Friday, January 30, 2015

Mindanao on high alert for possible retaliatory attacks

From Rappler (Jan 31): Mindanao on high alert for possible retaliatory attacks

The alert comes after the alleged killing
of Malaysian terrorist and bomb expert Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as 'Marwan'

A police truck carrying the bodies of comrades passes the national highway during a retrieval operation on January 26, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Province.

A police truck carrying the bodies of comrades passes the national highway during a retrieval operation on January 26, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Province.

Government security forces put Mindanao on red alert for possible retaliatory attacks by militant sympathizers after America’s most wanted man in Southeast Asia was killed by police commandos in an assault in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

An intelligence report said a Jihadist group from Mindanao, Ghuraba – blamed in series of deadly attacks in the region – reportedly warned of retaliatory attacks after they confirmed the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir.

The group reportedly coddled Marwan for months last year in Lanao del Sur before transferring to Maguindanao.

Army Captain Joan Petinglay, 6th Division spokesperson, said Saturday the military has inserted additional troops in Maguindanao, setting up more check points to prevent Zulkifli followers and allies from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) from launching bomb attacks.

Petinglay said around 80 men, believed to be all members of the BIFF, and on board motorcycles were spotted along the Maguindanao-Cotabato national highway.

“Our moves were meant to contain the situation and for us to prevent armed men from launching attacks,” she said.

More visibility

In the province of Sultan Kudarat, troops were also alerted after sightings of guerrillas in the mountains of Isulan, Esperanza and Tacurong City.

Senior Superintendent Junie Buenacosa, police commander of Tacurong, said this comes days after the intense fighting on January 25 that left 44 elite members of Philippine National Police-Special Action Force dead. Eleven others were wounded.

Police came to Mamasapano for a “law enforcement operation and killed Zulkifli, also known as Marwan, but they were attacked by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 105thBase Command as they were pulling out from the site.

Marwan, who has a $5-million dollar bounty offered by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing In Indonesia that left 110 foreign nationals dead, was reportedly in the site of the encounter.

Superintendent Joefel Siason, the head of police in Isulan, said his town was placed on high alert after sightings of armed men believed to belong to the BIFF.

“Our place is close to Maguindanao and these people might sow terror. We strengthened our visibility,” he said.

Call for peace

A faith-based network appealed for peaceful resolution of all conflicts amid the tragic encounter in Mamasapano.

In a statement, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI), a social development network of Church-based groups, people’s organizations and non-governmental organizations, asked for “sobriety and to clear our heads from negative thoughts that this single incident forebodes of things to come and this will define the fate of BBL and our peace project in Mindanao.”

The PMPI also called on “all parties to prevent further escalation of conflict and violence."

Aside from the statement, members of the network’s executive committee shared their thoughts regarding the incident.

Fr Edwin Gariguez, one of the co-convenors and executive secretary of CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action, asked for a no-holds barred investigation of the incident and all-out justice for all the victims.

“Whoever perpetuated for this incident to happen, they must be accountable. The investigating committee should be composed of members coming from different sectors to ensure its impartiality. We must opt to deliver all-out justice for the victims and not [go for] an all-out war,” said Gariguez.

On Friday night, Janaury 30, twin explosions hit the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao and Dato Saudi Ampatuan, leaving one wounded.

Opinion: American role in the botched SAF operation

Opinion piece in the Philippine Star (Jan 31): American role in the botched SAF operation  (in the

Stronger PHL-Japan military ties may not happen soon, says expert

From the Business World (Jan 30): Stronger PHL-Japan military ties may not happen soon, says expert

MANILA and Tokyo may not enhance its military ties in the foreseeable future although that may be a possibility once a workable maritime alliance among nations is forged, an expert on Japanese foreign policy said Friday.

In light of news that Japan may expand the reach of its aerial patrols over the South China Sea -- an area currently being claimed by China, the Philippines, and several countries -- Kunihiko Miyake of Canon Institute for Global Studies said that military cooperation between both countries may be limited to assistance.

Asked if Japan’s move to expand its aerial patrols would affect the tension it has with China, Mr. Miyake said: “We are not allies, and we don’t defend you-we defend ourselves. So, we help you defend yourselves, so we’re not going to fight together.”

“The Filipinos have to... have your own strategic course, and then again, you think about the means to achieve that strategic course and then you define how to achieve it tactically and then you think about other countries including Japan. What Japan can do for you is help achieve those goals,” he said at the sidelines of a lecture at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“I don’t think Japan-Filipino relations come first. The strategic course you have to define, and then there’s the role of Japan to play,” he added.

A senior United States Navy officer told Reuters that the superpower would welcome Japan’s expansion of aerial patrols into the contested South China Sea -- most of which is claimed by China.

The Philippines claims some features of the Spratly Islands as part of its exclusive economic zone, which the Asian powerhouse said would infringe on its “indisputable sovereignty.”

Increased cooperation by Japan with maritime countries would serve as a counterweight to China, said Mr. Miyake.

“China is so big, we need like-minded nations, if not necessarily NATO,” he said in his lecture on the geopolitical implications of Japan’s foreign policy.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has batted for a more liberal interpretation of the Japanese Constitution’s provision outlawing war, to permit the country to maintain de jure military forces.

Calling Mr. Abe the “most realistic, pragmatic politician I have ever seen,” Mr. Miyake described his policy as “not passive, but proactive.”

Asked in an open forum if a military forces agreement may take hold in light of Japan’s military expansion, Mr. Miyake said: “If the Philippines has some kind of mechanism or scheme to maintain the status quo, we may need it. This is a long shot. I don’t think this will happen soon.”

But he added he “won’t deny that possibility,” provided there is a more workable alliance among maritime nations.

Mr. Miyake, however, said that “we are not confronting China. We are watching them.” Japan, he said, wanted to avoid “unnecessary friction,” owing to the country’s aggression during the Second World War, which he described as “a mistake 60 years ago.”

“Just join us and the rest of the international community. We don’t have to escalate,” he urged China.

