Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Malaysia: Clear and present danger from the Islamic State

From the Brookings Institute (Dec 16): Malaysia: Clear and present danger from the Islamic State

Two weeks ago, an internal Malaysian police memo was leaked to the media. The leak came after Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he and several other Malaysian leaders were on the IS hit list. The memo gave details of a November 15th meeting between the militant groups Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic State (IS), and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), in Sulu, the southern Muslim-majority part of the Philippines. Attendees passed several resolutions at the meeting, including regarding mounting attacks in Malaysia, in particular Kuala Lumpur and Sabah in eastern Malaysia. The report mentioned that eight Abu Sayyaf and IS suicide bombers were already on the ground in Sabah, while another ten were in Kuala Lumpur.

While the news shocked many Malaysians and foreigners living in Malaysia, for Malaysia watchers, it was nothing new. There is general consensus in Malaysian security and intelligence circles that IS and home-grown Islamic radicals are planning a terrorist attack in Malaysia. For the past two years, in fact, Malaysia’s security services managed to disrupt at least four major bombing attempts. Their targets are mainly symbolic, such as beer factories and government buildings. Others were senior political figures and tycoons to be held for ransom and propaganda. IS regards the Malaysian government (and neighboring Indonesia) as un-Islamic and a pawn of the West.

While the Malaysian government is lucky that its intelligence services are on top of the situation, there are recent signs that they may be overwhelmed by the scale of the threat and the number of operatives involved.

Malaysia has a population of about 31 million, and 60 percent are Sunni Muslims. There are approximately 200-250 IS fighters from Malaysia in the Middle East. Contrast this with Indonesia, with a Muslim population of 300 million, and yet there are less than 400 IS fighters from Indonesia. This imbalance alone gives a clear indication of the scale of the problem Malaysia faces.

Even so, at the top of the Malaysian government, other than occasional statements condemning IS terrorism, officials do not seem to be able or willing to confront the root causes of the rise of IS in Malaysia.

In an influential essay published in April this year, Brookings scholar Joseph Liow laid out clearly the reasons for the rise of IS in Malaysia: the politicization of Islam by the state. In particular, both the ruling UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) party and its main opponent, PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) use political Islam as their weapon of choice.

The use of political Islam is a deliberate move by a group of committed Islamists hidden in the highest level of the Malaysian state and bureaucracy to create a Malay-Islamic state, not a mere theocratic state. This ideology is unique and separate from the caliphate project pursued by IS.

In the Malaysian version of the Malay-Islamic state, Sunni Islam’s supremacy is indivisible from ethnicity, i.e. the Malay race. In other words, the unique Malaysian brand of Sunni Islamic supremacy is fused with intolerant Malay nationalism. This highly committed group is trying to build the world’s only Islamic state where Islam and one particular ethnic group are one and the same.

Outsiders, including Muslims from other parts of the Sunni world, will find this development hard to understand as orthodox Islam rejects the notion of race or racism. In Malaysia, according to the proponents of ethno-religious nationalism, the Malaysian brand of Sunni Islam is unique. An example of these exclusion tactics is the issue over the usage of ‘Allah’. Despite clear and unequivocal evidence that the word ‘Allah’ can be used freely by all, the Malaysian religious establishment has claimed exclusive copyright over the word ‘Allah’ and codified into law a proscription that only Muslims can use ‘Allah’ and another half-a-dozen words.

Who are members of this group pushing for the Malay-Islamic state? The obvious candidates are JAKIM (Malaysian Islamic Development Department), a department under the prime minister’s office, and its state-level version. JAKIM is a government department tasked with defining, to the minuscule detail, what being a Sunni Muslim means in Malaysia, not only in theological terms but also in practical terms, like how to dress and what types of behavior are halal (permissible) or haram.

JAKIM, established during the era of Mahathir, prime minister from 1981 to 2003, is so powerful now that even senior UMNO leaders do not dare to confront it. Anyone who questions JAKIM is threatened with sedition. JAKIM threatened a former MP from UMNO with sedition. The son of a deputy prime minister, he had called for the departmental group to be disbanded. Police investigated a well-known lawyer for sedition after he tweeted, “Jakim is promoting extremism every Friday. Govt needs to address that if serious about extremism in Malaysia.” JAKIM writes all Friday sermons for delivery nationwide, and in recent years these sermons have tried to demonize Shiites, Christians and Jews.

JAKIM’s annual budget is about RM 1 billion, paid for by Muslim and non-Muslim taxpayers. Yet JAKIM is largely unaccountable to anyone. Progressive Malaysian Muslims fear the label of being branded anti-Islamic for questioning the work of JAKIM. Others shy away from criticizing JAKIM for fear of being charged with sedition.

Another government department promoting ethno-religious hate and intolerance is Biro Tata Negara (National Civics Bureau, or simply BTN). Like JAKIM, BTN is also under the authority of the PM’s office. Officially, BTN is supposed to nurture the spirit of patriotism. While many of its programs do promote patriotism among Malaysian youth, others promote racism toward non-Malays and filter their message to selected groups of Malay participants. The BTN teaches these Malay participants that the Malaysian Chinese (and non-Malays generally) are like “Jews” and that Malays must be politically supreme at all times. A recent exposé of internal BTN documents showed that BTN trainers were told to teach that racism is “good” if it promotes Malay unity. It even suggested that racism originated from the Islamic concept of asabiyyah, a positive idea that centered on brotherhood and formed social solidarity in historical Muslim civilizations.

While it is obvious that JAKIM, BTN, and similar bodies, do not officially support IS’s caliphate project or its murderous ideology, their promotion of a uniquely narrow Malay-Islamic worldview indirectly supports and complements the IS brand of intolerance. Many young Malays at the primary and high school level in the Malaysian school system are steeped in a view of Malay Islam that resonates with the IS worldview that there is an “us-versus-them” world order. Malaysian Muslims find IS’s ideology easy to accept, having grown up with a state-sanctioned view of intolerance towards non-Malay Muslims.

Is it any wonder that in a recent PEW poll, 11 percent of Malaysian Muslims had a “favorable” view of IS? What is even more interesting is that in Southeast Asia, Malaysian Muslims are more likely than Indonesian Muslims to consider suicide bombing justifiable (18 percent versus 7 percent).

If we make inferences from this context, there are two clear conclusions. First, there is going to be an IS attack in Malaysia – not if, but when. The number of IS supporters in Malaysia has reached a critical mass: a Malaysian minister revealed a few days ago there are approximately 50,000 IS supporters in Malaysia. Coupled with returning IS fighters from Syria and Iraq, this broad-based support means that one of their attacks will succeed.

Second, support for IS and intolerant Islam is growing in Malaysia due to the deliberate policies of government bodies such as JAKIM and BTN, whose worldview is increasingly becoming even more influential than that promulgated by elected political leaders. The situation can only get worse until the top UMNO leaders rein in JAKIM and similar bodies. If the government waits for a successful attack before undertaking any serious action, it will simply be too late.

MILF denies coddling alleged IS sympathizer

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 16): MILF denies coddling alleged IS sympathizer

Davao City – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has denied providing sanctuary for bandit group leader Mohamad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid, alias Kumander Tokboy and his men, who are believed to be sympathizers of worldwide terror group Islamic State (IS) and whose camp was overrun by government forces in Barangay Butril in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat last November 26.

This was the denial issued by the MILF side during discussions at the 44th regular meeting of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) that was concluded Tuesday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here.

Combined military and police forces had tried to serve a warrant on Maguid last November 26 at his known lair in Palimbang but his men decided to shoot it out with authorities, a clash that lasted four hours in Sitio Sinapingan.

