Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NPA blames Army on delay in soldiers' release

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Dec 10): NPA blames Army on delay in soldiers' release

THE New People’s Army (NPA) has put the blame on the military on why until now the Maoist insurgents could not yet release the soldiers they are holding captive.

In a recent letter to the families of the two soldiers, NPA-North Central Mindanao Region spokesman Allan Juanito said they still find it hard to free Private First Class Marnel Cinches and Private First Class Jerrel Yorong due to the series of combat operations conducted by the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID).

“We regret to inform you that the release of the two soldiers will be delayed indefinitely. This is due to the ongoing military activity of the 4ID inside the NPA-NCMR’s area of operation,” Juanito said in the letter, referring to the families of Cinches and Yorong.

In November this year, the NPA said it engaged in 28-armed encounters with the military, which it claimed a guerrilla fighter was killed while dozens of government troops, including policemen and members of the paramilitary, were either wounded or killed in action.

“We assure you (the families) that they (captive soldiers) are in a safe place and far from where the encounters are happening. We are also doing our best to take care of them and their basic needs,” Juanito added.

The NPA, he said, is hoping the families Cinches and Yorong will understand that their captivity stems from the ongoing conflict between the Maoist insurgents and government troops.

“This is the reason why the Philippine government refuses to declare a Somo,” he added.

“As much as we want to release them this Christmas, the refusal of the AFP to declare a Somo has been causing this delay,” Juanito added.

Although the military has yet to comment on this latest statement from the NPA, in a previous interview, Major General Oscar Lactao, 4ID commander, maintained that the Philippine Army is bent on rescuing Cinches and Yorong from the clutches of the Maoist rebels.

Lactao suggested to the NPA to leave the two soldiers in a remote village in the mountains instead of asking for a Somo, adding the Armed Forces of the Philippines is in no way to negotiate with the leftist rebels.

Third-party facilitators, composed of church leaders and the chief of the local crisis committee, Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, are in the process of negotiating for the release of the two soldiers.


Freeing Sayyaf hostages main goal

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 10): Freeing Sayyaf hostages main goal

Army says heightened offensive vs bandits aimed at captives’ release

The fate of at least eight hostages still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf depends on the heightened military offensive against the terror group that the armed forces admitted was aimed primarily at freeing the captives.

“This is actually the very basic intent of the operation,” said Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, head of the Western Mindanao Command based here. “It is to rescue them (the hostages),” he added.

Still being kept captive by the Abu Sayyaf, a group with links to the international terror network al-Qaida, are Ronnie Sandagon, Filipino and fish dealer from Zamboanga City; Michelle Panes, Filipino and businesswoman from Zamboanga City; Toshio Ito, a Japanese treasure hunter, seized on July 16, 2010; Dina Lim and daughter Yahong Tan Lim, Chinese nationals who were seized on May 22 in Basilan province; Ewold Horn, Dutch national and bird watcher, seized more than two years ago; Kons Zakiah Aleip, a Malaysian policeman, seized in Sabah in July; and Chan Sai Chuin, a Chinese national, also seized in Sabah on June 26.

Horn’s fellow hostage and bird watcher, Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, had escaped from the Abu Sayyaf by overpowering his guard as the military attacked the group’s camp in Sulu province.

“We are confirming if the other hostages were able to escape, but the operation (against the Abu Sayyaf) is continuous so we will keep you updated,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero did not identify who among the hostages were expected by the military to escape, but the hostage last seen alive was Horn, who was with Vinciguerra when Vinciguerra escaped.

After his escape, Vinciguerra, 49, said he and Horn had planned to escape together during the military strike but Horn was too weak to walk, much less run.

Vinciguerra, during a debriefing session with military officials following his escape, said he had tried carrying Horn on his back but Horn refused.

“Horn said, ‘You go first, I can no longer walk,’” Col. Alan Arrojado, head of the Joint Task Group Sulu, quoted Vinciguerra as saying.

Arrojado said Vinciguerra feared Horn would be harmed by the Abu Sayyaf.


The Abu Sayyaf continues to thrive in at least two provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)—Basilan and Sulu—despite a sizeable amount of support given to the Philippine military’s antiterror campaign by the US government.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman had asked the armed forces to launch an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf that had alarmed human rights groups, which warned against indiscriminate arrests and killings as a result of the campaign.

The military, however, said the ongoing campaign against the Abu Sayyaf had been careful in targeting only members of the terror group.


FDA agents get training from military

From MindaNews (Dec 9): FDA agents get training from military

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has trained four armed agents for its Regulatory Enforcement Unit (REU) for the implementation of the agency’s various campaigns.

In an interview at the sidelines of the weekly Kapehan sa SM on Monday, FDA regulatory officer Arnold Alindada told reporters that the four agents underwent training under the tutelage of instructors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He said there will also be trainings to be conducted by foreign agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by next year.

“We hope to deploy these people by next year,” Alindada said.

Alindada described the unit to be similar in nature to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

He added that he himself underwent the training and will lead the team.
However, Alindada lamented that four people to cover the entire Eastern Mindanao may not be enough.

The FDA official said the agents have been armed to help enforce Republic Act 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

RA 9711 was passed to strengthen and rationalize the regulatory capacity of the agency, then called the Bureau of Food and Drugs, by establishing adequate testing laboratories and field offices, upgrading equipment and augmenting its human resource complement, among others.

It was through this law that the agency was renamed.

Alindada said the agency’s mandate is to help enforce regulatory laws, including the monitoring of medicines and cosmetics being sold online.

He said that at the moment, the agency is still ironing out its operations and scope of work.

The operations that would be conducted by the agents would be in coordination with law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police.

The Food and Drug Administration Act established the REU, which is composed of at least five qualified personnel in every region who shall be directly under the control and supervision of the Deputy Director-General for Field Regulatory Operations.

According to the law, the agents shall be classified as law enforcement agents, bear arms and wear official uniforms and badges.

The agents would serve and execute the rulings, orders and decisions of the FDA director-general.

They would also be empowered to execute and serve search and arrest warrants issued by the courts in connection with violations of the FDA law.


Dutch taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf still alive – military

From the Philippine Star (Dec 9): Dutch taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf still alive – military

The military dismissed yesterday reports that the remaining Abu Sayyaf hostage, Dutchman Ewold Horn, had died due to an ailment.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), believed that Horn is still alive and being held by the Abu Sayyaf in the mountains of Patikul.

Horn’s fellow captive Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra made a daring escape after he hacked the bandit that was guarding him in the jungles of Patikul, Sulu last Saturday.

Guerrero said the report that Horn is still alive was also corroborated by Vinciguerra during a debriefing.

“Vinciguerra revealed that Horn was too weak to join him in his escape. No report whatsoever of Horn succumbing to an ailment,” Guerrero said.

Vinciguerra, 49, and Horn were the two European birdwatchers abducted by Abu Sayyaf bandits on Feb. 1, 2012 in Tawi-Tawi.

