Saturday, November 22, 2014

MILF: Editorial - No to the sale of Cabatangan

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Nov 23): Editorial - No to the sale of Cabatangan

Cabatangan, a village in Zamboanga City, is host to 96-hectare complex of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The city officials, with one or two expressing strong reservations, want to buy the property up to the extent of threatening to file a case of mandamus to force the national government to agree to the sale.
Why are they so mad about the Cabatangan property of the ARMM? Is their outcry for the public good, as expounded by officials of the city, or out of hatred for the Moros?

The bitterest protest, nay agitation, emanate from Mayor Isabel “Beng” Climaco and Ist District Representative Celso Lobregat. Both want the government to start the process of transferring the ownership of the Cabatangan properties from the ARMM to the City of Zamboanga immediately.

Being the prospective lead entity once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is established in 2015, the MILF is opposed to this sale, because all the assets and properties of the ARMM will eventually be transferred to the BTA, as provided for in the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that found legal expression in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). A midnight sale is usually prone to irregularities, especially if the buyers have hidden agenda based on hatred and racist policies.

We assure all and sundry that once the BTA is emplaced, we will use the Cabatangan complex as a center of peace, development, and unity of peoples and cultures. Trust rather than mistrust is everlasting and can build bridges of amity and cooperation. This we will pursue and enshrined in our policies.

We trust the Aquino administration that the Cabantangan complex, among other properties of the ARMM, be preserved and bestowed to the BTA in the best order and manner.

We appeal to ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman to stand by his patriotic decision that the complex will remain in the ARMM and will never be for sale.

Remember that the next generation of Moros will remember you more, not as “ghost-buster”, but what you did to stand by what is morally right for your people.  The real test of any good leader is if he can stand when he is on the right side of history.

MILF: House Ad Hoc Committee on BBL holds consultation in Basilan

Posted to the MNLF Website (Nov 23): House Ad Hoc Committee on BBL holds consultation in Basilan

“There is an overwhelming support of Basilan to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)”. This was the statement made by Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez and Chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on BBL when they held consultation in the province on November 20, 2014. Rep. Rodrigues said that “When we arrived these morning of November 20,  we saw streamers hanging all over, people holding placards along the roads that say,  ‘Yes to BBL, Yes to Peace!’ and before we reached the venue, I saw my handsome photo on a tarpaulin hanging with the message, “ Welcome Congressman Rufus Rodrigues and Company and thank you for supporting BBL”.
He further said that, “I was so impressed with the hospitality and the eagerness of the Basileños on the BBL.”

Before the formal start of the program, a cultural presentation were performed by a Yakan ; and a Badjao Dance accompanied by native instruments.

More than 5,000 people attended the consultation including 12 mayors except Mayor Cherrylyn Santos of Isabela City. Sangguniang Bayan members from various municipalities of Basilan and Isabela Sangguniang Panlunsod members of Isabela City, Provincial Governor Jum Akbar and his vice governor who welcomes the Ad Hoc committee members headed by Congressman Rodrigues. The consultation was held at the Basilan State College at Barangay Sumagdang, Isabela City. It was jam packed with a big crowd ever seen in the city with people so eager and full of enthusiasm to express their full support to the BBL and its speedy passage in congress.

Various groups submitted 28 positions papers to the committee all but one supporting the BBL. A lone position paper from Mayor Santos containing sentiments rather than support or opposition to the BBL was read by her representative. The same paper does not represent the whole council neither the constituents of Isabela City. Said statement by Mayor Santos was refuted by BTC Commissioner Pete Eisma saying that there are only two city councilors opposing the BBL, with the majority are pro BBL and just a few with unknown positions as of the day of consultation.

Isabela City Councilor Max Alejo asked Congressman Biazon, a seemingly confusing question that says “We know that the constitution is the highest law of the land, is it necessary to amend it for the enactment of BBL?  He warned the Congress not to amend the constitution as it cannot be ‘changed’   because it is as holy as the Bible.

Congressman Biason answered him indirectly by relating his experience during the war in Sulu and Basilan. He recalled many places he visited such as Marang Marang, Candiis, Tuburan, Silangkum and Tipo-Tipo. He said, “Let us end the war. We came here with Cong. Tupay Loong and former Cong. Gerry Salapuddin our adversaries during the war and during those days we faced each other as enemies with guns, where the poor civilians and farmers were mostly the victims, badly affected and displaced. Now, I can see former Cong. Salapuddin, who is tired of war”.

Congressman Rufus supplemented, “We are looking at the constitutionality of BBL and if we see some unconstitutional provisions, we can remove them”. Congressman Loong took the microphone when Chairman Rodriguez called him to answer. He said “we came here to ask you, of what do you want us to do, not the otherwise”. “We came and shall listen to you what would be your recommendation then our actions shall be based on what you see is good for you”.

A position paper from the group of Badjaos in Maluso read by their representative, a Christian lady proposed that “We, the Badjaos or Samal Badjaos shall not be considered as IPs anymore, as we are the most marginalized tribes as we are in every place, in Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga, Cebu, Davao etc. if talk about numbers, we are longer a minority in the Bangsamoro homeland.

We want to have the same privileges and opportunities as other tribes like the Yakans, Tao sugs, Maguindanaon, Maranaos and others”.

Former Deputy Speaker Salapuddin, the Father of Yakan Leaders was called to speak on behalf of the constituents of Basilan. He raised three important points such as: (1.) “The life span of BTA which is one year and one month not only too short but suicidal.  When the Commonwealth Government was granted to the Philippines by the Americans it was decades before the Philippine Independence was granted. 

This month of November, we have not perfected yet the governance despite more than hundred years of the establishment of the Philippine Republic. What do you expect in a one year transition?  It is going to fail, and we don’t want that to happen.
(2.) Article V sec.1 no.4. Postal Service- Why is it so difficult for the Central Government in giving this power to the Bangsamoro Government while private companies such as Western Union, LBC, ML Lhuillier could deliver couriers to the citizens because the Philippine Postal Services could no longer perform effectively and efficiently?

(3.) I strongly support the immediate passage of BBL, which is feasible and implementable. As combatants and thrice wounded in the battle field, I strongly appeal to the Ad Hoc Committee, to let us make the Bangsamoro Government a successful experiment so that we have a lasting peace in Mindanao and the Philippines”.

Isabela City Councilor Nida Dans reading their position paper as a woman of Basilan and as representative from Mindanao Commission on Women said, “We strongly support the GPH-MILF Peace Process in Mindanao and the passage of BBL by the Congress. And we also strongly recommend the meaningful political participation of women in the legislative, executive and others contained in the BBL”.

Former Assemblyman Harris Samanul read their position as Chairman of NGO Concerned Alliance of Professionals and Students Inc. (CAPSI) that says, “House Bill no. 4994 is nearly perfect we strongly support the speedy passage of the BBL into law”.

Provincial Board member Candu I. Muarip said that, “Almost all Basileños are fully supportive of the passage of the BBL, so my appeal to each and every one of the Basileños in this last Moro venture for governance to support the BBL. I for one as resident of this province will exert efforts for the passage of House Bill 4994”.

Before dusk, Chairman Rodriguez called on every congressman to comment. The first to make comment was Cong. Biason that made a very short message, “we came here, we listen, and we perform. Thank you”. Congressman Henry S. Oaminal of the 2nd District of Misamiz, said “Among the 17th consultations including this one, this has the highest number of participants and a very successful congressional hearing on House Bill no.4994”.

Congressman Loong gave his last message and said, “The 1972 sound of guns has many meaning such as hope, freedom and peaceful coexistence and those contained in the BBL should not be interpreted as wrong so that we cannot commit mistake again. That’s why we are here. It needs everybody to speak up as you were given the freedom to express your opinions”.

Congress Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga who was the last to speak posed a joke that runs, “The politicians are happy when the audience is going home and few are left as audience like drivers and the body guards which means they have understood what had been discussed and laughing. Anyway as parting words, “We are for peace, everybody loves peace, so we have to be patient and diligent and vigilant about the contents of the BBL”.

Congressman Rodrigues making a closing message with a loud voice who was so pleased with the outcome of the public hearing thanked the leaders of Basilan mentioning Congressman Jim Hataman-Salliman, Governor Jum J. Akbar and the people of Basilan for their passionate, enthusiastic and eagerness for the passage of the BBL. Before the end of the activity, additional position papers submitted to the committee.

Mindanaoans in Mendiola

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro/Weekend Cagayan de Oro (Nov 22): Mindanaoans in Mendiola

IN ACTIVE defense against the rights violations of Aquino administration’s Internal and Peace Security Plan Bayanihan (Oplan Bayanihan), Mindanaoans will take it to the next level—a protest action in Mendiola.

Various sectors from different organizations in Mindanao have united to traverse islands and launched a series of protest actions and solidarity activities along the way that will culminate in Mendiola, Metro Manila, during the International Human Rights Day this December 10, 2014.

Manilakbayan contingent

CAGAYAN DE ORO. These lakbayanis were headed to the National Capital Region after a brief rest at Barangay Platero in Biñan town in Laguna on November 21. (Photo grabbed from Manilakbayan ng Mindanao FB page)

The campaign dubbed as “Food and Peace for MindaNow!” aims at spreading awareness to the local and international community about the plight of our local farmers, indigenous communities, women and children wherein large-scale mining companies and agro-industrial plantations are operating.

The campaign also believes that the present ‘development activities’ in the hinterland will only bring about incurable destruction to our environment and culture of the lumads.

Act of defense

In an article posted in, it said the campaign is an act of defense for the achievements that the people have attained – literacy and numeracy schools of the Lumads, sustainable agricultural production, and the assertion of the rights of the indigenous peoples that entails the preservation and development of their culture.

Lakbayanis head to National Capital Region

CAGAYAN DE ORO. These lakbayanis were headed to the National Capital Region after a brief rest at Barangay Platero in Biñan town in Laguna on November 21. (Photo grabbed from Manilakbayan ng Mindanao FB page)

The constant military operations and activities in the countryside are rapidly, and on a massive scale, destroying the achievements of the people in the far-flung communities of Mindanao.

Most, if not all, of the participants in the campaign have their stories of human rights abuses. Here are some of them:

Bullets for a makeshift shanty

Do you still remember the story of Nexon Tongao who was shot by police officers during an illegal demolition in Lugait town in Misamis Oriental?

Tongao died while trying to put his child to safety amid the commotion between the residents who defended their rights as human beings, versus the police officers whose mandate that time was essentially to strip the protesters off of their safety—the security of having a home and livelihood that is very basic and essential to living according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Now, in the ‘ManiLakbayan ng Mindanao 2014,’ his son Roniel Tongao will carry the voice of his father and their community to the country’s center.

Agrarian reform can put you to jail

Modesto Bernas is a member of Palapay Binakalan Farmers’ Association and was charged with double murder and multiple frustrated murders. He was charged with the crimes he did not commit.

Farmers welcome Manilakbayan

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Around 500 farmers from Quezon province welcomed the arrival of the more than 300-strong Manilakbayan ng Mindanao contingent in Gumaca town. The contingent was offered with fresh coconut juice by the locals after the traditional handshaking. A short program followed before the Manilakbayanis as well as those who welcomed them proceeded to Lucena City on November 18. (Photo grabbed from Manilakbayan ng Mindanao FB page)

When he and his family were already sleeping one night, dozens of police officers barged in without a search warrant. Having no idea of what was happening, Modesto’s family was shocked and scared as police officers held them at gunpoint.

Modesto, who is already 52-years old, was brought to the Police Regional Office in Camp Alagar in Cagayan de Oro.

According to arresting officers, he must be a member of the New People’s Army because he could explain agrarian reform—a must have information for farmers to protect their land and tenure.

In the campaign, Modesto’s wife, Dolores Bernas, will air her grievances against the injustice their family suffered.

Bullets for the kids

Due to fear getting caught in the crossfire of the ongoing military operations in the countryside in August 12 this year, Jordan Havana together with the men in the community searched for food.

Their community sought refuge in the forest for three days, away from their homes and source of food.

While they were eating durian, they heard a series of gunshots that were directed to them. They ran for cover until they reached a river where they saw men in camouflaged uniforms that fired at them.

Jordan Havana and his brother, Johnny Boy, are participating in ‘ManiLakbayan’ to spread the rights abuses committed against them. They want the people in the urban to know their situation in the hinterland.

Security plans for pope kept secret

From the Manila Times (Nov 22): Security plans for pope kept secret

The government will keep under wraps security measures it is laying out for the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January following reports that terrorist groups are out to kill the pontiff.

