Monday, February 23, 2015

PMA recognizes 9 outstanding Cavs

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Feb 24): PMA recognizes 9 outstanding Cavs

NINE Cavaliers were awarded during this year's Philippine Military Academy alumni homecoming held Saturday.

Highlighted in this year's homecoming was the recognition given to nine outstanding Cavaliers who have shown exemplary performances in service.

The awardees were Cavaliers Felicuto Virgilio Trinidad Jr., Danilo Pamonag, Ronald Dela Rosa, Elpidio Factor, Inocencio Rosario Jr., Jonathan de Leon, Gremel Brual, Wilfred Nicolas and Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.

Cav. Ebdane of class 1970 was among the awardees recognized for his contributions as a public servant.

Ebdane was the Philippine National Police chief from 2002 to 2004; Director General of the National Security Council and the National Security Adviser for Operations from 2004 to 2005; Secretary of the Department of National Defense in 2007; Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in 2008; Secretary of Department of Public Works and Highways in 2008; and governor of Zambales from 2010 up to present.

Cav. Trinidad of PMA class 1992 was awarded for the Command and Administration category.

Trinidad served as a Commander of the 702nd Infantry Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division in the Philippine Army from 2009 to 2012, the Commander of the 1st Infantry Division from 2013 to 2014 and is at present the Commander of the Northern Luzon Command since 2014.

His role as the Overall Ground Commander of Joint Task Force "ZAMPELAN" of the Western Mindanao Command played a huge role during the Zamboanga City siege in 2013 as they were able to frustrate the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari Group's attempt to capture the city.

For Army Operations, Cav. Pamonag of class 1995 was awarded for his service as a Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Special Operations Group.
During the Zamboanga City Siege, Pamonag led the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Vector which rescued 162 civilian hostages, arrested of 170 rogue MNLF elements and is account for the killing of 170 rogue MNLF elements.

For Police Operations, Cav. Dela Rosa of class 1986, was awarded for his several recognitions in service.

In the last five years, he was awarded the Best Senior Police Commissioned Officer for Operations of the Year in 2010; the Achievement Award in the field of Police Operations in 2012; and the Medalya ng Pambihirang Paglilingkod for Anti-Terrorism in 2014, all by President Benigno Aquino III himself.

He also played a significant role in the neutralization of Montero Kidnap for Ransom Group and he also was also the man behind the implementation of Davao City's Oplan Tokhang (knock) and Oplan Taphang (gather and plead) which led to identification of 435 suspected drug affected houses and the gathering of 908 suspected drug personalities for counseling and advice.

Cav. Factor of PMA class 1995 was meanwhile awarded for his outstanding performance in Naval Operations.

This is evident in the titles his unit Marine Battalion Landing Team 3, which he led as a Battalion Commander, earned in different national security crisis operations. These monikers are the National Maneuver Force, Peace Catalyst of Ginoog, Heroes of Zamboanga and the Conqueror of Radulan Camp.

Presently, Facto is leading his unit in the southern part of Tawi-Tawi in safeguarding the country's territory against Malaysia and Indonesia.

For Coast Guard Operations, Cav. Rosario of class 1996 was given the award for his accomplishments like leading operations that led to the seizure of six pieces of M-14 rifle in South Harbor Manila in 2009 which was supposedly to be send for the Abu Sayyaf Group in Zamboanga City and an anti-smuggling operations in 2010 where more than 500,000 liters of lube oil amounting to P50M were apprehended.

For Air Force Operations, Cav. De Leon of class 2001 was recognized for his service with the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing and other units of the Air Force.

On top of the several awards he received such as as PAF Officer of the Year and 205H THW Officer of the Year in 2013, some of his major contributions was the Squadron Safety Program for CY 2014 which he crafted and his initiative for the creation and revision of Standard Operating Procedures on the Conduct of Para Jump Operations, SOP on Competency Drill, and SOP on Squadron Best-Best for aircraft.

For Special Operations, Cav. Brual, who is currently the Commander of the 17th Intelligence and Security Unit (Counter-Terrorism) of the Intelligence and Security Group of the Philippine Army.

His unit, under his supervision Commander led to the neutralization of Ibnu Gholib Ibghol, the highest ranking Jemaah Islamiya leader in the Philippines; MNLF member Daniel Cruz Xavier who was also the mastermind of the Zamboanga Siege; and seven Abu Sayyaf members.

In addition, Cav. Nicolas of class 1965 also received the award for Private Enterprise for his contributions as the Chairman of the Board of the Northern University in Laoag City which made it improve as an institution of higher learning education.

While there are 12 categories of awards, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association only had nine this year as chairman Cav. Jose Maria Solquillo explained "The candidates in the three categories were not able to get the two thirds or 13 votes needed".

Philippine soldiers to train on IHL

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Feb 23): Philippine soldiers to train on IHL

An ICRC staff explains ICRC’s activities in Mindanao to participants of the IHL training of AFP mobile teams at the 401st Infantry Brigade in Agusan del Sur province. (ICRC/Chiara de Leon)

The Philippine military's Human Rights Office and the International Committee of the Red Cross  will train about 30 government soldiers on how to disseminate the law of armed conflict - also known as international humanitarian law - for thousands of government militias who are members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit. 
The three-day training of enlisted personnel - who will form part of the military's mobile training teams - started on Mnday at the 10th Infantry Division in Davao City. 

“As our front-liners, our enlisted personnel and Cafgu members need to know the basic principles of IHL, including the protection of civilians and respect for wounded or captured fighters. This training is part of our commitment to integrate IHL into the teaching of our armed forces personnel, and we look forward to replicating this program in other areas,” said Col. Jose Antonio Carlos Motril, chief of the military's human rights office.

The training includes lectures on IHL principles and the Philippine IHL Act, R.A. 9851, among other topics. After the training, the AFP mobile training teams are tasked to go around patrol bases to disseminate IHL among members of the Cafgu.  

IHL regulates the means and methods of warfare and protects those not or no longer participating in hostilities. As guardian of IHL, the ICRC helps enhance the teaching and dissemination of IHL to increase awareness and promote compliance among weapon bearers. 

The ICRC is a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organization that is mandated to protect and assist civilians affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.

MILF: TAF, BLMI conduct Re-Echo Workshops on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Initiatives

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 24): TAF, BLMI conduct Re-Echo Workshops on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Initiatives

TAF, BLMI conduct Re-Echo Workshops on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Initiatives

The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) conducted a 2-day workshops on Malaysian Anti- Corruption Initiatives held at the BLMI Training Centre, Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on February 12-13, 2015.

The BLMI management continued to perform its mandates to capacitate future leaders of Bangsamoro despite the temporary suspension of the deliberations on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by both Houses of Congress due to the Mamasapano clash.

 Muhammad Ameen, Head of the General Secretariat of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) delivered the welcome address to the delight of participants from various areas of mainland Mindanao and the island provinces.

Ustadz Mahmod Sumilalao Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director, led his team of facilitators to make the participants absorb the topics that were discussed. Director Ahmad together with Tirso S. Tahir, BLMI Research Officer and other Moro delegates, attended a 4-day training workshops on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Initiatives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia early this month.

In the course of the workshops, BLMI facilitators presented Integrity Initiatives in Malaysia; and Overview of Socio-Economic Development and Governance of Malaysia.  Mr. Aliuddin Haron, BDA-MTFRDP Training Officer presented the Structure and Functions of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC); and Ms. Shaheenah Abbas, a member of Bangsamoro Study Group discussed “Ethics, Good Governance and Nation Building”.

Various verses from the Holy Qur’an say Corruption “Do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it (in bribery) to the rulers in order that (they might aid) you (to) consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know it is unlawful” (Chapter 2, verse 188).

The resource persons emphasized that a leader with integrity will be able to serve society as genuine public servant. Corruption may takes place anywhere in many forms in Islamic perspective. This can be avoided or eradicated when you inject integrity first to yourself and your family.

Atty. Haron Meling, BTC Chief Executive Assistant represented BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal who was attending the Senate Hearing on Mamasapano incident.
Atty. Meling suggested that that MILF should also have a Bangsamoro Anti-Corruption Academy. He also stressed the need to use the term “Agreed Version of BBL instead of original BBL”, referring to the draft BBL submitted to President Benigno Aquino III on September 10, by the BTC led by Chairman Iqbal.

 Atty. Meling emphasized that, “The best way for now is for lawmakers to enact a good BBL, meaning undiluted or not watered-down in order to achieve lasting peace, justice and prosperity in Mindanao.

MILF: PNoy meets House leaders, pushes for BBL enactment

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 24): PNoy meets House leaders, pushes for BBL enactment

PNoy meets House leaders, pushes for BBL enactment

Yesterday, February 23, President Benigno Aquino III met with leaders of the House of Representatives and asked for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will create a new autonomous region in Mindanao called Bangsamoro.

The creation of a new political entity is embodied in Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that the government signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2013.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President met with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other House leaders "to discuss the Mamasapano incident and its implications on the peace process in Mindanao, particularly on the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Law."

"While acknowledging that the enactment of the BBL has been delayed, he emphasized the importance of approving the measure in a timely manner, so as to pave the way for the holding of a plebiscite and if the people will approve the same, to give the members of the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority sufficient time to demonstrate their capabilities," Coloma said.

Coloma said the House members told Aquino that deaths of the 44 Special Action Force commandos have given rise to a clamor from their constituents for justice "as part of rebuilding public confidence on the viability of the peace process."

"Those who spoke at the dialogue with the President also brought up the need for “leveling off with the MILF” on the parameters of their partnership with the government in the peace process including the containment of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM).

MILF: Alonto: “BBL suffered the worst collateral damage”

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 24): Alonto: “BBL suffered the worst collateral damage”

Alonto: “BBL suffered the worst collateral damage”

A senior member of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel said on Saturday that the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is at the receiving end of the fallouts of the January 25 Mamasapano clash and that it has “suffered the worst collateral damage.”

In a roundtable discussion in Cagayan de Oro City, Robert M. Alonto told journalists and broadcasters that both the MILF and BTC are now deprived of the “luxury of focus and freedom to argue our case vis-à-vis the BBL before the bar of public opinion.”

Alonto, also a commissioner of BTC, stated that the Mamasapano clash has led “high officials the likes of Cayetano et al and sectors of the mainstream media” to vilify and brand them as “villains that do not deserve such a thing as the BBL.”

Alonto likewise said that in the light of established and emerging facts surrounding the Mamasapano incident, he is inclined to believe “that the BBL was, and is, a target, apart from the so-called terrorists Marwan and Usman, of the people behind the debacle in Mamasapano.”

Asked as to what alternative they would take if the MILF would not accept a watered down version of the BBL, Alonto replied that “negotiations will continue (as) technically negotiation is not yet finished until we sign the exit agreement. If it would take more years of negotiations to come, then so be it.”

Abhoud Syed Lingga who is also a member of the MILF Peace Panel joined Alonto in the discussions.

On the question on what would happen if the Supreme Court would declare the BBL unconstitutional, Lingga answered that amending the constitution should be considered inorder to accommodate BBL provisions.

Lingga also clarified that the responsibility of passing the BBL lies with the government as its commitment when it signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The 3-hour conversations with mediamen coming mostly from the Cagayan de Oro Press Club was the third in a series of roundtable discussions jointly organized by the BTC, Mindanews and Philippine Information Agency Mindanao Cluster.

The European Union, Canada Aid and Conciliation Resources assisted in the conduct of the forum.

MILF: Homeland Media Agency launches website

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 23): Homeland Media Agency launches website

Homeland Media Agency launches website

As the saying goes, “Better late than never”. This is so with the Homeland Media Agency (HMA).  After its readers and followers waited for sometimes, the HMA launched its website ( on February 18 at Pagana Native Restaurant, Cotabato City, in the presence of important guests, HMA officers and writers. Some important personalities who were included in the list of guests failed to make it due to previous commitments. The theme of the website launching is, HMA: “Dawn of a New Beginning”

The HMA is headed by its president, Professor Abdullah Abdulmaguid, while the Board of Directors is headed by Abubakar Gulam, a teacher by profession. The launching ceremony was also attended and witnessed by officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), local media, the International Monitoring Team (IMT), BTC Communications Group members, the Asia Foundation (TAF), and representatives from local government units (LGUs), and CSOs.

According to HMA’s VMG’s, the group is a non-partisan, non-profit multimedia organization with members comprising professionals and amateur Moro and non-Moro writers from non-government organizations, government agencies, the academe, religious and women’s organizations. “HMA envisions a competent peace journalist and media practitioners who conscientiously inform and educate citizens through multimedia with credible and accurate information towards just, progressive and peaceful communities.”

“HMA is an alternative source of balance and accurate news that transpire in the local communities and urban centres in Mindanao.”

‘In his message, Prof. Abdulmaguid said, the agency was organized in 2010, and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2011”, thus making the agency a legal multi-media organization.”

 “We are unveiling our modest endeavor that we were not able to do in the past, and now laid its beginning”, Prof. Abdulmaguid also said. HMA has plenty of writers or correspondents all over the Bangsamoro and even overseas”, Prof. Abdulmaguid further said.

Capt. Azhar Bin Adam of the Royal Malaysian Navy and Head of the IMT-9, said, “I congratulate the officers and members for this timely and successful launching of your organization’s website. Indeed, it is a “Dawn of a new beginning”.  “The timing for this activity is very significant following the unfortunate incident in Mamasapano”, Capt. Adam also said.

“May I express my appreciation and gratitude to all parties, particularly the media people, by helping the IMT and ceasefire mechanism for successfully enforcing the ceasefire that prevented further loss of lives and stabilize the te4nse situation”, Capt. Adam further said.

The launching ended with a luncheon meeting presided over by Prof. Abdulmaguid.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Mamasapano operation sparks anger and protests against US-Aquino regime

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): Mamasapano operation sparks anger and protests against US-Aquino regime

The bloody US military operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao using local police forces has sparked widespread anger among the Filipino people.

Since the last week of January, a series of protest actions have been launched by progressive groups in Metro Manila and other areas of Luzon and Mindanao to demand accountability from the US-Aquino regime and call for its ouster.

January 28. Suara Bangsamoro launched a protest action at the Cotabato City Plaza to demand justice for the civilian victims and hold Aquino and the US accountable for the bloody clash at Mamasapano.

January 31. The Kawagib-Moro Human Rights Alliance held a press conference to report the results of its initial investigations in Mamasapano. It said that there were a number of victims of extrajudicial killings and indisciminate firing and that more than 1,500 people had been forced to evacuate as a result of the gunbattle. Among those killed was five-year old Sarah Panangulon who died after SAF troopers strafed her family’s hut. Another civilian, Badrudin Langalan, who was chanced upon by the SAF was found bound, his body riddled with bullets and his eyes gouged out. Five civilians also chanced upon by the SAF praying at a mosque were killed after being sprayed with gunfire.

February 3. Members of the Promotion of Church People’s Response and Kilusang Mayo Uno launched a “National Day of Mourning” through a mass at Camp Crame for the victims in Mamasapano.

February 4. Hundreds of members of progressive groups allied with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan marched from the foot of Mendiola Bridge to the US Embassy. The activity was timed to coincide with the 116th anniversary of the Filipino-American War.

They also called for the of expulsion of American troops and the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and other unequal military agreements with the US.

The policemen who blocked them also had black ribbons pinned to their uniforms to symbolize their sympathy with their fellow PNP officers.

February 5. Progressive sectors installed a giant TV screen to hold a public viewing of Aquino giving a speech in reaction to criticisms of his responsibility in Mamasapano.

February 6. Various youth and student groups held a nationwide protest action dubbed “Black Friday Protest” to call for Aquino’s ouster for his criminal accountability in the Mamasapano incident.

Protest actions were also conducted at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines at noon. In the afternoon, students from the University of Sto. Tomas, University of Manila, San Beda College and UP Manila launched protests, as did residents at the Freedom Park in Batasan Hills, Quezon City. Demonstrations were also launched by students in Baguio City; Los Baños, Laguna; Pampanga; and Legazpi, Albay.

February 8. On the morning of Aquino’s 55th birthday, members of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Anakbayan launched another protest action to reiterate their calls for Aquino’s resignation due to his leading role in the Mamasapano operation. The protesters brought a mock black cake emblazoned with “Noynoy, Resign Now!” in yellow.

At Liwasang Bomifacio, protests were also launched calling for justice for the slain SAF troopers. A cultural performance was presented to show solidarity with the victims and their families.

February 14. Up to 3,000 women and other sectors joined “One Billion Rising” to demand Aquino’s resignation. They gathered at Liwasang Bonifacio and expressed through dance their calls for truth and for accountability from everyone guilty of grave crimes against the people, from the pork barrel scandal to the bloody clash at Mamasapano.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Soldier killed in NPA harassment operation in Samar

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): Soldier killed in NPA harassment operation in Samar

A soldier was killed and several others wounded in harassment operations conducted by the New People’s Army (NPA) in response to massive AFP military operations in Samar province this February.

According to initial reports, the NPA Jorge Bolito Command (JBC) harassed operating enemy troops in Sitio Burabod, Barangay Mabini in Basey town, killing a sergeant from the Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) and wounding another enemy soldier. Earlier, on February 12, Red fighters from the JBC harassed soldiers on operation in Sitio Bagti, Barangay Mabini, wounding a still undetermined number of enemy soldiers. The comrades suffered zero casualties during these firefights.

The tactical offensives are the NPA’s response to complaints by the people against the US-Aquino regime’s militarization at a time when they are still recovering from calamity. Up to six columns of the 87th IB and 82nd DRC are currently conducting operations in Basey town, affecting the barangays of Mabini, Manlilinab, Rizal and other interior villages. The soldiers have been camping out inside the village, which is prohibited by international humanitarian law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL. The military has also been restricting the people’s movements, thereby affecting their farming activities.

Hundreds of residents organizedly evacuated and headed to the Basey municipal hall to make their anger known to the local government. They likewise called for the release of Elpidio Romanca and Artemio Estueta, both farmers who have been illegally arrested despite the absence of cases filed against them.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Civilian shot, wounded by soldiers

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): Civilian shot, wounded by soldiers

A civilian suffered a gunshot wound to the arm after soldiers strafed a group of foreign tourists who were birdwatching at a mountainous area in Barangay Dalwangan, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, at around 8 a.m. of February 13.

The civilian, who was identified as Carlito Gayamara was guiding seven foreigners in a forested area of Mt. Kitanglad. Despite their cries that they were civilians, the military continued strafing them for more than ten minutes.

The soldiers did not even help bring Gayamara to hospital, and left him to shoulder his medical expenses. Worse, to evade responsibility, they claimed that Gayamara was hit in the crossfire between the AFP and the New People’s Army (NPA). In fact, no unit of the NPA was in that area at the time.

The soldiers indiscriminately rained bullets on the tourists because they were demoralized due to a recent harassment operation by the NPA.

Two days prior, two soldiers were killed and five others wounded when Red fighters under the Mt. Kitanglad Subregional Command sniped operating troops of the AFP Special Forces Battalion in a nearby area. In reaction, the military unleashed 12 artillery shells on an area considered sacred by the Lumad. More than 40 families were forced to flee towards Barangay Kibenton, Impasug-ong.

Meanwhile, an M14 rifle and rounds of ammunition were seized from a soldier of the 59th IB who was meted punishment in a sparrow operation in Sitio Tamala, San Marcelino, General Nakar, Quezon in the afternoon of February 8.

The soldier who was identified as Ben Floro was assigned to the Intelligence Section of the 59th IB. He was part of the combined forces of the 59th, 1st and 16th IB who continually conduct military operations in the towns of Infanta, General Nakar and the Polillo Group of Islands in northern Quezon. Their operations wreak havoc on the people in these areas, especially the Dumagat and Remontado natives and the peasants and fisherfolk.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: The AFP’s vicious attacks against Moro civilians

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): The AFP’s vicious attacks against Moro civilians

Various reactionary forces have been invoking the death of 44 elements of the PNP Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 to propagate anti-Moro chauvinism and call for all-out war against the Moro people.

They have been spreading distorted versions of history to demonize all Moro forces as terrorists, and depict them as the masterminds behind some of the bloodiest massacres in the history of the Moro struggle.

In fact, ever since the US-Marcos dictatorship commenced the massive anti-Moro war in the 1970s, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other state-supported forces have unhesitatingly killed or injured unarmed civilians. Every reactionary regime after Marcos used varying combinations of violence and deception to suppress the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination.

Hundreds of thousands of Moro civilians have been victimized by the AFP’s military campaigns. On many occaions, state forces bombed and unleashed artillery fire, killing civilians or causing their massive displacement. In many instances, soldiers mercilessly rained bullets on civilians in retaliation for losses suffered in fighting with armed Moro movements like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or in the process of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Under the Marcos regime. The most heinous attack perpetrated by the AFP in the history of suppressing the Moro struggle is the burning of Jolo City on February 7-8, 1974. At least 10,000 Muslims, Christians and Chinese residents were killed when the city burned down due to relentless AFP bombardment from land, sea and air. In pursuing MNLF forces that had occupied certain parts of Jolo City, the AFP used cannons of the Philippine Navy and jets, Tora-Tora planes and helicopter gunships of the Philippine Air Force and other AFP services. They targeted and burned down the Tulay Mosque, the Chinese Pun Tai Kung Temple, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the entire city center. As the fire raged, 80% of Jolo City was reduced to ashes by February 8. This spurred the diaspora of tens of thousands of residents to other parts of Mindanao, to neighboring Sabah, Malaysia and to Luzon and the Visayas. Controlled by the Marcos dictatorship, the mass media suppressed the truth regarding the burning of Jolo.

Following are some of the most striking cases under the Marcos regime:

June 1971. Combined forces of the Philippine Constabulary and Ilaga paramilitaries attacked civilians praying in a mosque in Manili, Carmen, North Cotabato, killing 70 Moros, including women and children.

November 1971. Forty Moro civilians were killed in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte in the so-called Tacub Massacre.

September 1971. Elements of the 15th IB massacred 1,776 Moro civilians praying at the Tacbil Mosque in Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. Moro girls were taken aboard a Philippine Navy ship where they were gang raped.

October 1977. Up to 700 Moro civilians were slaughtered by AFP soldiers in Patikul, Sulu in retaliation for the deaths of Brig. Gen. Teodulfo Bautista and 34 of his men.

February 1981. Up to 2,000 residents of Pata Island in Jolo, Sulu were massacred by the reactionary military after 124 soldiers under the 31st IB were killed in the island.
Throughout the 1970s until the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, up to 500,000 Moros were either killed or forced to evacuate from their homes.

US-Aquino regime 1 to US-Aquino regime 2. Armed attacks against the Moro forces waned after the MNLF entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Corazon Aquino regime in 1987. In a series of deceptive maneuvers, the MNLF’s surrender was effected in 1994 by the succeeding regime of Fidel Ramos, which was also able to negotiate a ceasefire with the MILF in 1996.

When the US-Estrada regime took power, however, openly armed attacks by state forces resumed against the Moro people with the revocation of the ceasefire and the declaration of all-out war against the MILF in March 2000. The Estrada government deployed 70% of the AFP’s forces against the MILF to crush its known strongholds in Mindanao.

Months of relentless attacks led to the forcible displacement anew of 500,000 Moro people who were cramped in evacuation centers in Cotabato, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Thousands of civilians were killed, including those victimized by the AFP’s bombing and artillery attacks which it conducted without letup. Not a few fell victim to other human rights violations like extrajudicial killing, illegal arrest, harasment, torture, food blockades, arson and other transgressions common to military operations.

To keep the Moro people divided, the Estrada regime used MNLF integrees in the AFP to attack the MILF. It also formed vigilante groups to stoke religious and other differences.

Under the US-Arroyo regime, which took over after the Estrada government, AFP attacks against Moro communities intensified in 2008, after MILF armed resistance resumed due to a Supreme Court decision declaring the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) illegal. The MILF and the Arroyo government had signed the MoA-Ad as part of the peace process they had begun anew. It was in this period that the number of displaced persons in Moro areas reached unprecedented heights. In 2008, the Philippines was second among countries with the most number of evacuees worldwide (600,000), according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a non-government organization under the Norwegian Refugee Council.

By May 2009, the number persons forced to evacuate had ballooned to 750,000 in various Mindanao provinces due to the AFP’s pursuit operations against the MILF. At least 50 civilians were killed in these operations, including four children in Datu Piang, Maguindanao who were slain on September 8, 2008 in an air strike by the Philippine Air Force. The children were then aboard a dugout canoe with their parents and were on their way to an evacuation center when they were strafed by the AFP combat plane.

In the first half of May 2009, close to 30,000 people evacuated from Datu Piang when the AFP conducted non-stop air bombardment and unleashed mortar fire on alleged MILF camps. Worse, the military blocked humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross from delivering food to the evacuees.

Meanwhile, civilians were also indicriminately killed amid AFP pursuit operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits under the Arroyo government. On February 4, 2008, seven people, including two children, two teenagers and a soldier on furlough were killed by attacking elements of the Philippine Marines in Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu. The victims were simple seaweed farmers, with some of them shot while they were already aboard boats to escape the firing. The children were shot in the head. In spite of this, the AFP absolved the Marines of any wrongdoing, contrary to the results of investigations conducted by other groups, including the Commission on Human Rights.

Under the regime of Benigno Aquino III, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) resumed talks with the MILF and signed the Framework Agreement in October 2012, with intensive negotiations beginning in July 2013. This angered the MNLF under Nur Misuari because a new accord would supersede its 1994 agreement with the GPH.

In September 2013, some 250 MNLF forces arrived in Zamboanga City to rally against the peace agreement being forged by the MILF and the Aquino government. The Zamboanga Siege occurred when 5,000 AFP and PNP forces swooped down on the MNLF, sparking a 20-day battle. The AFP used high-powered firearms, helicopters and armored personnel carriers, and rained bombs and bullets on Zamboanga City’s coastal villages. The AFP attacks caused the displacement of 120,000 people and the destruction of some 10,000 houses. Twelve civilians were also killed and 75 Moros wounded.

The civilians’ suffering did not end with the Zamboanga Siege. By December 2014, there were 35,000 refugees still languishing in cramped and unsanitary evacuation centers due to the Aquino government’s refusal to allow them to return to their communities. Close to 200 of them have died from various ailments. Prostitution, the illegal drug trade and other crimes have become rampant in the evacuation centers because of the lack of livelihood.

The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the MILF and the Aquino government on January 24, 2014 was taken by the AFP as a signal to concentrate its attacks on the BIFF. The BIFF was formed in 2008 when Moro forces who did not believe that the aspirations of the Bangsamoro could be achieved by the MILF-GPH agreement broke away from the MILF.

From January 27 to February 2, 2014, the AFP launched Operation Darkhorse and relentlessly attacked various areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Western Mindanao and Central Mindanao believed to be BIFF strongholds. Up to 48,200 Moro people were forced to flee because of continuous AFP air strikes and artillery fire on civilian communities.

When the AFP resumed pursuit operations against the BIFF in November 2014, up to 400 people were forced to evacuate in North Cotabato.

By the end of 2014, there were 44,000 evacuees in the ARMM; 38,200 in Western Mindanao; and 9,300 in Central Mindanao due to AFP military operations against the BIFF.

Currently, the AFP is using the MILF as its proxy in pursuing the BIFF. Since February 13, up to 15,000 persons have evacuated from six barangays in Pikit, North Cotabato and two barangays in Pagalungan, Maguindanao due to clashes between the two groups.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Where is Meiring?

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): Where is Meiring?

In May 2002, the Davao City police arrested Michael Terrence Meiring, an active agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), after a bomb he was making exploded in his room at the Evergreen Hotel.

Contrary to his claims that a grenade had been lobbed at him, the police found two metal cases containing explosives inside his room and an identification card purporting that he was a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Meiring had been a frequent traveller to the Philippines for the past ten years. In 1992, he was posted with the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila.

It is believed that Meiring had been planning to bomb the hotel that day to create terrorist hysteria in Davao and put the blame on the MNLF and other Moro groups. Balikatan 01-1 was then being launched, which at first was confined to the island of Basilan. (It eventually included Zamboanga, after the US had pinpointed Abu Sabaya’s location).

The police were still preparing to charge him when agents from the US National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation whisked Meiring out of the hospital where he was confined after the “accident.” The US agents quickly brought him back to the US despite the warrant of arrest and hold departure order that had been issued against him. In 2004, a television network was able to trace his whereabouts to Houston, Texas where he had been blissfully living with his wife, using the surname Van de Meer.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: US terrorist intervention in the Philippines

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): US terrorist intervention in the Philippines

There is nothing new or surprising about current disclosures regarding the direct and leading role played by the US in the bloody clash at Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Ever since the US designated the Philippines as the “second front” in its “war on terror” in October 2001, it has widely and deeply intervened in the country’s internal affairs without letup. In connivance with the puppet government, the US has unbridledly violated Philippine sovereignty as well as international and local laws and regulations.

Since the early 2000s, the US has been invoking the specter of “terrorism” in the Philippines to justify the entry and continuing presence of its “counter-terrorist” troops in the country. The Abu Sayyaf bandit group, which was formed by former US forces who joined subversive activities in Afghanistan, was linked by the US to Al Qaeda and other groups accused of perpetrating the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001.

In 2005, the US included in its list of “terrorists” the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines and Prof. Jose Maria Sison. In 2002, the US planned on declaring the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as terrorist as well, believing that it had even broader links with Jemaah Islamiyah compared to the Abu Sayyaf, but decided to drop it from the list and attempt to entrap it into agreeing to a ceasefire of indefinite duration and engaging in peace talks.

US military intervention was massive during operations against the Abu Sayyaf which was behind the kidnapping of 20 individuals from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan in November 2001.

Beginning 2003, some 600-900 American soldiers under the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P), a unit under the US Pacific Command, were stationed within Camp Navarro, a military camp of the AFP Western Mindanao Command.

In February 2002, the US sent 1,300 troops to Basilan using the mantle of Balikatan 02-1, the first joint military exercise launched in Mindanao. Among them were 160 troops from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the US president’s so-called “private army” which he unleashes for the extrajudicial killing of individuals arbitrarily declared as terrorist as well as their civilian supporters.

To make their presence in civilian communities palatable and to cover up the brutality of their operations, the US military poured in funds for civilian and infrastructure projects. According to a report by US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, American forces were involved in at least 255 various civic and humanitarian projects from 2006 to 2009.

These projects included 193 road repairs and the construction of ports, clinics, schools and water systems. The US also conducted various propaganda campaigns under MIST (Military Information Support Team), disseminating photographs, writings and comic books and airing radio and television advertisements to improve the image of their troops as well as that of the AFP in Moro civilian communities.

The US likewise sent 300 engineering troops to undertake civic-military projects such as road repairs in Basilan.

Documents from the US Congress state that “Operation Balikatan” involved embedding two-man teams of American soldiers in combat operations of selected AFP companies but without being subordinate to the latter’s command. “Operation Balikatan” peaked on June 7, 2002, after the US discovered Abu Sabaya’s (Aidam Tilao) Zamboanga camp, where the kidnap victims were being held.

Using “rescue operations” as cover, the US led Filipino troops in attacking the camp with the help of its surveillance and attack drones.

Two weeks after the bloody operation that resulted in the death of two Abu Sayyaf captives, Filipino operatives killed Abu Sabaya while he was escaping off the coast of Zamboanga City. Sabaya, who then had a $5-million bounty on his head offered by the US, was located through his satellite phone which, unknown to him, had been supplied by the CIA. Two US Navy ships carrying a team of US Navy Seals, a branch of the JSOC, supported the operation. The US declared “Operation Balikatan” a success in July 2002.

In February 2003, the US military sent in more troops in the face of a series of bombings in civilian centers in late 2002, which the US claimed was the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf. Among the soldiers sent by the US to the Philippines were more than 350 special operatives in Sulu and 450 troops in Zamboanga who directly joined AFP combat operations in the area.

These troops were supported by warships bearing 1,000 soldiers from the US Marines, 1,300 from the US Navy, attack helicopters and combat planes, which were strategically positioned at the Sulu Sea. On top of this, the US brought in military equipment, including P-3 surveillance aircraft which are used in sea warfare (and whose use no longer had anything to do with pursuing the Abu Sayyaf).

The “rules of engagement” drafted by the US and the Philippines state that the American soldiers embedded within Philippine battalions would perform “non-combat” roles. Nonetheless, they are allowed to retaliate when shot at, a situation intrinsic to a military operation.

Aside from the more prominent operations involving American forces, the US has also been involved in smaller but more extensive operations in other parts of Mindanao. There have been at least 23 documented cases where American troops openly joined AFP combat operations in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga and Maguindanao from 2002 to 2008 alone. Many of these operations, which were launched against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, resulted in the deaths of civilians and the destruction of their communities.

In April 2008, American troops were spotted at an AFP tactical command post in Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley. They were providing technical support to AFP troops who were maneuvering against the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.

Since 2010, there have been a number of instances where direct US intervention was exposed. Among them was the so-called Zamboanga Siege of September 2013 where US forces provided direction and combat support to AFP troops and a prior attempt to liquidate Marwan through the use of “smart bombs” in February 2012 in Jolo, Sulu.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: The US’ leading role in the Mamasapano gunbattle

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): The US’ leading role in the Mamasapano gunbattle

The leading role played by the US government in the firefight at Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 has become clearer in the course of time.
An unnamed officer of the PNP Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) has admitted that the US government provided the needed logistics, including the money that was paid to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who served as guides to enable the PNP-SAF commandos to close in on their targets Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, who have combined bounties on their heads worth $9 million from the US State Department. It was also the US that provided the funds and intelligence for the operation to neutralize Marwan.

La Vista del Mar Beach Resort. US forces chose and provided special training to the 84th SAF Company which served as the assault force in the operation against Marwan. The other SAF units were to serve as support forces, including the 55th SAF Company which was wiped out in Mamasapano.

The US likewise provided a training facility for the 84th SAF Company at the La Vista del Mar Beach Resort in Barangay Upper Calarian in Zamboanga City. The resort is owned by the family of Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat.

Wikileaks reports. The SAF officer’s statements jibe with the confidential transmissions from the US Embassy to Washington, D.C from 2005 to 2010 concerning the US’ major role in the counter-terrorism campaign in the Philippines. According to the documents made available through Wikileaks, it is the US government that plans covert operations undertaken by the military, police and other Philippine security forces.

In a confidential message coded “09MANILA2271,” the US Embassy in Manila endorsed approval for a $34.1 million budget from the US government for various pieces of equipment to be used in the counter-terrorism campaign in 2010.

Nonetheless, the US Embassy has remained tight-lipped on this burning issue, which obviously tramples on Philippine sovereignty and independence. Even its puppets in the Philippines are scrambling to cover up the US’ direct role in military operations in the Philippines. In fact, hearings at the Lower House of Congress have been suspended after progressive legislators delved into the US and Aquino’s accountability for the Mamasapano clash. Up to now, PNP Dir. Getulio Napeñas, the sacked SAF commander, persists in claiming that the US role in Mamasapano was confined to the conduct of a medical mission to evacuate SAF casualties.

The SAF officer-informant said that an American known as “Allan Konz” was the actual leader of the operation. At the time of the fighting in Mamasapano, Konz was at the 43rd SAF Company command post in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao with PNP-SAF Director Napeñas. It was Konz who dictated the operation’s every move. Also with Konz at the command post were eight civilian-clad American soldiers.

AFP officers have likewise disclosed that it was a US drone that pinpointed the location of the 84th SAF Company. A video of the Mamasapano clash viewed on the morning of January 25 by Aquino and selected US officers inside the US Drone Facility at Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga City was also taken by the drone.

US decision. From the beginning, the US-designed operation called for a limited role for the AFP. Whatever coordination there was, was confined to intelligence work. Napeñas was therefore lying when he said at the Congressional hearing that it was he who decided not to coordinate with the military or the MILF because he did not trust them. In fact, he was concealing the role played by the US in the operation.

The plan, as drafted, provided for reinforcements for the SAF should contingencies arise. This would be coming from the 300 other SAF forces who were part of the mission, the mechanized unit of the Philippine Army which was located a mere three kilometers from Mamasapano and artillery support. During the actual fighting,
however, the US shifted gear and gave orders to the reinforcement units to stand down.
Meanwhile, local residents interviewed during a fact-finding mission led by Gabriela Women’s Party and Suara Bangsamoro on February 8-11 said a week prior to the fighting, they saw a drone (which they called a “small airplane”) circling four villages of Mamasapano. It flickered in the dark and flew at a low altitude—almost hovering above rooftops. The drone flew more frequently over Barangay Tukanalipao on the night of January 24.

During the actual operation on January 25, forty-four SAF troopers were killed—nine from the 84th Company and 35 from the 55th Company. Also among those killed were the two MILF members who served as guides and 13 paramilitary elements. The MILF leadership claimed to have lost 18 fighters. Seven civilians were also killed.

A national newspaper reported on February 5 that surviving SAF elements were ordered to extricate the American troops first from the scene of the fighting. Nonetheless, Tukanalipao residents reported helping carry the body of a slain American soldier to a green USAID helicopter that landed in the area immediately after the gunbattle.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: Advance the Bangsamoro struggle—NDF-Mindanao

Propaganda article from the English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Feb 21): Advance the Bangsamoro struggle—NDF-Mindanao

The National Democratic Front (NDF)-Mindanao called on the Moro people to further consolidate their ranks and intensify their struggle for self-determination. The call was made by NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Ka Oris after the bloody clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

The January 25 attack by armed troops of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, a known Bangsamoro stronghold, was a direct affront to the right to self-determination of the Moro people.

The huge number of casualties inflicted by Moro fighters on the SAF is being exploited by a number of groups and politicians to fan the flames of anti-Moro chauvinism and cover up Aquino and the US’ responsibility in the bloody operation.
The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a bill resulting from the peace talks between the GPH and the MILF is likewise in danger of being blocked.

Nonetheless, said Ka Oris, even if the BBL were enacted into law and implemented, growing numbers of Moro people are expected to join the armed struggle being launched by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the national democratic struggle embodied by the NDF, as the BBL is not designed to resolve the basic feudal and semicolonial system prevailing in the Bangsamoro areas.

Ka Oris stressed that the NDF has a commitment to the Moro people to support their struggle for self-determination. Thus, both forces can support each other against a common enemy.

The NDF-Mindanao called on the BIFF to brace itself for the definite intensification of military attacks on its ranks. It must strengthen itself and rapidly expand its area of maneuver to overcome the AFP-PNP’s encirclement campaign. The Bangsamoro areas and social terrain are fertile ground for developing expertise in guerrilla warfare and people’s war.

The NDF-Mindanao also called on the Filipino people to unite with the Moro people in their struggle for genuine self-determination and for national freedom and democracy, in order for just and lasting peace to prevail someday in Mindanao and the entire country.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

6 communist rebels surrender in Sarangani

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 22): 6 communist rebels surrender in Sarangani

At least six New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, including an amazon, surrendered as the military intensified its pursuit operation against the communist rebel group following recent skirmishes in the hinterland village in Alabel, Sarangani which left seven rebels dead.

Lt. Col. Ronnie Babac, 73rd Infantry Battalion commander, said the NPA rebels decided to surrender after their leaders abandoned them while they were on the run from government forces who had been hunting them down.

The military identified the NPA surrenderees as Arnold Sawal Budiong, alias Mark, 21, of Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani. He serves as education officer of NPA Guerilla Front 75.

The others were: Bedeo Ansay alias Rik-Rik, 21, of Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel; Joey  Tamba, alias Louie, 19, a resident of Barangay Tamban, Malungon, Sarangani and team leader FG-75: Marilou Intan Dela Cruz alias Mercy, 21, a resident of Barangay Datal Anggas and medical personnel; Michael Calapong alias Jicky, 23, a resident of Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental and NPA vice team leader; and Odoy Maway Malbino, alias Renan of Barangay Manuel Peralta, Malita, Davao Occidental who turned in one M16 Armalite rifle.

Babac said the NPA surrenderees were among the group of  40 NPA rebels figured in an encounter with Army troops in Barangay Datal Anggas in Alabel town last February 16 which resulted in the death of seven NPA rebels including their commander Toletino Bariquit, alias Brigol and the seizure of at least nine high-powered firearms.

The NPA surrenderees said their local commanders had abandoned them after they splintered into groups after suffering heavy casualties during the skirmishes with government forces.

They were placed under the custody of the 73rd IB which will turnover them to their respective local government units for the provision of livelihood assistance under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

MILF advisor denies giving Marwan free pass in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Feb 23): MILF advisor denies giving Marwan free pass in Maguindanao

An advisor to the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denied having issued a written imprimatur for slain Malaysian terrorist Marwan to freely move around in Maguindanao.

Boy Hashim, a military advisor to the MILF, said he does not know either the Marcus Allen Frishman who has a copy of the certification, which he tried to use to support his claim for the bounty on Marwan’s head.

Marwan, whose name is Zulkifli bin Hir, was killed by members of the police’s elite Special Action Force in a dawn raid at his hideout in Barangay Inog-og in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

“I heard the name Marwan but never met him. I don’t have knowledge of his being real. I did not bother about him,” Hashim said in a statement Friday.

Hashim, who hails from Pikit town in North Cotabato, is a relative of the MILF’s founder, the late Imam Salamat Hashim, who studied Islamic theology at the Al-Azzar University in Cairo, Egypt.

Frishman is an American working as a “political consultant” in California, He has insinuated that he should be paid of the $5-million reward Marwan carried on his head for helping locate the Malaysian terrorist.
Frishman has copies of faxed letters and e-mails with certain US government officials detailing cooperation in locating Marwan’s whereabouts.

Among the documents was a certification by Hashim, printed on a letterhead stationery of the MILF, detailing “protection” for a certain Zulkifli bin Abdul.

The certification, in context, entitled Marwan, referred to as Zulkifli bin Abdul in the same document, to freely move around MILF camps in Maguindanao.

Hashim denied having dealt with Frishman.

Frishman said the MILF document was given to him by a certain Raymond “General” Liwag, who was introduced to him by his former staff, Filipino-American Ram Castillo.

Hashim said he does not know both Liwag and Castillo either.

Hashim started as a foreign-trained guerilla commander in the Moro National Liberation Front in the early 1970s.

He was among the first MNLF leaders that joined the MILF after its founder, the radical Salamat, bolted from the group due to irreconcilable differences with Nur Misuari and launched the breakaway organization.

Misuari’s MNLF now has three factions and he is wanted for leading a bloody mutiny in Zamboanga City in September 2013, staged to dramatize his group’s opposition to the government-MILF peace overture.

MNLF urges priest to reveal info on alleged payoff in getting back SAF arms

From the Philippine Star (Feb 23): MNLF urges priest to reveal info on alleged payoff in getting back SAF arms

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Monday urged Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr. to identify the MNLF official who he said knew about the government’s alleged "payoff" for the return of the guns of policemen killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Mercado had said the government paid the Moro Islamic Liberation Front a hefty amount of money in exchange for the 16 firearms the group returned on February 18, more than three weeks after the deadly police-rebel encounter in Mamasapano.

At least 44 members of the police’s elite Special Action Force, 18 MILF guerillas and five innocent civilians were killed in the firefights, which also caused the dislocation of more than 2,000 Maguindanaon peasant families.

Former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, chair of the largest and most politically active faction in the MNLF, said Mercado’s insinuations can cause friction between them and members of the MILF in Central Mindanao.

"That is why we want that MNLF official identified," Sema said.

Mercado is director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, which is based in Cotabato City. He belongs to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, whose pontifical base is in Rome and whose missionaries include Mindanao's top Catholic church leader, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.

“That 'MNLF leader' Fr. Mercado had quoted as having told him about the alleged payoff must be identified so we can really ferret out the truth. We don’t want to be construed as instigating intrigues that can cause animosity between the MILF and the MNLF,” Sema said.

Sema said their group is not at war with both the government and the MILF.

“We have a final peace agreement with the government, the Sept. 2, 1996 GPH-MNLF peace agreement, so we cannot misbehave just like that,” Sema said.

The firebrand Mercado on Monday wrote on his Facebook timeline that “a respected MNLF leader” had told him that the government paid P190,000 for each of the 16 firearms the MILF returned through the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

The firearms, comprised of M-16 and M-203 rifles and two light machineguns, belong to the SAF operatives killed in the January 25 encounter with MILF guerillas in Mamasapano.

“We don’t want the MNLF to be dragged into the issue. MNLF leaders have reached a consensus to support the separate investigations on the Mamasapano incident by the Board of Inquiry of the national government and the MILF,” Sema said.

Sema said their central leadership had, in fact, directed on January 28 all MNLF leaders in Maguindanao to just cooperate confidentially on the investigations if requested by either the government or the MILF.

Sema said they have members in Mamasapano and in other nearby Maguindanao towns.

“And our people all adheres to our final peace agreement with government,” he said.
Sema said the MNLF wants the government and the MILF to peacefully resolve the now renowned “Mamasapano incident.”

'6 Americans monitored SAF raid'

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Feb 24): '6 Americans monitored SAF raid'

Six Americans apparently monitored the police operation launched on Jan. 25 in Maguindanao to capture two top terrorists wanted by the government and the United States.

The Americans were with then Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force chief Director Getulio Napeñas at his tactical command post (TCP) together with other senior SAF officers.

This is according to Superintendent Michael John Catindig Mangahis, who was in charge of monitoring the movement of at least eight SAF teams from Zamboanga City and other parts of Mindanao to Maguindanao in the evening of Jan. 24 until Jan. 25, when the operation was carried out.

The assault team, 84SAC (Special Action Company), killed suspected Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan. However, their second target, Marwan’s Filipino deputy Basit Abdul Usman, escaped.

In a sworn statement taken by a PNP investigator, Mangahis said he was at the SAF TCP inside the headquarters of a SAF unit in Shariff Aguak town on the eve of the operation.

According to knowledgeable local officials, the location of the SAF unit’s headquarters was about 10 kilometers from the general area of the operation.

Asked who was with him at TCP, Mangahis said he saw Napeñas, the SAF chief’s deputy Supt. Noli Taliño, Supt. Richard dela Rosa, Supt. Abraham Abayari, Senior Insp. Lyndon Espe, a Police Officer 2 Belmes “and six American nationals.”

“Do you know these American nationals?” was the next question.

“I met them only at the TCP during the operation, but I do not know them. I saw them the following day as pilots of the helicopter that helped in evacuating our wounded personnel in the hospital,” he said.

Mangahis’ testimony gives credence to reports that US military officers, at the very least, helped SAF track down Marwan and monitored the operation in Mamasapano and the ensuing clashes of two SAF teams with guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway faction, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Marwan and Usman were on the most wanted list of suspected international terrorists of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The US offered $5 million for Marwan and $2 million for Usman for their capture dead or alive.

There were unverified reports that American officers flew drones to monitor the operation and that President Aquino, who was in Zamboanga City on Jan. 25, had access to real-time information on the progress of the SAF mission and the encounters.

The clashes left 44 SAF troopers, 18 guerrillas mostly belonging to the MILF and five civilians dead.

The assault team, 84SAC, lost nine of its 38 men while withdrawing when it encountered armed men belonging to BIFF. A second team, 55SAC, which was composed of 36 members, was to serve as blocking force. It was nearly wiped out when it clashed with MILF guerrillas. Only one team member survived.

Mangahis said under Oplan Exodus, the assault team, which was the lead group, was to move from its staging area in Suralla, Sultan Kudarat to its designated vehicle drop-off point (VDOP), then proceed by foot to its target.

It was to be followed by 55SAC – the blocking force – then by support and reinforcement groups composed of six companies – from the 41st to the 46th. Each company was made up of 41 to 45 men.

All eight teams and some other support personnel like drivers were given waypoints and the time at which they should be in their assigned places. Apparently, the objective was to position the operating units within short distances of each other so they could reinforce any embattled team if needed.

Waypoint 1 was their VDOP, from where the troopers would walk to their assigned positions. Waypoint 18 was 84SAC’s target area.

“However, 84SAC reached the target area at about 4 a.m. of Jan. 25, instead of 3 a.m. I also monitored over the radio that 55SAC noticed the presence of civilians while on their way to waypoint 12. They waited for the civilians to disappear before they could move. However, these people did not go away. They were unarmed at first, but later on, some of them were already armed and their number was growing,” Mangahis said.

Based on the accounts of other officers and survivors, 84SAC and 55SAC were delayed in reaching their assigned waypoints due to difficulty in crossing five rivers and canals. The delay had a domino effect on the support teams, which had to slow down in going to their designated positions.

At 5 a.m., Mangahis said he monitored over their radio network that 55SAC was already engaged in a firefight with MILF fighters.

At about this time, the assault team had killed Marwan and was withdrawing when it encountered BIFF guerillas.

Two hours later, Mangahis said Napeñas directed him to ask for reinforcement from the nearby 1st Mechanized Brigade of the Army, also located in Shariff Aguak.

“Upon arrival at the 1st Mechanized Brigade, I briefed Col. Gener del Rosario (brigade commander) on the operation and the current situation of the troops on the ground. I showed him the location of our SAF troopers using the map we brought along,” he said.

He said he and Del Rosario came up with two options: artillery or indirect fire support, and infantry and mechanized reinforcements.

Mangahis recalled that at 7:30 a.m., Taliño arrived at Del Rosario’s headquarters to follow up their request for reinforcement.

However, he said Taliño “was later informed that option 1 (artillery fire support) would not materialize because of the peace process (with the MILF).”

“Supt. Taliño and Col. del Rosario cannot do otherwise, so option 2 was put in place and at about 8 a.m. was assembled,” he said, referring to infantry and mechanized vehicle support.

Slovakia eyes defense cooperation with PHL

From GMA News (Feb 23): Slovakia eyes defense cooperation with PHL

The Slovak Republic on Monday said it is eyeing defense cooperation with Manila that will enable them to provide training, firearms and other defense equipment to the Philippines.

Visiting Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said his government can offer defense “expertise, technologies and devices” that can be of use to the Philippine military, which is in the process of modernizing its aging equipment and armaments.

“Defense is one of the areas where we could cooperate,” Lajcak said after a bilateral meeting with Philippine counterpart Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. “Slovakia has its expertise and we have some technologies.”

The Philippines, whose military is perceived to be among the weakest in the region, is currently scrambling to acquire ships, planes, satellites and coastal defense equipment mainly from the United States and also from other countries amid renewed territorial conflict in the South China Sea.

Manila and Beijing are locked in a long-running territorial dispute in the resource-rich waters, a cluster of islands shoals, reefs, and coral outcrops, where Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan also have competing claims.

The Philippine government accused China of infringing on its territory, harassing its fishermen, constructing artificial islands and sabotaging oil exploration. China, which claims the sea nearly in its entirety, insisted that all it actions are legal and undertaken within the scope of its sovereignty.

Defense cooperation

“With regard to defense cooperation, we see a potential,” Lajcak said. “We are suggesting that our experts get together, experts from the Department of Defense to come to Slovakia to identify the possibilities.”

Apart from arms and ammunitions, Lajcak said Slovakia can provide the Philippines with what it needs from training, development of facilities to technology on de-mining.

Del Rosario welcomed the Slovak government’s offer, but said there are no specific talks yet on the acquisition of defense artillery from the European state, which has a flourishing defense industry.

“We do have our modernization program so that’s a possibility. We are also looking at the possibility of training,” Del Rosario said.

In their meeting, the two officials signed a joint plan of action – a partnership framework, which, Del Rosario said, would serve as a “roadmap on trade and investments, renewable energy, mutual consular concerns, cultural and educational exchanges, people to people ties and multilateral cooperation.”

Productive meeting

“We had a very productive meeting where we welcomed new avenues of cooperation,” he said. “The revitalization of bilateral trade is a mutual priority between our two countries.”

Lajcak admitted that bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and Slovakia is underdeveloped, but stressed that “there is always a good potential in our relations.”

“Slovakia has many things to offer. We are small, but very dynamic country in the very heart of Europe,” he said. “I see potential in infrastructure, agriculture, and energy generation and transmission.”

Del Rosario and Lajcak also said they discussed major regional and international issues, including the South China Sea.

Both officials expressed the same view that the territorial disputes must be resolved peacefully in accordance to the rule of law – a position long held by the Philippines.