Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CPP/NDF/NPA: Series of NPA actions to counter the 4ID offensives in the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Norte

NDDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 12): Series of NPA actions to counter the 4ID offensives in the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Norte

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Press Statement
August 12, 2015

Three Sub-regional Commands of the New People’s Army in North Central Mindanao Region boldly faced the vigorous combat operations of the 4th Infantry Division in the adjoining provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Agusandel Norte. Eleven were killed and many got wounded from among the reactionary troops after seven clashes ensued in the first week of August 2015.

August 6, 2015, around 8:00 morning, and 1:30 and 1:40 afternoon – a team of NPA under South Central Bukidnon (NPA-SCB) Sub-regional Command harassed troops from the 8th Infantry Battalion and Division Reconnaissance Company in combat operation in Brgy. Indalasa, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Three enemy were killed and five were wounded in the scene such that due to their defeat, they discriminately cannon-fired the area.

August 8, 2015, around 10:00 morning – a harassment team of NPA under Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon (NPA-EMONEB) Sub-regional Command exchanged fire with troops of the 1st Special Forces Company and CAFGU in Brgy. Farmbugas, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. A CAFGU member was killed while one regular troop was wounded.

Agosto 8, 2015 – two harassment operations were again launched by NPA-SCB against 8th IB and DRC in Brgy. Indalasa, Malaybalay City. At noon, during the first, Red fighters sniped and killed three and wounded some enemy troops. In the afternoon, enemy troops were again harassed wherein another two got killed from these reactionary forces. Throughout the day, the enemy fired their cannons and used their helicopter to recover their casualties.

Agosto 8, 2015 sahapon – an NPA under Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur (NPA-WANAS) Sub-regional Command harassed troops of the 29th IB in combat operation in Sitio Afga, Brgy. Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. Two enemy troops were killed and undetermined troops got wounded.

August 9 – A clash between an NPA unit and operating troops of the 8IB happened in Sitio Bendum, Busdi, Malaybalay City. No reported casualties.

August 10 – A harassment operation was conducted by a unit of NPA in Sitio Magawa, Bolunay, Impasug-ong at around 2:30 in the morning. No detail about casualties were reported yet.

It is a fact that the enemy, the 4th ID, is superior in number and in strength compared to the outnumbered and weak guerrilla units of the NPA in the region. But their intensified militarization in the countryside defines the more deepening crisis of the semicolonial and semi-feudal system in our country who they swear to serve. Their comical beating of deadline to the foiled Oplan Bayanihan was the result of the gross anxiety of their masters — the foreign monopoly capitalists and the local big bourgeoisie compradors and landlords, over the continuous advance of the national revolutionary movement.

They get ghastly threats from their oppressing and exploiting the working people. With the people united under the revolutionary banner, the enemy will surely taste defeat from the battles up to the point of annihilation so the people could then achieve genuine freedom from oppression and exploitation.

Ka Allan Juanito


CPP/NDF/NPA: 21 military actions launched by NPA-NCMR in June and July

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 12): 21 military actions launched by NPA-NCMR in June and July

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Press Statement
August 12, 2015

Throughout June and July, 2015, the New People’s Army in North Central Mindanao Region successfully launched through its various guerilla units 21 military actions against reactionary troops and policemen. With these actions, the NPA seized 16 assorted firearms. The enemy troops suffered 20 fatalities and more than 12 were wounded. Meanwhile, the whole revolutionary forces in the region render their salute to the two comrades who heroically gave their lives in these battles.

June 5, 2015 at around 8:00 in the morning – an NPA team under Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur (NPA-WANAS) Sub-regional Command ambushed Allan “Alay” Dalayan in Brgy. Bit-os, Butuan City. He was a notorious surenderree-turned-regular troop of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and was assigned as an operative of Military Intelligence Company (MICO).

June 6, 2015 nighttime – an NPA team under Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon (NPA-EMONEB) Sub-regional Command thrice harassed troops of the 58th Infantry Battalion, Division Reconnaissance Company and Scout Rangers Company operating in Sitio Camansi, Brgy. Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental. No enemy casualties were reported.

June 7, 2015 – two incidents of encounter occurred again in Sitio Camansi, Brgy. Banglay, Lagonglong between a team of NPA-EMONEB and the troops from 58th IB, DRC and SRC. No confirmed enemy casualties were reported.

June 7, 2015 – a unit of Red fighters under Mt. Kitanglad Sub-regional Command ambushed the armed, active military asset in Purok 7, Brgy. Imbayao, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Aside being an asset, the locals also reported him being a landgrabber, swindler and extortionist. A .45 caliber pistol was seized from his position during the said ambush.

June 8, 2015, around 12:00 noon – a team under NPA-EMONEB harassed the operating troops of the 58th IB, DRC and SRC in Sitio Camansi, Brgy. Banglay. An enemy fighter was killed and one was wounded.

June 9, 2015, around 3:00 in the afternoon – a member of the Police Provincial Public Safety Battalion was killed after a team under NPA-WANAS harassed them in Brgy. Bitan-agan, Butuan City.

June 9, 2015, 7:00 in the evening – three troopers of elite force, the Special Action Force of the police (PNP-SAF) were killed after three incidents of harassment by a squad under NPA-WANAS. This happened in Brgy. Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

June 14, 2015, around 3:30 afternoon – a unit of NPA under South Central Bukidnon (NPA-SCB) Sub-regional Command successfully raided troops of the 69th IB who stayed in Sitio Hall in Mahayag, Brgy. Namnam, San Fernando, Bukidnon. Two reactionary soldiers were killed and one was wounded while the NPA seized 13 of their firearms (a K3 light machine gun, an M203 grenade launcher, three M-16 rifles, five M-14 rifles and 3 handguns) together with other military hardwares. A Red fighter was martyred on the said tactical offensive.

June 26, 2015 –a unit under NPA-EMONEB harassed troops of the 58th IB who installed their command post after conducting COPD operations in Brgy. Bulahan, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. An enemy fighter was killed in this incident.

June 27, 2015 morning – A troop from Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB)-PNP suffered one fatality after the team under NPA-WANAS conducted harassment operation in Sitio Lamusig, Brgy. San Mateo, Butuan City.

June 27, 2015 evening – a unit under NPA-WANAS harassed operating troops of the RPSB in Sitio Caimito, Brgy. Tungao, Butuan City. Two policemen were killed and some were claimed as wounded. Due to their rage, the policemen killed a civilian charcoal maker near the incident.

June 30, 2015 – a unit under the NPA-WANAS harassed a CAA Detachment in Brgy. Sangay, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. Two were killed and three were wounded among the troops of the PNP-Regional Mobile Group who were taking a rest in their camp after an operation.

July 11, 2015, around 5:30 afternoon – a platoon under NPA-EMONEB raided the troops of the 58th IB who conducted COPD operations in the barrio center of Brgy. Alagatan, Gingoog City. Within 20 minutes of firefight, one enemy trooper was killed while seven got wounded. Pfc. Adonis Jess Lupiba was captured and is now in NPA custody as a Prisoner of War. Seized from 58th IB were a K3 light machinegun, an M203 grenade launcher and other military equipment.

July 19, 2015 evening – a team of Red fighters under NPA-EMONEB harassed the CAA Detachment of the 58th IB in Sitio Palo, Brgy. Hindangon, Gingoog City. Three members of the CAFGU were killed.

July 22, 2015 – Operating troops of the 1st Special Forces Battalion suffered undetermined casualties after being harassed by a unit under NPA-Mt. Kitanglad in Brgy. Lilingayon, Valencia City, Bukidnon.

July 25, 2015, around 3:20 afternoon – a team under NPA-WANAS ambushed SPO1 Michael Ebanoso in Brgy. Bit-os, Butuan City. He was a member of PNP-RPSB.

As Benigno Aquino‘s time draws near the end for sitting as puppet president of a nation ruled by US imperialists and the local exploiting classes, the future looks brighter for the peoples’ democratic revolution whose advance is accelerated due to the present worsening crisis. Aquino will surely earn with his descent up to his grave his failing grade particularly on his dream of crushing the CPP-NPA-NDF through his foiled OplanBayanihan. This was manifested by the victorious military actions in the region ug nationwide.

Ka Allan Juanito


MILF: Peace Advocates Call on Congress to Pass BBL that Conforms to the CAB

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 18): Peace Advocates Call on Congress to Pass BBL that Conforms to the CAB

 Peace Advocates Call on Congress to Pass BBL that Conforms to the CAB

The Civil Society Organizations from Mindanao along with peace advocates in Metro Manila staged a rally outside Senate as Senator “Bongbong” Marcos was delivering his privilege speech on August 12, 2015. 

“Prior to Senator Marcos privilege speech, it was already anticipated that the Substitute Bill or the SB 2894 would be announced in his speech,” Sajid Khan Tula, Chairman of the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) Metro Manila chapter, said.

“The contents of the Bill are so frustrating, so unfair, and they are never meant to resolving the Bansamoro question as it is never true to the intent of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” Sajid pointed out.

He lambasted Senator Marcos for having come up with a Substitute Bill that has totally disregarded the substance of the BBL original version, and for having deprived Bangsamoro of their right to self-determination and governance.

“Instead of healing the wounds of injustices (such as land grabbing, massacres, summary executions, among others) committed by his father to the Bangsamoro, he is adding them, and what the Senator did to the BBL is another unforgivable massacre, like what his father did to the Bangsamoro” Sajid lamented.

Kamim Macmod, Regional Coordinator of the UNYPAD Luzon Regional Cluster, said that very purpose of the rally is to inform the law makers that the Bangsamoro people do not and will never accept any BBL version that does not conform to the CAB.

“Mr. Senator Marcos, we have been in a chaotic situation during your father’s regime. Now that we see we are closer to the end in our effort to addressing problem of peace in Mindanao. We see we are now closer to fulfilling our dream of enjoying freedom within the Philippine State. Why are you killing our dreams by means of proposing a bill according to your own interpretation and desire,” Murshid Mascud, Vice Chair of the Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP), said.

“Mr. Marcos, we want the BBL based on CAB because that is the only solution to pacify and end the conflict in Mindanao. We, in the Civil Society Groups,  believed that the BBL based on CAB still be the real solution to the decades-long conflict in Mindanao, so why go for proposed law of yours which is weaker than the BBL,” Murshid, also an intervener to Supreme Court, added.

“You know, We, People (Muslims and Christians) of North Cotabato, are already existing, living harmoniously and peacefully. Please don’t ruin the good atmosphere we are enjoying right now due to a bill which is unsatisfactory to the majority. We are the one who will suffer the consequences of failure of the peace process,” Kelly Antao, North Cotabato first district Board Member, said.

He explained that when the war unfolds in North Cotabato, the people there will indeed suffer a great loss economically.

“For instance, the fund which is supposedly used for the development of the Province, we will be forced to spend it for the evacuees. We could use it for the projects that can better benefit our constituents but we have no choice other than spending it for the survival of our people in evacuation centers should war happen,” Kelly pointed out.
He said that one of the concrete examples is the birth of BIFF due to the failure of MOA-AD, and what worries him is he doesn’t know what kind of child will be born should this BBL be watered down.

“The government is skeptical of allocating fund for the Bangsamoro as they have been thinking that the money will be used to purchase weapons, which will be used to fight against the government to secede from the Philippines,”  Yusoph Lumambas, UNYPAD Secretary-General, told TV-5 news.

“That will not happen because it is stated clearly in the FAB and CAB that the Bangsamoro Government is still under the Philippine Government,” he said.

Asked about what part of the new versions (of both House of Representatives and Senate) he doesn’t like, Yusoph said: “Generally if we look at these new versions, they are far from the agreed one. They changed the contents of it.”

Kamim Macmod said that the peace advocates led by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (CBCS) and its allied networks in Mindanao and Metro Manila will never stop voicing out their concerns on the BBL that has now been hovering between life and death in the hands of the congress.

“We will continue to stage rally until our appeal to go for the BBL based on CAB be heard by our Legislators because it is only the way where the GPH and the Bangsamoro would both win,” he disclosed.

“It is a win-win solution,” he stressed.


Army encounters NPA in Eastern Samar, recovered M16 rifle and NPA body count

From the Samar News (Jul 29): Army encounters NPA in Eastern Samar, recovered M16 rifle and NPA body count

July 29, 2015

CAMP GENERAL VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityArmy troops operating in Eastern Samar Province encountered NPA members in a remote area of Sitio Sumlot, Barangay Magtino, Llorente, Eastern Samar at about 12:05 P.M. on July 24, 2015.

According to Lt. Col. Peter P. Burgonio, Commanding Officer of the 14th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion, his troops were conducting Peace and Security Operations in the outskirts of barangay Magtino when they chanced upon seven (7) NPA rebels which resulted to a 15 minute encounter.

The brief encounter resulted to the recovery of one (1) M16 rifle and one (1) NPA body count. In addition, the troops also recovered one (1) bandoleer, three (3) camel backpacks containing sim cards, memory cards and personal belongings from the fleeing NPAs. There was no reported casualty on the government side.

MGEN Jet B. Velarmino AFP 8ID Commander, expressed his appreciation to the operating troops of the 14IB for their dedication and commitment in safeguarding the communities against the rebels which resulted to a commendable accomplishment.

Further, he reiterated the government’s call for non-violence, for the NPA rebels to return to the mainstream society and take advantage of the government’s reconciliation programs.


Bell Helicopter delivers final Bell 412EP aircraft to the Philippine Department of National Defense

From Vertical Magazine (Aug 17): Bell Helicopter delivers final Bell 412EP aircraft to the Philippine Department of National Defense

Bell Helicopter Press Release


From left: Sameer A. Rehman, Bell Helicopter managing director, Asia Pacific; LTGen. Jeffrey F. Delgado, Commanding General, Philippine Air Force; Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Neil Reeder; Hon. Voltaire T. Gazmin, Secretary of National Defense; U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Philip S. Goldberg; Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines. Bell Helicopter Photo

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, has announced the final delivery and acceptance of eight Bell 412EP helicopters to the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND).  The final delivery was acknowledged during the flag raising ceremony at the Villamor Air Base.
“We are proud to deliver the final of eight Bell 412EP aircraft today - three months ahead of schedule and, as promised, in time for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November," said Sameer A. Rehman, managing director of Bell Helicopter, Asia Pacific. “Bell Helicopter has played an important role in the Philippines' national defense for six decades, and it is a profound privilege to continue this relationship and serve the DND for decades to come.”
The eight Bell 412EP helicopters, fully configured and equipped with advanced features, were purchased with the government-to-government contracting support of the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), and fully meet the DND’s modernization requirements. Bell Helicopter began staged deliveries in June of the eight aircraft to be used for combat utility and VIP transport operations, as well as relief efforts.
“We are pleased to receive the last of these remarkable aircraft and continue our long-standing relationship with the Bell Helicopter team,” said Undersecretary Fernando I. Manalo from the Philippine Department of National Defense. “We look forward to employing the versatility and improved performance of the Bell 412EP.”
“It is a great occasion to be here today and observe the delivery of the final Bell 412EP aircraft. These world-class aircraft represent a leap in capabilities for the DND,” stated James Mott, contracts manager for the CCC. “Today we also honor the strong defense collaboration between Canada and the Philippines, and the longstanding cooperation between the CCC and Bell Helicopter to provide cost-effective government-to-government contracting solutions for advanced aerospace products."
The ceremony was also attended by Neil Reeder, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, and Philip Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. 
The Bell H-13 Sioux, a variant of the iconic Bell 47, was the first helicopter to enter into service with the PAF in 1955. The PAF has operated derivations of the Bell UH-1H since the late 1960s, and since 1994 when they received their first two Bell 412s.
The Bell 412 and its variants offer the most rugged medium twin-engine helicopter available, with the best readiness rate of any helicopter in its class. The Bell 412EP easily fulfills many mission critical helicopter operations worldwide, offering reliable performance in some of the most extreme climates. Its dual digital automatic flight control system with available IFR option and Category A/JAR OPS 3 capability provides greater control and improved situational awareness. With a cruise speed of 122 knots (226 kph), range of 357 nautical miles (662 km) and an expansive cabin easily accommodating 13 passengers and two crew members, the Bell 412EP is capable of fitting multiple mission criteria.

Iqbal: ‘Deboned’ BBL unacceptable

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 18): Iqbal: ‘Deboned’ BBL unacceptable

MILF may resort anew to armed struggle, ‘blame and shame’ game
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) yesterday warned that it will not accept a watered-down, diluted, deboned, and ugly Bangsamoro law, providing strong hints it would resort anew to armed struggle.
Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs and a member of the group’s Central Committee, expressed this sentiment in an interview over DZRH radio yesterday.
He said the MILF is not asking for “exactly the original version” as drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) drafted by the BTC was certified urgent and submitted by President Aquino to Congress. However, both houses of Congress deleted some provisions from the original draft, which they believe are inconsistent with the Constitution.
“But if there is change on the version agreed upon, and the replacement will make the resulting BBL no longer ‘macho,’ no longer handsome, no longer the (same) style, that is what we call watered-down, diluted, deboned, no longer has bones, so what is its use to us, the Bangsamoro masses?” Jaafar asked.
Jaafar, however, declined to disclose his group’s next move should a deboned BBL be passed by Congress. “We will first ask the Muslims and see what they want.”
Asked if the MILF would resort anew to another round of armed struggle should a watered-down BBL be passed instead, Jaafar said he will have to ask the leaders of the MILF about it.
Told about Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez’s “take it or leave it,” stance, Jaafar said he wants to invite the solon to a cup of coffee at the group’s Peace Process Secretariat in Camp Darapanan, Maguindanao.
Earlier, Iqbal, also the MILF chief negotiator and BTC chairman, said in a recent forum that the government of the Philippines (GPH) will be answerable in the event a “bad BBL is passed.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the international community is supporting the passage of a good BBL. If the MILF does not accept the BBL, the government will have to answer to the international community,” he said.
Iqbal stressed this during the “Peace at last?” forum organized by the Moro Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) and the Pilgrims for Peace conducted at the offices of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City.
He cited what he described as the “deep involvement” of the international community during the over 17 years peace process between the MILF and GPH.
“The international community would take the government to task if war breaks out. We will have the moral ascendancy if the exit agreement is not signed,” he added, referring to the final agreement to be signed between the two parties but only after the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) shall have been fully implemented.
Validation from the third party monitoring team headed by Alistair McDonald, former European Commission (EC) ambassador to the Philippines, is required.
“We will blame and shame the GPH for not complying with the agreements signed by both parties,” said Iqbal.
The MCPA noted that the forum marked the first time Iqbal appeared with the progressives, or some say, militants.
Jaafar and Iqbal’s separate “fighting” statements came in the wake of the filing of separate versions of the BBL in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Authors of both bills have either deleted or amended several of the BBL’s original provisions.
This has prompted the MILF to ask both legislative chambers to restore 28 provisions, but the legislators are not willing to give in.
“Very clear, we will not accept it, if it is lower than the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). What will the MILF do if a diluted BBL is passed?” he asked.
In an editorial on Luwaran.com last week, the MILF said accepting a bad BBL spells death for the revolutionary organization.
Meanwhile, former soldier-turned-Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano is urging the Aquino government to let the next administration pass the proposed BBL.
Alejano said the government should not force the approval of the peace measure this 16th Congress in the wake of the issues on constitutionality and acceptability.
“Don’t force the BBL approval now. Let the next administration tackle and renegotiate it,” he said, adding that it is not only the Aquino government that desires lasting peace and stability in Mindanao.
He said members of Congress should be given more time to scrutinize the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), warning that if the government forces its approval, it would only cause chaotic situation.
He said even if Congress would be able to pass the BBL, a plebiscite will be held for the Bangsamoro region, which is time-consuming and needs government resources.
He said the Comelec has no time to prepare for the plebiscite, which was supposed to be conducted this December.
Alejano said there is no way for both houses of Congress to put back the original form of the peace measure, which was submitted by MalacaƱang in September last year.
He said the opt-in provision will be definitely deleted by both chambers.
The opt-in provision gives right to neighboring territories to propose their inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region through a petition of at least 10 percent of the residents and approval by a majority of qualified voters in the city or province in a separate plebiscite.