When the smoke cleared, eight of Maguid’s men, including a suspected Indonesian bomb maker, lay dead as government troops took down the black flag of IS which flew over the compound and replaced it with the Philippine flag. The group’s leader was, however, able to escape.
In a statement, the MILF said the allegations that it was coddling Maguid and his men were “baseless (since) it was also running after Kumander Tokboy,” which the group also considers as “lawless.”

In the meeting were GPH-CCCH chairman Brig. Gen. Glenn Macasero, his MILF counterpart Butch Malang, GPH peace panel member Senen Bacani and International Monitoring Team (IMT-10) head of mission Maj. Gen. Dato Shiekh Mokhsin Shiekh Hassan.

The MILF also manifested its “continuing efforts to resolve reported cases of ‘rido (family feud)’ in Bangsamoro areas through its Task Force on Conflict Resolution Management (TFCRM).”

The GPH-MILF regular meeting also resulted in the issuance of a joint statement on the CCCH’s “continued efforts to end conflicts and curb criminalities in Bangsamoro.”
An improved feedback system, which takes into consideration “coordination protocol” and “prior coordination before the movement of GPH and MILF forces near or within the MILF communities” was also tackled during the meeting.

The GPH and the MILF also agreed to fully cooperate through various ceasefire mechanisms in the protection of vital installations, civilian targets, AFP/PNP personnel and BIAF-MILF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) members from the attacks of lawless elements.

The Peace Process in Mindanao, the Philippines: Evolution and Lessons Learned

From the International Relations and Security Network (Dec 17): The Peace Process in Mindanao, the Philippines: Evolution and Lessons Learned by Kristian Herbolzheim for Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF)

What lessons should we learn from the Philippine government’s multi-year peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front? Kristian Herbolzheimer’s answers remind us that 1) peace is not so much a product as it is a process, and 2) negotiations are just one path to reconciliation.

Executive summary

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (2014) marks the first significant peace agreement worldwide in ten years and has become an inevitable reference for any other contemporary peace process. During 17 years of negotiations the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front managed to build up a creative hybrid architecture for verifying the ceasefire, supporting the negotiations and implementing the agreements, with the participation of Filipinos and members of the international community, the military and civilians, and institutions and civil society. This report analyses the keys that allowed the parties to reach an agreement and the challenges ahead in terms of implementation. It devotes special attention to the management of security-related issues during the transition from war to peace.


On March 27th 2014 the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed an agreement to end an armed conflict that had started in 1969, caused more than 120,000 deaths and forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is the main peace agreement to be signed worldwide since the agreement that stopped the armed conflict in Nepal in 2006.

Every peace agreement addresses a particular context and conflict. However, the Mindanao process is now a crucial reference for other peace processes, given that it is the most recent. Of the 59 armed conflicts that have ended in the last 30 years, 44 concluded with peace agreements (Fisas, 2015: 16). The social, academic, and institutional capacities to analyse these processes and strengthen peacebuilding policies have thrived in parallel (Human Security Report Project, 2012). However, no peace process has been implemented without some difficulties. For this reason all peace processes learn from previous experiences, while innovating in their own practices and contributing overall to international experience of peacebuilding. The Mindanao peace process learned lessons from the experiences of South Sudan, Aceh (Indonesia) and Northern Ireland, among others.

Currently, other countries affected by internal conflicts such as Myanmar, Thailand and Turkey are analysing the Mindanao peace agreement with considerable interest. This report analyses the keys that allowed the parties to reach an agreement and the challenges facing the Philippines in terms of implementation. The report targets an international audience and aims to provide reflections that might be useful for other peace processes.

After introducing the context and development of the Mindanao peace process, the report analyses the actions and initiatives that allowed negotiations to make progress for 17 years and the innovations brought about by this process in areas such as public participation. Particular attention is devoted to the security-related agreements (including arms decommissioning by the insurgency) and to the mechanisms accompanying and verifying the agreement’s implementation.


The Philippines is an archipelago comprising around 7,000 islands. Remarkable among them are the largest one, Luzon (where the capital, Manila, is situated) and the second largest, Mindanao. Together with Timor-Leste, this is the only Asian country with a majority Christian population. Around 100 million people live in a territory covering 300,000 km 2 . The system of government is presidential and executive power is limited to a single term of six years. The country owes its name to King Philip II of Spain, in whose service Magellan was sailing around the world when he arrived at the archipelago in 1521. After being a Spanish colony for three centuries, in 1898 the Philippines came under U.S. administration. A detail with far-reaching consequences is that Spain never took real control of the island of Mindanao. Islam had arrived three centuries before Magellan, and the Spanish found a well- consolidated system of governance, mainly through the sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu. In 1946 the Philippines was the first Asian country to gain independence without an armed struggle (one year before India). It was also a pioneer in putting an end to a despotic regime by peaceful means when a non-violent people’s revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. In 2001 a second people’s power revolution brought the government of Joseph Estrada – who was accused of corruption – to an end. Even so, the developments that have occurred over nearly 30 years of democracy have been slow. Politics continues to be the feud of a few families who perpetuate themselves in power from generation to generation. Relatives of deposed presidents remain active in politics and enjoy significant support. Some indicators show advances in poverty reduction, literacy and employment, but neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are far ahead in this regard (UNDP, 2015). The persistence of social inequalities feeds the discourse of the New People’s Army, a Maoist- inspired insurgency that has been active since 1968. Apart from the armed conflict in Mindanao and the communist insurgency, in recent years the Philippines has also suffered the onslaught of cells of Islamist terrorists linked to transnational networks.

Roots and humanitarian consequences of the conflict

The Muslim population of Mindanao has experienced harassment and discrimination since the times of the Spanish colony (1565-1898). The U.S. colonial administration (1898-1945) initiated a process of land entitlement that privileged Christian settlers coming from other islands of the archipelago. This policy of land dispossession continued after independence, coupled with government policies aimed at the assimilation of the Muslim minority.

Currently, the Muslim population is in the majority only in the western part of Mindanao and in the adjacent islands that proliferate up to the borders of Malaysia and Indonesia. Ten per cent of the population in this area are non-Islamised indigenous peoples. In 1968 an alleged massacre of Muslim army recruits in Manila led to the creation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which started an armed struggle for independence. In 1996 the government and the MNLF signed a peace agreement that granted autonomy to provinces with a Muslim majority. The group demobilised as a result, but a breakaway subgroup, the Islamic Front, rejected the terms of the agreement. However, this insurgency’s preference for a negotiated solution led to the signing of a bilateral ceasefire in 1997 and the start of formal peace negotiations in 1999.

The armed conflict in Mindanao has caused around 120,000 deaths, especially in the 1970s. In the 21st century it has been a low-intensity conflict, but continuous instability has generated a phenomenon of multiple displacements: thousands of people flee when there are skirmishes – which sometimes involve other armed actors – and return to their homes once the situation is stabilised. In 2008 the last political crisis in the peace process triggered the displacement of around 500,000 people in a few weeks in what became the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world at the time.

Structure and development of the negotiations

The negotiations lasted for 17 years (1997-2014) and were initially conducted in the Philippines and without mediation. Since 1999 the negotiating teams comprised five plenipotentiary members, with the support of a technical team of around ten people (a variable number). The intensity and duration of the negotiations oscillated over the years. In the last period (2009-14) the parties met in 26 negotiation rounds each lasting between three and five days.

The negotiations were halted on three occasions, triggering new armed confrontations in 2000, 2003 and 2008. After each one the parties agreed on new mechanisms designed to strengthen the negotiations infrastructure. In 2001 the Malaysian government accepted the request of the government of the Philippines to host and facilitate the negotiations. In 2004 the parties agreed to create an International Monitoring Team (IMT) to verify the ceasefire, comprising 50 unarmed members of the armed forces of Malaysia, Libya and Brunei cantoned in five cities in the conflict area. In 2009 this team was expanded and strengthened: two officers of the Norwegian army reinforced the security component, while the European Union (EU) provided two experts in human rights, international humanitarian law and humanitarian response.
In parallel, the IMT incorporated a Civilian Protection Component comprising one international and three local non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In 2009 the negotiating parties agreed to create an International Contact Group (ICG) to act as observers at the negotiations and advise the parties and the facilitator. 1 The ICG is formed by four countries (Britain, Japan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia), together with four international NGOs (Conciliation Resources, the Community of Sant Egidio, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and Muhammadiyah).

Peace agreements

The negotiations started in 1997 with an agreement on a general cessation of hostilities. In the Tripoli Agreement (2001) the parties defined a negotiation agenda with three main elements: security (which had already been agreed on in 2001); humanitarian response, rehabilitation and development (agreed in 2002); and ancestral territories (2008). In October 2012 the parties finally adopted the Framework Agreement establishing a roadmap for the transition. In the following 15 months the parties concluded the annexes on transitional modalities (February 2013), revenue generation and wealth sharing (July 2013), power sharing (December 2013), and normalisation (January 2014). Finally, in March 2014 the Comprehensive Agreement was signed in the Presidential Palace.

The central axis of the agreement is the establishment of a new self-governing entity called Bangsamoro, which will replace the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao after a transition led by the MILF. The agreement envisages a process of reform in the new autonomous region that will replace the presidential system that governs the rest of the country with a parliamentary one. The objective is to promote the emergence of programmatic political parties.

The government understands that the insurgency must be part of the solution and must assume the corresponding responsibilities. To this end it has encouraged the transformation of the insurgency into a political movement able to take part in local and regional elections. In terms of endorsement, the peace agreement must be transformed into a law that will regulate the Statute of Autonomy, called the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

After parliamentary approval, a plebiscite will be held in the conflict-affected areas. This plebiscite will also serve to determine the territorial extent of the autonomous region, since the municipalities bordering the current autonomous community will have the option to join the new entity. Constitutional reform is a contentious issue. The MILF insists on the need for reform in order to consolidate the agreements.

However, the government has been reluctant to initiate a process that could be tedious and could open a “Pandora’s box”. But doubts about some of the agree - ments’ compliance with the constitution suggest that such a reform process might eventually be discussed. Beyond the agreement with the MILF, the peace process in Mindanao could contribute to opening a national debate about the territorial organisation of the country, since important sectors in other regions are demanding broad constitutional reform along federal lines.

Roadmap of the transition

A controversial issue during the negotiations was the expected time line for implementation. The MILF suggested a six-year period, while the government refused to make commitments beyond its presidential term (2010-16), since the Philippine political system lacks guarantees in terms of the continuity of public policies from one administration to the next. Finally, the MILF accepted this argument and the 2012 Framework Agreement defined a roadmap for implementation with a time horizon of the presidential elections of May 2016.

The key implementation institutions are as follows:

1. The Transition Commission comprises 15 people (seven appointed by each side, under an MILF chairperson). Its main mission was the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was submitted to Congress for approval in September 2014.

2. The Transitional Authority will be headed by the MILF and will comprise representatives of various social, political and economic actors from the autonomous region. It will be formally set up after the Basic Law is enacted by Congress. Its mission will be to pilot the transformation of the existing autonomous institutions until the holding of elections for a new autonomous government (initially expected in May 2016, although they might need to be postponed).

3. The Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) is in charge of monitoring the implementation of the agreements. It comprises five members (two representatives of national NGOs, two of international NGOs, and a former EU ambassador to the Philippines who acts as coordinator). The TPMT issues periodic reports for both parties, and public reports twice a year. But its most relevant role – and probably the most controversial – will be to certify the end of the implementation process, which, in turn, conditions the MILF decommissioning process.

4. Despite the fact that both parties are represented in all the relevant organs, the negotiating teams remain an organ of last resort to resolve potential problems or disagreements. Malaysia – the facilitator country – and the ICG continue to provide support at the request of the parties.

The challenge of normalisation

Apart from enacting the Bangsamoro Basic law and adapting the various regional institutions to the new Statute of Autonomy, the main objective of the transitional period is the consolidation of normalisation , which is under - stood as “a process whereby communities can achieve their desired quality of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainable livelihood and political participation within a peaceful deliberative society”. 2 The concept of normalisation includes what is termed disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in other contexts, as well as additional elements aimed at the consolidation of peace and human security. The process of normalisation has four essential elements:

1. The first is socioeconomic development programmes for conflict-affected areas. The MILF-led Bangsamoro Development Agency will be in charge of coordination, together with the Sajahatra presidential programme of immediate relief to improve health conditions, educa - tion and development.

2. Confidence-building measures include two key processes. Firstly, development programmes will be aimed specifically at MILF members and their relatives in their six main camps. Secondly, the government will commit to using amnesties, pardons, and other avail - able mechanisms to resolve the cases of people accused or convicted of actions and crimes related to the Mindanao armed conflict. 3 It is worth noting that neither the MILF nor the government security forces face pending accusations of gross human rights violations or crimes against humanity.

3. In matters of transitional justice and reconciliation, a three-person team is mandated to elaborate a methodological proposal about how to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro (Muslim) people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations, including marginalisation due to land dispossession. The team can also propose programmes and measures to promote reconciliation between conflict-affected communities and heal the physical, mental and spiritual wounds caused by the conflict. This mandate includes the proposal of measures to guarantee non-repetition.

4. The sensitive issue of security has four elements. The first is reform of the police, since responsibility for public order will be given to a new police force for the Bangsamoro that will be civilian in character and accountable to the communities it serves. The negotiating parties commissioned the Independent Commission on Policing to draft a report with recommendations in this regard. This report was delivered in April 2015.

Secondly, the parties agreed to carry out a joint programme to identify and dismantle “private” armed groups (paramilitaries), which are often controlled by mayors and governors. The operational criteria for this task are still awaiting development. The third element is arms decommissioning by the MILF. This process is defined as the activities aimed at facilitating the transition of the insurgent forces to a productive civilian life. An Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) is in charge of registering the MILF’s members and weapons, and planning the phases of collecting, transporting and storing weapons. 4 There is as yet no agreement among the parties on the final destination of the weapons decommissioned by the insurgency, and they will be temporarily stockpiled in containers and subject to joint supervision by the insurgency and security forces under international coordination. The MILF has committed to total decommissioning to be undertaken in phases conditioned on the implementation of the agreements, as described in the following table:


The Agreement on Normalisation established a time frame of two years to complete the process. The fourth and last security-related element affects the armed forces, who have committed to carrying out a repositioning to help facilitate peace and coexistence. This repositioning will be based on a joint evaluation of the security conditions.

Other normalisation-related elements

A Joint Normalisation Committee will coordinate the overall normalisation process. In terms of financing, the government will assume the responsibility to supply the funds necessary to sustain the process, while the MILF has the right to procure and manage additional funds. A Joint Peace and Security Committee has overall responsibility for the supervision of all security-related matters of normalisation until the full deployment of the new Bangsamoro Police.

On the operative side, Joint Peace and Security Teams (comprising members of the armed forces, police and the MILF) will handle law and order in the areas agreed by the parties. In parallel, the existing mechanisms for ceasefire verification will remain operative (the Coordi - nation Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities, the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) to combat crime in MILF areas and the IMT).

The Agreement on Normalisation does not refer to the MILF cantonments because this point was discussed in the framework of the 1997 bilateral ceasefire agreement. After intense debates the parties identified major and satellite camps where the combatants and their relatives had a stable presence and formed rural communities. There was no registry of members of these communities or their weapons, and free individual movement is allowed. The agreement also established that any movement of troops – by the insurgency or security forces – should be coordinated with the other party. A special agreement (the AHJAG) allows the police to maintain public order in MILF-controlled areas in prior coordination with the MILF.

