From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 24): Bantay Bayanihan in Basilan bats for grassroots communication on peace process
The Bantay Bayanihan in Basilan, composed of civil society groups and some government line agencies, has resolved to pursue grassroots communication on the ongoing peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
With the derailed congressional deliberation on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) due to the Mamasapano incident, the members have expressed concern over the uncertainties of events and the future of the BBL and its impact on the locality.
While the national debate centered on the alleged lies spread by some opposing sectors of the BBL, the local Bantay Bayanihan groups were wary about the decommissioning process and its implementation, over and above the various questions that continue to linger in the minds of Basileños and Isabelaños on the contents of the BBL.
During its March 20, 2015 meeting here, Basilan Advocates for Peace, Environment and Sustainable Development (BAPESDA) Executive Director Asrif Tindick shared updates on the “Bangsamoro Peace Process.”
He echoed the statement of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) that “the proposed BBL is one of the many target milestones in the peace process.
It is a critical milestone, but there are also corresponding interventions to ensure that the process is comprehensive, relevant, and inclusive (hence, the socio-economic interventions, normalization, transitional justice, and confidence building measures).
In short, the BBL is not the “magic pill” that will deliver ‘peace,’ but is one of the deliberate and synchronized interventions of the process.”
He stressed that the basic goal of peace process is, first, to forge a political settlement with the armed group so that communities can pursue their desired quality of life in a condition of peace and second is to ensure that the conflict affected areas benefit from the peace dividends of the peace table.
Margarita Auxtero of the Child Fund Philippines in Basilan also shared OPAPP’s updates on the development on normalization, the process through which the communities affected by the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao can return to a peaceful life and pursue sustainable livelihoods free from fear of violence and crime.“
But the normalization process is the most challenging of all in the peace process,” said Miriam Suacito of the Nagdilaab Foundation (NFI) who stressed the importance of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation component which hopes to appropriate mechanisms to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations.
At the end of the one-day conference, the group resolved to conduct grassroots information dissemination activities on normalization, especially on the issue of decommissioning. However, no definite dates yet for the said awareness drive.
The participants also listed some possible questions and topics in the BBL and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that the community may have asked or had been asking.Bantay Bayanihan is a civil society-led group for third party monitoring of the implementation of the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP).
1. The incident is ceasefire-related. The Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace signed on August 7, 2001 clearly stipulated that police and military actions and administrative/logistics activities shall continue to be undertaken by the GRP throughout Mindanao and the entire country. In pursuit thereof, confrontational situations between the GRP and MILF forces shall be avoided by prior coordination with the latter, meaning the MILF;
2. The Terms of Reference of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), which is mandated by the GPH and MILF to isolate and interdict kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs including so-called lost commands operating in Mindanao, obliged both the GPH and MILF to coordinate with each other, which includes even operations against high value targets;
3. During the planning for the police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas, head of the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) treated the MILF as “enemy forces”. He admitted that this was the reason he did not coordinate with the MILF. How about the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)? Certainly, he did not consider them as enemy but he did not trust them either. Clearly, it is shown here that he willfully and deliberately violated the ceasefire agreement and the TOR of the AHJAG which requires the GPH to punish him on the basis of these obligations.
On the part of the MILF, when we signed agreements with the GPH, we signed them with honor and commitment to abide by them. We believe the administration of President Benigno Aquino III is also doing the same. This is the reason that peace negotiators of the GPH and MILF virtually speak with the same line and tone, because, after signing the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is already in Congress for deliberation, we are already partners in pushing for all these agenda. We cannot understand why the like of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who lagged poorly in surveys for presidentiables, has the gut to accuse these honorable defenders of the FAB, CAB, BBL and the peace process in general, like Prof. Miriam Ferrer-Coronel and Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, as spokespersons of the MILF;
4. On the basis of the principle of cause and effect, the first offense committed by Napeñas was by completely setting aside the ceasefire agreement and TOR of AHJAG which oblige the parties to coordinate with each other on operations like the one in Mamasapano, and the second offense is his treatment of the MILF as enemy. For these reasons, the subsequent actions by both sides, except if they are in the nature of “war crimes”, are inconsequential. The blame must be put entirely on the initiator, which is the PNP-SAF. Moreover, if, however, the one who shot the wounded SAF commando as shown in the video is guilty of a war crime, why did the lone survivor, Police Officer 2 Christopher Lalan, not also charge of war crime by killing four MILF men sleeping inside a mosque?
5. In strictly military parlance, whoever died in an encounter is a “casualty” and whatever is captured, except personal belongings, is a “war booty”. The use of the terms “murder” and “robbery” cannot be appropriately used here. Why complain if one is licked in the battlefield? This brings us further to the misappropriation of another adjective as describing the unfortunate incident as a “massacre”. This should not be used at all, because this tarnishes the image of the PNP-SAF, which is trained not only locally but the Americans honed their skills for long.
This is the reason that members of the Senate who were once military officers in the AFP like Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Senator Gregorio Honasan appeared not moved by what happened in Mamasapano. They know that death is part of the risk in entering the service. (Honasan was wounded in action in Tran, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat in 1973); and
6. The GPH, especially the PNP and AFP, know very well the depth and extent of the cooperation of the MILF through the mechanisms of the AHJAG and ceasefire. As a matter of fact, there were many success stories of this joint undertaking and partnership even including high value targets. But it seemed the debacle in Mamasapano had one particular ingredient that was not discussed openly or thoroughly; i.e., the huge amount of dollars as reward money for the capture, dead or alive, of Marwan and Basset Usman. In most instances, this lure of what glitters keeps others from the loop.
In all probability, by the time this editorial comes out, the result of the investigation on the Mamasapano incident conducted by the MILF’s Special Investigation Commission (SIC) would have come out already. The good in this is that those who are guided by their conscience would see the other side of the story of Mamasapano.