Thursday, November 20, 2014

MILF: AYA-South Cotabato hosts public consultation on BBL

From the MILF Website (Nov 20): AYA-South Cotabato hosts public consultation on BBL

The Agency for Youth Affairs (AYA)-South Cotabato Chapter with the support from the MILF Political Committee in the province hosted a public consultation on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on November 16, 2014 at the Koronadal Proper Elementary School Gymnasium, Koronadal Proper, Polomolok, South Cotabato.
Mr. Abdullah Cusain, Head of the Communication Group of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) explained the salient features of BBL and also answered queries raised by the participants related to ARMM abolition, petition for inclusion, security, political qualifications, rights of IP’s, and MILF Political Party.

Program organizers were expecting about 200 participants but 354 attended from different line agencies of MILF, leaders of Peoples’ Organization, indigenous peoples, settlers, professionals, traditional leaders from the City of Koronadal, Municipality of Tupi and Polomolok.

Barangay officials from the Municipality of Polomolok  also participated in the public consultation.

The participants were so happy when Mr. Cusain handed over to them 100 copies of “The Proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law”.

Mr. Cusain complimented the efforts made by the organizers and encouraged the AYA-South Cotabato to plan for a bigger gathering on BBL where BTC commissioners could possibly attend if Allahu Subhanahu wa Ta’ala wills.

MILF: Forum on BBL held at BASECO Hall, Isabela City

Posted to the MILF Website (Nov 20): Forum on BBL held at BASECO Hall, Isabela City

Another forum on BBL was conducted at BASELCO Compound on November 17, 2014 attended by about 100 employees of Basilan Electric Cooperative (BASELCO), other professionals, representatives from NGOs and LGUs of Basilan. Invited resource speaker was Commissioner Peter Eisma of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
Commissioner Eisma received a big applause from the participants when he said that the uniqueness of the BBL is at its preamble itself.  He read it partly, "We, the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of the Bangsamoro...".  Its inclusiveness also convinced him to sign the BBL despite being in the minority because Christians and the indigenous peoples shall be represented in the Bangsamoro Parliamentary. He said, “It is wrong to say that the Bangsamoro Government would be operating outside the Philippine Constitution as many people perceived it especially the Christians where I am one of them.

The BBL is "in consonance with the Constitution and the universally accepted principles of human rights;  in accordance with  international standards reflective of our system of life prescribed by our faith, and in harmony with our customary laws, cultures and traditions".

The participants were satisfied with the explicit explanations of the contents of BBL by Comm. Eisma manifested by their clarifications made during the open forum.

One of the questions raised by Maria Lina Patino from Lantawan, Basilan was "Can you or the Bangsamoro Government guarantee that there will no more Abu Sayyaf or Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters once the Bangsamoro is in power?

Commissioner Eisma said that that we cannot guarantee that but what is important is we have something to hold on, just like in a basketball games, when there is a coach and rules to follow, the players will not fight with one another because they are governed by the rules and they have a coach to guide them".

Ustadz Kaiser, a member of the Reconciliation Council of the ARMM supported Comm. Eisma saying, "We are from the same town of Lantawan but take a look at the MNLF at MILF. Despite being in different organizations, they do not fight here in our place in Basilan because they respect each other as brothers. That is the way how I look at the Abu Sayyaf, that eventually they will afford respect to the Bangsamoro Government once it is in place".

Another question posed by Ibrahim A. Hain, a teacher from Tuburan, "Can we go home to tell our colleagues that we have a guarantee on our security of tenure as teachers where more than 21,000 teachers had been denied of their salaries and benefits during the past administrations of ARMM?

Comm. Eisma answered him that under the BBL “there is a guarantee for the security of tenure of the legitimate employees of ARRMM”.

Program Host Mr. Rusid “Sultan” Durapan, Asst. Manager of BASELCO said, "Comm. Eisma, we are so glad for having accepted our invitation and explained to us about the BBL. This way, there shall no more confucions and doubts in our minds. Thank you very much, LONG LIVE !

The program ended with a closing message from Atty. Ahmad AL Amin who summed up what were discussed by the resource speaker.

De Leon named chief AFP prober

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 21): De Leon named chief AFP prober

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Army Major General Benito de Leon as Inspector General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

De Leon, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Dimalupig” Class 1981, is currently the commander of the 5th Infantry Division based at Camp dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.

De Leon will assume his new position on Friday, replacing Rear Admiral Zyril Carlos (PMA “Mapitagan” Class 1980). He will act as the military’s chief investigator sorting out complaints involving officers and enlisted men.

De Leon, also former chief of the AFP Training and Doctrine Command at Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac, is “mistah” (classmate) of AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and former AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Military recovers body of slain NPA rebel

From the Manila Times (Nov 20): Military recovers body of slain NPA rebel

State troopers recovered the body of a female member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) following a firefight in Misamis Oriental.

Maj. Jennan Montealto, civil-military officer of the 403rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said on Thursday that troopers found the body of the still unidentified NPA guerilla while scouring the forested area of Barangay Minalwang, Claveria, after a series of armed clashes with the rebels.

China policies fuel tensions with US: commission

From the Manila Times (Nov 21): China policies fuel tensions with US: commission

China’s souring foreign investment climate, “unfair” trade practices and inceased military spending heightened tensions between the United States and Beijing in 2014, a US commission said Thursday.

Security ties between the two world powers deteriorated this year amid increased territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

These potential China-US military confrontations risk escalating into a “major political crisis,” the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said in its annual report to Congress.

Reports by the commission of former lawmakers, former officials, and other experts have in the past irritated officials in Beijing, where Washington opinions are always under a microscope.

The report said President Xi Jinping’s government “made minimal progress in implementing (economic) reforms in 2014, and it remains unclear whether the Xi government will accelerate reform in 2015.”

But it made substantial progress on the military development front, USCC reported, citing China’s two decades of double-digit increases in its defense budget.

“This trend continued in 2014 with a 12.2 percent increase over the previous year, bringing China’s announced projected defense budget to approximately $131.6 billion, though China’s actual spending on defense is no doubt larger than this figure,” USCC chairman Dennis Shea said while unveiling the report.

China’s expanding navy is replacing its surface ships with “modern platforms equipped with advanced, long-range weapon systems and sensors” and increasing its fleet of modern submarines from just one in 2000 to nearly 40 in 2014.

“These developments are enabling China to challenge decades of air and naval dominance by the United States in the Western Pacific, and are contributing to a shift in the regional balance of power in China’s direction,” he said.

The US-China security relationship mostly “deteriorated” in 2014, the report said, citing China’s territorial disputes with US treaty allies Japan and the Philippines and Chinese military aircraft and ships confronting US military aircraft and vessels “on several occasions since late 2013.”

“On each of these occasions, Chinese military personnel engaged in unsafe, unprofessional, and aggressive behavior that could have resulted in the loss of life or a major political crisis.”

The report offered 48 recommendations, including urging Congress to fund increases in the US Navy presence in the Pacific so it can maintain readiness and “offset China’s growing military capabilities.”

The commission said China’s economic policies came up short this year.
Despite China’s economy growing at or near its official target rate of 7.5 percent for most of 2014, “the government failed to address China’s underlying structural problems, such as oversupply, overcapacity, mounting local government debt, and asset bubbles that put its economy at risk of a sharp slowdown or ‘hard landing.'”

China’s massive economy is dependent on exports for growth, “a policy supported by an undervalued currency (which) has resulted in China’s accumulation of record foreign currency reserves, and contributes to global trade imbalances,” according to USCC.

The policy has pinched US opportunities to boost exports to the Asian giant.
“In 2014, Chinese direct investment flows into the United States exceeded US investment into China for the first time as foreign firms faced an increasingly hostile investment climate in China,” the commission said.

Despite Washington using diplomacy and enforcement tools to address unfair practices, “Chinese trade violations continue and the bilateral trading relationship grows more lopsided.”

China in 2014 shipped nearly four dollars worth of goods to US shores for every dollar in US imports, helping create the world’s largest bilateral deficit — three times the size of the second-largest US deficit, with Japan.

By August, the US trade deficit with China stood at $216 billion, some $8.5 billion more than the same time last year and on pace for another record high.

“Unfortunately, the United States too often chooses dialogue with China over strong enforcement measures,” the commission noted.

Foreign direct investment in China has suffered in the January-August period, decreasing by 1.8 percent from the same eight months in 2013, the commission said.

It also shed light on how the “increasing impact of Chinese media and Internet censorship on US company operations and profits both within China and abroad has denied some US businesses market access and forced other US businesses to reduce activities in China.”

AFP captures NPA training camp in Mindanao, Army soldier killed

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 20): AFP captures NPA training camp in Mindanao, Army soldier killed

Government special security forces captured an alleged training camp of the communist insurgents in Southern Philippines, military officials reported Thursday.

After clearing and mopping up operations on Tuesday and Wednesday, combat troops of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3rd SFB) and Cafgu Active Auxiliary (CAA) led by certain Sgt. Mendaros found running trenches, bunkers, makeshift huts with kitchen and lecture area, listening posts and training ground inside the camp.

“The captured NPA camp can accommodate more than 60 persons,” said Capt. Patrick Martinez, acting regional information officer of the Army’s 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division, in an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin yesterday.

The combat maneuvering troops of the 3rd SFB and CAA, also captured inside the NPA camp an M16 Armalite rifle attached with M203 grenade launcher, improvised explosive devices (IED’s), undetermined number of assorted live ammunitions, medical paraphernalia and assorted medicines, backpacks with personal belongings, laminated sacks used as shelter of live ammunitions and anti-government documents with high intelligence value, Capt. Martinez said.

The regional Army spokesman claimed that the captured camp belongs to guerrila-Front Committee 8 of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC). The camp was strategically located at the mountainous area of Pinagalaan, in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

“The rebels hastily abandoned their camp sensing that they were outgunned and outnumbered by the attacking column of 3rd SFB at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday,” Capt. Matinez added.

Early this month, government troops under the supervision of 401st Brigade also captured an alleged major NPA camp that could easily accommodate 100 persons in New Tubigon area in Sibagat town, next to Bayugan City of that same province.

Capt. Martinez also said the captured NPA camp is also complete with make shift-huts, kitchens, running trenches, bunkers and listening posts.

“Our troops who are currently conducting an all-out pursuit operation believe that an undetermined number of NPA rebels were either killed or wounded based on the bloodstains seen within the captured NPA camp in Pinagalaan area and along their escape route of withdrawal,” claimed Capt. Martinez.

An Army soldier was killed during the Pinagalaan gun-battle.

As of press time, more troops were deployed in Pinagalaan area to beef up the pursing combat troops of 3rd SFB and CAA.

Military believes spate of BIFF violence diversionary tactic

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 21): Military believes spate of BIFF violence diversionary tactic

Amid the recent spate of atrocities staged by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) in Central Mindanao, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. went to Maguindanao to personally receive operational updates from military troops there.

Catapang, in his message to troops of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division , ordered for relentless military operation against the BIFF, which he branded as “spoilers of peace.”

“The BIFF are spoilers of the peace process. We will continuously conduct law enforcement operations against them,” said Catapang.

Catapang said that he wants to receive operational updates regarding recent spate of atrocities in Central Mindanao attributed to the BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is talking peace with the government.

The Army recorded a series of IED attacks and harassments against military outposts and civilian communities by the BIFF recently.

The attacks are believed to be diversionary tactics by the BIFF armed groups which are being pursued by combined elements of the Army and the police.

On Nov. 16, suspected BIFF members, led by a certain Commander Obetin, detonated an improvised bomb in a primary school in Kabacan, North Cotabato injuring 16 people and killing Monique Mentawil, 19.

Two days later at around 10 p.m., heavily-armed BIFF members led by Commander Abunawas attacked a Christian community in Sitio Lunok, Barangay Baliki in Midsayap, Maguindanao resulting in an intense firefight with villagers.

On Wednesday night, patrolling Army soldiers briefly clashed with BIFF members also in Barangay Baliki.

No one was reported hurt among the villagers or the soldiers. Traces of blood were found along the enemy’s escape route.

MNLF brands recent meet of MNLF, MILF, OIC on BBL ‘desperate move’

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 21): MNLF brands recent meet of MNLF, MILF, OIC on BBL ‘desperate move’

The Moro National Liberation Front yesterday branded as a “desperate move” the recent meeting between supposed leaders of the MNLF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the powerful Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to legitimize the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman of the MNLF faction of Chairman Nur Misuari, expressed belief that the meeting held last Nov. 13 somewhere in Makati City is part of the government’s ploy to legalize the BBL being pushed by the government of the Philippines and the MILF.

In an MILF editorial over its Web site, it claimed that the MNLF delegation has the blessing of Misuari.

But Fontanilla was quick to dismiss such claim, citing statement from MNLF political director Gapul Hadjirul.

“The political director, Gapul Hadjirul, of MNLF said that the meeting has no blessing from Maas (Misuari’s nickname),” Fontanilla told The Daily Tribune.

“The meeting is a scheme to legitimize the BBL which is unacceptable to the people of Mindanao. It’s a political ploy, a desperate move on the part of the government,” he added.

Fontanilla maintained that the BBL will suffer the fate of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) which was junked as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008.

“Their BBL and the MoA-AD are the same, that’s the problem,” said Fontanilla.

“Their concept of the Constitution is asymmetrical which is not found in law books,” he added.

During the meeting, the MNLF was represented by lawyer Bong Parcasio, the spokesman of the MNLF delegation, Moslemin Sema, Hatimil Hassan, Habib Mujahab Hashim, Commander Narra, Abebakrin Lukman, and Abdul Sahrin.

“These personalities are already controlled by the government. They (government) created MNLF faction that can be controlled. The usual divide and conquer tactic,” said Fontanilla.

The MILF was represented by Mohagher Iqbal, Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, Abdulla Camlian, all three are members of the MILF peace panel; Sheikh Ibrahim Ali, Hussein Munoz, Jun Mantawil, all members of the MILF central leadership; lawyer Nazir Ynawat, Muhajirin Ali, and Masbod Gaima, the last two names composing, alongside Mantawil, the MILF secretariat to the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF).

“MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim were not physically present during the meeting, but both have given their blessings to their respective delegations,” the MILF said in its editorial.

The meeting, the MILF said, demonstrated the maturity of the leaders of both fronts to rise above personal and pure organizational considerations in favor of the common interests.

“Further, it also showcased the OIC’s continuing recognition and commitment to help the Bangsamoro people in the pursuit of their inherent and collective to self-determination,” the MILF said.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a final communique of the BCF which calls for the creation of the Executive Bureau of the BCF, which will hold office in Cotabato City. It is composed of three representatives each from the MNLF and MILF and one representative from the OIC. The bureau has the power to decide on matters when the BCF is not in session, but is required to report all its actions to the BCF in plenary.

MNLF: Editorial - Salute to Atenews and Mindanao Youth

Propaganda statement posted to the MNLF Website (Nov 17): Salute to Atenews and Mindanao Youth


The dream of the Muslim and Animist Lumad natives as well as the conscious Christians of Mindanao to live in total freedom and liberty from ‘Imperial Manila’ or Philippine colonialism has always guided the Mindanaoan leaders in both their militant and peaceful freedom struggle.


The ideal dream of patriot Mindanao leaders, like Reuben R. Canoy, Mai Thuan, Pantaleon Alvarez, Sultan Harun al-Rashid Lucman, Prof. Nur Misuari and Ustaj Salamat Hashim, have today demonstrated the revolutionary will of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM), One People Mindanao (OPM), BangsaMoro Liberation Organization (BMLO), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Chairman Ustaj Salamat Hashim, and also currently the Ustaj Umra Amiril Katu-led Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), to have had launched and to wage still the freedom struggle towards the independence of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, including North Borneo (now Sabah and Sarawak) under Malaysia colonialism.

Simply said, the Indigenous Peoples – Muslim and Animist Lumad natives – and conscious Christians of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan (MINSUPALA) cannot remain forever colonial slaves of the Luzon-based Filipino colonialist land-grabbers whose greed for economic and political power has led to the present war of extermination and genocide in the Filipino-occupied territory.

Hell bent to continue the colonization and occupation of Mindanao through the sinister strategy of the draconian law ‘Legislative Act No. 4197 of February 12, 1935’ otherwise known as ‘Quirino-Recto Colonization Act’ under the Philippine Commonwealth regime, the Filipino colonizers patronized the gruesome injustice by illegally and immorally annexing MINSUPALA into America-created Philippine Republic on July 4, 1946.

The rest is dark history for Mindanao. Thus, backdrop by these short historical notes, the Bangsamoro freedom fighters in Mindanao today wish to salute the youth sector, particularly the student populace of Davao, for actively involving themselves to seek the truth. Indeed, by all means, it is dictated by deeper wisdom that they should be aware and knowledgeable about the liberation struggle for independence and self-determination of the oppressed people of Mindanao.

In their quest for truth, the school newspaper Atenews has taken the liberty to inquire on the raging issues surrounding the Bangsamoro Question, to wit:

(1) It is an undeniable fact that there are still skirmishes between the military groups and the Bangsamoro. What could be the reasons for this?

(2) What is the group’s vision for the Bangsamoro people?

(3) What is the group’s view of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)? Do you think it will be the key to establish lasting peace and development in Mindanao?

(4) Any statements or particulars you wanted students/people of Mindanao to know?

The MNLF leadership in league with the freedom spirit of the Cagayan de Oro-based Mindanao Independence Movement and Davao-based One People Mindanao established by Mindanaoan patriots, like Reuben R. Canoy and Pantaleon Alvarez together with their revolutionary colleagues, can only express gratitude to the learned youth of Mindanao for taking the bold and courageous steps to search for the truth.

This is explicitly to know the cardinal truism that deals on the harsh truth that can never see print in the Manila-based daily newspapers under any circumstances. Truth to tell, the mainstream Philippine media today have only become mouthpiece of Philippine colonialism or Imperial Manila.

This reality speaks particularly of most of the paid media personnel and so-called opinion makers whose only vocation is to continue patronizing the gross injustice of the Manila government against the colonized victims of Mindanao.

Thus, the Mindanao studentry and other youthful populace should be wary and careful to read the news and views of the mainstream Philippine media so as to carefully ascertain the real truth.

As the staunchest African-American human rights advocate, John Little (Malcolm X or Alhaj Malik al-Shabaz), said: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Now, answering ATENEWS inquiries!


In answer to the first question, it is clearly recorded in history that Mindanao peace has had been already betrayed thrice by Philippine colonialism.

Firstly, after the non-implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement under President Ferdinand E. Marcos; secondly, after the non-implementation of the 1987 Jeddah Peace Accord under President Corazon C. Aquino and; thirdly, after the no implementation of the 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreements under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The three Filipino colonialist leaders instead presided in establishing bogus autonomous governments in Mindanao to deceive the Bangsamoro people and global humanity on the pretext of achieving peace in war-wracked Mindanao. Besides the Marcos version of cosmetic Region 9 and 12 autonomy set-up, the two version farcical Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) manufactured unilaterally by both Houses of Philippine Congress was totally rejected by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the MNLF.

In 2001, when the Arroyo government upgraded the Aquino regime-created 4-province ARMM in 1987 into the present 5-province ARMM, which later turned out only into the highly-publicized “cheating capital of Philippine elections,” the MNLF Peace Panel Spokesman Reverend Absalom Cerveza categorically pointed out that, “the political move would not end the Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Mindanao.”

He always considered Mindanao independence the “last option” if the Manila government would not sincerely implement the peace agreement. He recently issued a loud call for the consumption of the global community: “When will the Filipino Colonialist Land-Grabbers Stop the War Crime against Humanity in Mindanao for Peace.”  

It was also viewed by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari that the unilateral course of action of the Arroyo government was a recipe to prolong the Mindanao war. He decided to abandon altogether the ARMM governorship because of the non-implementation of the 1996 peace agreement, leading to the resumption of the Filipino-Moro war in Sulu in 2001.

Furthermore, it is common knowledge in Filipino-colonized Mindanao that while alive the legendary freedom fighter Reuben R. Canoy defied all odds to engage in peaceful struggle against Philippine colonialism. Using the fundamental human rights to peaceful assembly, he spearheaded the movement of conscious Mindanaoan Christians, Muslims and Lumads to enshrine a Mindanao Constitution leading to the establishment of the ‘Federal Republic of Mindanao’ separate and distinct from the oppressive Philippine government.

Hailed as the fruits and labor “of Mindanaoans, by Mindanaoans, for Mindanaoans,” the Mindanao Constitution was proclaimed in Cagayan de Oro City on April 11, 1986 and signed by 500 delegates being witnessed by around 2,000 observers. The MIM also proceeded to create its own passport, money currency, Mindanao flag and Mindanao National Anthem.

The MIM Chairman Reuben R, Canoy and revolutionary colleagues were just inspired by the political move of the progressive leaders of Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan Association (MINSUPALAS), like Vice-President Emmanuel Pelaez, Senators Alejandro Almendras and Gaudencio Antonino, Congressmen Ramon Mitra and Saripada Pendatun.

The Mindanao leaders posited for the establishment of an independent ‘Minsupala Republic’ to define the prosperity, destiny and certainty of Mindanao – the ‘land of promise’ – that today still remain as such under Philippine colonialism.

The valiant political move under the Marcos watch led to the near-death assassination of then Vice-President Pelaez, who was the only Mindanaoan to occupy the second highest position in the Filipino nation reserved only for the colonialist leaders of Luzon.

