer of the MNLF members believed belonging to the Misuari-faction who raided Zamboanga City three weeks ago.

“We have received the Supreme Court resolution for the change of venue of the trial of the suspected MNLF detainees,” Arro said.

He declined to disclose the date of the transfer for security reason, and the manner of transporting the detainees.

Arro gave assurance that security would be tight to pre-empt attempts to sabotage the transfer.

State prosecutors have charged 299 MNLF rebels including its leaders Nur Misuari and Habier Malik for the Zamboanga siege.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said of the number, 12 including Misuari remain at large.

Maranaw clans' rido ends in truce

From the Philippine Star (Nov 1): Maranaw clans' rido ends in truce

Leaders of two adversarial Maranaw clans signed here a peace covenant Thursday, ending a deadly “rido” that claimed more than 20 lives  from both sides and caused the dislocation of thousands of villagers.

The term rido means clan war in the Maranaw dialect.

Leaders of the Ukra and Macacua groups of Barangay Linang in nearby Bayang town signed a truce and swore over the Qur’an to live in peace together before Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr.

The symbolic rite was witnessed by officials of the Lanao del Sur provincial police, the Army’s 103rd Brigade, and representatives of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

The two clans agreed to reconcile through the intercession of Lucman, Adiong, and Hataman.

The rival Ukra and Macacua groups last fought in Barangay Linao in Bayang town, located in the first district of Lanao del Sur, during the recent Islamic Ramadhan fasting season.

Thirteen people were killed and 18 houses were burned as the two groups figured in gunbattles.

Lucman, who is ARMM’s concurrent social welfare secretary, said the last encounter between the two groups caused the dislocation of no fewer than 5,000  Maranaw villagers in Bayang.

Lucman said local officials in Bayang and surrounding towns, and Col. Glenn Macasero of the Army’s 103rd Brigade, helped convince both sides to agree to an amicable settlement of their rido, which was sparked by political and territorial disputes.

Lanao del Sur accounts for most number of still unresolved rido, some of them decades-old, in the autonomous region.

Lucman said he is grateful to the support of local Muslim clerics and officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for helping resolve the conflict between the Uka and Macacua groups.

Another MNLF fighter's body recovered in Zambo City

From the Philippine Star (Nov 1): Another MNLF fighter's body recovered in Zambo City

Authorities have recovered another body of an alleged follower of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari in a shallow grave in one of barangays recently occupied by the Muslim rebels in Zamboanga City, police said on Friday.

Zamboanga City police said a local task force found a suspected MNLF fighter Thursday around 11 a.m. in a shallow grave at Ayer Village, Brgy. Sta. Barbara.
Police said the cadaver, which was about 5' 6" in height, was buried a foot deep beside a house owned by Jul Hassan Halil.
The cadaver wore an MNLF uniform with a name cloth bearing "S.Nur" and "Basilan Task Force."
Law enforcers brought the cadaver to Villa Funeral Homes.  
Scene of the Crime Operation personnel Regional Crime Laboratory Office 9 was requested to process the cadaver and conduct post mortem examination. 
Last Sept. 9, a dozens of MNLF fighters went to Zamboanga City and occupied at least five villages, starting a 24-day standoff with government security forces.
During the clearing operations, government troops retrieved several bodies from the scenes of the skirmishes, which killed numerous people, including five policemen.

Teenager recruit leaves NPA in Zamboanga del Sur - police

From InterAksyon (Nov 1): Teenager recruit leaves NPA in Zamboanga del Sur - police

A 17-year-old teenager who was recruited into the New People’s Army (NPA) and who went through a four-month military training has decided to go home without permission from his comrades and sought help from relatives to surrender to authorities in Barangay Dawa, Josefina, Zamboanga del Sur.

Chief inspector Ariel Huesca, spokesman of the Police Regional Office 9 (PRO9), said Jhomer Verano alias Jack/Jhomer “voluntarily surrendered” Thursday to the joint team of military and police after “a tedious negotiation.”

He said Verano told authorities he was recruited as member of Squad Dos, Secom Kara of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) under the leadership of Romanito Sumasay alias Mando.

The surrenderee turned over a caliber 38 revolver with defaced serial number and loaded with three rounds of ammunition.

“Tactical investigation conducted on the subject revealed that he underwent four months training in the mountains and was issued an AK47 rifle with four magazines and three hundred rounds of ammunition and a revolver caliber 38,” the police report said.

The surrenderee further revealed that his team is composed of 70 members, armed with assorted firearms and has a base at Barangay Dalapan, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur, Huesca said.

The police official said the NPA unit’s area of operations covered the whole 2nd District of Zamboanga del Sur.

“After four months in the mountains, Verano felt lonely and homesick, and hence decided to go down from the mountains and sought shelter at his grandmother’s house…He left behind at the tent his issued AK47 rifle,” Huesca said.