MILF: Ceasefire mechanisms not meant to limit police mandate

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 31): MILF: Ceasefire mechanisms not meant to limit police mandate

Amid the debate on the issue of “coordination” in the tragic Mamasapano incident, Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for Political Affairs, yesterday emphasized that the ceasefire mechanisms embodied in the peace process are not meant to limit the Philippine National Police (PNP) in fulfilling its mandate as provided for by the Constitution.

He said limiting the mandate of the PNP was not discussed in the negotiations. “What was discussed are the parameters of the peace process, such as (going after criminals) which is very important to the two parties — the government and the MILF.”

In a radio interview, Jaafar recalled incidents in the past where kidnap victims were freed without any untoward incident because of the coordination between the government and the MILF.

“It should not have happened if the (ceasefire) mechanisms of the peace process were followed. In the first place, the reason the GPH and MILF entered into the peace process is to prevent these things,” Jaafar said referring to the Mamasapano massacre.

There are reports that the ceasefire committee tried to halt the fighting at about 6 a.m. Sunday but was reportedly ignored by the MILF rebels.

Mamasapano is MILF territory and rebel forces claimed they were just protecting their territory.

Jaafar said the MILF Central Committee (CC), its highest policy-making body, approved the formation of a seven-man Special Investigative Commission (SIC) to unearth what really happened in Mamasapano.

“It was already formed during the CC’s meeting (on Thursday). The MILF must know the whole incident,” he said.

Following the withdrawal of support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by some members of Congress following the tragic incident that claimed the lives of 44 elite commandos, Jaafar said the MILF is concerned about this development.

“If this is what is going to happen, this is counterproductive to all concern, all of us — the Government of the Philippines (GPH), Bangsamoro people, Filipino people, because what the nation needs…is to have an immediate solution to the war in Mindanao,” Jaafar added in the same radio interview.

“Until the Bangsamoro is given solution, this is going to happen in Mindanao. So, the BBL should be approved on schedule,” the MILF leader said.

IYAKIN DAW | China state media calls PH a 'crying baby' for seeking int'l support vs island-building

From InterAksyon (Jan 30): IYAKIN DAW | China state media calls PH a 'crying baby' for seeking int'l support vs island-building

China's official news agency on Friday likened the Philippines to a "crying baby" for seeking international support against island-building in disputed waters by Beijing, denouncing its efforts as "pathetic".

The caustic commentary by the Xinhua news agency came two days after foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) voiced concern over Beijing's land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea.

Manila -- which has challenged China's territorial claims at a UN tribunal -- had urged the 10-country grouping to take a firmer stand against Beijing on the issue.

"Only one month after an arbitration farce, the Philippines is putting up another pathetic show in an attempt to lobby international sympathy and support in its territorial spat with China," Xinhua wrote.

"Manila should be fully aware that acting like a crying baby and begging for compassion from the international community would never help justify its claims in the South China Sea dispute," it said.

The dispute "should and could be properly handled only by the parties directly concerned", it added.

China says it controls almost all of the South China Sea, a claim which conflicts with those of ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as non-member Taiwan.

Manila accused Beijing last year of reclamation work around isolated reefs in the Spratly islands, which could hold fortified positions or even airstrips.

Beijing has repeatedly rejected Philippine protests, saying that the projects were being conducted in Chinese sovereign territory.

On Wednesday, following a two-day ministers' meeting in Malaysia, ASEAN foreign ministers expressed concern at China's island-building efforts -- although their statement mentioned no specific countries, saying instead that they "shared the concern raised by some foreign ministers on land reclamation in the South China Sea".

The statement came after Philippine foreign minister Albert del Rosario urged the international community to "say to China that what it is doing is wrong -- that it must stop its reclamation activities at once".

But Xinhua argued that such efforts represented a "selfish, futile" attempt by Manila to "poison" China-ASEAN ties.

"To drive a wedge between ASEAN and China -- its nearest neighbor and partner -- at such a critical time will be extremely unwise and selfish," the news agency wrote.

Photo: Rear Guard

From MindaNews (Jan 30): Photo: Rear Guard

30_4IDsquad challenge1

A soldier watches the rear of his squad’s route during the 2015 Rifle Squad Challenge Competition at the 4th Infantry Division Headquarters in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City, January 29, 2015. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas

US help in transporting wounded, dead SAF troops a “big joke”, says priest

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Jan 30): US help in transporting wounded, dead SAF troops a “big joke”, says priest

Credits: Fr. Eliseo Mercado's Facebook account

Credits: Fr. Eliseo Mercado’s Facebook account
Cotabato City-based priest described as a “big joke” the supposed help extended by American troops and helicopters to evacuate police’s elite commandos wounded and killed in an operation against a high-value target of the US government.
“The more plausible one is to evacuate the rumored one US fallen and another wounded that necessitated a helicopter pronto to hide their own and actual participation in the botched operation,” said Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado in a Facebook post afternoon of Thursday.

A covert operation of the police’s Special Action Force to capture wanted terrorists Abdulbasit Usman and Zulkipli Bin Hir or Abu Marwan in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25 resulted to the death of 44 SAF personnel and the wounding of 16 others including three civilians.

In the aftermath, US troops aboard a Bell helicopter were seen on television hauling what seems to be wounded SAF troops and persons not yet identified by police authorities.

Usman and Marwan were both wanted by the US Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Under the FBI’s “Rewards for Justice Program”, Marwan has a $5 million (P300 million) reward and Usman, $2 million (P100 million).

Describing from photos from the same Facebook post, Fr. Mercado said “(t)he other 4 (four) US special forces were NOT hauling bodies and wounded.

“They were there in what appears getting specimen of the fallen for DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) testing to ascertain whether Marwan and Basit are among the fallen,” said Fr. Mercado.

Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate shares Fr. Mercado’s view and said that the “US must also be made accountable for this botched counter-terror operations as it again placed Mindanao in the brink of strife and division.”

Zarate said that it is “unbelievable that the armed elements JSOTFP (Joint Special Task Force Philippines) of the US were in Shariff Aguak only to help in the evacuation of the wounded.”

“It is very likely that they were in fact the ones directing the whole operations as part of their long time project to get Marwan and Usman,” he said.

According to a television report wherein a picture of what appears to be Marwan was killed during the SAF operation.

The same report quoted police officials that Marwan’s DNA was sent to the US for confirmation.

Fr. Mercado said he would also ask where President Benigno Simeon Aquino was during the “arrival honors” for the slain SAF commandos.

“I thought the President would meet the bodies of the slain SAF at Villamor this morning. He called them heroes. But the President was nowhere during the honors given at the bodies of the slain SAF.Where was he?” asked Mercado in an earlier post in Facebook.

Aquino earned the ire of netizens as he instead attended the inauguration of a Japanese car manufacturer in Laguna.

In social media site Twitter, the hashtag #nasaanangpangulo (where is the President) trended at the top rank worldwide.

Eliseo said the “absence of the President at the arrival honors for the slain SAF members is beyond any explanation.”

“The rage of people is further fueled by his absence at the arrival honors and statements considering his direct role in the botched operation. Tsk tsk tsk,” said Mercado.

MNLF: "Mindanao peace is Bangsamoro freedom, not injustice of Philippine colonialism." -- Reverend Absalom Cerveza

Editorial posted to the MNLF Website (Jan 30): "Mindanao peace is Bangsamoro freedom, not injustice of Philippine colonialism." -- Reverend Absalom Cerveza
(by Ombra S. Malik, Editorial Consultant)
The similitude in history of MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari with the known legendary revolutionary leaders, like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Fidel Castro of Cuba, is surely the substantial and moral element of freedom struggle. While in detention under the oppressive military forces of colonial and neo-colonial government, they can dare express the sentiments of the colonized. Unfazed and principled revolutionaries to the core, not political collaborators who can easily abandon freedom struggle faced with torture and the “spoils of power” offered by colonizers.  
“…The number one industry in this whole country is corruption.” “War is terrible. It’s a scourge to humanity. It’s like fire, it eats up everything. We fought the Spaniards for 377 years, then the British and the Dutch, the Americans and the Japanese, and then the Filipinos. But who brought the war to Mindanao? Not us.” “We are the winners. We are going to precipitate the disintegration of this country if our problem is not solved…without justice, without sincerity on the part of the government, there can never be an end to the war in Mindanao.”
From the time when the folk hero Bangsamoro freedom fighters Datu Abdulmajid Panoniongan and Datu Tawantawan of Lanao and Maas Kamlon of Sulu revolted against Philippine colonialism under President Elpidio Quirino up to the crucial period of the MNLF-launched freedom struggle under President/Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, the Mindanao war has today lasted for about half century. The Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao has even outlasted the more than forty years American-Moro war in history.
The Mindanao conflict has continued to this day because the Filipino colonialist leaders of Luzon have become steadfast patronizing and embracing the gruesome injustice inflicted upon the Tri-People of Mindanao (Lumad, Muslim and Christian).
They have even taken pride in glamorizing the injustice inflicted on their colonized victims in the Philippine Constitution. Apparently, the Constitution has served a guide for the pork barrel-conscious lawmakers in both Houses of Philippine Congress to glorify injustice and to perpetuate Philippine colonialism in Mindanao. But the fact cannot be hidden that the political deception is just anchored on the pretext of subscribing to constitutional mandate and “rule of law” in order to justify injustice and to wage unjust war against the colonized victims of Mindanao.

Indeed, the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers have to defend the immoral majesty of the 1935 Commonwealth government enacted National Assembly Legislative Act No. 4197 otherwise known as the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act. This is the draconian law viewed by the colonized populace that clearly defined the land-grabbing of the ancestral domain of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao – the Muslim and Animist Lumad natives – by the totally Christian Filipino lawmakers. The colonial scheme later led to the illegal and controversial annexation of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan (MINSUPALA) into America-created “Philippine Republic” on July 4, 1946. And this land-grabbing factor precipitated the present bloody Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao.
With the continuing Mindanao war that already registered more than 200,000 human deaths, including children, women and the aged, and countless material losses, the Philippine government has only turned blind to the catastrophic consequences. Despite the more than 30-long years of peace talks and forging of three peace agreements with the MNLF, the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers are still obsessed in embracing passionately the gross injustice against the colonized Bangsamoro people of war-ravaged Mindanao. The Filipino politicians, congressional lawmakers and academicians have only become proud defending and protecting the “sovereignty and integrity” of the Philippines based on land-grabbing and injustice.

It is now observed that the Catholic Church has taken active role in helping to put closure to the nagging Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao. While today the Filipino political leaders, Congress lawmakers and so-called “nationalists” and “constitutionalists” in the academe, particularly UPD and ADMU, still relish justifying and taking pride on the injustice done against the Bangsamoro people, the Philippine Catholic Church has shown otherwise. The Catholic clergymen now have posited for the successful end to the elusive Mindanao peace that has been thrice betrayed by the Philippine government. They have now started to question the “national strategy” of the government in addressing the root cause of the Mindanao war. Simply analyzed, the Catholic Church has now highlighted injustice as the root cause of the Filipino-Moro conflict in Mindanao.
“Injustice is root of conflict in Mindanao,” has been repeatedly said since 2005 by Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato. He has also stressed this categorical insight during the international gathering of the Knights of Columbus in Orlando, Florida, on August, 2014.
The event was reported by CBCP news ( on January 10, 2015. The CBCP news further reported:
“A peace agreement between the two parties may be imminent but such a deal alone is not a guarantee for achieving stability in the region.”
“He reiterated that poverty and injustice which include human rights violations, corruption and land conflict are the root causes of conflict in Mindanao that must be addressed to attain peace.”
“The root cause of the conflict is injustice, and after studying Moro history I began to believe they have lost their own sovereignty, their own identity as a distinct group and because of that the government has neglected them in terms of development, Quevedo said.”