Take note that both Houses of Philippine Congress today are only filled up by most of the family members and political animals from Luzon to safeguard the perpetuation of dynasty and Philippine colonialism.

To put closure to the raging Mindanao war, the MIM Chairman Reuben R. Canoy also prescribed peaceful comprehensive solution. He once commented:

“There can be no doubt that for selfish reasons, the Manila politico-economic elite will fight tooth and nail to keep Mindanao as a colony. But the growing determination of Mindanaoans to change a deplorable status quo subjects the situation to an immutable law of physics – that when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, one of the two must yield.

In the face of an imminent collision between a resolute people and an unbending government, how then will the issue of self-determination be ultimately resolved? Will it be settled through peaceful means? Or will Mindanao be plunged anew in a bloody conflict, this time with the Muslims, Christians and tribal communities fighting together against their perceived oppressors?...

To be sure, the Mindanaoans hate war. They have seen too much of it under the Spanish, American, Japanese and Filipino colonizers…The Manila government would be committing a serious blunder if it smugly dismisses the mounting unrest in Mindanao as a child’s tantrum that can be assuaged only by a few sticks of candy, such as the promise of more funds in the next budget, a portfolio or two in the cabinet, or the semblance of autonomy for a few provinces.

These occasional sops will no longer do, for Mindanaoans have come of age…For both Muslims and Christian settlers, ultimate justice is regaining lost independence and self-determination, the basic human rights to decide their own future, whether together or separately.  

In like manner, the revolutionary movement One People Mindanao is next to MIM to advocate the idea of complete freedom and self-determination for the Christian, Highlander and Muslim Mindanaoans under a truly independent and sovereign “Mindanao Federal Republic.” Interviewed by Ricky Carandang of the ABS-CBN ANC channel on September 2, 2006, OPM Spokesman Pantaleon Alvarez emphasized:

“The prospective federated Mindanao State must be separate and distinct from the Republic of the Philippines, comprising of Luzon and Visayas, to ensure complete peace, prosperity and goodwill for the pluralist communities of Mindanao.”    

Thus, there will be no end to the Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Mindanao because apparently the basic reason is based on the sentiments and aspirations of the oppressed people of Mindanao to regain complete freedom and independence from the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers that have no respect for international binding peace agreements.

Today, Philippine colonialism under President Benigno S. Aquino III has again totally shown no respect to the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements forged under the incumbency of President Fidel V. Ramos.

The total disrespect to honor the 1996 peace agreement and the suppression of peaceful assembly of Bangsamoro demonstrators by Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco led to the AFP-MNLF war in Zamboanga City in September, 2013. The 19-day September bloody hostilities between the colonial Philippine military occupation soldiers and MNLF freedom fighters resulted in a great number of human and material losses as well as humanitarian disaster catastrophe.

The ferocious AFP-MNLF battle ended only with the direct intervention of the Indonesian government and the call of the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as well as urgent appeal from peace advocate NGOs to end the war.

Similar to the burning by AFP occupation forces of almost the entire Jolo town during the 1974 AFP-MNLF war, the 2013 Zamboanga urban war registered the razing to ground zero of six Muslim-thickly populated villages.

The cruelty and genocidal extermination campaign shown by AFP troops resulted in the massive burning of around 10,160 houses and mosques leading to the dislocation of almost 200,000 refugee families. Many of the family refugees until now still live in tents in evacuation centers in Zamboanga City. Worse, they are strictly forbidden to build new homes in their previous residency.


On the second inquiry as to the vision of the MNLF for the Bangsamoro people. The vision is simply anchored on the firm belief that the oppressed and deprived Muslim and Highlander natives as well as conscious Christian inhabitants of Mindanao deserve to live in lasting durable peace enjoying freedom and independence to shape their brighter future and destiny according to their distinct historic-cultural religious civilizational heritage.

It is vividly recorded in Bangsamoro history that the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao have never become subjects of King Philip II or colonial slaves of the Spanish colonizers unlike the Christian Catholic Filipinos and the Christianized Indios of Luzon.

The freedom-loving Bangsamoro forebears have always protected this historical legacy by waging freedom struggle against oppressive colonizers, like Spain, America, Japan and now Philippines. Thus, the vision of regaining and harvesting freedom is still the golden legacy that the Bangsamoro freedom fighters want to impact and impress upon the oppressed and colonized victims of Philippine colonialism in Mindanao.

As emphasized and to repeat the inspiring words of the Mindanaoan patriot and freedom fighter, Reuben R. Canoy, ‘’…For both Muslims and Christian settlers, ultimate justice is regaining lost independence and self-determination, the basic human rights to decide their own future, whether together or separately.”


On the third query on the view of MNLF towards the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and to answer if it will serve the “key to establish lasting peace and development in Mindanao.”

It is recalled that the euphoria surrounding the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement under President FEMarcos, the 1987 Jeddah Accord under President CCAquino and the 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreements under President FVRamos have again taken center stage under present President BSAquino III to entertain people to hope for peace. This is quite understandable because the longing for the elusive Mindanao peace is in the hearts and minds of both the peaceful Filipino and Bangsamoro communities. But is the BBL the correct formula to achieve “just and lasting peace” in Mindanao?

Is the sincerity of President Noynoy Aquino to achieve Mindanao peace based on the sincerity shown to the MNLF leadership by his martyred father Senator Ninoy Aquino? Or the kind of superficial sincerity played by his mother President Cory Aquino on the MNLF leadership?

The late Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, Jr., who recognizes the value of freedom, thus, endearing him to the Bangsamoro freedom fighters in Mindanao, delivered a lecture at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah on March 12, 1981. He stated:

“I have come all the way from Boston precisely to urge our brothers especially the Moro National Liberation Front under Chairman Nur Misuari and the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization most probably to start their unity effort so that as one Muslim nation they will be able to present a more formidable force with any negotiation with the present government. This evening, I would like to announce to you that the MNLF under Chairman Nur Misuari and BMLO under Sultan Haroun al-Rashid Lucman have finally joined forces and together they will now continue the struggle for freedom of our Muslim brothers in the southern Philippines.”

In the same lecture forum, Ninoy Aquino recommended that the ideal comprehensive solution to the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao was the total implementation of the letter and spirit of the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement comprising of Mindanao 13 provinces and 9 cities. If in the event autonomy within a period of five years is unworkable then the peace partners can negotiate for independence. Conscious of Philippine and Moro Nation history, his gentle and sincere heart was always opened to the independence of the Bangsamoro people in order to live in peace and harmony among themselves and with their neighbors.

The peaceful formula is left in his written aide-memoire given to MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in the Middle East. As a man of peace and noble peacemaker, the Bangsamoro freedom fighters will always remember his words: “Study the lessons of history before it is too late…If you are not sincere, how many will die?”

On one hand, President Cory Aquino showed her sincerity by meeting face to face MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in Jolo in December, 1996 that paved the way for the forging of the 1987 Jeddah Accord.

But when it came to the implementation of the peace agreement that the MNLF already agreed to be based on the correct implementation of the historical Tripoli Peace Agreement, the Aquino government proposed the establishment of Mindanao autonomy based on “ten plus three formula.”

