From the Manila Times (May 2): Balikatan troops start civic projects
The Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) is leading the Joint Civil-Military Task Force in conducting humanitarian civic activities under Balikatan 2014 in Albay Province until May 17, 2014.
The command’s 901st Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, the Philippine Army, the Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol) and Tactical Operations Group 5 will lead the construction and renovation of school buildings, medical and veterinary services, medical symposia including training and other cooperative expertise-exchange endeavors in Legazpi City and Guinobatan.
Solcom chief Lt. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo said his troops and their US counterparts are in the middle of constructing a health center, a two-room classroom building and a water catchment system and are concreting of sidewalk in Malobago Elementary School in Barangay Malobago and building another one-room school building in Doña Mercedes Elementary School, both in Guinobatan town, Albay.
Ordoyo added that they are installing a water storage tank and constructing a public rest room in Barangay Pawa in Legazpi City, while the repair and renovation of a school building is ongoing in Tamaoyan Elementary School in Barangay Tamaoyan, Legazpi City.
The engineering works are jointly through the efforts of the 565th Engineering Construction Battalion of 51st Engineering Brigade, Philippine Army; Air Engineering Wing of the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy Engineering Team “Seabees,” aided by US engineers.
“Along with these projects, our troops continuously conduct civil-military symposia by engaging subject matter experts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States Forces to exchange best practices and ideas in order to further develop methods of operations in each area of civil-military operation,” Ordoyo told The Manila Times.
Also, a symposium on cooperative health and community relations was organized with professional health practitioners in Bicol region to promote and encourage multi-sectoral participation in Balikatan 2014.
Ordoyo believes that the Balikatan, which aimed to enhance the capabilities and interoperability of AFP and US troops, would address significant areas of concern and provide assistance on areas where need is great and strengthen humanitarian assistance mechanism through non-traditional approach.
The MILF has been fighting for self-determination for a Moro homeland the past more than 40 years. He urged Muslims to support the Bangsamoro agreement between the Aquino government and the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group claiming to have 12 thousand armed fighters.
Alonto, speaking on a government owned television network last month also said his group is all-out in supporting the peace process and urged the Philippine Congress to approve the new political entity called Bangsamoro which shall replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) branded by President Benigno C. Aquino III as a “failed experiment”.
He said that the Moro people should unite and set their house in order but how can they set their house in order when the very key to their own hands is not in their own hands. And the sad part is that the people who want to govern them do not even speak the language that the people to be governed speak. Ito na po ang key and I believe the taught by my grandfather was saying that the key is not in their hands, the key now is the framework basic law that we look forward to that will be approved by Congress or through Constitutional amendment, please do so, let’s do it so that we can unite and spare the future generation of a war of aggression”.
“I will look forward that when the establishment of this government we can have a full fiscal autonomy we can budget what we need, all these revenues coming from our resources just to catch up with the nation must be used for a free education, free health and free shelter para po ang inyong kawawang samba-yanang Moro sa timogan Pilipinas ay magkaroon ng pagkakataon to set their house in order and establish a place in the sun for their children and children to be,” he added.
But in the light of this development majority of the MNLF is still loyal to Misuari who is wanted by authorities for masterminding the September 2013 Zamboanga siege that killed and wounded 400 people mostly MNLF combatants and displaced 130,000 innocent civilians. Misuari was deposed in 2000 by his senior officials headed by his Foreign Affairs chief Parouk Hussein. Hussien along with former Cotabato City mayor, then city vice mayor Muslimen Sema and other top ranking MNLF leader made up the so-called Council of 15.
But Hussein was also deposed several years later after the Council of 15, disgruntled at his leadership, restored Misuari as head of the MNLF in 2007.
For lack of trust and confidence, Sema and his group again ousted Misuari in 2008. Misuari was appointed as MNLF Chairman emeritus to appease him but declined the post.
As of posting, Sema has not issued any public statement about Alonto’s declaration. With Alonto assuming the chairmanship of the MNLF the Moro Front breaks into three, the Alonto Faction, the Sema faction and the little known Islamic Command Council headed by Habib Mujahab Hashim.