From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 12): 2 farmers mistaken for NPA rebels released
TWO farmers who were mistaken for New People’s Army rebels were released yesterday morning a day after the military clashed with a group of insurgents in Oas town in Albay.
Capt. Mardjorie Panesa, public affairs officer of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, said the two, Socrates Rempillo, 52, and his nephew, Ronnie Rempillo, 35, were allowed to go free after it was established they are not NPA rebels.
Before the Rempillos were accosted, Panesa said soldiers and policemen clashed with about nine rebels at Barangay Moroponsor around 2:10 p.m. last Tuesday. The 20-minute firefight led to the recovery of two M16 rifles and rebel documents.
Panesa said troops conducted the operations in response after receiving information that the rebels were recruiting civilians.
No one was reported killed or injured on the government side. Panesa said “there were indications of rebels who were wounded in the fighting.”
While the military was holding clearing operations, Panesa said troops apprehended the Rempillos.
“The troops thought that they were NPAs because they were near the encounter site,” Panesa said. “When interviewed, it was established they were merely famers who are residents of the town. They were not harmed.”
Panesa said the two were later turned over to local government officials “for stress debriefing, notification of their immediate family members and further necessary assistance.”
They stated their cognizance of the imperative "to ensure lasting peace in Mindanao, allow Muslim Filipinos to exercise their right to genuine autonomy and catch up with the socio-economic development in the rest of the country, and harness the potentials of the Bangsamoro region to be an indispensable part of the country's economic engine, affirm our unwavering support for the swift passage of an acceptable and meaningful BBL."
The business groups stressed, "With the timetable tightening and with the Bill still in the period of interpellations in Congress, we respectfully call on our congressmen and senators to act with urgency to not only quickly enact the BBL, but also to pass a version that is consistent with the Constitution, adheres to the commitments contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and truly embodies the dreams and aspirations of Muslim Filipinos."
"The BBL must not diminish what was already given to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)," they said and that "The Expanded ARMM Organic Act should form the baseline from where an acceptable and meaningful BBL is to be crafted."
Some important provisions of the original draft of the measure submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) were deleted during the deliberation in the two Houses of Congress.
The businessmen noted that the poorest and least developed provinces are found in the Bangsamoro, thus "the grant of full fiscal autonomy is essential and that the region must have power over inland water and "strategic mineral" within its jurisdiction."
They said, "We believe that there is no other viable path to winning the peace in Mindanao's conflicted areas but the completion of the peace process, and it cannot and will not move forward if the BBL remains stalled in Congress. Never before has the peace process progressed to a stage where we are at the brink of ending decades of armed conflict, which has displaced and killed thousands of persons, mostly civilians."
The business organizations reiterate their "support for the completion of the peace process and vowed to accompany the government towards its fulfillment every step of the way."
"Let the achievement of peace in Mindanao be our enduring legacy for the succeeding generations of Filipinos," they said.
The deliberation of BBL in both Chambers of Congress have been stalled due to lack of quorum. Stakeholders have been calling the legislators to work on the passage of the BBL consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a peace accord signed by the government and the MILF in 2014.
Once the BBL is enacted, the ARMM will be deemed abolished and the new Bangsamoro autonomous region will be created adopting a parliamentary form of government.
There were 15 bus
iness organizations which signed the statement which include the ARMM Business Council Bangsamoro Business Club, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress, American Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.