The artificial peace formula was broached by the GRP Peace Panel Chairman Emmanuel Pelaez to the MNLF chairman in Indanan, Sulu. It would mean establishing autonomy initially on ten provinces excluding Palawan, Davao and Dadiangas (GenSan), but the three provinces would be added in a later date. Since the implementation process contravened the stipulation of the letter and spirit of the Tripoli peace agreement, the MNLF rejected it. The Aquino government eventually moved to create unilaterally the 4-province ARMM that the MNLF and OIC totally rejected.

In later years, the ARMM was declared a “failed experiment” by her presidential son, who strangely insisted on blaming the 1996 peace agreement for the creation of the fake ARMM, but never the failure of his mother’s government. He has come up with his own version of autonomous government in Mindanao that is now the BBL which from inception is also a “failed experiment” because it will never bring permanent peace to war-torn Mindanao. It is just seen as the same dog with the present ARMM, but only with different collar or name tag.

Why? Because the freedom struggle of the Muslim and Lumad natives and conscious Christians of Mindanao is now on fire and in full swing, so to speak, under the MNLF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement. Furthermore, the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (UFSBR) has been established by the Highlander, Christian and Muslim leaders of the MNLF since the time the Aquino government advised the OIC Task Force to have abrogated the September 2, 1996 GRP-OIC-MNLF Jakarta Peace Agreements in 2013. The declaration of the UFSBR Preamble/Charter also simultaneously proclaimed Davao City the capital center that elicited the support of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and progressive elements of Mindanao.

Nowadays, by any possible means, the MNLF is strongly appealing to the global community of nations for worldwide recognition towards the complete independence and national self-determination of the oppressed Bangsamoro people of Mindanao. This is only following the wisdom of Reverend Absalom Cerveza, who clearly tweeted in Twitter for the global humanity to know the sentiments of the Filipino-colonized people of Mindanao that: “Bangsamoro Freedom is Golden Key to Mindanao Peace, not Injustice of Philippine Colonialism.”    

Furthermore, the BBL cannot definitely achieve ‘just and lasting’ Mindanao peace, but the more will lead to the escalation and prolongation of Mindanao war in strategic areas occupied by both the Filipino and Malaysian colonialist land-grabbers. The learned sector of Mindanao society, particularly the Tausug constituents of the historical Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB), have closely viewed the BBL and the imposition of another version of autonomy labelled “Bangsamoro” as simply a conspiracy of Philippine and Malaysia colonialism to perpetuate colonial rule in the Bangsamoro homeland of Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan and North Borneo (now Sabah and Sarawak). The conspiracy is just highlighted and camouflaged under the pretext of “just and lasting peace” for Mindanao frequently hyped by the Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) spin masters.  

From the beginning of the MILF-Philippine government peace talks, the intervention of the Malaysian colonizers in the peace negotiations starting under the Arroyo regime has been clouded by suspicion and hidden motive. Malaysia is a member-state of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Conference (presently Organization of Islamic Cooperation), which has recognized the MNLF as “Permanent Observer.” Under the Mahathir regime, Malaysia mysteriously abandoned the MNLF and the OIC peace efforts to solve comprehensively the Mindanao war because the MNLF leadership under the Tausug Chairman Nur Misuari would not compromise the propriety rights of the Sulu Sultanate and Tausug constituents over North Borneo as claimed now by Malaysia under its questionable sovereignty. The federal Malaysian government would always invoke the rigged referendum conducted by the Cobbold Commision to justify its land-grabbing colored sovereignty over North Borneo.

Thus, it was observed that the Mahathir-led Malaysian government only conspired with the Arroyo government to divide the Bangsamoro people and Muslim freedom fighters by brokering the MILF-GRP peace negotiations in Kuala Lumpur leading to the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain that was later declared “unconstitutional” by the Philippine Supreme Court.   

The next phase of the diabolical conspiracy continued under the present Aquino government with the Kuala Lumpur MILF-GRP peace talks succeeding to formulate the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB). The FAB was later signed in Malacanang Palace witnessed by no less than by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and President Benigno S. Aquino III. The FAB eventually led to the forging of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that is now being processed by the Philippine Congress and Senate with high expectation that the new version autonomy will achieve permanent peace and possibly end the Philippines-Bangsamoro war in Mindanao. And also forestall any future war events in Malaysia-occupied North Borneo.

On this strange development, what is the strategic interest of both Philippine and Malaysian colonialism in the BBL, which the OIC rejected similar to ARMM? Is it peace in Mindanao and Sabah? Or the perpetuation of Philippine and Malaysian colonialism in both occupied Mindanao and North Borneo territories?

It is recalled that in early 1960s the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo under Sultan Ismael Kiram trusted and authorized the Philippine government under President Diosdado Macapagal to claim North Borneo from the Malaya-transformed-Malaysia federal government. This is because North Borneo has been part of the Sultanate of Sulu since 1704 through the courtesy of the Sultanate of Brunei but was only leased to the British Company under Gustavus Baron de Overbeck of Hong Kong and Alfred Dent, Esquire, of London on January 22, 1878. The SSNB under Sri Paduka Maulana Al Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam leased North Borneo to the British Company to raise monetary resources to purchase additional armaments to fight the Spanish invaders. Aside from the substantial amount to procure the needed weapons of war, it was also stipulated in the lease agreement that the British Company would pay the SSNB “Maulana Sultan Muhammad Jamalaul Alam and to his heirs and successors, the sum of five thousand dollars annually, to be paid each year and every year.”

Although originally Malaya had declared sovereignty over North Borneo since gaining independence from British rule since 1963 to form Malaysia federation under Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj with the inclusion of North Borneo and Singapore, the federal Malaysia government continued paying the annual rental to the SSNB heirs and successors. Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew later separated from the Malaysia federation to become one of the most developed and prosperous global nations today. The Sulu Sultanate heirs and successors under Sultan Ismael Kiram also decided to claim back North Borneo from Malaysia through the auspices of the Philippine government under the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal.

However, the federal Malaysian government refused to entertain the legal claim and dread facing the SSNB-authorized Philippine government in the international court of justice for legal arbitration. The Malaysian folly recently resulted in the fighting war between the federal Malaysian soldiers and SSNB Royal Army forces in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, Sabah, in February, 2013. It is now reported that the SSNB military troops under crown prince, Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, have established camp inside the vast jungle of Sabah geared for guerilla warfare against the federal Malaysia government.

It was noted that during the crucial period of the Malaysia-Sulu Sultanate war in Lahad Datu, the Aquino government did not lift a finger to help the Sulu Sultanate claimants. Instead, it followed the dictates of the Malaysian government to pressure Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to end the war by demanding the SSNB Royal soldiers under his brother to withdraw from Sabah. President Aquino refused to believe that most of the more than 200 Tausug constituents travelling with the SSNB crown prince back to Sabah were long residents of the area, including Rajah Mudah Datu Agbimuddin Kiram. Simply put, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo leadership just cannot trust Philippine colonialism under President Aquino to revive or push through with the moral claim over the Malaysia-occupied territories. Yet, during the survey conducted by Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 23, 2013 on the question, “Should the Philippines revive the Sabah claim?, 85.72% (21,993) voted for ‘Yes’ and only 14.28% (3,665) voted for ‘No.’

As sadly noted, the Sabah war also led to the hurried evacuation of thousands Tausug (Suluk) Muslims, who were subjected to harassment, torture and other forms of inhumane treatment from the oppressive Malaysian soldiers. Those who were not lucky enough to escape the cruelty of the federal Malaysian military authorities were just arrested and tortured after being identified as Tausug.

However, it is analyzed that if the federal Malaysian government will lightly dismiss the legal claim and will continue to ignore the moral rights of the Sulu Sultanate and Tausug people, the 2013 Lahad Datu war can always be repeated anytime in the future.


Finally, the Bangsamoro leadership has to pay homage to the student populace of Mindanao in their bold quest to search for the truth, particularly to the youthful knowledge seekers of Ateneo de Davao University. In truth, as future leaders of Mindanao the prosperity and full development of the region shall pose a great challenge to the Mindanao youth today. But definitely the monumental task of building Mindanao future to reach the heights of full development and prosperity under the atmosphere of peace and security can only be achieved if Mindanao is no longer a colony. This is given justice by the analytical wisdom of the late MIM Chairman Reuben R. Canoy, who said:

 “With the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1935 and the attainment of full independence in 1946, it was assumed that the Mindanao policies instituted by past colonial regimes would be scrapped…To the dismay of the Mindanaoans, the Manila government turned out to be a worse colonizer.”

Thus, the historical moral lessons just cannot be ignored by the youth and learned people of Mindanao.   

On this note, there is no doubt that the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao has to end definitely. How? The student, professional and civilian populace of Mindanao as well as the Filipino colonizers of Luzon can learn a moral lesson from the progressive leaders of India, Pakistan, Sudan and Indonesia.

In the 1940s, to end mass unrest and to prevent catastrophic civil war, the Indian leadership under Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to adopt the two-nation formula, leading to the peaceful co-existence of India and Pakistan. Later in years, the Pakistani leadership under Prime Minister Zulfikhar Ali Bhutto agreed to adopt the peaceful two-nation theory that led to peaceful co-existence with independent Bangladesh. Thus, war devastation was avoided in Asia Sub-Continent due to the wisdom of the leaders of the region.

In Sudan, President Muhammad Bashir abandoned colonialism to make peace with the South Sudanese freedom fighters to put an end to the bloody war that already resulted to great number of human and material losses characterized by appalling humanitarian disaster situations that elicited condemnation from the world community.   

President H. B. Habibie of Indonesia also abandoned altogether the scourge of colonialism by agreeing to end the bloody war in East Timor by adopting the two-nation peace formula. The Indonesian leadership agreed to a peaceful referendum to solve the Indonesia-East Timor war that eventually gave freedom to the Timor Leste people to chart their definite destiny, development and prosperity.

On this peaceful turn of events, why can’t the Filipino leaders today emulate the peace efforts of progressive leaders to end the injustice against the colonized victims of Mindanao to simply end the 4-decades long war?  If only to repeat for emphasis, when will they heed the loud call of Reverend Absalom Cerveza, “When will the Filipino Colonialist Land-Grabbers stop the War Crime against Humanity in Mindanao for Peace?”  

As historical guidepost for the sound guidance of his fellow Filipinos, one Filipino thinker, Emilio Jacinto, said: “The power of those who govern depends upon the love and esteem of the governed, and these are obtained only by a just and prudent conduct…Those who believe they can maintain their power by means of force and the gun make a great mistake; they are nearsighted and do not understand the lesson taught by terrible events recorded in history.”  

Indeed, with the active participation now of the Mindanao youth and professionals to educate all sectors of society, they sure can shape the bright future of their homeland. They can certainly be guided by the wisdom of the Mindanao leaders, who look up to them as true architects of a promising Mindanao, not just forever a “land of promise” under Philippine colonialism.

They have to be guided by the wisdom of the Mindanaoan leaders, like Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., MIM Chairman Reuben R. Canoy, Ustaj Salamat Hashim, Prof. Nur Misuari and present MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, invoking for off the record courtesy from the Davao press, stated once the hard truth that the Mindanao problem could be easily solved if the Filipino leaders are only generous to give what they don’t own in the first place. Does this mean decolonizing Mindanao? For the sake of achieving “just and lasting peace” in war-torn Mindanao, he recently broadcasted: “There has to be a Bangsamoro Nation.”

In solving the Mindanao war, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. positively considers the adoption of federalism: He proposed: “…three federated states in Mindanao: Northern Mindanao, South Eastern Mindanao and the Bangsamoro…and as far as the Moro unrest in Mindanao goes, the Moro traditional, political, rebel leaders and the Moro academics with whom I had the privilege of conversing, appear to unanimously support the idea of federalizing the Republic and creating a Bangsamoro Federal State as a means of dissipating the causes of Moro rebellions and of laying the foundations of a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.” 

The late MILF Chairman Ustaj Salamat Hashim said: “The MILF leadership is confident Brother Nur Misuari of the MNLF cannot afford to betray the Bangsamoro people and Cause. We have high regards on him and we presume he and the MNLF leadership are well aware that unless a meaningful self-determination for the Bangsamoro people is in place, the problem will persist from generation to generations.”

If only to achieve Mindanao peace, MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari agreed in 1976 to settle for meaningful autonomy in lieu of complete independence and national self-determination. He commented: “In the interest of peace and development in Mindanao and its component islands of Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Camiguin, I call on all government, military and civilian authorities to faithfully respect and upheld the GRP-OIC-MNLF Peace Agreements in letter and spirit. These peace agreements are of supreme importance to our people and the future. Let no one, therefore, denigrate the sublime memory and sacrifice of those valiant men and women, Mujahideen and Mudjahidat alike, who have perished in pursuit of peace, justice and freedom as a key to social harmony and sustainable economic development for all of us and posterity,”

On banking for another version of autonomy to solve the Filipino-Moro conflict to achieve lasting and durable peace in Filipino-colonized Mindanao, the present MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ibrahim was interviewed and asked by Newsbreak on January, 2006 on the issue why “autonomy is out of the question.” He answered: “There has been indirect insinuation for us to accept the leadership of the ARMM but we are consistent with our stand that this problem cannot be solved by a solution which has already been tried several times – and failed. We are consistent with our stand that this problem cannot be solved by a solution which has already been tried several times without success. Autonomy has been the solution since the inception of the problem, even during the Marcos regime. They have been implementing all forms of autonomy, there have been different variations, revisions, but as we know until now, this did not solve the problem. So why go for a solution that will definitely fail, that will not solve problem?”

Indeed, “why go for a solution that will definitely fail, that will not solve problem?” But, is the present Aquino government listening?

BRP Artemio Ricarte getting P249.6M upgrade

From Ang Malaya (Nov 19): BRP Artemio Ricarte getting P249.6M upgrade

BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), one of the three Emilio Jacinto-class patrol corvettes, is getting a marine engineering upgrade worth PhP249,671,000 as part of Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization through the Department of National Defense to ensure combat readiness and seaworthiness of current assets of Philippine Navy.

The said marine engineering upgrade is the second phase of upgrade. Phase one which was completed in 2005 consisted of brand-new M242 Bushmaster 25mm-cannon installation, upgrade of Command and Control & Fire Control Systems. Raytheon Gyro Compass, Sperry Marine Naval BridgeMaster E Series Surface Search Radar, GPS, Anemometer, and EM logs were also integrated in the system of BRP Ricarte.

On the second phase, the ship’s hull will be repaired and undergo remediation. Main propulsion system will be overhauled and improved including control and monitoring systems, electrical plant, and auxiliary systems.

