Thursday, October 8, 2015
DUTERTE in an event in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, during which he asked communist rebels to prepare for a peaceful life under his presidency ALLAN NAWAL/INQUIRER MINDANAO
Self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison on Tuesday welcomed the offer of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to communist rebels to end the fighting and prepare for a peaceful life under a Duterte presidency.
“If Rody Duterte runs and if he wins as President, then the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will readily and earnestly negotiate with him,” said Sison, who is based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, in an e-mail statement.
Duterte, who was in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, on Monday, asked communist and Muslim rebels to come down from their mountain lairs and meet him for peace negotiations to end decades of fighting.
Duterte vowed to find a to the insurgency and the Moro rebellion by inviting their leaders to talks.
Sison said he appreciated and admired Duterte’s interest in seeking peace and cooperation with the revolutionary movement.
He said the NDFP’s negotiating panel “will definitely negotiate with his (Duterte’s) negotiating panel at an accelerated pace.”
The NDFP, an umbrella organization of underground leftist groups, has been engaged in on-and-off negotiations with the for the past 27 years but peace remains elusive.
Duterte has yet to declare his participation in the May 2016 .
The peace negotiations have remained stalled since February 2011.
Sison said he recognized Duterte’s aspiration for peace.
“He has gone so far as to express interest in a coalition government and in addressing the roots of the armed conflict and working out the necessary agreements on social, and political reforms in order to achieve a just and lasting peace,” said Sison, also chief political consultant of NDFP in peace negotiations with the government.
In an interview last month, Sison said the responsibility of bringing a peaceful end to the rebellion does not rest solely on rebels.
“The civil war is a two-sided phenomenon. And the peace process to settle it is also two-sided,” he said.
Sison accused the Aquino administration of blocking the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations.
NPA rebels have been waging a Maoist-inspired war against the government for the past 46 years, keeping alive the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.
The armed conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives, according to government figures. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/729253/reds-tell-duterte-lets-talk-peace
The Navy is preparing to send a surface ship inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims for its man-made island chain, an action that could take place within days but awaits final approval from the Obama administration, according to military officials who spoke to Navy Times.
Plans to send a warship through the contested space have been rumored since May, but three Pentagon officials who spoke to Navy Times on background to discuss future operations say Navy officials believe approval of the mission is imminent.
If approved, it would be the first time since 2012 that the U.S. Navy has directly challenged China's claims to the islands' territorial limits.
The land reclamation projects in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands have been the focus of increasing tensions between China and the United States along with its regional allies, including the Philippines, since reports of the land reclamation project began surfacing in 2013. However, the U.S. and other nations have disputed the legitimacy of the islands built by China in what is viewed as an act of regional aggression.
A spokesman for the National Security Council deferred questions regarding the Navy's plans to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, but drew attention to President Obama's remarks before the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 28, where he said the U.S. has "an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force."
OSD spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban declined to comment on future operations, but referred to Defense Secretary Ash Carter's comments from Sept. 1, when he said that the "United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world."
The news of the pending maneuver comes just a day after Pacific Fleet boss Adm. Scott Swift told a maritime conference in Australia that "some nations" were behaving in a manner inconsistent with international law, a clear reference to the ongoing dispute with China.
"It's my sense that some nations view freedom of the seas as up for grabs, as something that can be taken down and redefined by domestic law or by reinterpreting international law," Swift said, according to a report by Reuters. "Some nations continue to impose superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). This trend is particularly egregious in contested waters."
For more than four decades, the MILF has been used not to give up on something that it aspires for.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been in Congress since September 10, 2014, or to be precise, one year and almost a month now. There were three deadlines set for its passage but they never were accomplished: December 2014, June 11, this year, and September-October this year. Now comes the November-December new deadline.
Will the BBL make it through Congress this time and becomes a law? We do not know and we have no way to know it. But the government says that it will still pass Congress, and we take that words with much respect. President Benigno Aquino III has been consistently truthful in our dealings for more than five years already. His parents, the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and his late mother, President Corazon C. Aquino, were also very close to the Muslims or Moros in Mindanao. There is thus no reason to doubt.
However, while the fate of the BBL is in limbo, the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) comes our way. There is no law so far that has been passed to stop it from taking place. Candidates for the positions of regional governor, vice regional governor, and the 24 assemblymen are already preparing to file their respective certificates of candidacy from October 8-14. It seems there is no stopping anymore.
What is the implication of this ARMM election to the BBL? Some may just parrot the argument that if the BBL is passed and a new political entity is created, the ARMM is deemed abolished. But suppose those elected for the various positions will not readily resign and file a case in court seeking for the completion of their terms of office? There is only one Mujiv Hataman and one Haron Al-Rashid III, regional governor and vice regional governor, respectively, who chose the common good over their personal interests. Moreover, there are those who view this election in the ARMM as an indication of the BBL dead on track. Worse, spoilers will likely interpret this as government not doing enough to comply with its obligations.
In a period of uncertainty like this, rumors breed so fast. The government and the MILF should, therefore, step in and contain the ill-effects of this grapevine communication. They should also devise a common strategy, including correct messaging, in order to contain the negative impacts. More importantly, the Parties shall always be guided by frankness and transparency. This is the only way we know.
(In Photo)- Left- Lord Jack Wilson McConnel, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim; MILF 2nd Vice Chairman Aleem Pangalian Solaiman and right- Mr. Thomas Phipps- Luwaran photo
Lord Jack Wilson McConnell, 1st Minister of Scotland from 2001 to 2007 paid visit to the administrative base of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at Darapanan, Sultan, Kudarat, Maguindanao on October 6, where he was welcomed by MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and some of the Moro Front’s Central Committee members.
Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Scotland was accompanied by Mr. Thomas Phipps. He purposely came to share some insights and experiences in their quest for autonomous Scotland.
“Having observed the situation in the region, it is statistically different and dramatically far beyond than other regions in the country”, Lord McConnell noticed. He also said there are lot of challenges that the Bangsamoro will be facing in the transition period and mentioned importance of preparing for a Parliamentary System.
A peace advocate himself, Lord McConnell, answered one Central Committee member’s concern on the way the legislators interprets signed agreements, vis a vis the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) as unconstitutional, hence, it is one of the reasons why passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law is being hindered.
Lord McConnell answered that “the delay could be an opportunity as well as frustrations to some”. . Opportunity for the MILF to prepare for governance, strengthen its political party and improve the life’s condition of people.
A Mathematics teacher in his professional life and Council Secretary of Scottish Labour Party (1992-1998), Lord McConnell related that there is a continuing negotiation between autonomous Scotland and the United Kingdom resulting to an increase in some powers and stronger autonomy in handling its block grants provisions.
The insights given by the peace advocate from United Kingdom brought more hope, despite what seemingly obstructive legislators are showing.
On its part, the MILF leadership also believes that continuing negotiation is the best step to achieve the implementation of signed agreements between the Government and the MILF.
On behalf of the Central Committee and the MILF, Chairman Al Hajj Murad conveyed his thanks and gratitude for Lord McConnell’s visit and the very fruitful meeting.
Lord McConnell was too glad for having the chance to impart his knowledge and experiences and being able to visit Bangsamoro. His message: “Wishing you, (Bangsamoro) very well, you have real potentials, though there are challenges, still you are pointing at the right direction”.
Moro women belonging to people’s organization (PO’s) in Aleosan, North Cotabato and from nearby areas attended Seminar on Leadership, Management and Anti-Corruption Initiatives held at Ma’had Aleoasan Al- Islamie, Pagangan, Aleosan, North Cotabato last October 3-4, 2015.
Sheikh Abdulsalam D. Alabat, Extension Service Unit Officer of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) lectured on Islamic Leadership and emphasized its core elements and its corresponding application in response to the current situation where the present society is on the brink of decadence as the result of human insatiability on material things.
Tirso Tahir, BLMI Research Unit Officer discussed ‘integrity’ where he emphasized the importance of upgrading the level of integrity on oneself through consistent application of its principles by doing what is right and what is virtuous and not doing it for personal gain but for the benefit of fellowmen.
He cited the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who said in the Hadith…”Always strive to excel in virtue and truth”.
“People tends to doubt of what you are saying, but they will always believe on what you are doing “Integrity is the heart of man’s character and so do not lose it” Tahir stressed.
In the final day of the program, Tahir lectured on Anti- Corruption Initiatives and presented its different spectra associated to corruption and its prevention. He mentioned the causes and effects of corruption and other contributing factors that may lead to corruption which he described as among the most abhorrent deed and menace in society that have caused poverty and violence even in the family.
“Corruption is not only all about abusing the entrusted public power for private benefit or personal gain and misuse of public funds, it also connotes to individuals who unproductively used and managed their time and other blessings endowed to them by their Creator. Irresponsive to the given responsibility is also part of corruption where some of us are unmindful of its consequences either in this world or in the day hereafter”, he added.
