From the Shanghai Daily (May 31): Three of six gov't contractors seized by alleged leftist rebels in S. Philippines freed
Gunmen believed leftist rebels have set free three of the six contractors of a government reforestation program kidnapped in southern Philippines on Friday, police officials said Saturday.
Those released were local personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources who were with three others who were kidnapped in Maco town, in Mindanao's Compostela Valley province, according to Jed Clamor, Southern Mindanao regional police spokesperson. "Local officials were negotiating for the release of the rest," Clamor told Xinhua, quoting local police.
The police spokesperson refused to confirm the identities of the abductors but the authorities have admitted the area is a known hotbed of the leftist New People's Army.
He said the release happened past Saturday noon, and that the authorities were still investigating the incident.
The 4, 000-strong NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting a leftist insurgency in 60 Philippine provinces since 1969.
The group was said to be behind the abduction of about 40 people, mostly small-time gold miners, in another town in the resources-rich southern Philippine province.
Speaking on May 17 at a public forum, City Councilor Nida Dans said that the opposition of the city mayor to the Bangsamoro was her personal stand and does not represent the entire constituents of Isabela City. On April 14, Mayor Santos-Akbar openly declared her resistance to the inclusion of this city to the future Bangsamoro.
“There was a petition made by Mayor Cherrylyn Santos but the Council members denied it as they have not seen yet the BBL (i.e. Bangsamoro Basic Law). It was her will alone to say no but not the constituents of Isabela City,” Councilor Dans claimed during the consultation organized by the Mindanao Civil Society Organizations Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) at BASELCO conference hall.
Basilan Provincial Administrator Tahira Ismail also aired similar concern.
“Nagugulat ako kung bakit nagkalat ang balita sa buong lalawigan na kaming mga nasa hanay ng LGUs ay ayaw daw sa BBL at boboto ng ‘NO’ sa darating na plebisito. Paano kami umaayaw hindi naman kami nakapagsabi nyan at hindi rin kmi naimbita sa mga consultasyon ng mga kababaihan at hindi namin alam ang nilalaman ng BBL,… kung nag-NO ang Isabela ay hindi ibig sabihin lahat ng mamayan ng Basilan ay umaayaw din.” (I am surprised by the news in the entire province that we in the LGUs are against the BBL and would vote NO in the coming plebiscite. How can we be against it when we didn’t say anything and we weren’t also invited to women’s consultations and we don’t know yet the contents of BBL … if Isabela says NO it does not mean all people of Basilan are also saying the same thing.)
The forum was primarily intended for local government officials. Present were Basilan Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul, Board Member Candu I. Muarip, former BM Jubaira Said, Isabela City Councilor Nida Dans, Lamitan City Councilor Noel Baul and Provincial Administrator Ismail who represented Governor Jum Akbar. Also seen were Isabela City Bishop Martin Jumoad, PARO Suwaib Ismail, Lt. Col. Mongao of the 104th Brigade (PA), representatives of municipal mayors and several officials of line agencies, CSOs, NGOs and the MILF.
Resource persons to the said event were BTC Commissioners Abdulla Camlian and Pedrito Eisma, both of whom are natives of Basilan.
Commissioner Eisma explained that the term Bangsamoro “is not an Islamic State as most of the Christians think but rather it is inclusive because there are reserve seats for the Christians, IPs and other sectors in the Bangsamoro lands.”