“We can’t broadcast the nitty gritty because the criminal elements might use it in their favor. But rest assured that we are on top of the preparations for the papal visit,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

Former security officials have raised warnings that groups with jihadist leanings could target the pope during his trip to the country.

One official told The Manila Times the Pope is at his “most vulnerable” during the Visayas leg of his trip.

Pope Francis will be in Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte on January 17.

Police insiders had told The Times earlier that a jihadist group has set up cells in Luzon and the Visayas ahead of the papal visit.

They said an attempt on the life of the pope was not unlikely. In 1995, the al-Qaeda plotted to kill Pope John Paul 2nd while he was in Manila for the World Youth Day.

The so-called Bojinka plot was foiled after chemicals in an apartment room in Manila where the terrorists was making bombs caught fire, alerting the authorities.

“I assure you that we are prepared,” Valte said. “Security is one of the primary concerns and all of these [warnings] are being taken into consideration. But of course, we can’t go into so much details because by the nature of the security preparations, only few people need to know about it.”

Hundreds of thousands of Catholics are expected to attend the Masses the pope will celebrate during his visit.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reminded the faithful to be “self-sufficient” if they plan to attend the Masses in Tacloban City and in Rizal Park in Manila.

CBCP Secretary General Fr. Marvin Mejia said the Church is closely coordinating with the government organizing committee on how are they going to control the crowd during the papal events.

“There is a coordinating meeting yesterday between the Church and the government members of the organizing committee and the steering committee as early as now especially in Tacloban [and] Palo events that the people would be coming in from different islands and provinces. They should be self sustaining meaning, they should bring their own food [and] drinks,” he said in an interview on Friday.

Mejia said “it would be very very difficult to find food” for the people, citing the throngs expected in Rizal Park and Tacloban.

He also advised devotees with health problems to stay home and follow the events on radio or television.

Mejia made it clear that the Church will not prevent persons with health problems from attending the Masses.

BIFF confirms it has forces fighting with ISIS in Middle East

Posted to the pro-CPP Davao Today (Nov 20): BIFF confirms it has forces fighting with ISIS in Middle East

The Bangsamoro Freedom Fighter (BIFF) confirmed on Wednesday that some of its guerrillas were in the Middle East fighting alongside with the extremist Islamic State (ISIS).

“Some of our BIFF forces in the Middle East are in the company already of ISIS,”  Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of Bangsamoro Freedom Fighter (BIFF) confirmed in a phone interview with DavaoToday.

This developed after an online news portal Daily Mail Online claimed on Tuesday that a Filipino national was identified  to be among the ISIS fighters who took part in the beheading of captured Syrian soldiers.

Mama, however, was quick not to claim the Filipino national in the supposed beheading video. ”I couldn’t confirm if that man is one of our forces. I don’t have the masterlist yet,” says Mama.

Earlier in October, the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighter (BIFF) had pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS).

Mama explained that their allegiance with the Islamic State is a gesture of “special brotherhood (because) ISIS seeks to establish a global Muslim leadership through Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims.”

“BIFF is duty-bound to fight with ISIS because of special Muslim brotherhood. Our call for an independent and pure Islamic State in Mindanao is consistent with the goals of ISIS,” Mama said.

Mama expressed readiness to augment its forces in the Middle East. “We are ready to send them our forces in case they need our help,” Mama added.

Meanwhile, in a story, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc was quoted as saying: “The authenticity of the video couldn’t be ascertained. The law enforcement agencies must be consulted.
Cabunoc maintained that ISIS recruitment in the country is yet to be confirmed by authorities.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video - Youth, join the people's war!

Ang Bayan video posted to the CPP Website (Nov 22): Video: Youth, join the people's war!

[Video: Youth, join the people's war! [ANG BAYAN 2014 November 21]]

The entire Filipino nation will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) on November 30. The entire nation, especially the mass of workers and peasants hail the huge role KM has played in the last 50 years in advancing the people's democratic revolution and the important role it will be playing in the future.

Let us honor all the youth who have offered their lives to advancing the national-democratic movement in the various fields of struggle, especially in the arena of armed struggle. Let us salute the youth who comprise the biggest proportion of Red fighters nationwide. They tread the path of armed revolution for national and social liberation that was first laid by the young sons and daughters of the people under Andres Bonifacio's leadership.

In the last four and a half decades of advancing protracted people's war, the Kabataang Makabayan has served as a wellspring of new Red fighters and commanders of the New People's Army and members and cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Editorial - Youth, join the people’s war!

Ang Bayan Editorial (English version) posted to the CPP Website (Nov 22): Youth, join the people’s war!

The entire Filipino nation will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) on November 30. The entire nation, especially the mass of workers and peasants hail the huge role KM has played in the last 50 years in advancing the people’s democratic revolution and the important role it will be playing in the future.

Let us honor all the youth who have offered their lives to advancing the national-democratic movement in the various fields of struggle, especially in the arena of armed struggle. Let us salute the youth who comprise the biggest proportion of Red fighters nationwide. They tread the path of armed revolution for national and social liberation that was first laid by the young sons and daughters of the people under Andres Bonifacio’s leadership.

In the last four and a half decades of advancing protracted people’s war, the Kabataang Makabayan has served as a wellspring of new Red fighters and commanders of the New People’s Army and members and cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Because young revolutionaries continually emerge, the Party and the NPA remain vibrant and daring in shouldering the serious tasks involved in advancing the revolution.

The Filipino people owe a huge debt to the Kabataang Makabayan for its major contributions in the last half century in advancing their national-democratic struggle. In the last 50 years, KM has served as the Party’s assistant in mobilizing the youth in mass struggles and training them in advancing the propaganda movement and cultural revolution, invigorating the democratic struggles of the toiling masses, building the united front and advancing armed struggle.

The Party and the Kabataang Makabayan are aware of the main social problems and issues confronting the Filipino youth. The continuously worsening crisis of the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system has been aggravating the conditions of millions of young workers, peasants and petty bourgeoisie.

The number of out of school youth has doubled in the last decade due to the worsening commercialization of education. Tuition, miscellaneous fees and other school expenses have relentlessly increased. The reactionary government insists on cutting down on its social expensitures, including its budgetary allocation for education, even as it keeps on strengthening the role of the big bourgeoisie in public education.

Alongside the commercialization of education is stepped-up campus repression. Capitalist school owners in connivance with state security agencies have been suppressing campus journalism, organizations and other student rights with the goal of repressing the students’ collective defiance of policies designed to amass more profits.
The implementation of the K-12 program has further geared Philippine education towards training cheap labor for export or for the burgeoning local army of the unemployed. Half of the unemployed or underemployed are from the youth. An economy devoid of an industrial base, dependent on foreign investments and debt and subject to big foreign capitalist plunder is incapable of generating sufficient employment. The youth are forced to apply at call centers and suffer severe oppression and brutal working conditions.

As adjutants to the Party, the cadres and members of the Kabataang Makabayan are able to reach out to vast numbers of Filipino youth in colleges and high schools. They arouse and mobilize the youth on the basis of the day to day problems they confront and raise their consciousness on how these are rooted in the basic problems of the Filipino people. They provide political education to the youth in order to fire up their progressive and patriotic fervor.

Through KM, proletarian revolutionaries are continually able to take deep root among the student youth and mobilize the‭m in advancing the people’s democratic revolution. They are able to touch base with the youth and people in communities, factories and offices.

Conditions exist for the resurgence of the revolutionary youth-student movement. No effort must be spared in arousing, reaching out to, organizing and mobilizing the student youth in order to advance their democratic welfare and rouse them to join the people’s democratic revolution.

The new and historic participation of great numbers of the youth in street protests and countryside work is a necessary adjunct in the advance of the protracted people’s war towards the next stage of strategic stalemate. When the urban-based youth join the New People’s Army in droves, they will have made a huge contribution to the further invigoration of armed struggle in the countryside.

The resoundingly victorious tactical offensives of the NPA in the countryside inspire the youth and people in the cities. On the other hand, the broad mass struggles and growing street demonstrations invigorate the revolutionary forces in the countryside.
The continuing emergence of new generations of young proletarian revolutionaries is a factor in the Communist Party of the Philippines’ neverending enthusiasm and optimism. Young revolutionaries infuse the Party not just with their physical strength, but with their refreshing determination and perspective in resolving problems and advancing the revolutionary movement. They learn and draw inspiration from elder cadres in carrying out their serious tasks.

Abu Sayyaf commander with P5.3M bounty killed in Sulu

From Rappler (Nov 22): Abu Sayyaf commander with P5.3M bounty killed in Sulu

Abu Sayyaf commander Sihata Muallom Asmad – also known as Sihata Latip, Ka Tatang, and Tatang – is killed while resisting arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges

An Abu Sayyaf commander with a P5.3-million ($118,000) bounty was killed while resisting arrest in Parang town in Sulu on Saturday, November 22, police authorities said.

At around 4:45 pm on Saturday, a joint police and military team conducted an operation in Barangay Duyan Kaha in Parang, Sulu which led to the arrest of Abu Sayyaf commander Sihata Muallom Asmad, also known as Sihata Latip, Ka Tatang, and Tatang.

Asmad was served with a warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention in relation to the 2001 Golden Harvest plantation kidnapping in Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf abducted 15 workers; and the abduction of 6 Jehovah's Witnesses in 2002.

"However, during the service of warrant, the subject resisted arrest leading to a firefight that resulted in his death and slightly wounding one of the arresting personnel," said Police Chief Inspector Elizabeth Jasmin of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

Jasmin said that Asmad "carries a monetary reward of P5.3 million and recently gained notoriety for his involvement in the Taiwanese and German couple kidnapping incidents."

In November 2013, the Abu Sayyaf killed a Taiwanese businessman in Sabah and abducted his wife, who was released a month later.

In April, the Abu Sayyaf snatched two German tourists in Palawan and released them in October, reportedly in exchange for a hefty ransom.

In November, local mayors of Basilan province urged the government to step up its operations against the group, following the ambush of 6 soldiers, including a junior officer, in Sumisip town.

Sulu Sea to retain its name upon creation of Bangsamoro

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 23): Sulu Sea to retain its name upon creation of Bangsamoro

The Sulu Sea, including the Moro Gulf, shall retain their names and shall neither be removed from the Philippine map nor be deleted from the history of the Philippines, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.

Coronel-Ferrer made this clarification during the recent House of Representatives Special Ad Hoc Committee Public Hearing held at the Provincial Capitol Gymnasium in Jolo, Sulu, on November 19 in response to the concerns expressed by the people of Sulu who stand firm on their right over the Sulu Sea as it is the reflection of the long history and ancestral domain of the Tausug and Sama peoples, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said in a statement.

“The Bangsamoro waters and the Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf will not change the name of the Sulu Sea. It will not be eradicated from the map of the Philippines. In fact, it will be protected so that the people of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi will be the first to benefit from its resources,”  Coronel-Ferrer said.

Coronel-Ferrer further explained that the “Bangsamoro waters is within the vast area of the Sulu Sea and shall not in any way diminish the territorial sea area.” She said that “the Bangsamoro waters and the Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf merely ensure that the Bangsamoro people and other indigenous peoples in the adjoining provinces and the resident fishermen in the Bangsamoro shall have preferential rights over the resources from these seas and will benefit from the exploration and utilization of potential energy resources in the vast Sulu Sea.”

Under the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is the enabling law that shall pave the way for the establishment of the new autonomous region, “the Bangsamoro waters shall extend up to 22.224 kilometers (12 nautical miles) from the low-water mark of the coasts that are part of the Bangsamoro territory. The Bangsamoro waters shall be part of the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro political entity.”

Beyond  the 22.224 kilometers, an area will be designated as the Zones of Joint Cooperation control. These zones do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro but a joint body will be created to ensure the protection of the environment and of traditional fishing grounds, and to enhance the connectivity of the constituent units of the Bangsamoro. There shall be free movement of vessels, goods and people in these areas.  

Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the HoR Ad Hoc Committee assured the close to a thousand Suluanos,  including their local chief executives, who attended the House committee hearing that “the Sulu Sea will never be erased from the map of the Philippines. We [the House of Representatives] will not allow the derogation of the name of the Sulu Sea.”

Sulu Representative Tupay Loong, said that no one can change history. “Sulu Sea has been the ancestral waters of the Sulu Sultanate. I will ensure you the rights of the Suluanos over the Sulu Sea are reserved during the deliberation on the BBL in Congress…We will benefit from potential economic activities in these waters,” said Loong.

Bicol, Mindanao groups join forces to call end to Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Nov 19): Bicol, Mindanao groups join forces to call end to Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan



CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region — “Sharing similar experiences of landlessness, government neglect and repression, Mindanao and the Bicol region called for an end to BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. The two areas took the worst blows of military operations and the consequent human rights violations,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
From July 2010 to October 30, 2014, Karapatan documented 83 extrajudicial killings in the six regions in Mindanao while the Bicol region suffered 52 killings.
People’s organizations from the provinces of Bicol under the banner of Kadena Bicolandia welcomed and held solidarity activities yesterday for the Manilakbayan contingent.
The contingent of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2014, with 300 members of mostly peasants and indigenous peoples, is traveling to Metro Manila with the theme “Food and Peace in MindaNOW!”
In October, the military threatened and harassed Karapatan leaders of both Mindanao and Bicol. Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao region, narrowly escaped from a man tracking her.
On October 17, Suazo, with Anakbayan organizer Kae Solis, took a taxi from Bangoy St., Davao City, going to Nova Tierra village. At the Nova Tierra Village, Suazo got off the cab first and went inside her house. Solis had to wait for her change from the driver. When she got off the cab, a tall man pushed her. Solis tried to run but the man pulled her hair from the back as he shouted “Asa ka muadto?! Asa ka? (Where are you going?! Where?).” The perpetrator pushed her to the glass of a drug store, kept pulling her hair while repeating the same questions. Finally, the man asked, Asa imong mga kauban lagi? Asa si Hanimay Suazo? [Where are your comrades? Where is Hanimay Suazo?] Solis was able to push the perpetrator, ran across the highway, and rode a jeep. Solis later relayed to Suazo that a man was after her.
Suazo led numerous fact-finding missions, particularly in areas such as Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Loreto, Agusan del Sur where military operations were conducted. She has also openly pointed out the culpability of military troops in the Southern Mindanao region for human rights abuses under the Aquino administration.
On October 30, the Commanding Officer of Peace and Development Team of the 31st Infantry Battalion summoned Arlene Funelas, municipal Coordinator of Sorsogon People’s Organization, an affiliate of Karapatan-Sorsogon.
At the Barangay Hall, there was only a soldier, while more were outside the hall. The soldier accused her of being a tax collector for the New People’s Army. The soldier threatened her that they could ruin her child’s schooling by telling the teachers that Funelas’ child is recruiting NPA in school.
Funelas answered back, “Is there a law that says children suspected as NPA’s cannot enter schools anymore?” The army asked for her rank in the “party” and who is her “secretary.” The army also told Funelas that she has to “report” 8:00 a.m. the next day, threatening “hindi kita titigilan (I’ll go after you)” if she does not cooperate.
The soldiers only allowed Funelas to go home after she gave the names of her family members. Soldiers also guarded her house. The following day, the same soldiers summoned Funelas’ in-laws. Her whole family wants to flee their home out of fear. These soldiers were encamped at the barangay hall, just in front of a daycare center. As a result, lesser children are coming to the center because the parents were afraid.
“The people of Mindanao and Bicol prove that violations of human rights are part of BS Aquino’s policy. But, this only serves to strengthen the ties among people victimized by BS Aquino.
As the Manilakbayan nears the Philippine capital, BS Aquino should now be afraid. The Filipino people holding the Aquino government accountable to the crimes of negligence, human rights violations and war crimes are increasing exponentially,” Palabay ended.

Mindanao is big military garrison of 55 combat battalions, and growing

From the pro-CPP Bicol Today (Nov 20): Mindanao is big military garrison of 55 combat battalions, and growing



CITY OF Naga, Bicol Region – Mindanao has become a big military garrison as 55 combat battalions are now camped out in key economic interest areas across the six regions of the island, along with the police and paramilitary groups to protect the business interests of foreign capitalist and local landlords such as plantations, mining, and energy.

These were revealed by delegates from Mindanao who are travelling in convoy from Mindanao to Manila in their campaign, Food and Peace MindaNow.

Now, the convoy is in the Tagalog Region for brief rallies after spending a short time in the Bicol areas, Sorsogon City, Legazpi City and City of Naga.

Manilakbayan, the campaign for Food and Peace for MindaNow that gathered some 300 leaders, human rights victims and defenders, Lumads peasant, workers, women, among others on a journey from Mindanao to Metro Manila, to expose and drumbeat support against the human rights situation in Mindanao and grassroots communities’ victories in pursuing genuine development.

“We welcome the solidarity and support of our brothers and sisters in Southern Tagalog to our common cause. While we are separated by sea and culture, setting foot in this region, which like Mindanao is facing grave militarization and landlessness, is symbolic of our united struggle against the terrors of OPLAN Bayanihan and the anti-people policies of the US-Aquino regime,” said Fr. Christopher Ablon, spokesperson for the Manilakbayan.

He added, “This only strengthens our resolve to reach the seat of this puppet government in Mendiola and pursue our fight for food and peace for the future of our people Mindanao.”

In areas where resistance and dissent are particularly high, the group said that human rights violations characterized by killings, illegals arrests and systematic filing of fabricated cases against mass leaders and activists are patterns following the OPLAN Bayanihan, Aquino’s counter-insurgency measure.

Ablon explained that landlessness due to land grabbing and systematic land conversions has left farmers in dire situation of hunger, joblessness and poverty, which is further exacerbated by militarization and displacement of lumad and civilian communities.

Human rights center Karapatan has documented a total of 68 cases of extrajudicial killings, mostly farmers and lumads and 200 cases of trumped up charges against known mass leaders and supporters of militants groups.

Continued illegal stationing and attacks on schools by soldiers have resulted to some 5,000 displaced students.

Meanwhile, various Southern Tagalog sectors led by peasant and human rights groups are set to join the march and campout through Metro Manila this week.

A unity caravan and protest actions in Lucena City will highlight the entry of Manilakbayan in Southern Tagalog before setting off for the Lakbayan march in strategic points in Quezon and Laguna.

“The fight of the people in Mindanao is no different from what our sectors here are experiencing. As we speak, dozens of military battalions are still here in the region and are consistently inflicting human rights violations particularly in Bondoc Peninsula amidst the landlessness and poverty in the countryside. It is only through solidarity and unity we win our struggles,” said Karapatan-Southern Tagalog in a statement.

The Manilakbayan which started last November 14 in Davao City will culminate in Mendiola during the International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu clash

From ABS-CBN (Nov 22): Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu clash

A leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group was killed in a shootout with combined elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Sulu on Saturday afternoon.

Col. Alan Arrojado, Commander of Joint Task Group Sulu, said Sihata Latip, one of the leaders of the terrorist group, was killed when he resisted arrest and engaged the security forces in a firefight at around 4:45 p.m. in the town of Parang.

A soldier also died in the gun battle. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Latip had been involved in the abduction of foreigners. He had also been tagged in a series of violent attacks against government forces.

The military and the police are continuously pursuing notorious bandits in Sulu and other parts of Mindanao.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., meanwhile, commended the troops for the neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf leader.

He also extended his sympathy to the family of the slain soldier, whose identity was still being withheld.

Manilakbayan | Peasants, urban poor, indigenous peoples from Mindanao arrive in Manila to call for social justice

From the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Nov 21): Manilakbayan | Peasants, urban poor, indigenous peoples from Mindanao arrive in Manila to call for social justice

They walked all the way from the southern island of Mindanao to bring to the public’s attention the gross human rights violations being committed in the different regions.

The “Lakbayanis” from Mindanao have finally arrived in Metro Manila after nearly a week of travel by foot and by caravan.

Some 800 peasant, indigenous peoples and urban poor – the participants of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2014 – arrived in the evening of Nov. 21 in Alabang, Muntinlupa. They would join a series of protest actions leading to Dec. 10, the International Human Rights day.

Lakbayanis march to Manila (Photo courtesy of Southern Tagalog Exposure)

Lakbayanis march to Manila (Photo courtesy of Southern Tagalog Exposure)

Jumorito Guaynon of indigenous peoples group Kalumaran told that the people of Mindanao joined this year’s caravan to protest and demand justice for the gross human rights violations in the different regions of the island.

He said that nearly half of the troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed in Mindanao, supposedly to address the insurgency in the region.

The Manilakbayan document said there are 55 battalions, with an estimated 50,000 soldiers operating in Mindanao. Supporting the military in their operations are paramilitary groups, including those organized among indigenous peoples.

In addition to these is the presence of up to 600 US servicemen, whether for military exercises or stationed at the Joint Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in Zamboanga.

“But in reality, this is just a clearing operation so that big mining corporations or plantations could get a foothold there,” he said, adding that it has resulted to gross human rights violations.

Some 311,000 hectares of mineral-rich forest and agricultural lands are covered by ongoing operations, exploration or are being eyed or applied for by mining corporations, as well as by agribusiness companies, said the Manilakbayan document.

From June 2010 to September 2014, human rights alliance Karapatan documented 221 killings under President Aquino, 77 of these were victims from Mindanao.

There are also seven victims of enforced disappearances from Mindanao out of the total 21. The disappearance of two Manobo peasants in the Caraga region in October brings the missing victims to nine in Mindanao, out of the total 23.

Guaynon said most of those killed from Mindanao are indigenous peoples who are protecting their ancestral domains.

 Peasants, indigenous peoples, urban poor join caravan to call for justice (Photo courtesy of Southern Tagalog Exposure)

Peasants, indigenous peoples, urban poor join caravan to call for justice (Photo courtesy of Southern Tagalog Exposure)
Many leaders, he added, are charged with fabricated cases or subjected to constant surveillance, harassment and red tagging. The Manilakbayan document showed a total of 213 victims.

Also in this year alone, at least 2,446 people were forced to evacuate from their homes due to military operations.

He added that he has observed the same problems in nearly all regions they passed on their way to Manila.

“This is the problem that ties all regions. No wonder that despite the heat and exhaustion, the Lakbayanis continue to walk and express their rage against the government,” Guaynon added.

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said that allegations of the human rights violations are “baseless.”

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said, “While there is not even a hint that justice will be served on the victims of these killings, the BS Aquino government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has not stopped in its killing spree.”

“Their pronouncements invoking adherence to international human rights standards, are all for show. Even the United Nations human rights experts and international monitors have seen through their lies,” said Palabay.

On their way to Manila, Guaynon recalled how the masses gave them food and water.
He said: “They can relate to our calls. They know what we are fighting for.”

Opinion: Mindanao people bring their issues to Mendiola

Opinion piece posted to the Philippine Star (Nov 22): Mindanao people bring their issues to Mendiola (At Ground Level by Satur C. Ocampo)

They’ve had enough under the Aquino government.  People in Mindanao are outraged.  Here’s why:

Altogether 55 Philippine Army infantry battalions, backed up by the PNP and paramilitary groups, are now deployed in hinterland communities where the New People’s Army is reported to be strong.  Intensified combat operations — in the name of “people-centered peace and development” under the counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan have ratcheted up violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

 Extrajudicial killings have risen to 83 since July 2010 (nationwide: 222); 500 leaders and members of people’s organizations are facing military-instigated trumped-up criminal charges.

 This year alone, 39 lumad or indigenous communities have been forced to evacuate in 12 instances due to aerial bombing, artillery bombardment, strafing of homes, and harassment of villagers. Their community schools, branded as “NPA schools,” have practically been taken over by the military.

 In a resource-rich area, ironically, mass poverty is worsening because of “landgrabbing and systematic land conversion exacerbated by militarization and lumad displacements.”

 The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, an alliance of Catholic religious congregations in Mindanao, has come right out against what it says is an offensive launched by the government “against people’s organizations in communities actively protecting the people’s interest against large-scale mining, private energy development, and agribusiness ventures.”

The affected communities and their supporters have consistently protested. But they got very little redress, if any; their grievances only mounted.

Thus they have decided to bring their collective protest, for the second time since 2012, to the nation’s capital.  Next Monday, several hundreds of community leaders and local activists, including their families, will march from Baclaran to Mendiola to bring their issues to the widest possible national and international audiences and, should he listen, to President Aquino.

The marchers’ journey from Mindanao is called Manilakbayan 2014. Their rallying cry: “Food and Peace for MindaNow!” Their main support organizations are Panalipdan Mindanao (a network of advocates for the patrimony, environment, Moro and lumad rights and welfare) and Kalumaran Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad (an alliance of lumad groups).

Arriving in Baclaran tomorrow, the marchers from Mindanao’s six regions converged in clusters, starting in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City last Nov. 13. There they held protest actions against the East Mindanao Command in Panacan, Davao and the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro.

In the succeeding days, they protested against the 10th ID in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley, and the 401st Infantry Brigade in Agusan del Sur. In Gingoog City they called for the release of all political prisoners, and in Butuan City assailed the regional prosecutor’s office for filing trumped-up charges against their leaders and colleagues.

On Nov. 16, the Manilakbayan 2014 sailed on a boat from Surigao City to San Ricardo, Southern Leyte. They marched via the San Juanico bridge into Calbayog City to the warm welcome of their Eastern Visayas counterparts.  The next day they took a boat from Allen, Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon and within the day moved on to the cities of Sorsogon, Legaspi, and Naga, where they had a solidarity night and cultural celebration with their Bicol counterparts, who condemn the 52 EJK incidents in the region.

Received enthusiastically in Southern Tagalog, they joined a protest action at the Southern Luzon Command, now headed by Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, who previously commanded the 10th ID in Mindanao. They denounced Visaya for “taking after his mentor,” retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan (“the Butcher”), now undergoing trial in Bulacan for the 2006 abduction-disappearances of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.

For  the next 16 days (up to Dec. 10), the Manilakbayan participants will join various groups in protest march-rallies in Metro Manila: in Makati against foreign mining corporations; before the US embassy against American troop presence and drones in Mindanao; at the justice department against trumped-up charges; at the Camp Aguinaldo gate against human rights violations and in support of the “Save Our Schools” campaign; and at Mendiola for the International Human Rights Day march-rally.

Until they depart for Mindanao on Dec. 12, they plan to encamp either on the Mendiola bridge or at Liwasang Bonifacio. At Mendiola they’ll set up a symbolic sabsaban (manger) with a red lantern above it. Hopefully, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will allow them to do so.

 Manilakbayan 2014 defines its objectives thus:

Actively defend communities that Oplan Bayanihan tries to destroy amid the incursions of large-scale mining and agro-industrial undertakings in Mindanao;

Fight in defense of the lumad’s achievements in literacy through their schools, sustainable agricultural production, preservation and development of indigenous culture, and assertion of their basic and comprehensive human rights; and

• Take an offensive position to resist the systematic erosion of these grassroots achievements through Oplan Bayanihan.

These are warnings to the AFP that, like all the preceding counterinsurgency plans, the current one will likewise fail through its foolhardy and brutal implementation. It will go to naught, much like the master plan it copied -- the US Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009, applied in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead of “winning hearts and minds,” Oplan Bayanihan has fomented enmity and rejection. And instead of instilling fear and submission, it has engendered stiff resistance and vigorous struggle.

Reds burn village dad’s house

From Tempo (Nov 21): Reds burn village dad’s house

Some 30 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels torched the house of a village councilor in Boca Engaño, Claveria (Burias Island), Masbate, Wednesday morning, the Southern Luzon Command reported yesterday.

The 903rd Infantry Brigade (903IB) said that the rebels armed with high-powered guns burned the residence of Oscar Rejuso, a councilman of the said barangay, at about 8 a.m.

No one was hurt in the incident. Col. Cesar M. Idio, 903 IB commander, ordered his men to pursue the rebels.

BIFF: We don’t attack civilians

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 22): BIFF: We don’t attack civilians

Breakaway Moro guerrillas had denied any role in a series of bombings, including one in Kabacan, North Cotabato, that are being attributed to them.

In a phone interview, Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), said his group, which broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front over peace negotiations with the government, does not attack civilians.

“We had no hand there,” said Mama about the Kabacan bombing which killed a girl and wounded dozens of others.

We don’t attack civilians, only military (men),” he said.

The military said it suspected the BIFF of planting the bomb in Kabacan to draw attention to its continuing fight for independence in Mindanao.

But Mama urged authorities to investigate deeper. He said BIFF is conducting its own investigation.

“We don’t do that,” Mama said in reaction to accusations that BIFF is behind the bombings of civilian communities.

A P200,000 reward had been offered for the identification and arrest of the suspects behind the Kabacan blast.

More US troops deployed in Mindanao than Iraq, IBON Foundation claims

From GMA News (Nov 22): More US troops deployed in Mindanao than Iraq, IBON Foundation claims

There are around 6,000 American troops staying in Mindanao, much more than the 3,000 US soldiers in Iraq, the IBON Foundation said in a press release on Saturday.
Citing Manilakbayan spokesperson Fr. Christopher Ablon, IBON said the US troops in Mindanao are stationed in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.
IBON also said the US contingent in Mindanao is double the Iraq deployment which has recently received a 1,500 augmentation force bringing the total of American troops there to 2,900.
The US currently maintains rotational troops in the country agreed upon under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Critics of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which allows more US troops into the Philippines and gives the US military access to certain Armed Forces of the Philippines facilities, have asked the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional.
GMA News Online sought the AFP for comment but they have yet to reply as of posting time.
According to defense industry website Global Security, there are from 500 to 600 American soldiers in Mindanao under the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P), which " at the request of the Philippine government, work alongside the AFP to defeat terrorists and create the conditions necessary for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Southern Philippines."
The official JSOTF-P website cited by Global Security said the task force "is comprised of between 500 and 600 personnel from all four military services, including Army Special Operations Forces, Navy Seals, Air Force special operators and a host of support personnel from all four US military services."

They are in the country in a "strictly non-combat role," the website said.

WHO briefs AFP chief Catapang on Ebola

From GMA News (Nov 22): WHO briefs AFP chief Catapang on Ebola

World Health Organization representatives in the Philippines on Friday briefed Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. on the Ebola virus disease.

In a statement on Saturday, the AFP said Catapang met Dr. Megan Counahan, WHO Philippines' Ebola expert, at the Department of Health headquarters in Manila at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

Capatang was quoted in the statement as saying he was relieved of his worries upon learning that the Ebola virus "could only infect people who get in contact with bodily fluids of sick persons who got the disease."

Catapang, along with acting Health Secretary Janette Garin, were criticized for not wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during their visit to Caballo Island, where peacekeepers who came from Ebola-hit Liberia were quarantined as a safety precaution against the virus that killed thousands of people in West Africa.

"Indeed, like the peacekeepers, I am Ebola-free," he said.

He added that a PPE is only needed when dealing with persons who have symptoms of Ebola virus disease.

With that, Catapang vowed that the military will collaborate with the WHO and the DOH in disseminating correct information on the virus.

On Wednesday, the WHO said 5,420 people had so far died of Ebola across eight countries, out of a total 15,145 cases of infection, since late December 2013.

Army seizes NPA camp in Sultan Kudarat

From ABS-CBN (Nov 22): Army seizes NPA camp in Sultan Kudarat

Government troops have captured a camp of the New People's Army (NPA) in the municipality of Senator Ninoy Aquino in Sultan Kudarat, the military said Saturday.

Capt. Joan Petinglay, chief of the 6th Infantry Division public affairs office, said soldiers from the 1st platoon of the 33rd Infantry Battalion's Bravo Company and two teams from the Special Action Force were conducting combat patrol operations when they saw the camp in Sitio Makailas.

The camp had three kitchen areas and two lecture areas. Also found there were 30 bedding and six bullets for a .30-caliber gun.

However, no member of the rebel group was found in the site, which can house around 80 individuals.

According to Petinglay, the site is the camp of the platoon 3 of the NPA's Guerilla Front in the far south Mindanao region.

Slain rebel ‘son of NPA top official’

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Nov 21): Slain rebel ‘son of NPA top official’

A NEW People’s Army (NPA) fighter who was killed by the military in an encounter in the mountain village in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, on Tuesday was the son of a top Maoist guerrilla official, a source said Friday.

The source, who requested not to be named, said the slain rebel, the 21-year-old Francisco Manseguiao, was the son of a top NPA commander known popularly as “Bajoy.”

The source said Bajoy is the leader of an NPA command operating in Misamis Oriental who allegedly carried out the attack of a police station and the municipal building in Medina town on August 25, 2011.

In the attack, one police officer was killed while two others were wounded when around 30 armed rebels assaulted the town’s police station.

One of the assailants was also killed during the firefight that lasted for about an hour, as they carted away electronic devices they found inside the office of former mayor Pacifico Pupos.

The source added that Manseguiao was the second sibling who was killed in action while one of his sisters had gone back to the fold of the law and is now working in a company in Cagayan de Oro.

In a separate interview Friday, First Lieutenant Patrick Martinez, acting spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), confirmed that Manseguiao’s father is an NPA commander in the province.

No money, no body

Jeric Abasa, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) staff, said retrieving Manseguiao’s body took some time not because of the distance of the site but due to the condition set by the village officials before the rebels’ body could be turned over.

Abasa, who accompanied Manseguiao’s family in going to Barangay Hagpa, Impasug-ong town, Bukidnon on Thursday afternoon, said the members of the village council demanded from the family P10,000 in cash before they could release his remains.

“It came as a surprise to us since we didn’t expect they would be asking cash in exchange for Manseguiao’s body. Aside from that, we did not bring with us cash that much,” Abasa told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on Friday.

He said they had to haggle with the village council members, who agreed to be paid half of the amount they demanded.

Abasa said he had to sign a promissory note assuring the Hagpa barangay officials that the money will be sent through a military official.

He added the Provincial Government had promised the payment and that it will be received by village officials within the week.

Abasa said he was told by the council officials that they will use to money to buy a pig that they will offer as sacrifice in a ritual called “pamalihi” in the hopes that the same incident will not be repeated in the near future.

They told Abasa and Manseguiao’s family that they would not have demanded cash from them if the slain insurgent were a native of Hagpa.

Abasa said they saw Manseguiao’s body was contained in a wooden coffin when they arrived at Hagpa late Thursday afternoon.

He said the Hagpa officials already decided to bury Manseguiao at 6 p.m. that day if his remains went unclaimed. The dead rebel’s family arrived at Hagpa around 5:30 p.m.

Manseguiao was the fourth NPA fighter from sitio Lantad, Barangay Kibanban, Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental killed during a series of clashes with the military, whose body was brought to Hagpa.

In the past, Lantad was a known stronghold of the NPA.

Abasa said the village officials had to conduct a ritual owing to the fact that four NPA members had already ended up in Hagpa.

Abasa added Manseguiao’s body is now at a funeral parlor in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental and he would be buried in the town’s cemetery, as decided by his family.

ISIS actively recruiting fighters in Sulu

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 22): ISIS actively recruiting fighters in Sulu

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is actively recruiting additional warriors from Sulu province and those recruited are given instant cash for the processing of their travel documents.

Retired police General Sahiron Dulah Salim, the first ever PNP Muslim official to head the Salaam police based in Camp Crame, also said that the executioner of an American national could possibly be a “Tausug” native.

He added that every Tausug native recruited will be given P50,000 for the processing of their passports and visas prior to their departure for Iraq and Syria to join ISIS fighters in the troubled region.

Tausug warriors, he said, have the habit of beheading their enemies.

Reports said that Peter Kassig was shown in a video being beheaded by an Asian-looking fighter of ISIS.

“I think the suspect who carried out the beheading was a Tausug warrior because it is just normal for them to cut off the neck of their perceived enemies once they captured them,” said Salim.

But Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the military is still verifying if the man who carried out the beheading is a Filipino. “So far, we still do not have any confirmation of the nationality of that person,” she said.

She admitted it was difficult to immediately confirm the nationality of the alleged IS recruit since most Asians share the same looks.

Quoting an intelligence network in Sulu, the Tausug retired general, who is a native of Parang town, Sulu, said those recruited for local deployment were given P25,000 instant cash to be handed over immediately to their families as “pabaon.”

“Of course, some of the Tausug will bite the P25,000 cash money,” said Salim.

The local recruits, Salim said, will be deployed to various parts of Mindanao where the Abu Sayyaf is operating.

Asked where the Abu Sayyaf is getting funding from, Salim said the recent P250-million ransom money they got for the release of two German nationals was real.

“Noong nakakuha sila (Abu Sayyaf) ng perang P250 million ay  agad silang namili ng malalakas na uri ng baril at caliber .45 pistols, isa lang ito na patunay na nagkaroon sila ng malaking pera sa ransom ng dalawang German,” pointed out Salim, a former intelligence and commanding officer in some parts of Mindanao.

Salim, who was once the Bataan PNP director and tagged as rebel hunter for neutralizing a number of Moro and NPA rebels during his stint, said former President Fidel V. Ramos’ statement that the ISIS was able to recruit around 100 Tausugs was true. He said the military and the PNP leaderships simply do not want to admit it since this will be bad for their image.

He said that the ISIS is getting more recruit from the towns of Jolo, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said that after a global index indicating a rise in terrorism in the country, the government has vowed to enhance efforts to combat security threats in close coordination with its foreign allies.

The improved security campaign seeks to ensure the safety and protection of the public, including foreign tourists, in the country, Valte said.

The Philippines recently posted the 9th highest level of terrorist activities in 2013 based on a report prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The index recorded 499 terrorism incidents in the country that killed 292 and injured 444.