“And do not consume one another's wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful]'' (Noble Qur’an Chapter 2, verse 188)
At the end of the program, the participants expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the organizers, the BLMI and the resource persons for the conduct of the program and the knowledge imparted to them.
The pizza restaurant (right) of former Italian priest turned businessman Rolando del Torchio (left) in Barangay Miputak, Dipolog City. Torchio was abducted Wednesday night inside his pizza restaurant by ten unidentified gunmen. Office of Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn Uy
Authorities said they have not yet sighted former Italian priest turned businessman kidnapped by a still unidentified group in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.
Military and police forces continue to comb all suspected escape routes and harbor areas where Rolando del Torchio, 56, was believed to have been taken, said Police Chief Superintendent Miguel Antonio, director of Police Regional Office 9 (PRO).
Antonio, who was in Dipolog City Friday, said they are gathering all leads on the abduction of del Torchio.
“There is no sighting yet of the whereabouts of the victim but we are gathering all the leads that will help us track down and rescue the victim the soonest possible time,” Antonio said.
Del Torchio was forcibly abducted inside his Ur Choice Bistro Pizza Café along Quezon Avenue, Barangay Miputak in the downtown of Dipolog City Wednesday by ten gunmen pretending as customers.
READ: Gunmen abduct Italian ex-priest in Dipolog City
The getaway van abandoned by the suspects in the nearby boulevard was recovered hours later.
According to Antonio, the police did not receive a ransom demand yet from del Torchio's abductors.
“There was no contact yet from the abductors of del Torchio," Antonio said.
[Video report: Mga Pinoy at Amerikanong sundalo, 'sinalakay' ang isang isla
Kunwaring sinalakay ng Philippine Marines ang isang isla sa Cavite kasama ang mga sundalong Amerikano. Bahagi ito ng PHIBLEX, o amphibious landing exercise na taon-taong ginagawa dito sa Pilipinas. Nagpa-Patrol si Chiara Zambrano. TV Patrol, Huwebes, Oktubre 8, 2015
The video showed six men entering del Torchio's pizza parlor. After several minutes the kidnappers are seen dragging the businessman towards a silver metallic L300 van.
Members of the Philippine and American Marine Corps conducted an amphibious boat raid and live fire exercises under the Philippines-U.S. Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2015 in Ternate, Cavite.
Philippine troops conducted a mock beach assault with American marines in joint drills aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two groups.
American and Filipino troops simulated an attack on an island during the PHIBLEX 2015. Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters.
PHIBLEX 2015 aims to enhance cooperation between the two countries. Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters.
Aside from Filipino and American military officials, observers from Thailand and Japan were also present during the exercise. Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters.
According to Major General Romeo Talago, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, the island raid is applicable to several real-world situations, such as insertion of troops in the West Philippine Sea and other islands. Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters.
Brigadier General Paul Kennedy of the U.S. Marines believe the exercises show that by working together, the Philippine and American forces combined become a lethal and capable force. Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters.
US and Philippine Marines disembark in Ternate, Cavite, during an exercise on Oct. 8. Danny Pata
Liaison Officers (LNO) representing seven navies from Southeast Asia and United States – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, US and Singapore – have gathered at the Changi C2 Centre in Singapore for the 14th iteration of Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT).
“Under the auspice of a fictional United Nations Security Resolution, a combined U.S. and Southeast Asian Anti-Piracy Task Group was formed to thwart a recent increase in incidents of maritime piracy, and smuggling of weapons and narcotics in the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea,” Task Force 73, US 7th Fleet Foreign Area Officer CDR Greg Adams said of the scenario.
He further added the virtual reality unfolded at the Changi C2 Centre, three U.S. Naval Ships, the AMELIA EARHART, SAFEGUARD, and MILLINOCKET, acting as ‘bad guys’, sailed through the South China Sea, Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea.
“Tidbits of information from Interpol, regional information fusion centers, news broadcasts, etc. trickled in to the Liaison Officers on the watchfloor, and only through an abundance of cooperation and information sharing was the picture clear enough for regional navies to conduct boardings at sea,” Adams added. “Each boarding informed the next, and over the course of the five day exercise participating navies carried out a total of eight successful boardings at sea.”
“LNO’s first-hand accounts from real-world operations were deconstructed and applied to a future fictional operation. SEACAT remains an effective laboratory to study operations-past and apply these lessons to operations-future,” the US Navy officer said.