Also kidnapped was their Filipino guide Ivan Sarenas, who escaped by jumping into the sea as they were being transported by boat to Sulu.

On Saturday, the military reported that Vinciguerra escaped from his captors as security forces were launching offensives against the bandits in the jungles of Patikul.

During the encounter, Vinciguerra reportedly grabbed the machete of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist guarding him.

The Swiss birdwatcher sustained a wound on the left cheek as he and his guard grappled for the machete. Vinciguerra got hold of the machete and hacked the bandit’s neck.

Security forces found Vinciguerra in Barangay Timpook in Patikul, Sulu and brought him to Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga City. The Swiss national is now confined in a hospital in Manila.

The military said there were unconfirmed reports that the ailing Horn had died but Vinciguerra insisted that the Dutchman is alive but weak.

“We believe Horn is still alive along with other kidnap victims,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero gave assurance that pursuit operations are continuing to rescue all the remaining hostages of the Abu Sayyaf.

The military said the ongoing operations against the Abu Sayyaf gave Vinciguerra the opportunity to escape.

Vinciguerra’s escape came more than a month after the Abu Sayyaf released German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek, 74 and Henrite Dielen, 42 in Patikul.

The Abu Sayyaf claimed to have received the full ransom of P250 million but officials did not confirm it.

Okonek and Dielen were kidnapped by the bandits last April on their yacht in Rio Tubattaha off Palawan.

Vinciguerra made his getaway while government forces were firing artillery rounds near the jungle where he was being held in mountainous Patikul town.

Philippine Army scout rangers later found him and escorted him to safety.

Meanwhile, police and military security forces have intensified monitoring operations to intercept Abu Sayyaf militants who might slip into Zamboanga City to escape the military pursuit operations in Basilan and Sulu.

Col. Andrelino Colina, commander of the Joint Task Group Zamboanga (JTGZ), said they were also monitoring possible diversionary attacks of the Abu Sayyaf group, an effort that was previously adopted by the terrorist group to ease military pressure against them.


PH-US aerial survey on Ruby's first landfall

From Rappler (Dec 9): PH-US aerial survey on Ruby's first landfall

The Zamboanga-based US JSOTF-P conducted aerial survey of the coastlines of Marabut in Samar towards Lawaan, Borongan, and Dolores towns in Eastern Samar – all the way up to the coastlines of Northern Samar and Southern Luzon

FIRST LANDFALL: Typhoon Ruby destroyed houses made of light materials and blew away roofs of buildings made of concrete
FIRST LANDFALL: Typhoon Ruby destroyed houses made of light materials and blew away roofs of buildings made of concrete

The nipa huts along the coastlines are destroyed. Houses made of concrete still stand but the roofs are gone. Schools and other government buildings also lost their roofs. There is no electricity.

Aerial rounds on Dolores and nearby Oras town in Eastern Samar conducted jointly by the Philippine military and the US Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines (JSOTF-P) on December 8 also showed "minimal movement of public utility vehicles" even as public roads and bridges were generally passable, said Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr during the Tuesday morning, December 9, briefing of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Typhoon Ruby made its first landfall in Dolores Saturday evening, December 6, packing maxium sustained winds of 175 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 210 km/h. (WATCH: Video essay on Dolores)
Preemptive evacuation saved a lot of lives, said Catapang, quoting the report. "They observed that because of the early evacuation, a lot of lives were saved," he said. (READ: #RubyPH: One of 'largest peacetime evacuations' in PH history)
In Borongan City, located south of Dolores, damage to coconut crops was observed but the airport facilities are in relatively good condition, allowing C130 aircraft to land despite the initial challenges.
Images of Gamay town in Northern Samar also indicated "slight" damage, Catapang said. "Public roads and bridges are passable. The people are generally in good condition," he added.
Typhoon weakens
Ruby (Hagupit), which was originally forecast by some international weather agencies as a super typhoon, proved kinder considering the widespread fear evoked by the memory of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) – the world's worst recorded typhoon to make landfall.
Yolanda flattened communities and killed over 6,000 people in the same typhoon path in November 2013.
"They conducted aerial photography and it will show that the typhoon did not do a lot of damage except for the light houses that are made of light materials," said Catapang.
Aerial survey from Samar to Bicol
The Zamboanga-based US JSOTF-P conducted aerial survey of the coastlines of Marabut in Samar towards Lawaan, Borongan, and Dolores towns in Eastern Samar – all the way up to the coastlines of Northern Samar and Southern Luzon.

Here's what they saw:

The area of Dolores and Borongan in Eastern Samar, where Ruby made first landfall
  • Public and business structures appeared intact
  • No major damage observed except for a few with missing roofs
  • Roads were passable and tricycles were seen running together with a few 4x4 vehicles
  • Electric posts were not damaged
  • Piers, ports were intact with a few motor bancas berthed
  • One bridge was observed earlier on the live feed as not usable to heavy vehicles due to erosion
  • Only a few residential houses were observed with damage to their roofs
Northern coast of Samar
  • Noticeable was the presence of smoke in open spaces, indicating burning of debris and rubbish
  • It was still daytime; difficult to say they already had electric supply
  • No public infrastructure was apparenly destroyed
  • No houses had major damage; only a few had damaged roofs
  • No fallen tree
Catarman in Northern Samar
  • Residents near the airport were observed to be in high spirits, with many waving to the aircraft
  • Houses were intact, no major damage
  • Only a few houses had their roofs torn down
  • No public and business infrastructure damaged
  • Forced evacuation of residents prevented the loss of lives
Bicol area
  • The southern coast of Bicol Region was untouched
  • In Masbate, no damage was observed
  • Numerous 4-wheel vehicles, tricycles, and people were seen in the central business district
Local teams are currently validating the information from the aerial survey, according to NDRRMC executive director Alexander Pama. "What is seen from the air needs to be validated on the ground by our rapid damage assessment teams. The primary purpose is to validate what relief items need to be sent there immediately," said Pama.
Catapang gave assurances that the military's C130 cargo planes are scheduled to make 10 sorties to transport the requirements.

PAF C-130 plane airlifts first batch of relief goods to Ruby victims in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): PAF C-130 plane airlifts first batch of relief goods to Ruby victims in Samar

A Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 plane Monday airlifted the first batch of relief goods for Catarman in northern Samar.

Major Glen Cabalquinto, spokesman of the PAF 2nd Air Division, said they wanted to land at the Borongan airport in Eastern Samar but they didn’t get landing clearance.

He said that’s the reason they proceeded to Catarman.

He said the C-130 plane was only able to load 5,075 kilos of relief goods or 443 packs.

“There will be more C-130 flights to bring relief goods,” he said.

Each food pack contains six kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of beef loaf, eight packs of instant noodles and eight sachets of instant coffee.

The food packs were repacked at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City, the designated repacking center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7.

Some 800 volunteers, including students, military personnel and nuns have been repacking relief goods at the CICC since Saturday.

DSWD 7 officials said a total of 7,912 food packs have been brought to the Mactan Air Base to be airlifted to Ruby's affected communities in Samar, Leyte and Bicol.


Army blames BIFF in grenade attack on military detachment in NorCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Army blames BIFF in grenade attack on military detachment in NorCot

The military has blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in a grenade attack at an Army base in Pikit, North Cotabato Monday, an Army colonel Tuesday said.

Colonel Audie Edralin, commander of the 7th Infantry Battalion, citing investigation results, said the grenade attack on Majad Detachment in Barangay Poblacion Pikit, was part of the “grenade attack” campaign of the BIFF to get back at government forces for the losses they suffered during military offensives.

Nobody was hurt in the incident but the attack triggered panic among residents nearby.

Earlier, a village leader was hurt when suspected BIFF fired a rifle grenade toward his home on Saturday night.

Following the incident, Edralin appealed to the public to report any suspicious individuals riding tandem on motorbikes.

He also placed his men under heightened alert for “hit and run” attacks by suspected BIFF.


Update: 11 killed, 43 wounded in bomb explosion inside bus in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Update: 11 killed, 43 wounded in bomb explosion inside bus in Bukidnon

The number of fatalities in the bus bombing incident in Bukidnon Tuesday afternoon has climbed to 11 from 9, a police report here said.

This, as two other passengers of the bus died in the hospital where the victims were rushed.

Nine of the bus passengers were killed on the spot as an improvised bomb exploded about 100 meters away from the main gate of a state university in Bukidnon, past 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, the report said.


Army Division opens 'Paskuhan sa Kampilan' ahead of Christmas Day

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Army Division opens 'Paskuhan sa Kampilan' ahead of Christmas Day

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- The Army's 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division opened on Tuesday the "Paskuhan sa Kampilan" village inside this sprawling military headquarters in Maguindanao.

Themed "12 Days of Christmas," the Paskuhan sa Kampilan features nightly presentation from various elementary and public schools in the province to entertain visitors, mostly soldiers and their families.

The "village" also serves as fellowship venue for units of the Army Division to celebrate Christmas party along with the soldiers' families.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th ID chief, said the Paskuhan sa Kampilan is another indication the military is in control of the situation in its area of responsibility.

Pangilinan urged the public to consider the Paskuhan sa Kampilan in their itinerary in welcoming Christmas.

He said the area is 100 percent safe since it is inside the Army camp.


Kidapawan legislator condemns burning of road equipment; police blame NPA rebels for the attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Kidapawan legislator condemns burning of road equipment; police blame NPA rebels for the attack
The Kidapawan City Legislative Council has condemned the armed men who burned the heavy equipment of a road construction firm in Barangay Mua-an here on Sunday.

The police said on Tuesday they already have the identities of the perpetrators who have been mulcting the construction firm and the burning was carried out because of the firm's refusal to shell out "protection money" to the communist rebels.

Four pieces of heavy equipment owned by a construction firm from Gen. Santos City were parked near the village hall to ensure safety when they were set on fire by suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels, according to the military.

Councilor Francis Palmones, chair of the Kidapawan City Sangguniang Panlungsod committee on peace and order, delivered a privilege speech condemning the atrocities by the lawless elements.

He said it was a "terroristic and barbaric act" which caused traumatic experiences to the firm's employees and residents in the village of Mua-an.

“They sow terror in our city. I condemn the act and consider it as barbaric as it caused panic and fear among constituents in Barangay Mua-an,” Palmones said.

To the lawless elements, he has this message: “Please don’t disturb the peace and tranquility of Kidapawan City. The peace-loving people here want to live without fear and free from any form of terrorists' act,” Palmones added.

An estimated 12 heavily armed NPA rebels torched the heavy equipment in Barangay Mua-an for alleged failure of its owner, the Jargon Construction, to pay the revolutionary taxes.

Reports said the rebels arrived in the area in six motorcycles, poured gasoline on the equipment -- two dump trucks, a back hoe and a cement mixer-- and set them on fire.

The equipment were used in concreting the road connecting the villages of Mua-an and Ilomavis.

Supt. Franklin Anito, city chief of police, said the estimated damage was PhP20 million.

Anito told reporters the suspects were members of the NPA as some of them were identified by witnesses in the police photo gallery.

Azer Perez, the village head of Mua-an, said that before the armed men left the place, they identified themselves as NPA members and fired their firearm several times.

Despite the incident, the firm is determined to finish the road that will connect Barangay Mua-an to Barangay Ilomavis, two villages at the slope of the country's highest peak.


JICA trains MILF agencies on development project management

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): JICA trains MILF agencies on development project management

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and other agencies of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and non-government organizations on Tuesday finished a two-day training on project cycle management held at a hotel here.

The purpose of the training is to capacitate BDA and other participating organizations of skills on project management that will help in successful implementation of the program currently managed by the agency.

An agency of the MILF, the BDA determines, leads, and manages relief, rehabilitation and development projects in the conflict affected areas of Mindanao.

Presently, BDA is implementing five programs which are the Mindanao Trust Fund Reconstruction and Development Program (MTF-RDP), Community Development in Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao (CD-CAAM), Program for Local Economic Development through Enlightened Governance and Grassroots Empowered (PLEDGE), Tahderiyyah Curriculum Program (TCP) and the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) Formulation Project.

Through the training, it is expected that participants will earn knowledge and skills on the phases of project management such as problem and objectives analysis, structure of the project and the Project Design Matrix (PDM).

Kazuhiro Okamoto, Human Resource Development expert and consultant of JICA was the facilitator of the training.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is supporting this two-day training as part of the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bansgsamoro (CCDP-B) under the Human Resource Development (HRD).

Other participants to the training are coming from Bangsamoro Leadership Management Institute (BLMI), Sajahatra Bangsamoro (SB), Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and other non-government organizations (NGOs).

The organizations are helping the MILF as it prepares for assuming major roles in governing the Bangsamoro through the Bangsamoro government that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


Army Artillery Regiment joins nation in celebration of NHRCW

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Army Artillery Regiment joins nation in celebration of NHRCW

The Fort Magsasay, Nueva Ecija-based Army Artillery Regiment (AAR) announced that it joining the rest of the nation in the celebration of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week (NHRCW).

This year's celebration has a theme of "Mamamayan at Pamahalaan Kapit Bisig sa Pagsulong ng Karapatan sa Kaunlaran".

Philippine observance of NHRCW started on Dec. 4 and will end on the 10th.

The AAR's celebration of NHRCW was highlighted with the “Panata sa Karapatang Pantao” of all of its officers and enlisted personnel, led by its chief-of-staff, Lt. Col. Nazarito A. Floresca II.

The oath was to remind the troops on its covenant and commitment in promoting and adhering to the protection of Human Rights.

