Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Death toll rises

From the Mindanao Tines (Jun 20): Death toll rises

7 fatalities in unabated AFP vs NPA clashes

 AMID calls by the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the government to stop offensives against each other and focus attention to fight terror groups, clashes between government forces and the communist rebels continue with seven deaths – two soldiers and three rebels — reported since Saturday in the region.

With this, officials of both police and military units in the region warned their subordinates not to let their guard down against the New People’s Army (NPA).

The latest incident that left fatalities happened on Sunday.

Two soldiers were killed while four others were wounded when troopers of the Philippine Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion (IB) encountered 35 rebels under the Sub Regional Committe (SRC) in Barangay New Barili, Maco, Compostela Valley at 11:26 a.m.

The names of the fallen soldiers were withheld pending notification of their relatives.

The encounter resulted to the recovery of one improvised explosive device (IED), six backpacks, around 200 pieces of assorted live ammunitions, and subversive documents belonging to the rebels.
Another encounter happened at 3:33 p.m. in the same barangay as government soldiers were chasing the rebels.

Capt. Jayrald Ternio, the 71st IB civil-military operations officer, said said the rebels apparently suffered undetermined numbers of casualties after being hit by reinforcing artillery fires.

Ternio said soldiers were deployed to New Barili after they received reports from the residents that NPAs were planning to initiate atrocities and extortion activities in the area.


Earlier that day, at 8 a.m., in a security patrol in Barangay Kidawa, Laak, Compostela Valley, soldiers from 60th IB and 72nd IB arrested Randy Martin Magadan, alias Ka Andrew, who was bringing an IED intended to inflict damage to government troopers in Km. 26, Barangay Kidawa, Laak.
Magadan, 24, single, of Barangay Bollucan in Laak, is said to be the supply officer of Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC).
The suspect was turned over to Laak Municipal police station.


Also on that hour, Alpha Company of 60IB soldiers were attacked by some 10 rebels, believed to be members of Guerilla Front 55, SMRC, in Barangay Sto. Niño, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

The troopers, led by Corporal Mama Mama, were conducting checkpoint at the Talaingod-Bukidnon road in Sitio at Uraya when they were attacked.

The firefight lasted for 30 minutes.

Around 9 a.m. in Barangay, Marabatuan, Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental, 73rd IB troopers were fired upon by unidentified perpetrators while conducting patrol. A five-minute firefight ensued but no casualty was reported in the Sitio Mamacao encounter.

That day, encounters were also reported in Davao Oriental and in Davao City.

In Davao City, the NPA’s PBC2 – South Regional Command 3 (SRC3) ambushed the scout platoon of the 3rd IB while passing along the national highway in Pagan Pequino, Barangay Tamugan in Marilog District.
The Army platoon pursued the attackers leading to almost an hour firefight. No casualty was reported.

In Davao Oriental, two encounters between government soldiers and the NPA rebels occurred in the towns of Cateel and Banaybanay.

The first encountered happened on Saturday around 7 a.m. when 67th IB soldiers encountered around 10 rebels in Sitio 35, Barangay Taytayan in Cateel. Three alleged members of NPA belonging to Manobo and B’laan tribe were killed in the encounter.
The second incident was in Barangay Causwagan in Banaybanay at 6:30 a.m. as 28th IB troopers encountered about 20 rebels.

On Saturday, an alleged high-ranking leader and another guerilla were killed in a 10-minute clash with government troopers in Barangay Araibo, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. One of the fatalities was identified as Ka Lepi, the secretary of SMRC Guerilla Front 27.

Lt. Col. Davice Christopher Mercado, the 71st IB commander, recognized the heroism of the soldiers.

Mercado also thanked the residents who gave them information that led to the “disruption of enemy’s larger and more violent hostile plan.”

“While we mourn for the death of our troops who died fighting for the safety of the civilians away from NPA violent actions, we remain steadfast and committed in performing our mandate to protect the people”, Mercado said in his closing statement.


Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the newly appointed commander of 10th Infantry “Agila” Division, told TIMES that he has directed his brigade and battalion commanders to be proactive in the operations to prevent the NPAs from conducting atrocities against government forces and civilian populace.

“The encounters are results of this directive to ensure that we protect our communities,” Clement said.

Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) XI, said he has a standing instruction to all provincial and city directors and other police heads to always be on lookout against communist rebels, especially those who are masquerading as human rights activists.

“All commanders are made aware that terrorists attack at the least expected, most opportune time favorable to them,” Gaerlan said. “Wala dapat patulog-tulog!”

On Friday, NDF consultant Fidel Agcaoili issued a statement confirming the order for its armed group to refrain from attacking government forces so they can “concentrate against Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Ansar Khalifa Philippines groups.” The order, however, came with the condition for the “AFP and PNP likewise to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and people’s militia.”

Security tightened in Sultan Kudarat province due to ISIS

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 20): Security tightened in Sultan Kudarat province due to ISIS

Police have tightened security in Sultan Kudarat province in southern Philippines following intelligence reports that were ISIS supporters in at least 3 towns.

Provincial police chief Raul Supiter said security forces were already alerted about the information, but he declined to names the town where these ISIS supporters are hiding so as not to jeopardize ongoing law enforcement operations in Sultan Kudarat.

He also appealed to the public to stay vigilant and help authorities by providing information on suspicious persons or groups in their community.

It was unknown whether these supporters came from other areas or locals, but Supiter assured citizens that police and military are on top of the situation.
Fighting between ISIS militants and security forces continue in Marawi in Lanao del Sur province since May 23 when jihadists occupied much of the city in an effort to make it a province of the Islamic State.


President Duterte visits Marawi evacuees in Iligan City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 21): President Duterte visits Marawi evacuees in Iligan City

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte visited Iligan City on Tuesday, June 20, to personally check the condition of evacuees currently being housed at the Iligan City National School of Fisheries in Barangay Buru-un here.

In his speech, Duterte vowed to give assistance to families affected by the Marawi siege from their immediate needs up to rehabilitation and recovery phase.

“Most important thing is that matulungan ko kayo. Huwag kayong mag-alala, tutulungan ko kayo, hindi ko kayo pababayaan, hanggang relocation,” Duterte said.

The Chief Executive said the government will rehabilitate Marawi and will make it beautiful and livable again.

“But this I will promise you, I will set aside initially 20 billion para maumpisahan, ‘yung mga mahirap ang unahin ko,” he said.

The President also apologized to the Maranao people who have been affected by the attack of the Maute terror group.

“I would like to say to the Maranao people that I am very, very, very sorry na nangyari ito sa atin,” he said.

"Sana kung madaling panahon, you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, ang gobyerno, pati ako for declaring martial law. Wala akong choice eh sinisira na ang Marawi. I have to drive them out. But I am very sorry," he added.

The Chief Executive provided financial assistance to the evacuees. Each family also received cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Meanwhile, the President reiterated his promise to establish federalism as an effort to solve conflict and achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

During his visit, the President was accompanied by his Cabinet officials. Among them were Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Concerns Abdullah Mamao, and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Chief Ricardo Jalad. (PND)


Peace Corridor facilitates humanitarian assistance to conflict zone

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 21): Peace Corridor facilitates humanitarian assistance to conflict zone

The establishment of the Peace Corridor has been instrumental in providing much-needed humanitarian assistance to residents affected by the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City and municipalities that straddle Lake Lanao.