SEACAT is a scenario-driven tracking exercise which focuses on real time information exchange between the navy units involved, coordinated monitoring and close observation on our maritime territory, tracking suspicious vessels, and eventual conduct of visit, board, search and seizure to the SEACAT-controlled contact of interest or the supposed suspicious target vessel.
The kidnappings show the Abu Sayyaf is regaining strength in the south, a desperately poor region home to most of the nation's Muslim minority
TAKEN. Italian restaurateur Rolando del Torchio is kidnapped from his restaurant in Dipolog City. Photo by Gualberto Laput
Rolando del Torchio, 56, was the fourth foreigner kidnapped in the region in three weeks, and brings to eight the number believed to be held by the Abu Sayyaf group, listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. (READ: Kidnappers take owner of Dipolog Italian restaurant)
The kidnappings show the Abu Sayyaf is regaining strength in the south, a desperately poor region home to most of the nation's Muslim minority, after a US-backed military campaign was scaled down this year, analysts said.
"This shows that the Abu Sayyaf is not only regaining its old shape and form, it is also reaching a new level of sophistication," Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior analyst at the Philippine Institute for Peace Violence and Terrorism Research, told Agence France-Presse.
During its heyday in the 2000s, the Abu Sayyaf ransomed off dozens of foreigners from raids as far off as Malaysia's Sipadan island, until its key leaders died in military assaults aided by the United States.
Mendoza noted how in the most recent kidnappings, the Abu Sayyaf struck on opposite ends of the main southern island of Mindanao, an unusually wide arc for their raids for recent years.
On Wednesday night, six suspects seized Del Torchio from a pizza shop he ran in the sleepy port city of Dipolog, then fled by speedboat towards Jolo, the Abu Sayyaf's island stronghold on the country's southwestern tip.
Dipolog is about 400 kilometers (240 miles) from Jolo, a small island where the militants enjoy support of local communities and have the upper hand against the military in remote jungle and mountainous terrain.
Three weeks ago, gunmen seized two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from the resort island of Samal, about 500 kilometers from Jolo.
Mendoza said the group was brought to Jolo, although the military has not verified this.
US fighter jets are on standby at the upper deck of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens guided missile cruiser passes during a media tour at the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila September 3, 2010. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
The United States is considering sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea to signal it does not recognize Chinese territorial claims over the area, a US defense official said on Thursday.
The Financial Times newspaper cited a senior US official as saying US ships would sail within 12-nautical-mile zones, that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain, within the next two weeks.
The Navy Times quoted US officials as saying the action could take place "within days," but awaited final approval from the Obama administration.
A US defense official declined to confirm that any decision had been made, but referred to remarks in congressional testimony last month by US Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear, that "all options are on the table."
"We are looking at this," the official said, on condition of anonymity.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said last month, in reference to China's South China Sea claims, that the United States would "fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as US forces do all over the world."
The White House declined to comment on potential classified naval operations.
In May, the Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the crew of a US P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft when it conducted flights near China's artificial islands, according to CNN, which was aboard the US aircraft.
Here’s a News5 video report:
China watching closely
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Thursday that China was paying attention to the reports of impending US naval action, and that it and the United States have maintained “extremely thorough communication” on the South China Sea issue.
“I believe the US side is extremely clear about China’s relevant principled stance," she said. "We hope the US side can objectively and fairly view the current situation in the South China Sea, and with China, genuinely play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
US President Barack Obama said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping he had "significant concerns" about the islands when Xi made his first state visit to Washington late in September.
Xi said at the time that China intended to militarize the islands, but Washington analysts and US officials say China has already begun creating military facilities, and the only question is how much military hardware it will install.
Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US forces in the Pacific, has said China's development of the islands, including the building of runways suitable for military use, was of "great concern" and a threat to the region.
In congressional testimony on Sept. 17, Harris said the United States should challenge China's claim to territory in the South China Sea by patroling close to the artificial islands and was considering going within 12 miles of them.
China claims most of the South China Sea, where the Spratly islands are located and $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.
Philippine military officials have said that China has repeatedly warned Philippine military aircraft away from the artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago.
The United States Thursday announced it had quadrupled support to Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia to boost their law enforcement capabilities at sea, but stressed that the move was not connected to a bitter regional maritime dispute with Beijing.
"This initiative at this time constitutes more than $100 million of US assistance for maritime law enforcement to these four nations," US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield said in a telephone press conference from Washington.