The state performs its administrative duties under normal conditions in the whole territory. A difference from the Final Agreement reached with the MNLF in 1996 is that this agreement does not provide for the integration of MILF combatants into the security forces, except for the new autonomous police. In terms of de-mining, in 2002 the MILF adhered to the Geneva Call against the use of anti-personnel mines.

In 2010 the government and MILF agreed to allow the Philippines Campaign against Land Mines to conduct civic education and the identification and destruction of unexploded ordnance. Enabling factors for the peace process First and foremost, both parties have long acknowledged the limits of armed confrontation. In 2000 the government broke off the ceasefire to launch “all-out-war”, which led to the MILF’s military defeat in just four months. However, both the government and the security forces realised that the root causes of the problem were not resolved and that the Muslim population retained an unbroken determination to fight for its identity and dignity. From the perspective of the insurgency, since its creation the MILF recognised that armed victory was not possible, and instead focused on the primacy of peace negotiations.

More recently, the reformist government of Benigno Aquino promoted a change in the country’s military doctrine (AFP, 2010) in the framework of its commitment to resolve internal armed conflicts and deal with the growing geopolitical challenges resulting from China’s emergence as a regional power. The new objective is no longer to “win the war”, but to “win the peace”, and the new doctrine emphasises the establishment of relations of trust with the communities affected by the conflict. The overall goal is the liberation of human and financial resources previously devoted to the internal confrontation in order to be able to better deal with external threats. Interestingly, the parties have also understood the limits of peace negotiations. Both the government and the insurgency admit that the reforms needed to acknowledge and respect the way of life and history of the Muslim and indigenous peoples demand a wide national consensus.

The problems that hampered the implementation of past peace agreements highlight the need for a collective ownership of the peace process and its results by society. For this reason both parties have engaged in intensive consultations with the social, academic, political and institutional sectors with the double objective of strengthening the process with the inputs of those who support it, and listening and responding to the concerns of those who are more sceptical and potentially opposed to the negotiations. On several occasions the MILF has gathered hundreds of thousands of followers in huge conventions to ratify the decisions of its Central Committee.

Apart from these consultation processes, the government and the insurgency have included civil society members in their teams and on several occasions have invited civil society delegates and members of Congress to witness the negotiations. The parties also agreed on the participation of civil society in several of the bodies involved in the implementation of the agreements, notably the TPMT. These institutional efforts towards inclusion are largely a response to the pressures of an organised civil society that has relentlessly promoted peacebuilding initiatives parallel to the negotiations. These initiatives include the creation of peace zones, inter-religious dialogues, capacity-building in the theory and practice of conflict resolution, the consolidation of citizen agendas, lobbying the armed actors, and the creation of ceasefire monitoring mechanisms such as the Bantay Ceasefire or the Civil Protection Component of the IMT. Some additional elements help explain the progress of the negotiations:

• The parties’ pragmatism and realism: The insurgency abandoned the objective of total independence in the context of negotiations, while the country’s various governments have all recognised the existence of the root causes of the conflict and committed to a solution based on dialogue.

• Confidence-building measures: The lengthy bilateral ceasefire contributed to building trust between the insurgency and military and police commanders, including at the personal level. This trust is currently the main guarantor that there will be no relapse into armed confrontation. Furthermore, both parties recognise nternational humanitarian law and international human rights treaties (on the recruitment of child soldiers, the prohibition of the use of anti-personnel mines, etc.)These factors have been fundamental in reducing the levels of confrontation and generating trust between the parties and civil society.

• Strengthening of capacities: Both the government and the MILF are well aware of the problems that emerged during the implementation of the 1996 agreement with
the MNLF. The parties therefore decided early on to strengthen the capacity of the MILF to manage civil institutions: in 2002 they created the Bangsamoro Development Agency and in 2009 the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute, both led by the MILF.

Additional highlights

The main peacebuilding developments in the Philippines emerged during the presidency of Fidel Ramos (1992-98). Ramos was a retired general who had been chief of staff of the armed forces during the Marcos dictatorship as well as during the first democratic government, i.e. of President Corazón Aquino. In 1992 Ramos promoted an ambitious process of national dialogue (Coronel-Ferrer, 2002) for the drawing up of a national peace policy. The result of this consultation was a conceptual framework that identified the structural problems affecting the country and defined “six paths to peace”.

The conceptual framework emphasises negotiations between the government and the insurgency as one of the paths to peace, but states that a peace process must necessarily be wider and more inclusive than mere peace negotiations. This innovative national peace policy has coexisted for years in contrast to (and in conflict with) a classic national security doctrine focused on defeating the internal enemy. In 2003 a crisis in negotiations and the return of violent incidents mobilised civil society to promote an initiative of its own to verify the ceasefire, known as the Bantay Ceasefire.

The network was composed of around 200 voluntary members and, despite the financial constraints it faced, became an essential complement to the formal verification commissions, receiving the appreciation of both parties. An additional element is the outstanding role played by women in the peace process. The Philippines is possibly the country with the best implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Teresita Deles holds the position of presidential adviser for peace, while Miriam Coronel was the first woman to lead a negotiating team that eventually signed a peace agreement. Women have also led the legal advisory teams of both the government and the MILF. Similar to other contexts, women in the Philippines have a wide presence and leadership role in civil society, with Muslim and indigenous women playing a fundamental role (Herbolzheimer, 2013; Conciliation Resources, 2015).

Implementation challenges

In spite of the positive developments, the implementation of the peace agreement is facing multiple obstacles. The first limiting factor is time. During the negotiation of the Framework Agreement (2012) the government man - aged to link the transitional period to the end of the presidential term in May 2016. But the negotiating teams have not been able to keep up the agreed pace of negotiation and implementation. As a result, the parties will have to agree to an extension of the implementation period. Responsibility for the delay is shared. On the one hand, the insurgency lacks enough qualified and reliable/trustworthy personnel to take on all the responsibilities derived from the transition.

On the other hand, the government negotiating team has to deal with limited buy-in on both the agreement and its implementation by other sectors of the bureaucracy. At the same time Congress has been dragging its feet in enacting the peace agreements into law, while the judiciary must still assess whether the agreements comply with the constitution. There is a high risk that these two state institutions will raise issues that may further block the implementation of the agreements that have been signed.

Furthermore, in the Philippines, prejudice against Muslims – a heritage from the colonial period – still runs deep. With less than a year remaining until the country’s presidential and legislative elections (May 2016), some prominent politicians and media outlets are turning to populist rhetoric to antagonise public opinion against the peace process. Even among better-intentioned political actors, a lack of knowledge about the social, political, and cultural reality of the insurgency in particular and the Muslim population in general results in faulty diagnoses and mistaken responses.

Successive governments have associated the Moro problem with poverty and economic marginalisation, thus neglecting the relevance of identity and parity of esteem. On its part, the insurgency has been unable to articulate a political discourse that the whole country can understand and endorse. Only after patient dialogue have the peace negotiators deconstructed some of these erroneous imaginaries, but both the Christian and Muslim sectors of society still distrust each other.

The main security-related problem is the proliferation of arms and armed groups. One reason is that holding weapons is legal in the Philippines. Related to this, successive governments have failed in their attempts to disband paramilitary groups run by local politicians. There is also a proliferation of additional armed groups, which can be classified into three categories: an MILF breakaway group that is sceptical about the government’s political commitment (the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters); extremist cells linked to international extremist violence (Abu Sayyaf, Jemaa Islamiyah); and ordinary criminal organisations. Other difficulties are inherent to any process of transition from war to peace. Apart from political will, the government needs to prove its capacity to transform words into deeds, which has historically proved to be a challenge. In parallel, the insurgency needs a radical paradigm shift from a semi-clandestine military structure to a social and political movement – a terrain in which it has limited experience and where to some extent it is at a disadvan - tage compared to more established political actors.

Lessons learned for other peace processes

Each peace process responds to a specific conflict that emerges for concrete reasons and in concrete circumstances (social, political, cultural and temporal). However, comparative analysis is fundamental in every peace process. Some of the lessons from the Philippines could be relevant to other contexts:

• Peace is not a product, but a process. The transformative capacity of a peace agreement and its sustainability over time depend on its legitimacy, which in turn is dependent on the extent that social, political and economic actors feel a sense of ownership of the deliberative process leading to the peace agreements and their implementation.

• Negotiations are just one among multiple paths to peace. In parallel to the negotiations between the government and the insurgency, other dialogue processes must build or restore relations between sectors of society that have been or remained divided during the armed conflict. This is essential to achieving the social, political, economic and cultural transformations needed to overcome a protracted armed conflict.

• The current context demands efforts to facilitate the participation of historically excluded sectors such as women, victims and ethnic communities. Including these sectors greatly contributes to raising the international legitimacy of a peace process.

• The crises that emerge during negotiations are also opportunities to improve the mechanisms that support the talks.

• A government involved in a peace process must include the legislature and take into account the perceptions of the judiciary before the signing of an agreement. Constitutional amendments are the best guarantee to consolidate a country’s structural transformation.

• Giving an insurgency the opportunity to transform itself into a political movement free of coercion and threats is the best guarantee of the non-recurrence of armed conflict. Such an evolution can be enhanced by preventing the potential social and political isolation of the insurgency, as well as agreeing on transitional measures for the political participation of the insurgency before it can compete on equal terms with more established political movements.

• The decommissioning of arms by the insurgency, and the repositioning and reform of the government security sector are gradual and interdependent processes that contribute to confidence-building. The insurgency is aware that the hard-earned legitimacy it has gained as a peace actor can be lost with just one mistake in the management of its weapons, or if it does not allow the state to be fully present and perform its social, administrative and public order duties in the whole territory.

• The implementation of a peace agreement can be as difficult as the negotiations. In the Philippines, this has been managed through the creation of hybrid agreement implementation bodies that allow the joint and complementary work of national and international, civil and military, institutional and civil society actors.

• The implementation of a peace agreement implies an asymmetric power relationship that is favourable to the state. If an insurgent movement does not comply with the agreement, it loses legitimacy. If the state does not comply, the insurgency has limited means to apply pressure because a return to armed conflict is not an option.

• The international community plays a decisive role in accompanying and supporting the peace process. But its role is always secondary and does not replace national leadership. The agenda for negotiations, the time line, the design of consultations, the terms of reference for international support, and other fundamental elements of a peace process are exclusively in the hands of national actors.


AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). 2010. Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan”. IPSP%20Bayanihan.pdf

Annex on Normalisation. 2014. - ization.pdf

Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. 2014. PH_140327_ComprehensiveAgreementBangsamoro.pdf

Conciliation Resources. 2015. “Operationalizing women’s ‘meaningful participation’ in the Bangsamoro . ” meaningful-participation-bangsamoro

Coronel-Ferrer, M. 2002. “Philippines National Unification Commission: national consultations and the ‘six paths to peace’.” In C. Barnes, ed. Owning the Process: Civil Society in Peace Processes . London: Conciliation Resources.

Fisas, V. 2015. Yearbook on Peace Processes . Barcelona: Icaria. - cesos/15anuarii.pdf

Herbolzheimer, K. 2013. “Muslim women in peace processes: reflections for dialogue in Mindanao.” - cesses-reflections-dialogue-mindanao

Human Security Report Project. 2012. Human Security Report 2012. HSR2012/HSRP2012_Chapter%206.pdf

Independent Commission on Policing. 2015. Policing for the Bangsamoro . April 14th.

Unpublished report commissioned by the peace panels of the government of the Philippines and the MILF. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). 2015.
2015 Human Development Report: Rethinking Work for Human Development . work-for-human-development

For more information on issues and events that shape our world, please visit the ISN Blog and browse our resources.

[Kristian Herbolzheimer has more than 15 years of experience in peacebuilding affairs, first as the director of the Colombia Programme at the School for a Culture of Peace in Barcelona, and since 2009 as director of the Colombia and Philippines programmes at Conciliation Resources.]

]This article was originally published by NOREF on 2 December 2015.]

57th Infantry Battalion completes retraining course for battalion of excellence

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 17): 57th Infantry Battalion completes retraining course for battalion of excellence

About 60 officers and men of the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion have completed its Battalion of Excellence (BOE) training program in a ceremonial graduation at the division battalion retraining facility here on Wednesday.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commanding general, was the guest of honor and speaker of the graduation ceremonies held at Camp Lucero, the headquarters of the 602nd Infantry Brigade where the 57th IB belonged.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th ID spokesperson, said the training which started on October 1 involved intelligence operations training, mortar gunnery, live fire on mortar and crew-served weapons, rifle marksmanship training, proper utilization and maintenance of communications, electronics and information (CEIS) equipment, physical fitness test, squad and platoon run, and field training exercises.

Speaking to the troops, Major General Pangilinan said that he was pleased of what the soldiers of 57IB had become and he is certain that the soldiers are ready to be deployed wherever the Army takes them.

“Let us not be contended with mediocre output, I urge everyone to work for excellent yield and make sure we win first before we go to war rather than we go to battle and seek to win,” Pangilinan said.

The training program intends to develop the performance of the infantry battalions in a combat capacity to perform the tasks and operations across the different mission areas projected to operate.

It is under the functional supervision of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training (G8) of the Philippine Army and administered by the Land Warfare Center of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command based in Camp O’Donell, Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Capas, Tarlac.

Pangilinan said similar training will be provided to other units under the 6th ID's operational and administrative areas in the provinces of Maguindanao, part of North Cotabato and part of Sultan Kudarat.

Military fatalities in Basilan clash with Abu Sayyaf identified

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 17): Military fatalities in Basilan clash with Abu Sayyaf identified

The Western Mindanao Command has released the names of the three soldiers killed in a firefight with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Al-Barka town, Basilan province.

Major Filemon Tan, WMC spokesperson, on Thursday identified the fatalities as Capt. Vincent Cordero, 8th Scout Ranger Company commander; Pfc. Marctan Tirambulo, of the 1st Scout Ranger Company and Staff Sgt. Jesus Tuting, of the Marine Special Operation Group.

All three were killed during Tuesday's clash during an operation to neutralize the ASG in Al-Barka which started Monday.

In the same encounter, 13 troopers were hurt while an estimated 15 bandits were killed and another seven wounded.

A major ASG base was also captured in the clash.

Bandit casualty reports are based on intelligence reports, Tan stressed.

Tan said focused military operations will continue with other units relieving exhausted formations.

Units involved in the offensive include troopers from the 104th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 4th Special Forces Battalion, Marine Special Operations Group, and 12th Light Armor Cavalry.

Soldiers on alert after Panay attacks

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 16): Soldiers on alert after Panay attacks

ILOILO CITY—Government troops have been placed on heightened alert following a series of attacks by suspected communist rebels in Capiz and Iloilo provinces.

But the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade dismissed the offensives in Igbaras and San Joaquin towns in Iloilo and Maayon town in Capiz as “isolated and just a show of force.”

“[The attacks] are part of their efforts to prove that they are still here,” Col. Eric Uchida, commander of the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade, which covers internal security operations on Panay Island, told the Inquirer.

Six soldiers, a policeman and a civilian were wounded in the three attacks staged separately in the two towns. Millions of pesos worth of heavy equipment and military vehicles were destroyed or damaged.

Armed men believed to be New People’s Army (NPA) rebels exploded an improvised bomb while a Toyota Hi-Lux police patrol vehicle was passing by in Barangay Tuburan in Maayon about 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Capiz provincial police.

They fired at the two policemen onboard, identified as PO1 Rene Villa and PO1 Manuel Cobrador of the Provincial Public Safety Company. The lawmen managed to get off the vehicle and fire back, but Villa was hit by glass fragments in the right eye, according to the police report.

At 8 p.m. on the same day, about 20 suspected rebels burned two military trucks and several pieces of heavy equipment used in the construction of a mini hydropower plant project in Barangays Passi and Igcabugao in Igbaras.

The equipment, owned by a private firm, Century Peak, included seven dump trucks and three backhoes.

The attackers tied up the security guards at the site and took away their service firearms—a shotgun and a .38 cal. revolver.

In a statement, Uchida condemned the burning of heavy equipment as an “atrocity” and part of the rebels’ “extortion campaign.”

About 3:50 a.m. on Monday, armed men detonated an improvised land mine along the national highway in San Joaquin as two trucks, carrying soldiers of the Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion, passed by on their way to Antique province.

The soldiers managed to disembark from the trucks and fire back.

Six soldiers suffered minor shrapnel wounds. They were identified as Sgt. Jose Duello, Cpl. Christopher Mondaya, and Privates First Class Rex Sencil, Danton Lim, Joemar Cardona and Jesrey Arca.

A civilian, identified as Bryan Servano, was also hurt.

The casualties were brought to Pedro Trono Memorial District Hospital in Guimbal town in Iloilo.

Uchida dismissed the attacks as related to the arrest of Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, alleged head of the Panay regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, by police and military intelligence agents in a raid on a rented house in Iloilo on Aug. 1.

'Reds' burn jeepney after driver refused to pay for protection

From the Philippine Star (Dec 16): 'Reds' burn jeepney after driver refused to pay for protection

Suspected members of the New People's Army burn a passenger jeepney in Koronadal City earlier this week. Bing Maps

KORONADAL CITY, Philippines  — Authorities tightened security in Barangay San Roque here following Monday's burning of a passenger jeep by guerillas of the New People's Army after its owner refused to shell out "protection money."

The arson suspects, disguised as passengers and armed with pistols, ordered the driver, Rey Cano, to pull over, herded passengers at one side of the road connecting Barangay San Roque to the city proper and burned the vehicle using kerosene from containers kept in their bags.

The gunmen introduced themselves as members of the New People's Army and told the beleaguered passengers the arson attack was a consequence of the vehicle owner's having refused to shell out "protection money" on a regular basis.

Cano said the owner of the jeepney he worked for has persistently been rejecting monetary demands of the NPA.

Cano said the gunmen escaped towards a nearby banana plantation when they sensed that responding barangay officials and community watchmen were closing in.

NPA raising permit-to-campaign fees on top pols such as Pacquiao — Army report

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 16): NPA raising permit-to-campaign fees on top pols such as Pacquiao — Army report

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The New People’s Army (NPA) has been trying to collect more permit-to-campaign and access fees from such national candidates as senators, including Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao, a military official, who has received intelligence reports, said.

But Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th Infantry Division based in Compostela Valley – one of the remaining NPA strongholds in Southern Mindanao, said they have still been trying to validate the reports.

Valencia said the military has also been trying to ascertain “whether the negotiations for the permit-to-campaign fees for senatorial bets are being done at the regional level or at the national level.”
“It is very likely that they will have a hard time if they have to negotiate it by region,” he said, without specifying how much the NPA wanted from those running for national elective posts.

But Valencia said based on documents the military has recently seized, the NPA has not increased the access and permit-to-campaign fees for local politicians.

“They are almost the same as the amount they tried to collect in 2013,” he said. “This is the latest, and the current rate, which is more or less the same as the rate they imposed in 2013,” he added.

For governors, the NPA collects permit to campaign fees of P1.5 million, according to Valencia.  For those running for congress, the PTC fee ranges from P300,000 to P500,000; for those running for city mayor, a PTC of P50,000 to P300,000; for vice governor, a PTC of P50,000; for town mayors P25,000 to P50,000; while for those running for board member, P10,000 to P30,000.

“We are intensifying our security operations to prevent the NPA from conducting their activities, but the threat of the PTC is very real,” Valencia said.

Malaysian Shopkeeper Turned Bomb Maker Believed Killed In Philippines

From the Malaysian Digest (Dec 16): Malaysian Shopkeeper Turned Bomb Maker Believed Killed In Philippines

Pic: Bukit Aman

One of the four known Malaysian fugitives currently hiding out in southern Philippines has reportedly been killed by government forces in a military attack on Tuesday.
According to initial media reports, the Malaysian could be Mohd Najib Hussein, 38, alias Abu Anas, a former photostat shop owner who became a key member of former University of Malaya professor Dr. Mahmud Ahmad IS-affiliated Black Flag cell, Philippines local English daily reports.
The group which also included Selayang council worker Muhammad Joraimee, 39 as well as Sabahans Mohd Amin Baco, 31, and Jeknal Adil have been hiding out with the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines since escaping Malaysian authorities in July last year when they fled the country.
The Philippine military has identified them as bomb makers using the Abu Sayyaf hideouts in Basilan and Jolo islands as base for IS operatives in Southeast Asia.
"Although no official confirmation was available from the initial intelligence report as the bodies of those killed was not recovered, Filipino sources said a Malaysian terrorist involved in running a “IED SME” (Improvised Explosive Device, Small Medium Enterprise) factory was in the area of the Abu Sayyaf lair during Tuesday’s military attack," the report states.
News reports place the clash between the Abu Sayyaf bandits and government military foreces at 5pm on Tuesday which also killed two soldiers and injured another ten in what was the third day of fighting between the Abu Sayyaf and government troops composed of the Scout Rangers and the Philippine Marines.
“It has been ongoing for three day. It was on Tuesday that the major skirmishes happened.
“It was an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group. It is a focused military operation.
"Prior to this, there was an intelligence operation that led to the identification of the ASG lair,” Major Filemon Tan, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command said.
Tan said combined elements of the 104th Army Brigade, the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 4th Special Forces Battalion, Marine Special Operations Group and the 12th Light Armor Cavalry, were conducting “focused operation” against a suspected Abu Sayyaf encampment in Barangay Macalang when they clashed with a still undetermined number of bandits, reports.
However, no bodies have been recovered by the authorities yet and official confirmation of the Malaysian's death is still pending.

AFP still validating reports that Malaysian bomber was killed in Basilan ops vs Abu Sayyaf

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 16): AFP still validating reports that Malaysian bomber was killed in Basilan ops vs Abu Sayyaf

The military here on Wednesday said it was still validating the reported killing of a Malaysian bomb-maker during the series of clashes in Basilan that started Sunday.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), admitted having received a similar report but was cautious as “Filipinos and Malaysians have the same features.”

“Unless we have the body and enough evidence in order for us to make any conclusion” he said.

The alleged killing of the Malaysian bomb-maker was reported by the Malaysian news outfit The Star on its website. It identified the suspect as Mohd Najib Hussein, 38, alias Abu Anas.

The report said a “Malaysian shopkeeper-turned-bomb-maker associated with the Islamic State (IS) is suspected to be among 13 Abu Sayyaf gunmen killed in a clash with the Philippine military on Basilan island.”

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hernando Iriberri refused to confirm the number of Abu Sayyaf casualties in the clashes.

He even declined to confirm reports that foreign terrorists were involved in the encounters.

At least three soldiers – including an officer with a rank of captain, were killed in the clashes that took place in Albarka town.

Iriberri visited the wounded troops on Wednesday and pinned medals on them. He also gave them some cash.

Iriberri said he was saddened over the deaths of the three soldiers, whom he did not name.

“As the father of the AFP, it’s painful to lose a child but this is part of our role. This is part of our oath,” he said.

Sison: Parangal kay Ka Greg Rivera (Kudos to Comrade Greg Rivera)

Posted to the Jose Maria Sison Website (Dec 15): Parangal kay Ka Greg Rivera (Kudos to Comrade Greg Rivera)


Ni Jose Maria Sison
Tagapangulong Tagapagtatag ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas at Punong Konsultant ng Pambansa Demokratikong Prente ng Pilipinas
Disyembre 15, 2015

Taos puso kong binabati ang dakilang kasama, si Tatang Greg Rivera, sa okasyon ng kanyang ika-79 na kaarawan nitong Disyembre 15. Kasama ako sa mga kasamang sumasaludo at nagpaparangal sa iyo dahil sa iyong mahaba at mabungang serbisyo sa kilusang magsasaka sa balangkas ng pambansa at panlipunang pagpapalaya.

Abot sa aking kaalaman na kalahok ka sa pagsisimula ng AMC o Aguman Dareng Manglalautang Capampangan (1984) na sa kalaunan naging binhi ng pagkakatatag ng AMGL o Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson noong 1985. At ito naman ang naging buod ng binuong KMP o Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Hindi ka nasindak ng Mendiola Massacre ng Enero 1987 kundi naging lalong palaban ka at naging pultaym ka.

Ayaw tanggapin ng iyong pamilya ang pagkilos mo. Subalit ipinaggumiit mo ang pagkilos. At naging pinakamalaking sakripisyo mo ang mawalay sa pamilya. Hindi ka natinag ng krisis sa pamilya at lalong higit sa krisis mismo sa loob ng kilusan sa Gitnang Luson. Magiting na lumahok ka sa kilusang pagwawasto at lumaban ka sa Oplan Bantay Laya 1 at 2. Patuloy na lumalaban ka sa kasalukuyang Oplan Bayanihan.

Naging pangunahing pamilya mo ang mga kasama sa AMGL. Naging segundaryo ang iyong tunay na pamilya sa dugo. Si Ka Joseph Canlas (Tagapangulo ng AMGL) ang parang panganay na anak mo. Sa umpisa pa lamang, maraming kasama ang naging anak mo at lalo pang dumami ang mga ito at mga apo mo sa pagdaan ng panahon.

Gayunpaman, hindi ka nagpabaya at nagkulang sa pagsisikap na ipaunawa at ipatanggap sa iyong mga tunay na anak ang iyong mga tungkulin at gawain. Bunga nito, sinusuportahan ka ng mga anak sa abot ng kanilang makakaya.

Humahanga ako sa iyo Tang Greg sa iyong determinasyon na kikilos ka hangga’t may natitira ka pang lakas, gaano man kaliit na ang kaya mong gawin dahil sa abanteng edad. Maligaya kang patuloy na nakakapag-ambag pa rin sa kilusang magsasaka sa rehiyon. Alam kong gumagampan ka pa ng mahalagang tungkulin bilang Finance Officer ng AMGL.

Wasto ang diwa at kapasyahan moTang Greg na manilbihan sa uring magsasaka hanggang huling hininga. Nagpapasalamat kaming lahat sa mga gawa at ambag mo sa mahabang panahon. At tutularan namin ang iyong katatagan at maningning na halimbawang pamana sa kasalukuyang henerasyon at sa susunod pa.

Mabuhay ka Tatang Greg Rivera!

Mabuhay ang AMGL at KMP!

Mabuhay ang uring magsasaka at sambayanang Pilipino!

ABIDE BY THEIR PROMISE // AFP on CPP Declaration of Christmas Ceasefire

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 15): ABIDE BY THEIR PROMISE // AFP on CPP Declaration of Christmas Ceasefire

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) The CPP declaration of a ceasefire from 23 December 2015 until 03 January 2016 is unilateral. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) hope that the CPP, and their armed unit the NPAs, will strictly abide by this self-declared ceasefire and will live up to their promise of non-violent and peaceful holidays for the Filipino and their members.

AFP-PNP law enforcement operations and AFP focused military operations against threat groups in the country will continue until the Philippine government announces a halt to them for the Christmas season.

The AFP wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas holidays so that our own soldiers can go home and be with their families and love ones. Every year, we always aim to give every Filipino a peaceful Yuletide that is devoid of any violent and untoward incidents which might disrupt the solemnity and joy of the season. PAO AFP / MCAG

LOVE AND CARE // Former NPA Rebels in Bukidnon Get Christmas Gift from CLIP

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 15): LOVE AND CARE // Former NPA Rebels in Bukidnon Get Christmas Gift from CLIP

MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (DWDD)18 former NPA rebels coming from Guerilla Front 34, Guerilla Front 4B, Guerilla Front 6 and Section Committee 89 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee received their livelihood assistance amounting to Php 65,000.00 from the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), during a simple ceremony in Veranda, Casisang, Malaybalay City, December 15, 2015.

The CLIP committee of Bukidnon conducted the activity after a series of consultations and validation among said former rebels who surrendered to the government due to their disgruntlement on false NPA promises. It is notable that all of the 18 beneficiaries are members of the Indigenous Peoples or Lumads coming from the Umayamnen, Higaonon, and Talaandig tribes of Bukidnon
Jonathan Nacar, a former member of Guerilla Front 4B of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, has expressed his gratefulness to the government for the additional support.

Jonathan recently received his AFP Guns for Peace remuneration amounting to Php 52,200.00 last July 13, 2015 in Impasugong, Bukidnon, when he surrendered an AK-47 rifle. “Grabe jud ang akoang kalipay sa dugang nga kantidad nga nadawat nako karon. Malipayon kaming mga kanhing rebelde kauban usab sa amoang pamilya. Wala gayud ko masayop sa akoang desisyon nga nag-surrender ko sa atoang kasundaluhan sa 8IB. Tinuod gayud ang tanang saad sa atoang gobyerno ug sa kasundaluhan, taliwala sa mga propaganda sa NPA. Busa sa akoang mga kaigsoonan nga nagpabilin pa gihapon sa armadong pakigbisog sa NPA, pakanaog na kamo ug magkahiusa kita sa dalan sa kalinaw.” (I am extremely happy for this additional amount that I have received today. We, together with the other former rebels, are so happy with this as well as our families. I really made the right decision when I surrendered to the soldiers of the 8th Infantry Battalion. Contrary to the propaganda of the NPA, the government’s promises are indeed true. That is why I am encouraging my brothers who are still with the NPA to go down and join us as we walk the road to peace.) says Jonathan.

Jonathan Nacar together with the other former NPA rebels who benefitted from CLIP are also beneficiaries of the Pilot Organic Farm (Arm to Farm) Program of the 8th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, the LGU of Impasugong, Bukidnon and the DILG-Bukidnon.

In his statement, LTC LENNON G BABILONIA INF (GSC) PA, Commanding Officer of the 8th Infantry Battalion, said “We are very delighted that finally, our brothers were given their livelihood assistance, just in time for the Christmas season this year. Indeed, God showers His divine blessing to people who walk the path of peace. I enjoin our brothers who are still with the NPA, especially the Lumads, to lay down their arms and surrender to the folds of the law so that they may benefit from the same program. It is time for us to unite and end the violence that we have been experiencing for almost 48 years now. Let’s all work together for peace.” CMO 8IB / MCAG


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Dec 16): SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT // CRSAFP gained recognition for AFPTRIP


Quezon City, DWDD– In behalf of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, BGen. Joselito E. Kakilala, AFP received a plaque of recognition during the AFP Governance Exposition 2015 at the Dimalupig Hall, AFPCOC yesterday.

As part of the 80th founding anniversary celebration of the AFP and in line with the theme ‘Expanding the Governance Culture: Impact in Transforming Organizations’, the given award, presented by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, is a symbol of showing the AFP’s appreciation in the efforts of the CRSAFP in initiating their part on the journey towards the genuine transformation and reform of governance in their own organization.

CRS is the only AFPSWSSUs unit who achieved the AFPTRIP Compliant Status alongside other different bodies some of them were the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy.
In his speech, AFP Chief Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri said that governance is a shared responsibility so he expressed his gratitude to all the awardees and their respective organizations.

He reminded all the military officials who were present during the event that whatever it is needed can be done, especially if it is for the betterment of their service to the people.

Military ratchets up pressure vs NPA after landmine blasts

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 16): Military ratchets up pressure vs NPA after landmine blasts

THE MILITARY has intensified its offensives against the New People’s Army after a series of attacks that killed four and wounded 19 soldiers in Davao City and Compostela Valley since last week.

Officers also raised the the alert status as the NPA will celebrate its anniversary this coming Dec. 26.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines declared a ceasefire that will take effect starting Dec. 23 until Jan. 3.

“This ceasefire order is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays,” the order posted on the National Democratic Front of the Philippines website said. “This will also enable the revolutionary forces to carry out mass assemblies and public demonstrations to mark the 47th anniversary of the CPP and celebrate revolutionary victories of the past year.”

Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerero, commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, told reporters yesterday in a press conference held at Royal Mandaya Hotel that they have already directed their troops to be on high alert.

“Traditionally, the NPA has been highlighting their anniversary with tactical offensives in Eastern Mindanao area,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of 10th Infantry Division, said that additional troops were already deployed to Mabini town in Compostela Valley to secure the area following the series of landmine attacks.

“We are encouraging the rebels to go home to spend Christmas with their family,” Valencia said.

One soldier was killed and four others were wounded in a landmine blast planted by New People’s Army rebels in Paquibato District last week. Meanwhile, another two were killed in separate attack in Mabini, Compostela over the weekend.

The first blast occurred around 12 noon on Thursday when soldiers from Bravo Company under the 69th Infantry Battalion, were checking reported presence of armed men under Ka Jiares of GF 56 and Pulang Bagani Command 1 at Sitio Kialaw, Barangay Malabog.

The casualty was identified as Pfc. Johnhill Victor Alarcon, while Cpl. Ramil Aquino suffered shrapnel wounds.

The cadaver of Alarcon, who hailed from Iloilo City, is currently at Villa Funeral Parlor in Panabo City, while Aquino is undergoing medical treatment at Camp Panacan Station Hospital.

The second blast occured when soldiers from Charlie Company, 69th IB, were pursuing the fleeing NPAs in Sitio Bal-ong, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District around 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

Three soldiers, one officer and two enlisted personnel, were hit by gunshots and shrapnel wounds but managed to survive the blast. They were immediately transported to the hospital for medical treatment.

The wounded soldiers were identified as 2Lt. Earl Jun Atucha, Sgt. Maynard de Guzman and Cpl. Allan Paul Salvador.

The soldiers recovered live ammunitions for M14 and M16 rifles, empty shells of assorted high-powered firearms, 150-meter electrical wire and several personal belongings from the NPAs.

“We share the grief of the family of Pfc Alarcon who paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving our country and people,” Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of 10th Infantry Division, said in a statement.

“We will continue our efforts against the NPAs and we will not let them continue to use Davao City as their sanctuary while they sow terror against the people,” he added.

Soldiers from 69th Infantry Battalion are now pursuing the fleeing NPAs.

Meanwhile, in Barangay Cabuyoan, Mabini in Compostela Valley, a soldier and government militia were killed, and 14 others wounded, in a landmine blast at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Unfortunately, another civilian was killed in the explosion.

Help us vs NPA

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 16): Help us vs NPA

Lumads beg gov’t agencies into addressing insurgency in IP areas

AT LEAST 700 Lumads from different tribes in the region staged simultaneous protest rallies in front of government offices for alleged inaction on the alleged abuses committed by the New People’s Army.

Ubo-Manobo Datu Manuel Lawingan of Marilog District said that the statements of the activists regarding the militarization and hamletting by the military on Lumad villages are not true.

He also insisted that it’s the communist rebels who are the ones occupying communities and manipulating some Lumads into supporting their cause.

“The NPA is responsible for the hardships of the tribal communities,” he said, adding that the National Democratic Front has been recruiting their children into fighting for the armed wing.

“That’s the reason why our children could not get the proper education because they are being sweet-talked into joining the NPA for a better future,” he added.

The group of lumads protested in front of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Justice (DOJ), Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and in the UCCP Haran, where about 660 individuals have been seeking temporary shelter.

“The demand of the Lumads at Haran for the military to pull out of the villages is wrong because the military is not the one harassing the communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Geroncio R. Aguio, regional director of the NCIP-XI, said that in attaining peace and declaring indigenous communities across the country as “peace zones” means pulling out the military troops, the NPA and dismantling paramilitary groups.

“We are calling on both the military and the NPA to declare the ancestral domains as ‘peace zones’ but both of them are not heeding,” Aguio added.

“There are some who will visit the office to complain but when we ask them to formalize their complaints so we can give the proper resolution, they can’t answer our questions properly,” he said.

In April last year, hundreds of Lumads from Davao del Norte fled to the city and demanded the pullout of military troops stationed to fend off an insurgency, dating back decades, to the hinterlands.

The Lumads went home when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte mediated and warned the military against entering the communities.

But a year later, indigenous families again sought the sanctuary of the city claiming that their schools have become the battleground in the anti-insurgency campaign of the military.

However, Lt. Vergel Lacambra, former information officer of 10th infantry Division, dismissed the allegations.

“There is no truth in allegations,” said Lacambra, adding that “The Municipal Tribal Council of Elders memorandums for the closure of Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in Talaingod dated 25 April 2015 and 04 May 2015 have affirmed the perilous teachings of the school to the pupils.”

During the public inquiry conducted by the CHR central office in September, the Lumad leaders, who were sheltering in Haran, demanded that the military should pull out of their communities, and disband the paramilitary group Alamara.

They claimed Lumad that the paramilitary groups were allowed to run rampant on the communities in support to the government’s counter-insurgency campaign. They accused the Alamara of perpetrating killings in their area while the military looked the other way.

Of the total 809 individuals temporarily taking refuge in the UCCP Haran compound, only 660 individuals are now left after 149 individual decided to return to their communities in Bukidnon.

Philippine clash leaves 12 military casualties (Photos)

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 16): Philippine clash leaves 12 military casualties (Photos)




Military casualties are loaded in a helicopter in the restive province of Basilan, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines in these library pictures following fierce clashes in Al-Barka town. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

At least a dozen soldiers were killed and injured in a clash Tuesday with suspected rebels in Basilan province in the strife-torn Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City has confirmed the fighting and said 2 soldiers were slain and that 10 more had been wounded in the clashes in the village of Macalang in Al-Barka town.

The town is one of known strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf rebels and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed an interim peace deal with Manila last year.

No other details were made available by the military, saying, the operation was continuing in the restive province where Abu Sayyaf rebels are believed to be coddling Malaysian and Indonesian militants linked to ISIS.

The military operation involved forces from the army’s 104th Infantry Brigade – 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 4th Special Forces Battalion, Marine Special Operations Group, and 12th Light Armor Cavalry.

It was unknown if the MILF was actively involved in the clashes, but it previously fought side by side with the Abu Sayyaf against security forces in Basilan, a known bastion of local terrorist groups blamed for deadly bombing in the province and nearby Zamboanga City.

The province is also being used by the Abu Sayyaf rebels to hide foreigners and Filipinos they kidnapped from other areas in southern Philippines. Many innocent victims of the Abu Sayyaf had been killed and beheaded in the restive province of Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga.