Sunday, February 8, 2015

Soldiers, cops, Moro rebels to bike to Mamasapano for peace

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 8): Soldiers, cops, Moro rebels to bike to Mamasapano for peace
CALLING for silence and cooler heads to make way for truth and justice, at least 1,500 students, teachers, activists, peace advocates, and several soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division marched  in Davao City on  Feb. 4 fearing that  too much hiding and doublespeak will snatch away the fruits of the peace process.  KARLOS MANLUPIG/ INQUIRER MINDANAO

CALLING for silence and cooler heads to make way for truth and justice, at least 1,500 students, teachers, activists, peace advocates, and several soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division marched in Davao City on Feb. 4 fearing that too much hiding and doublespeak will snatch away the fruits of the peace process. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

To show their love for peace, at least 500 soldiers, policemen, Moro rebels, government employees and bikers will be kicking hard on their pedals to the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao on February 14.

Dubbed as the Bangsamoro Bike for Love, the 70-kilometer biking event will jump off from two locations, including the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat and from Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat.

Expected to join the event are representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, International Monitoring Team, Archdiocese of Cotabato, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, provincial government of Maguindanao and the different local government units of Maguindanao.

Contingents from the general headquarters of the AFP, Philippine Army and the Western Mindanao Command will be flying in to join the activity.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, chef of the 6th ID, said the event, which was planned even before the Mamasapano incident, is a proof that all of the stakeholders in the area, regardless if they were from the government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or the Moro National Liberation Front, are yearning for progress and peace.

“The activity is intended to show to the Filipino people and the world that all sectors of society in Central Mindanao are one and united in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the region,” Pangilinan said.

The original route of the biking activity was from Awang to Buluan town, but was later changed to Mamasapano after the dreadful incident that left 44 police commandos, 18 MILF rebels and five civilians dead.

Coincidentally, the joint activity will be proof that the stakeholders in the region are united in the same path for peace for years since the talks between the government and the MILF made progress.

Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the 6th ID, said about 100 MILF members and leaders from the different units will be joining the event but some will be taking with them their motorcycles because they do not have bicycles.

“Because they are eager to show their support to the activity despite their lack of bicycles MILF and MNLF members will participate in the activity,” Petinglay said.
Pangilinan and Petinglay would personally bring with them their bikes while MNLF leader Muslimin Sema committed to be there with his motorcycle.

ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman would also be joining the racers with his bike adding that ARMM employees with bikes will also be there.

Hataman added that the ARMM government would also be staging a concert led by local performers that day and will call it “Yakapayapaan” as a call for everyone to embrace and love peace.

“I will be there. And definitely ARMM will have a contingent most especially our employees who have bikes,” Hataman said.

Petinglay explained that this would not be purely a biking event but also an activity to help spread the message of peace by explaining the Bangsamoro Basic Law to the communities.

There will be three 30-minute stopovers wherein residents will be gathered and representatives from OPAPP and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission will discuss and clarify questions about the BBL and the entire peace process.

The bikers that will start from the 6th ID headquarters will stop in Datu Odin Sinsuat and in Datu Saudi Ampatuan while the contingent from Tacurong City will stop at Datu Abdullah Sangki municipality.

All bikers will then meet and converge in Shariff Aguak and then proceed to Mamasapano, Petinglay said.

“Residents, most especially those who were displaced, will welcome the bikers at the Mamasapano Elementary School to have lunch together boodle-style,” Petinglay added.

After lunch, Petinglay said, the closing program will be held in the school where MILF chair Ebrahim Murad, OPAPP chair Teresita Deles, Hataman, Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu and Pangilinan are expected to talk about the peace process and to express their commitment for lasting peace in the region.

“We will be also giving out red heart-shaped balloons for the kids who were displaced by the conflict to show that we are one with them and that we are all working or peace,” Petinglay said.

Petinglay, who is also a regular biker, said that the event is very significant because it seeks peace in all aspects- peace in the region and personal peace through a healthy lifestyle.

Full slide presentation: AFP report on timeline of Mamasapano clash

Posted to GMA News (Feb 9): Full slide presentation: AFP report on timeline of Mamasapano clash

On Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines presented before the Senate a chronology of events of the Mamasapano clash last January 25. Brig. Gen. Angelito De Leon, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, made the presentation in behalf of AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr.

[Slide presentation: Mamasapano Incident: Chronology of Events]

Army holds feeding in Guihulngan

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 9): Army holds feeding in Guihulngan

The Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion marked on Feb. 6 the deadly 6.9 in magnitude earthquake in Barangay Planas, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental three years ago with a feeding program, that benefitted 120 elementary students.

In Brgy. Planas alone, 26 residents died, while 12 remain missing until now, when the powerful earthquake devastated the barangay, and other areas of Negros Oriental, three years ago, 1Lt Reynaldo Cañete Jr., 11IB Civil Military Operations officer, said yesterday.

Some of the beneficiaries of the feeding program, who are students of the Planas Elementary School, are sons and daughters of the victims, Cañete said.

The activity was a joint project of the school teaching staff, barangay officials and 11IB.

Lt. Col. Paulito Idul, 11IB commander, encouraged the populace to be vigilant against all forms of natural and man-made calamities.

The 11IB deployed its Bayanihan Team in the area to facilitate the resolution of problems raised to them, Cañete said.

No misencounter, but slaughter: Espina wants MILF to give up SAF 44's killers, return guns

From InterAksyon (Feb 9): No misencounter, but slaughter: Espina wants MILF to give up SAF 44's killers, return guns

Mamasapano Senate inquiry opens, February 9, 2015. BERNARD TESTA/

Acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina delivered a brief but strong message before the Senate panels hearing the Mamasapano incident on Monday: what happened was a slaughter of 44 police commandos, not a misencounter as claimed by Moro rebels, and all perpetrators should be held liable.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Espina said, should also return all the high-powered guns and other devices they seized from the Special Action Force (SAF) deployed to get international terrorist Marwan in the Jan. 25 mission.

"We condemn in the strongest terms their treatment of our men," most of whom were "shot at close range with high-powered guns" even though the "SAF" patches were "clearly embellished" on their uniforms - indicating, stressed Espina, that they are personnel of a government with which "the other party" - how Espina referred to MILF - had a peace agreement.

A misencounter would have ended quickly once such identification was established, he noted. So, he is led to conclude, it was a deliberate slaughter.

"They were stripped of their uniforms, guns, even personal belongings...even their cell phones were taken" and their wives and families were told "stop looking for your husband. He is dead."