The aid builds on an initial $25-million pledge announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in December 2013.
"We are not completely stupid. We are aware that there are other issues at play in the region, but our support is focused on maritime law enforcement," he added.
Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping claims with China in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Tensions have flared over the past year as evidence has surfaced showing a push by Beijing to build islands on top of some of the contested reefs and install what some of the other claimants, as well as security analysts, suspect are military facilities.
"The initiative is completely transparent. We are doing nothing behind closed doors," Brownfield said a week after visiting Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
"I do acknowledge, logic and common sense will tell you, that a nation that is better able to enforce its maritime laws will be better able to address other issues as well. But that is not the purpose of this initiative."
China deems most of the South China Sea, a key waterway for global trade, part of its territory, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have rival claims to the water.
The Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division is now conducting pursuit operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) band who shot and killed a tribal leader in Agusan Del Norte Wednesday afternoon. 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Oscar Lactao condemned this latest atrocity by the rebels against the Indigenous People.
The victim was identified as Datu Ricardo M. Sualhayan, 37, married, a tribal leader of the Higaonon Tribe and residing in Sitio Mimbahandi, Barangay Camagong, Nasipit of the said locality.
He was headed for home aboard his motorcycle when shot dead by the rebels, allegedly affiliated with Guerilla Front 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, at 1:30 p.m.
Sualhayan sustained gunshot wounds in the forehead and shoulders resulting in his immediate death. This took place at Kilometer 8, Sitio Balaatan, Barangay Camagong.
Lactao said the victim was one of the tribal leaders desirous of peace and strongly opposed to NPA influence. “We strongly condemn this spate of unwarranted killings perpetrated by the NPA. This will create another cycle of violence in the area. There is a need to put an end to all of this,” he added.
ABDUCTION ON SAMAL ISLAND Armed men abducted Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, with Filipino girlfriend Marites Flor (inset photos), Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad on the Island Garden City of Samal, just off Davao City, on Monday night. Photo taken on Sept. 19 shows the Norwegian shipbuilder and caretaker of Oceanview Marina posing beside his newly finished catamaran twin-hull yacht at Barangay Camudmud on Samal Island. INSET PHOTOS COURTESY OF AFP EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND/FACEBOOK
The group that snatched three foreigners and a Filipino woman from the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21 were not members of the Abu Sayyaf, a senior Moro leader said.
Habib Hashim Mudjahab, chair of the Sulu-based Islamic Command Council, a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said based on a report reaching his group, the kidnappers were “a small group” and did not have links with the Abu Sayyaf.
“They are not members of the Abu Sayyaf,” Mudjahab told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone on Tuesday.
He said MNLF members have been closely monitoring the group – which he did not identify – as they could hand over the victims to the Abu Sayyaf.
“They are monitoring it to prevent this small group from handing over the four captives to a much bigger and organized group of Abu Sayyaf,” he said.
Mudjahab said he was informed by a friend in Davao that the kidnapping of Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall; Hall’s female Filipina friend Marites Flor; and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad was implemented by a “small group of kidnappers” and the kidnapping was “masterminded by a retired military officer.”
“I was told a retired Marine general based in Davao City was the mastermind and he operated using small and organized group to get the captives and hand the captives to another small group of young bandits in Parang, Sulu,” Mudjahab said.
Pressed for the identity of the alleged retired Marine officer, Mudjahab said: “I don’t have his identity. I was just informed by a friend.”
He, however, said that “we cannot definitely say 100 percent these information were factual.”
Brig. Gen. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said the military didn’t “have anything concrete to say” on the kidnapping as of yet.
“We don’t have updates about them, we don’t know where they are now,” he said.
“What we are doing right now is focusing our efforts in combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf,” he said by phone.
Ludy and Loy Maturan pose for a picture outside their Juneau home in September. They were kidnapped along with their 7-month-old granddaughter by Muslim extremists in the Philippines in 1989, after several extremist groups had tried to extort money from Loy, then president of Dansalan College, for years. Dansalan College is in the Islamic City of Marawi.
Twenty-six years ago this October, Loy and Ludy Maturan, now of
Loy and Ludy Maturan are shown in their Juneau home in September. They were kidnapped along with their 7-month-old granddaughter by Muslim extremists in the Philippines in 1989, after several extremist groups had tried to extort money from Loy, then president of Dansalan College, for years. Dansalan College is in the Islamic City of Marawi.
In this infographic, we show the cost of war in Mindanao spanning the administrations of Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Erap Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III
Peace advocates and negotiators are putting up one last fight to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) passed before the Senate and House of Representatives adjourn their regular session on Saturday, October 10.
Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief negotiator of the government in talks with rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said on Wednesday, October 7, that "the BBL should progress before the APEC summit" in November. (Ferrer: Pass Bangsamoro Basic Law before APEC, not December)
Joining Ferrer, Chief MILF peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal reiterated to media that his group is still committed to the peace process, but noted that the proposed law is "the only route towards peace" in Mindanao.
“Genuine peace with justice is within our grasp and let us not lose this golden opportunity so that long years of conflict will never happen again,” Iqbal said.
Wide public support for the peace talks between the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was eroded after a botched police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015. It sparked public outrage, casting doubt on the peace process including the proposed law required to implement the historic deal.
The peace agreement with the MILF is in the final phase of deliberations in Congress. However, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr and Senate President Franklin Drilon earlier said that they agreed to delay the passage of the contentious BBL until December 16, 2015.
In Rappler’s 4-minute animation, we captured the highlights of the 40-year-old conflict:
The total economic loss sustained by Mindanao due to the conflict is pegged at about P640 billion ($13.9 million), according to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
In figures and facts, we dissect the death toll and economic cost of the war under 6 presidencies: Ferdinand Marcos Sr, Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Erap Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III.
Following the Jabidah massacre, Muslim rebels led by Nur Misuari in the southern region of Mindanao formed the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1970.
President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to contain what he described as growing Muslim and communist insurgencies. In 1976, Libyan leader Moammar Kadhafi witnessed the signing of the Tripoli Agreement that provided a framework for autonomy in 13 provinces and 9 cities in
In 1978, one of the MNLF's fiercest ideologues, Salamat Hashim, split from the MNLF and vowed to press ahead with the fight for an independent Islamic state. Salamat and Murad Ebrahim, another prominent rebel commander, formed the MILF in 1981.
After the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos, the Aquino administration launched peace talks with the MNLF.
In 1989, the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was signed into law.
In 1996, Misuari, on behalf of the MNLF, signed a final peace agreement with the Ramos government.
That year, the MILF, which had long broken away from the MNLF, also entered into informal talks with the Ramos government. But the MILF peace project was put on the back burner, allowing the organization to recruit, establish huge camps in Central Mindanao and become the biggest Muslim rebel movement.
Former president Joseph Estrada mobilized the entire armed forces to crush the MILF and bring down its seat of power in Camp Abubakar, Central Mindanao, in 2000.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resumed negotiations with the MILF, taking a bold step in crafting a draft agreement that triggered widespread opposition from lawmakers and various sectors and which the Supreme Court later on declared as unconstitutional.
In response, two MILF commanders led attacks across mainly Christian areas of Mindanao.
In October 2012, the Aquino administration and the MILF signed a peace agreement in Malacañang. It marked the first time the rebel group stepped into the country’s seat of power.
In March 2014, both parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim, on the other hand, described the peace agreement as the “crowning glory of our struggle.”
*Peso Dollar conversion rate as of October 8, 2015. P46.13 = $1
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with ASEAN foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 5, 2015. The U.S. and ASEAN's other official partners will meet in January to discuss the threat of ISIS in the region. Reuters
Southeast Asian nations will meet with the U.S. and seven other countries in January on fighting religious radicalism amid increased Islamic State group activity and recruitment in the region.
Southeast Asia is fertile ground for recruitment, with groups like Indonesia's Jemaa Islamiyah and the Philippines' Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters already pledging allegiance to ISIS, the Guardian said, in August. And the region's many poor Muslims may be easy targets for groups looking to recruit and indoctrinate.
"Once the Islamic State takes root in Southeast Asia, there will be no cost-effective way to stop the insidious growth from spilling over into neighboring regions," Ron Wahid, chairman of Arcanum Global, a strategic advisory firm, said Wednesday, in The Hill.
The Oct. 1 meeting of the 10-nation group agreed to strengthen programs to deradicalize and rehabilitate locals, and analyze the root causes for the spread of extremism in Southeast Asia and boost community-police relations, The Diplomat reported.
ISIS formed a unit, Katibah Nusantara, as early as last year, targeting Muslims and other Southeast Asians to fight in Iraq and Syria. The recruits, it's feared, could launch attacks in the region when they return.
Aside from the U.S., ASEAN is inviting its other official partners -- including China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia -- to the January meeting in Kuala Lumpur, The Diplomat reported.