2 cops, soldier killed in Zambo alleged shootout

From ABS-CBN (Aug 18): 2 cops, soldier killed in Zambo alleged shootout

Two policemen and a soldier of the Philippine Marines were killed in an alleged shootout in Barangay Labuan, Zamboanga City on Tuesday night.

The policemen were members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion under the Police Regional Office IX.

A balut vendor was also injured after he was hit by stray bullet during the shootout.

The commander of Police Station 10, Senior Inspector Raymond Sanson, said his men and the Marines were conducting a routine patrol of the area when the two policemen armed with pistols and long firearms arrived.

One of them was not wearing a complete police uniform.

Sanson said they cannot tell yet who fired the first shot, but he said there was a shootout between the cops and the Marines.

The incident happened in the business district of Barangay Labuan.

As tension rose, most of the business establishments in the area closed early for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

Labuan barangay chairman Oning Maravilla said the policemen from the Regional Public Safety Batallion has been assigned to secure the coastal areas of their place.

Maravilla said issues relating to their duties and responsibilities started the rift between the policemen and the soldiers.

The Zamboanga City Police Office is still conducting a thorough investigation as to what went wrong in the coordination between the two government security forces.

Kidnapping incidents have previously taken place in Barangay Labuan. In the past few years, three businesswomen and a teacher have been kidnapped in the area by alleged members of Abu Sayyaf Group.


Normalcy restored in Palimbang villages after MILF infighting died down

From The Standard (Aug 19): Normalcy restored in Palimbang villages after MILF infighting died down

SECURITY forces are massing around the suspected hideout of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari in a move apparently calculated to derail looming talks with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the MNLF claimed on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said Congress should pass “a good Bangsamoro Basic Law” or the Philippine government will be answerable to the international community.

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza, however, said the deployment of security forces in the vicinity of Indanan, Sulu was an apparent attempt to derail a meeting with OIC officials who are seeking to reconcile the BBL with the 1996 Jakarta agreement that the government signed with the MNLF.

Cerveza said the meeting with OIC officials is scheduled for September 6 in Manila and it is meant to include the terms of the 1996 Jakarta agreement in the controversial BBL which has been criticized as having excluded key sectors in Mindanao society.

“The OIC initiated [the meeting] and we responded favorably, but it appears the government now wants to embarrass the OIC by creating a scenario which will be inimical to the interest of peace in Mindanao,” Cerveza said.

“The MNLF is very disappointed with this government because while the OIC made the overtures to see if we can still come and negotiate in the negotiating table or not, the government is blocking it,” said Cerveza, who has been tasked to represent Misuari in the talks.

Cerveza said he was supposed to meet with Misuari on Tuesday, but the meeting was postponed after the revelation of the deployment of forces in Indanan under the pretext of a continuing military operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group which also operates within Indanan.

“Whoever is responsible for this plan should think twice. We do not want to shed blood just because of the mischievous misadventure of some people in government,” Cerveza said. “We do not want to plunge the country in more turmoil.”

“Their plan to arrest Misuari could trigger renewed war,” he warned.

Meanwhile, Iqbal said in a recent forum that the Philippine government will be answerable to the international community, if Congress fails to pass “a good Bangsamoro Basic Law,” according to the MILF website luwaran.com.

“Ninety-nine percent of the international community is supporting the passage of a good BBL. If the MILF does not accept the BBL, the government will have to answer to the international community”, Iqbal said.

The forum, “Peace at last?” was organized by the Moro Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) and the Pilgrims for Peace, held at the National Council of Churches of the Philippines in Quezon City.

It was a rare occasion that Iqbal appeared in a discussion with progressives after the 2012 signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

Iqbal said the international community has “a deep involvement” in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF in the past 17 years.

“The international community would take the government to task if war breaks out,” Iqbal said. “We will have the moral ascendancy if the exit agreement is not signed…We will blame and shame the GPH for not complying with agreements signed by both parties.”

The exit agreement is the final document to be signed by the two parties, and to be validated by the third party monitoring team, headed by former European Commission envoy to the Philippines Alistair McDonald.

Both House Bill 5811 and Senate Bill 2408 are still under deliberations in congress with most of their original provisions were either deleted or amended.

The MILF had repeated said that they will not accept a BBL based on HB 5811, which they described as “50 percent bad” and “lower than the ARMM,” the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The ARMM was the result of the government’s peace agreement with the MNLF.

The BBL will entrench the new Bangsamoro political entity as provided by the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and the MILF.

“Very clear, we will not accept it, if it’s lower than ARMM,” Iqbal answered at the forum, to the question, “What will the MILF do if a diluted BBL is passed?”

The small audience of progressive leaders and church workers who are mostly critical of the BBL loudly applauded and cheered. Their cheers were considered an expression of support to Moro’s quest for lasting peace and progress in their homeland.


‘Don’t pay NPA campaign fees for 2016 polls’

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 18): ‘Don’t pay NPA campaign fees for 2016 polls’

Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – The Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee (JPSCC)  of the Armed Forces the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) is now on a tight watch on the “permit to campaign and win” fees that the New People’s Army (NPA) will impose for the 2016 national elections.

“These fees will allegedly be imposed on any candidate who will campaign in the insurgents’  ‘self- declared turfs,”  Supt. Martin M. Gamba, spokesman of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) and Capt. Joe Patrick A. Martinez, regional Army spokesman of Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division said.

“These are illegal and they (NPA) are not mandated by law to collect fees,” they emphasized.

“Collecting fees from any politician seeking posts in 2016 is a gross violation of the law,” Gamba stressed as he was exclusively interviewed by the Manila Bulletin yesterday.

Gamba and Martinez urged politicians, who would receive solicitation or extortion letters from the rebels, to immediately report the matter to the nearest police station or military camp.

They said police and the military in the Caraga region would release a list of areas that are not categorized as election hotspots.

They reminded those planning to run in the 2016 elections that giving in to the rebels’ demand for fees would constitute “a criminal act”.

Declassified intelligence record showed that during the 2010 and 2013 elections, the NPA collected millions of pesos from candidates and political parties, who campaigned in areas said to be under their control.

Citing intelligence sources,  Gamba and Martinez also disclosed that the NPA has started making a list of prospective candidates in the 2016 elections.

Top officials and commanders of the AFP and PNP are set to have their JPSCC meeting here.


Census in 2 Masbate areas suspended due to Reds

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 18): Census in 2 Masbate areas suspended due to Reds

Legazpi City, Albay — The regional office of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) here confirmed yesterday the suspension of the census operations in five barangays covered by two municipalities in Masbate province due to armed conflicts.

Cynthia Perdiz, interim regional director of PSA said that they had suspended the operations in the barangays of Tan–Awan, Libas, Cabangcalan, and Sta Cruz all in Cataingan town, and Barangay Cagbatang in Cataingan town.

Perdiz disclosed that these barangays have not yet issued permits to PSA enumerators to conduct the house-to-house survey due to crime incidents that transpired recently and have been attributed by the military to the New People’s Army (NPA) rebel.


New Zambo top cop orders intensified efforts vs kidnapping

From the Philippine Star (Aug 18): New Zambo top cop orders intensified efforts vs kidnapping

Police Chief Superintendent Miguel Antonio Jr., center, was installed last week as regional director of the Police Regional Office 9. PNP PRO 9 photo

The newly installed regional police commander ordered an intensified police and military joint security coordination to thwart kidnapping incidents in Western Mindanao.

Chief Superintendent Miguel Antonio Jr., who was installed last week as Police Regional Office 9 director, said Tuesday there must be an effective information sharing among law enforcement units to combat the kidnapping syndicates in the region.

"We need to strengthen the joint security coordination," said Antonio, who was the former national chair of the national Joint Security Coordination Center.

He said he already discussed the effort with Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero in a recent meeting and linked up with the security forces under the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Antonio was concerned of the multiple cases of kidnapping in Zamboanga peninsula where most of the victims were brought to Sulu and held hostage in exchange for ransom.

Antonio also wanted an intensified security in the neighboring island provinces to prevent kidnappers and their Abu Sayyaf cohorts from using the areas to keep their captives.

"We need to constrict the movements of the lawless elements and ensure that the shorelines of the island provinces will not be used as landing point of the kidnappers," Antonio said.

The police noted that the kidnappings seemed to be conducted by syndicates where one group stages the abduction and turns over their victims to the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups in the island provinces.

At least give hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu were taken from the Zamboanga peninsula.

Among the captives were Naga Mayor Gemma Adana, Philippine Coast Guard personnel, Seaman 2nd Class Gringo Villaruz and Seaman 1st Class Rod Pagaling, Korean businessman Noui Hong Sung, and three-year-old Ace Jay Garban.

Antonio said that while security is being strengthened to avert the kidnapping incidents, efforts continued for the safe recovery of all the victims.


Extremists threaten to behead Marawi rape suspects

From the Philippine Star (Aug 18): Extremists threaten to behead Marawi rape suspects

Marawi is the capital city of the province of Lanao del Sur on the island of Mindanao. Zamboanga.com photo

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ordered the ARMM police on Tuesday to tightly secure the city jail after extremists threatened spring out four confessed rapists for public execution.

The detainees, Jabbar Macacua, Elias Pimping, Salman Udag and Jalil Sani, have all admitted their involvement in the brutal gang rape and subsequent murder of a 13-year-old Maranaw girl on August 14.

The suspects had also allegedly burned with kerosene the cadaver of the child, a relative of ARMM Vice. Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman.

Religious extremists in Marawi City, a hotbed of Islamic militancy, have warned on Facebook they can get suspects out of jail to be beheaded and burned in public for the offense.

Hataman, chairman of the ARMM's inter-agency peace and order council, had called on the Lanao del Sur police to expedite the prosecution of the culprits for relatives of the victim not to resort to retaliation.

The victim's relatives have branded the rape-slay incident an affront to their "maratabat," which means clan pride and honor.

Local officials said up to seven men could be involved in the atrocity, but only four have so far been arrested.

Investigators have confirmed that the arrested suspects are all hooked to methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu.

Rumors suggest that more than P100 million worth of shabu are being sold in Marawi City and nearby Lanao del Sur towns monthly by criminal networks run by influential Maranaws.


70 pct of NPA in Mindanao are lumad: Magdalo solon

From ABS-CBN (Aug 18): 70 pct of NPA in Mindanao are lumad: Magdalo solon

Lumad, Mindanao’s non-Moro indigenous peoples, make up 70 percent of the New People’s Army in troubled southern Philippines, a legislator and former soldier said yesterday.

Rep. Ashley Acedillo, who belongs with the Magdalo party-list, made the claim as he branded the evacuation of lumad from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon provinces as part of a communist grand strategy to control Mindanao’s rugged mountains.

Acedillo backed the call of North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples, to launch a joint probe by various committees into the lumad evacuations.

Catamco, the subject of an ethics complaint by militant Makabayan bloc solons, said she wants the committees on human rights and security included in any investigation.

The Makabayan complaint stems from the violent "rescue" attempt on 700-plus lumad at the Davao City Haran mission sanctuary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).

Militants say they welcome a full-blown investigation and the chance for lumad to speak directly to legislators.

Karapatan head Tinay Palabay said a probe would allow the lumad to trace the links between militarization and attempts to exploit ancestral lands known for mineral wealth, lush soil and rich waterways.

Catamco and Acedillo, hewing to earlier claims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the evacuation is part of the underground left’s effort to hike NPA influence among lumad.

"Seventy percent of the NPA come from the lumad," Acedillo said, the reason why they want troops out of their communities.


He claimed the alternative Salugpungan school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, was teaching children to grow up hostile to the government. He also said the school was a recruitment center for the NPA.

"They are singing different national anthem," Acedillo said, adding that he has test papers where pro-government answers were marked wrong.

Eastern Mindanao Command head, Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, sent abs-cbnnews.com several documents and a video of a former Salugpungan student, Asenad Bago, narrating how he and other students were used as spotters for rebels. He also said they are sometimes taught how to handle firearms.

The young man is good copy for the AFP. He was once featured in a video praising Salugpungan school. He was 15 years old then. Bago, now 18, is singing a different tune.

Rights groups confirmed that he attended Salugpungan for three years as a boarding student, on the request of his family. They said Bago’s father is a recent recruit to the Alamara, pro-government’s lumad militia.

A report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Children and armed conflict last July cited the NPA as once of four rebel groups as “persistent perpetators” in the recruitment of children.

The report said child recruitment is mostly likely underreported because communities fear reprisals.

“The United Nations verified the recruitment and use of seven boys, as young as 9 years of age, by the New People’s Army (NPA) and ASG, marking a decrease from the 20 verified cases in 2013,” said the report.

The report said rebels offered shelter, food, access to education or offering to support communities, forcing parents to send children to urban centers for their protection.