BRP Ricarte is also armed with an Oto Melara 76-mm gun.

The three Jacinto-class patrol corvettes previously served the Royal Navy for Hong Kong as Peacock-class patrol vessels. However, in 1997, when sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to China from United Kingdom, three Peacock-class vessels were sold to Philippine government as sign of good-will.

EDCA will pass Supreme Court scrutiny

From Ang Malaya (Nov 20): EDCA will pass Supreme Court scrutiny

Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between United States of America and Philippines signed by National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg will definitely pass Supreme Court’s scrutiny, President Benigno S. Aquino III believes.

Aquino said that what his administration did with EDCA was constitutional and is needed. He added that the agreement is in connection with standing Mutual Defense Treaty between US and PHL.

The President added that if the defense treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement are constitutional then EDCA, which only clarifies the implementation of previous treaty and agreement, is also lawful.

During the presentation of oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of EDCA November 18, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said, “Should we not give them a chance first?” The Chief Justice added that it may be premature to question the constitutionality of EDCA given that it is not yet implemented.

EDCA aims to boost interoperability between two armed forces, help AFP modernization, strengthen country’s external defense, maritime Security, territorial awareness and speed-up humanitarian assistance and response in time of disaster.

The agreement will allow per-positioning of US warships and increase rotating US troops in the country. Though US will be able to use Philippine military bases to house equipments, US will not assume ownership.

Presentation of oral arguments before the high court will resume next week.

AFP chief calls BIFF spoilers of peace

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 20): AFP chief calls BIFF spoilers of peace

With the recent disturbances that Islamic extremists in Maguindanao caused, the military high command called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters a hindrance to the peace process.

“The BIFF are spoilers of the peace process. We will continuously conduct law enforcement operations against them,” General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Armed Forces chief, said in a visit to the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division Commander, received Catapang at around 10:30 Thursday morning.

Catapang said he wanted to receive updates from the ground troops in Maguindanao after the BIFF launched bomb attacks and harassments in Maguindanao.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs chief, said the attacks were believed to be BIFF’s tactic to divert pursuers.

On Sunday BIFF members under Commander Obetin detonated an IED in a primary school in Kabacan town, injuring 16 people and killing 19-year-old Monique Mentawil.

Also, the BIFF clashed with Christian villagers on Tuesday and Army troops on Wednesday.

No casualties were reported on the civilian and government side in the two encounters, though, they found traces of blood in the escape route of the rebels.

Apart from the isolated incidents of attacks, the BIFF are also believed to harbor international terrorists Marwan and Muawiyah, and have expressed their support to the terror group Islamic State.

Catapang’s baptism of fire

During his visit, Catapang recalled his days with the 6th Infantry Division and how he saw action during his days as a junior officer.

Catapang fought in the hinterlands of Maguindanao and North Cotabato when he was still a lieutenant.

“I received my baptism of fire as a young lieutenant here,” Catapang said. “It is a very memorable place for me. I am glad that peace and development have gradually reigned in this land.”

Barangay officials repel BIFF attack in North Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 20): Barangay officials repel BIFF attack in North Cotabato


Members of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). AFP FILE PHOTO
 Armed barangay (village) officials thwarted an attacking force of Islamic extremists on the dead of night on Tuesday in North Cotabato, a military official said Thursday.

Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, Public Affairs Officer of the 6th Infantry Division, said a group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters tried to attack and enter a village in Balique, Midsayap, North Cotabato at around 10 in the evening.

“This BIFF don’t want anything to do but disturb and harass Christian communities in North Cotabato,” Petinglay said.

She added that the rebels have tried multiple attempts to attack similar communities but failed.

“They’ve done it before, and again they failed this time around as the community was ready to face them.”

The village was in a far-flung area in North Cotabato and was easily accessible to BIFF elements.

Petinglay said that the barangay officials know that they are vulnerable to such threats and that they have prepared measures to counter the problem.

There were no recorded casualties in the skirmish and the government troops stationed in the area pursued the Islamic extremists.

US warns nationals vs. travel to Mindanao, Sulu area

From GMA News (Nov 21): US warns nationals vs. travel to Mindanao, Sulu area

Citing "continuing threats" from terrorist and insurgent activities, the United States government late Thursday warned its nationals against travel to Mindanao, particularly the Sulu archipelago and the southern Sulu Sea area.
In an updated travel warning, the US State Department urged US citizens to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago, due to the "high threat" of kidnapping of international travelers and violence from insurgency and terrorism.
"US citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to the main island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Separatist and terrorist groups across Mindanao continued their violent activities, conducting bombings and kidnappings, attacking civilians and political leaders, and battling Philippine security forces," it said.
It cited in particular the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the Cotabato City area. The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Also, the US State Department noted the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces.
On the other hand, it cited a "history of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings of foreigners" in the Eastern Sabah area and in the southern Sulu Sea area by terrorist or insurgent groups based in Sulu.
"US citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if considering travel in the southern Sulu Sea region from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao," it said.
Travel restriction
The US Embassy has imposed a strict restriction on "all but the most essential travel to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago."
As such, Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any part of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, including urban centers.
Meanwhile, the State Department recommended that US citizens traveling to or residing in the Philippines enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
STEP gives security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest US embassy or consulate to contact US nationals in an emergency.

Suspected leftist rebel killed in MisOr clash

From the Philippine Star (Nov 20): Suspected leftist rebel killed in MisOr clash

A suspected member of leftist rebel group New People's Army (NPA) was killed in an encounter with government troops in southern Philippines Tuesday afternoon, a military official said today.

Maj. Jennan Montealto, civil military operation officer of the Philippine Army's 403rd Brigarde, said soldiers were on a security operation when they clashed with some 10 NPA guerrillas in Minalwang village, Claveria town in Misamis Oriental province.

Montealto said the two sides exchanged fire for 30 minutes, resulting in the death of a female leftist rebel. There were no reported casualties on the side of the government.

Meanwhile, government troops on Wednesday recovered 20 improvised bombs laid in Mabini village, Basey town in the central Philippine province of Samar.

Military officials suspect that the bombs were laid by NPA guerrillas.

Insurgency remains a problem for banana industry players

From the Sun Star-Davao (Nov 20): Insurgency remains a problem for banana industry players

DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said peace and order remains a problem for new players in the banana industry who poured in investments in Davao Region.

Duterte, who delivered a message at the opening of the Davao Trade Expo (Date) 2014 at the SMX Convention Center on Wednesday evening, said these investors have continued to face the problem on taxation "by the New People's Army (NPA)."

"I have acted as an emissary for these new players who go up [the mountains or outland], [helping in] fixing things. And I ask them (NPA) not to tax the new players so much because you would kill the initiative not only on the business but the initiative to go into the business of banana," he told more than 300 delegates present at the opening of the four-day event, which is held back-to-back with the 2014 International Banana Symposium.

For his part, Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association executive director Stephen Antig said in an interview with Sun.Star Davao that PBGEA-affiliated companies have experienced their equipments and packing houses being burned, banana plantations being chopped, and harassment of workers by rebel groups.

Duterte said this kind of problem is something that many new industry players are facing right now.

"I really do not know what is happening to this government, I have been telling them to accelerate the talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines," he said.