PNoy constantly updated in plan to kill Marwan, Oplan a success despite 44 deaths - ex-SAF chief

From InterAksyon (Feb 9): PNoy constantly updated in plan to kill Marwan, Oplan a success despite 44 deaths - ex-SAF chief

Sacked PNP=SAF chief Getulio Napenas Jr. BERNARD TESTA/

(UPDATE2, 12:59 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III was constantly briefed about the plans to capture the suspected top Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan, sacked Philippine National Police-Special Action Force commander Getulio Napenas Jr. told the televised Senate hearing Monday.

The regular updates were made by his former bodyguard and police chief, resigned Director General Alan Purisima.

Chief Supt. Napenas asserted to senators that the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident was "Mission Accomplished" because it bagged a wanted terrorist whose bombs killed hundreds, but said much fewer than 44 police commandos would have died, had the requested artillery support from the military arrived on time.

At the same time, Napenas insisted that the mission was preceded by meticulous planning drawing from the lessons of previous aborted missions to bag Marwan over a span of 10 years; by preparations including the materiel and the coordination required; and pre-mission drills for the SAF men deployed, highly trained and combat-hardened as they already are.

That the SAF men deployed were capable and suited for the sensitive mission to get a "high-value" target was borne out, he said, by the fact that not just 18 of the other side was felled by the SAF in the 10-hour gun battle sparked by the operation to get Marwan - Zulkifli bin Hir - and his Filipino cohort, bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.

Napenas said that contrary to claims of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the ranks of the MILF and those of their supposed breakaway the Bangsamor Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other private armed groups sustained over 200 casualties, not 18.

Napenas said the overall assault commander on the ground, Raymond Train alone, had shot dead "25-30" of their attackers, who suddenly came from all sides as the SAF tried to exit after shooting dead Marwan.

“Notwithstanding the preparations and planning we made, just like in any other encounter, especially in this case where the subjects of the operations are high-value terrorists, zero-casualty is ideal, but it is highly uncertain,” Napenas said in a 14-page presentation at a joint hearing by three Senate committee.

Napenas said that the SAF troopers who made their way to Brgy. Tukalanipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao are highly trained individuals. “The know what they are doing and know what to do in times of adversity and hostility.”

“Had it been otherwise, the combined forces of the MILF, BIFF and other private armed groups would have not suffered at least 250 casualties in the midst of the firefight that took place almost the entire day,” he said.

However, Napenas said that the continued fire from the attackers made it difficult for the SAF men to hold on when their ammunition ran out.

Had the Armed Personnel Carrier (APC) of the Army Mechanized Brigade arrived on time as requested, this would have changed the result of the battle.

In other words, had the artillery support we requested arrived on time, the situation would have been entirely different. Though I admit, it may not have guaranteed zero-casualty on our part but at the very least, had the artillery support arrived hours earlier, the number of casualties would have been lesse than the actual figure we suffered,” Napenas explained.

“Sa madaling salita, at salungat sa kung ano ang mga nakasaad o nasusulat sa mga balita at pahayagan, ang mga SAF troopers sa Barangay Tukanalipao ay nagtungo sa lugar na iyon nang may humigit pa sa sapat na paghahanda at pagpalano,” Napenas said.

Usman has escaped, and President Benigno Aquino III dared the MILF to either help bag him, or "stand aside" while the government forces get him.

Appearing at the Senate committees on public order, on peace and reconciliation, and on finance, Napenas ended his presentation thus: "I stand firm with the words I uttered the minute" Oplan Exodus was reported: 'Mission accomplished'. These are the only words our SAF troopers wish to hear," except that it happened at the cost of 44 lives, he said.

Napenas said he had spent "10 years of my career" seeking to get Marwan, having seen up close the evil that a spate of bombings had caused in Mindanao when he was still assigned in Cotabato.

Past missions failed because of 'leaks'

He outlined to the senators previous missions to get Marwan, and the reasons they were aborted.

Tellingly, he said when Oplan Exodus was finally sealed for implementation, all concerned decided that coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be "timed on target," meaning, notice given once the SAF men are on the ground in Maguindanao.

Napenas said prior missions where details of coordinates and other information were shared with the military somehow failed - with Marwan escaping just hours before the mission arrived. And this was attributed to the possibility that the AFP had to coordinate with the MILF, which Napenas said was coddling Marwan.

Napenas explained his role in the January 25 Mamasapano incident that killed 44 PNP-SAF policemen, 18 members of the MILF, and four civilians.

SINO SILA? Marwan planned to bomb Pope Francis convoy, with Usman killed 63 Pinoys in 'bomb career'

From InterAksyon (Feb 9): SINO SILA? Marwan planned to bomb Pope Francis convoy, with Usman killed 63 Pinoys in 'bomb career'

Mamapasano hearing at the Senate, with sacked SAF chief Getulio Napenas Jr., government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima, 9 February 2015. BERNARD TESTA/

(UPDATE, 1:05 p.m.) The Malaysian bomber Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan had planned to explode a bomb while the convoy of Pope Francis was in Manila on Jan. 18, sacked Philippine National Police Special Action Force head Getulio Napenas Jr. told the Senate hearing Monday.

The bomb of Marwan, who was one of the United States' FBI Most Wanted Terrorists, was to be exploded on T.M. Kalaw Street in Manila.

Napenas detailed his own experience as well as those of Marwan's at the Senate hearing on the aftermath of the deadly Mamasapano clash in which 44 elite policemen were killed.

On the other hand, the head of the Board of Inquiry on the Mamasapano mission that led to the deaths of 44 police commandos said no less than 10 operations had been laid out to get Marwan, the Malaysian terrorist blamed for the deaths of 46 Filipinos, on top of the Bali bombings that killed over 200.

Appearing at a joint Senate hearing of three panels, Director Benjamin Magalong, chief of the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the protege of Marwan, Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman, is in turn blamed for the deaths of 17 people and injuries to 62 others in a deadly career - starting from the 2002 Fitmart blast that killed 15 people in General Santos City to a 2008 bombing in Cotabato City.

Both Marwan and Usman are subjects of multiple warrants for murder issued by a Kidapawan court. Marwan is on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists, with a $6-million bounty.

Magalong provided senators his initial report based on interviews with over 300 SAF members mobilized for Oplan Exodus, and a review of call and text logs, among others. However, he qualified his presentation by saying it was his initial understanding of what really happened on Jan. 25 based on materials available, and does not represent any prejudgment or conclusion in any way.

