From the Philippine Star (Jun 17): AFP mum on Joma's return as CPP chief
The military on Tuesday kept mum on reports that self-exiled rebel leader Jose Ma. Sison is again calling the shots for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), saying it would continue to perform its mission regardless of who is leading the group.
Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala could not confirm the supposed change in the communist leadership, which supposedly took place after CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma were arrested in March.
“We have not released an information on that,” Zagala said.
“Regardless of who their leader is, our goal is to end the armed struggle. What is important is we deal with the New People's Army (NPA) on the ground,” he added.
Zagala said they would continue to reach out to the rebels to convince them to live peaceful lives.
“Although there is no peace process, there are other means to implement the peace process by working with stakeholders,” he said.
“What is important to us is that we're able to continue to talk with the New People's Army on the ground and their leaders in order to end the armed struggle.”
A security official who requested anonymity has said Sison is calling the shots anew for the CPP following the capture of the Tiamzons last March.
The source said Sison would likely play the role until a permanent successor to Tiamzon is named.
“For now, Joma (Sison) is the one dictating orders but he can only deal with policy because you have to be here to lead the revolution,” the source said.
The official said it might take about a year before the CPP could name Tiamzon’s successor.
Sison served as CPP chairman until he left for The Netherlands in 1987.
Tiamzon, his wife Wilma, and five other rebels were apprehended by security forces in Aloguinsan, Cebu last March 22, a development that officials claimed would cause a leadership vacuum in the insurgent movement.
The Tiamzons are facing 15 counts of murder and was arrested on a warrant issued by a regional trial court in Leyte.
Before the formal dialogue started, Uz. Ahmad Al-Amin, BUSC Secretary General acknowledged the presence of the TPMT members, Chairman Alistair Mcdonald, Huseyin Oruc, member (Turkey), Dr. Rahib Kudto (UNYPAD), Dr. Steven Rood (TAF) and Ms. Karen Tanada of the Pasig Peace Institute Foundation, Inc. He also introduced to their guests the prominent ulama members who were mostly graduates of different prestigious Islamic Universities abroad.
During his brief opening remarks, Chairman Macdonald said, that, “The mandate of TPMT is to monitor the implementation of all agreements signed between the the GPH-MILF Peace Panels and listen to comments and pulse of various sectors in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory and outside of the areas that maybe covered by the new region. The program was held at the Ulama Function Hall of BUSC Office.
Aleem Abdulmuhmin Mujahid and Aleem Yusop Alano, BUSC Vice Chairman and Executive Director respectively both expressed their elation on the recognition of the important role of the ulama in the current peace process. Aleem Alano also said that, “With the participation of the TPMT in monitoring how the agreements are being implemented, it can somehow lessen the threats posed by the so-called spoliers of peace.
Before the forum ends the BUSC presented their position paper viz-a-viz the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed on March 27, 2014 at Malacanang Palace, Manila. Among the salient contents of the Ulama position paper are as follows:
1. The BUSC is convinced on the eminence of the comprehensive peace and justice to reign in Mindanao which led to the signing of the CAB. Hence, we unanimously expressed our unequivocal support to the faithful implementation of the historic peace deal;
2. The BUSC is manifesting its willingness to help and become partner in advocating the CAB and the provisions of the BBL within its capacities to the grass-roots level of the Bangsamoro communities;
3. The BUSC hereby strongly suggest through the TPMT that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) exerts significant influence for the immediate re-unification of the MNLF-MILF ranks so that once and for all, genuine peace can be achieve and the gains of the GPH-MILF peace process are sustaned;
4. It urged the GPH-MILF peace panels through the TPMT to immediately organized the joint security tasked force/team contained in the Annex on Normalization to normalize the situation in some localities in Bangsamoro core areas;
5. It likewise asked His Excellency President Benigno C. Aquino III to exercise strong political will by neutralizing the spoilers of peace in Mindanao, that may result at achieving widest and popular acceptability of the BBL in the Bangsamoro Core territories.