Friday, May 15, 2015

Misuari takes 19-year-old as wife No. 5

From the Manila Bulletin (May 16): Misuari takes 19-year-old as wife No. 5

Professor Nur P. Misuari, founding chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has taken a new wife, sources close to him said yesterday.

The Manila Bulletin sources said Misuari married Sherry Rahem, 19 and a resident of an island in Sulu province.

Misuari who is being pursued by the government for the September, 2013 siege in Zamboanga City, is about to become a new father again, the sources said.

“His teenage wife is carrying the MNLF chieftain’s child,” the source said. “Misuari married her some five months back,” the source added.

He now has four wives, together with Dr. Roaida Tan; Hadja Tarhata Arasad; and Hadja Maimona Palalisan of General Santos City.

Misuari’s first wife, Hadja Desdemona Tan, passed away in Islamabad, Pakistan, many years back at the height of the MNLF’s struggle for self-determination of the Bangsamoro people.

Islam allows Muslims to marry up to four wives at the same time, if they can treat them equally. If they cannot, then only one, the Muslims’ Qur’an said in the chapter entitled “An-Nisaa” (The Woman).

Meanwhile, senior leaders of the MNLF are scheduled to attend the forthcoming 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) later in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

Habib Mujahab Hashim, who chairs the Islamic Command Council (MNLF-ICC) group, said the OIC had extended Misuari an invitation.

“Since Brother Nur cannot travel outside the country because of his case, he will be designating his representative,” said Hashim.

It could be recalled that when OIC Secretary General Iyad Amin Madani visited the country in April this year he extended invitations to the MNLF leaders to attend the CFM’s forthcoming meeting so they can meet to discuss further the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) established by the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The BCF is mechanism for the convergence of the Mindanao peace processes between the government and the MNLF and the MILF.

BIFF strength ‘significantly reduced,’ says Aquino

From the Philippine Daily Inquierer (May 14): BIFF strength ‘significantly reduced,’ says Aquino

With the arrest of one of its leaders and the successful military campaigns of the government, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), as well as its breakaway group United Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM), should not be considered a major problem, President Benigno Aquino III has said.

“For BIFF, their capabilities have truly been reduced. We were able to recover territories where they were able to easily operate,” he said during an interview with Bombo Radyo.

“I don’t want to mention how many were killed, arrested, etc. because they might say I am happy that our fellow Filipinos are being killed,” Mr. Aquino said. “But the report I received said the capacity of BIFF, which was not that big to begin with, has been ‘significantly reduced.’”

He said the arrest of Mohammad Tambako, a former BIFF member and founder of JIM, was also substantial, adding it would be impressive if the group would still be able to consolidate and increase in strength without Tambako.

The President also said there would always be groups seeking to benefit from conflict.

“With the improving situation through the delivery of basic services to our communities, our fellowmen will see hope and slowly these groups will lose support,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said such groups would eventually lose clout and no longer be replaced by other armed groups. He said the same strategy applied to Abu Sayyaf.

He says the only reason why residents are supporting Abu Sayyaf is because they have not been receiving support from the government.

“If the government does what it should do, pursuing these criminals, and then people see they are benefiting from the system, who will support the Abu Sayyaf?”

The President also said there had been significant investments in Mindanao amid the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

China issues warning after U.S. warship sails near man-made islands

From UPI (May 14): China issues warning after U.S. warship sails near man-made islands

China’s man-made islands cannot be recognized as extensions of the Chinese mainland, said Washington

The Spratly Islands lie in a hub of international shipping routes. Maritime trade valued at $5 trillion goes through the waters every year. Photo by claffra/Shutterstock

Tensions are brewing in the South China Sea after a U.S. warship sailed into waters where China is staking territorial claims.

China's Foreign Ministry issued a warning Wednesday in response to the presence of the USS Fort Worth near man-made Chinese islands. But The Australian reported the United States is exploring options to defend the international waters from Chinese claims.

