From the Manila Standard Today (Jun 11): NPA attacks Lumad camp
After raiding Carmen town in Agusan del Norte on Sunday, around 60 New People’s Army rebels attacked Monday the Tagbagani Camp of lumads in Barangay Panikian, Carasscal in Surigao del Sur, authorities said.
Col. Gregory Cayetano, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander, said the group targeted the compound of Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. in Barangay Gabuyan also in Carasscal more than a kilometer away from the lumad stronghold.
He said intelligence reports enabled the army to field troops to secure the mining site as a preventive measure.
“They diverted their attack to Tagbagani Camp of the lumads guarding their ancestral domain now mined by different mining firms” Cayetano told Manila Standard when reached by cellphone.
The brigade is under the army’s Fourth Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City.
4th ID spokesman Major Christian Uy in a phone interview Tuesday morning said the rebels took four .45 caliber Smith and Wesson pistols, two 5.56mm M4 assault rifles, one .30 caliber M2 carbine, one 5.56mm AR-18 rifle, one shotgun and a .38 caliber pistol along with assorted ammunition.
Uy said he had no report about the presence of Datu Rayan Hunog, leader of the lumad armed security group when its camp was attacked nor information whether the lost firearms were licensed.
But he said the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 allowed tribes to protect their ancestral land noting that mining firms owned licensed firearms that were assigned to lumads hired to guard their mining concessions.
But Cayetano said the Philippine National Police was in a better position to determine the status of armed lumads or tribes.
“I think the PNP has its own office dealing with licensing and issuing permits to carry and owned firearms. Maybe it is the PNP that can answer if those other firearms possessed by Tagbagani were licensed or not,” he told Manila Standard.
Chief Supt. Dominador Eslava Aquino, PNP Caraga regional director, was unavailable for comment when contacted by phone on Tuesday; calls to the information office in Camp Rafael Rodriguez were also unanswered.
According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Marcventures holds a mineral production sharing agreement for a 4,799-hectare tenement located in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.
Even the MNLF, which was led by Nur Misuari, a Tausog, never had this issue part of their peace negotiation with the government. The claim rests entirely with the Philippine government, being within the ambit of foreign relations. The Sultanate of Sulu, however, is free to pursue (or not to pursue) its claim, if any, because the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is totally silent on this issue.
However, we appeal to the heirs of the Sultanate to read the CAB carefully and not to interpret beyond its proper context and nuances. All legitimate rights of the Bangsamoro are upheld and enshrined. Nothing legitimate is prejudiced. The MILF has no right to foreclose any legitimate rights of the Bangsamoro people.
If the MILF differs sharply with other groups asserting for the same rights of the Bangsamoro people, it is because of two critical factors or approaches: First, it has a clear ideology on which basic principles and core values emanate; and second, as much as possible, it is pragmatic. It studies the cause and effect in historical or political events and adopts the most appropriate strategy and tactics. For instance, correct history would tell us that practically the whole of Mindanao and Sulu belongs to the Bangsamoro people. If the MILF insists on including all these areas in the territory of the Bangsamoro in the negotiation, would that be practical? Would there be CAB at all, come to think of it?
The truth is that man, group, nation cannot rest on their laurels alone; because many of these past glories cannot be enforced effectively or achieved anymore. Any man or woman who relies on laurels alone is like dreaming for the rainbow where a cache of gold is stored. Sometimes, what is available or practical is always the best choice.
For the MILF, past history is very important but the future is more important. We cannot rely on reliving the past, because it is only in our minds. We must prepare for the future. This is where we are going and we cannot escape from it. We either succeed or we fail and the choice is ours to make.
The CAB is designed for the collective interests of the entire Bangsamoro people. It is neither pro-poor nor pro-elite. Whoever has the moral ascendancy and leadership qualities --- and accepted by the people --- will be given the chance to lead our people. In Islam, except by piety, everyone is equal before God.
We are open to holding dialogue with the Sultanate of Sulu, as we are open to any and all other groups. Hearing from the horses’ mouth, so to speak, is better than one’s own interpretations.