From the Philippine Star (Aug 1): Security tight in NCotabato amid NPA threats
NORTH COTABATO, Philippines - Authorities on Friday tightened security in four North Cotabato towns due to persistent threats of massive attacks by communist rebels.
Senior Supt. Danny Peralta, provincial police director, said barangay leaders and policemen in the neighboring President Roxas, Magpet, Antipas and Makilala towns are now on high alert, helping monitor the areas from where rebels can launch attacks.
Peralta said they have been receiving reports from villagers on plans by the New People’s Army (NPA) to attack the police offices in the four towns to retaliate for the group’s heavy losses in recent encounters with government forces in different parts of Mindanao.
The NPA had suffered casualties in a bungled attempt to take over last May 20 the police station of President Roxas.
Members of the municipal police had apparently prepared for the attack, after having been warned by villagers, enabling them to effectively fend off the NPAs, forcing their hasty retreat carrying five slain companions.
More than a dozen NPAs were also reported wounded in the brief encounter with members of the President Roxas municipal police.
The central office of the Department of Interior and Local Government awarded the policemen in President Roxas with special citations for gallantry a week later.
Peralta said soldiers belonging to the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion are now helping the local police guard the four towns against possible NPA attacks.
Lt. Col. Noli Vinluan, commander of the 57th IB, said what is bothersome for them is the wanton roadside bombings by the NPA’s Guerilla Front 53, targeting not just police and Army vehicles, but public transportations as well.
“These bombings are serious transgressions of the International Humanitarian Law governing the conduct of warfare,” Vinluan said.
Vinluan said they have intensified their security patrols in hinterlands around President Roxas, Magpet, Antipas and Makilala, to prevent NPAs from getting close.
The difficulty they faced in coming up with an “agreed version” of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) can only be temporary. If they persevere and remain committed to solve the Bangsamoro Question, no obstacle, God willing! can stop their way. “If there is a will,” said an old adage, “there is a way.”
It is true that they have not beaten the most desirable time to submit the BBL, which is immediately after the State-of-the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III last July 28. But this is no reason to give up --- rather, there are more to proceed.
As a problem-solving exercise, however, the current discussion does not need finger-pointing. But it is not good either to just ignore the cause of the delay. Like the GPH’s 3-for-1 formula, which the MILF outright rejected, as an extraneous effort, the conservative or restrictive interpretation of the Constitution adopted by the Review Team of the Office of the President (OP) and the resort to the use of “concepts, words and terms” that are clearly alien to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes, explained much of the difficulty. While we do not question intention, but the truth is that we do not know the wisdom either.
But after the President made known his inner thoughts during the meeting in Malacañang Palace involving the OP, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Department of Justice (DOJ), the Solicitor General Office, GPH Peace Panel, the Executive Secretary, and members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal was not present) last July 23 and in his SONA last July 28, one can safely say that he (President) is still fully committed to make peace with the MILF as his legacy. His limited reference to the BBL is simply an economy of words appropriate to the true state of the current discussion of the BBL.
Of course, not everybody was happy about the President’s limited reference to the BBL and how it could become a reality. We understand their positions, because most are coming from other standpoints. But as partners in the peace-making, the MILF has to be very objective in assessing the situation in reference to the difficulty confronting the Parties. We cannot ask for more from the President re: BBL in his SONA.
The road ahead still offers some promises. One good determining factor is that both Parties have expressed willingness to travel the extra miles to be able to produce a mutually agreed version of the BBL. All what is needed is a little time more; and more importantly, both sides must be truthful and faithful to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes, which is the basis of the BBL.