From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): Army’s 48IB clashes with NPA remnants in Bulacan
CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City -- The 48th Infantry Battalion (48IB) of the Philippine Army on Saturday clashed with remnants of Platoon Sierra Madre of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Maputi, Barangay Camachin, Dona Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan.
“Led by 2LT. Edwin Lauro, 48IB had a 30-minute exchange of fire with around 25 NPA remnants. There were neither casualties nor injuries on the government side while a number of the insurgents were badly wounded. Pursuit operations is still on-going,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Chief Information Officer Captain Gina Daet disclosed.
The troops were able to recover one M14 rifle, one laptop, one portable DVD, one cellular phone, one transistor radio, one sack of rice, one sack of canned sardines, two back packs, and a volume of subversive documents.
“We will not allow these armed groups to continue their illegal activities in collecting foods from less fortunate… we will assure to the residents that our forces will provide enough security,” NOLCOM Commander Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said.
Dubbed as “Samaya” or thanksgiving ritual, the indigenous and Bangsamoro leaders stressed the need for the native inhabitants of Mindanao to unite and reaffirm their brotherhood in order to defeat external moves to divide them and their leaders.
The purpose of the consultation was to share information and provide fresh updates on the progress of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks especially on the drafting of the Basic Law which welcome proposals and recommendations from indigenous peoples.
Jose “Bapa Joe” Akmad, from North Cotabato stressed that reaffirmation of the kinship between the Moros and IP’s is crucial and very important so as to prevent a repeat of the MOA-AD controversy wherein Moros and IPs were pitted against each other in order advance economic and political agenda of politicians and external actors. “We are not enemies here, we are brothers. Whoever attempt to break or destroy our kinship with our indigenous brothers and sisters will be cursed by Almighty Allah because breaking the tie is absolutely immoral.” he added.
In his speech delivered during the program, Datu Vic Saway of the Talaandig tribe said “we should not be afraid of the Bangsamoro. The peace agreement is a product of their struggle and we should support them”. “That is the essence of brotherhood. In our culture, it is our belief is that “Kung kinsa man ang makaguba sa gisabutan pag igsuunay tali sa Bangsamoro ug Lumad gabaan, mudako ug mubuto ang tiyan.” (Whoever violates the traditional agreement will be cursed; his stomach will turn big and explode), Saway said
Datu Moreno on the other hand appealed to the Moro kins to support the bid of the Matigsalug tribe for the establishment of a Matigsalug municipality in the province of Bukidnon. “The Matigsalug municipality will realize our vision for self-governance and right to self-determination within our ancestral domain”, Datu Moreno explained.
Commissioner Timuay Melanio Ulama, from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission gave a brief background about the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the transition roadmap which at this point seeks inputs from the stakeholders on proposals and recommendations for the Basic Law. “In the Transition Commission, there are two indigenous leaders representing the IPs. Do not be afraid of the Bangsamoro. We all have a place in this future government and as a commissioner my main job will be to ensure that the rights of the IPs will be protected in the spirit of the Moro-IP kinship.
These series of community consultations were facilitated by the Mindanao Peoples Caucus through the Mindanao CSO Platform for Peace which recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission for the conduct of massive public engagements and consultations. Pastor Reu Montecillo announced that “simultaneous consultations will be conducted between now and the months of December and January 2014 in order to inform, educate and consult the communities regarding the contents of the Basic Law so that we can address their expectations, concerns, fears and hopes for the future”.
Commissioner Salem Demuna from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) acknowledged the contribution of the IPs in the resistance struggle of the Moros against foreign invaders. “The IPs fought alongside with the Moros for freedom.” he said.
In attendance were guests from the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs, Initiatives for International Dialogue, Mindanao Alliance for Peace and Development, United Youth for Peace and Development, Bantay Ceasefire, Panagtagbo Mindanao, Maranao Peoples Development Center, Lanao Peace Partnership, Tr-ipeople Commission, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace and guests from Jesuit Relief Services and Misereor.