"We will give justice to our SAF seeking the truth," vowed Magalong, who was appointed to head the ad hoc Board of Inquiry amid widespread outrage over the huge death toll - 44 highly trained SAF members including six officers - in the mission to bag Marwan (full name: Zulkifli bin Hir) and Usman.

The SAF leadership said their assault team killed Marwan in his nipa hut in a cornfield in the marshy Tukanalipao village, and had to cut off his index finger for DNA lab tests after coming under heavy fire from a combined MILF and BIFF group.

Usman escaped during the melee, and President Benigno Aquino III on Friday told the MILF to either help get Usman, or "stand aside" while State forces come in to capture him.

COMMENT: Marwan Dead at Pyrrhic Cost

Opinion piece posted to MindaNews (Feb 8): COMMENT: Marwan Dead at Pyrrhic Cost (by Patricio Diaz)

The question now is no longer “Is Marwan (alias of Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir) dead?” His death has been confirmed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation through DNA testing at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. (, February 5, 2015: DNA test on Marwan done in US—FBI)

He was reported killed in his hut in Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao by the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commando at about 4 o’clock dawn last January 25. A portion of the corpse’s right index finger was sent to the FBI for DNA testing to confirm it was really Marwan the SAF had killed. The DNA matched with that of Marwan’s brother, Rahmat Abdhir, 51, held as prisoner 10743-111 at the Lompoc low security federal correctional institution in Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Unless Marwan surfaces somewhere to disprove the FBI finding, this is conclusive: Marwan is dead – and most significantly – at Pyrrhic cost. In his February 6, 2015 address to the nation, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III said, “The operation against Marwan was successful” but “…we paid a heavy price.”

Referred to in the historical allusion of “pyrrhic” are the direct and collateral costs in getting one wanted person — including the stake in the final solution of the Mindanao, better known as Moro, problem.

Decoy Info Dead, Too

That rendered dead, too, info decoy reports from two sources to muddle the government report about Marwan’s fall – one from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF-Misuari) and the other from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

That from the MNLF through its spokesman lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla said: “As far as the MNLF is concerned, Marwan is alive (The Philippine Star, February 2, 2015: Marwan alive, MNLF insists).” The report, though, was incoherent. At one point, “Marwan was in Lanao del Sur during the raid at his hut”; in two others, “an MNLF commander saw him at the BIFF camp” and “he was able to escape by pumpboat”.

That from BIFF (Inquirer Mindanao, February 2, 2015: BIFF: We don’t have Usman), from spokesman Abu Misri Mama, denied Marwan’s presence in Maguindanao and, cavalierly, his existence, saying: “Marwan is only a creation of the government and the [United States] to justify their intrusion into Moro areas.”

Both the MNLF and BIFF spokesmen said the photo showing Marwan dead was only manufactured – “photoshopped”. Will they challenge the FBI finding? Fontanilla had challenged the government to get a DNA report from an independent body to prove that Zulkifli was indeed the man slain during the raid.

Direct Pyrrhic Costs

Logistics: Even if true as reported (Inquirer Mindanao, February 5, 2015: US funded SAF operations to get Marwan—source), that the Mamasapano operation was “fully funded by the US, the report did not mitigate the cost. Equipping and training 392 commandos since 2010 for the dirty job until deployment for the January 25 operations must have cost millions in dollars – in billions of pesos plus the post-operation costs.

Lives: A total of 66 lives, not including Marwan’s, were lost – 44 SAF, 18 MILF and four civilians. The SAF casualties were nine of the 42 members of the 84th SAF Company dispatched to Pidsandawan to get Marwan and 35 of the 36 members of the 55th deployed in Tukanalipao – the lone survivor PO3 Robert Lalang.

Just a Note: In media reports and official statements, only the 44 SAF commandos are considered casualties. Is that correct and fair?

Collateral Pyrrhic Costs

Demoralization: Morale in the rank and file of the PNP sank low. Not only the death of the 44 commandos but the feeling that they had been abandoned and that the President, the commander-in-chief, was insincere in his condolence dealt the blow. This may pass away soon. But still it’s too high a price in exchange for an international bomb-terrorist with no guarantee the bombings would stop. His trained bomb makers – hundreds, at least – are still there to carry on the terrorism.

Breach in chain of command: No matter how the PNP Command and the Palace would explain that “professionalism” on the top is intact the breach in the chain of command had been admitted. The SAF commander, Police Director Getulio Napeñas, by-passed his immediate superior, OIC Director General Leonardo Espina; he briefed the President but not DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas III who has direct supervision over the PNP. He directly reported and took orders from suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima.

This had led to the “lack of coordination” – the major cause of the Mamapasano pyrrhic operation. It’s hard to understand. And it’s hard to admit the indicators that, the series of “Oplans” to get Marwan being the US baby, the SAF was harnessed by the US military for the task starting 2010 with Purisima and Napeñas – hence, the “by-passing”. Two reports – “Inquirer Mindanao, February 5, 2015: US funded SAF operations to get Marwan — source” and “Philipine Daily Inquirer, February 5, 2015: Marwan is dead, DNA test done in Singapore” – are most revealing.

In the first report, the “source” must be one of the survivors of SAF 84th and 55th. Besides his vivid narration of the training in the US facility in Zamboanga City since 2010, he revealed this about the January 25 Mamasapano operation:

A total of 392 SAF commandos were sent to Maguindanao as early as January 22; 42 members of the 84th were assigned to get Marwan and 36 of the 55th to serve as blocking force. The remaining 314 were to serve as reinforcement.

The 55th pleaded for reinforcement from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the pleas were monitored by the Americans, but they did not do anything. The Americans, whose main interest was the tissue sample of Marwan, were focused on the 84th and used a drone to track down its exact location. This explained why only a few were killed from the 84th but the 55th lost all except one, PO3 Robert Lalang. He is the “Robert”, the lone survivor, reported by ABS-CBN News on January 29.

He expressed resentment. “We can’t take this anymore. I hope my colleagues would get the justice they deserve.” His reference to “my colleagues” elicits the question: Is PO3 Lalang the “source”?

The second report featured in the end part Senior Insp. Recaredo Marasigan, “a member of the team”, obviously, of the 84th. He said the 392 SAF officers and men all volunteered for the highly covert operation. An intelligence researcher and analyst, he received and prepared all the intelligence information from the field.

He revealed the intricate intelligence gathering: information about the combined MILF and BIFF forces — the names of every commander, where they were and the number of forces totaling 1,009 all in all; the river channels, the number of houses in the area — four where Marwan was hiding plus 12 others within the 500-meter-to-1-kilometer radius of the targeted hut; the people, the terrain — aerial shots showing three river channels in the targeted area. DPAs (deep penetration agents) and drones must have been used.

