Monday, July 17, 2017

US offers 2 spy planes in PH fight vs terrorists

From ABS-CBN (Jul 18): US offers 2 spy planes in PH fight vs terrorists
The US will provide 2 surveillance planes to the Philippines to aid troops fighting Islamic State-inspired militants in the south, Washington's envoy to Manila said Tuesday.

The Cessna 208 aircraft have intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and will be deployed "in a couple of weeks," Ambassador Sung Kim.
"We’re going to do everything possible to support the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as it tries to secure the area," Kim told ANC's Headstart.

Some 500 people have been killed in nearly 2 months of fighting in Marawi City that has led to President Rodrigo Duterte declaring martial law in the entire Mindanao.

The Philippines and the US are bound by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and two other agreements that allow US troops to have rotating presence in the country.

"This is a very, very strong alliance. We’re partners, allies, and friends, and we help our friends and partners in time of need, and the Marawi situation is clearly a very difficult situation for the Philippines," said Kim.

Kim said the US would also help rebuild Marawi. Duterte has earmarked at least P20 billion to rehabilitate the area.

US believes Philippines 'committed' to alliance: envoy

From ABS-CBN (Jul 18): US believes Philippines 'committed' to alliance: envoy
The US believes the Philippines is "committed" to their long-standing alliance, even as President Rodrigo Duterte diversifies Manila's allegiances, Washington's envoy said Tuesday.

"My sense is that the Philippines’ government, starting with President Duterte, remains committed to the relationship. There’s mutual respect for the relationship and mutual appreciation for the importance of the relationship," US Ambassador Sung Kim told ANC's Headstart.
"Whether it’s in the alliance management or the robust economic partnership, all of the good work that the US Agency for International Development is doing here, I don’t think anything has changed," he added.
Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the US for criticizing his war on drugs. He has also launched verbal attacks on former US President Barack Obama and Washington's ex-envoy to Manila, Philip Goldberg.
The President has also sought closer ties with Washington's rivals, Beijing and Moscow.

Kim said the United States was concerned over human rights globally and not just in the Philippines.

"We do have concerns about some aspects of the anti-drug campaign, but at the same time, I want to make clear that we completely understand that there is a serious situation here involving illegal use of drugs, and that the government is right to focus on this important problem, very serious problem for the Philippines," he said.


Kim was named ambassador to Manila a few months before Obama stepped down and before Duterte took office.
He said he encountered Duterte 6 times, describing the meetings as "very detailed, cordial, friendly, very substantive."

"He hasn’t cursed at me yet," he told anchor Karen Davila with a laugh.

"They have been very, very cordial discussions. He has a very good sense of humor, so we enjoyed that. And of course, he and I were both prosecutors, so I think we have that common background which helps in discussing issues like law enforcement," he added.

Kim said there had been no discussions on the United States' alleged meddling into the Philippines' or Indonesia's domestic affairs as Duterte had publicly claimed.

Reds offer to 'co-found' federal govt: Joma

From ABS-CBN (Jul): Reds offer to 'co-found' federal govt: Joma
The National Democratic Front has offered to "co-found" a shift to a federal system with the government, communist leader Jose Maria Sison said Tuesday.

"The NDF, in the first place, has volunteered, has offered to go along with the Duterte government in pushing for a federal system of government," Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, told ANC.

"It has offered to co-found the Federal Republic of the Philippines and to undertake Constitutional changes or amendments that need to be done."
President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for a federal form of government to devolve power to long-neglected poor provinces and spread wealth more evenly.
He has signed an Executive Order creating a team that will study proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution and pave the way for federalism.

Sison said the NDF may send representatives to the Constitutional Commission (Con-Com) if its ongoing peace talks with the government run well.

10 Mosul veterans fighting alongside Maute group in Marawi —AFP official

From GMA News (Jul 18): 10 Mosul veterans fighting alongside Maute group in Marawi —AFP official

 [Video report]

At least 10 foreign fighters have been seen fighting alongside members of the Maute group in Marawi City, a military official said Monday.

A report on Unang Balita by GMA News' Marisol Abdurahman said that according to Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, the 10 foreign fighters are veterans of Mosul, Iraq.

The city of Mosul was the known stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq. After nearly a year, Iraqi forces have taken the city from the terrorists.

The report quoted Galvez as saying that the 10 foreign and Caucasian-looking fighters were seen by trapped civilians recently rescued by troops from the warzone in Marawi City.
The report said according to Galvez, the foreign fighters are "suicidal."

In the same report, the military announced that it had taken Abbas Hospital from the Maute group as troops continued to advance to the local terrorists' position at the heart of Marawi.

The hospital, which was recovered by troops on Monday, was one of the structures used by the Maute group as a stronghold.

The military said at least 50 more buildings in Marawi City have been cleared by troops.

More than 500 people, mostly militants, have been killed in Marawi since the fighting between troops and the Maute group erupted last May 23.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law for 60 days after the Maute group's attack in the city.

The declaration will lapse on July 22 and Duterte is expected to ask Congress for an extension.

The report said that according to Galvez, it may take more days before troops can fully recover Marawi City from the Maute group.

He said among the challenges for the troops in the full recovery of the city were the Maute group's use of mosques and the civilian hostages.

7 killed in collision between military vehicle, van in Misamis

From GMA News (Jul 18): 7 killed in collision between military vehicle, van in Misamis

Seven people were killed in an accident between a military vehicle and a van along a highway in Manticao, Misamis Oriental on Monday night.

A Balitanghali report said a Philippine Army Simba vehicle driven by Staff Sergeant Danny Tenezo was overtaking along the highway when it collided head-on with the van.

The accident happened in Barangay Poblacion at past 9 p.m.

The report said among the fatalities was the driver of the van identified as Hadji Amin Bangcolan.

Five of the van's passengers died on the spot while the other two fatalities died while being treated in a hospital.

Eight more passengers of the van were brought to hospitals in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City.

The report said the Simba was in a convoy with three other military vehicles when the accident happened. The military convoy was heading to the Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro City to get logistics supplies.

Tenezo has been brought to the Manticao police station.

Charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries are being prepared against the soldier.

Opinion: KISSA AND DAWAT: Why mobilize the Ulama?

Opinion piece posted to MindaNews (Jul 15): KISSA AND DAWAT: Why mobilize the Ulama?

In a news clip coming out of the Marawi Siege, a group of people was able to touch base with the Maute group. In an ongoing siege, one way to end it is to establish communication between opposing groups to explore options for conclusion. What power or influence this does this group of people carry, inspite of an active war going on, the opposing sides talked? Why did the military allow them to proceed to the enemy side? Why did the Maute Group meet them?

As one working with this sector, one or two familiar faces were among this group referred as Ulama or religious leaders. In translation, they are also referred to as “religious scholars” or “religious professionals.”

Aleem Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, graduate of Islamic evangelism (Da’wah) from Islamic Call College in Libya is now Executive Director of the Regional Darul-Ifta’ (RDI) ARMM. In several fora, he outlined and explained why the need to mobilize the ulama.

Point 1. “Ulil Amri” (those in authority) and obedience to them

The Arabic term “ulil amri” refers to those in authority. Who are these so-called people in authority from the Islamic perspective? In ayah (verse) 59, Surah (Chapter) 4: Al-Nisa’ of the Qur’an, spelling out three layers of obedience and putting obedience to those in authority after obedience to Allah and to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The same verse also puts forward a mechanism for resolution of conflict in obedience, i.e. referrence to the Qur’an and the Sunnah as a matter of belief.

In Islamic Jurisprudence, those in authority are the so-called ulama (religious leaders) and umara (politicial leaders). Together, they are composite of the collective leadership of the Muslim community. Thus their partnership is critical to Muslim development, as the Ulama take charge of moral and spiritual development, the umara take charge of the mundane development. In Tafsir ibn Kathir, certain ahadith (Prophetic sayings) were quoted to qualify obedience to these leaders and conditions for withdrawal of such.

The challenge here lies in the call for unity among religious and political leaders, vis-a-vis the current dissonance due to their differing political and developmental perspectives, to say the least. Imam Al-Ghazali once said, it is inappropriate and is not commendable for ulama to draw closer to the umara. Ulama who come into contact with the umara are categorized as bad. Then how should the ulama relate with the umara, and vice versa, to promote Islam and the welfare of Muslims?

Point 2. “Amaru bil ma’ruf wa nahaw anil munkar” (Enjoining right from wrong)

The Ulama carry the religious obligation to guide the spiritual development of the Muslims. In view of the contemporary challenge poised by violent extremism, there is a need for them to define, clarify and articulate the real teachings of Islam. Is it the hate and violence projected by the violent extremist groups?

In one of his lectures, Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, the Grand Mufti of ARMM, reiterates the Islamic moderation (wasatiyyah) as the norm, and not extremism; humanity, not terrorism; therefore, another role of the Ulama is “amaru bil ma’ruf wa nahaw anil munkar” or enjoining right from wrong as stated in verse 41, chapter 22: Al-Hajj of the Qur’an.

The challenge of this role is this, how should we enjoin good and forbid bad in the 21st century environment where Muslims though indigenous as Moros are minority in a largely secular, Catholic-dominated environment?

Point 3. “Ummatan Wasatan” (Balanced, Just Nation)

In the first line of verse 143, chapter 2: Al Baqarah of the Qur’an, the Muslims collectively is viewed as “ummatan wasatan”; its meaning ranges from “just community” (Sahih International), to “balanced nation” (Al Muntakhab) and to “just and best nation” (Dr Al Hilali & Dr Muhsin Khan).

If Islam is about moderation and not extremism, then wasatiyyah is an antidote to ghuluww (excessiveness), tanattu’ (harshness), tashaddud (severity) and tatarruf (extremism)[1].

“The Wasatiyyah (Moderation) Concept in Islamic Epistemology: A Case Study of its Implementation in Malaysia”[2], enumerates a number of exegesis about this term.

For Al-Tabariy (1992:8-10), this means “the chosen, the best, the fair”. “Chosen” and “the best” because of the person’s characteristic of being fair. This differs from the extreme attitudes of the Jews and the Christians. The Christians said that Allah SWT has a son (who is Prophet Jesus a.s), while the Jews amended the holy scriptures destined from Allah SWT, killed the Prophets and lied to Allah SWT.

Ibn Kathir (1992:196-197) defines the term as the best, most humble and being fair.
For Al-Qurtubiy (1993:104-105), it means fair and the best. In this context, it does not mean taking a central or middle position in a matter, such as a position between good and bad.

Al-Raziy (1990:88-89) has four meanings: First, fair meaning not to take sides between two conflicting parties. In other words, fair here means to be far from both of the two extreme ends. When away from the extreme attitudes hence fairness would emerge. Second, something that is the best.

Third, the most humble and perfect. Fourth is not to be extreme in religious matters. For example, the extreme attitudes of the Christians and Jews. The Christian said that Allah SWT had children (Prophet Jesus a.s.), while the Jews tried to amend the holy scripture destined by Allah SWT to them and killed the prophets who received the divine deliverance.

For Al-Nasafiy (1996:132), this means the best and being fair. It is the best because of its central position. What is in the centre would be protected from anything that is dangerous compared to what is on the side and exposed to danger. It is said to be fair when it is not extreme or inclined towards some matter. For example, the Christians considered al-Masih (Prophet Jesus a.s) as God and the Jews had accused Maryam of adultery, who subsequently gave birth to Prophet Jesus a.s.
For Al-Zamakhsyariy (1995:1997) means the best and being most fair. Both these elements are characteristic of being central because whatever that is at the side is more likely to incline towards evil and destruction.

Al-Mahalliy & al-Suyutiy (t.t.:29) view the term as the chosen, the best and being fair
Qutb (1987:131) defines the term as good, humble, moderate, not being extreme at either end in relation to earthly and after-life matters.

For Hijazi (1992:81) means fair and the best. Fair here means not to be extreme in matters pertaining to religion or daily affairs. While “the best” is according to aspects of aqidah and human relations (between individuals or society) and not victimising or supressing other people.

Al-Zuhayliy (1991:8-9) opines that the term being fair, obedient to the teachings of Islam and not to be extreme to either end in religious and worldly affairs. In this matter, the Jews and Christians have to be discounted. The Jews are inclined to worldly matters and have neglected the after-life while the Christians lay too much importance on spiritual life that they neglect worldly matters.

When practiced in everyday life, people would not have an extremist attitude at either end of the spectrum when adhering to a belief, which is to accept the belief as it is (Abdullah Basmeih, 2001); not primarily pursuing earthly matters only and neglecting the after-life or vice versa (Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, 2010); and also not to pursue riches exclusively and in due process forgetting the unfortunate. (Mohd Shukri Hanapi, 2014).

Thus, wasatiyyah as social norms can be reflective of certains beliefs and attitudes consistent with Islamic prescrisptions – Life is sacred (5:32, 6:158, 17:33), overcome evil with good (13:22), neither be destructive nor malicious (4:29), no animosity to those who are not hostile to you (60:8), do not be aggressive ( 5:87, 2:190-193), pardoning is better than revenge (7:199), and no compulsion in religion (2:156).

The paper summarized the term wasata to mean the chosen, the best, being fair, humble, moderate, istiqamah, follow the teachings of Islam, not extreme to either end in matters pertaining worldly or the after-life, spiritual or corporeal but should be balanced between the two ends. (Mohd Shukri Hanapi, 2014).

The challenge for the ulama is how to move forward with wasatiyyah or moderation. Perhaps we should consider a number of consensus (ijma’) documents by eminent Islamic scholars and political leaders in the Muslim world. Within the Muslim community and in view of other religious minorities, the local ulama and umara need to consider the “Amman Message”. Across the larger Filipino community, they need to consider “A Common Word Between Us and You”. As we relate with non-Muslim minorities, we need to consider the “Marrakesh Declaration”.

Point 4. Understanding communal relations – Abodes of Peace, War, Covenant and beyond
Today, majority of Islamic scholars agree upon a classification into three. Shaikh Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi says, on Al-Shari’ah Wal-Hayah (Islamic Law and Life), Al-Jazeera Channel, dated Tuesday February 6th 2001, made clear these categories[3]:

Dar Al-Islam: The abode of Islam, the Muslim nations.

Dar Al-Harb: The abode of war, those that have declared war against Muslim nations.

Dar Al-‘Ahd: The abode of covenant, the countries that have diplomatic agreements and covenants with the Muslim nations.

Ulama associated with the the Moro liberation movement defined our state of affairs as one with the third category and point to the peace agreements that have been signed so far and and ongoing peace processes in trying to imagine and construct self-rule ourselves. The importance of honoring agreements is aticulated in the Qur’an, examples would be verses 4 and 7 of chapter 9: Al Tawbah.

Another point ulama need to consider is the New Mardin Declaration that revisited the fatwa of Ibn Taymiyyah and whose views on this division goes beyond the traditional three abodes.

Our Ulama therefore need to help the Moros journey through this legal nuance. Who has the authority to say we are in a particular category? How should Muslims, individually and collectively, behave under this category? What are our rights and responsibilities?

Point 5. Addressing ‘Amni” (peace, security) and “Khawf” (fear)

The verse 83, chapter 4: Al Nisa’ of the Qur’an, reminds us about how to treat information about security or fear and to whom these information should be referred to. This is the great burden of those in authority.

Thus, the Ulama need to go beyond and outside their comfortable zones of ‘madrasah’ and ‘masjid’. There is a growing number of extremist and terrorist groups misusing Islam by preaching hate, division and killing. The world is judging Islam by their action, not by the teachings of Islam.

In addressing peace and security, and eliminating fear, for the best interest of Islam and Muslim, how can the Ulama approach this security problem? Is it wrong to work with government to promote peace and security in Muslim community? How they lead in addressing the divide, i.e. skepticism, stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination?

In building “Aman” (peace, order and security), how should the Muslim community in general, and ulama in particular respond to the challenge of peace, order and security? Who or which sector do we need to work with and how? What should be our short-term and long-term priorities?

Point 6. Rasulullah SAW as our model

For the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) words and deeds in unison serve as the role model for us. In the Qur’an, he is viewed as “uswatun hasanah” (good model) in verse 21, chapter 33: Al Ahzab; as a “rahmah” (mercy) in verse 107, chapter 21: Al Anbiyah; that his example is not extreme and excessive, his model is not harshness and exclusion; and his message is love, not hate.

The challenge for ulama is how can they best promote the Sunnah of Rasulullah SAW as good model and mercy to the larger community?

Closing Statement

These are just six points highlighting the role, influence and often the untapped power of the Ulama in the Moro community. In closing, yes it should be noted that there is the general challenge of uniting Islamic altrusim with local reality. There is no question about the profundity of Islamic altruism. The question is how do we make the altruism a beginning reality in the Moro community, of respect for diversity within, in our relationship with non-Moro minorities within our community and the larger Filipino community and the world.

This is for the ulama to lead, to articulate and to model. Aleem Mujahid quoted a hadith that says, if two groups of people will be good, the rest of the community will be good. They are the ulama and the umara. We pray for our ulama and our umara. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Noor Saada is a Tausug of mixed ancestry – born in Jolo, Sulu, grew up in Tawi-tawi, studied in Zamboanga and worked in Davao, Makati and Cotabato. He is a development worker and peace advocate, former Assistant Regional Secretary of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, currently working as an independent consultant and is a member of an insider-mediation group that aims to promote intra-Moro dialogue).

[1] [1] Sadullah Khan, “The Call of Islam: Peace and Moderation, Not Intolerance and Extremism” –

[2] “The Wasatiyyah (Moderation) Concept in Islamic Epistemology: A Case Study of its Implementation in Malaysia” –

[3] [1] Ahmed Khalili, “Dar Al-Islam And Dar Al-Harb: Its Definition and Significance” –

Duterte: “There shall be a Bangsamoro country”

From MindaNews (Jul 18): Duterte: “There shall be a Bangsamoro country”

“Within the context of the Republic of the Philippines, there shall be a Bangsamoro country,” President Rodrigo Duterte declared Tuesday after receiving a copy of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Duterte committed to “support and husband” the proposed BBL in Congress to ensure the passage of the law that would create the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 27-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The creation of the Bangsamoro is in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, 2014.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte receives a copy of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) from Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Ghazali Jaafar in a turnover ceremony at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on July 17, 2017. Also in the photo are (from left) Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and Government of the Philippines Implementing Peace Panel Chair Irene Santiago. King Rodriguez/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The agreement envisions a new entity that would realize the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people for genuine self-determination under a ministerial form of government and ensure autonomy far more than what the present ARMM provides.

But nowhere in his speech did Duterte mention the CAB. He reiterated “there will be no objections (to) the provisions of all that is consistent with the Constitution and the aspiration of the Moro people.”

“I am for this. Within the context of the Republic of the Philippines, there shall be a Bangsamoro country,” Duterte said.

He noted that after decades of armed struggle and violence, “we will soon come up with a constitutionally consistent legal instrument that will lay the foundation for establishing real and lasting peace in Mindanao.”

The proposed BBL, according to Duterte, “puts into life and spirit the constitutional mandate provided in the 1987 Constitution for the establishment of a truly autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.”

The entire country, he said, will benefit from this new autonomous political entity which he hopes will be marked by “good governance, equitable sharing of wealth and generation of revenue, and normalized, stable environment.”

Congress under the Aquino administration adjourned in 2016 without passing a Bangsamoro law.

The two houses of Congress filed substitute bills after their respective committee hearings, both titled Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), which the MILF and even the government peace panel then agreed did not comply with the CAB and instead envisioned a Bangsamoro less autonomous than the ARMM it sought to replace.

Correcting historical injustice

Monday’s submission of the BBL is exactly a week before Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address. The country’s first Mindanawon President with Moro blood (his grandmother is a Maranao) is expected to certify as urgent the proposed BBL in Congress whose two houses are headed by fellow Mindanawons — Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr.

Pimentel and Alvarez witnessed the submission of the draft BBL in Malacanang.

Duterte said the draft BBL, jointly written by Muslims, Christians, and Lumads “shall give rise to a genuine autonomous region as well as bring forth healing and reconciliation to the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.”

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said Duterte has been “given the unique privilege of correcting that historical injustice (against the Bangsamoro) by entrenching the Bangsamoro Government – the embodiment of the legitimate aspiration of our people, through the enactment of this Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

“We trust you. We trust that you will shepherd the passage of this law and see through the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government,” he said.
Murad stressed that in passing the BBL, the Duterte administration “would have taken the first step in correcting the historical injustice committed against our people and laid the foundation for a more just country.”

“By this joint action, we have co-founded a new Philippines-a new country firmly set on the unshakable foundation of justice and truth, and bequeath upon our succeeding generation a country united but respecting and drawing strength from its diversity,” he added.

Violent extremism

Violent extremism, Murad warned, is rearing its ugly head and this is evident in what is happening in Marawi, where clashes between government forces and violent extremists such as the Maute Group, entered Day 56 on the same day teh draft BBL was submitted.