“As we uphold the primacy of pursuing, protecting and preserving the peace process, we shall also treat all individuals with respect and dignity. It does not only entail those persons in your area of operations but to any human being including yourself, your family, your neighbors, friends, your colleagues, your girlfriend, wife, or your children,” Floresca said.

He also told 30 newly-recruited privates, who will be deployed to join the 8th Field Artillery Battalion in Western Mindanao, to know your rights and the rights of other people.

"Bear in your mind that the key action to achieve peace is respect. With respect comes along pure intention and modesty. Living life to its simplicity with happiness and peace of heart is the basic right we all deserve to have as human being. Let the force of peace and happiness radiates from within as we advocate peace and prosperity," Floresca added.


903rd Infantry Brigade now transporting evacuees back to their home

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): 903rd Infantry Brigade now transporting evacuees back to their home

The Sorsogon-based 903rd Infantry Brigade will now help in the transportation of evacuees back to their homes now that the threat posed by typhoon "Ruby" is over.

This is aside from distribution of relief goods and providing assessment on damages caused by "Ruby" on Sorsogon and Masbate.

About 57,901 families or 276,514 individuals were evacuated in Sorsogon while 20,040 families or 102,396 individuals were taken to safer ground in Masbate.

1st Lt. Clint Antipala, 903rd Infantry Brigade spokesperson, said that they demonstrated their readiness to help the community in times of disasters and calamities in Sorsogon and Masbate during Ruby"'s onslaught.

"Through the 903rd Infantry Brigade’s task-organized facility - the 903rd Disaster Response Task Group (903rd DRTG) under Major Lazaro Quigao, which is charged with responding to disasters and calamities in the Brigade AOR (area of responsibility), the Brigade had smoothly responded to Typhoon 'Ruby' with the effective employment of the 903rd DRTG’s three disaster response task units (DRTUs)," he added.

"The alertness of the 31st DRTU under Major Romeo Jimenea in Sorsogon, the Task Group Masbate DRTU under Major Armand Benito in Masbate and the 903rd DRTU under Capt. John Babia have resulted to zero death casualty in the two provinces, with only seven slightly wounded residents of Masbate province. The proactive deployment of disaster response teams (DRTs) under the DRTUs in disaster-prone areas was the key to speedy response. These were made possible due to the effective management undertaken by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (PDRRMCs) of Sorsogon and Masbate," Antipala stressed.


3rd Infantry Division working with other units, government agencies to bring relief to Ruby's victims in Western Visayas

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): 3rd Infantry Division working with other units, government agencies to bring relief to Ruby's victims in Western Visayas

The Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division said it is working in close coordination with other military units and government agencies to expedite the bringing of aid to families affected by "Ruby" in Western Visayas.

Major Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson, said that aiding them are units of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and local government units (LGUs).

“Our soldiers are once again responding to the call of duty to provide the necessary assistance to the civil government to bring the primary needs of our people especially in the most affected areas of Typhoon 'Ruby',” 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

He said that they are maximizing efforts in providing mobility assets, security and manpower in relief operations in the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique.

In coordination with DSWD Region 6, a total of 87,687 family food packs were ready for distribution.

“Our units together with the PNP deployed for relief operations are in close coordination with the DSWD and the local government units of the affected areas so that relief items may be delivered to the affected families the soonest time possible,” 301st Infantry Brigade commander Col. Eric Uchida said.

The 301st Infantry Brigade covers the Panay area.

Three ships of the Philippine Navy stationed in Muelle Loney, Iloilo City were committed to deliver the relief goods to the island barangays in Northern Iloilo and Antique; while two helicopters of the Philippine Air Force will also be utilized for relief operations.

Meanwhile, troops of 62nd Infantry Battalion deployed in Northern Negros also provided manpower assistance in repacking of relief goods in Cadiz City.

The battalion is also in close coordination with other municipalities in Northern Negros for relief operations.

The Army’s 6th Regional Community Defense Group (6RCDG) on the other hand utilized its reserve force from the Army, Air Force and the Navy in providing manpower assistance for the preparation of relief goods at the DSWD Field Offices in Iloilo City, Guimaras and Capiz.


C-130 "Hercules" back in service

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): C-130 "Hercules" back in service
The Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft, which safely landed at Borongan Airport in Eastern Samar despite of a flat tire on Monday, is now back in service after a brief maintenance period.

"Borongan Airport has a short runway and since the C-130 was coming in with a heavy cargo, it has to brake fast and stop from skidding. It's these combination of factors that lead to the C-130 having a flat tire," said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla.

The blown tire was from the aircraft's main landing gear.

Borongan Airport's runway has a length of 1,199 meter which is equivalent to 3,935 feet.

Padilla said the aircraft was immediately repaired by an PAF team coming from Mactan Air Base and safely flown out Monday afternoon.

The C-130 in Borongan Airport was carrying Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, Central Command commander, and 2nd Air Division head Major General Sonny Manalo aside from the initial damage assessment team and aerodrome controllers, communication van and relief items at the time of the incident.

The PAF is known to possess three C-130 aircraft. However, one of the planes is undergoing maintenance at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga.


Two NPA rebels surrender to Army units in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Two NPA rebels surrender to Army units in Misamis Oriental

Two New People's Army (NPA) fighters voluntarily surrendered themselves, together with their weapons, to troopers of the 58th Infantry Battalion in Claveria town, Misamis Oriental last Monday.

Major Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the duo surrendered an M-4 assault rifle and an M-1 Garand carbine.

He declined to identify the two for security reasons but said that one of the surrenderees was an NPA leader.

The two surrendered due to differences in policies, infighting among themselves, the hardship being away from their family and being always on the run.

"We have noticed the increase of NPAs surrendering with firearms since October this year with November posting as the highest with 10 firearms. The 46 surrenderees we accounted since October yielded a total of 22 firearms or a ratio of 1:2 which means that one out of two surrenderees surrendered firearms,” Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad said.

The surrenderees will likely receive remuneration of Php75,000 and Php20,000 for M-4 and M-1 respectively.

Likewise both surrenderee will be enrolled to the Misamis Oriental Integration Program to start a new life.

Baladad repeated his offer to the NPAs to lay down their arms and live a peaceful life and avail of the livelihood program and other assistance offered by the government for their well-being.

"We are again calling on our brothers who are continuously deceived by the communist propaganda to lay down their arms. We ensure you that we will work with other stakeholders for you to start a new life and join your family in the mainstream society," he said.


PAF delivers 43 tons of relief goods to 'Ruby' affected areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): PAF delivers 43 tons of relief goods to 'Ruby' affected areas

In line with the ongoing government relief efforts, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) announced that it has delivered 43 tons of relief items and materials to "Ruby" battered areas of Borongan, Dolores, Catarman in Samar Province Monday.

This was achieved by flying four C-130 sorties alongside with four UH-1H flying missions.

PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said that two C-130 and two UH-IH helicopters were utilized for this missions.

The 43 tons of emergency cargo is equivalent to 95,350 pounds, he said.

He added that the C-130s loaded relief goods from Mactan Air Base and unloaded the items at Borongan and Catarman while the two UH-1H shuttles them to affected areas such as Dolores and Kaybani Island.  

It is expected that the delivery of relief goods to Samar will continue as well as to places identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development weather permitting.

Relief goods include sacks of rice, biscuits, medicines, etc.

Canaya said that the PAF also established aerodrome support at Borongan Airport by clearing the runway since Dec. 7 and on Dec. 8, a C-130 landed in Borongan and unloaded their mobile disaster response unit consisting of 49 search and rescue teams, medical and engineering team, air traffic controllers with communication vehicle and assorted equipment from Palawan.

Two more UH-1Hs also arrived on the same day from Mactan with Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, the Central Command head and Major Gen. Sonny Manalo, 2nd Air Division head and the forward air support team consisting of 11 personnel and their equipment.

All other PAF air assets are on standby at Villamor Air Base, Clark, Mactan, Palawan and will be made available for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations when directed. 

At present, HADR operations are being managed by the Central Command.

The Central Command also directed an aerial reconnaissance mission using the PAF's N-22 Nomad aircraft over Borongan, Dolores and other parts of Samar to assess the extent of damage caused by Typhoon "Ruby".


Initial damage assessment in Samar, Bicol provinces light -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 9): Initial damage assessment in Samar, Bicol provinces light -- AFP

Citing initial information obtained from damage assessment overflights of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Joint Special Operation Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), destruction caused by Typhoon "Ruby" during its initial onslaught in Samar and the Bicol provinces appears to be light.

This was announced by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang during a briefing at the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

He said the aircraft took off Monday from Zamboanga City and flew over key areas in Samar and Bicol provinces.

"At the point of entry which was from Gamay (Northern Samar) to Dolores to Borongan (both in Eastern Samar) it can be seen, public and business structures appeared intact, no major damages observed except for a few (houses) with roofs that were missing, roads were not blocked, were passable and tricycles were seen running together with few 4x4 vehicles, electric posts were not damaged, piers, ports were intact with a few motor bancas berthed," Catapang said.

He added that one of the aircrew saw one bridge not usable by heavy vehicles due to erosion.

"Along the northern coast of Samar, noticeable was numerous presence of smoke in the open spaces indicating of burning of debris and rubbish, since it was still daytime, it was too early to observe any lights to mean the presence of electrical supply, no public infrastructure observed destroyed, no homes were observed with major damage with a few having missing parts of their roofs, no damage was observed to house or homes along the coastline, no tree were observed fallen," the AFP chief said.

"While (overhead) in Catarman (Northern Samar) residents near the airport were observed in high spirits, with many waving to the aircraft, no homes were observed with major damage and only a few having parts of their roof stripped off, no public and business infrastructures were observed damaged, per report of the Brigade Commander Col. (Germenegildo) Aquino," Catapang stated.

He added that the southern coast of Bicol Region was untouched. In Masbate, no damage was observed with a lot of ground activity observed indicating numerous four-wheel vehicles, tricycles and people in the central business district, doing their day-to-day activities.

And due to the low visibility, the aircraft did not land but made a low pass on the Masbate airport and the city proper.

In the rapid disaster assessment survey in Dolores, Eastern Samar, Catapang said it was indicated that there were damages on nipa huts and light infrastructure including those near the seashore. Damages are still undetermined on concrete houses "where their roofing were destroyed or minor damages for concrete houses."

"Of course as regards the public facilities and buildings, roofings were destroyed. School roofings were destroyed. Utilities -- no electricity. There is a minimal movement of public utility vehicles and the public roads and bridges were all passable," he pointed out.

In Oras town, Eastern Samar, all the reported damages were minor. There were some flooding in low-lying areas and no electricity. However, public facilities and buildings are in good condition, both public roads and bridges passable, Catapang disclosed.

In Gamay town, Northern Samar, damages were reported to be slight with public roads and bridges passable.

In Sulat town, Eastern Samar, overflights reported seeing some nipa huts destroyed along the seashore along with some concrete houses.

"As regards public facilities and buildings and schools, roofings were destroyed. There's no electricity. There are two bridges that are passable only to light vehicles but they are now being repaired. As to public roads, they are passable," Catapang said.

In Borongan, Eastern Samar, damages were also reported as minor and limited to coconut crops. Airport facilities are in good condition.

"They can see military vehicles in the area, and public roads and bridges are all passable," the AFP chief said.


Army hit for death of rebel

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 9): Army hit for death of rebel

The Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army alleged that the 11th Infantry Battalion violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights, in the death of one of its red fighters during the November 9 encounter in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesman of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, in a statement he issued, accused the 11th IB of inflicting injuries to Ka Dennis, who was captured during an encounter, that caused his death.

The rebel group and the National Democratic Front-PKM Central Negros condemned the killing of Ka Dennis.

Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, vehemently debunked the claims of the NPA, and dismissed those as mere propaganda, as he maintained that the rebel, who was later identified as Welbourne Babor, was killed in an encounter.

A KG9 submachine gun and three M-203 grenade launcher ammunition, among others, were recovered at the encounter site, Tiongson said.

Regalado said they consider Ka Dennis a hero of the revolutionary movement, and are demanding justice for his death.

He further claimed that Ka Dennis was unarmed, when he was captured by the soldiers.

The Commission on Human Rights declared that there were no reports of human rights during the encounter between rebels and Army soldiers in Guihulngan City.

The encounter also led to the discovery of a rebel camp, while an Army soldier was also slightly injured in the gun battle.


Torching of heavy equipment in Kidapawan by suspected NPA rebels condemned

From GMA News (Dec 9): Torching of heavy equipment in Kidapawan by suspected NPA rebels condemned

The City Legislative Council on Monday condemned suspected New People's Army rebels responsible for the torching of some heavy equipment in Barangay Mua-an in Kidapawan on Sunday evening.

The equipment were owned by a private contractor based in General Santos City.
City Councilor Francis Palmones, committee chair on peace and order, in his privilege speech during a special session on Monday, said the act can be considered terroristic and barbaric.

He added the incident caused trauma to the firm's employees and residents who witnessed the torching.
“They sow terror in our city. I condemn the act and consider it as barbaric as it caused panic and fear among constituents in Barangay Mua-an,” Palmones said.
“Please don’t disturb the peace and tranquillity of Kidapawan City. The peace-loving people here want to live without fear and free from any form of terroristic act.” Palmones added.
A dozen alleged suspected NPA rebels torched four heavy equipment in Barangay Mua-an in retaliation for the reported failure of the owner of Jargon Construction to pay revolutionary taxes.
The rebels arrived in the area aboard six motorcycles. Without saying a word, they poured gasoline on the equipment and set them on fire.
Damaged were two dump trucks, a backhoe and a cement mixer. The equipment were being used in concreting the Mua-an-Ilomavis Road being undertaken by Jargon Construction as contractor.
Supt. Franklin Anito, city chief of police, pegged the damage at P20 million.          
In an interview, Anito confirmed that the suspects are indeed members of the NPA as some of them were identified by the witnesses in the photo gallery of possible suspects.
Azer Perez, barangay chairman of Mua-an, said that before the armed men left the place, they identified themselves as NPA and fired shots several times which sowed panic among witnesses.

9 dead, 17 hurt in Bukidnon bus explosion

From GMA News (Dec 9): 9 dead, 17 hurt in Bukidnon bus explosion

Nine people were killed while 17 others were hurt in a bus explosion in Barangay Mus-wan in Maramag town in Bukidnon past 5 p.m. Tuesday, police and military officials said.

The explosion occurred across Central Mindanao University, at a time when students were going home.

Bukidnon police spokesperson Inspector Jeselle Longakit said the bus came from Wao, Lanao del Sur, and was heading for Cagayan de Oro City.

Lt. Norman Tagros, spokesman of the Army's 8th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers were still trying to determine the motive behind the blast.

Initial investigation showed an improvised explosive device went off inside the Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. bus (2640) which plies the Cagayan de Oro City route, according to a report on "24 Oras."

Maj. Christian Uy, public affairs officer of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said authorities are still investigating as to the people or group behind the attack.

“None yet, it's too early to tell,” said Uy when asked on the possible suspects.

Second since November

A report on Mindanao news site Gold Star Daily said it was the second bombing of a bus in Maramag town since November.

The November explosion was blamed on a terror group that allegedly planted a crude bomb based on a 60-mm mortar shell with a triggering device in the RTMI bus.

At the time, the RTMI bus was bound from Tacurong City to Cagayan de Oro.


Swiss kidnapping survivor treated for minor wounds

From the Business Mirror (Dec 7): Swiss kidnapping survivor treated for minor wounds

THE military said on Sunday that Lorenzo Vinciguerra, the Swiss who escaped from the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), is already in Manila and is being treated in an undisclosed hospital in the capital.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office Chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said Vinciguerra arrived late Saturday afternoon and was turned over to officials of the Swiss Embassy before he checked into a medical facility.

Cabunoc said Vinciguerra only sustained a minor hack wound on his left neck, contrary to reports the Swiss sustained a gunshot wound after he was reportedly shot by one of his captors.

Vinciguerra, 49, escaped from the ASG at Mount Bagsak, Talipao, Sulu, at around 7:30 a.m., while troops were shelling the terrorist group’s position at Sitio Nangka, Barangay, Kulambu, Talipao.

Col. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said the Swiss saw a chance to escape as members of the ASG scrambled away from the lair adjacent to the area pummeled by artillery shells.

Vinciguerra reportedly grabbed the firearm of one of his captors before he dashed for his freedom, Arrojado said.

Elements of the third and second Scout Ranger Companies found the kidnap victims at Barangay Timpook, Patikul.

Cabunoc said military doctors who checked Vinciguerra’s condition at the military hospital in Jolo cleared the victim for travel, which was facilitated by the government.

The chartered plane carrying the victim arrived at Villamor Air Base at around 6:20 p.m. where Swiss Embassy officials led by His Excellency Ivo Sieber, the Swiss ambassador to the Philippines, and Philippine military officials, led by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. met him, according to Cabunoc.

“At around 6:30 p.m., the Swiss Embassy officials promptly brought Vinciguerra to an undisclosed hospital for further treatment,” he added.

Cabunoc said Swiss Embassy officials thanked the government, especially military units in Sulu led by Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command commander Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero for the safe recovery of Vinciguerra.


NPA kills former guerrilla who turned to crime

From the Business Mirror (Dec 8): NPA kills former guerrilla who turned to crime

THE New People’s Army-Celso Minguez Command (NPA-CMC) that operates in Sorsogon has admitted that NPA guerrillas killed Noel Delgado in Barangay San Juan, Sorsogon City, on December 1.
NPA-CMC Spokesman Samuel Guerrero said Delgado was meted out the death penalty after he refused to mend his ways after being warned by the provincial rebel command several times.
Guerrero admitted that Delgado used to be an NPA guerrilla but he deserted his unit “and committed crimes against the revolutionary movement and the farmers in the Bacon District of Sorsogon City.”
He said that after being shot, Delgado was taken to a hospital in Sorsogon City but died on December 5.
“Since he quit from the movement, he became part of a bandit group that was involved in cattle rustling, the theft of other animals and the forcible eviction of some tenants in Bacon District,” Guerrero added. 
He had as his cohorts some ex-guerrillas, soldiers, policemen and members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit. They misrepresent themselves as NPA as they commit crimes. Delgado and his gangmates also invoke the NPA’s name in extorting money from contractors undertaking infrastructure projects,” he said.
“The NPA is gunning after Delgado’s partners-in-crime. The revolutionary army will eliminate this gang in response to the complaints of the farmers that they had been abused,” Guerrero also said.

Witness: 8 dead in bus explosion in Bukidnon

From ABS-CBN (Dec 9): Witness: 8 dead in bus explosion in Bukidnon
[Video report]

A witness reported seeing 8 people lifeless after an explosion hit a passenger bus just outside the gate of the Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Maramag, Bukidnon on Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities said an improvised explosive device (IED) may have been planted at the back of a Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI) bus with plate number KBP 178. The explosion occurred around 5:45 p.m.

Bomb experts and investigators are now in the area.

Authorities are checking if the incident is related to another explosion of another bus from the same company. The previous explosion also happened in front of the university.

The bus was on its way to Cagayan de Oro from Wao, Lanao del Sur.
CMU Chief of Security George Gewan said several individuals were rushed to the university infirmary, while others were taken to hospitals in Valencia City.


BIFM-RIB: Kabasalan Shelling

From the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement Research & Information Bureau (Nov 15): Kabasalan Shelling

The first Mechanized Battalion of the 6ID based at Upper Salbu, Datu Saudi, Maguindanao launched mortal shelling on November 14, 2014 Friday between 2:00 – 3:00 am. At Brgy. Kabasalan, Maguindanao side (Province). There were more or less 15 rounds of 105 mm Howitzers dropped by the AFP which resulted to the death of two civilians and 3 wounded while they were on board the pump boat, fleeing to the safer place.

On the side of the BIFF, there was one who met his last breath (Shahid). Although this was a painful event, however, it is but a rare opportunity to die within the level of a Shahid (Martyrdom). Reacting on the incidence, BIFF, hit the enemies (Military Detachment) at Saiduna Municipality and the two Baranggays of Paidu Pulangi and Silik of North Cotabato on November 14 at about 10:30 pm. This was a well planned move of the AFP as there about 40 units of Army Vehicles traversing the municipalities of Shariff Aguak, Mamasapano and Sultan Sa Barungis.  


BIFM-RIB: BIFF Spokesman's Words are in Truth

From the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement Research & Information Bureau (Nov 19): BIFF Spokesman's Words are in Truth

If we can still remember, whenever local media man asks the BIFF Spokesman, Abu Mishrey Mama, on when shall peace in Mindanao is achieved? He always says that as long as the Enemies will not vacate the ancestral homeland of the Bangsamoro people, armed struggle shall continue forever.

Our homeland is usurped by the two world colonial powers, the colonial government of Spain and America when they signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, now on its 116th anniversary, comes December 10. By virtue of this treaty, the two Moro sultanate territories of Mindanao (Maguindanao) and Sulo Archipelago were illegally, unjustly and immorally annexed.

This treaty is tantamount to serving the seeds of misery, suffering and unrest. It was because the plebiscitary consent of the Moros was never given due respect. One can not just imagine how a nation like America, a known, father of democracy would get itself involved in a transaction clearly in violation to the doctrine of Democracy.

Thus shooting incidences took place in the following communities which support and confirm the spokesman’s statements.

1- November 16, 2014 about 9 pm., Sunday night, a shooting incidence, somewhere in the municipality of Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao took place; there where 4 heads of CAFGU and 1 Army personnel killed, wounded 2 CAFGU and 3 Army personnel. Army-CAFGU Detachment was abandoned temporarily by the government forces.

2- Another shooting incidence was on November 18, 2014, Tuesday, more or 8 pm. at Barangay Baliki, Midsayap, North Cotabato. Barangay chairman of the place a known supporter of enemy (AFP) was fortunately dead on the spot and some Tad-tad group members also killed. Tad-tad is an Ilongo term which means for chopping the moro bodies into several pieces.

Lastly, we are informing all concerned, more particularly, the Christian settlers in the Moro land that the BIFF never considers the Christians nor the Army themselves as our enemies because of your being Ilongoes, Ilocanos, Cebuanos etc. Any body or any group that serves the Philippine government as agents in oppression and persecution and generally in the forceful usurpation of our homeland is automatically become our mortal enemies. 

BIFM-RIB: The Upshot

From the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement Research & Information Bureau (Dec 4): The Upshot

If we can still remember, it was sometime in the first week of November, this year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) represented by the 1st Mechanized Battalion with base at Upper Salbu, Datu Saudi, Maguindanao, directed its about 15 rounds of 105mm Howitzers in Kabasalan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao about 5 innocent civilians hit with two casualties while fleeing to the safer places in late evening.

In a local radio station, the 6th ID with Base at Brgy. Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao denied the shelling of 15 rounds 105mm. to civilian populated area. If this incidence was not the making of the aforesaid Army Battalion, it was still the liability of the Philippines government as it is represented by its own occupation forces.

Thus a series of incidences in the near surrounding communities, believed to be the making of the BIFM/BIFF as an upshot or aftermath of the 15 rounds of 105mm pounding the civilian areas in Kabasalan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao in the first week of November.

To be specific it was on December 01, 2014 at about 7:45 am. (Monday), just a few minutes fire-fight between some elements of BIFF and the occupation forces (AFP) at Brgy. Nabundas, Tapikan 1, Mamasapano, Maguindanao. In this encounter, two Mujahideen (Islamic Defenders) were wounded. In the government side, there were at least 3 members of the Filipino Occupation Forces met their last breath while 8 of them were seriously wounded as reported.

Second series of incidence – December 3, 2014 about 6:45 pm. Brgy. Matilak, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, two rounds of 79mm Grenade Launcher were thrown at an Army Detachment. Four men of the enemy believed to have been killed as witnessed by the civilian communities. On even date, a few minutes later, work at the Maguindanao Hospital was shot to death by an Army personnel assigned in the said hospital. Some of the Hospital personnel who witnessed the incidence, it was by mistaken identity due to the Army personnel who had been on extra alert since the shooting of the two Army personnel about a month ago.

Third incidence – December 4, 2014 at about 11:00 am. a man who wore four color pant was shot to death with fire-arm (45 Cal.) and his Motorcycle were taken by the assailant in Salbu, Datu Saudi, Maguindanao.

 Lastly, the Research and Information Bureau (RIB) wishes to reiterate that it is the standing policy of the BIFF to equally defense the innocent Moro civilians and the Mujahideen.


MILF: Editorial -- The battle line is drawn

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Dec 9): The battle line is drawn

As the discourse on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is approaching the climactic stage, more particularly after the conduct of series of public hearings by Congress, the battle line is clearly drawn between those standing on solid pro-people and those harping on anti-people stances.
Eventually, the fate of the proposed law will be decided in the plebiscite to be conducted next year, insha Allah.   

While we cannot generalize those anti-BBL views as outright anti-people stances, but this point in time, after all aspects of the BBL have been lain bare, it is extremely hard to distinguish views made out of conviction and those simply to stain the proposed law. The burden to discriminate them rests with the exponent and the people will judge.

Among the ranks of the Moros, only very few expressed reservations about the proposed law.  For what reason or reasons might be personal or they are not well aware of the provisions of the proposed law and how they will trickle down to the benefits of the people, especially the underprivileged, the poor and the unrepresented.

Clearly the Moros are overwhelmingly behind the proposed law, including those in the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan. Even MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari is silent these days on the BBL. We do not expect him to come out openly for the BBL, but just to be mum on the BBL is already a sign of greatness in the offing.

To date, there is hardly any Moro leader or politician who has not expressed support to the BBL. We are sure everybody will be on board soon.

However, much to our surprise, most of the negative rumblings emanate from people outside the jurisdiction of the proposed Bangsamoro Government. We will not name names anymore, because the public has known them ever since. For what logic, we can only say, we do not know of any logical reason.

As clearly stated time and again, the BBL is a menu to address the Moro Problem or Question which has pestered the country for decades and which caused it to lag far behind its ASEAN neighbors. Solving this problem is solving the nation’s problem. The BBL is a menu for peace, development, and unity of this country.

This is the reason --- never mind the spoilers --- that whoever criticizes the BBL is adopting an anti-people stance. The BBL is for the entire inhabitants of the Bangsamoro, be they Muslims, indigenous peoples (IPs) or Christians. Being Bangsamoro is only an identity; it does not confer any privileges. If any group who has been given special privileges in the BBL, they are the IPs.


MILF: Iqbal on federalism: ‘MILF will neither endorse nor reject it’

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 8): Iqbal on federalism: ‘MILF will neither endorse nor reject it’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 December) – Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday said the MILF will neither endorse nor reject proposals for a shift to a federal form of government.
MindaNews sought Iqbal’s reaction to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement on several occasions that he prefers federalism to help address the unrest in Mindanao rather than the proposed establishment of the Bangsamoro.

“I respect their view. But the MILF will not endorse it nor reject it,” said Iqbal, who also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

On Monday, Duterte reiterated his call for federalism in the country, saying it could be a more suitable solution to the unrest in Mindanao.

At least 300 participants attended the Mindanao Leaders’ Summit on Federalism here, a move which organizers said was fueled by the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a forum organized by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) in the city on Thursday, a participant asked Iqbal if the BBL is a template for federalism.

Iqbal clarified that the BBL is not a move towards federalism, saying it is an entirely different movement.

“BBL is not a template towards federalism in the Philippines because that would require a major tinkering of the constitution. And I don’t think that is forthcoming,” he told members of CODE-NGO who came from different parts of the country.

He acknowledged that there had been a long history of movement for federalism in the country, in the Bicol region, Cordillera Autonomous Region, Bohol, Negros and even Caraga region in Mindanao.

“For the Bangsamoro people, I think they deserve this kind of movement as far as granting of autonomy because we have a very, very long history of independence.  Besides, we have fought for this for 42 years. So much blood has been spilled because of this one,” the MILF official said.

Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process further explained that the BBL only talks about autonomy in a particular region.

“But I know that many federalism advocates are hoping to use this (BBL) as a stepping stone to turn into a federalist state, but that is still a different level of struggle,”  Deles added.

Becoming a federal state needs charter change, she said.

But she admitted that a positive experience in the Bangsamoro might convince more people to adopt the same system in other regions of the country. “But that will require a different struggle.” (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)


MILF: UNYPAD, UNDP hold consultation on BBL in Isabela City

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 9): UNYPAD, UNDP hold consultation on BBL in Isabela City

The United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) with the support of the European Union and the United Nations Development Program held consultation on Bangsamoro Baisc Law (BBL) on December 6, 2014 at the Silsilah Training Center, Barangay Valderosa, Isabela City. 
The program was attended by religious leaders, representatives from local government unit, women, business group, local residents, Settlers and the academe.

Mr. Tirso Tahir of the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) was the invited speaker who lectured through power point presentation on the updates of the GPH-MILF Peace Process and the BBL.  The following questions had been asked during the workshops:

1) What is your understanding of the GPH-MILF peace agreement?
2) What is your understanding of the envisioned Bangsamoro Government?
3) What is your understanding of the Bangsamoro Basic Law?

Ms. Cynthia Servantes, a teacher from Lamitan City gave this answer, “We hope that our expectations   will be realized under the envisioned Bangsamoro in accordance with the draft BBL and Shari’ah for the Muslims”. “Peace and unity among Christians and Muslims is so important in order to attain peace and security and becomes possible through our support to BBL”, she further said.

In the open forum that ensued, Ms. Cervantes asked “Ano b gusto naming makita?  “Gusto naming makita ay ‘free and fair’ election by 2016  without manipulations by politicians.

Mr. Tahir said that manipulations by some politicians can be avoided because local and international observers will monitor the election process in 2016 where MILF candidates will run for elective positions in the Bangsamoro.

 Senior Police Officer Idjirani asked, “What will happen to the current police personnel and employees during the BTA period?  “Will there be a revamp?
Mr. Tahir said that, “Only ARMM employees shall be affected on a gradual basis”.

During the delivery of messages of impression, the participants generally expressed appreciations in the flow of the program; the way the contents of the BBL were presented and discussed by the speaker.


MILF: Congress to conduct final BBL consultation in Maguindanao

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 8): Congress to conduct final BBL consultation in Maguindanao

Local officials and representatives of civil society organizations in Maguindanao are expected to again unanimously endorse the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the December 10 final public consultation on the bill at the provincial capitol in Buluan.
The congressional hearing on the proposed law shall be presided over by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the 75-member ad-hoc legislative bloc handling the bill.

Reps. Sandra Sema and Zajid Mangudadatu, of the 1st and 2nd congressional districts of Maguindanao, respectively, are both expecting  representatives from the local Moro, Christian and Lumad sectors to participate in the May 10 BBL consultation in Buluan, the new provincial capital.

Maguindanao’s appointed deputy governor, Ramil Dilangalen, said the provincial chief executive, Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, has directed his 36 constituent-mayors to participate in the activity.

The draft BBL, which President Benigno Aquino III certified as an urgent bill, is the enabling measure for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new Bangsamoro political entity based on the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“The provincial leadership of Maguindanao is for the speedy passage of this bill and so are all of the local government units in the province,” Dilangalen said.

One of the 36 mayors in the province, Ramon Piang Sr. of North Upi, had, in fact, served as member of the government panel that crafted along with the MILF the wealth and power-sharing annex to the Oct. 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB).

The FAB was the prelude to the CAB, which is touted as the final peace compact between Malacañang and the rebel group. 

Mangudadatu said he and his constituent-mayors, vice-mayors and members of different municipal councils will again endorse Malacañang's diplomatic overture with the MILF during the December 10 BBL consultation in Buluan.
"All is set as far as our preparations for this gathering are concerned," the governor said.

Mangudadatu said part of their preparations were initial dialogues on the objectives of the BBL consultation with local officials, among them members of a vaunted cross-section economic planning board, the Iranun Development Council, which is chaired by Mayor Ibrahim Ibay of Parang town in the first district of the province.

Members of the Maguindanao provincial board, chaired by Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat, are also expected to join in the day-long event.

Sinsuat is also chair of the Association of Lumads, Iranons and Maguindanaons, a peace advocacy group supporting the draft BBL.

Besides incumbent ARMM officials, only Mangudadatu, from among the five provincial governors of ARMM, has openly been campaigning for the enactment into law of the draft BBL.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi.

In his December 1 state of the region address, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman gave the on-going bilateral GPH-MILF peace initiative a “vote of confidence.”

He called on ARMM's culturally-pluralistic communities to support the passage of the draft BBL, even if it would boot him out of power.

Hataman said he and members of his cabinet will vacate their posts, once the draft BBL becomes a law and is ratified via a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory, in keeping with a transition process agreed by the government and the MILF.

Makmod Mending Jr., ARMM's regional agriculture secretary, said they are also expecting representatives from Maguindanao's fishing and peasant communities to join in the BBL consultation.

"These two sectors are major key stakeholders to the Mindanao peace process. It is the reason why we in the ARMM government have actively been implementing various interventions meant to empower them in support of the development agenda of the proposed Bangsamoro political entity," Mending said.

Mangudadatu and his constituent-leaders in Maguindanao first unanimously endorsed the draft BBL about two months ago during a peace dialogue in Gen. Santos City, jointly presided over by the governor, GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles.

Deles on Wednesday urged Maguindanao’s Moro, Christian and lumad sectors to send representatives to the forthcoming BBL consultation in Buluan municipality.

Deles said she is elated with the continuing outpouring of support for Malacañang’s continuing diplomatic engagement with the MILF from Maguindanao’s “tri-people” communities, which is comprised of Muslims, Christians and indigenous non-Moro highland groups.

Maguindanao is a known bastion of the MILF, where the group has guerilla camps in all of its 36 municipalities.