Monday, July 7, 2014

‘Hong Kong businessman was not carrying ransom money’

From the Star Online (Jul 8): ‘Hong Kong businessman was not carrying ransom money’

KOTA KINABALU: A Hong Kong businessman who died in a road accident in Sandakan on Saturday was carrying money for his personal use and not likely for the purpose of securing the release of his kidnapped fish farm manager.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said a total of RM3,000 in assorted currencies was found at the scene where Kee Kwok Edien, 63, and three others in a taxi were killed in the accident at Batu 21, Jalan Labuk.

“We believe it was for his personal use,” he said stressing that it was government policy not to entertain ransom demands.

Kee was travelling from Sandakan to Lahad Datu with a Malaysian businessman, Jaafar Kassim, 40, from Langkawi, and Filipino worker Pedro Jr Pajimola, 36, in the taxi that crashed into a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
The three, together with the taxi driver Salah Ibno, 64, died after the collision.

Kee was the owner of Won­derful Terrace Fish Farm in Lahad Datu, from where his manager Yang Zau Lin, a 34-year-old Chinese national, was abducted by Filipino gunmen on May 6.

Speculation that Kee was carrying a large sum of money to secure his manager’s release emerged when Hong Kong media said that he was on his way to Lahad Datu to make deals with mediators to negotiate for Yang’s freedom.

Jalaluddin said as far as Malaysian police were concerned, Yang was still being held by kidnappers for ransom in the Sulu area.

Kee’s wife and other family members as well as Jaafar’s family claimed their bodies at the Duchess of Kent Hospital mortuary.

Kee’s family, who were accompanied by a Kuching-based China consulate officer, requested privacy while Jaafar’s family said that he (Jaafar) was on a business trip to Sabah to meet Kee.

It is believed that it was about the possible sale of the fish farm to Jaafar.

Hong Kong Legislative Council member Steven Ho Chun-yin was quoted by the media as saying that Kee’s wife had told him that she was proud of him (her husband) as he was trying to get his worker released.

Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, which identified him as Edwin Yong Kee Kwok, said that he was on his way to work out a deal for the freedom of his farm manager who is believed to be held in the notorious Abu Sayyaf hideout of Jolo.

Southeast Asian jihadist leader and bomb expert is alive, in Philippines

From the Long War Journal (Jul 6): Southeast Asian jihadist leader and bomb expert is alive, in Philippines

Zulkifli bin Hir, a jihadist commander and bomb expert who has worked with three jihadist groups in Southeast Asia and was reported killed by the Philippine military in 2012, is alive and thought to be operating in the southern Philippines.

The deputy chief of Malaysia's Counter Terrorism Division said that Zulkifli, who is a Malaysian citizen, is alive.

"We are aware of reports that said he was killed a few years ago. That is not true. We believe he is hiding in southern Philippines," Datuk Ayob Khan told the Malaysian Chronicle on July 3.

Two years ago, the Philippine Air Force asserted that Zulkifli and 14 other jihadists, including Umbra Jumdail, a senior Abu Sayyaf commander, were killed in an airstrike that targeted a camp in the village of Duyan Kabaw in Parang in the southern province of Sulu on Feb. 2, 2012.

"I am sure because I will not easily issue a statement here," Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa, the Philippines' top military commander, confidently said in a press briefing the day of the strike. "We have intelligence people and locals in the area." But the military never recovered Zulkifli's body.

One indication that Zulkifli survived the strike is that the US State Department's Rewards for Justice Program never removed him from its list of wanted terrorists. A $5 million reward for information leading to his capture and conviction remains in place.

Zulkifli is the second jihadist leader from Southeast Asia to have surfaced after being thought killed in a counterterrorism operation. Abdul Basit Usman, an Abu Sayyaf Group operative and master bombmaker, was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan in 2010. But he has recently been spotted in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Zulkifli bin Hir, a.k.a. Zulkifli Abdhir, who goes by a number of aliases, including "Marwan," is "an engineer trained in the United States" and "is thought to be the head of the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and a member of Jemaah Islamiyah's central command," according to Rewards for Justice. He is said to have been sheltering in the Philippines since 2003 and has served as a bomb maker for the Abu Sayyaf Group. All three groups -- KMM, Jemaah Islamiyah, and Abu Sayyaf -- are linked to al Qaeda.

Zulkifli is thought to be sheltering with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a Muslim insurgent group in the southern Philippines that broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Members of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf, and the KMM routinely shelter with and operate alongside other Muslim insurgent groups in the southern Philippines.

Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is an Islamist terrorist group that seeks to establish a pan-Islamic state across Southeast Asia. While it is most active in Indonesia and the Philippines, Jemaah Islamiyah also conducts operations in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. The terror group is al Qaeda's regional affiliate in Southeast Asia, and its operatives have been responsible for devastating attacks in the region, including the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, the 2004 suicide car bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the August 2003 car bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, and a series of bombings in Manila.

Jemaah Islamiyah has suffered major setbacks inside Indonesia, with many of its top leaders killed or captured over the past several years. Among them are Dulmatin, a top leader and military commander (killed in 2010); and Noordin Mohammed Top, a senior leader, recruiter, strategist, and fundraiser (killed in 2009). Umar Patek, a top JI leader, was captured in March 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, just months before al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden was killed in the same city in a US special operations raid. Abu Bakir Bashir, the terror group's founder, is currently in prison for founding, financing, and supporting al Qaeda in Aceh.

The Abu Sayyaf Group is a Philippines-based terrorist and criminal gang formed by fighters who returned from the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. The group was funded and financed by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of Osama bin Laden's brother-in-laws, according to Khaddafy Janjalani, the leader of Abu Sayyaf before his death in September 2006. Khalifa, an al Qaeda financier and facilitator, was killed by US special operations forces in Madagascar in January 2007.

‘NPA’ killed in clash named

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 8): ‘NPA’ killed in clash named

The alleged member of the New People’s Army, who was killed in an encounter in Bais City, Negros Oriental, last week, has been identified and his body turned over to relatives Sunday.

The alleged rebel was identified as Janray Cadayday, 20, single, son of Ricardo Cadayday and Susana Hanipin Casilao, of Sitio Avocado, Barangay Talalak in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Cadayday’s parents, with members of the militant group, Karapatan, claimed the body in Bais City Sunday, the Philippine Army said.

Cadayday, allegedly a member of Squad 3 of the Sentro de Gravidad platoon of the NPA Komiteng Rehiyon Negros-South East Front, was killed in an encounter Friday in Sitio Sandana, Barangay Mansangaban in Bais City.

A soldier of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Army was also killed in that incident. He identified as Pfc. Marlon Lanes of Roxas City, and his body was brought there Saturday, Lt. Col. Harold Pascua, OIC commander of the 79th IB, said.

He also said combat operations continue in the area as government troops are going after the suspected rebels, who, he said, are now on the run. The soldiers clashed with the alleged NPA members for about 30-minutes Friday.

Army officials claimed that the remnants of the NPA operating in Negros Oriental now number around 14, and the government continues to call on them to lay down their arms peacefully and return to the folds of the law.

RPA leader out on bail

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 8): RPA leader out on bail

Detained rebel leader Marlon de los Santos was ordered freed from jail by San Carlos City Judge Peter Parco, after posting the P200,000 bail, on July 4, Supt. Victorino Romanillos, San Carlos police chief, yesterday said.

De los Santos used to be the RPA-ABB commander in the 1st district of Negros Occidental. He is now the secretary of the KAPATIRAN para sa Progresong Panlipunan (Brotherhood for Social Progress), that used to be the RPA-ABB.
The recent raid on the house of de los Santos in Brgy. 2, San Carlos City, by the Regional Special Operations Group of the Police Regional Office 6, had yielded an M-16 assault rifle, a carbine and a .45 caliber pistol, with magazines of assorted ammunition, police records show.
Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Stephen Paduano called for an immediate investigation by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police on the arrest of de los Santos, saying that his apprehension and confiscation of firearms from his possession, that was already profiled by the OPPAP is a violation of the peace agreement.
Paduano used to be the national commander of the RPA-ABB.
The signing of closure agreement between the RPM-RPA-ABB Tabara Paduano Group and government by President Benigno Aquino III is still in limbo almost 14 years after the breakaway rebel group entered into peace talks with the government in year 2000.

Guns-for-cash program at center of controversy

From the Manila Times (Jul 7): Guns-for-cash program at center of controversy

It comes with different names and is associated with billions of pesos in funds.

However, not everyone is happy with the Guns-for-Peace Program (GFP) of the government that was formerly called the Balik-Baril Program (BBP).

For something that supposedly gives cash incentives to rebels to surrender weapons and start a new life, the program is mired in controversy.

Authorities insist that since it started in 1986, the program has lured thousands of rebel returnees who have since been awarded billions in pesos in cash and livelihood assistance.

Others are skeptical and call the program the “milking cow” of government and military officials, allowing them to present fake rebels and make money out of old—some say vintage—weapons.

The “baril” in BBP is short for “Bring a Rifle, Improve Your Livelihood.” The program was introduced by former President Corazon Aquino on December 24, 1986.

Under this program, formerly under the National Reconciliation and Development Program (NRDP), the government paid as much as P25,000 for every weapon surrendered and P18,000 in livelihood aid.

It was not until 1988 that the program went into full swing, providing loans left and right to rebel returnees.

Cory’s administration said the program was so successful that peace and order councils were ordered to hasten the process of helping rebels.

It added that the NRDP had greatly contributed to the substantial neutralization of the secessionist movement in southern Philippines, and improved the peace and order situation in rebel-infested areas.

From 1987 to 1991, the BBP reportedly attracted over 1,800 members of the New People’s Army, 837 from the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, and 12,978 Muslim rebels.

Another 1,845 subversive mass activists and 4,655 NPA sympathizers also availed of the program.

Rebel returnees received P53.8 million in financial assistance for livelihood, resettlement, and training programs.

Owing to the BBP’s success, the government expanded the program by offering a higher cash reward for guns and a P50,000 livelihood assistance fund.

In July 1992, newly elected President Fidel Ramos continued the BBP that now covered Abu Sayyaf members in Basilan and Sulu.

But many rebels later returned to the mountains shortly after receiving government aid.

Others who surrendered were not even rebels at all but were reportedly labelled as such for publicity purposes. Many of the weapons collected were defective Garand and homemade rifles. Worse, the military had incomplete records regarding those who surrendered.

The same thing reportedly happened under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Rebels accused the government of pocketing billions of pesos in BBP funds and accused the military of parading “fake” rebel returnees with dilapidated weapons to collect money from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Under President Benig- no Aquino 3rd, the BBP continued but the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mindanao were excluded from the program.

In 2000, the BBP was again the subject of controversy when Commission on Audit revealed that over P124 million in funds were unaccounted for.

The last straw came in 2011 when Major Christopher Patindol, an AFP disbursing officer, went into hiding after being accused of pocketing P1.4 million in BBP funds. Judge Maria Filomena Singh of the Regional Trial Court Branch 85 issued a warrant for his arrest last year.

To fix things, the AFP scrapped the BBP and started the Guns-for-Peace Program (GPP). But it followed the same mechanics of BBP.

The reward was again raised to P200,000 for a machine gun; P60,000 for an M14 rifle; P50,000 for an M16 rifle; and P40,000 for an M203 grenade launcher aside from other livelihood and financial aid.

In Southern Philippines, the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) in Davao City said the GPP has also attracted many communist rebels in recent months.

The 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City headed by Major Gen. Ricardo Visaya, which is also under the EMC, said a total of 97 rebel returnees have been presented to AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista and Lt. General Ricardo Rainier Cruz 3rd in May.

Of this number, 33, including two women, were regular NPA members, while 64 belonged to the NPA’s underground Barrio Revolutionary Committees or Militia ng Bayan. Seventy of them are Manobo tribesmen, including 12 minors.

The EMC said the rebel returnees received a total of P881,750 from the GPP for surrendering 93 assorted high-powered weapons.

So where are these rebel returnees now? Since the BPP was introduced, some served as military and police informants, some rejoined their comrades, while others were killed.

Those who assumed false identities for fear of being assassinated continue to live quietly with their families.

Ranking female NPA leader nabbed in Zambo Peninsula

From the Manila Times (Jul 8): Ranking female NPA leader nabbed in Zambo Peninsula

A ranking female New People’s Army (NPA) leader was nabbed by militiamen under the 20th Special Forces Company during operations in Sitio Guigang, Barangay Guibo, Siayan town, Zamboanga Del Norte Monday.

Capt. Franco Suelto, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson, said the troops were on routine security patrol when fired upon by a band of NPA guerillas, including arrested rebel leader Mercy B. Maghinay around 12 noon the other day.

Return fire from government troopers forced the NPAs to retreat leaving Maghinay behind along with one .45 caliber pistol, one hand grenade, one shotgun and PHP100,000 in cash.

Suelto said Maghinay is believed to be the top leader of local NPA group “Feliciano Bravo” frequenting the hinterlands of Zamboanga Del Norte.

Her group was also said to be responsible in the burning of construction equipments approximately worth PHP50.3 million pesos in Sitio Gusay, Barangay Titik, Sindangan,Zamboanga Del Norte last Nov. 19.

Last month in Zamboanga Del Norte, the NPA also left a female member behind after an engagement with 10th Infantry Battalion which eventually prompted her to surrender to the operating troops.

“The incident was the latest on the strings of captured or surrendered NPA. After hiding several years in General Santos City, Maghinay was previously arrested by virtue of different warrant of arrest related to her crimes as top leader of NPA in Oct. 5, 2008. She opted to rejoin her comrades which reflects the dwindling and weak leadership of the NPA in Western Mindanao that even previouslycaptured leaders were accepted to lead the group,” Suelto pointed out.

Marine dead, 6 others hurt in Sulu road bomb attack

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Jul 6): Marine dead, 6 others hurt in Sulu road bomb attack

A marine sergeant  was killed, while six  others were wounded in roadside bomb attack carried out by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in Barangay Taung, Patikul, Sulu yesterday morning.
A police intelligence officer from Jolo island who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to talk on the attack disclosed that one platoon of marines were aboard an M-35 truck on their way to pick up firewood when an improvided explosive device went off hitting the vehicle at Barangay Taung around 7:30 a.m.
The intelligence officer said the seven soldiers belong to the Headquarter Service Company 1st Marines Company.
Killed was Sgt. Mel and wounded in action were Sgt. Senoses, PFC Bait, PFC Rendon, PFC Conones, PFC Cacho and PFC Patangan.
Military forces were immediatly sent for a hot pursuit operation.
This developed as the military denounced what it described as a treacherous killing using a landmine or IED which is banned  under international laws.
The six wounded soldiers were airlifted to the Western Mindanao Command Hospital in Zamboanga City for treatment.

Ten kidnap victims still with Abu Sayyaf

From the Zamboanga Today (Jul 7): Ten kidnap victims still with Abu Sayyaf

At least ten kidnap victims are still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province.
This was reported by Western Mindanao Command Commander Lt. Gen Rustico Guerrero amid ongoing operations against the bandit group by Marines in Sulu.
The kidnap victims reportedly include two Malaysian fish cage caretakers who were kidnapped in Semporna last month.
“We have reason to believe they are still alive, not necessarily in one spot,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said the Wesmincom is still verifying reports that one kidnap victim had been injured in an encounter last month. 
The report surfaced after one kidnap victim, Remigio Lingayan reported through a phone conversation to his wife Anna Liza that his companion,
Joselito Gonzales, was injured during the inital encounter between government troops and ASG bandits last June.
There had been no reports of civilian casualties during the military operations since that time.
The troops were reportedly given the instruction to ensure the safety of the victims during the operation.
Guerrero made the statement after the capture of a main camp of the Abu Sayyaf last Wednesday in the continuing operation against the bandits.

MILF: Moro Question is political

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Jul 8): Moro Question is political

There is no way we can stop people’s minds to speculate on the nature of the comments made by the Office of the President (OP) on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which was submitted to it by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) last April 22.
For this reason, it is better to discuss, at least the generalities of the comments, rather than close the door of their understanding completely. The people have the right to know.

Right now there are groups who asked the government to make public the BBL. The MILF is not taking an active endorsement. We are aware of the consequence, plus or minus, of disclosing or withholding it. Besides, negotiation is not always transparency but also confidentiality.

Without delving into details, the OP’s comments are like a cow bearing a horse, which defies the law of science or nature that the offspring will always carry the genes of the parents. Genes are the working subunits of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is the chemical information database that carries the complete set of instructions for the cell as to the nature of the proteins produced by it, its life span, maturity, function and death. Each gene contains a particular set of instructions, usually coding for a particular protein or for a particular function.

We do not know what made the review team look at the Moro Question as purely legal matter.  While we respect the Philippine Constitution, but it is too shallow and limited to fully address this problem. This is the reason that up to now the MILF is firm on its conviction that the current Constitution would require an amendment to finally put to rest the conflict in Mindanao. But the government side is equally firm on their stand that this Constitution has the flexibilities to accommodate and implement legally the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The government also repeatedly said that they will not sign an agreement that they cannot implement. These two theses are put to test now and soon a verdict comes out.

Frankly, we cannot fathom, except those of the lawyers’, why they had that kind of comments, which are purely based on legalese.  Part of the review team were the very office tasked by the government to oversee the conduct of peace negotiations not just with the MILF but with all “rebel” groups in the Philippines and a former lady commissioner of the BTC who did not sign the proposed BBL. Both are fully aware that the issue of the Bangsamoro is political that requires a political solution. Pure legalism will bring us to nowhere.

However, whatever is the reason is not the real issue. The real thing is how the Parties, especially their Principals manage the situation not to retrogress seriously. This if and they are still committed to settle the issue. Both sides have invested so much and it is easier to push forward rather than revert back to uncertainty.

It is time that on the side of the government, President Benigno Aquino III should personally attend to this issue. Success or failure, it is his name which will be at the forefront and at stake. More seriously, success or failure of the peace-making matters much. Everybody will be affected.

The truth is that like the MILF, not all in government prefer to solve this conflict in Mindanao through peaceful means and fairly. There are those whose agenda run counter to the policies of the MILF and government and whenever opportunity arises they will do their thing on their own fashion. The worst enemy is not from without but from within. That is why spies and traitors are punished painfully during wars or even in peacetime.

MILF: Malacañang returns to BTC overhauled draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 7): Malacañang returns to BTC overhauled draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law

A source privy to the GPH-MILF Peace Talks told leading national daily Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on Saturday, July 5 that the Office of the President has returned to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) the draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) mangled by so many comments and revisions that practically nothing has been left unchanged in the original document.
The PDI quoting the source saying, “the comments and revisions, which comprised a thick pile of paper, reportedly veer away from the four annexes that are the heart and soul of the two parties’ peace agreement”.

Sought for comment by PDI, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal confirmed that the Palace has returned the draft after its review, with a thick pile of comments. But Iqbal, also the BTC Chairman told the Inquirer in a text message that “we don’t discuss the content.”

Despite Malacañang’s review of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Iqbal said the situation was “not hopeless.” As of press time Government Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has not commented on the issue.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law, if approved by Congress and ratified by the people, would pave the way for the establishment of a Bangsamoro new political entity.

In his brief closed-door meeting with President Aquino at Hiroshima, Japan on June 23, 2014, MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim told the president about the comments made on the draft BTC signed version of the basic law.

After the meeting, President Aquino vowed there would be a Bangsamoro autonomous region before he steps down in June 30, 2016.

Malacañang is expected to transmit the draft BBL to Congress on July 28 when it opens after President Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address.ñang-returns-to-btc-overhauled-draft-of-bangsamoro-basic-law

MILF: Moro-Christian People’s Alliance issues statement on plight of Zamboanga IDP’s

Posted to the MILF Webpage (Jul 8): Moro-Christian People’s Alliance issues statement on plight of Zamboanga IDP’s

The Moro-Christian People’s Alliance or MCPA issued a press statement on the plight of Moro internally-displaced persons (IDP’s) on Zamboanga City.   

The statement dated June 28, 2014 entitled “Moro Victims of 2013 Zamboanga Siege observe Ramadan in squalid evacuation center”, said as follows:

Muslim Ramadan starts today.  But more than 3,000 Moro families displaced in the Zamboanga siege last year are forced to observe Ramadan in the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex evacuation center in Zamboanga City.  The evacuation center, an emergency and supposedly temporary shelter for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the infamous 20-day Zamboanga siege is congested, filthy and unsanitary.  The Muslim IDPs are both sad and angry of their present situation.  They find it very difficult to faithfully observe Ramadan’s obligations of fasting and praying. 

Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam is a month-long religious event that obliges every Muslim to fast from sunrise to sunset; a compulsory religious duty that must be observed every day.

“The hard life situation of my fellow Muslims in the evacuation center in Zamboanga City makes them victims twice over due to the BS Aquino government’s turtle-paced action and negligence, Ahmad Hamja , a member of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) said.

Hamja further stated, “This harsh situation poses serious distraction in fulfilling our Ramadan obligations of deep meditation and worship by reading the Holy Quran “.

President Benigno Simon C. Aquino III who ordered and personally supervised the military operation against the  forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) allied with Prof. Nor Misuari  promised  immediate shelter and livelihood rehabilitation for the estimated 100,000 displaced people, majority Moros.   The presidential promise and commitment remain unfulfilled to this day.

Nine months have passed since the September 2013 Zamboanga siege, there are still thousands of internally displaced Moro families who are suffering in the evacuation center facing uncertain future.  And the holy month of Ramadan has caught them in a situation unfit for observing their religious duties.

CPP/Ang Bayan: 4 sundalo, patay sa Albay

From the Tagalog edition of the CPP propaganda publication, Ang Bayan (Jul 7): 4 sundalo, patay sa Albay

Apat na elemento ng 9th Infantry Division ng Philippine Army ang napatay ng mga Pulang mandirigma ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) sa magkahiwalay na ambus na inilunsad sa bayan ng Daraga at sa Ligao City. Nakasamsam ang BHB ng dalawang kal .45 pistola.

Dalawang sundalo ng 9th ID Recon Coy ang napatay nang tambangan ng isang tim ng BHB sa Barangay Busac, Ligao City habang patungo sa kanilang kampo sa Barangay Oma-oma sa naturang syudad noong Hunyo 28, alas-4 ng hapon. Isang kal .45 pistola ang nakumpiska ng mga Pulang mandirigma.

Bago ito, isang sarhento at isang sundalo ng 9th ID Civil Military Operation (CMO) ang napatay nang ambusin ng isang tim ng BHB sa Sityo Banasian, Barangay San Ramon, Daraga noong Hunyo 16 kung saan nasamsam ang isang kal .45 pistola.

Samantala, sa Sorsogon, nagtamo ng di bababa sa tatlong kaswalti ang 31st IB nang pasabugan sila ng CDX ng mga Pulang gerilya ng Celso Minguez Command sa Barangay Fabrica, Barcelona noong Hunyo 21.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Inisyatiba sa labanan, hawak ng BHB sa NEMR

From the Tagalog edition of the CPP propaganda publication, Ang Bayan (Jul 7): Inisyatiba sa labanan, hawak ng BHB sa NEMR

Patuloy na hinahawakan ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) sa Northeastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) ang inisyatiba sa digma sa harap ng pinaigting na opensibang militar ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sa rehiyon mula Enero, kung saan nagdagdag ang AFP ng tatlong batalyon sa dating limang batalyong nakatalaga rito.

Ayon kay Ka Maria Malaya, tagapagsalita ng National Democratic Front-NEMR, 44 sa 50 labanang naganap sa rehiyon mula Enero hanggang Hunyo ay pinasimulan ng BHB at aanim lamang ang nagmula sa inisyatiba ng kaaway.

Nagtamo ng 77 kaswalti ang kaaway sa mga labanang ito (39 ang napatay at 38 ang nasugatan). Sa kabilang banda, pito ang namartir sa BHB at pito ang nasugatan.

Sa pinakahuling ulat mula sa NEMR, tatlong elemento ng 26th IB ang nasugatan sa magkahiwalay na operasyong harasment ng dalawang tim ng BHB sa magkanugnog na mga barangay ng Ararat at San Juan sa Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur noong Hunyo 16 at 17.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: AFP, nagtamo ng 29 kaswalti sa Southern Mindanao

From the Tagalog edition of the CPP propaganda publication, Ang Bayan (Jul 7): AFP, nagtamo ng 29 kaswalti sa Southern Mindanao

Labintatlong sundalo ang napatay at 16 ang nasugatan sa panig ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sa magkakasunod na aksyong militar na inilunsad ng Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command at Comval-Davao East Coast Subregional Command ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB) noong Hunyo 20, 22 at 30 sa Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte at Davao Oriental.

Davao del Norte. Binigo ng mga Pulang mandirigma ng BHB ang tangkang pagkubkob ng mga tropa ng 72nd IB nang pasabugan nito ng command-detonated explosive (CDX) ang mga umaatakeng sundalo sa Sityo Mabuhay, Barangay Dacudao, San Isidro bandang alas-6 ng umaga noong Hunyo 22. Isang sundalo ang napatay at tatlong iba pa ang nasugatan. Isang kasapi ng BHB ang namartir sa labanang ito.

Compostela Valley. Dalawang elemento ng 25th IB ang napatay at isa ang nasugatan nang pasabugan sila ng CDX ng isang yunit ng BHB sa Sityo Saog, Barangay San Isidro, Monkayo noong Hunyo 20, mga alas-5:30 ng umaga. Pagkalipas ng apat na oras, dalawa pang tropa ng nasabing batalyon ang nasugatan sa operasyong pasabog ng mga Pulang mandirigma sa Sityo Anagase, Barangay Casoon, Monkayo.

Alas-3 ng hapon ng Hunyo 22, naglunsad muli ng operasyong pasabog ang mga Pulang gerilya kung saan napatay ang limang elemento ng 46th IB at nasugatan ang apat na iba pa sa Barangay Ampawid sa bayan ng Laak.
Isinagawa ang mga aksyong militar na ito sa harap ng mas pinaigting na kontra-rebolusyonaryong kampanya ng Eastern Mindanao Command ng AFP nitong ikalawang hati ng Hunyo sa lugar. Nag-operasyon ang siyam na platun sa Laak at anim na platun sa Monkayo. Nagpakat din ng pwersang militar sa halos lahat ng barangay sa Veruela at nagdeploy ng tatlong platun sa Loreto sa Agusan Sur at tatlong platun sa Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

Ang pinaigting na operasyong militar na ito ay kasunod ng pagpaslang ng mga elemento ng AFP sa mga sibilyang sina Wilfredo Estrebillo at Flaviano Morales sa Davao del Norte nitong Hunyo.

Davao Oriental. Limang sundalo ng 67th IB ang napatay at anim na iba pa ang nasugatan nang pasabugan ng command-detonated explosive ng mga Pulang mandirigma ng Comval-Davao East Coast Subregional Command habang nagpapatrulya sa Barangay Aliwagwag, Cateel nitong Hunyo 30, bandang alas-10 ng umaga.

Ang mga abusadong tropa ng 67th IB ay protektor ng mga mapangwasak na malalaking magtotroso sa prubinsya. Sa kabila ng matinding pagsalanta ng bagyong Pablo noong 2012 sa Davao Oriental, patuloy ang malakihang pagtotroso sa nalalabing kagubatan nito. Suportado rin ng mga burukrata kapitalista sa lugar na sina Gov. Corazon Malanyaon at Kongresman Elmer Dayanghirang ang malakihang pagtotroso sa prubinsya at mismong ang meyor ng Cateel na si Camilo Nuñez ay isa ring malaking magtotroso.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: “Planong terorismo” sa Davao, pakana ng US

From the Tagalog edition of the CPP propaganda publication, Ang Bayan (Jul 7): “Planong terorismo” sa Davao, pakana ng US

Pakana ng gubyernong US ang ginawang pag-anunsyo ni Benigno Aquino III noong Hulyo 1 na may napipintong teroristang atake sa Davao City. Malinaw na ang layunin ng gayong anunsyo ay bigyang-matwid ang pagpapalakas ng presensya at panghihimasok-militar ng US sa Davao City sa ilalim ng “gerang anti-terorismo.”

Sinalubong ng batikos ang ginawang anunsyo ni Aquino na pasasabugan umano ng bomba ng isang Abdul Basit Usman ang mga instalasyon sa Davao City. Sinundan ang anunsyo ni Aquino ng malakihang pagpapakat ng mga pwersang pulis at militar sa palibot ng syudad at paghihigpit sa kilos ng mga tao. Matapos ang ilang araw, napilitan ang Malacañang na bawiin ang inianunsyong “planong teroristang atake” nang aminin nitong di kumpirmado ang impormasyon.

Ayon kay Kasamang Rubi del Mundo, tagapagsalita ng National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao Region, walang ibang pakay ang ginawang anunsyo ni Aquino kundi ang bigyang-matwid ang paglulunsad sa Davao City ng “gerang anti-terorismo” at ang pagpasok ng mga dayuhang tropang Amerikano sa ilalim ng Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Ang EDCA ay isang bagong kasunduang militar na pinirmahan ng US at rehimeng Aquino upang pahintulutan ang militar ng US na magtayo ng mga base at pasilidad nito sa Pilipinas sa loob ng mga kampo ng AFP.

Binibigyan nito ng karapatan ang US na magtayo ng mga imprastruktura, maglagak ng mga armas, tumanggap ng kahit ilang sundalong Amerikano, maglunsad ng mga operasyong militar at iba pa.

Sa pagpapakana ng huwad na “planong teroristang atake” sa Davao City, nais ng militar ng US at ni Aquino na ipilit sa alkalde nitong si Mayor Rodrigo Duterte na pahintulutan ang malakihang presensya ng mga sundalong US sa syudad. Ilang ulit nang nagpapahayag si Mayor Duterte ng pagtutol sa pagpasok ng mga tropang Amerikano sa kanilang syudad at sa pagtatayo nito ng mga pasilidad at mga base militar sa ilalim ng EDCA.

Bago ito, inianunsyo ng militar ng US na isasara na nito ang himpilan ng Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) sa loob ng Camp Navarro sa Zamboanga City. Mula sa 700 pwersa, tinataya ng militar ng US na maiiwan na lamang doon ang 30 nitong tauhan sa katapusan ng taon.

Ang totoo, sa ilalim ng EDCA ay mas marami ngayong sundalo ng US ang makapananatili sa Pilipinas sa iba’t ibang mga kampo ng AFP sa buong bansa.

Samantala, nagrali noong Hulyo 4 ang mga progresibong grupo sa pamumuno ng BAYAN sa harap ng embahada ng US sa Maynila upang magprotesta laban sa EDCA. Ang protesta ay inilunsad sa araw ng “huwad na kalayaan” ng Pilipinas at bahagi ng lumalakas na pagtutol sa EDCA mula nang pirmahan ito noong Abril.

Sa kasalukuyan, tatlong magkakahiwalay na petisyon laban sa kasunduan ang nakahapag sa Korte Suprema. Hinihiling ng mga nagpetisyon na kagyat nang itigil ang implementasyon ng kasunduan at ideklara itong labag ito sa konstitusyon. Kabilang sa mga inihapag nilang dahilan ang pagiging tagibang pabor sa interes ng US ng kasunduan at paglabag nito sa soberanya at mga batas at proseso ng gubyerno ng Pilipinas.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/NPA: Isa pang intelligence asset ng militar, patay sa operasyong partisan

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 7): Isa pang intelligence asset ng militar, patay sa operasyong partisan

Samuel Guerrero
NPA Sorsogon Provincial Operations Command (Celso Minguez Command)
TULUY-TULOY na nagtatagumpay ang kampanya ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan para wasakin ang makinarya sa paniktik at terorismo ng AFP sa Sorsogon. Sa pinakahuling ispesyal na operasyong isinagawa ng BHB nitong Hulyo 3, napatay si Domingo Tisoy alyas Buyong, elemento ng CAFGU at asset ng 96th Military Intelligence Company.

Ang operasyon ay isinagawa sa tapat mismo ng punong himpilan ng Alpha Company ng 31st IB sa Brgy. Casay, Casiguran, Sorsogon. Nakikipag-inuman si Buyong sa ilang sundalo nang sumalakay ang mga operatibang partisano ng BHB. Nasugatan din sa nangyaring palitan ng putok ang isang Corporal Deprisa ng 31st IB.

Si Buyong ay madalas na giya sa mga operasyong militar at sangkot sa ilang kaso ng ekstrahudisyal na pagpatay sa mga pinagbibintangang kasapi o tagasuporta ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Kasama siya ng mga sundalong pumatay kay Joseph Benson, isang sibilyang inakusahan nilang “poste” ng BHB, sa Brgy. Escuala, Casiguran noong Mayo 9, 2014. Kabilang din siya sa death squad ng militar na pumatay kay Jose Espera, na pinagbintangan nilang lider ng BHB, sa Brgy. Bentuco, Gubat, Sorsogon noong Hunyo 15, 2008.

Ang matagumpay na ispesyal na operasyon ng BHB ay pagbibigay din ng katarungan sa mga naging biktima ni Buyong at kanyang mga kasamahan.

Cops seize bomb in raid; suspected bomber eludes arrest

From the Philippine Star (Jul 7): Cops seize bomb in raid; suspected bomber eludes arrest

Police recovered an improvised bomb and bomb-making materials during a raid at a suspected bomber's safehouse in this city over the weekend, an official said Monday.

City police chief Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro said the police and military forces raided the safehouse of Yahsin Bayoyong at Barangay Muti last Saturday. The suspect, who is also wanted for a murder charge, was not at the safehouse during the raid.

Casimiro said operatives instead arrested Bayoyong's father, Ebol, for possession of the improvised bomb. The bomb was mae from a liter of plastic bottle loaded with ammonium nitrate with a blasting cap.

Casimiro said the raiding forces also recovered 12 assembled blasting caps and 13 kilos of ammonium nitrate from the house.

The police official said the raid is part of the intensified security operation of the police and the military in the region due to information of a possible attack by members of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

ASG member tagged in mass kidnappings nabbed

From the Philippine Star (Jul 7): ASG member tagged in mass kidnappings nabbed

Police intelligence and combat forces captured an Abu Sayyaf suspect, tagged in the mass abduction of teachers, students, and a Catholic priest 14 years ago, during an operation past Monday midnight in Isabela City, Basilan.

The captured suspect was identified as Salih Ali alias Abu Ali, who has a standing warrant of arrest issued by Basilan Judge Leo Jay Prinsipe with nine counts of kidnapping with serious illegal detention.

Senior Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, chief of the Police Community Relation of Police Regional Office 9, said Ali was captured by the joint police and naval intelligence backed by composite police Public Safety Battalion at Barangay Panigayan about 12:18 a.m.

Ali was the fifth Abu Sayyaf suspect to be arrested within three weeks of police and military operation against the militants in Zamboanga and Basilan areas since last month.

Gucela said the captured suspect was immediately brought and temporarily detained at the headquarters of the Regional Investigation Division in this city for his primary involvement in the abduction of workers of Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan town, Basilan in 2001.

Based on the tactical interrogation and intelligence dossier, Ali was identified to be member of the late Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader Hamsiraji Sali, whose group operates the kidnap for ransom group in the province and nearby Zamboanga peninsula.

Sali’s group, along with the faction of the late Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffi Janjalani and Aldam Tilao alias Abu Sabaya perpetrated the March 2000 mass abduction of teachers, students and martyred Catholic priest Fr. Rhoel Gallardo at Claret School in Tumahubong, Sumisip town.

The three militant leaders wanted by the Philippine and United States (US) governments, who carried up to $5-million bounty on their heads, were neutralized in separate military operations in Basilan and Sulu after they staged the kidnapping of 20 tourists, including three US citizens, from Palawan and brought them to Basilan in May 2001.

Police said the brother of Ali identified as Botchoy was also killed in the late ‘90s during the military operation in Puno Muhaji, a notorious hideout and training ground in the mountains of Maluso town.

China’s new territorial law could spell disaster – analyst

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 7): China’s new territorial law could spell disaster – analyst
China’s new territorial law could mean disaster if it is implemented in the encompassed territories in the nation’s nine-dash line.

Defense analyst Rommel Banlaoi said that if China chooses to implement their new law in their claimed areas inside the dotted lines, which covers 80 percent of the South China Sea, the nation could use its military in enforcing the law.

“It’s problematic since there are so many claimants in the disputed areas that the nine-dash line has surrounded,” Banlaoi said Monday at Camp Aguinaldo.

According to a report from the South China Morning Post, China can use military force in its coastal territories near Hainan province where they suspect tourism facilities set up in the area are used for spying purposes.

SCMP added the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress has enacted the Law of People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Military Installations, which would be implemented on August 1.

Countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia also lay claim to territories in the South China Sea.

Banlaoi added the new law is to strengthen a previous one, of the same name, which was implemented in 1990.

“With those small steps, it could really alter the status quo in the South China Sea,” Banlaoi said.

Also, if Beijing implements the law in the South China Sea and the tension there escalates to military actions, not only would it affect the claimant-countries, it would also dent the “whole world.”

“That’s the epicenter of maritime traffic going to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, around 50 percent of sea vessels pass through that area,” Banlaoi said.

He added that China should identify what the restricted areas that they mentioned in the law, as there are no clear definitions of the term.

Practicing caution

Still,  Banlaoi said that China would practice caution in implementing the new law and that it would only stay in its 12 nautical mile coastal zones.

He added that there would be no cause for alarm as the law’s text did not mention the South China Sea.

“If we interpret the media reports from China, they are really being cautious in mentioning other countries, and mentioning the South China Sea,” Banlaoi said.

He added that China is free to pass any legislation that would protect its sovereignty, as long as they practice it in their own waters.

Business as usual

Banlaoi said fishermen that they should still go to their work normally even with the implementation of China’s new law.

“It’s business as usual for them,” Banlaoi said. “They have rights inside our own waters to fish especially inside our 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.”

Rebel suspects in mayor’s murder face charges

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Jul 7): Rebel suspects in mayor’s murder face charges

AUTHORITIES filed on July 4 murder charges against three suspected members of the New People’s Army deemed responsible for killing Impasug-ong Mayor Mario Okinlay at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Malaybalay City.

The Regional Task Group-Elected Government Officials (RTG-EGO) Okinlay headed by Police Senior Superintendent Pedro Austria, regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the court docketed the murder charges under NPS No. X-01-INV-146-00231.

Austria said the witnesses identified the three suspected assailants as Joven S. Yanggo, 31; Efren S. Yanggo, 29; and a certain Ryan Daluniag. The Yanggos are residents of Barangay Bolunay and Bontongon and were identified as alleged members of the NPA.

Austria said the Yanggos surrendered in January 2012.

The task group RTG EGO Okinlay is still probing on the other suspected persons who may be responsible in the murder of the Impasug-ong mayor.

In a statement sent to news organization on Friday evening, Allan Juanito, the spokesperson of the NPA north central Mindanao, said the Maoist rebels killed Okinlay for his alleged crimes against the people.

Juanito said Okinlay was killed for his “counter-revolutionary activities in the guise of peace and development” in the barangays. The statement said snipers from the NPA South-Central Bukidnon sub-regional command carried out the operation at around 8 a.m. on July 2.

It said Okinlay and his convoy had come from Barangay Bontongon escorted by police and soldiers from the 8th Infantry Battalion when the guerrillas carried out the attack. The rebel group accused Okinlay of aiding the military in implementing Oplan Bayanihan, the government’s counterinsurgency strategy, since 2013.

Despite the presence of the military and the police, Okinlay was still shot to death by the rebels.

Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan has condemned the slaying of Okinlay, stressing the diocese “does not espouse violence as a means to achieve justice and peace.”

Today, Bukidnon governor Jose Maria Zubiri and other groups that seek justice for Okinlay’s slay will hold a protest rally in Impasug-ong town while Okinlay’s remains will be moved to the municipality’s gymnasium for public viewing.

3ID continues call for peace

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 7): 3ID continues call for peace

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division continues to call for peace, even after the recent encounter in Bais City, Negros Oriental, that claimed the lives of an Army soldier and a suspected member of the New People’s Army.

The 3ID commander, Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, said in a statement he issued, “This armed struggle has only brought death and suffering and continues to deny our people’s desire to have a peaceful life and developed communities”.

“Abandon the armed struggle now and let us work together in peacefully solving our problems,” he added.

The slain soldier was identified as PFC Marlon Lanes, but the identity of the dead rebel has not yet been established.

Baladad expressed his sympathies to the family and friends of the slain soldier, stressing that his heroism and sacrifices will not be in vain.

He also expressed his sympathies to the family and relatives of the NPA rebel, who was killed.

“It is very tragic that he had taken arms against the people of Negros when only through peace can development and social justice be achieved,” Baladad said.

3-cornered fight seen in selection of next AFP chief of staff

From InterAksyon (Jul 7): 3-cornered fight seen in selection of next AFP chief of staff

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, seen in this May 2014 file photo to US Pacific Commander Samuel Locklear III, is due to retire soon, and military observers predict a three-way race for his post

The race for the soon-to-be-vacated position of chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is looming as a three-cornered fight between two generals in the Army and a third one in the Air Force.

Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Dimalupig" Class 1991, is set to retire on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 over a week from now.

On Monday, Bautista presided over his last command conference at Camp Aguinaldo but this was not made open to reporters. A copy of his speech, which dwelt at length on internal security, was later released to media outlets.

High on the list of contenders to replace Bautista are Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado (PMA "Sandigan" Class 1982), Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang (PMA Class 1981) and Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Irriberi (PMA "Matikas" Class 1983).

All three are members of the Board of Generals (BOG) led by the Chief of Staff.

Earlier, Delgado said he was more focused on making the most of the last years of his career and at the moment had no expectations of becoming Chief of Staff.

"I'm not really thinking about that at this time. I'm very much contented where I am now. I am very much focused on the directions of the Philippine Air Force, dun lang tayo. And to be fair with the rest of the guys, everybody, all generals are qualified to occupy the chief of staff position...I’m fine here," Delgado told reporters during a recent interview.

His closest rival is Irriberi, former Senior Military Adviser (SMA) and spokesman of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.Some observers said Irriberi could "steal the show" amid rumors that Delgado has already "conceded".

GPH, MILF peace panels return to KL to discuss Bangsamoro Basic Law

From MindaNews (Jul 7): GPH, MILF peace panels return to KL to discuss Bangsamoro Basic Law  

The Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels are returning to Kuala Lumpur today to discuss the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), particularly on how to ensure that what would be submitted to Congress when it reopens on July 28 is a draft that President Aquino says “both sides will fully support and endorse.”

The 97-page draft submitted by the 15-member MILF-led, joint GPH-MILF Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) appointed by President Aquino is apparently not acceptable in its present form to Malacanang while the reviewed draft with Malacanang’s proposed revisions is not acceptable to the MILF, the other party that negotiated and signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014 after 17 years of peace negotiations, four of them under the Aquino administration.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told MindaNews Monday morning that the talks would be “mainly on the BBL” and that the “BTC will be there.”

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent chair of the BTC, had convened the now 14-member Commission on July 3 in Cotabato City to brief them on the revised draft. The BTC passed a resolution expressing “serious concerns over some major revisions, modifications and alterations that deviated from the significant contents of the (CAB)” and elevated these to the panels for “clarification, discussion and resolution” of the issues affected by the proposed revisions “… in the higher interest of finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao.”

Threshing out
In a press statement on Monday, Ferrer said the GPH panel “readily accepted the task” and together with the MILF peace panel, the Malaysian facilitator and the members of the International Contact Group, would be meeting in Kuala Lumpur for a “workshop that would thresh out the various substantive matters that have arisen from the BTC submission and the subsequent OP review.”

She said the members of the BTC will also be present, “thereby ensuring close coordination and processing.”

Ferrer stressed that “neither the BTC draft nor the OP-reviewed text is so complete and perfect to leave no more room for discussion, or no other option but to choose between one or the other.”

Acknowledging they are “going through this difficulty now,” Ferrer said this is because “we want the next stages to be less difficult not only between the government and the MILF, but among all the institutions and actors that will be or have been playing a role in the process.”

“A well-processed bill that goes through the legislative mill, with the certification of the President as urgent, will stand much better chances of smooth-sailing passage in both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” she said.

Serious concerns
Serious concerns over the Malacanang-proposed revisions on the draft that the BTC submitted on April 22, were brought to President Aquino’s attention by MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Iqbal in their meeting at the Sheraton Hiroshima Hotel in Hiroshima, Japan a few minutes before the President delivered his keynote address at The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao (COP-6) seminar on June 24.

Murad told MindaNews that in their “15 to 20 minutes” meeting, the President said he could not answer them then but promised he would check with the people who reviewed the draft.

Acceptable to both
Three days later, in Iloilo City, President Aquino told reporters that efforts were being done to ensure that the draft that would be submitted to Congress would be one that “both sides will fully support and endorse.”

“We will be exerting all efforts to ensure that this measure is passed in a timely manner because the dream still is to give the new Bangsamoro government time to demonstrate its abilities… We’re hoping that all the steps will be done that they can sit in office by January 2015,” the President said.

The BTC submitted the draft BBL to Malacanang on April 22, expecting it would be submitted to Congress when it resumes session on May 5. Congress went on sine die adjournment on June 11 without receiving the draft Basic Law.

The MILF received a copy of the draft with the comments and proposed revisions from, among others, the Office of the President and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on June 21. Murad and Iqbal were briefed about it by their legal team evening of June 22 in Hiroshima.

“Worse than 9054”
In a forum in Istanbul, Turkey on June 26 which Ferrer also attended, Iqbal said the Malacanang-proposed revisions had “heavily diluted” the draft they submitted, that when enacted into law would be “worse than RA 9054” (the law governing the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and that the revised draft would render the envisioned Bangsamoro ministerial form of government less autonomous than the ARMM, the “failed experiment” that it is supposed to replace.

Iqbal said the MILF has a “very simple and straightforward” position on the BBL: “All those explicitly expressed and provided for in the CAB will no longer be the subject of negotiations. They are finished and settled. It is therefore nonsensical to raise them anew. However, all those, which are not expressly provided but fleshed out by the BTC, as part of its mandate, could be the subjects of subsequent engagement between the Parties. If reasons and consistency prevail, there is no way this controversy cannot be settled.”

He lamented that, “instead of defending the essence of this historic document (CAB) or at least inhibited itself out of delicadeza,” OPAPP, “the very government office tasked to oversee the conduct of the peace process…. virtually led the review team of the OP to overhaul almost the entire proposal of the BTC.”

Review team
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews Monday morning that the review of the draft BBL “falls under the direct oversight of the Executive Secretary and utilized all the legal resources that could be tapped by the Office of the President, both internally and in the agencies tasked with upholding public legal mandates.”

She said the Office of the President “consulted everyone need to provide not only legal readings but also a proper understanding of the full context and expressed intents of the CAB and draft BBL. It was, as always, a whole of government approach with the President having the final say on all recommendations.”

Deles added that the results of the review of the Office of the President “have been shared with the BTC even as these continue to be studied by the President.”

“There are mechanisms/procedures in place to settle any concerns/issues from either party,” Deles said, adding that these established processes “are being followed to ensure the timely passage of the best possible BBL by Congress.”

In letter and spirit
Iqbal declined to provide details on what provisions were “heavily diluted” but Robert Maulana Alonto, a member of the MILF peace panel and the BTC, has been providing details in his postings on Facebook about what he refers to as a “mongrelized” Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Alonto cited the qualification of the Chief Minister which the draft BBL said must be a “Bangsamoro” but which was stricken off in the Malacanang-reviewed draft.

MindaNews sources who read the reviewed draft but requested not to be named said the “Bangsamoro” was replaced with “citizen of the Philippines” provided the candidate meets the required residency rule, prompting Alonto to write that “any Tom, Dick and Harry who is not a Bangsamoro can become Chief Minister. This means even Joseph Estrada or Tingting Cojuangco or Janette Napoles can become Chief Minister!”

The same MindaNews sources said the Malacanang-proposed revisions have substantially changed the “letter and spirit” of the agreement, among them, that what had previously been agreed upon such as the delineation of powers as exclusive, concurrent and reserved, have been stricken out; that the “core territory” listed in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro can no longer be found in the revised version as the list is reportedly just for the purpose of determining where the plebiscite would be held; and that the term “asymmetric” to describe the relationship between the central or national government and the Bangsamoro government has also been stricken out.A public discussion or debate on the matter cannot be had because the text of the 97-page draft and the Malacanang-proposed revised draft have not been made public.

Trawler attacked off Tawi-Tawi province

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 7): Trawler attacked off Tawi-Tawi province

Google map of Mapun Island off Tawi-Tawi province. (Mindanao Examiner)

Unidentified gunmen attacked a fishing trawler off the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi and killing its skipper, reports said Monday.

The weekend attack occurred off Mapun Island after a group of armed men on a speedboat hijacked the trawler and shot the skipper. One fisherman jumped off the boat for fear of being killed, but he remains missing.

Nine other crewmen were unharmed by the gunmen, who fled after the shooting. The identities of the slain skipper and the missing crew man were not immediately known, but the trawler came from the province of Palawan and was on a fishing expedition in Tawi-Tawi.

It was unknown if the attackers were locals protecting their rich fishing ground in the area. The trawler has returned to Palawan on Monday.

There was no statement from local authorities on the attack.

Homemade explosives recovered in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 7): Homemade explosives recovered in Zamboanga City

Security forces have arrested a man and recovered homemade explosives in a house where he was hiding in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said Monday.

Officials said the man, Yahsin Barorong, was arrested over the weekend on murder charges in the house of Ebol Bayoyong in village of Muti where the explosives had been found. Policemen, backed by soldiers, recovered at least 13 kilos of ammonium nitrate and 20 pieces of blasting caps from the house.

It was unknown of the house owner was also arrested or not of whether he was aware of the presence of explosives there.

Police are still investigating Barorong, according to Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman. “He is facing charges of illegal possession of explosives,” he said.

Ammonium nitrate, which is banned in the Philippines, is commonly used as fertilizers. But rebels widely use the chemical as an ingredient in the manufacture of homemade explosives.

Japanese sailors introduce Japanese culture to Tacloban pupils

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 7): Japanese sailors introduce Japanese culture to Tacloban pupils

Some 40 Japanese sailors shared their expertise with some 120 pupils of the San Fernando Central Elementary School on traditional Japanese character writing and origami paper sculpting as part of their contribution to the Pacific Partnership 2014 held here in this city.

The Japanese cultural event teaches pupils how to do the origami, a folding paper craft; shodo calligraphy or the art of Japanese writing; ken-do or the martial arts with sword and how to play ken-dama, a Japanese traditional toy.

Takashi Inoue Japan deputy director of the Self Defense Force Public Affairs Office said that pupils will have two hours in the morning to study their craft starting Monday until July 11 as the activities need constant practice.

He said that the event is very helpful in terms of improving the psychological well-being of the pupils.

Capt. Yoichi Matsuri, commanding officer of the Japanese Self Defense Force who join the personnel in a courtesy call with Mayor Romualdez early Monday morning also said that they would like to bring cheer to pupils through the cultural engagement.

Aside from sailors who are serving as teachers, some 40 personnel from the Japanese medical team are also joining their counterparts from Malaysia, Australia, United States and the Philippines in the medical mission.

The medical mission kicked off Monday until Wednesday at the Diit District Health Center and at the San Jose District Health Center, July 10-12.

Japanese contingent to honor Tacloban residents who perished during typhoon Yolanda

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 7): Japanese contingent to honor Tacloban residents who perished during typhoon Yolanda

A Japanese contingent that is part of the Pacific Partnership 2014 (PP 14) will honor those who perished during typhoon Yolanda by offering 1,000 paper craft cranes during a symbolic ceremony that will be held at the Tacloban City Convention Center around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Takashi Inoue Japan deputy director of the Self Defense Force Public Affairs Office said that the paper craft crane is similar to lei in the Philippines. They were made by Japanese nationals, mostly sailors who were part of the PP 14.

“We Japanese nationals as a friend nation of the Philippines want to remember the victims of typhoon Yolanda,” he said.

More than 2,000 Taclobanons lost their lives at the height of Yolanda.

Preparations for Tuesday’s activity were done following the courtesy call made by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Captain Yoichi Matsui who is also the deputy commander of the PP 14 before Mayor Alfred Romualdez at the Tacloban City Hall Monday morning.

During the visit, Inoue said that Matsui explained to the mayor their intention to “appease the people of Tacloban and Leyte after the Yolanda disaster.”

After the ceremony, several participants led by Mayor Alfred will have the opportunity to tour JS Kunisaki, which has been serving as mission platform of the multinationals joining the partnership.

JS Kunisaki is anchored off the coast of Tacloban, Inoue said.

Meanwhile, Inoue expressed gladness that the city of Tacloban is moving on after suffering the wrath of Yolanda.

He first arrived in this city when the Japanese Self Defense Force embarked on ‘Operation Sangkay’ and provided various humanitarian activities and relief efforts to victims of the typhoon in December last year.

In this partnership, the Japanese team is composed of 150 sailors and 40 medical teams tasked to do humanitarian mission in two weeks side by side with their counterparts from the United States, Malaysia, Australia and the Philippines.

Statement of GPH Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the Proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 7): Statement of GPH Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the Proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law

"The implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is in the critical stage of processing a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that the President can confidently submit to Congress and certify as urgent upon its adoption as an official bill in Congress, shortly after the reopening of Congress on July 28.

We know that the review process conducted by the Office of the President (OP) on the proposed law submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has raised some apprehension over some content where modifications were recommended by the OP review team. That is why we are taking the necessary steps to ensure better understanding of the concerns, and to find a good resolution through frank and open discussion.

Last July 3, in an en banc meeting held in Cotabato City, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission passed a resolution “elevat(ing) the matter or process to the Panels for clarification, discussion and resolution of issues that may have been affected by the proposed revisions in the proposed BBL, in the higher interest of finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao.”

The Government Panel readily accepted the task. Together with the MILF Panel, Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Ghafar and the members of the International Contact Group, we will be meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week in a workshop that would thresh out the various substantive matters that have arisen from the BTC submission and the subsequent OP review. The members of the BTC will also be present, thereby ensuring close coordination and processing.

To begin with, neither the BTC draft nor the OP-reviewed text is so complete and perfect to leave no more room for discussion, or no other option but to choose between one or the other.

Closed options have never been the practice in our past negotiation. It shouldn’t be now in the implementation stage. Then and now, “problem-solving” has defined our modalities and this approach has produced the workable results that brought us this far.

For both the Government and the MILF, the bottom line is set by the signed documents that make up the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. There is no backtracking on either side. Any perception of backtracking can be duly addressed and rectified during the discussion. On the other hand, details or aspects beyond the signed documents are policy options that the BTC has taken and which the OP team took care to study and uphold as much as possible. But as in any legislation, there are various ramifications to any single text, or gaps that might not have appeared at first instance. The Kuala Lumpur workshop will help sort out these grey zones.

If we are going through this difficulty now, it is because we want the next stages to be less difficult not only between the government and the MILF, but among all the institutions and actors that will be or have been playing a role in the process. A well-processed bill that goes through the legislative mill, with the certification of the President as urgent, will stand much better chances of smooth-sailing passage in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

As we have said many times in the past, this partnership between the GPH and the MILF is not for the fainthearted. It is also not for the impatient and the impetuous who, in the face of difficulty, immediately throw in the towel.

Rather, it is for those who persevere so that when the going gets rough, they get going. They do not turn back to their old comfort zones, or to the familiar sound of their war cries.

Surely, we are not throwing in the towel because we do need the towel for this laborious task that is 99 percent perspiration.

We appeal to the understanding of all sectors who have accompanied this process and who like us desire to institutionalize a Bangsamoro that is grounded on a solid foundation and enjoying very strong people's support.

Let our peace process continue to be the bright spot amid the violent conflicts that beset many countries in other parts of the globe today."

PHL RIMPAC contingent now in Hawaii

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 7): PHL RIMPAC contingent now in Hawaii

The three Filipino officers, participating in this year's RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise) are now in Hawaii.

This was revealed by Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief Cmdr. Gregory Fabic in a message to the PNA.

"They left last July 2 and today is their first day of duty for the current operations of maritime exercises," he added.

Fabic identified the Filipino participants as Cmdr. Rommel T. Marcos, Lt. Abraham R. Taguinod, both of the PN and Major Nealon Eugene P. Batalla of the Philippine Marine Corps.

The naval war games were scheduled for June and July.

RIMPAC is the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise.

It is held biennially during June and July of even-numbered years from Honolulu, Hawaii.

It is hosted and administered by the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet, headquartered at Pearl Harbor, in conjunction with the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and Hawaii National Guard forces under the control of the Governor of Hawaii.

The US invites allied military forces from the Pacific Rim nations to participate.

With RIMPAC the United States Pacific Command seeks to enhance interoperability between Pacific Rim armed forces, ostensibly as a means of promoting stability in the region to the benefit of all participating nations.