“These misguided people have filled the vacuum created by our failure to enact the Basic Law and fed into the frustration of our people,” he explained.

Ghazali Jaafar, 1st Vice Chair of the MILF and concurrent chair of the BTC, said their draft BBL is “the best antidote to violent extremism that has wrought havoc” in the country.

He said their draft is “more inclusive being a product of a commission whose composition also reflects the widest inclusivity” and that it “reflects the diversity of interests of the Bangsamoro people, non-Bangsamoro Indigenous Peoples and settle communities.”

“This BBL is our new formula for the very elusive peace in Mindanao,” Jaafar added.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte does the peace sign with members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (second row) and (first row L to R) Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar, also Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair, government’s Peace Implementing Panel chair Irene Santiago and Commissioner Omar Crisostomo Sema. On the second row are members of the BTC, among them MILF Peace Implementing Panel chair Mohager Iqbal (behind Dureza). King Rodriguez /PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema, participated in the crafting of the draft BBL, with three commissioners among the 21-member BTC.

The MNLF faction under Nur Misuair, however, has a separate peace implementing panel which is drafting along with its government counterpart, a draft amendatory law that would strengthen the ARMM.

The BBL on the other hand will lead to the abolition of the ARMM once the BBL is ratified in a plebiscite.


The Bangsamoro peace roadmap that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) proposed in July 2016 and approved by the President, was for a convergence of the peace agreements government signed with the MNLF (1976 Tripoli Agreement and 1996 Final Peace Agreement) and the MILF (2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and 2014 CAB).

The BTC membership was precisely increased from 15 to 21, purportedly to get the MNLF factions to participate in crafting the BBL. Misuari’s faction did not participate.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said Congress will do the convergence of the BTC’s draft BBL and the MNLF-Misuari faction’s draft amendatory law.

The MNLF-Misuari peace implementing panel has yet to formally meet although they have conducted at least five informal meetings.

In a statement, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman reiterated the region’s support to the ongoing peace process and its commitment to serve the Bangsamoro people.

He expressed hope that the President, who will set the legislative agenda of the national government during his SONA on July 24, “will use this important platform to push for legislation that acknowledges and addresses the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people, and to pursue restorative justice and lasting peace in the region.”

He said he hopes the new draft BBL “will also renew the commitment not only of the peace panels, but also the commitment of our legislators in congress to pursuing peace in the region.”

Hataman noted that the proposed law “comes at a time when we are reminded of the costs of delaying our efforts towards peace in the region, as we continue to hurdle old and familiar obstacles along with new challenges.”

“Delays in our collective struggle towards peace make it easy for fear to take root in the hearts of our people. Delays in our shared pursuit of justice make it easier for terror to thrive,” he said.

Analysis: Putting law to work in the South China Sea

Posted to the Philippine Star (Jul 18): Analysis: Putting law to work in the South China Sea (By Dindo Manhit)

In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Xinhua News Agency/File photo
As far as the Philippines is concerned, it has been a quiet July for foreign policy. Although the one-year anniversary of The Hague ruling on the Philippine case against China has just passed, there have been too few events marking the occasion or even debating its significance. The Stratbase ADR Institute held a forum on this topic last week, but there is still plenty of room for us to talk about where our national priorities lay on this issue.

International law at work

While the Philippines has been relatively quiet, there continue to be interesting developments in the South China Sea. Throughout July, various news sources have reported that US aircraft and vessels have been challenging what China believes to be its waters in the South China Sea. These latest exchanges have come on top of the greatly publicized freedom of navigation operation that the US conducted in May around Mischief Reef. These developments appear to confirm that the Trump administration is not taking a softer approach on upholding the rules-based order.

Even more interesting is the decision by Indonesia to rename the waters in the northern part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) the “North Natuna Sea.” This move is awfully familiar to our country—we did the same thing with the West Philippine Sea. This move was not welcomed by China: one foreign ministry spokesman said that the change “makes no sense at all.” China’s illegal nine-dash line is so expansive, it overlaps with that section of Indonesia’s EEZ, even more distant from China than the Spratly islands. Could we be seeing similar moves from ASEAN partners soon?

These decisions by other countries just go to show that international law still matters. This is an important point for that we can do more in the Philippines to appreciate.
Emphasizing the importance of the ruling

Just over a year ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China’s vaunted “nine-dash line” and subsequent historic claims over much of South China Sea had no basis in international law, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The decisive legal victory for the Philippines, the first state to challenge Beijing in such a public forum, marked an important milestone in a protracted territorial dispute.

As our country takes its next steps in protecting its interests in the West Philippine Sea, we should resume our leadership in fortifying international law. As this year’s chair of ASEAN, we have an opportunity to steer the discussions on the code of conduct. In our view, the code of conduct must reaffirm the arbitral tribunal’s award to the Philippines as a guide for all our countries’ behavior in the South China Sea. In this context, it bears emphasis that the Hague ruling affirmed that maritime entitlements should be governed by UNCLOS and that any alleged right not anchored on UNCLOS should be denied. The conclusion of a legally binding code of conduct along these lines must be a priority.

 Moreover, the Philippines should continue to actively present its case as a legal precedent for ASEAN claimant-states to further clarify their respective maritime entitlements and boundaries as well as align their respective domestic policies with UNCLOS provisions. Ultimately, the award should not be seen as mere beneficial to the interest of the Philippines, but to all claimants in the South China Sea with common interests in freedom of navigation for trade and other legitimate activities.

At the end of the day, we believe that all the claimants should work toward resolving their disputes peacefully and amicably by making full use of the legal processes available to them, in accordance with the milestones that the region has reached, such as in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and, of course, the arbitral tribunal’s ruling.
Caution should not paralyze us

Unfortunately, the administration’s choice to normalize diplomatic relations with Beijing while cooling ties the United States has effectively put the ruling on the back burner. Under the chairmanship of the Philippines, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has likewise been lukewarm in terms of taking China to task over its militarization of the South China Sea.

Whether this direction will bear fruit eventually is a matter of conjecture, but in the intervening months since the ruling, Chinese military build-up in the disputed waters as well as harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese vessels didn’t abate. Recently, a report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative revealed that new missile shelters and radar and communication facilities are being installed in Fiery Cross and Mischief and Subi Reefs.

There is a sense of fragile peace in the region, a peace that is undermined by what many see as China’s willful disregard and flouting of international law. A year after the ruling, we should revisit and reassess the Philippines’ policy position in light of China’s actions.

Ultimately, all diplomatic avenues must be exhausted. We must protest what is unlawful, coercive, and contrary to the correct principles that govern relations between states. We should also take inspiration from other countries that are also taking steps to protect their own interests in our region. Most of us in Southeast Asia are relatively small states, but we are not all silent on our national and our regional interests. In taking the right strategy, our government can only enhance its standing among our peers and ensure its legacy for the generations that will succeed us.

[Dindo Manhit is the president of think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, a partner of]

Joma slams martial law extension in Mindanao, declaration nationwide

From the Philippine Star (Jul 18): Joma slams martial law extension in Mindanao, declaration nationwide

Jose Maria Sison, a former social science and English professor, founded the Communist Party of the Philippines on Dec. 26, 1968. File photo

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria “Joma” Sison has expressed opposition against the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao and the proclamation of of it nationwide.
For Sison, the declaration of martial law nationwide would mean fighting the revolutionary forces.

“The threat to declare martial law nationwide would certainly be a declaration of war against the revolutionary movement,” Sison said in an interview with ANC’s Early Edition.

“It would practically kill the peace negotiations,” he added.

On the other hand, Sison said the extension of martial law in Mindanao’s effect to the peace talks is a subject to be discussed by teams from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines negotiating panels who will conduct back channel talks.

The CPP founder cited among his worries with the extension of martial law in Mindanao is the attack against the revolutionary forces.

 “Another point to consider is how the revolutionary forces and New People’s Army would be affected by a Mindanao-wide martial proclamation because there are no Bangsamoro people in so many areas of Mindanao,” Sison said.

Sison cited that President Rodrigo Duterte last February declared an all-out war policy against the New People’s Army and other revolutionary forces represented by the NDFP which he never recalled.

“And even the extension of martial law in Mindanao that would involve the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police and their auxiliary forces attacking the revolutionary forces especially NPA and the communities where they are,” Sison added.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year.

He said the president believes that terrorism and rebellion would not be quelled by July 22, the expiration date of the 60-day period of martial law.

Military files 19 cases of rights violations vs NPA

From Malaya Business Insight (Jul 18): Military files 19 cases of rights violations vs NPA

THE military has lodged 19 complaints against the New People’s Army for violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in the Davao and Soccsksargen regions.

The complaints covering the period of February last year to January this year were filed last month by the Army’s 10th Infantry Division before the Joint Monitoring Committee, a body established as part of the peace process between the government and the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Copies of the complaints were also sent to the government’s chief negotiator, Labor Secretary Bello III, and NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili, said Capt. Rhyan Batchar, public affairs officer of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.

A fifth round of peace negotiations is scheduled on May 27 to June 1 in the Netherlands.

“The 10th ID hopes that these violations of CARHRIHL will be discussed by the peace panels and appropriate actions be taken to stop the wanton violation of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the CPP-NPA against the Filipino people,” said Batchar.

Forged in March 1998, CARHRIHL calls for respect for the lives, dignity, human rights, political convictions, and moral and physical integrity of combatants and non-combatants.

Batchar said five of the rebel violations were committed in South Cotabato, four in Sarangani, three each in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur, two in Davao Oriental, and one each in Davao Occidental and Compostela Valley.
Batchar said 15 of the 19 violations were committed against civilians.

These include the burning of nine civilian vehicles, attack and burning of four civilian companies’ equipment and facilities, the murder of a civilian and the harassment of another civilian,” he said.

He said four of these violations were against soldiers and militiamen, including mutilation of the remains of three soldiers slain by NPA rebels.

Maute-controlled areas getting smaller: AFP chief

From Malaya Business Insight (Jul 18): Maute-controlled areas getting smaller: AFP chief

ARMED Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año yesterday said the area controlled by the Maute Group in Marawi City is now down to about a square kilometer.

In an ambush interview in Camp Aguinaldo, Año would not say when the military will be able to rid the city of the terrorists but said the continuing military operation is progressing well.

On July 2, Año said the battle area in Marawi City, which started on May 23, was confined to one to two square kilometers within four barangays. Officials on Sunday said about 60 to 70 Maute men are still occupying structures in portions of the four barangays.

Año said government forces on Sunday cleared 50 buildings previously occupied by the Maute although this was at the expense of two soldiers who died. Eight Maute members were also killed in the Sunday operation.

“Slowly, the number of buildings they occupy is getting smaller,” said Año, adding that one of the buildings cleared on Sunday was a “tall building.” He described the clearing of the buildings as a “big factor.”

Año said the military is looking forward to a “final push to really break their line and finally clear the whole area of Marawi.”

“The battleground is now down to less than a square kilometer area. But we cannot neglect or bypass buildings (in clearing). It’s fatal and dangerous to our soldiers and to the trapped civilians,” said Año.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said the conflict remains confined in portions of four barangays.

Año, asked if the military can accomplish the mission before President Duterte’s state of the nation address on July 24, said: “We do not see the SONA as the deadline or timeline. As we have said, we will do it the military way, in accordance to our doctrines.”

Año said the military cannot set a deadline because the enemy is taking advantage of this. Incidentally, President Duterte said last July 11 that he needed 10 to 15 days to end the conflict.

Año said setting a timeline will also put additional pressure on the operating troops. “Unnecessarily, this leads to more casualties,” he said.

Arevalo said the military is satisfied with the progress of the operations despite the growing number of government battle casualties.

“This fight is more than just statistics,” he said.

Arevalo said 97 soldiers and policemen have been already killed, 852 others were wounded and one remains missing since the fighting broke out in May. The number of civilians killed remained at 45 and rescued civilians stayed at 1,723.

Arevalo also disclosed that the number of slain Maute members rose to 411 and the recovered Maute firearms is now at 511.

Asked to rate the military’s performance in Marawi City given the number of government casualties, Arevalo said, “It’s not just passing grade, it’s more than passing grade.”

“What you are seeing are the numbers, statistics. But this is not just about numbers. We also have to see the nature of the fighting, the circumstances of (the fighting) and the peculiarity of the battle area,” he added.

Arevalo noted that the conflict is in an urban area and that the enemy has mastery of the terrain.

He stressed government forces are winning the fight and enemy resistance is waning.

“The (enemy) resistance is not that strong compared to the earlier weeks and we are confident that this is going to end very soon. We just couldn’t give an exact date or deadline when this will be over,” said Arevalo

As to the 852 soldiers and policemen wounded in the conflict, Arevalo said more than half have returned to the frontline, fighting the Maute members, after receiving treatment.

Area controlled by Maute terrorists now shrinking - AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Area controlled by Maute terrorists now shrinking - AFP chief

The remaining Maute Group terrorists are now just pocketed in an area measuring less than one-square kilometer in Marawi City, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año said late Monday.

Also, he reported that military units, engaged in the ongoing clearing operations, have captured 50 more buildings, including a very tall one, during operations Sunday.

"So we'll have one final push to really break their line and finally clear the whole area of Marawi, (Maute Group resistance) is confined to less than one-square kilometer. But we cannot neglect or bypass (buildings) as its fatal and dangerous to our soldiers and the trapped civilians," the AFP chief stressed.

As of 7 p.m. Sunday, the number of troops wounded in the ongoing conflict in Marawi City is now at 852.

This was offset by the number of lawless elements killed which is now placed at 411, the military added.

Troopers killed in action was placed at 97 along with 45 civilians.

The number of recovered firearms is placed at 511 while civilians rescued from the clutches of the terrorists is pegged at 1,723.

A soldier is also reported missing-in-action as of this posting.

Fighting broke out in Marawi City after government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and ISIS "emir" in Southeast Asia last May 23.

Government Approaches to Islamic-Based Militant Radicalization in Southeast Asia

Posted to the Small Wars Journal (Jul 16): Government Approaches to Islamic-Based Militant Radicalization in Southeast Asia (by John Zambri)

Southeast Asia has traditionally been defined by religious tolerance, moderation, and pluralism.[i] Home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the world, approximately 180 million, it is a region that is characterized by Islam’s success in facilitating the development of civil society and democracy and demonstrating that Islam is not anathema to secular democracy.[ii] Southeast Asian Muslims have traditionally stood apart from the Arab Islamic orthodoxy and have eschewed the violence and literal interpretations of Islam that have defined Islam in the Middle East. Considered the “Islamic Fringe” by Muslim coreligionists, Southeast Asian Muslims embraced secular pursuits and have traditionally shunned the radical variants of Islam common in the Middle East.[iii] Fanatical, rigid, and militant Islam does not appear to hold significant appeal to the vast majority of Muslims in the region. However, although Islam in Southeast Asia has been moderate in character, it is undergoing a process of revivalist change that in some segments of its society, have taken on extremist overtones.[iv]

Terrorism and extremist views, particularly as it relates to Islamic extremists, is not new to the region. The Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf (ASG) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines, and the Kampulan Mujiheddin Malaysia (KMM) in Malaysia to a lesser degree, to name a few, have been active in these countries specifically and in the region in general.[v] It is not the aim of this work to render a comprehensive and detailed description and analysis, but to provide a brief overview of the successes and failures if salient government policies and practices relative to radicalization in the Southeast Asian region. In this work I review and analyze the issue of radicalization to include government responses to terrorism throughout Southeast Asia in an effort to examine how effective the counter radicalization and counter-terrorism strategies employed by the various states have been. I will also briefly discuss the government organizational structure and the problems faced by the various Southeast Asian government agencies in addressing the Middle Eastern influence on emerging radicalization specifically posed by Islamic based groups. Finally, I will touch on the various Southeast Asian government bureaucracies and its capability to respond to the threats posed by Islamic militant groups.

Southeast Asia has been the home of indigenous Islamic militant groups for decades. According to Bruce Vaughn, analyst for Southeast Asian affairs, Congressional Research Service, traditional linkages among these groups were relatively weak and most operated only in their own country or islands, focusing on domestic issues such as promoting the adoption of Islamic law (sharia) and seeking independence from central government control.[vi] This is evidenced by the local nature of the Islamic extremist threat in Southeast Asia as revealed in recent reports that virtually no Southeast Asians were reported to have travelled to other countries, most notably Afghanistan or Iraq, to fight the Jihad.[vii] This is due on the one hand to the fact that Muslim grievances are local in nature – the need for economic, political, and social opportunities and equality in specific countries – and not global, and on the other hand not due to any mystical or mythical attribution to Al Qaeda or ISIS rhetoric.

Externally, the lack of a global jihadist view and participation, to a large extent, is attributed to the successes by various Southeast Asian governments in fighting radical militant extremism before it manifests into violence through robust duel law enforcement and counter-extremist narrative strategy.[viii] The combined approach targets potential individual perpetrators for arrest and interdiction and affected communities through encouragement of secular Muslim ideals, which undermines the arguments of extremist. Though many of the efforts employed by Southeast Asian governments have kept extremist violence from becoming systemic, Islamic fundamentalism has been growing steadily over the past three decades laying the inroads to facilitate radicalization and by extension extremist violence.[ix] Within several states there exist enclaves that are beginning to at least acknowledge that they share the extremist grievances.[x] What is even more disturbing about this development is that radical Islamists are increasingly relying on emerging networks in different states for assistance, financing, and training.[xi]

The 9/11 attacks brought the issues of radicalization and Islamic extremism in Southeast Asia to prominence. The responses of countries in the region to radicalization and extremist violence since the 9/11 attacks, have varied with the intensity of their respective concerns and perceptions about the threat to their international standing and domestic stability and politics.[xii] Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines were quick to institute aggressive counter-radicalization and counter-terrorism policies and strategies, to include intelligence sharing and combined military and law enforcement initiatives, while Indonesia was initially reluctant to acknowledge that it had domestic or international terrorist connections. Only after the JI carried out several attacks, most serious of which was the Bali bombing in 2002, did the Indonesian government initiate aggressive and proactive counter-terrorism action.[xiii]

In Indonesia, government officials estimate that two percent of Muslims fit within the “radical” rubric.[xiv] Initially that may seem small. However, in a nation that totals approximately 240 million people, ninety percent of which are Muslims, two percent works out to be well over four million potential radical Islamist.[xv] To combat growing radical Islamic violence the Indonesian government authorized the creation and deployment of Detachment 88. Detachment 88 is the Indonesian national police force’s main counter-terror unit and is thought responsible for much of the success that Indonesia has had in arresting hundreds suspects of which many have been tried and convicted.[xvi] Indonesia has also reportedly had success through its program of deradicalisation which advocates and incorporates political involvement of radical elements, development of counter-narratives, and strategies that seeks to identify at risk individuals and communities and to bring both the extremist and their families back into the fold of normal society in addition to preventing, deterring, and punishing terrorists.[xvii]

Although there is a significant number of Indonesian Muslims that constitute the radical Islamic elements, radical Islamist that are moved to violence make up a very small proportion of the populace. This is reportedly due to Indonesia’s history of polity, society, and culture which are aligned with traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance.[xviii] The moderate Muslim mainstream plays a leading role in the democratization of Indonesia and the construction of a robust civil and secular society, acting as a bull-work against systemic extremist ideologies.[xix] Indonesia’s counter-radicalization and counter-terrorism efforts notwithstanding, radicalized groups and extremist violence continues to be on the rise.[xx]

Radicalization in the Philippines is particularly problematic. The Philippines is home to the ASG, MILF, and elements of JI. Their reported collaboration and cooperation has confirmed transnational linkages that facilitate radical influences. The main political objective for these groups has been separation and independence for the Muslim region of the southern Philippines. The vehicle for influencing radical sympathies is grievance centric. Playing on anti-government sentiments among the socially and politically disaffected, these terrorist groups are able to cultivate radical sympathies among the populace.

Evidence, including the testimonies of captured Jemaah Islamiyah leaders, has pointed to strong links between some elements of the MILF and JI, including the continued training of JI terrorists in MILF camps and the planning of terrorist operations. The Philippine National Intelligence Coordinating Agency estimated in mid-2009 that there were 30 to 40 JI cadre on Mindanao. A stronger collaborative relationship has developed between MILF commands and Abu Sayyaf since 2002, according to Zachary Abuza, a U.S. expert on Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia.[xxi]

The Philippine government has been aggressive and proactive in their counter-terrorism efforts. Having a long standing history in fighting the ASG and MILF, the 9/11 attacks helped to secure increased funding and assistance from the United States. U.S. military and economic support reportedly has achieved successes. Philippine government operations against Abu Sayyaf and MILF have become more aggressive and effective on Basilan and Jolo. Abu Sayyaf strength has been eroded to an estimated 200-400, and key commanders have been killed.[xxii] Philippine military commanders have maximized U.S. equipment, intelligence gathering, and planning support.[xxiii] The U.S. military’s civic action projects on Basilan and Jolo (medical treatment, water purification installations, farm markets, renovation of schools) appear to have weakened support for Abu Sayyaf.[xxiv] Not all Southeast Asian governments have sought kinetic anti-radicalism responses. Malaysia presents a dichotomy relative to counter-terrorism in the region.

Internally and externally Malaysia conducted a delicate balancing act. It faced the threat of radical groups such as the Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM), which desired to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state internally. It faced a geopolitical image and standing in the region as a partner in the Southeast Asian counter-terrorism mission.[xxv] To show support for the ‘war on terror’ and yet not agitate indigenous radical Islamist, Malaysia supported the joint decision with Singapore and Indonesia to increase patrolling of the Malacca Straits.[xxvi] A closer look showed that Malaysia opposed the inclusion of U.S. forces as entry of western forces would infuriate radical Muslims and the dominant Muslim population in the region.[xxvii] Malaysia understood this not just for the issue of sovereignty but also because of the expected Muslim reaction, especially after the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Malaysia’s policies are based on pragmatism. Islamic extremists were a major concern to Malaysian government, even before the 9/11 attacks. Regionally, Malaysia was a concern with groups like the Parti Islam Se Malaysia (PAS), which if provoked by Malaysian government alignment with U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, would increase the spread of Islamic extremism through the country.[xxviii] An even greater concern was the MILF and the ASG, which had aspirations for a greater Islamic state in South East Asia. Malaysia has responded by acting as the mediator between the Philippine government and the MILF, again aiming not to support the ‘war on terror’, but to aid fellow Muslims and push the threat of Islamic fundamentalism way from its borders.[xxix] Malaysia continued to increase its anti-terrorism efforts with arrests and detention of terrorist suspects and the creation of the South East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism in 2003.[xxx]

Malaysia was fighting terrorism, not to gain any favor, but to turn back a wave of Islamic extremism. As it took anti-terrorist measures regionally and internationally, its foreign policy was pragmatic, taking into account the mindsets of Muslims. It also sought to improve Muslims and the image of Muslims, not by promoting conservative ideologies, but progressive and beneficial means, indirectly pushing back Islamic extremism.[xxxi] Malaysian foreign policy will definitely continue to place Islam as a forefront of its foreign policy, and should continue to take a moderate stance.[xxxii]

Shortly after 9/11, Singaporean authorities, unlike Malaysian authorities, launched aggressive operations to counter terrorist activities.[xxxiii] After many countermeasures were put in place, Singapore published A Fight Against Terror: Singapore’s National Security Strategy to document these operations.[xxxiv] Singaporean government made it a policy directive to make their strategy available to their citizens because a major element in their fight against terror is involving their citizens and preparing them for their role in defending the country.[xxxv] This is a total government approach that folds the citizenry into its counter-radicalization and counter-terrorism mission. Singapore’s strategy is broken down into 3 components: Prevention, Protection, and Response, which are the responsibility of the government but are developed into an integrated public/private citizen response.[xxxvi]

The various Southeast Asian governments have had to developed and formulate counter-radicalization policies and strategies that are unique to their respective cultures, political structures, and civil/military capabilities. There are no one method magic bullets. Counter-radicalization strategies require an integrated and interdisciplinary approach that involves both public and private resources. Most importantly it will required the participation of the populace as stakeholders in the government and in their security. To achieve this “buy in” the governments that make up the Southeast Asian states have to strive to win and maintain legitimacy. This is accomplished through whole of government programs that do not solely rely on kinetic responses, though they are integral in a multifaceted counter-radicalization strategy, but through a combination of both kinetic and non-kinetic responses. Non-kinetic responses include education, employment, counter-narratives, social, cultural, and religious outreach, as well as strategies that delegitimize extremist views.

The Philippine government initially concentrated on legal and military responses to radicalization and terrorism, but has since incorporated government programs that are aimed garnering legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry. Indonesia and Singapore have employed an integrated response that emphasizes bringing even Islamic extremist into the political process, allowing them to have a political voice and forum to address and resolve grievances. Malaysia continues to straddle the political/religious fence. The rising religiously motivated violence in Malaysia has classified it as the new center of Islamic extremism. The region is home to the largest concentration of Muslims after South Asia and Malaysia cannot remain aloof from the rising tide of militancy in other parts of the Muslim World that affect its populace and government.[xxxvii] Malaysia and Indonesia are not immune to Islamic extremism. Malaysia, in particular, has become the hotbed of extremism and exporting it to Indonesia and Brunei. It was even before the 2002 Bali bombings when extremists from Indonesia and Malaysia started interacting with their counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Straddling the fence is no longer an option to keep radicalization at bay.

According to Zachary Abuza the “radical fringe (of Islam) will continue to grow, as modernization leaves people more isolated and the political process leaves people more disenfranchised. The Islamists and their supporters will continue to gain in power unless the more secular Muslim community again provides a successful model of tolerant and modernist Islam that it has done fairly successfully for forty years.”[xxxviii] Some analysts believe frustration from diminished expectations driven by economic austerity, the lack of effective political participation, and a sense of humiliation are at the core of why many Asian Muslims have become radicalized. Government policies can help by assisting and encouraging moderate elements in Asia to “respond to mainstream Muslims’ hopes for economic improvement and political participation, balanced development, participatory governance, and civil peace” that will give hope to alienated individuals who might otherwise drift towards radicalism.[xxxix]

End Notes

[i] Zachary Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), 1.

[ii] Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.), Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia: Assessments from the Field: A Report of the CSIS Transnational Threats Project (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2009), iv; Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, 3.

[iii] Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, 3.

[iv] Bruce Vaughn, Islam In Southeast Asia, Report for Congress (Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, February 8, 2005), 2.

[v] Christopher S. Bond, The next Front: Southeast Asia and the Road to Global Peace with Islam (Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons, 2009), 7.

[vi] Bruce Vaughn et al., Terrorism in Southeast Asia, CRS Report for Congress (Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, October 16, 2009), 2.

[vii] Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.), Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia, vi.

[viii] Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.), Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia.

[ix] Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, 4.

[x] Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia.

[xi] As defined in Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, radical Islamist are those who are trying to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia through violence and extralegal means. Ibid.

[xii] Francis T. Miko, Removing Terrorist Sanctuaries: The 9/11 Commission Recommendations and U.S. Policy, CRS Report for Congress (Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, February 11, 2005), 14.

[xiii] Miko, Removing Terrorist Sanctuaries: The 9/11 Commission Recommendations and U.S. Policy.

[xiv] Bond, The next Front, 5.

[xv] Ibid

[xvi] Vaughn et al., Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 10.

[xvii] Ibid

[xviii] Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.), Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia, iv.

[xix] Ibid., 4.

[xx] Vaughn et al., Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 14.

[xxi] Ibid., 17; Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, 14–19,22–24.

[xxii] Vaughn et al., Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 19.

[xxiii] Thomas H. Kean and et. al., eds., 911 Commission Reprot, n.d., 361–365.

[xxiv] Vaughn et al., Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 19.

[xxv] Jiesheng Li, “Malaysian Foreign Policy in the Post 9/11 Era |,” Global Politics, accessed December 1, 2013,

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Muhammad Syukri Salleh, “Recent Trends In Islamic Revivalism In Malaysia,”, accessed December 1, 2013,

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Saad Khan, “Saad Khan: Rising Extremism in South East Asia: Dangerous Repurcussions,” January 11, 2010, “Microsoft Word - RC CRT 2005-Entire S Version-4 27.doc - 65469.pdf,” 61, accessed December 1, 2013,

[xxx] “Microsoft Word - RC CRT 2005-Entire S Version-4 27.doc - 65469.pdf.”

[xxxi] Li, “Malaysian Foreign Policy in the Post 9/11 Era |”

[xxxii] Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.), Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia; Vaughn, Islam In Southeast Asia; Li, “Malaysian Foreign Policy in the Post 9/11 Era |”

[xxxiii] U.S. Library of Congress, Terrorism in Southeast Asia, p. CRS-24.

[xxxiv] National Security Coordination Centre (Singapore), The Fight against Terror: Singapore’s National Security Strategy (Singapore: Produced, published, and distributed by National Security Coordination Centre, 2004), 18.

[xxxv] Ibid., 62.

[xxxvi] Ibid., 43.

[xxxvii] Khan, “Saad Khan: Rising Extremism in South East Asia: Dangerous Repurcussions.”

[xxxviii] Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia.

[xxxix] Ibid.

[John Zambri is a Detective III with the Los Angeles Police Department assigned to the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau.  He has been with the LAPD for 25 years and is also a Naval Reserve Intelligence officer with 20 years of service.  He was mobilized and deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.]

Army, NPA clash anew in Davao Oriental

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jul 17): Army, NPA clash anew in Davao Oriental

A 20-MINUTE gunfight occurred between the military and the New People's Army (NPA) members on Saturday afternoon, July 15, in Lupon town, Davao Oriental.

Commanding officer of the 28th Infantry Battalion, Ramon Zagala, said his men encountered about 40 rebels from Southeastern Committee (Secom) 18 and Pulang Bagani Command 6 led by Alyas Do at So Kirantik, Marayag village, in Lupon.

No government troops were injured during the encounter, which resulted in the recovery of one M14, one improvised explosive device, one magazine for M14, four magazine for AK 47, 50 blasting caps, one rifle grenade, 50 meters wire, and 100 meters wire, personal belongings, medical paraphernalia, and subversive document with high intel value.

According to the report, troops acted on information received from the community that the NPAs were massing up in the hinterlands of Marayag. Zagala said the encounter is a manifestation of the community’s support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be free from NPA influence.

Army denies hand in shooting of farmers’ family in Compostela Valley

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Jul 17): Army denies hand in shooting of farmers’ family in Compostela Valley

Army spokesman Capt. Rhyan Batchar of the 10th Infantry Division (Paulo C. Rizal/

The Army denied the human rights group’s report that government troops were involved in the shooting incident of a farmer’s family in Mabini town Compostela Valley Province last Thursday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, refuted the report made by the Karapatan Alliance for Human Rights which accused the military for indiscriminately firing at Arado’s residence in Kidaraan, Barangay Anitapan in Mabini last July 13.
Batchar said based on the report of the 46th Infantry Battalion the shooting incident by still unidentified gunmen happened around 7:30 pm.

The incident resulted to the death of Carolina Arado, 56 and wounded four other family members namely Charlito Arado, 59, husband of Carolina; Analisa Arado, 30, daughter-in-law of Carolina; and the two minors Arjun Arado, 12 and Junior Arado, 8, Batchar said.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan Southern Mindanao said Carolina is a member of Hugpong sa Mag-uuma sa Mabini (Humabin).
Apiag said Carolina is the sixth victim of extrajudicial killing in the region since Martial Law was implemented in Mindanao.

The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns said Saturday they believe the victims were targeted by the military “due to their vocal opposition against the human rights violations committed by the military elements as well as the mining activities in the area.”
“The AFP is using the Martial law to harass and intimidate peasant and IP communities especially the leaders of progressive organizations in Mindanao. Martial law only proves human rights situation got worse with additional police power of the AFP and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus,” said Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi Secretary General in a statement.

Batchhar said the troops of 46th IB “responded first at the said incident, facilitated the giving of first aid to the wounded while providing assitance to the purok leader for the immediate evacuation of the victims to the hospital.”
“We are strictly implementing observance of Human Rights (HR) and the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the rule of law,” Batchar added.

He said targeting civilians are not part of their operations.

He also challenged Karapatan to file charges against our soldiers to the courts of justice.

“We assure them of our full cooperation on any investigations that shall be undertaken by duly instituted authorities as a way of ensuring professionalism in our ranks,” he said.

Philippines orders 3 more SSVs, 2 missile ships – Indonesian official

From Update Philippines (Jul 17): Philippines orders 3 more SSVs, 2 missile ships – Indonesian official

President-Director Budiman Saleh of Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL said that Philippines has ordered two more Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSV) and one SSV hospital ship, as reported by Jakarta Post on July 15.

This is after PT PAL successfully delivered 2 SSVs to Philippine Navy. The 2 SSVs – BRP Tarlac (LD-601), BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) – are now under the Tarlac-class landing platform dock.

Budiman Saleh added that the Philippines also ordered two 60-meter long range missile-armed ships (KCR-60).

However, pending the finalization of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Second Horizon acquisition list and official commencement of bidding projects, what Saleh said may still be in discussion stage.

Philippine Navy’s Desired Force Mix indicates that one SSV in landing helicopter assault (LHA) modification and two logistic support vessels (LSV) are slated for Second Horizon.

Saleh also said that other countries like Malaysia, Nigeria, Senegal, Guyana Bissau and Gabon also ordered SSVs and KCRs in different types and modifications.

“People see that the Philippines have used the SSV-123 meter long ships. The ships are a magnet for other countries,” Budiman said.

PH Navy sends officers to Japan for international course

From Update Philippines (Jul 17): PH Navy sends officers to Japan for international course


The Philippine Navy sent two of its officials to Japan to attend the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Navy Planning Process International Course (APNIC) 2017 held June 19 to July 1 at Japan Maritime Self Defense (JMSDF) Command and Staff College in Tokyo.

The Navy said Lieutenant Commander Edgardo G. Sargento and Lieutenant Henry D. Geron joined 21 other navy officers from seven countries.

“Through this participation, PN delegates were able to learn the process leading to the enhancement of understanding, cooperation, and effectiveness of regional navies in the execution of wide range maritime operations,” the Philippine Navy said.

US Navy said APNIC is an annual educational course that provides staff level naval officers from various countries a forum to study and discuss enhanced multilateral cooperation and increase the effectiveness of regional navies in the execution of maritime operations.

It aims to strengthen ties among the like-minded navies in the region and continue to educate and train naval leaders.