During the wake of the Philippine visit by Pope Francis, MindaNews Editor Carolyn O. Arguillas filed the January 16, 2015 report highlighted by the caption, “Pope: bringing peace to Mindanao will result in just solutions.” She further reported:
“In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities, the Pope said.”
“Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato, in a paper delivered at the 27th Grand Assembly of the Bishops-Business Conference in Taguig, Metro Manila, on July 8, 2003, shortly after the Buliok war, cited injustice as the root of the conflict with the Moro. Injustice to the Moro identity, injustice to the Moro political sovereignty, and injustice to Moro integral development.”
“Quevedo was then President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Pope named him as Mindanao’s first Cardinal in January last year.”
“With the loss of political sovereignty came the loss of great chunks of Moro ancestral lands. Much of the loss resulted from a long series of legal enactments by the Philippine Commission, the Commonwealth government, and the post-independent government. Moro writers call this ‘legalized land-grabbing’, Quevedo wrote.”
“The loss of land was compounded by government neglect of the Moro right to integral development during the commonwealth and post-independent governments. In all dimensions of human development, political, economic, educational, and cultural, the Moro population continues to lag far behind its Christian Filipino counterparts. The latest national census bears this out in terms of educational improvement, political participation and economic development. This is truly a tragic plight, Quevedo said.”
Thus, towards the “tragic plight” of the colonized Bangsamoro people on the hands of the Filipino colonizers, the counsel of Pope Francis to the Philippine government to see the light of justice to end injustice and oppression is truly an eye-opener. He commented:
“It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequities.”
In analyzing the thesis of Cardinal Quevedo why the Manila government could not positively solve the Filipino-Moro conflict in Mindanao, he faulted the “national strategy” of the government as off-tangent and without substance.
The updated “national strategy” of the Philippine government in 2003 was called “The Strategy of Holistic Approach in order to “deter and resolve insurgency.” The “national strategy” identifies 4 main roots of insurgency, namely: Poverty, which includes low productivity, criminality, environmental degradation; Ignorance, which includes poor resource base and low quality education; Disease, which includes malnutrition, poor delivery of health services; and Injustice, which includes human rights violations, graft and corruption, land conflicts. 
However, Cardinal Quevedo expressed contrary opinion to the roots of “insurgency” cited by the “national strategy” because his reading and analysis of the “insurgency” in the south is substantially different. He cited the place of history and culture as the main difference. He simply stressed “injustice” as the root cause of insurgency in Mindanao. He pointed out that injustice has several sub-roots that are the major factors at the heart of the contemporary Moro movement for freedom, referring to the movement’s historical, cultural, social economic, political and religious dimensions.
He expressed the fact that, “nowhere in the national strategy as I have read it and as government spokesmen have explained it to me do I see these fundamental dimensions of the Moro struggle.”
Simply put, from Bangsamoro point of view, the “national strategy” of the Philippine government in addressing the Filipino-Moro conflict is based on a mirage of fabricated lies and denial of the freedom struggle of the Bangsamoro people.

The Filipino colonizers just can’t accept or refuse to accept the reality that the Moros can never be “Filipinos” because they were never identified as the original children of Spanish soldiers and friars, and colonial slaves of Spain. They can never be classified as Christianized Indios, who adopted to be called Filipinos in 1872, serving as spies and foot-soldiers of the Spanish invaders to Mindanao. This is the “injustice to Moro identity” that Cardinal Quevedo pointed out. The “national strategy” is only to continue the stark injustice of the colonizers on the colonized in order to betray Mindanao peace and perpetuate Philippine colonialism at the price of continuing the war.
Thus, it is now observed that the continued injustice of preserving Philippine colonialism by means of “war of genocide” in Mindanao has only made the oppressive Filipino military officials instant millionaires. On one hand, the corrupt civilian Filipino government leaders have only become extra richer by tolerating and encouraging all the injustice done against the colonized victims of Mindanao
Despite the decades-long marathon of peace talks and three peace agreements signed with the MNLF, the Philippine government through congressional machination has had only come out with a “farcical autonomous government.” The so-called Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
It is now noted by the Bangsamoro people and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that the Philippine government has only shown time and again not to respect binding international agreements. Again, the present group of Filipino colonizers in Malacanang Palace headed by President Benigno S. Aquino III has deceptively devised another version of autonomy in collaboration with Malaysia and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This is the by-product of the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) simply called “Bangsamoro” that is to replace the “bogus ARMM” or the “failed experiment” of Philippine colonialism under President Corazon C. Aquino and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
However, both the ARMM and the contemplated Bangsamoro autonomous government have been rejected by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Nonetheless, the Aquino government is today propagandizing that the establishment of “Bangsamoro” autonomy is the solution to the Filipino-Moro conflict deeply rooted in injustice and colonialism.
On this travesty of injustice and disrespect for peace agreements, the MNLF Legal Counsel and Mindanao Spokesman, Atty. V. Emmanuel Fontanilla issued a manifesto on August 2014 that stated:
“The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conveys its regret over the action of Philippine government in undermining the agreements entered by the Philippine government with the MNLF. This act of the Philippines gives credence to the MNLF assertion of its peaceful struggle for independence.”

“The agreements (1976 and 1996) are international agreements binding among the parties and so mandated by the Philippine Constitution (Incorporation clause). It is ushered by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Yet, the reckless disregard of such agreements by the Philippine government shows its attitude towards its international agreement.”
“It is not surprising that the same provisions of the agreement are the subject of an agreement with the MNLF. This clearly proves the duplicity of the Philippine government.”
“The above observation actually proves right the quest of the MNLF to continue its struggle for independence.”
On this note, the MNLF Peace Panel Spokesman, Reverend Absalom Cerveza, a God-fearing man of peace similar to Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, has sounded off in the social network media, including Twitter and Facebook, his fundamental judgment on the Mindanao conflict. He proclaimed: “Mindanao Peace is Bangsamoro Freedom, not Injustice of Philippine Colonialism.”
Truth to tell, Reverend Cerveza has only sentimentalized the monumental aspiration of the Tri-People of Mindanao that only “Bangsamoro freedom is the golden key to Mindanao peace.”
The passion and love for freedom of the Filipino-colonized Bangsamoro people was also morally portrayed by Madam Mucha-Shim Quiling-Arquiza, the ethnic and religious minority representative, during the United Nations Human Rights Council Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva on 29-30 November 2011. Her soul-searching statements partly included:
“…I urge the Spanish government and the United States government to immediately undertake necessary and urgent geo-political administrative complemented with international legal measures, specifically to underwrite the consequences of the Treaty of Paris it signed in August 21, 1898 that unilaterally and illegally ceded the Bangsamoro homeland to the Philippine Republic and unjustly trampling on the sovereignty of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao and undermined traditional governance in indigenous Moro and Lumad principalities in the rest of Mindanao. A decisive step towards this will once and for all DECOLONIZE our minds and imagination. And wake us up from the nightmare – we, national minorities, perennial nationalists dreaming of its own nation-state and self-determination at a time when, as late Arab leader Muammar al-Qhadaffi once said: a time no longer for nations, but for peoples.”
On this development, can the Filipino colonialist land-grabbers of Luzon see the light that injustice and genocide war can never bring prosperity and good governance to the Philippines?
Hence, when will the Filipino colonizers learn the moral lesson in history taught by the great peacemaker Dr. Martin Luther King that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
On the side of the Bangsamoro people and freedom fighters, who have engaged in liberation struggle for centuries now against the Spanish, American, Japanese and Filipino invaders, they can only be inspired to pursue their sacred goal by the heart-warming words of one known “daughter of the East,” Bennazir Bhutto, who said:
“Time, justice, and the forces of history are on our side.”
In conclusion, to repeat what Reverend Absalom Cerveza expressed not too long ago related to the Mindanao conflict in calling the attention of both Filipino and Bangsamoro communities, including the whole of humanity, to consider peace, not war. As MNLF Peace Panel Spokesman, he appealed to the consciousness of the Filipino leaders and dared to boldly inquire:
“When will Filipino Colonialist Land-grabbers stop the Crime against Humanity in Mindanao for Peace?” –osm,

MILF: Current State of Peace Negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 29): Current State of Peace Negotiation between the Government of the Philipines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

The peace negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is almost a success story.

The two parties have already signed the most significant agreement in their 17 years of protracted negotiation, which is the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) last March 27, 2014. This agreement provides for the negotiated political settlement of the armed conflict and Bangsamoro Question in Mindanao that claimed the lives of about 150,000 lives since 1972. There are no more substantive issues left in the pipeline of the negotiation for the parties to discuss except when new problems, mainly on the implementation aspects, crop up from time to time that require a meeting of the peace panels in Kuala Lumpur.

The good thing in the GPH-MILF peace process, unlike other peace processes especially the GRP-MNLF peace process, is that even after the signing of the CAB, the peace panels are not disbanded and would continue to engage each other when necessary until all the signed agreements are fully implemented and they signed the “exit agreement”. This agreement will mark the termination and end of their formal negotiation, so that in the regular operation of the Bangsamoro Government all problems with the Central Government shall be resolved through the inter-governmental relations mechanisms involving several layers of government.

    To date, what remains to be done by the parties to complete the process, aside from the normalization of the previously conflict-affected areas and their transformation into peaceful and progressive communities, is to translate the CAB, which is a political document, into a legal framework to be passed by the Philippine Congress. For this purpose, the two parties have created the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) whose main mandate is to craft the proposed basic law called Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which will become the governing law for the future Bangsamoro political entity. However, in order to do it legally feasible and executory on the side of government, President Benigno Aquino III had signed an Executive Order No. 120 creating the BTC, which upon its creation in late 2012, started to work on its mandate immediately so that on April 22, 2014 it had submitted to the Office of the President (OP) the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law for submission to Congress as certified as urgent bill to fast track its enactment into law.

The BTC’s proposed BBL mainly copy-pasted the essential elements of the CAB, pursuant to the provision of the same, to wit: “The mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, including the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law pursuant to Article V. Territory of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, are spelled out herein. The Parties shall mutually take such steps for its full implementation leading to the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and the regular Bangsamoro Government …” in 2016.

The rationale behind this approach is simple. It is simply to avoid or minimize debates and oppositions especially from the government itself, knowing fully well that not all in the government service are fully on board the peace efforts of President Aquino. Besides, spoilers abound everywhere and ready to spew their venom at the first opportunity that occurs.

Sad to note, however, that only after two months, to be exact 61 days, while I was in Hiroshima, Japan on June 23 that this humble representation, as Chairman of the BTC and the MILF peace panel, had received a copy of the proposed BBL bearing the remarks and comments from the OP, which heavily diluted the original proposal coming from the BTC. A lawyer of the MILF, commenting on the remarks of the OP on the BBL, said that when a law is crafted out of it would be worse than the Republic Act No. 9054 that created the so-called Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which in every bit is an administrative arrangement. No less than President called the ARMM as a “failed experiment”.

    Now the challenges ahead appear daunting. Unless the Parties and the supporters and friends of the peace process come to the timely rescue and prevent the foreseeable collision of approaches of the two parties, the much-heralded signing of the CAB in Manila, Philippines last March will be over-shadowed by bickering, blaming, and shaming. The direct consequence would be that the BBL will not be submitted to Congress on July 28, in time for the State-of-the Nation Address (SONA) in Congress of President Aquino, or the government would proceed to submit the BBL without the concurrence of the MILF.

    The position of the MILF on the proposed BBL is very simple and straight forward. All those explicitly expressed and provided for in the CAB will no longer be the subject of negotiations. They are finished and settled. It is therefore nonsensical to raise them anew. However, all those, which are not expressly provided but fleshed out by the BTC, as part of its mandate, could be the subjects of subsequent engagement between the Parties. If reasons and consistency prevail, there is no way this controversy cannot be settled.

    Be this as it may, but the MILF has been with this kind of situation before and emerged out of it head high. After the breakdown of the ceasefire and the peace negotiation in 2000 at the behest of the Estrada administration, which launched the all-out war against the MILF, the peace negotiation, which was then on a domestic stage, was elevated to the diplomatic stage with the participation of Malaysia, as third party facilitator, upon the invitation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001. In 2003, while the peace negotiation was also moving modestly, the government ordered another all-out war against the MILF under the pretext of running after so-called kidnap-for-ransom groups. After the last bullet was fired, and the Parties reengaged in their peace journey, the International Monitoring Team (IMT) came in to oversee the effective implementation of the ceasefire, thereby creating an atmosphere of tranquility for the peace negotiation to proceed undisturbed. Again, in August 2008, after the government reneged by not signing the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), after it was initialed on July 27, 2008, and another full-blown war erupted, the International Contact Group (ICG), early designed to act as “international guarantee”, was organized to help the Parties comply with their obligations. Their exact mandate is to “exert proper leverage to the parties” to make sure that all is well and followed.

Today, we are on the verge of a similar situation. But I don’t think we are in a hopeless situation. I don’t think the parties will allow the situation to degenerate into something we do not like. I still have confidence on both sides’ determination to overcome the perceived hardships ahead of us.  The almost sudden visit of President Aquino to Japan to discuss bilateral issues with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then proceeded to Hiroshima to speak before delegates to a peace forum organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), mostly coming from the MILF including Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and this humble representation is a timely occurrence at the precise moment when many a member of the BTC and the MILF is irritated, if not infuriated, by the almost total disregard of the proposed BBL crafted by the BTC. What is amazing is that the very government office tasked to oversee the conduct of the peace process, on the part of government, that led to the signing of the CAB, instead of defending the essence of this historic document or at least inhibited itself out of delicadeza, virtually led the review team of the OP to overhaul almost the entire proposal of the BTC, tasked by the two parties and by the President himself through his Executive Order No. 120 to craft the BBL. Before he spoke to the delegates, President Aquino met first with Chairman Murad and the undersigned at the Sheraton Hotel, which lasted for about 25 minutes. While I cannot disclosed the details of the meeting, but suffice to say that it was mainly about the way forward vis-à-vis the BBL.

Moreover, the infrastructures of the peace process, especially after the signing of the CAB, are so well-knitted and all-embracing that any sign of fissure can be addressed well and promptly. We have the third party facilitating country, which is Malaysia, we have the International Contact Group (ICG) composed of The United Kingdom, Turkey, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, representing the states, and Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), Conciliation Resources (CR), Muhammadiyah, and Community of Sant’Egidio, representing the international non-government organizations (INGOs), we have the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) headed by a foreign eminent person, which monitors and validates the compliance of the parties, we have the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), we have the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) headed by an eminent person nominated by Switzerland, the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) composed of Brunei, Norway, Turkey, and two representatives each from government and the MILF, and many more others.

Finally, let me state here that no matter what happens to the BBL, enacted or not by Congress, the MILF will remain focused on pursuing the Bangsamoro people’s right to self-determination at all cost. The MILF will also leave no stone unturned in exposing the true state of things surrounding the BBL, which must be faithful to the letter and spirit of the CAB. Truth must be pursued and error must be shunned. More urgently, the MILF will continue to capacitate our people, including building of institutions, linkages, networks, and alliances, so that they will have greater clout and power in asserting their right to self-determination.

Thank you very much and wassalam.

A statement read by Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), during a forum on peace process in Istanbul, Turkey on June 26-27, 2014.

CPP: Advance the national democratic propaganda movement as we mark the 45th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jan 30): Advance the national democratic propaganda movement as we mark the 45th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people and youth in marking the 45th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970. Let us pay tribute to the tens of thousands of students, workers, urban poor and peasant masses who joined the massive upsurge of protests that rocked the ruling system and the US-Marcos fascist regime, echoed the call for a people’s democratic revolution and served as an impetus to the growth of people’s war in the countryside.

The FQS of 1970 is an important juncture in the development of the Philippine revolutionary mass movement. It was marked by a series of massive protest actions from January to March 1970 in Manila and other urban areas across the country. On January 30, 1970, Marcos ordered his police and military forces to attack a student and workers’ protest in front of the congress building as he delivered his state of the nation address, sparking widespread indignation and more massive protest actions in the weeks that followed.

The FQS of 1970 is one of the most outstanding periods in the Filipino people’s continuing history of democratic mass resistance. It continues the tradition of the massive workers’ mass actions of the 1920s and 1930s demanding higher wages and an end to US colonial rule. It precedes both the resurgence of protest actions in 1977-1981 under martial law as well as the upsurge of protests from 1983 that culminated in the 1986 EDSA Uprising and led to the downfall of the US-Marcos dictatorship.

The FQS of 1970 drew inspiration from the international wave of anti-imperialist resistance and the successes of the socialist revolution in China. Youth and students across the globe were rising up against US interventionist wars in Vietnam and elsewhere and aligning themselves with socialist and national democratic revolutionary struggles in the colonies and semicolonies.

The FQS of 1970 is a direct result of widespread propaganda and agitation against the three basic problems of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism which beset the Filipino people. In previous years, the national democratic propaganda movement was carried to great heights by the youth and student mass movement with the Kabataang Makabayan at the helm. In behalf of the Party, the KM succeeded in firing up the patriotic and democratic fervor of the youth and students and mobilizing them as a massive force to carry out propaganda and cultural work among the workers and peasants, urban poor and young professionals.

The CPP calls on the Filipino youth and people to take to heart the lessons of the FQS as we mark its 45th year. The CPP addresses, in particular, the revolutionary students and youth movement, which have served as an ever-reliable propaganda and cultural force of the people’s democratic revolution.

Efforts of the revolutionary forces nationwide to advance the people’s war to the next higher strategic stage of the strategic stalemate must be accompanied by a major propaganda and cultural upheaval among the students and youth, and the people in general. Such an upheaval will serve to strengthen the unity the Filipino people in their aspirations for national and social liberation and to build a modern and progressive society.

In the face of the ever worsening crisis of the ruling system, conditions are exceedingly favorable for the revolutionary students and youth movement to wage a propaganda war offensive against reactionary, counter-revolutionary and reformist ideas. The failure of the ruling reactionary classes to resolve the basic problems of the Filipino people from the time the US granted the Philippine nominal independence in 1946 and the deteriorating conditions of the basic masses of workers and peasants under three decades of US-imposed neoliberal policies expose the rottenness and backwardness of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and the necessity of waging a people’s democratic revolution.

The CPP urges the revolutionary students and youth movement to raise its capabilities in conducting propaganda, education and cultural work. The reactionary cultural and propaganda agencies control massive funds and the big media to exert influence over the people. They use their resources to flood the internet and social media with pro-imperialist propaganda. They fund academic and research programs to perpetuate reactionary ideas in philosophy, sociology, economics, history and other fields. They target the youth in the hope of drawing them to consumerism, individualism and so-called post-modern philosophizing to cause their social alienation from the people and their disorganization.

The activists at the forefront of the FQS were confronted with the same challenges in waging propaganda and cultural work. They too were confronting a gigantic cultural and propaganda machinery that controlled the entire educational system, the corporate media and massive state resources. Then, as now, this reactionary machinery, however, could not cover up the socio-economic crisis and the sufferings of the broad masses of workers and peasants. It was up to the revolutionary forces to expose the roots of the crisis and unite the people under the banner of the people’s democratic revolution.

The revolutionary forces among the students and youth school must transform the campuses into centers of protest and cultural revolution. The students and youth must unite to defend and advance their democratic rights and their struggle for a free, scientific and mass-oriented educational system amid all-out effort to commercialize education. They must link up with the struggle against the privatization of public service and unite with the people in protesting fare increases in public transportation, grossly inadequate allocations for public health, widespread unemployment, landlessness, military abuses, corruption and the plunder of state resources.

They must rekindle patriotism among the students and youth and conduct widespread studies of history, especially the period of brutal US colonization and heroic Filipino armed resistance at the turn of the 20th century. This is a critical period in Philippine history which the reactionaries have sought to erase from the consciousness of the youth and people.

The students and youth must be imbued with the mass line and the humble spirit of serving the people. In line with this spirit, they can be encouraged to learn from the people in order to raise their social consciousness and strengthen their resolve to wage revolutionary struggle. Activists must persevere in studying Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory, conducting research and social investigation.

The activists of the students and youth must persevere in conducting propaganda and agitation among the people. They must saturate the National Capital Region and other urban centers with propaganda by deploying propaganda teams around campuses, marketplaces, transportation terminals, buses, jeeps and trains, in and around factories, offices, malls, parks, communities and in the streets. Propaganda teams must be omnipresent, giving speeches, putting up posters and stickers, selling newspapers, giving out leaflets, conducting discussion groups, giving lectures, posting comments on social media and so on. They must reach out to millions of people.

We give particular attention to the specific role of the students and youth activists because it is they who can carry out the tasks of waging propaganda and cultural work on a large scale. Party cadres and activists among the different sectors, as well as all Red fighters of the New People’s Army must also be imbued with this spirit of untiring propaganda and organizing work among the broad masses of the people.

Learn the lessons and uphold the spirit of the First Quarter Storm of 1970! Advance the national democratic propaganda movement! Persevere in propaganda and organizing work! Mobilize the Filipino people in their millions!

MILF says Marwan dead, Usman still alive

From GMA News (Jan 30): MILF says Marwan dead, Usman still alive

The head of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Friday corroborated reports that Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan was killed in Sunday's police operation in Maguindanao, which also resulted in the deaths of 44 elite policemen.

In an exclusive report on “24 Oras,” MILF chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim said they learned of Marwan's death from an “intelligence report.”

“Ang intelligence po namin, 'yung target talaga, na merong kubo, nandun siya. So nang paligiran ng mga SAF (Special Action Force), nauna daw siyang bumaril. Pero meron tinamaan yata sa SAF. Pagkatapos ay nabaril nila at napatay nila,” Murad said, referring to Marwan.

Murad said Marwan's body was left in the nipa hut that was his home, and was immediately buried.

However, the police force's other target, Basit Usman, described as a foreign-trained bombmaker, was in another location, the report said, citing information reaching the MILF.

[Video report]

The members of the Special Action Force, an elite unit in the Philippine National Police, went to an MILF-controlled area in Mamasapano town last Sunday to serve the arrest warrant on Marwan, but the operation led to what authorities called a “misencounter.”

The “24 Oras” report quoted Murad as saying that they were unaware that Marwan and Usman were in their territory.

Murad also defended MILF fighters who engaged the SAF commandos in what he described as a legitimate encounter, but added the organization will still conduct an independent investigation on the incident.

He said violators among their ranks will not be turned over to the government but will be tried based on the Sharia Law.

“Pagka nag-surrender, nag-give up na yung tao, then hindi maaring barilin... Unang-una, there will be suspension and then they will be subject to Sharia Court,” he said.

He also admitted that MILF forces were reinforced by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, some private armies, and armed residents.

“Diyan sa mga area na 'yan, ito yung reality na kapag may nakikitang common enemy, lahat ay nakikisali na,” Murad said.

He said the MILF lost 11 members in Sunday's clash. Nine were wounded.

Despite this, Murad said the MILF still wants to continue the peace process with the government.

Dead man in photo spreading online not Marwan

Meanwhile, an MILF commander who refused to be named said the dead man in a photograph that has been circulating on social media is not Marwan.
In a report on "24 Oras", an unidentified MILF commander said the man in the photograph is a certain Ustadz Or of the MILF's 105th Base Command. 
"Hindi siya. Taga kuwan ito, kasamahan ng 105th. Element ito ng 105th... Ang pangalan niyan, si Ustadz Or. Hindi ako magkakamali," the source said.
"Ang sabi, doon siya nilibing sa may Barangay Libutan, sa tabi ng mosque...Nakalibot ang mga ano, doon. Mga armado," he said. 

Photo: Defense agreement

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 31): Photo: Defense agreement

Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin exchange documents on bilateral defense cooperation during a signing ceremony at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo on January 29, 2015. Gazmin is on a three-day visit to Japan.  AFP PHOTO

More Aquino allies threaten to junk BBL

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 31): More Aquino allies threaten to junk BBL

DENOUNCING the government’s lack of indignation over the killing of 44 police commandos by Muslim rebels, 43 administration allies in Congress are threatening to withdraw their support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, prompting President Benigno Aquino III to reconvene the crisis management committee to save the peace deal.

A highly placed Palace source told the Manila Standard that the President ordered Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. to “recall the Samar group to clean up the mess.”

In the House, the 42-strong Visayas bloc led by Bacolod Rep. Albee Benitez decided to make a stand as a group. Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco also gave an emphatic “No to BBL” after she learned that ongoing talks in Malaysia were considering an amnesty for those who were behind the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre.

“The President is worried that the peace deal will not push through following the withdrawal of authors in the Senate. Now, he has to contend with the House members,” the source told the Manila Standard.

In the Senate, Senators JV Ejercito and Alan Peter Cayetano withdrew their authorship of the BBL.

“Malacañang is frantic. They started calling back people – political strategists and legislative liaisons – to remedy the looming crisis with President Aquino headed for a head-on collision course with the House and Senate over BBL,” the source said.

The source said Ochoa was finding it difficult to reconstitute the crisis management committee because those who were being called back have said “the 44 deaths was the last nail that could make the peace talks collapse.”

The independent minority bloc in the House led by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Friday added pressure on the Palace to exact justice for the dead policemen.

Romualdez said five of the 44 SAF troopers were from the Eastern Visayas, where he is from.

“It is difficult to talk about peace then see our law enforcers massacred. I urge the government to conduct a sincere and thorough investigation on this horrifying incident.
The families demand justice. We support this call. This is the least we can do for men who have given their lives for the country,” Romualdez said.

“There are no words to convey the sadness and grief I feel for the loss of our brothers from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force who were brutally massacred in the line of duty as they valiantly attempted to arrest two terrorists responsible for many senseless deaths,” Romualdez added.

Even the members of the ruling Liberal Party expressed concern over the constitutionality of the BBL.

Most of the 42 Visayas lawmakers were members of the President’s Liberal Party, which has 111 members.

Benitez and Cojuangco belong to the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which controls 39 seats.

Indonesia builds PH ships

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 31): Indonesia builds PH ships

Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Jesus Millan said PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) is building two ships for P3.87 billion to serve as floating command center with heliports.

“The Philippine Navy is expecting the first and second Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV) to be delivered not later than May 2016 and May 2017, respectively,” he said in a statement.

On November 18, 2014, the Navy said the Department of National Defense (DND) declared Persero as the “single calculated responsive bidder” for the sealift acquisition project.

It approved by Defene Secretary Voltaire Gazmin through memorandum 2012-060 on October 30, 2013 with a P4-billion budget sourced from the Modernization Act Trust Fund of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

According to Millan, the sheips are also intended for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

“These vessels are critical assets for civil-military operations due to their capability of transporting large number of soldiers, logistics, and supplies,” he said.

“Each SSV has the capacity to house three helicopters. The Navy’s Augusta Westland-109s are programmed to be on-board components of these vessels.”

Last January 22, Millan and other key officials went to Surabaya, Indonesia for the first steel-cutting ceremony to signal the start of construction of the vessels.

The joined Indroyono Susilo, Coordinating Minister for Maritime, the Chief of Naval Staff of Indonesian Navy, the Ambassador of Indonesia for the Philippines along with the Board of Commissioners, and Board of Directors of Persero.

3 soldiers wounded in Sayyaf attack

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jan 30): 3 soldiers wounded in Sayyaf attack

Abu Sayyaf rebels ambushed an army patrol and wounding 3 soldiers on Friday in the southern Philippines, police said.

Police said the soldiers were in a convoy when rebels attacked them in the village called Bungkaong in Patikul town. They were heading to the capital town of Jolo when the rebels attack the members of the 35th Infantry Battalion, according to Sulu police chief Abraham Orbita.
“Government troops sustained three wounded-in-action while undetermined casualties on the enemy side,” Orbita told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said the attack sparked a 30 minute firefight. The ambushers were led by Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ajang-Ajang and the allied group Lucky 9, whose members were mostly young men who are also drug users.

However, the Western Mindanao Command said only two soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

“The wounded soldiers are now in stable condition after being treated in hospital,” its spokeswoman, Marine Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, said in a separate report.

She said Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, ordered troops to pursue the Abu Sayyaf.

Coup rumors spread; troops ‘unhappy’

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 31): Coup rumors spread; troops ‘unhappy’

RUMORS of troop movements and calls for mass actions among the religious and civil society groups gripped the country on Friday, following the death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force in a botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Talks of impending political unrest began to circulate after reports trickled in that the Aquino administration may have unwittingly sent the SAF members, now known as the Fallen 44, to their deaths because of lack of coordination and disrespect for the chain of command.
Sympathy walk. Members of the Philippine National Police march from
the Libingan ng mga Bayani to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to
sympathize with the 44 policemen who died on Sunday following their
encounter with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao. Danny Pata

The 44 elite policemen, who were tasked to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and local terrorist Basit Usman, were allegedly “massacred by the combined forces of the Bangsomoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the group which has entered into a peace agreement with the government.

Retired general Ramon Montano, the chief of the then Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police (PC-INP), said the rumors of discontent and unrest   could be fueled by the general feeling of dismay and unhappiness by members of the national police over the incident.

“As far as the troops are concerned they are unhappy and dismayed and this could spark unrest,” said Montano, who added that the SAF members were ‘executed by the MILF.

“It is an execution by the MILF criminals masquerading as rebels. They are plain criminals,” he said.

He claimed that MILF leaders Al Hadj Murad and Mohaquer Ibal appear to have no control over their men.

As of Friday night, there were rumors that some sectors had been calling on concerned Filipinos to gather at the EDSA shrine for a mass action against the Aquino government.

Some civil society leaders and church leaders, particularly those participated in the EDSA and Malacanang revolt that toppled then President Joseph Estrada will reportedly meet sometime this week to discuss their next move following the swelling discontent among the populace against the Aquino government.

Members of the Philippine National Police Academy Alumni Association Incorporated (PNPAAAI) also earlier staged a march at the headquarters of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) where the 44 SAF men were laid, to protest the death of their comrades,  as they called for a mandatory mass leave to show respect to fallen heroes.

 “We are calling on our alumni members to stand down and go on vacation leave for five days while we are in mourning. We have already sent communication to our alumni graduates who are dispersed all over the country to wait for our instructions regarding this,” said Retired police general Thomas Rentoy III, president of the PNPAAAI.