Only that much he would reveal: “It is not within my authority to talk about who gave the orders” while admitting “this … mission … was an order from the top” and stressing “what the public needs to know is that we were all volunteers.”

If the orders came from the top PNP Command and the President, why could he not reveal it? Why were they just “volunteers”? The SAF is a regular branch of the PNP organized under President Fidel V. Ramos for special missions composed of regular enlisted men and officers, not volunteers.

The two reports provide clues to the puzzle of breach in chain of command involving especially Napeñas and Purisima and may also explain why the agreement to coordinate with the MILF was ignored.

Crisis: In the aftermath of the pyrrhic January 25 “Oplan Wolverine”, the outrage and chaos will not go away despite the all-is-well assurances from the PNP Command and the Palace. These — What really happened? Who was responsible? The MILF or Moros have to prove their sincerity. continue nagging. There’s a demand for the President to resign; there’s a rumor of a coup de etát in the offing. The President had to address the nation for the second time in eight days last February 6 to ease the crisis.

Enigmatic Pyrrhic Cost

The loss of lives, the logistics in billions of pesos, and the threatening crisis arising were the heavy price paid for the “triumph” in killing Marwan. The crisis – hopefully, it will dissipate and vanish soon – the President addressed forthright in his speech last Thursday, February 6.

The President announced the resignation of suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima; unequivocally blamed the SAF chief, Police Director Getulio Napeña (now suspended), for the lives lost; expressed amends to raise the sagging morale in the PNP rank and file and to assuage the grief of the widows and relatives of the 44 slain commandos; and, sent a strong message to the MILF demanding justice due for the part their fighters had in the “over-kill” and cooperation in getting Abdulbasit Usman.

But how the Mamapasano “fever” will affect the final solution to the Mindanao or Moro problem is enigmatic. Two posers stand in the way — (1) how the MILF can convince the members of the Congress of their sincerity in negotiating peace with the government; and, (2) how the MILF can keep their power, when the Bangsamoro is eventually set up, to persuade diverse groups to abandon their arms and terrorism. What the MILF will do to satisfy the first poser tends to undermine the conditions vital to the second.

Ever since 1900, the thinking has been: Muslim Mindanao must conform to Christian Luzon and the Visayas. This spawned the so-called Moro Problem. This thinking has been radicalized with the Moro demand for autonomy: Muslim autonomy must be what the Christian Luzon and the Visayas think of autonomy according to the Constitution. This is at the root of Moro extremism like the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf.

Under the influence of the Mamasapano “fever”, the Congress may pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law – it might not at all – that will establish the Bangsamoro less autonomous than that promised to the Moros during the year-long or longer information campaign on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement before the drafting of the BBL. Such Bangsamoro will harden Moro extremism and antagonize more the likes of BIIF and Abu Sayyaf. That will handcuff the MILF and the Bangsamoro government to forge unity and peace.

Obviously, as seen in the statements of some legislators and in the letter of the President to the MILF, the “show of sincerity” demanded of the MILF means taking a hard line against the BIFF – as an ally of the government. Should the MILF do this to the BIFF, as it has already done in Pikit, North Cotabato (Inquirer Mindanao, February 6, 2015: MILF vs BIFF fight erupts, Action seen as bid to save peace process), the extremists will turn MILF enemies, not estranged brothers willing to reconcile if the autonomy is right.

The establishment of the Bangsamoro that is truly autonomous – call it by any other term: substate, ministerial, asymmetrical – is the strongest gambit to lead Moro extremists back to a life of peace instead of defying the national police and the military even with the help of the American forces. Should the Mamasapano “fever” further close the already narrow minds of most members of the Congress and frustrate this gambit, the final solution to the century-old Moro Problem will be the most pyrrhic price of Marwan’s death

(Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards honored Mr. Diaz with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You can reach him at

MILF orders troops to arrest Usman, other terrorists

From Rappler (Feb 9): MILF orders troops to arrest Usman, other terrorists

The MILF also holds meetings with commanders and community leaders to avoid confusion and agitation

 Photo from the US State Department  Rewards for Justice website

Photo from the US State Department Rewards for Justice website

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ordered all its base commands to arrest terrorists or criminals who enter their territory, including top local terrorist Absul Basit Usman.

Ghadzali Jaafar, vice chair for political affairs of the MILF, said combatants were reminded to observe and respect the provisions of all agreements signed under the ongoing peace process such as the ceasefire mechanism and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group.

"All base commands were given directives by the MILF's Central Committee to interdict criminalities and threats including the apprehension of Usman if he enters our territory," Jaafar said.

The order came days after President Benigno Aquino III, in his second televised address on the Mamasapano clash, urged the MILF to surrender Usman.

In his address to the nation on February 6, Aquino said, “Kung nasa loob siya ng inyong teritoryo o nasa ilalim siya ng pangangalaga ng sinuman sa inyo, inaasahan kong isusuko ninyo siya sa mga awtoridad. Kung hindi, ay gawin ang lahat upang tumulong sa pagdakip sa kanya. At kung hindi pa rin maaari ito, ay huwag makialam sa aming pag-uusig kay Usman.”

(If he remains within your territory, or is protected by one of your members, we expect you to surrender him to the authorities. If not, we expect you to do everything you can to help capture him. And if even this is not possible, do not interfere with our pursuit of Usman.)

Magsilbi sana itong babala at paalala: Huhulihin namin si Usman, anuman ang maging desisyon ninyo, sino man ang kumukupkop sa kanya, at saan man siya nagtatago. Walang dapat magduda: Magkatuwang ang adhikain natin para sa kapayapaan at katarungan,” the President added. (May this serve as a warning and a reminder: We will get Usman, whatever you decide, regardless of who provides a safe haven for him, regardless of where he may be hiding. Let no one doubt: We are partners in pursuing peace and justice.)

Rappler earlier reported that the government and the MILF were engaged in backchannel talks in the aftermath of the Mamasapano clash. What is being negotiated is the possible return of the police weapons seized by MILF rebels during the January 25 operation.


Usman, a suspected bomb-maker with alleged links to the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf, has a $1-million bounty for his arrest, courtesy of the US government.

Police and military sources claimed that Usman was allegedly in the same area when top JI terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was killed on January 25 in a bloody clash with Moro rebels in Mamasapano. (READ: Timeline: Mamasapano clash)

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the DNA samples from Marwan matched those of his brother who is detained in the US.

On June 10, 2014, an operation was launched in Barangay Libutan, Mamasapano, to capture Usman, who was supposed to have detonated an IED in Datu Unsay Ampatuan on June 6 that year that killed a soldier and injured 3 others.

Two suspects were killed while 4 others were arrested in that operation, while troops recovered an IED, a 50-caliber sniper rifle and a van.

It was later disclosed that the target in the operation was Usman and that among those who were arrested was his wife. The military said then that Usman was hurt but was able to escape while his wife was eventually released.

Regarding the latest incident in Mamasapano, Jaafar stressed that Marwan was not killed in an MILF camp, noting that Mamasapano plays host to various groups including rebels and private armies.

"Just like everyone, we have heard reports that Marwan is in Mindanao but no one can establish accurately his location. In the first place, Marwan was not killed inside our camp. They can easily say that he was inside our territory. But that is not the case unless they consider the entire Mamasapano as our territory. In Mamasapano, there are soldiers, police and MILF," Jaafar said.

Peace mechanisms

The peace process between the Aquino government and the MILF established mechanisms that would create a space for dialogue and safety for all forces including the GRP-MILF Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in July 18, 1997 and the creation of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) on May 6, 2002.

The Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities prohibits provocative acts such as providing assistance or sanctuary to criminal or lawless elements and the massive deployment or movement of government and MILF forces “which are not normal administrative functions and activities”.

The AHJAG was formed so that both parties can work in tandem to pursue and apprehend criminal elements in the area.

What happens now?

"It will now depend on the decision of the peace panels of the government and the MILF. But we assure the public of our full commitment to the peace process. We will wholeheartedly abide by the provisions of all the signed agreements," Jaafar said.

Jaafar acknowledged that some troops have expressed apprehension over the fate of the peace process. "We cannot deny that there are commanders and political leaders who think that the implementation of the agreement is slow. And they have the right to have that feeling because this negotiation has been going for more than 17 years," Jaafar said.

Jaafar said these commanders and leaders feel that the process has already dragged for a long time.

To avoid confusion and agitation, the MILF has been explaining the issue to commanders and leaders at the community level, according to Jaafar.

"That is the reason why we always conduct assemblies and consultations to explain and clarify their questions. And these were able to calm down the commanders," Jaafar added.

He said that the public should not worry about the MILF commanders but should instead be troubled by the statements of several politicians regarding the peace process.

"You know what is alarming? It is the actuation of some leaders who gave emotional statements which can offend and hurt the feelings of the Bangsamoro people," Jaafar said.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Advance the national-democratic propaganda movement!

English language translation of an Ang Bayan propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): Advance the national-democratic propaganda movement!

The following was excerpted from the message of the Communist Party of the Philippines to the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) on the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

The KM is one of the Party’s arms. It is a challenge to you to massively arouse, organize and mobilize the youth to contribute to the advance of the Philippine revolution. As an arm of the Party among the intellectuals, the Party looks forward to seeing thousands of fighters spring forth from KM’s ranks in the arena of the propaganda movement and mass struggles and in the field of armed struggle.

Propaganda and counter-propaganda is war. As warriors, you must train and develop expertise in propaganda. Read. Conduct research. Study and review. The propaganda war is a contest for the people’s hearts and minds. To arouse the masses, you must be humble and listen to them, know their situation, their experiences, views, language and taste.

Turn the campuses into centers of protest. Advance the rights and welfare of the youth in education. Fight commercialization. Relate the problems of the youth to national problems. Let protests against the MRT and LRT fare hikes; privatization, inadequate education and health budgets; low wages and lack of jobs; landgrabbing; military abuses; corruption and plunder resound within campuses.

Turn campuses into centers of cultural revolution. Smash colonial mentality, individualism, consumerism, selfishness and disorganization among intellectuals. Advance the mass line: recognizing the masses as the source of knowledge and creator of wealth. Study and develop expertise in communist theory. Propagate Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the scientific class understanding of society and history.

Enkindle patriotism among the youth. Always remind them of the history of the Filipino people, especially the Filipino-American war. This stage in history has been forcibly suppressed in the schools. Teach everyone about this to remind the people about their continuing struggle for national liberation.

Wherever you put your sights in the city, the propaganda warriors of the youth-student must be there: in the markets, terminals, inside buses, jeeps or trains, in the factories, offices, malls, parks, communities and streets. Distributing leaflets. Putting up posters or newsletters on walls. Waging propaganda over the internet.

In various parts of the country, the people’s army, the people’s militia and the mass organizations are growing, and armed struggle and agrarian revolution are raging. The Party is badly in need of new blood, new cadres and fighters to enthusiastically shoulder the growing tasks in the current stage.

The Party challenges the Kabataang Makabayan to recruit in the next few years more than 1,000 new Red fighters annually from among the youth and students. They will be added to the bigger numbers of peasant and worker youth who will be recruited into the NPA to intensify guerrilla warfare nationwide.

To the young communist comrades, develop your minds and bodies to prepare for the bigger tasks that lie ahead. Train and prepare to accomplish new organizing and leadership tasks from the various urban sectors up to the peasant movement and armed struggle in the countryside, as fighters and commanders of the New People’s Army and cadres and leaders of the Party.
[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Significant advances in Southern Tagalog

English language translation of an Ang Bayan propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): Significant advances in Southern Tagalog

The revolutionary armed movement in Southern Tagalog has significantly recovered its strength in the last two years. It continues to overcome internal organizational problems and weaknesses and address problems attendant to the advance of guerrilla war and the difficulties borne out of relentless enemy attacks.

Outside of Mindanao, Southern Tagalog comes in second in terms of the biggest concentrations of AFP, PNP and CAFGU combat battalions which number about 6,000 troops.

In spite of this, the forces of the people’s army in the guerrilla fronts have grown on the whole since 2012. This was one of the factors in the 37% growth in the number of towns where NPA units operate, which is equivalent to a 42% increase in the number of barrios in the NPA’s areas of operation, and a 59% increase in the number of villages where the NPA is able to operate effectively. In the same period, the number of organized masses rose by 45% and the number of basic people’s organizations in the countryside by 51%.

The most striking victory involves thwarting the enemy’s scheme to destroy a guerrilla front. Not only did Southern Tagalog revolutionaries succeed in preserving the front’s remaining forces, they were also able to enhance the strength of the people’s army severalfold. This is the main factor behind the recovery of areas that had been abandoned and the reexpansion of the guerrilla front’s area of operation.

The revolution is deeply rooted among the peasant masses within the guerrilla fronts—the result of a long tradition by the people’s army of advancing the antifeudal united front and agrarian revolution. For decades, the peasant masses have been benefiting from the victories of agrarian revolution in the form of changes in the sharing of the harvest in coconut lands (tersyong baligtad), higher wages for farm workers in coconut, rice and sugar lands, higher farmgate prices for copra and other agricultural products, resistance to, and elimination of, merchant extortion in the form of tara, taktak and resikada in copra trading, rigging of weighing scales and other usurious practices.

The peasant masses and national minorities have also benefited from successful struggles against pasturelands, dismantling them and organizedly occupying and settling these lands. Thousands of hectares of pastureland, frontier land and abandoned and foreclosed land previously owned by landlords have been tilled and made productive by peasant associations. In these areas, the seeds of people’s democratic power are growing and taking shape step by step.

In more consolidated and advanced areas, cooperative projects and various forms of exchange of labor alongside other mass campaigns to raise production, promote health and sanitation, education and other campaigns to advance the people’s welfare are being advanced.

The people’s army continued to mete blows on operating enemy troops in the guerrilla fronts of Southern Tagalog. NPA tactical offensives hit almost all AFP battalions (the 74th, 76th, 4th, 16th, 80th and 85th IB of the Philippine Army; the 4th Marine Battalion Landing Team; the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force; and the 23rd Division Reconnaissance Company) aside from PNP and CAFGU units.

The enemy suffered at least 111 casualties (56 killed and 55 wounded) in 71 tactical offensives, the most resounding of which was the successful raid on the Paluan, Occidental Mindoro police station on November 7 which yielded 21 high-powered rifles, two pistols and several pieces of military equipment seized from at least seven slain soldiers and policemen and four other wounded. Meanwhile, the enemy suffered an additional 54 casualties (36 killed and 18 wounded) in 12 defensive actions where Red fighters were able to seize the initiative.

As in previous years and times, the urban democratic mass movement has not relented in fighting, and raising national and social issues in order to expose and oppose the ruling Aquino clique and each and every ruling faction that comes to power. The Southern Tagalog mass movements have a prominent presence and avidly participate in all major struggles in Metro Manila such as mobilizations against CARPER and for genuine agrarian reform, for recovery of the coco levy fund, for the support of farmers in Hacienda Luisita, against mines and megadams, Aquino’s SONA, human rights violations and military abuses and in mass actions against the PDAF/DAP and the pork barrel and in related actions for the people’s initiative and the movement to oust Aquino, as well as continuing struggles against growing US military intervention in the Philippines under the VFA/EDCA/ACSA framework.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Military arrests another NDFP consultant

English language translation of an Ang Bayan propaganda article posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): Military arrests another NDFP consultant

Elements of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the AFP arrested Reynaldo Hugo, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), last January 27 in Cabuyao, Laguna. In a statement, NDFP negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni roundly assailed the arrest, saying it was a serious violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Hugo holds NDFP Document of Identification ND978239 under the assumed name of Orgel Dimaano. A Letter of Acknowledgment has also been issued and duly signed by Silvestre H. Bello III, chair of the GPH negotiating panel under the Ramos regime.

He was undergoing medical treatment for nerve and kidney ailments when he was arrested by the military. He was subjected to intense surveillance, also in violation of the JASIG. Hugo faces ten trumped-up murder and frustrated murder cases.

The Aquino regime’s continued disrespect for the JASIG, the GPH-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) of 1998 and other bilateral agreements are adversely affecting the peace negotiations between the GPH and NDFP.

Meanwhile, suspected military operatives abducted Edwin Anuran, a former Red fighter, along with an unidentified civilian in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Casiguran, Sorsogon on the night of January 30.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: 1,000 Lumad evacuate in Agusan del Sur

English language translation of an Ang Bayan propaganda article posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): 1,000 Lumad evacuate in Agusan del Sur

Up to 1,515 members of the Banwaon tribe evacuated from Barangay Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur due to the 26th IB’s relentless military operations. The evacuees have been temporarily taking shelter at the Urios Elementary School in Barangay Balit since the last week of January.

They were forced to flee their homes out of fear for paramilitaries and elements of the 26th IB led by Lt. Col. Rolando Dumawa.

There have been documented human rights violations victimizing 969 individuals in four villages of San Luis. According to KARAPATAN-Caraga Region, the military operations are aimed at paving the way for the entry of mining corporations, among them Tambuli Mining Company Inc. and Malampay Mining Inc. which will be engaging in open-pit mining to extract gold.

Up to 22 individuals were victims of harassment and intimidation. Ten civilians were forced to serve as guides in military operations, seven forced to surrender as alleged members of the New People’s Army and 11 were victimized by indiscriminate firing. Three families were robbed. And lately, a pregnant woman and two children were reported to have died at the evacuation center.

Earlier, Balit village chief Nicasio Precioso Sr. was gunned down on December 22, 2014 after a heated argument with Sgt. Andres Villaganas of the 26th IB.

The military and Lumad bandits are conniving to enable the mining companies’ entry, said KALUMARAN, an alliance of Lumad organizations in Mindanao. The AFP has been training Lumad bandits to join the Investment Defense Force (IDF) which focuses on providing security to mines, plantations and other big businesses.

The IDF is being used to terrorize the datus of Barangay Binicalan who have refused to sign the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) document which would allow the entry of the mining companies. The latter want to seize the Banwaon’s ancestral lands through a unified Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), according to Datu Bagala Mauro Mansilyohan, a Banwaon leader in Sitio Tabon-Tabon, Mahagsay, San Luis.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: The US’ heinous crimes in Okinawa

English language translation of Ang Bayan anti-US military propaganda piece posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): The US’ heinous crimes in Okinawa

The following article and sidebar are the last of Ang Bayan’s series on crimes committed by US troops.

One of the places where heinous crimes involving American soldiers have been occurring with great frequency is Okinawa, Japan. Currently, there are 32 US military bases in Okinawa occupying 20% of its land area. It is also host to half of the 50,000 US troops deployed in Japan.

The US military has been occupying Okinawa for seven decades now. It began the occupation in 1945 after Japan’s defeat in the hands of the US during the Second World War.

The US occupation of Okinawa and the establishment of its military bases were accomplished through violent means. In 1953, the US imposed a law allowing it to seize the lands and demolish the homes of thousands of Okinawans in order to build its military bases. Some farmers voluntarily left after being promised land in Bolivia and financial assistance. Many of them, however, died in the jungles where they were exiled and never received any assistance.

After the US’ seizure of Okinawa, it remained under US military control for 27 years. Okinawa reverted to Japanese control in 1972. But in exchange, the Japanese government had to allow the presence of US military forces in Okinawa. The US military likewise maintained custody and tried erring American soldiers.

From 1945 to 2000 alone, up to 5,000 crimes involving US troops were documented, including 110 rape cases.

In a span of six months in 1949, up to 29 Okinawans were killed by US military troops and 18 women raped, including a nine month old infant girl. In September 1955, a six-year old girl was raped and killed by an American sergeant, who threw the victim’s body in a garbage dump.

In almost all cases, the erring soldiers were either acquitted or meted very light penalties by the US courts martial:

March 1956. A 28-year old man crossing a street was killed after being run over by an American soldier. The soldier was acquitted.

October 1959. A 23-year old woman was strangled to death by a US soldier, who was sentenced to only three years imprisonment.

December 1959. A 55-year old woman picking spent bullet shells was gunned down by an American sergeant, who claimed that he mistook her for wild boar. The US court martial acquitted the soldier and the US paid $2,700 in indemnification to the victim’s family.

September 1961. An American soldier hit four children with his vehicle, killing two of them. He received a one-rank demotion and was confined to barracks for six months.

February 1963. A 12-year old boy was hit by a vehicle driven by an American soldier. His acquittal by a US court martial spurred widespread protests.

May 1970. A 16-year old girl was beaten and stabbed by a US soldier. The accused was sentenced to only three years in prison.

April 1971. A 23-year old woman was stoned to death by an American soldier, who was acquitted for “lack of evidence.”

Okinawa suffers one of the highest rates of rape committed by American troops.
The most horrendous case of the 1990s was the abduction, beating and gang rape by three US Marines of a 12-year old girl in September 1995.

The Okinawans’ widespread and intense anger at this crime forced the US to change the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) then existing to allow Japanese authorities to sentence and imprison American soldiers guilty of rape and murder.

In spite of this, rape and violence perpetrated by American soldiers against Okinawan women have not been put to a stop. Overweening in their knowledge of belonging to the world’s most powerful armed force, the rapist soldiers have not even bothered to conceal their crimes:

June 2001. A US Air Force sergeant raped a 20-year old woman on the hood of a car parked right outside a popular night club.

May 2003. A 19-year old girl was brutally beaten and raped by a US Marine by the roadside.

July 2005. Another US Air Force sergeant raped a 10-year old girl as she was on her way to school.

February 2008. Another US Marine raped a 14-year old girl inside his car that was parked near a military base.

Other reports state that almost half of all female students at an Okinawan high school recounted having “scary experiences” involving US troops while they were on their way to or from school.

Aside from the killings and rapes, many accidents related to the military bases’ operations have also resulted in deaths and other harm to Okinawans. Following are among the most striking cases:

August 1948. Bombs being loaded by the US Navy on a ship exploded, killing up to 106 passengers alighting from a nearby ferry boat and wounding 76 others.

June 1959. Seventeen students and teachers were killed and more than a hundred wounded when a US Air Force combat plane crashed on an elementary school.

December 1962. Seven civilians were killed and eight others wounded when a US transport aircraft crashed on a house.

May 1967. The US Army disposed of reject oil supplies by throwing it in four wells being used by residents.

April 1975. Five people were killed when sexivalent chromium, a toxic chemical, escaped from the Makiminato US Base.

October 1988. Four people were killed after a US helicopter crashed near a training field.

November 1994. Five people were killed or wounded after a US military helicopter crash.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: JSOC: US assassins

English language translation of Ang Bayan anti-US military propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): JSOC: US assassins

The bloody SAF operation in Mamasapano is not the first time that the US launched a covert operation using Philippine armed forces against so-called terrorists within the country. The US has launched similar types of operations in other countries.

The US conducts these covert operations, which are in essence, assassinations, through the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The JSOC, which is directly under the office of US Pres. Barack Obama, controls the Special Mission Unit (SMU).

It has operations in more than 60 countries, including the Philippines, where its main mission is to identify, surveil and crush so-called terrorist groups. Its most well-known operation is the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.

In 2012, the US was reported to be maintaining a list of persons declared to be “terrorists” and targeted for assassination. The list arbitrarily defines who the “terrorists” and their “cohorts” are. Among the latter are males age 17 or older who happen to be near a known terrorist at the time of the assassination.

Such operations have resulted in innumerable casualties and losses to civilian communities. They violate basic processes as defined by international human rights protocols and the rules of war.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video -- Hold the US and Aquino accountable for the bloody battle at Mamasapano

Ang Bayan propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): Video -- Hold the US and Aquino accountable for the bloody battle at Mamasapano

All sectors must unite to hold the US government and the Aquino regime accountable for the bloody battle at Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 that resulted in the killing of 44 men of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), 18 Moro fighters and seven civilians.

The attacks on civilians and the bloody clash formed part of Operation Plan (OPlan) Wolverine, an assassination plot targeting Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, both alleged officers of Jemaah Islamiyah included in the "US terrorist list." The US State Department has offered rewards of up to $9 million for their capture.

AFP, PNP winning war vs CPP-NPA

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 8): AFP, PNP winning war vs CPP-NPA

Field commanders of the government security forces yesterday claimed strategic victory in Mindanao in the war against the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Because of continuous peace and development programs implemented, more provinces such as the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Province of Dinagat Islands, and Camiguin have already been declared insurgency-free while the province of Agusan del Norte has been hailed as an investments province by the AFP.

In the battle front, the Northeastern and Northern Mindanao AFP’s 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) announced the arrest the other day of Reboy Gandinao, commanding officer of the SPP4/SDG of Front 6 of the CPP-NPA North-Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Maj. Christian C. Uy, regional spokesman of the Army’s 4th ID said Gandinao was arrested by the combined elements of 403rd Infantry Brigade and Valencia City Police Office (BCPO) by virtue of warrant of arrest at vicinity Lumintao in Quezon town, Bukidnon province.

Seized in his possession were a .45 caliber pistol with a loaded magazine and cellphone.

The suspect is now in the custody of VCPO for further tactical investigation.

The other day, a couple who were also carrying key positions in the CPP-NPA in Davao region were also arrested in Davao del Sur.

Last week, government security forces composed of the elements from the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion (13th RPSB) and the 402nd Brigade, encountered undetermined number of heavily armed NPA’s at far-flung mountainous areas of Barangay Rojales, in Carmen town, Agusan del Norte.

The joint police-military team pressed on the armed men forced them to scatter and flee towards the hinter areas dragging along with their unaccounted number of killed or wounded leaving behind their supplies and armaments.

The operating troops seized a huge cache of arms in the scene of gunbattle.

This included three units of M16 A1, three AK 47 rifles, a US Carbine Caliber 30, a M203 Grenade Launcher, two home made guns, two caliber .45 pistols, several rifle grenades of 40mm;  a large number of live ammunitions and magazine of rifles,
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), assorted blasting caps, 50 meters of electric wire, rifle cleaning kit, two bolos, handsaws; two homemade rifles, five handheld radios, eight bandoliers, 12 cellular phones with SIM cards, several backpacks, subversive documents and various assorted medicines and drug paraphernalias.

‘MILF could have captured Marwan’

From the Philippine Star (Feb 8): ‘MILF could have captured Marwan’

Intel official says Muslim group knew where terrorists hid

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and some members of the Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, including Zulkipli Bin Hir alias Marwan who was killed by police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao lived alongside each other and were in “peaceful coexistence” for two years in Mindanao, a source from the intelligence community said on Sunday.

“Before, he [Marwan] was not coddled in a way that he was inside the MILF camp but they are within the vicinity pero hindi pinapakialaman or hindi sila hinahabol [they were untouched], supposedly because under the [Bangsamoro] agreement they were not supposed to coddle terrorists. Pero ang nangyayari, for example one barangay away nandun sina Marwan [and Filipino bomb maker Basit Usman] nandun din yung MILF, kung gusto nila kunin kaya nila [But what happened was that Marwan stayed in one barangay, and the MILF was also there. Had the MILF wanted to go after Marwan, they could have easily done so],” the source said.

But MILF vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar denied the claim, saying the MILF followed all the provisions of the peace agreement with the government.

“Generally kami sincerely seriously sinusunod namin ang lahat ng provisions ng agreement na nilagdaan namin with the government, therefore we will comply, gagawin namin ang aming mga responsibilities, obligations based on the provisions of the agreement we signed,” Jaafar said.

He claimed that the area where Marwan and Usman stayed was far from the MILF camp. However, when pressed how far the terrorists’ location was from the MILF camp, Jaafar admitted that he had no idea.

The source said the MILF was aware of the presence of the terrorists in the area but did nothing either to get them or inform the government about it.

When the peace negotiations between the separatist group and the government started, the MILF told Marwan and other terrorists to stay away from the MILF enclave.

“For example dun sa may Butig, sa Lanao del Sur, yung malaking kampo nila dun, nandun dati [Marwan and Usman] pinalabas nila pero outside the barangay hindi na nila pinapakialaman, parang peaceful coexistence [In Butig, Lanao del Sur, Marwan and Usman used to stay in a big MILF camp there but they were driven out. So they stayed outside the barangay where they peacefully coexisted with the MILF],” the source said.

According to him, Marwan transferred from Pikit, North Cotabato to Mamasapano because the place where 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) were killed by joint members of the MILF and its breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was considered the “powerbase” of Usman.

The source said Marwan and Usman used to train MILF fighters, particularly those belonging to its Special Operation Group (SOG). However, the training stopped when the MILF started talking peace with the government.

Another source said it is impossible for the MILF not to have known about the presence of the terrorists in its areas.

“Kung sabihin na hindi alam ng MILF napaka-imposible yan. Alam ng MILF yan, alam ng BIFF, magkakamag-anak yan. Tayo [military] hindi tayo makakilos dahil meron tayong pinangingilangan syempre yung peace process [If the MILF claims that it did not know about the presence of the terrorists, that is impossible. The MILF knew, so did the BIFF [Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. They are relatives. We in the military we cannot move because of the peace process],” the source added.

“Yung MILF very loose ang control nila sa baba nila, dahil kamag-anak ng MILF yung Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group hindi makapasok yung Marines at SAF dahil makaenkwentro ang MILF. It is impossible na hindi nila alam kung nasan yung mga yan [terrorists], alam nila yan, that is a blatant lie on the part of the MILF. We are for peace but they must show their sincerity in the peace process,” he added.

Col. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however said the military has no direct information that the MILF coddled the terrorists.

MILF mum on Usman

From the Philippine Star (Feb 9): MILF mum on Usman

Wanted terrorist Abdul Basit Usman.

Is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front prepared to turn over to the government terrorist bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman? The MILF is not saying.

MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar refused to give a categorical answer regarding the whereabouts of Usman, who reportedly escaped during the police raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

If you want me to answer if Usman is with us or not, I have no categorical answer to that,” Jaafar told The STAR yesterday when asked if Usman is with the MILF.

But he denied that the rebel group protected Usman and his Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cohort, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

When asked whether some MILF members are protecting terrorists, Jaafar said “they cannot do that.”

He would not say whether the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), supposedly a breakaway group of the MILF, provided a safe haven to Usman and Marwan.
President Aquino, in a nationally televised address last Thursday, warned the MILF to surrender Usman or else government forces would get him even without the rebel group’s help.

Aquino warned those who get in the way of Usman’s capture that state forces “would run you over.”

Forty-four members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) were slaughtered by combined teams of the MILF and BIFF in the Mamasapano operation in which Marwan was believed killed.

Jafaar was quick to point out that the MILF understood the stand of the President on terrorist coddlers, adding he did not feel Aquino “was exerting pressure” on the secessionist group.

“I listened to the message of the President. I understand it as he is the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” Jafaar said.

Jafaar stressed that whatever action the MILF would take should adhere to the agreements it earlier entered into with the government since the peace talks started.

“All our actions with regard to Usman should be based on the peace process and our commitment to the Bangsamoro people, which means these have to be in accordance with our agreements with government,” he said.

He was referring to the agreements on ceasefire and cessation of hostilities and the creation of a joint team from the government and MILF panels as well as an agreement that established the International Monitoring Team.

Jafaar said the MILF action shall also be based on the agreement on the creation of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), a mechanism created as part of the peace process to isolate and interdict lawless groups and terrorists.

Jafaar said all the actions of the MILF pertaining to the case of Usman would be based on those agreements.

‘MILF knew Marwan, Usman were in Mamasapano’

Meanwhile, military sources said yesterday that the MILF knew about the presence of Marwan and Usman in Mamasapano.

The sources said Barangay Tukanalipao, where the clash occurred, is the base of the MILF 105th Base Command.

A military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the group tolerated the terrorists’ presence and did not run after them.

The source said that during the start of peace negotiations, the MILF tried to drive away JI members from its bailiwicks in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

“The MILF did not mind (the terrorists) when they were outside the barangay. It was like a peaceful coexistence,” the source added.