Read Philippine Report on Children and Armed Conflict

Luis Jalandoni, the chief international representative of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the underground leftist alliance, accused the UN official of covering up violations of the Philippine government against children’s rights.

“The reference to parents in rural areas sending their children to urban areas is purely malicious speculation and innuendo,” Jalandoni said in a statement posted on Philippinerevolution.net

The NDF, he said, sends regular reports through its Special Office for the Protection of Children, to the UNICEF, providing documentation of these violations.

He cited Department of Education Memorandum No. 21 of December 13, 2013, which adopts AFP 2013 Letter Directive No. 25, allowing the military to conduct civil-military operations inside schools.

READ NDF’s Response to UN Secretary-General on the issue of violations of children’s rights

The human rights groups Karapatan says more than 3,000 children have been affected by this practice. One video, posted on Youtube, shows teachers and village elders in a Compostela Valley school remonstrating with encamped soldiers.


The UN executive himself had earlier declared, “The use of schools for military purposes puts children at risk of attack and hampers children’s right to education.”

Recruitment does not necessarily mean children taking up arms. But using children as spotters, couriers and camp staff are also considered a violation of their rights. Both sides of the conflict have been accused of these practices.

There is no denying the Filipino children are caught in the maws of conflict. Children have been reported killed in military operations.

A recent case in Pacquibato, which the military calls an encounter but rights groups dub as a massacre, injured the 12-year old daughter of woman peasant leader Aida Seisa.

In an interview with abs-cbnnews, Seisa said the supposed encounter occurred as the family was celebrating her wedding anniversary to a former migrant worker now working in a gold mine. She later testified at a Davao City council investigation.

The council approved last week a report on the incident, which killed three residents, including a datu, calling for the recall, investigation and prosecution of troops involved.

The latest complaint of attacks on alternative schools comes from Surigao del Sur, where lumad militia allegedly forced residents out of their homes on August 15.

The armed men gathered residents at a waiting shed and confiscated cellphones before interrogation. Wives of missing lumad – of food gathering trips in the mountain forests – were told to present their husbands on their return, to prove they have not joined the rebels.

Among those forced into the night was para-teacher Regine Tejero and 5 months pregnant Angel Vocales. The later tried to speak out their rights but was stopped when one of the men reportedly pointed his gun at her and her sick baby.


Peasant leader shot dead in N. Cotabato

From ABS-CBN (Aug 18): Peasant leader shot dead in N. Cotabato

A peasant leader was shot dead in Barangay Naje in Arakan Valley town of North Cotabato Tuesday morning.

The victim was identified as one Joel Gulmatico, a leader of Arakan Peasant Progressive Organization or APPO, under the umbrella organization of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

According to a report from North Cotabato Provincial Police, the victim was riding a motorcycle when he was shot by still unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants.

The victim sustained gunshot wounds on his body that caused his instantaneous death.
Authorities are investigating the motive behind the killing of the progressive group leader.


Senate approves bill clamping down goods, tech used for weapons of mass destruction

From Ang Malaya (Aug 18): Senate approves bill clamping down goods, tech used for weapons of mass destruction

The Senate approved on third and final reading a measure that impose tighter controls on the transfers of dual-use goods, controlled goods and technologies which may be used for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Committee on National Defense and Security chair Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the measure would help the government “establish a sound regulatory and organizational structure that would address both our need to pursue economic advancement in global trade and to strengthen our country’s internal security.”

Senator Trillanes is the author of the said proposed law Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2762.
Trillanes said that without the proper legislation like SBN 2762 in place, the Philippines “risks the destruction of lives and properties and the security of our country, should the same fall in the wrong hands.”

“We also risk involving our country in terroristic acts and schemes through the transfer of materials across our borders,” he added.

The bill would also establish a National Security Council (NSC) – Strategic Management Committee to act as a central authority on all matters relating to strategic trade management, particularly focusing on the country’s international commitment towards the promotion of a secure and safe environment for trade in strategic goods.

Also to be activated under the SBN 2762 is the Strategic Trade Management Office (STMO).

“Any person who intends to engage in the export, import, transit, and transshipment of strategic goods or the provision of related services shall be required to obtain an authorization from STMO,” Trillanes said.


Increased military spending for 2016 gains support in Senate

From Ang Malaya (Aug 18): Increased military spending for 2016 gains support in Senate

Senator Chiz Escudero expresses support to the increase in military spending aiming to boost the country’s defense capabilities amid concerns over China’s continuous military buildup in the disputed West Philippine Sea. However, he warns the government against buying old and dilapidated second-hand weapons and equipment.

Escudero said that as much as possible the government should purchase “brand new” military hardware if it really wants to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is widely regarded as one of the weakest military forces in Southeast Asia.

“If we are going to pour in billions of pesos to improve the AFP, we might as well give our soldiers the best modern and sophisticated equipment we can get,” Escudero pointed out.

The lawmaker said it is high time the Philippines invests in “reasonably priced” brand-new military weapons and equipment, especially those that would improve the country’s maritime defense capability.

“The least the government can do is to make sure that we provide our military forces with better and serviceable aircraft, naval ships and other equipment,” he said.

Under the proposed P3.002 trillion national budget for 2016, the Department of National Defense (DND) ranks third among the line agencies with the highest allocation, next to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The 2016 budget proposal of the DND is P172 billion, P27.5 billion higher than its current budget of P144.5 billion.


First Time: Armed Navy AW-109 helicopter lands on BRP Ramon Alcaraz

From Ang Malaya (Aug 18): First Time: Armed Navy AW-109 helicopter lands on BRP Ramon Alcaraz

A week after the entering service, one of Philippine Navy’s two armed Augustawestland AW-109E helicopters made a landing on BRP Ramon Alcaraz. This was reported through the Navy vessel’s official social networking page.

“Only a few days after its christening, one of the two armed Augusta Westland (AW109) helicopters landed on BRP Ramon Alcaraz for the first time,” says in the post. “The helicopter landing was part of the ship’s Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE) 2015.”

Two armed Augustawestland AW-109 helicopters formally entered the naval force August 10.

The Navy now has five commissioned AW-109Es, two of which are armed with Rocket Machine Gun Pod system on both sides, comprising of 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine gun, a NATO Standard 2.75inch/70mm 3-tube rocket launcher and a 400-round machine gun ammunition box.


Phil. Army receives motorcycle from Cagayan PLGU

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 15): Phil. Army receives motorcycle from Cagayan PLGU

The Philippine Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion based in Alcala town has recently received two units motorcycles from the provincial government here.

Gov. Alvaro T. Antonio said the motorcycles will be used to boost the mobility and visibility of the battalion especially in secluded areas.

He said the provision of said vehicles is in support of the Philippine Army’s patrol mission to maintain peace and order in the province.

