From the Philippine Star (Jan 10): Abu Sayyaf bandits attack military's civilian volunteers in Sulu
Fighting erupted Saturday when Abu Sayyaf Group gunmen fired grenades to patrolling civilian volunteers in a remote village in Talipao, Sulu.
The military said a volunteer of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) was wounded in the firefight that occurred at about 6:05 a.m. at the vicinity of Barangay Kiyutaan.
Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS), said the BPAT volunteers led by Talipao Councilor Lakim Uddin were harassed by about 30 Abu Sayyaf members led by sub-leaders Angga Adji and Roger Saji.
Arrojado said the military launched several rounds of M203 grenade launchers towards the group of Uddin that sparked a 10-minute firefight that resulted to the wounding of BPAT member Akmad Aburan.
He said the bandits withdrew towards the direction of Bud (mountain) Itao, Barangay Bungkaong, Patikul town.
Arrojado said the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 (MBLT2) has received information that Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Angga Adji and Councilor Uddin have a long standing rido.
Special operation platoon from the MBLT2 and police forces from Talipao conducted pursuit operation against the attackers.
Speaking before the media community of Davao City on January 8, Iqbal clarified that though the symbolic decommissioning may sound ceremonial, it is in reality not that simple but a very “sentimental, sensitive and emotional” act.
Decommissioning is the gradual and process through which MILF forces and weapons are put beyond use.
Iqbal stressed that it must never be equated to surrender nor would there be a destruction of weapons, but that a third-party monitor, called the International Decommissioning Body (IDB), would be responsible for the storage of said weapons.
The symbolic decommissioning was initially set last December but “it has to relate to other tracks in Phase 1” of the implementation schedule.
A matrix detailing the program for normalization in the Bangsamoro has been attached to the Annex on Normalization signed by the GPH and MILF Peace Panels on January 25, 2014 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The matrix shows four phases of implementation with eight dimensions or tracks, including decommissioning, that have to be parallel and commensurate to each other. The rest are transitional components of normalization, socio-economic programs, confidence-building measures, redeployment of AFP, policing, disbandment of private armies and other armed groups, transitional justice and reconciliation.
But Iqbal mentioned that he has already written Ambassador Haydar Berk of Turkey, who heads the IDB, about the number of MILF weapons and combatants that would be decommissioned. The IDB is made up of Norway, Turkey and Brunei and four other local experts jointly nominated by the parties.
It is expected to meet in Manila within the current month.
Iqbal also mentioned that another thing that delays the decommissioning is the unfinished implementing guidelines of the terms of reference of the IDB.
Since the IDB was constituted last September only, its members “cannot put up themselves yet in the proper way to move forward,” Iqbal said.
The decommissioning is tentatively set for next month.
Iqbal was joined by GPH Peace Panel Chairwoman Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer during the three-hour roundtable discussions with Davao City-based media practitioners at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.
BTC Commissioners Abdulla Camlian and Raissa Jajurie also served as panel discussants alongside Atty. Jesus Dureza who once served as GRP Peace Panel Chair. Institute for Autonomy and Governance Executive Director Atty. Benedicto Bacani represented the independent panel of lawyers assisting in the peace process.
The media roundtable was the second in a series of related events organized by MindaNews and Philippine Information Agency XI in cooperation with the BTC. It is currently funded by the Canada Aid.
The next roundtable is slated in Cagayan de Oro City in the last week of January.