Duterte said Mindanao, as a whole, faces so much problems when it comes to peace and order despite the fact that it is not frequently hit by storms and typhoons. He said the last typhoon he can remember hitting Davao, prior to Typhoon Pablo in 2012, was way back in in 1969.

"If we can make Mindanao very peaceful, it will answer all the needs of the country," he said.

Meanwhile, banana industry players and the business community said Date 2014 and the 2014 International Banana Symposium are seen to give the banana industry a boost with the exchange of new innovations, trends, and technology among industry players.

Topics on pest control, disease mitigation, market opportunities, and market updates will be delivered by foreign and local industry experts.

More than 300 delegates attended the opening of Date 2014. Though most of the delegates are from the local and national banana scene, there were also delegates coming from Taiwan, Australia, Russia, Cuba, China, India, and Indonesia, among others.

Family retrieves rebel’s body

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Nov 20): Family retrieves rebel’s body

THE body of the slain New People’s Army (NPA) member who died in an encounter with the military in a mountain village in Claveria, Misamis Oriental on November 18, was retrieved by his family Thursday, the Provincial Government said.

The casualty, Francisco Manseguiao, 21 years old, who hailed from Sitio Lantad, Barangay Kibanban, Balingasag town, was killed when the military and insurgents figured in a firefight somewhere in Barangay Minalwang, Claveria.

Provincial Administrator Edmundo Pacamalan Jr. said Manseguiao’s family requested Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano to collect the remains of the fallen rebel for a proper burial in his hometown.

Pacamalan said the military brought Manseguiao’s body to Barangay Hagpa, Ipasug-ong, Bukidnon and was turned over to the local government unit there.

Based on reports received by the Provincial Government from the area, Manseguiao’s corpse was already placed in a body bag and awaiting for transport.

The military, through emailed statements it sent to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro's on Thursday, has confirmed that troops from the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB), a unit of the 4th Infantry Division, killed an NPA member during one of the encounters, although it did not identify the casualty.

In a statement emailed by First Lieutenant Norman Tagros of the 8IB, the military said the NPA groups that the battalion clashed with are from the SPP TOTO, GF-4B, NCMRC under Lino Namatidong, alias Dahon, and the Headquarters Force of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee under Dionisio, alias Muling.

Tagros said the troops recovered from Manseguiao an AK-47 rifle, pieces of ammunition, and propaganda documents of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front.

Tagros said the military and the local government unit responded to the appeals of the threatened local populace in the said area after receiving reports that armed rebels repeatedly visited the community and subsequently conducted extortion activities.

“They (civilians) were also forced by the rebels to evacuate their homes blaming them for the conduct of combat operations in the nearby areas.

Prompted by this alarming report, the 403rd Infantry Brigade conducted the combat operations in the area to protect the local populace,” he added.

Lieutenant Colonel Lennon Babilonia, 8IB commanding officer, said in a statement that “there were bloodstains in the encounter site so we believe that there were other NPA members who got fatally wounded.”

Babilonia said the military is calling on the wounded insurgents so that they can be given proper medical attention and not to be afraid “as our government, through our LGUs, is most willing to help them. Again, we are urging our brother NPAs to lay down their arms and go back to the folds of law, as there is no sense in fighting each other anymore.”

“The loss of lives and limbs, as we have seen today, can only give us grief and not the solution to the issues they were led to believe into,” he added.

In a separate statement, Major Jennan Montealto, 403rd Brigade Civil Military Operations officer, said last Tuesday’s encounter lasted for almost 30 minutes that resulted to the death of an NPA member and no casualty on the government force’s side.

“The operating troops of [403rd Brigade] under the command of Col. Jesse A. Alvarez countered the attempts of the NPA to disrupt the ongoing rescue operations and in the process, they suffered at least three wounded aside from those killed, as reported by concerned civilians in the area,” Montealto said.

In a previous interview, 4ID acting spokesman First Lieutenant Patrick Martinez said the combat operations being conducted by the military was part of the efforts to rescue Private First Class Marnel Cinches and Private First Class Jerrel Yorong who were snatched by the NPA in Impasug-ong last August 22.

Terrorism impact: Phl ranks 9th

From the Philippine Star (Nov 21): Terrorism impact: Phl ranks 9th

The Philippines placed ninth among countries affected by terrorism in the Global Peace Index 2014, a tool used to rank nations according to the impact of terrorist activities.

The Philippines got the worst rank among the Southeast Asian countries covered by the study, namely Thailand (10th), Indonesia (31st), Myanmar (35th), Malaysia (48th), Cambodia (98th), Laos (113th) and Singapore, Timor Leste and Vietnam (tied at 124th).

The ranking of the Philippines moved a notch higher from 10th in 2012 as it saw a significant increase in the number of incidents involving armed groups.

According to the Global Peace Index 2014 report, the number of terrorist incidents in the Philippines rose to 499 between 2012 and 2013 from 125 in 2011.

The number of fatalities increased to 292 from 120, while the number of injured individuals climbed to 444 from 213.

“Terrorism has increased significantly in the Philippines between 2012 and 2013, with almost twice as many incidents. The number of deaths has also more than doubled in this period, increasing from 122 to 292,” the report read.

“Terrorism in the Philippines is intrinsically tied with nationalist and separatist claims by people living in provinces in southern Philippines. However, terrorism is spread across the country,” it added.

The Global Terrorism Index, a project of the research organization Institute for Economics and Peace, ranks 162 countries based on four indicators weighted over five years. The four factors considered in each country’s score are the total number of terrorist incidents in a given year, total number of fatalities, total number of injuries and total property damage.

Because of the higher number of terror incidents it experienced, the Philippines got an index score of 7.29 out of 10, up from 6.801 in the previous study.

A total of 438 cities in the Philippines suffered a terrorist attack in 2013, of which only 104 had one attack.

“The city that saw the highest number of terrorist attacks was Cotabato City in Mindanao with 11 separate attacks that killed 11 people,” the report said.

A huge majority or 83 percent of the 81 provinces of the Philippines had at least one attack last year.

“Whilst there were seven known groups that carried out a terrorist act in 2013, most activity is carried out by the New People’s Army (NPA), Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group,” the report read.

The NPA claimed responsibility for 30 percent of the deaths in 2013, the report added.

Armed assault constituted nearly half of all fatalities, followed by assassinations, which represented a quarter of all fatalities.

“This differs from many other parts of the world where use of explosives and bombings are more common,” the report said.

More than half of assassination attempts or 56 percent of them were successful and claimed the lives of 103 persons, more than five times higher than in 2012.

The report said the use of such tactics and targets ”demonstrates that many of the terrorist groups in the Philippines are seeking to directly change the political system.”

Around 34 percent of deaths from terrorist attacks were targeting the government, with business leaders, private citizens and police representing between ten and 17 percent of deaths, it added.

The Global Peace Index 2014 said there were almost 10,000 terrorist attacks recorded worldwide in 2013, higher by 44 percent from 2012. The attacks resulted in nearly 18,000 deaths.

More than 80 percent of the deaths from terrorist incidents in 2013 were recorded in just five countries, namely Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

Iraq was the worst affected by terrorism last year followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

Countries that got a score of zero in the index or those least affected by terrorism were Benin, Botswana, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, El Salvador, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Mauritius, Mongolia, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Korea, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Swaziland, Timor Leste, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zambia.