Earlier, the provincial government also provided patrol vehicles and CCTV cameras to the Philippine National Police here to further improve the peace and order situation in the province.


Passing BBL now will benefit next administration, says Ferrer

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 18): Passing BBL now will benefit next administration, says Ferrer

Amid calls to let the next Congress pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) from some members of the House of Representatives and other sectors, chief government peace negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer remained firm that passing the law now would give the country the best shot at achieving peace in Mindanao.

Ferrer said delaying the passage of the BBL and letting the next Congress under a new President consider it would be a big waste of all the time, resources and goodwill invested in securing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and in coming up with the committee reports in both Houses.

“Congress can either pass this law or they can choose to throw away all the time, money, and goodwill already spent by just passing it on to the next Congress,” she said.

Ferrer, who was in the Senate anticipating the start of the deliberations on the Senate version of the Bangsamoro bill, noted that “if there’s a will, there’s a way. The power is in the hands of the legislators.”

Some legislators argued that it would be best to pass the BBL during the next Congress since majority of the implementation and oversight would happen then. Ferrer, however, countered that leaving a legislation undone would be detrimental especially for the next administration.

“I am certain that the next administration would be better off with a BBL in place. It will benefit from the enhanced political stability. The next president and Congress can then focus on other legislative measures and strengthening the reforms introduced in the region,” she added

Ferrer noted that if not passed, another draft BBL would have to be filed again in both Houses, requiring another round of committee hearings before the bill gets any farther from where it is now.

"That's a complete waste of millions of taxpayers' money," she said.

When President Benigno S. Aquino III assumed office in 2010, he immediately made the Bangsamoro peace process a priority of his administration. In 2014, the GPH and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which served as basis for the original BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The signing is considered a historic milestone in the storied negotiations dating back to 1997.

The House of Representatives currently holds three plenary sessions per week, meaning there are only 17 session days left before the House sets aside BBL debates in favor of budget deliberations expected to commence on September 28. (OPAPP)


Army, PNP launch manhunt against killers of North Cotabato village ex-councilor

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): Army, PNP launch manhunt against killers of North Cotabato village ex-councilor

Police and military authorities are now hunting down two men who shot dead Tuesday a former village councilor along a highway in North Cotabato.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, speaking for the North Cotabato police office, said manhunt had been launched jointly by the Arakan police and members of the 57th Infantry Battalion of the 6th Infantry Division.

Tayong said two men riding tandem on a motorbike tailed former village councilor Joel Gulmatico, 58, of Barangay Naje, Arakan, North Cotabato on board his motorbike.

Upon reaching the national highway, the two suspects armed with cal. 45 pistol overtook Gulmatico's motorcycle and shot him in the head and body.

Responding soldiers and village people rushed the victim to a hospital in Arakan town but he was declared dead on arrival.

Gulmatico, 58, is also chairman of the Arakan Peasant Progressive Organization (APPO), a farmers' organization.

He ran for the village chair of Naje in 2013 after he completed his three term as "barangay kagawad" but lost.

Farmers have appealed to authorities to bring the perpetrators before the bar of justice. No one has claimed responsibility for the killing of Gulmatico who was reported to have planned to run again as village chair in next year's balloting.


Chiz to admin: Stop giving PH military hand-me-down assets

From Rappler(Aug 18): Chiz to admin: Stop giving PH military hand-me-down assets

The Department of National Defense is in charge of buying defense assets although representatives of the end users – army, navy or air force – are involved throughout the bidding process

The Philippine government should stop buying hand-me-down assets to equip the Philippine military, said Senator Francisco Escudero who made the call as Congress begins deliberations on the 2016 government budget.

“If we are going to pour in billions of pesos to improve the AFP, we might as well give our soldiers the best modern and sophisticated equipment we can get,” Escudero said.
Escudero is one of the senators probing the controversial procurement of refurbished UH-1 choppers that cost the government P1.2 billion.
The Department of National Defense (DND) is in charge of the procurement of defense assets although representatives of the end users – army, navy or air force – are involved throughout the bidding processes.
Escudero said the Senate probe has "exposed infirmities in the AFP procurement process," which he said is "supplier-driven."
DND clears officials
DND was accused of fitting the deal to make sure its favored bidder wins the project.
But DND's own investigation dismissed allegations made by an agent-turned-whistleblower against the deal, arguing that she was unable to substantiate allegations that are "based on hearsay."
Escudero recognized that the Philippines needs to "boost the country’s defense capabilities amid concerns over China’s continuous military buildup in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)."

What is important, he said, is the government should purchase "brand new" but "reasonably priced" assets.
MalacaƱang's P3-trillion proposed budget allocates P172 billion for the Department of National Defense (DND), ranking 3rd among the departments with the biggest budgets. It is P27.5 billion higher than DND's budget of P144.5 billion for the current year.
This allocation is on top of P75 billion allocated by President Benigno Aquino III for the first 5 years of implementation of the 15-year Revised AFP Modernization Act of 2012. 
Huwag naman tayong bumili ng sobrang luma na at kakarag-karag na mga sasakyan at depektibong kagamitan na hindi na mapakikinabangan ng ating kasundaluhan. Huwag naman po nating ipahamak ang ating mga sundalo,” Escudero said. (We should discard the old practice of acquiring military equipment and vehicles that are too old and defective, and no longer useful to our armed forces. Let us not put the lives of our hardworking soldiers in danger.)
He added: “The least the government can do is to make sure that we provide our military forces with better and serviceable aircraft, naval ships and other equipment.”

Maguindanao Province, Army 6th Infantry complete school improvment projects

From InterAksyon (Aug 18): Maguindanao Province, Army 6th Infantry complete school improvment projects

At turnover rites for the school improvement project at Bakat Elementary School. Photographed by Tim Ambolodto.

Communities in Rajah Buayan and Mamasapano cheered the turnover on Tuesday of school improvement projects jointly spearheaded by the Provincial Government of Maguindanao and the Philippine Army 6th Infantry Division.
The pupils, parents and teachers of Bakat Elementary School in Rajah Buayan felt happy they no longer have to live with dilapidated classrooms and school facilities that have remained in a sad state of disrepair due to the persistent armed conflict situation in the locality.

The improvements were funded by the Provincial Government, while elements of the 6th ID contributed a big part of the manpower and construction equipment required.

Aside from the improved campus, there were also gifts of school bags and school supplies, and footwear for the students, from the local government.

Over in Mamasapano, a multi-purpose covered public court was completed at a cost of P3 million.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and 6th ID Commanding General Edmundo Pangilinan lead the turnover rites, echoing each other's hope that the students and their parents will be inspired to press on with the quest for education for a better life.

Lawmaker lauds MILF, hits gov’t negotiators

From MindaNews (Aug 18): Lawmaker lauds MILF, hits gov’t negotiators

A partylist lawmaker lauded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for vowing to push for the peace process even if the Bangsamoro Basic Law is not passed before President Aquino’s term ends next year, but chided government negotiators for allegedly yielding to the MILF’s wishes.

Speaking in Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, 1-BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello III said the MILF’s pronouncement should allay fears the peace process in Mindanao cannot move on.

“That’s a good position. Unang-una remember they are already committed to the FAB (Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro) and the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro), signatories sila eh,” he said.

The draft BBL submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission was based on the terms of the FAB and CAB signed by the government and MILF on October 15, 2012 and March 14, 2014, respectively.

However, the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on the BBL had made changes into the bill.

In the Senate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the local government committee, wanted to introduce a bill that would supplant the BBL with his own version of the Bangsamoro political entity, arguing that the original draft bill contain unconstitutional provisions.

“When (Mohagher) Iqbal said they cannot accept a watered-down BBL, I told the other lawmakers not to react. He is just doing his job as chief peace negotiator of the MILF, and we have to understand them,” Bello said in Tagalog.

In a recent media forum, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said it would be ideal to pass the BBL before Aquino steps down.

But Murad assured that even if the BBL is not passed during the Aquino administration the MILF will continue pushing for the implementation of the other aspects of the agreements and their annexes.

As part of the agreement, 145 MILF fighters and 75 high-powered firearms and crew-served weapons were decommissioned in June. The weapons were turned over to the International Decommissioning Body led by Turkey.

The rest of the MILF forces and their weapons will be decommissioned based on the progress of the implementation of the peace agreement.

Murad asked Congress to fast-track the approval of the BBL to expedite the decommissioning process.

Also on Monday, Bello said the government peace negotiators were at fault for allegedly submitting to the demands of the MILF.

“I’ve been with the negotiation for 14 years. In every negotiation, it is part of your negotiation skill or strategy that when you ask for something, you ask for the maximum. If you cannot reach the maximum, you get the optimum,” he said.

He said Iqbal’s previous pronouncement that they could not accept a watered-down version of the BBL was part of his tack as negotiator to strengthen their position.

“When Iqbal said ‘we will not accept a watered-down version’, that’s part of his negotiating skill kasi alam nilang tatawad tayo (because he knew we will bargain). Yan ang mali ng (That’s the fault of the) negotiators,” he added.

Murad said the MILF was open to amendments in some provisions of the original draft if necessary, but the final draft should not be anything less than the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which Aquino himself has called a failed experiment.

An acceptable version of the BBL “means in accordance with the CAB and FAB and their annexes,” he said.

He said the passage of BBL will benefit not only the MILF but also the Bangsamoro people.

ARMM executive secretary Laisa Alamia said achieving peace in the war-torn region would not be a walk in the park and that the BBL could not solve all the problems.
But she emphasized that its passage will be a necessary first step.

“The only solution to the problem is to continue the peace process,” Murad said.


Normalcy restored in Palimbang villages after MILF infighting died down

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): Normalcy restored in Palimbang villages after MILF infighting died down
Tension have simmered down in a remote village in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat after an emissary of the Sultanate of Maguindanao was sent to pacify the warring members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), officials said.

Senior Insp. Romeo Calamba, Palimbang police chief, said while fighting between the group of Brian Andi of the MILF 104th base command and 105th base commander Bondi Binago have slowed down, civilians displaced by the armed conflict that started Friday last week still refuse to return home.

Datu Muamar Mastura, a local tribal leader of Palibang, told Catholic-run Radio DXMS that Maguindanao Sultan Salem Abdulaziz Guiwan Mastura Kudarat V, has already sent mediators to prevent the armed followers of both MILF leaders from engaging in shooting war.

"Sultan Kudarat V has already sent mediators to both sides who are incidentally were relatives by blood and by affinity," Mastura said.

He said followers of Andi and Binago have re-positioned back to their respective areas.

As initial agreement, both sides will move back its forces away from each other, about five kilometers away so they will not be seeing each other, Mastura added.

The conflict started when elements of 104th base command, under Andi attacked the position of Commander Binago to retaliate the death of Kadil Kongo, a member of 104th base command allegedly by followers of Binago.

Mastura said the MILF also formed a ceasefire committee to discuss mechanism so the conflict can be avoided in the future.

At least eight persons were killed, four from both sides, following the skirmishes Friday last week that ended only Monday morning.

Calamba said the police did not interfere in the armed conflict to allow leaders of both sides to mediate and for the GPH-MILF ceasefire mechanism to work.

At least 550 families have been displaced by the conflict and the municipal social welfare and development have already extended assistance to the evacuees.

Calama was hoping normalcy will return very soon in Barangays Napnapan and Kanipaan.


187 NPA rebels surrender to EMC from Jan. 1 to Aug. 10

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): 187 NPA rebels surrender to EMC from Jan. 1 to Aug. 10

As the military stepped up its anti-insurgency campaign in the countryside, the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) announced 187 New People's Army (NPA) rebels voluntarily surrendered to its units from Jan. 1 to Aug. 10 this year.

Capt. Alberto Caber, EMC public affairs office chief, said in a statement on Tuesday the primary reason of the rebel returnees in leaving the insurgency movement is to live peacefully with their loved ones.

The former rebels are now integrated to society with the help of the government's Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), Caber said.

Through CLIP, they received livelihood and appropriate training assistance from the government.


Solon calls on government, communist movement to resume peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 18): Solon calls on government, communist movement to resume peace talks

Former government-peace-negotiator now IBAP Party-list Representative Silvestre Bello III called on the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA) or CNN to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.

He reminded both parties that precondition as basis for the resumption of the talks is a violation of the Hague Conventions on peaceful settlement of disputes that peace talks must be conducted without preconditions.

Bello revealed that during his last visit to Jose Maria Sison, chair of Communist Party of the Philippines, and Luis Jalandoni, head of the CPP-peace negotiators, he advised them not to press for the release of their consultants to continue the peace process with government.

Bello said it is wrong to set preconditions to the talks, adding that it also applies to the current administration which requires ceasefire as a basis for the resumption of the talks.

Bello said ceasefire with the communist rebels is tantamount to calling them to surrender their firearms.

“I’ve been trying to convince both the CNN and the government to return to the negotiating table without any precondition,” he said.

Bello stressed that the country cannot afford partial peace where it pursues a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on one hand and fights the communist movement, Moro National Liberation Front and other rebel forces on the other hand.

“If we want progress, we must have total peace all over the country,” he said.

He said he has been wondering why government insists on the Bangsamoro Basic Law but silent with the talks with the communist insurgency.

Bello was the lead peace-panel negotiator in the talks with the CNN during the Ramos Administration.