"The Chinese side will take resolute measures to safeguard national sovereignty and safety. We will keep an eye on the situation in relevant waters and airspace and respond to any violation of China's sovereignty and threat to China's national security," said Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, according to USA Today.

On Monday the USS Fort Worth traveled through the South China Sea near man-made islands in an area where Philippine and Japanese navies have coordinated exercises.

Army Col. Steven Warren said Wednesday the Pentagon will continue to patrol the area around the disputed Spratly Islands, claimed by China, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Warren said China's man-made islands cannot be recognized as extensions of the Chinese mainland, according to international law. The White House has made a similar claim.

Patrick Ventrell, a National Security Council spokesman, said land reclamation, such as man-made islands, couldn't generate an entitlement to maritime zones.

Ventrell said the United States "will continue to operate consistent with the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea in the South China Sea."

The Spratly Islands lie in a hub of international shipping routes. Maritime trade valued at $5 trillion goes through the waters every year.

MILF could lose critical powers when House votes on BBL

From ABS-CBN (May 15): MILF could lose critical powers when House votes on BBL

(First of three parts)

Many of them took up arms as youths, spending almost half a century fighting to wrest a homeland. Now, aging leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) find their dream of self-determination at the mercy of politicians.

The atmosphere of anger and distrust sparked by the January 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao could cost the MILF control of the Bangsamoro regional police force and other critical powers when the House of Representatives ad hoc committee votes on the draft Bangsamoro Basic law next week.

The working draft of Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, strips the proposed Bangsamoro government of several key powers, including control of the autonomous region's police through a board.

A member of the ad hoc committee allowed to see the Rodriguez draft and an earlier version that listed inputs from legislators.


The chairman’s draft, backed by many committee members, wrests back for the national government several functions reserved by the original draft for the autonomous regional government.

Rodriguez and other legislators who submitted amendments to House Bill 4994 also highlight at every turn the supremacy of the state on matters of territory.

One of the key provisions deleted from the chairman’s draft is an opt-in provision.

Critics claim it would allow the “creeping expansion” of the Bangsamoro autonomous region, by allowing neighboring communities to conduct a plebiscite once more than 10% of a local voting population signs a petition.

Many of the amendments try to secure and protect the rights of non-Moro residents, including indigenous peoples and women, in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region.


A citizens’ peace council invited by Malacanang to review the BBL draft has called it “overwhelmingly acceptable,” except for a few passages that needed rewording.
Read: Report of the Peace Council on the Bangsamoro Basic Law

The peace council filtered its findings through the lens of a specific worldview:
(1) passing a law that creates an autonomous region is in fact required by the Constitution;
(2) passing a law for the autonomous region is aimed at correcting past injustices and at addressing social, political and economic problems the region is facing at present, which should not be postponed;
(3) autonomy, as contained in the Constitution, is unique and unlike any other local government unit, and should therefore be seen in such light;
(4) the BBL is unlike any other form of law as it is an Organic Act and contains the agreements reached from years of negotiations; and,
(5) a liberal interpretation of the Constitution is needed if its requirement for the establishment of a genuine regional autonomy is to be realized./

Critics are not buying.

Rodriguez, in an interview with, said only the deletion of several provisions could save the draft law from ending up as unconstitutional.

“I believe no amount of modifying the language may save it from unconstitutionality. I am for deletion of eight provisions that I believe will conflict with the Constitution, and will dilute and interfere with the powers of independent constitutional bodies.”


Congressional sources said the MILF has informally surveyed members of the House of Representatives as it tries to win support for the original BBL.

“They seem ready to compromise on many areas, but say the Bangsamoro Police is non-negotiable,” said the legislator, a former cop.

The chairman’s working draft, however, targets Article XI, on Public Safety and Security.

It also places “security,” and not just “external security,” among the powers reserved for the national government and blocks the option of creating a military Bangsamoro Command.