This was revealed by Wendell Orbeso, head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ (OPAPP) Cotabato Operations Office, which has Pbeen tasked to provide support to the GPH-MILF Peace Corridor initiative which began last June 4.

“Since the opening of the Peace Corridor, the flow of humanitarian assistance has been continuous in the affected areas,” Orbeso said.

The Peace Corridor is a safe and secure zone for civilians fleeing the conflict, as well as a reliable space where humanitarian assistance can pass through.

To date, the initiative has helped facilitate the rescue of 270 civilians who were trapped in the armed battle between government forces and members of the Maute group since the latter laid siege to the city last May 23.

The Peace Corridor was created through a collaborative effort of the Implementing Panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Under the Peace Corridor, two Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Action Centers (JCMAC) were established. One is located in Marawi, while the other is in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.

Orbeso noted that media coverage on the Marawi crisis should highlight the relief efforts being carried out by local and international humanitarian organizations on the Malabang portion of the corridor.

He said the Malabang Peace Corridor has made possible the unhampered entry of relief goods in the conflict zone, something that was not possible before the initiative started.

Orbesa said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) provincial government, through its Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART), wanted to make sure that the assistance it brought along reached all intended beneficiaries.

He explained that through the JCMACs, coordination between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the MILF was further strengthened, enabling the ARMM-HEART teams to successfully carry out relief efforts in the affected communities.

“If needed, the JCMAC, composed of unarmed members of the MILF and military, accompanies the ARMM-HEART convoy in bringing in the relief goods,” Orbeso said.

Based on the latest situational report of JCMAC, 17,507 foods packs, 5,587 pieces of Malong and 1,343 hygienic kits have been distributed by the ARMM-HEART in Marawi City and 20 other surrounding municipalities in Lanao del Sur.

The relief efforts were carried out by the ARMM-HEART in partnership with the International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC), Community, Family Services International (CSFI), Bangsamoro Development Authority (BDA) and other donor agencies.

In the meantime, OPAPP Undersecretary Nabil Tan, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Acel Papa and OPAPP Consultant Gerry Salapudin visited the JCMAC Office in Marawi and were briefed by Col. Cesar de Mesa, JCMAC officer-in-charge, on the relief and humanitarian efforts being undertaken through the Peace Corridor.

During the briefing, de Mesa emphasized that the Peace Corridor is a testament to “how far the Bangsamoro peace process has come and the partnership that has been established [between the Philippine government and the MILF].”

 For his part, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso explained to members of the JCMAC team that the purpose of Usec. Tan’s visit was to observe the operations of the center and gather inputs on how the delivery of its services can further be improved.

Hermoso said the JCMAC has already developed its operational “doctrine” which has enabled the center to function effectively both as a rescue and humanitarian unit.

“When we set up the JCMAC, we established the capability to move fast and communicate [with our partners on the ground],” he said, adding that these have been the key in the center’s ability to immediately respond to developments on the ground. (OPAPP)


Cops raid house of Maute supporter

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 20): Cops raid house of Maute supporter

Police authorities raided the house of a Cotabato City government employee arrested last week for alleged involvement in the activities of Maute terrorist group, police here said today.

Chief Inspector Achmad Alibonga, police chief of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, said the raiding team was armed by a search warrant issued by Judge Alexandrex Betoya when police conducted search operation in the house of Nasser Dilangalen at SPDA subdivision in Barangay Broce, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.

Dilangalen, a foreman of the Cotabato City engineering office, was earlier arrested by police and military agents based on arrest and search order issued by Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana on personalities linked to Maute terror group.

Seized from Dilangalen’s house was an improvised explosive device made of live 40-mm high explosives with mobile phone as triggering device and a cal. 45 pistol with ammunition.

Dilangalen was said to be a recruiter for Ansar Al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP), an affiliate of Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group who seized Marawi City 29 days ago.

Another suspect, also in the DND list of wanted persons who voluntarily surrendered to police in South Cotabato, has been charged.

Engr. Talib Bayabao, provincial director of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), remained in police custody but was charged, according to Senior Supt. Franklin Alvero, South Cotabato police director.


Army-NPA clash in Leon due to ops vs 'Maasin' raiders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 20): Army-NPA clash in Leon due to ops vs 'Maasin' raiders

The commander of the 61st BI here said the encounter Tuesday morning between his troops and New People's Army rebels was part of their ongoing "hot pursuit" against the raiders of the police station in Maasin Town last Sunday.

"We are receiving information from the civilians that they (NPAs) are just within the area so we are taking actions to it," said 61st IB Commander Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando A. Magbalot, Jr. in an interview.

According to Magbalot, there are more or less 20 NPA members hiding in the mountainous area of Leon.

He added they were doing various operations in pursuit of the NPA rebels together with the Philippine National Police.

Magbalot also said that 53-year-old male barangay tanod identified as Romeo Cabalong was injured during the encounter of his troops and NPA rebels on Tuesday morning in Barangay Lampaya, Leon, Iloilo.

Magbalot said the barangay tanod sustained a non-fatal gunshot in the right shoulder.

The victim was immediately brought to the hospital by the responding soldiers after the incident, he added.

According to the information received by Magbalot from the residents, they suspected that the shot came from the rebels as Barangay Lampaya was against the NPA.


NPA raids smack of opportunism, says Palace

From The Standard/Manila Standard (Jun 20): NPA raids smack of opportunism, says Palace

MALACAÑANG on Monday tagged the New People’s Army (NPA) as opportunists after they ransacked a police station in Iloilo over the weekend even though peace negotiators on both sides said they would refrain from attacking each other as a confidence-building measure.

“Although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was opportunistic in nature and disregards the nature of the NDF declaration,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, referring to the communist National Democratic Front.

We ask the NDF to call on their armed comrades on the ground to walk the talk and to show genuine sincerity on the confidence-building measure initiated by the government,” he added.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla also said it was clear the NPA objective was to get more arms.

He also said the NPA forces knew the government defenses elsewhere were weakened because reinforcements were sent to Mindanao.

“One of the reasons they did the attack on Maasin [is that] many of our troops went to Mindanao. That’s why we say it’s very opportunistic on their part,” Padilla said.

At least 50 suspected members of the New People’s Army ransacked a police station in Maasin, Iloilo province on Sunday morning, taking away several firearms from the police station including eight M16 rifles, four Glock 9mm pistols, five handheld radios, a base radio, and two laptops. The rebels also took P25,000 from the police station and a patrol car.

The NPA Coronacion “Waling-Waling” Chiva Command in Panay issued a statement confirming the attack, with its spokesperson, Ka Julio Montana, accusing the municipal police force of extorting from small vendors and allowing the proliferation of illegal drugs and gambling.

Abella, however, questioned the timing of the NPA attacks, coming as they did as both sides were discussing a ceasefire.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that they will be pushing for a nationwide ceasefire amid the government’s resolve to end the longest communist insurgency in Asia.

“The NPA attack in Maasin, Iloilo and elsewhere must be dealt with accordingly and decisively by the AFP and the PNP with the cooperation of civilian agencies and the affected communities,” Dureza said in a statement.

“It is disheartening to note that such attacks provide a negative impact in our mutual commitment with the NDF to provide that enabling environment conducive to the continuation of peace negotiations with them.”

The public’s trust in rebel groups and armed movements remain “poor,” the latest Social Weather Stations survey showed.

The survey among 1,200 adult respondents, showed that some 28 percent of Filipinos expressed much trust and 38 percent showed little trust in the National Democratic Front (NDF), the revolutionary front organization of left-leaning groups, which included the Communist Party of the Philippines and their armed wing, the New People’s Army.

Trust in the CPP and NPA remained low at 21 percent while 48 percent expressed “little trust” in the communists.

The resulting net trust rating scores were a “poor” -10 for the NDF and a “poor” -27 for the CPP/NPA.

Among Moro groups, some 18 percent of Filipinos expressed “much trust” and 56 percent had “little trust” in the Moro National Liberation Front, resulting in a net trust rating of “bad” -38.

For the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, some 18 percent expressed “much trust” while 57 percent said they had “little trust” in the group, resulting in a net trust rating of “bad” -39.

The First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey, conducted from March 25-28, 2017 has a nationwide sampling error margins of ±3 percent.


AFP loses 2 Marines in blast & 1 Army trooper in Marawi clashes

From The Standard/Manila Standard (Jun 19): AFP loses 2 Marines in blast & 1 Army trooper in Marawi clashes 

Two more members of the Philippine Marines have been added to the list of fatalities in Marawi City.

Reports on the ground say, the soldiers were hit by landmines.

Another members of the Philippine Army was killed in the fighting between government forces and Maute group.

Meanwhile, about eleven (11) kilos of shabu were seized from a house that was previously occupied by the terrorists.

The illegal drugs were seized during a military operation on Sunday afternoon.

Government troops have also found shabu in other establishments in the city that were previously used by the terrorists as hideouts.


5 Individuals from Lanao tried to travel to Manila using fake IDs

From Update Philippines (Jun 20): 5 Individuals from Lanao tried to travel to Manila using fake IDs

 Coast Guard photos

Five individuals were apprehended by Coast Guard Station Cagayan De Oro (CGS CDO) and are now being held at Headquarters Coast Guard District Northern Mindanao (CGDNM) after they provided fake identification cards trying to travel from Cagayan de Oro to Manila via 2Go vessel MV Pope John Paul II on evening of June 19.

The five presented “fake identification cards while entering at Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Passenger Terminal Gate 1 in Cagayan de Oro,” the Philippine Coast Guard said. They will be charged for using fake documents.

They were identified as Alinor Dimapora, 27 years old from Saguiaran, Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur; Abubacar M Ibrahim, 33 years old from Bundiangkay, Maging, Lanao Del Sur; Abdel Cali Hamid, 26 years old from Pindulunan in Maging; and Ameroding D Unte, 21 years old and Bashit G Unti, 22 years old, both residents of Delausan Poblacion, Maging, Lanao Del Sur.

They presented Systems Technology Institute (STI) ID, Duterte ID, Mindanao State University (MSU) ID and Postal ID which were found to be falsified.

“When asked about the ID, Alinor Dimapora cannot answer simple questions and later, they discovered that he could not read and write,” PCG said. Further investigation is being conducted.


Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines launch trilateral patrol agreement

From Update Philippines (Jun 20): Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines launch trilateral patrol agreement

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines launched the trilateral maritime patrolling of borders. “So ‘yung kasunduan po na ‘yan nailatag na lahat ng mga protocols at ‘yung angkop na agreement ay napirmahan na. At ngayon ‘yung launching – pagpapatupad na lamang,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said during June 19 Mindanao Hour Briefing.

He said the trilateral agreement for patrols in trilateral border aims to prevent cross border kidnappings.

This agreement will allow hot pursuit operations to cross borders until the authorities of the other country takes over of pursuit. “Pwedeng lumagpas — pumasok sa mga territory habang hinahabol hangga’t nakuha ng kabilang side ‘yung paghabol at pag-accost doon sa hinahabol,” he explained.

“Bahagi ‘yan ng pagpapatibay nitong ating mga lagusan at daanan ng mga nationals from the different countries that are involved in this partnership,” he said. “Hopefully, ma-address natin ‘yung porous borders natin sa bagay na ‘yan. Pagkakaroon nang mas maayos na pag-patrolya. Unang-una, para ma-prevent ‘yung abduction at high sea, ‘yung mga nangyayaring pagdukot.”

“More than that is the movement of personnel bound from one country to another who are fugitives of their own laws and seeking haven in these parts of these different countries as well as providing assistance to the groups of jihadists in these areas,” he added.


Military Mobile Kitchen on its way to serve Marawi City residents

From Update Philippines (Jun 20): Military Mobile Kitchen on its way to serve Marawi City residents

DWDD photo

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Mobile Kitchen is now on its way to provide service to Filipinos affected by Marawi City crisis.

Government’s current focus includes combat, intelligence, and civil military operations.

Task Force Ranao that has just been activated is in full swing in ensuring that efforts to save lives of innocent non-combatant civilians remain a primary specific task to be complied with,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on June 19.

A bank account was also opened for those who want to send their financial help to internally displaced individuals and families. The bank is Land Bank with under account name Marawi IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) with account number: 00000552107136
Meanwhile, Land Bank account was also opened for those who want to send their help for fallen heroes and families they left behind. Account name is AFP Marawi Casualty with account number: 00000552107128.


DOJ starts prosecution of Maute bandits

From the Business Mirror (Jun 19): DOJ starts prosecution of Maute bandits

JUSTICE department prosecutors last Sunday conducted inquest proceedings for the crime of rebellion against Mohammad Naoim Maute, alias Almahid Pangompig Romato.

Maute is believed to be the youngest brother of Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute, leaders of the bandit group.

He is among those suspected of rebellion under Arrest Order 1, issued by the Department on National Defense on May 29. He was captured in Barangay Santa Cruz, Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City, on June 15.

An inquest is an informal and summary investigation conducted by the public prosecutor in a criminal case involving persons arrested and detained without the benefit of a warrant of arrest.

It intends to determine whether the evidence is sufficient enough to seek court approval to keep the person in detention.

The inquest proceeding was conducted inside Camp Brig. Gen. Edilberto Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City.

Police report indicates that he was using a fake identification card of the Mindanao State University bearing the name of Alfaiz Mamintal to get through checkpoints.

In Butuan City, meanwhile, President Duterte last Saturday denied the crisis in Marawi City was a result of a failure of intelligence.

In his visit to the base of the 401st Infantry Brigade in Butuan, Duterte underscored that the crisis in Marawi City was “not a question of failure” on the part of the government.

“It was not a failure of intelligence. Kasi kung may makita pa silang may armas, tapos sabihin nila, MI [Moro Islamic Liberation Front], MN [Moro National Liberation Front], ang standing order naman is…baka sakali mapakiusapan pa natin ang mga kapatid natin. Walang gulo,” Duterte added.

The President explained that the government had a “very soft policy toward rebels” as the officials did not realize the militants were already storing firearms and ammunition in Marawi City.

“All the while, itong Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, ’yung mga warlords, were stockpiling. Kaya ni hindi maubos ang M-203 na bala at napakarami,” he said.

Duterte also reiterated his commitment to buy brand new air assets and “war-grade” weapons for the military to ensure that government forces would not be at a disadvantage against the terrorists, apparently backed by foreign fighters.

Early during his term, Duterte said air assets are “useless since they are only good for ceremonial fly bys”.

Duterte also called on the military to resume the use of air assets, saying foreign terrorists are fighting alongside the Maute Group.


Commentary: POSTSCRIPT: Addressing challenges posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group: Violent extremism enters a new phase (3)

Commentary from MindaNews (Jun 20): POSTSCRIPT: Addressing challenges posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group: Violent extremism enters a new phase (3)

Last of three parts

Are Negotiations Possible…Or Even Desireable?

In a speech given in a military camp recently, President Duterte ordered the troops to “crush” the insurgents in Marawi, adding “when I say crush them, you have to destroy everything”.  This was with regard to the current problem in Marawi.  But what about the longer-term issue of addressing the Islamic State-affiliated forces in the country?  Is this a situation that is amenable to negotiations, in the same manner that the MNLF and the MILF uprisings were approached?

In one of his khutbas,  “Mu’ahada, Muhadana atawa Mufada:  Pagsulut ha antara sin Mujahideen iban Satru” (Peace between the Mujahideen and the Enemy), Abdurajak Janjalani spoke about the negotiations that had been entered into between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Government at that time (early to mid-1990s).  Janjalani pointed out that those negotiations were leading to confusion as to what the real objective of the MNLF was: whether independence or autonomy; whether an Islamic system of governance would be set up or not.

Drawing from Abdullah Azzam (“Conditions for Making Peace Treaties with Kuffar” in his fatwa “In Defense of Muslim Lands: The First Obligation after Iman”),  Janjalani pointed out a number of conditions that must be met before any negotiations were to be undertaken or any agreements were to be reached. These conditions were:
  1. If the state of Jihad which has been declared is Fard Ayn – meaning that it is a personal obligation that falls on all Muslims (as distinguished from Fard Kifaya, which is an obligation that falls on the community of Muslims and can be fulfilled by some members of the community, relieving the rest of the obligation) – then any peace agreement entered into is from the outset null and void;
  2. Any agreement entered into cannot allow the enemy or the unbelievers to remain on any part of the Muslim territory;
  3. To be valid, any agreement must give total control over the territory to Muslims, and the system of governance must be Islamic;
  4. The agreement must not provide a timetable or a gradual turnover of governance to Muslims. An Islamic system of governance must be implemented immediately;
  5. Any agreement entered into must not contain provisions that are contrary to Sharia law. For example, nothing in the agreement must allow practices such as the selling of liquor within the Muslim territory, or allowing women to wear clothes contrary to Islamic culture;
  6. The agreement must not allow the unbelievers to exercise their religious practices in Muslim territory.
Janjalani pointed out that in the discussions between the MNLF and the Philippine government, and in the agreements signed, none of these conditions were mentioned or even referred to.  He pointed to Afghanistan as the model to be followed.  In that case, the Soviets withdrew completely, not leaving a single soldier or civilian behind.  An Islamic system of government was established without any participation whatsoever on the part of the Soviets.  The Soviets did not dictate or have any say in the process by which the new system of government was established.  The Soviets recognized the new government and Afghanistan as an independent state, and made clear their intent to achieve peace with the Afghans.  Moreover, the Afghan Mujahideen ensured that the Russians were sincere and fulfilled their commitments.

Thus, in the case of the Philippines, Janjalani pointed out that any negotiations with the Philippine government must ensure the following:
  1. The Philippine military must withdraw completely from Mindanao, to include all those who may have sided or co-operated with them, unless they agree to follow the Islamic system of government that would be set up;
  2. The withdrawal must be unconditional;
  3. An Islamic system of government must be set up without any input from the Philippine government;
  4. The Philippine government must recognize the new government to be set up by the Mujahideen and must express its desire to make peace with this state;
  5. The Mujahideen must ensure that the Philippine government is sincere, that it truly wants to make peace, and does not have an intention to subsequently betray or violate the agreement entered into.
Only under such conditions should any discussions be entered into with the Philippine government.  It is for the reasons presented above that Janjalani rejected the discussions undertaken and the agreements entered into by the MNLF with the government, and stated that the objective must always be to set up an Islamic system of government in Mindanao.  (From Jihad Fiy Sabilillah, a compilation of khutbas of Ustadz Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani put together by his students/followers.)

If the present crop of militants in Mindanao – the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the Maute Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the AKP and others – adopt this perspective of Abdullah Azzam and Abdurajak Janjalani, then it would  not only be the Philippine Government who would not be amenable to negotiations but even the militants themselves unless these very strict and seemingly unacceptable conditions are met.


Resolving the situation is certainly going to be difficult.  When one speaks of the “situation” one needs to think not just in terms of the current crisis in Marawi but the broader picture of the efforts to bring peace to Mindanao.  The AFP/PNP will eventually prevail over the militants in Marawi, but at what cost?

On the one hand, Bishop Edwin de la Pena, head of the Catholic Prelature in Marawi, anticipates that “the natural biases that Christians have against Muslims will be stirred up again….these incidents can destroy the foundation that we have built [with regard to interfaith dialogue].”

On the other hand, the way the fighting is handled on the side of the government security forces will determine whether the civilian population will support the government’s efforts or will be aggrieved by them.  While a number of residents have approved of the military’s efforts, expressing anger at the militants for bringing the war to their city, others have expressed concern about the bombardments and airstrikes which are destroying portions of the city and, possibly, killing civilians trapped in these areas.  The military has however displayed commendable restraint in its operations.  A few days ago the AFP announced that despite the fact that the militants were using mosques as their bases, the mosques themselves would not be bombed as the AFP recognized them as being “sacred areas”.  A qualification was made, though, by the military’s spokesman.  It was pointed out that if the parapets of mosques were used as sniper nests, these parapets would be targeted, but the mosques themselves would not be bombed.  In fact the latest report is that the military has suspended the use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships as they close in on the positions of the remaining militant fighters, while retaining the option to call for air support if required.

The military will defeat the militants in Marawi, the city will be made secure again, rebuilding will start and the government will introduce a host of programs to try and bring normalcy back to the city and its residents.  The leadership of the ASG, the Maute Group and other groups helping them may be killed or captured.  There is the possibility that some may be able to escape, if they have not already done so.  In fact some reports indicate that Isnilon Hapilon is no longer in Marawi, but that will not be confirmed until the fighting ends.

But as stated earlier, even with this battle defeat, the militants will have demonstrated that they are a force to reckon with and that they can plan and execute complex military operations.  As a rule, terrorist groups are always at an advantage.  They pick the time and place and the kind of terrorist activity they would undertake.  Government forces often end up reacting after damage has been done.  The ideal situation is one where the state security forces can be one step ahead, anticipating and thwarting attacks, but this is obviously easier said than done.  We need to appreciate how difficult the challenges facing the security sector are.

Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer has pointed out that the delay in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has aggravated the situation in the south.  As per Coronel, this delay has “lent credence to the Islamist discourse against supporting the peace process, heightened the historical Muslim distrust on the government, and put the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s(MILF)  credibility at stake.”  Its passage is an important “plank of a larger peace-building program for Mindanao.”

At the same time, though, we are seeing hopeful signs coming out of Marawi, numerous incidents where Muslims have protected Christians against the militants.  There is the case that has been reported about “Ma’am Farida”, the owner of two gun stores, who defended her Christian employees from about ten terrorists who asked about them by directly confronting the terrorists and telling them “You have to kill me first before you can even touch them”.  There was Zaynab, a relief worker, who gathered over twenty Christians and personally took them through back routes on a 15-hour trip from Marawi to safety in Iligan.  There was Norodin Alonto Lucman who hid over 70 people, most of them Christians, in his home and eventually led them to safety after 12 days, during which around 90 more persons joined them.  These and many others like them show that the decades of inter-faith dialogues have taken root and that many Muslims still believe and practice their faith as a religion of peace.

But winning the battle in Marawi against the ASG, Maute and the other groups fighting alongside them and rebuilding the city of Marawi will not be enough.  The trauma that the residents of Marawi have suffered and continue to suffer will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  Much more will need to be done.  The Government must ensure that it is not seen as contributing to this, that it is in fact protecting not just the people of Marawi but all of Mindanao as well, Muslims and Christians alike.  This is projected not by speeches and displays of bravado but by concrete actions of selflessness in the field.

There has been considerable progress in the professionalization of the leadership and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, if one is to compare the corps of the AFP today with the period of martial law during the 1970s.  The AFP must not surrender this professionalism for expediency’s sake.  Despite atrocities that may be carried out by the enemy, the AFP must stand firm on its principles.

On the policy side, it is comforting to note that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is the Martial Law Administrator.  From the outset of his appointment as Secretary of National Defense, Sec. Lorenzana has shown a grasp of the complexities involved in overseeing the security issues facing the country, has been firm and frank in his assessments and has steered the defense establishment with a steady hand.

But in the final analysis, responsibility for establishing and protecting the peace lies not with the National Government but on the ground, with the communities themselves.  The battle now being waged appears to have its roots in ideology.  Hence the proactive leadership of the region’s religious leaders, the Muftis and the Ulama is sorely needed.  There was an ARMM Summit on Terrorism that was supposed to have drawn together religious leaders from throughout the region last May 12-14.  What resulted from that?  Beyond whatever resolutions and agreements that may have been reached, what concrete actions will religious leaders actually undertake in their communities?

In this connection, Prof. Yusuf Morales has come up with some concrete suggestions to address the issue of radicalization.  Morales, for example, points to some foundational documents which should be studied and which could be the basis for crafting messages which would counter the views being spread by the IS.  He has also described other measures which would help control the extent of radicalization in the country.  (Yusuf Morales, “Addressing Religious Violent Extremism from an ideological framework: Some thoughts for consideration”, MindaNews, June 15, 2017.)

Political leaders must likewise step up and be proactive, setting aside their narrow “political” concerns and focusing on how their communities can be strengthened in what is now clearly a war that has been declared against the people of Mindanao if not the rest of the country.

How can the traditional leaders, the elders, the Tau Maas, be mobilized to exercise their influence within their communities to guide their people along the path that will bring peace and stability to their communities?  It is interesting to note, for example, as reported in MindaNews, that some 50 sultans, datus and baes of Lanao del Sur have offered to speak to the militants holding out in Marawi to get them to leave the city.

The group of elders issued a letter-manifesto addressed to the President decrying the fact that their help was not sought.  “Somehow, we could have influenced (the actions of) this radical people, however, our voices were never recognized by the government to negotiate with them,” the letter stated.  While the political and economic power that these elders held in the past may no longer exist, nevertheless in the traditional societies that still characterize the Muslim-dominated provinces in the south, they still wield influence.

Marawi continues to be a battle zone.  The risk of fighting spreading to other areas is high.  The danger posed by IS-influenced groups and individuals is severe.  Amidst all this, Filipinos, Muslims and Christians alike, must be vigilant but must not give in to demagoguery and the incitement of hatred which is precisely what the IS is promoting.

Unfortunately, the makings of a hate campaign has already been displayed in Cotabato City where the city’s Barangay Tanods were authorized to be armed with assault rifles and .45 caliber pistols to meet terrorist threats in that city.  Based on the statements reported by the press, the tanods “vowed to immediately execute members and even sympathizers of the Dawlah Islamiya and Ansa’r Al-Khilafa they find in the city”.  The report further stated that a particular Barangay Chairman and his Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPATs) “are just waiting for a chance to find misguided militants they plan to immediately kill to show their resolve to prevent their spread in the city”.  (“Cotabato City’s armed tanods ready to kill terrorists, sympathizers”, Philstar, June 15, 2017.)   It is clear that this is a situation ripe for abuse and that the mentality of “shoot now, ask questions later” is alive and well in the south.  By acting like terrorists themselves, these so-called “Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams” would be playing into the hands of the IS.

Peace comes at a price, but it should not be at the cost of turning ourselves into the enemy.

[Vic M. Taylor, originally from Cebu, has been involved in various peace and development activities in Mindanao, particularly in Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) in the different positions he has held in government and the private sector over the last 50 years.

He started as an instructor at the Notre Dame of Jolo College after his graduation from the Ateneo de Manila University in the late 1960s.  Subsequently, he oversaw the Rehabilitation and Development Program for Muslim Mindanao during the early years of martial law under the Office of the President.

Within the last 16 years and upon the request of the families of some kidnap victims, Mr. Taylor assisted these families to help secure the safe release of five victims from the ASG.

Recently, he has been working with a private group that is assisting a community of the Moro National Liberation Front in the Zamboanga peninsula in bringing development projects to their area]


'Peace-loving' Muslims included in Calida terror list – expert

From Rappler (Jun 20): 'Peace-loving' Muslims included in Calida terror list – expert

'Balik-Islam Group in the Philippines is very peaceful, very democratic, and very tolerant and linking them with ISIS is in fact providing them an injustice,' says terror expert Rommel Banlaoi

MARTIAL LAW. Solicitor General Jose Calida holds a press briefing on martial law with other officials at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on May 26, 2017. Malacañang file photo

MARTIAL LAW. Solicitor General Jose Calida holds a press briefing on martial law with other officials at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on May 26, 2017. Malacañang file photo

Solicitor General Jose Calida has included "peace-loving" Muslims in the list of ISIS terror cells in Mindanao he submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) to support the government's martial law declaration in the region.

Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said in an interview with ANC on Tuesday, June 20, that Calida should "rectify" errors in the list, among them, tagging the "Balik-Islam Group" as an ISIS cell in the country.

"One of my major problems with the listing is the identification of the Balik-Islam Group. Balik-Islam Group in the Philippines is very peaceful, very democratic, and very tolerant and linking them with ISIS is in fact providing them an injustice. So that has to be clarified and rectified," Banlaoi said.

He added that Balik-Islam is not a formal group per se, but is a "general term used to describe all Muslim converts in the country."

Banlaoi said that while there are Muslim converts in the country who "have indeed pledged allegiance to ISIS, a majority of Balik-Islam followers" are moderate, peace-loving, tolerant, and democratic.

"It should be clarified why Balik-Islam Group was put in the list of this so-called ISIS sleeper cells in the country," he added.

Banlaoi also noted a "double entry" of some groups in the list, among them, the Abu Sayyaf and the Al Harakatul Islamiyah Battalion, when they are "the same group, not separate."

"Abu Sayyaf Group is the original name of Al Harakatul Islamiyah Battalion," he said, adding that deeming the two as separate entities is like categorizing as separate groups ISIS and Daesh, the other name ISIS is known by.

Banlaoi added that the Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement is "no longer an active group" and has transformed itself into the Syiful Khilafa FI Luzon. Both are listed as separate entities under Calida's list.

"If this list is based on intelligence sources, I am very, very terribly worried on the way we gather intel information. Because there are inaccurate listings of those groups. So we need to rectify and put in the proper context the nuances of these groups," he said.

Banlaoi also said there is no question that the other groups in the list "have the intention to really attack Mindanao and are very eager to mount violent incidents in the name of ISIS."

All of them, he said, are part of a larger group, the Dawlat Al Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik, which is also listed as an ISIS cell in Calida's list.

Calida listed down the ISIS cells in his memorandum filed with the SC on Monday, June 19, to supplement the government's defense of President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law. (READ: SUMMARY: SC oral arguments on martial law in Mindanao)


Abus free 9-yr-old boy after parents pay P200,000 ransom

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 20): Abus free 9-yr-old boy after parents pay P200,000 ransom

9-year-old boy was freed by his Abu Sayyaf kidnappers after his parents paid a P200,000 ransom.

Octavio Dinampo, spokesperson of Save the Sulu Movement (SSM), said that the victim was freed on Monday morning after almost two weeks in captivity.

The boy was kidnapped last June 6 from his home in San Raymundo in Jolo town, was freed to his mother in the town of Patik.
“The mother paid P200,000,” Dinampo said.

A military report disclosed that the boy was taken by the group of Suraka Ingug and Sonny Boy Sajirin.

Earlier, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu said the boy was snatched by the Ajang-ajang group, the kidnapping with ransom component of the Abu Sayyaf.


'NO SUCH THING AS BALIK-ISLAM GROUP'/Security analyst notes inaccuracies in SolGen list of ISIS groups in Mindanao

Security analyst notes inaccuracies in SolGen list of ISIS groups in Mindanao

An international security analyst on Tuesday noted several inaccuracies in the list of alleged ISIS cell groups in Mindanao as enumerated by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

"When I saw the list, there are some inaccuracies in terms of the listing of those groups," Professor Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism Research, said.

Banlaoi said he was particularly appalled at the inclusion of Balik-Islam Group which he said was a general term used to refer to Muslim converts in the Philippines.

"I'm truly appalled to see Balik-Islam Group as part of the so-called ISIS sleeper cells in the country. There is no such thing as Balik-Islam Group," Banlaoi said.

"Balik-Islam is a general term used to describe all the Muslim converts in the Philippines and majority of the Balik-Islam groups in the Philippines, the majority of its followers, are moderates, peace-loving, tolerant, and democratic," he added.

The OSG enumerated 20 Mindanao-based ISIS sleeper cells who are allied with the Abu Sayyaf Group, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines, Maute group, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to carry out terror acts in the region.

In 2017, the OSG said these groups alone accounted for "at least 43 violent attacks employing improvised explosive devices, harassment, and kidnapping" incidents.

The OSG submitted the memorandum in line with the consolidated petitions before the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate President Rodrigo Duterte's imposition of martial law in Mindanao amid the Marawi City crisis.


While Banlaoi admitted the existence of groups who pledged allegiance to ISIS, he said the Rajah Sulayman Islamic Movement and the Syuful Khilafa Fi Luzon are the same; it is a group of radicalized Muslims embracing ISIS ideologies.
"Rajah Sulayman Islamic Movement is no longer an active group. It has transformed itself into a group of Syuful Khilafa Fi Luzon. So if you will rely on the list provided by Solicitor General Calida, there is a double-entry of the same people representing two different groups," Banlaoi said.

The security analyst added that the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Al Harakatul Islamiyah also pertain to one militant faction.

"They put under two entries, like Al Harakatul Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf group. It's the same, Abu Sayyaf group is the original name of Al Harakatul Islamiyah. It's not a separate group," he said.

Banlaoi added that all the groups in the list belong to a larger organization—the Dawlat Al Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik—which is also named by the OSG.

Asked why the groups were disclosed only now, Banlaoi replied that the government can no longer deny and downplay the existence of ISIS-inspired groups.

"I think they can no longer deny the obvious, that the Philippines is in fact threatened by ISIS followers, and they are very active now. They are very eager to mount violent incidents in the name of ISIS. Downplaying them and denying the existence of these groups can no longer be done," he said.

Banlaoi, however, called on the OSG to clarify the list, saying it is troubling if the groups came from official intelligence sources.

"If [that] list is based on intelligence sources, now I am very, very worried about the way we gathered intelligence information because there are inaccurate listing of those groups. We need to rectify and put into proper contexts the nuances of these groups," Banlaoi said.


2 soldiers hurt in NPA ambush in Quezon

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 18): 2 soldiers hurt in NPA ambush in Quezon

Two Army soldiers were wounded in an ambush staged by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Quezon province Bondoc Peninsula area on Sunday evening, Mulanay town Mayor Joselito Ojeda said Monday.

In a text message, Ojeda said at least 24 soldiers aboard a military truck were waylaid by a band of heavily armed communist guerillas in Barangay (village) Ajos in nearby Catanauan town around 10:45 p.m.

Two of the soldiers, Corporals Dennis Quirino Moran and Humphry Faller Cabilogan, were wounded in the attack. The wounded soldiers were brought to the Bondoc Peninsula District Hospital in Catanauan town center for emergency treatment.
Ojeda said the soldiers were responding to an earlier arson incident at the Globe cell site located in Barangay Tuhian that were allegedly perpetrated by NPA rebels.

Major Virgilio Perez, spokesperson of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), said the rebels detonated an improvised explosive device followed by gunfire from an undetermined number of attacking forces.

Perez said the soldiers engaged the rebels in a fierce firefight that forced the enemies to withdraw. He said the rebels also sustained casualties.

He said an estimated 10 NPA rebels burned two generators sets at the Globe cell site tower. The rebels escaped aboard L300 van without unidentified plate number.


3 NPAs killed, scores wounded in clash with gov’t troopers

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 19): 3 NPAs killed, scores wounded in clash with gov’t troopers

Three New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed and an undetermined number of other rebels were reportedly wounded when combat maneuvering troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) engaged the rebels in a fierce gun battle near the border of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental, a military report yesterday said.

Operating troops of the 104th Division Recon Company (104th DRC) and one platoon from 67th Infantry Battalion (67th IB) also seized in the encounter site two M16 Armalite rifles, one M14 rifle, one M203 grenade launcher, cache of assorted live ammunition and anti-government documents with high intelligence value.

Capt. Andrew M. Linao, spokesperson of the Army’s 701st Infantry (Kagitingan) Brigade said combat maneuvering troops of the 67th IB and 104th DRC are still in hot pursuit Monday of the fleeing rebels, following the blood stains along the rebels’ escape route.

“Yes, our ground troops are continuing their massive pursuit operations in an effort to get their (NPAs) wounded comrades-in-arms for immediate medical attention,” said Linao.

The pursuing troops are trailing the fleeing undetermined number of NPAs who belong to guerilla-Front Committee 25 and Section Committee 18 of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, he said.

He said the initial engagement with the NPA rebels occurred on Saturday at 1:30 a.m. in Sitio 35, Barangay Taytayan , Cateel, Davao Oriental.

There was no casualty on the government side in the 45-minute fierce gunfight while the identities of the three slain rebels were not immediately known, Capt. Linao said.

Meanwhile, troops of the 28th IB also encountered an undetermined number of heavily armed NPAs at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday in Sitio Sayon, Barangay Kauswagan, Banaybanay, Davao Oriental, he said.


NPAs torch 2 cell site power generators

From the Manila Times (Jun 19): NPAs torch 2 cell site power generators

CATANAUAN, Quezon: At least 10 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) reportedly torched two power generator sets of a Globe cell site in Barangay Tuhian, this town on Sunday night.

Barangay (village) chairman Leopoldo Quindoza told Catanauan police that the rebels were wearing Army patterned camouflage when they forcibly entered the compound, setting fire to two of the three generator sets.

Introducing themselves as NPAs, they then boarded a white van and fled towards neighboring Mulanay town at past 8 p.m.

As they escaped, the rebels detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), approximately 20 meters from the main road, hitting the vehicle of responding troops of the 85th Infantry Battalion along Brgy. Ayos.

Two soldiers were wounded but have been discharged from the hospital after treatment. The facility continues to operate with one remaining generator set.


SWS: First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey: Net public trust is Poor for NDF and CPP/NPA; Bad for MNLF and MILF; Very bad for ASG; Pinoy Muslims trust Muslim rebel groups except ASG

Survey posted to the Social Weather Stations Website (Jun 19): First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey: Net public trust is Poor for NDF and CPP/NPA; Bad for MNLF and MILF; Very bad for ASG; Pinoy Muslims trust Muslim rebel groups except ASG

The First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey, fielded on March 25-28, 2017, found 28% of adult Filipinos with much trust and 38% with little trust in the National Democratic Front (NDF), 21% with much trust and 48% with little trust in the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA), 18% with much trust and 56% with little trust in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), 18% with much trust and 57% with little trust in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and 8% with much trust and 70% with little trust in the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The resulting net trust rating scores (% much trust minus % little trust) were a poor -10 for the NDF, a poor -27 for the CPP/NPA, a bad -38 for the MNLF, a bad -39 for the MILF, and a very bad -62 for the ASG [Chart 1].

The March 2017 survey also found that Filipino Muslims have high trust in the MNLF and MILF, but not in the ASG.

The SWS terminology for Net Trust Ratings: +70 and above, "excellent"; +50 to +69, "very good"; +30 to +49, "good"; +10 to +29, "moderate", +9 to -9, "neutral"; -10 to -29, "poor"; -30 to -49, "bad"; -50 to -69, "very bad"; -70 and below, "execrable."

Filipino Muslims trust the MNLF and MILF, but not the ASG

The net trust rating of the MILF was an excellent +74 among Muslims, compared to the bad
-42 among Catholics, very bad -52 among other religions, and very bad -55 among Iglesia ni Cristos (INCs) [Chart 2].

The net trust rating of the MNLF was a very good +50 among Muslims, compared to the bad
-41 among Catholics, very bad -50 among other religions, and very bad -56 among INCs [Chart 3].

However, net trust in the ASG was a very bad -64 among Muslims, similar to the very bad -60 among Catholics, and just one grade above the execrable -72 among other religions and execrable -77 among INCs [Chart 4].

The net trust rating of the NDF was a neutral -2 among Muslims and a neutral -7 among Catholics, compared to the poor -20 among INCs and poor -27 among other religions [Chart 5].

The net trust rating of the CPP/NPA was a poor -19 among Muslims, compared to the poor -25 among Catholics, bad -37 among other religions, and bad -48 among INCs [Chart 6].

Generally low public trust for rebel movements and armed groups

Public trust in rebel movements and armed groups has been generally low.

SWS first surveyed public trust in the NDF in April 1993, and found a bad net trust rating score of -45. It rose to a neutral -1 in December 1993 before falling to a bad -48 in August 1994. It rose to a poor -19 from October 1995 to March 1999, and reached as high as a neutral -8 in June 1999 before it fell to bad levels from October 1999 to March 2000, ranging from -32 to -38 [Table 1].

It eased to a poor -12 in November 2002, and has since then been at poor levels except when it was at a neutral -6 in December 2005, +1 in March 2014, and +8 in June 2016.

Net trust in the CPP/NPA was a very bad -65 when first surveyed by SWS in December 1990, and it stayed very bad at -54 in December 1991 and -58 in April 1993. It rose to its record-high score of a neutral -5 in June 2016 [Table 2].

It fell to very bad -32 in September 2016, and eased to bad levels of -28 in December 2016 and -27 in March 2017.

SWS first surveyed public trust in the MNLF in November 1990, and found very bad net trust rating scores of -54 in November 1990 and -52 in April 1993. It ranged from poor to bad levels from December 1993 to April 1998, ranging from -17 to -49, before falling to a very bad -53 in March 2005 [Table 3].

It went to a bad -49 in October 2008, and has since been at bad levels up to March 2017, except when it was at poor levels of -17 to -26 from August 2012 to March 2013, and a very bad -52 in September 2013.

Net trust rating in the MILF was a bad -43 when first surveyed by SWS in March 1995, and was at bad to very bad levels from June 1995 to December 2008, reaching as low as -67 in June 2003 [Table 4].

Out of the 19 surveys from September 2011 to March 2017, the net trust rating of the MILF was poor on 7, bad on 11, and very bad on one. The latest score of a bad -39 in March 2017 is similar to the bad -34 in December 2016.

SWS first surveyed public trust in the ASG in August 1994, and found an execrable net trust rating of -70. It stayed execrable from October 2000 to March 2014, ranging from -70 to -82, before going to very bad from June 2014 to March 2017, ranging from -62 to -69 [Table 5].

Survey Background

The March 2017 Social Weather Survey was conducted from March 25-28, 2017 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide, 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages, and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao).

The area estimates were weighted by Philippine Statistics Authority medium-population projections for 2017 to obtain the national estimates.

The Social Weather Survey items on public trust in selected organizations are non-commissioned. These items were included on SWS's own initiative and released as a public service. The specific organizations included in the surveys are based on their relevance to national affairs.


SWS employs its own staff for questionnaire design, sampling, fieldwork, data-processing, and analysis, and does not outsource any of its survey operations.

Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3

Chart 4

Chart 5

Chart 6

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Table 5


5 NPA rebels yield

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jun 20): 5 NPA rebels yield

FIVE members of the New People's Army (NPA) laid down their arms and surrendered to government forces last week, citing disintegrating system of the underground movement and pitiful situation in the hinterland as reasons behind their move.
In a statement issued by the Eastern Mindanao Command on Monday, June 19, NPA rebels from different units, voluntarily surrendered to Alfa Company, 60th Infantry Battalion (IB) at Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Tuesday, June 13.
The rebel returnees, one female and four males are all Ata-Manobo residents of Talaingod, who initially submitted themselves to a local tribal chieftain in Barangay Sto. Niño and Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod and were eventually turned over to authorities.
They were personally received by 60th IB Commander Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Canilla and the troops.
The statement added that one of the surrenderees identified as alias "Tonyo" was operating under two guerilla fronts for a combined 22 years and left the group because his fellow guerillas were fighting each other due to the scarcity of the food in the upland.
The female rebel, alias "Anita," said she had wanted to surrender a long time ago when her eldest child got killed in a crossfire between her unit and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) but she failed to find chance to leave until on Tuesday because of her five-month old child, whom she consider to be the biggest factor for running away.
All the five surrenderees underwent interview, medical check-up and stress debriefing. They were also provided with food packs and clothes as initial assistance.
The municipal government of Talaingod committed to assist the immediate needs of the surrenderees. Canilla, meanwhile, ensured them that all other available assistance and services will be processed accordingly, especially their availing of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
Last year, over 7,000,000 worth of assistance to former rebels have been released under Clip in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley Province.
Canilla, meanwhile, commended the Indigenous Peoples leaders on their support to AFP's campaign against atrocities and encouraging the rebels to surrender.
Canilla encouraged them to continue helping the government by convincing other members of the NPA to surrender and benefit from various programs and opportunities being offered by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.


No word from Duterte to stop peace talks with Reds, says Palace

From the Philippine Star (Jun 20): No word from Duterte to stop peace talks with Reds, says Palace

“As of this moment, there is no instruction from the President to discontinue the government’s peace negotiations.” AP/File photo
The peace talks with the communist rebels will continue despite calls by some senators to defer the negotiations in light of the recent raid of a police station in Iloilo.

“As of this moment, there is no instruction from the President to discontinue the government’s peace negotiations,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing on Tuesday in Malacañang.

Prospero de Vera, an adviser to the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front (NDF), said continuing the peace talks has its advantages. The NDF negotiates with the government in behalf of the communists.

“We should never lose hope that a peace agreement can be signed. But it must always be within the parameters of having a conducive environment for peace talks,” De Vera said.

“That’s why in the last round, in the fifth round, the President instructed the peace panel not to continue with the negotiations because the environment for conducive negotiations was not present,” he added.

Asked if has doubts about the rebels’ sincerity, De Vera said: “Well, we will have to keep on telling them and asking them why, in spite of their pronouncements, clashes still happen on the ground. They have to be the one to answer that.”

The government suspended the fifth round of talks with the NDF after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) to intensify attacks against government forces implementing the martial law in Mindanao.

Last Saturday, the NDF asked the NPA to refrain from launching offensives against the police and the military in Mindanao so they can concentrate on their campaign against the terrorist groups. The government reciprocated the declaration the following day.

The peace process, however, faced another irritant when about 50 NPA members attacked the Maasin Municipal Police Station in Iloilo City last Sunday and seized firearms, a laptop, a base radio, cash and jewelry.

While the incident did not happen in Mindanao, the government was disappointed by what it described as the “opportunistic” attack.

Some senators have asked the Duterte administration to put on hold the peace talks with the communists as they expressed doubts on the rebels’ trustworthiness and their capability to control their ground forces.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson cited the need for a clear proof that the NPA can still be controlled by the communist leadership. Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said it is already hard to trust the rebels following last Sunday’s attack in Iloilo.

Time stands still on deserted streets of war-torn Marawi

From Channel News Asia (Jun 20): Time stands still on deserted streets of war-torn Marawi

The only sounds in the war-ravaged Philippine city come from automatic gunfire and the pulsating bombardment of air strikes from low-flying aircraft.

The military says it has control of 90 per cent of Marawi City, much of which has not been seriously damaged. (Photo: Jack Board)
MARAWI, Philippines: There is very little sign of normal life now left on the abandoned streets of Marawi. The fighting is unrelenting and it has been for nearly one month.

The battle is centred on just four districts - about 10 per cent of the city. The rest of it lies abruptly deserted.
Homes and businesses are shuttered, food sits rotting and the only movement comes from patrolling soldiers and feeble animals. Even some of them are victims of this conflict; a small puppy lies dead in the middle of one road, flies buzzing around it.

Boarded up houses left behind by residents evacuating Marawi. (Photo: Jack Board)

Posters congratulating young graduates on their law and engineering degrees stand still in time, a wretched reminder of the lives that have taken abrupt turns. What fate has befallen these budding professionals remains uncertain in the fog of war.

Marawi has descended into despair. More than 200,000 residents managed to flee its bounds within days of the eruption of violence triggered by militants inspired by Islamic State.
Tales of black-clad gunmen going door to door assassinating Christians speak of the terrible atrocities that may long haunt this place. The death toll is officially in the hundreds, but there are underlying fears of a much grimmer reality waiting once the deadly struggle subsides.

A puppy crosses an empty street in Marawi. (Photo: Jack Board)
The military has for weeks stood firm on a quick and efficient liberation. But urban warfare of this scale rarely gives easy victories and an unknown number of assailants have repelled all comers; they were prepared for this.
There are no more marks on the calendar for what was once thought of as an inevitable army breakthrough.

The early stanzas of the fight saw violence break out around a local hospital. Bullets fired in anger have fractured the building’s exterior. Heavily protected, it is still in operation and patients too frail for evacuation centres receive treatment from a committed team of doctors.

A sign welcomes people to Marawi, next to a congratulations poster for a recent graduate. (Photo: Jack Board)
“We need to serve the community although there is danger. So we have to be careful,” said Hussein Samporna, a surgeon in residence continuing to perform his duty during troubled days.

There are still about 1,300 residents unaccounted for and believed trapped in the core of Marawi, the commercial district lined with shops and markets. There are efforts to save them but attempts at extraction are heavy with risk and reliant on complex negotiations from trusted anonymous intermediaries.

A so-called “peace corridor” is seen as the best solution for a bad situation.

Reliant on agreed-upon ceasefires, it is meant to provide a safe passage for aid going in and civilians coming out. But the pact to momentarily lay down arms has proved hard to secure and gunfire has broken the agreement on at least one occasion.

Hole caused by a bullet that penetrated a glass window at the Amai Pak Pak Medical Centre in Marawi. (Photo: Jack Board)
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is an unlikely bedfellow for the government and military in making a peace corridor happen. Long pushing for self-rule in Mindanao, it is a group that has chosen dialogue over a duel.

A 30-person strong MILF team has been involved in rescuing hundreds of people in recent weeks. “What is somehow unique is going inside the war zone. If not because of this peace corridor, perhaps no group would be able to get inside,” said Marjanie Mimbantas, a member of the corridor’s implementing panel.
“We are very grateful to be saving lives.”

A soldier on patrol in the peace corridor in Marawi. (Photo: Jack Board)
Still, many of the MILF’s former members have turned defectors and stand in the way of the peace the group says it is striving for.
“It’s a known fact because of their mistrust, perhaps because of the frustration … (There's a) message that the government is not serious enough in delivering on their commitment,” he said. “I’m not saying the government is not serious, but that’s how (these other groups) attract people.”

The government itself proclaims the peace corridor, the first of its kind in the country, as “valuable for every family whose relative or loved ones are safe from this”, according to Jesus Doreza, a key official tasked with overseeing its peace process.

Marawi is a city with a Muslim majority population. (Photo: Jack Board)
“You could imagine how families react. But there are still many more families agonising day in and day out still hoping their relatives will be safe,” he said.

Those days continue to float by and the flow of civilians escaping the clutches of their oppressors has become a drip. Those who manage to will be leaving deeply scarred neighbourhoods, through streets more intact - but hollow and comatose.

The familiar sounds of these streets may return, perhaps soon, perhaps not. But they surely will never ring the same.