The draft junks the establishment of “coordination protocols” that would govern the movement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the Bangsamoro region.

Instead of a Bangsamoro Police Board, which would perform the functions of the National Police Commission in the autonomous region, the new ad hoc committee draft proposes a Regional Police Commission that shall be part of Napolcom and under its administration and control.

The Chief Minister of the autonomous region will not unilaterally choose the head of the regional police, but pick from a list of three names submitted by the national police chief.

Instead of the Chief Minister disciplining and imposing penalties on erring Bangsmoro Police, it is the Regional Police Commission that will probe allegations of wrongdoing and recommend sanctions.

Section 5. Bangsamoro Police Board

Performs the functions of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) in the Bangsamoro;
Is part of the Napolcom

Other functions:
· Sets policing objectives and priorities

· Monitors performance of the Bangsamoro Police against objectives and priorities

· Monitors crime trends and patterns and performance in areas of human rights, crime reduction, and crime prevention, recruiting patterns and employment opportunities

· Provides information and guidance to the Bangsamoro government and the Philippine National Police on annual budget requirement

· Monitors police performance against budget allocation

· Recommends the Bangsamoro Police Director and deputies, provincial directors, and city and municipal Bangsamoro police chiefs.

Section. 5 Regional Police Commission

 Shall be under the administration and control of the Napolcom.

Chief Minister shall appoint chairman and members of the police commission, subject to confirmation by the Bangsamoro Parliament

Chairman an ex-officio Commissioner of the Napolcom on matters dealing with regional police force

 Investigates complains against regional police force, with appeals from its decisions lodged with Napolcom


Rodriguez said he cannot guarantee all his proposed amendments.

“The majority coalition is really strong. It has a lot of members,” the ad hoc committee chairman said. But he said leaders of the House are not about to force a party vote and would allow individual coalition members to vote according to conscience.
Congressional critics of the BBL claim it is trying to establish an entity with near substate status because of the breadth of powers granted the regional government.

After plenty of protests, the chairman’s working draft has removed the following from the list of concurrent or shared powers: auditing, civil service, human rights, land registration, and cadastral survey.
It has removed the regional government’s authority to regulate power generation, transmission and distribution, and assist electric cooperatives in accessing funds and technology.

The regional government will not be able to create Bangsamoro settlements. It cannot solely oversee the rights of indigenous peoples or recognize constructive or traditional possession of their lands.
Government peace negotiators say extraneous issues linked to the Mamasapano incident have affected the prospects of the BBL.

The day-long battle that broke out as Special Action Forces (SAF) stormed the lair of a wanted Malaysian terrorist also cast a harsh spotlight on the government peace negotiations with the 15,000-strong MILF and the role third-party mediator Malaysia has played in the southern Philippines conflict.

President Benigno Aquino III hailed the comprehensive peace agreement between his government and the MILF as a progressive document that could end decades of conflict. His peace negotiators say the agreement is a done deal and that passage of a law is just a formality and an effort for a more inclusive peace process.

In the aftermath of Mamasapano, however, the executive department has bowed to congressional allies’ moves to water down the measure.

The executive branch and leaders of Congress say the law for the creation of a new Bangsamoro autonomous region will be passed before President Benigno Simeon Aquino III steps down from office in 2016.

What kind of Bangsamoro Basic Law will survive Congress, however, is a question that hangs over communities that have seen 150,000 lives P700 billion worth of private and public property lost to conflict, and encouraged the spread of radical groups.

Suppliers file graft complaint against Army chief over P97.8M delayed ammo deals

From InterAksyon (May 15): Suppliers file graft complaint against Army chief over P97.8M delayed ammo deals

A graft complaint was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Irriberi by three defense and military suppliers in connection with three ammunition supply projects worth a total of P97,789,500.
President Aquino appointed Irriberi as Army chief in February 2014. The Department of National Defense had previously been rocked by corruption issues, such as the P1.2-billion 21-secondhand Huey helicopter contract, the P1.9-billion deal for almost 60,000 M4 rifles, the 3,480 defective armor vests worth P120 million, among others. tried but failed to get the side of Irriberi as his spokesman, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, did not respond to repeated calls and text messages to his mobile phones.
The nine-page complaint, a copy of which was obtained by from a source at the Office of the Ombudsman, was filed on May 5, 2015 by Roperlynn Comahig, a representative of the Joavi Philippines Corporation (JPC) with office based at Unit 8J, Forbeswood Heights, Tower 2 at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

The company is reportedly managed and operated by businesswoman Jocelyn Magcale, who is said to maintain "deep connections" at the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) when it comes to "big-ticket items" for the Army.

Magcale could not immediately be reached for comment.

Based on the document, JPC is "a domestic corporation engaged in the business of supplying defense and military equipment, among others, and representing foreign entities that supply defense and military equipment in procurement activities of the Philippine government."

JPC's foreign partners in these projects include Talon Security Consulting & Trade Ltd. (TSCTL) and Kompanija Sloboda, A.D. (KSAD).

The suppliers charged Irriberi with alleged violation of Section 3(f) of Republic Act 3019.

In the complaint, Irriberi was accused of unexplained delay in issuing necessary documents for the suppliers to comply with on-schedule delivery of the items as prescribed by the Procurement Law.

The projects include the procurements of 1,635 rounds of 105mm HE with Fuze under Contract Number (ORD) 074-10-11 worth P49,050,000; 1,650 rounds of 105mm HE with Fuze under Contract No. (ORD) 090-11-11 worth P44,500,000; and 1,862 rounds of 40mm AGL ammunition under Contract No. (ORD) 098-12-09 worth P4,189,500.

JPC claimed that the projects were awarded to them through "public biddings" from 2010-2012 but because of the non-issuance of requisite documents, such as End-User Certificate (EUC) and Notice to Proceed by the Army chief, the contracts were shelved by the Contract Termination Review Committee (CTRC).

But through appeals and negotiations, the CTRC eventually approved amendments to the contracts and then resolved and recommended their implementation at the start of Irriberi's term. It also imposed on the suppliers "ten percent (10%) liquidated damages and the amendment of the contracts instead of their rescission."

But, complainants alleged, Irriberi refused to act on the amended contracts despite "reasonable follow ups".

The P4.19 million contract is well within the P25-milliom limit procurement authority of the Army chief, while the P49M and P44.5M contracts have to be endorsed by the Army chief to the level of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for approval, as his office has only up to P50-million worth of allowed projects to approve and implement.

"This unwarranted and protracted delay of more than six (6) months to merely endorse Contract Nr (ORD) 074-10-11 and Contract Nr (ORD) 090-11-11 only shows that respondent Irriberi knowingly discriminates against JPC and its partners, and is deliberately sitting on these contracts to either selectively prejudice JPC or to force to give him some unwarranted pecuniary benefit," the complaint stated.

It said Irriberi's inaction derailed JPC's performance of its contractual obligations and therefore caused it to incur more liability.

"Undeniably, respondent Irriberi's inexplicable neglect to perform his duty and outright refusal to act on these contracts smack of discrimination against JPC and its foreign partners," the complaint said.

Soldiers seize 2 high-powered rebel weapons in Compostela Valley clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Soldiers seize 2 high-powered rebel weapons in Compostela Valley clash

Troopers from the 25th Infantry Battalion captured two high-powered New People's Army (NPA) weapons during an encounter at Sitio Makamaka, Barangay Casoon, Monkayo town, Compostela Valley Thursday morning.

1st Lt. Vergel Lacambra, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the incident took place at 6:25 a.m.

Captured were an M-16 automatic rifle and an M-1 Garand carbine.

He added that these weapons were seized following a five-minute gun battle with rebels affiliated with the Guerrilla Front 3 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

No casualties were sustained by government troops.

Pursuit operations also resulted in the recovery of an unexploded landmine.

MNLF-Alonto group: BBL is our best chance for peace, to build a genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): MNLF-Alonto group: BBL is our best chance for peace, to build a genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) group led by Chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto asserted on Thursday that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), yet to be passed by Congress this June 2015 under the Aquino administration, is the best chance to achieve peace in Mindanao and build a genuine autonomy that the Bangsamoro people struggled for decades.

“Ang BBL ang ating pinaka-mabisang batas upang maisakatuparan ang maayos at tunay na kasarinlan o otonomiya na hangad ng Bangsamoro sa nakaraang ilang dekada. Ang BBL ay naaayon sa ating Saligang Batas na nagsasaad ng karampatang otonomiya para sa Muslim Mindanao at makikinabang dito lahat ng Bangsamoro at lahat ng Pilipino,” said Alonto.

The draft BBL, pending for passage by Congress, is the legal iteration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which is the peace pact signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, 2014 and witnessed by different stakeholders and the international community.

Alonto appealed to lawmakers and the public to open their hearts and minds and understand the importance of the passage of the BBL as the key to peace and development in Mindanao and the country in general. “Our lawmakers have the historic role to pass this draft BBL, which is inclusive of all the concerns of stakeholders in the Bangsamoro and can end the armed conflict in the south.”

He says that the BBL shall be beneficial to all as it aims to achieve genuine political and fiscal autonomy and build on the gains of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“There is no alternative to BBL. If the BBL is not passed, many of our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters in the MILF will lose faith in the peaceful process of negotiating and implementing a peace agreement. They committed to transform into civilian life when the Bangsamoro is created. But, this will only happen if the CAB is fully realized.”

On January 5, 2015, Alonto and MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in a communique jointly expressed a reiteration of MNLF's support to the "full implementation of the CAB” as published in the 2014 MNLF Declaration of Unity at Lama Mardeka.

The statement also cited that both Moro fronts agree to "continue working together to foster strong Unity, Solidarity and Brotherhood as one Bangsamoro people."

Alonto is a founding leader of the MNLF and first vice chairman of the original MNLF Central Committee, elected three times.

Alonto expressed his support to the BBL passage in various consultations conducted respectively by the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the GPH peace panel.

Pemberton’s comrades now at DOJ --Justiniano

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Pemberton’s comrades now at DOJ --Justiniano

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Jose Justiniano confirmed on Friday that three to four United States servicemen, who are comrades of US Marines Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, are now at the DOJ premises.

Pemberton is facing murder charges before the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) for the alleged killing of Filipino transgender Jeffery “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City on Oct. 11, 2014.

”The US servicemen are listed as our witnesses (on Laude murder vs. Pemberton),” Justiniano said. He declined to release their names.

Update: Three ASG bandits, one trooper killed as military, police capture ASG IED factory in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (May 15): Update: Three ASG bandits, one trooper killed as military, police capture ASG IED factory in Basilan

Three Abu Sayyaf Group bandits were killed and three others were wounded as military and police units swooped down on an ASG improvised explosive device (IED) factory at Sitio Project, Barangay Tuburan Proper, Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Basilan Thursday.

In the operation, one soldier was killed while six others were hurt, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Also seized were 20 IEDs, he added.

Cabunoc said the clash was triggered after troopers from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 4th Special Forces Battalion and Hadji Mohammad Ajul PNP encountered ASGs under Ustadz Abbas Alam at 8: 25 a.m. in Barangay Tuburan Proper.

He also said that a Malaysian Jihadist identified as Mohammed Najib Bin Husein alias "Abu Anas/Abraham" was part of the group which was engaged by the soldiers.

The troops incurred one dead and six wounded during the intense firefight. The injured soldiers are now in stable condition.

Government forces accounted for three ASG dead and three others wounded.

One of the fatalities was identified as Apotoh Aman.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing.