Tuesday, July 11, 2017

10 Reds pardoned

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): 10 Reds pardoned

President Rodrigo Duterte has granted pardon to 10 communist rebels, most of whom had been imprisoned for more than 10 years, just days after the head of the government peace panel (GRP) announced peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) will likely resume next month.

Labor Secretary and GRP panel head Silvestre Bello III said the latest batch of releases is part of the continuing commitment of the government to release detained rebels on humanitarian grounds.

“This is in accord with the process that will eventually lead to a general amnesty proclamation once we reach a final peace agreement with the communist rebels,” Bello said.

“We are continuing to work on the releases of the sick, elderly, those long detained and the women as the peace negotiations progress,” he added.

Among those ordered released through presidential pardon was NDF consultant Emeterio Antalan who is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG).

The releases of two other JASIG-covered NDF consultants were withheld pending completion of their court documents. They are Eduardo Sarmiento and Leopoldo Caluza.

Those pardoned were convicted and serving sentence at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa for common crimes ranging from illegal possession of firearms and explosives to homicide and murder. The NDF listed them as political offenders arrested and convicted on trumped up charges.

Lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad, GRP supervising panel member who oversees the JASIG implementation and releases of detained rebels, said the release of the rebels is pursuant to the JASIG and PCBREP resolutions originally covering 15.

PCBREP stands for Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Parole.

She added that it was also in pursuant to joint GRP-NDF statements during 3rd and 4th round of talks held in Rome, Italy and in The Netherlands respectively.

President Duterte had also pardoned 4 convicted rebels in December. He likewise ordered the release of at 18 NDF consultants in July last year as part of confidence building measures prior to the resumption of the peace talks.

This brings the total of released NDF leaders and members to 49 since Duterte assumed the presidency.

Peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NDF resumed in August last year in Oslo, Norway.

Aside from Antalan, who already served 9 years and six months in prison, also included in the recent batch of pardoned prisoners are Ricardo Solangon (17 yrs, 11 months), Joel Ramada (11 yrs), Apolonio Barado (15 yrs 10 mos), Generoso Rolida (13 yrs 9 mos), Manolito Matricio (18 yrs 4 mos), Josue Ungsod (18 yrs 7 mos), and Sonny Marbella (15 yrs 5mos). The period of detention of Jose Navarro and Arnulfo Boates were not available.

Three other communist rebels were listed among those for release. They are Raul Villar, Armando Vidar and Juanito Itaas.

Itaas, along with Donato Continente, was convicted for the murder of Col. James Rowe, an official of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (Jusmag) in April 1989 in Quezon City. He was allegedly a hitman of the Alex Boncayao Brigade, the erstwhile urban hit squad of the New People’s Army. (OPAPP)


Government troops overrun suspected NPA camp in Ifugao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): Government troops overrun suspected NPA camp in Ifugao

A suspected New People’s Army’s (NPA) encampment was overrun by government troops at around 2:30 am Monday at sitio Abaka, barangay Dango in this municipality.

Soldiers from the Army's 54th Infantry Battalion discovered the encampment with 38 tents after a 25-minutes gun battle with alleged NPA members under the Nona del Rosario Command.

The troopers also recovered two M16A1 assault rifles, two Icom Radios, five bandoliers, two Rifle Grenades, eight backpacks, one pack grind marijuana, different electronic devices, assorted medical paraphernalia, subversive documents and personal belongings.

No casualty was reported but government forces believe that the enemy suffered numerous casualties due to scattered blood stains in the encounter site but were taken away by their comrades who managed to escape and hide due to darkness.

Lt Col Nicolas J Quemado Jr, Commanding Officer of 54th Infantry Battalion, commended the operating troops and advised them to be vigilant while the combat operation is still on-going.

“Our troops only responded to information given by a civilian. The group of rebels is conducting banditry in their community causing fear among their tribe. The civilian added that the said rebels are conducting extortion activities.” he stated.

He appealed to the rebels to lay down their firearms and avail the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government.


President Duterte visits 403rd brigade camp, honors frontline soldiers

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): President Duterte visits 403rd brigade camp, honors frontline soldiers

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bestowed high military awards to 12 soldiers for “meritorious service” in the armed forces during his military camp visit in Bukidnon.

In a ceremony at the 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade in Camp Osito Bahian, Malaybalay City, the President gave “Military Merit Medal with Spearhead Device” to each of the four officers and combatant for their heroic achievements.

The four of said 12 soldiers who received honor medals served as operating elements of the Philippine Army’s 58th and 8th Infantry Battalions of the 4th Infantry Division who defeated the enemies during gunfight against members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Dugo-dugo, Pelaez, Claveria, Misamis Oriental on 5 June 2017.

They also worked as the ‘operatives’ during gun battle against NPA rebels at  Sitio Tagbacan, Canangaan village in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon on March 25, 2017.

In the same event, the President conferred the “Military Merit Medal with Anahaw Leaf” to each of the eight soldiers who worked as members of the Martial Law implementing unit and Task Force Oro under 403rd Infantry Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.

They (“Anahaw” medal awardees) provided intelligence and covert security support that led to the arrest of former Marawi City mayor Fahad Salic alias “Pre” on June 7, 2017 in Villanueva town, Misamis Oriental.

A military report showed that Salic is a suspected Maute terror group’s protector.

The government’s intelligence group works also led to the successful search and seizure operation in Salic’s house at Xavier Estates in Upper Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City.

In an interview, 403rd Infantry Brigade spokesperson Capt. Norman Tagros said the arrest of suspects and other activities in support to the implementation of Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao led to the successful apprehension of Mohammad Noaim Maute alias “Abu Jadid” at Aluba, Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City on June 15, 2017.

In his “talk to troops” visit in Bukidnon, President Duterte expressed his gratitude for the armed forces’ share in nation building.

“To my dear soldiers who died in the battlefield—and those who nearly died in combat to disrupt the enemies’ sanctuaries—I salute you for your heroism and bravery. No one is more frustrated than I am upon knowing of the loss of the troopers’ lives. Moreover, no one is more proud than I am as you laid down your lives for others,” Duterte said during his visit in Bukidnon to honor the soldiers who showed supreme act of courage in the battlefield.


SurSur to conduct community dialogue for IDPs in Lianga

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): SurSur to conduct community dialogue for IDPs in Lianga

A community consultation dialogue that would discuss urgent pressing matters relative to the reported internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the upper communities in Lianga town is set on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 to be held at the Mayor’s Office Conference Room in Poblacion, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The local government unit of Lianga has invited the members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) – Conflict Management Cluster to join in the said dialogue. Some identified (selected) sectors are also invited that could contribute and take their part to help resolve the issues and concerns that would be raised by the local constituents specially the affected Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

It can be recalled that some 2,000 Manobo lumads from nine hinterland communities of Lianga fled their homes recently, fearing for the military operation and strict checkpoints conducted by government forces in the area.

Allegedly, the IPs noticed the presence of military helicopters and a bomber plane hovering around their villages in Andap Valley a day before they left their communities on July 6.


Keep watch against possible NPA attacks, NegOr policemen told

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Keep watch against possible NPA attacks, NegOr policemen told

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Negros Oriental has directed police chiefs to be vigilant against possible atrocities by the Communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Sr. Supt. Henry Biñas, acting provincial police director, on Tuesday said he has directed all police stations to be always on the alert and not let their guards down in the wake of recent clashes between Army soldiers and suspected NPA terrorists in the province.

In fact, he said policemen on duty can be seen carrying their short and long firearms as well.

Biñas said the NPA could take advantage of and target areas that have “weak security measures.”

Just last week, Army troops clashed with some 30 suspected Communist terrorists in the hinterlands of Guihulngan City, about 116 kilometers south of this capital.

Prior to that, two civilians suspected by the NPA as being “informants” of the Armed Forces were shot to death in Canlaon City and Sta. Catalina town a few months back.

Biñas said the Communist terrorists’ presence is still felt in Negros Oriental, though not quite as significant as in the past.

While Negros Oriental has been declared as conflict-manageable and development ready a few years ago, Binas said the continuing presence of NPA in the province should not be ignored.

Biñas also urged the public to report to the nearest police station or local officials any sighting of armed individuals or groups.


DND to follow gov't policy on martial law extension

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): DND to follow gov't policy on martial law extension

While stressing that they will follow whatever path laid by the government in its Martial Law declaration in Mindanao, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana assured the public that every action undertaken in the name of the latter will be done under the rule of law and respect for human rights.

"The Filipino people can rest assured, however, that if martial law is extended, they can continue to trust their defense and security establishments since every decision we make and operation we undertake is anchored on the rule of law and respect for human rights," he said in statement Tuesday.

Lorenzana said that the public can trust government troops to protect them and advance their best interest.

The DND chief issued this statement following remarks of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that he will push for the five-year extension of Martial Law.

Martial Law in Mindanao was declared nighttime of May 23 following the attacks of Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.

"While we respect the position of our lawmakers and laud their support to the military, we believe that the declaration of Martial Law is an extraordinary power of the President as Commander-in-Chief that must be resorted to only when warranted by our national security circumstances," Lorenzana added.

And under the Constitution, the DND chief said Martial Law has prescribed limitations precisely to prevent its being abused as it has implications to the country's peace and order, economy, trade, tourism, and the people's way of life.

Under the 1987 Constitution, Martial Law can only be declared for a period of 60 days and any extension could allowed by the House of Representatives.

"As the Administrator of Martial Law in Mindanao, we will follow whatever path will be laid out by the national government," Lorenzana pointed out.


Military yet to determine number of Marawi civilian casualties

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Military yet to determine number of Marawi civilian casualties

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday said efforts are now ongoing to determine the exact number of civilian casualties in Marawi City as fighting with the Maute Group terrorists reached its eighth-week.

He issued this statement amid reports claiming that around 2,000 civilians have been killed since fighting started in May 23.

"These are unverified reports. Operations are still ongoing and the proper authorities are still assessing, consolidating, and verifying data from Marawi City," Lorenzana stressed.

Military figures showed that the number of civilians killed in the fighting has been placed at 39, while 89 government troops were slain and 379 for the Maute Group terrorists.

"For now, we once again call on the people to be more cautious and discerning. Do not accept any information as fact," the DND chief added.

He also urged the public to avoid sharing unverified data and figures, and stop the proliferation of fake news that only cause undue alarm, panic, and confusion.

"Such information is not only detrimental to our ongoing operations. It also hurts our economy and our international image as a nation," Lorenzana stressed.


6 troops hurt in NPA landmine attack in Quirino

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): 6 troops hurt in NPA landmine attack in Quirino

Six soldiers from the 86th Infantry Battalion were wounded after being hit by a shrapnel from a landmine detonated by the New People's Army in Natipunan town, Quirino Tuesday morning.

This was confirmed by Capt. Jefferson Somera, 5th Infantry Divsion spokesperson, in a message to the PNA.

The incident took place 8:30 a.m. at Barangay Sangbay of the above-mentioned locality.

Somera said government troops, who were aboard two KM-450 trucks, were headed back towards their headquarers in Nagtipunan, shortly after a meeting with local government officials when landmined by the rebels.

The blast wounded six troopers, he added.

Somera said three of the soldiers were immediately given first aid and declared out-of-danger while the remaining three were to the nearby Cabarroguis Hospital .

5th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Paul T. Atal strongly condemned the attack, calling it a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the international rules of warfare, particularly the protocols on the use of mines and explosives.


4 Maute 'members' intercepted in NAIA now in PNP, NBI custody

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): 4 Maute 'members' intercepted in NAIA now in PNP, NBI custody

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has turned over four out of the seven suspected Maute group members who were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3) to the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

BI Spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said Monday that the intercepted persons identified as Alnizar Palawan Maute, Yasser Dumaraya Maute, Ashary Palawan Maute and Abdulrahman Maute are now in the custody of the authorities for further investigation and verification of their identities.

She said the three others identified as Mawiyag Ibrahim Cota, Acmali A Mawiyag, and Abdulcahar Racman Maute, were immediately released after determining that there is no derogatory record against their names.

They were interviewed by ISAFP.

Mangrobang added that the seven were bound for Malaysia via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 499.


Replacement BBL to be submitted to Duterte July 17 — OPAPP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Replacement BBL to be submitted to Duterte July 17 — OPAPP

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will submit the replacement Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 17, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Tuesday.

“We have already worked on getting the BTC craft a replacement bill to the failed BBL that will implement the Bangsamoro agreement --- the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of the Mori Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). And I’d like to let you know that the turnover of the output of the BTC will happen at 5:30 in the afternoon of July 17 here in the Palace,” Dureza told reporters at a press briefing in Malacañang.

He said that the OPAPP will recommend that the draft bill be immediately turned over by the President to Congress and certify it as urgent.

“As far as OPAPP is concerned, our recommendation is that as soon as the President receives it, he will turn it over to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. We will also recommend that it will be certified as an urgent bill,” Dureza said.

“Pero recommendation namin ‘yan ha. You know very well that the President makes the final call,” he added.

On Nov. 7, 2016, President Duterte signed an executive order that expanded the BTC membership from 15 to 21 that will have 10 government-appointed members and 11, including the chairperson, from the MILF.

On February 10, 2017, OPAPP announced the 21 members of the expanded BTC that will draft an “inclusive” version of the earlier BBL that failed to pass Congress in the previous Aquino administration.

The expanded BTC was expected to submit the draft of the new enabling law to Congress this July in time for Duterte's second State of the Nation Address (SONA) and the resumption of session of Congress.

Enactment of the BBL will create a new political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The proposed Bangsamoro territory will have greater autonomy than the present ARMM but will remain part of the Republic of the Philippines.


Gov't tackles NPA extortion activities in back-channel talks with Reds — OPAPP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Gov't tackles NPA extortion activities in back-channel talks with Reds — OPAPP

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Tuesday said the government will take up the extortion activities by the New People’s Army (NPA) as part of the informal talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) prior to the resumption of formal peace negotiations.

In a Palace briefing, OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza said that the fifth round of talks between the government and the National Democratic Front have been suspended because according to President Rodrigo Duterte, the so-called “enabling environment conducive to peace negotiations” have not been met.

The fifth round of talks between the government and the NDF was cancelled following continued nationwide attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) against state forces.

The President also mentioned in an earlier speech that he won’t allow the resumption of peace negotiations with communist rebels unless the NPA stop their extortion activities.

“Whatever the President says, we take guidance. Kung ‘yun ang sinabi niya, we take guidance from that. That is the reason why probably, I’m not going to preempt the back channel, that would be one item that our backchannelers will take up with them,” Dureza said.

“So right now, efforts are ongoing on a back channel in order to possibly come up with that enabling environment that would make it for us, in the Philippine side, ready to meet again on the fifth round of talks,” he added.

He pointed out that under the CARHRIHL -- Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law signed in 1998 -- that the CPP-NPA and the Government of the Philippines committed to, among the provisions there is not to subject civilians and their properties to attack.

“Very clear. Both sides have committed to that in an old agreement signed as early as 1998. So these are matters that we’ll take up with them hopefully in the backchannel that may happen very soon,” Dureza said.

In the meantime, the Presidential Peace Adviser said that no dates have yet been set for when the fifth round of talks will resume, only that “backchannel talks will happen very soon at an undetermined date and undetermined venue.”

“But please know that there is really an ongoing effort,” Dureza said.

Last week, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government’s chief peace negotiator, said that peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front will resume sometime in August.

“The fifth round of talks that has been deferred will probably be realized second or third week of August,” Bello aid during a Palace briefing.

Bello said that to produce a more favorable result, an informal meeting between the two panels has been set in the third or last week of July that will be held somewhere in Asia.

The government’s chief peace negotiator added that earlier despite setbacks, he remains optimistic that peace can be forged between the government and the communist rebels.

“In the process, there will be humps and bumps but we will stay in the course of the process because there is no alternative. This is the best legacy that our President can give to our country: an enduring and lasting peace for everyone,” Bello said.


PH, China in dialogue since Hague ruling on sea dispute — Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): PH, China in dialogue since Hague ruling on sea dispute — Palace

Malacañang on Tuesday said that Philippines and China have been in dialogue since The Hague ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) last year.

At a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella pointed out that the two countries have been in dialogue to find a mutually acceptable diplomatic solution over issues in the disputed territory.

“Last May 2017, both countries conducted the first meeting of the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea, both sides reiterating their commitment to cooperate and to find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to WPS,” he said.

“The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them,” Abella said.

According to the Palace, the Philippines and China will have their next meeting in the second half of 2017.

Abella’s statements followed concerns that nothing or very little has happened since the PCA issued its ruling.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s claims of historic rights within the nine-dash line, which Beijing uses to demarcate its claims in the South China Sea, were without legal foundation.

The panel also ruled that Beijing’s activities within the Philippines’ two-hundred-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) infringed on Manila’s sovereign rights.

Meanwhile, Malacañang assured that lingering concerns by Filipino fishermen of being harassed in disputed waters would be part of the next meeting between the two countries.

“I’m sure items like that will be considered. However, it’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” Abella said.


DND chief says entire PH behind troops wounded in Marawi fighting

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): DND chief says entire PH behind troops wounded in Marawi fighting

The entire country has your back.

This was the message of Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as he visited troopers, wounded-in-action in the ongoing fighting with Maute Group terrorists in Marawi, now recuperating at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) in V. Luna Road, Quezon City Tuesday.

“Magpapakatatag kayong lahat! Ang buong bansa ay nagdarasal para sa inyong kaligtasan at para sa kapanatagan ng inyong pamilya,” he told the recuperating soldiers.

The DND chief also acknowledged the bravery of Filipino soldiers, who have proven their gallantry in action in conflict-affected areas such as Marawi City.

“Sa puntong ito, marami ng nasawi at nasugatan sa tropa pero kapit lang, dahil ang kapalit nito ay ang tagumpay ng lahat ng Pilipino -- ang paglaya ng Marawi sa kamay ng mga terorista,” he said.

No exact figures are available on the number of troops wounded in the ongoing fighting with Maute Group terrorists.

Heavy fighting broke out in Marawi City when government security troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, also known as the ISIS "emir" in Southeast Asia last May 23.

“We are almost there at the moment of our success so please do not lose hope,” Lorenzana said.

During his visit to the wounded troops Tuesday, the DND chief was accompanied by members of a socio-civic group from Mindanao, the Damers and Clarions of Cotabato (DCC), an organization composed of graduates from Notre Dame in Cotabato.

It was first organized in Manila in 2010 and now has around 2,000 members.

Led by their president, Nitz Sodusta, DCC members manifested their concrete support to soldiers by giving care packages to 150 patients who are currently recuperating in the hospital.

Lorenzana, who is a DCC member himself, thanked Mrs. Sodusta and the DCC for giving “their love, gifts, time and support” for the Filipino soldier-heroes.

He attributed the group’s heartfelt support for the Filipino soldiers to the fact that its members are sons and daughters of Mindanao, and have witnessed first-hand what government security forces go through to secure the people and their communities.

“That’s the reason why the soldiers are close to their hearts,” Lorenzana said.

“They know how you have sacrificed for them. They have seen and felt the hardships of our soldiers in their hometown and appreciated what you have done for them and their families,” he added.


AFP not open to place entire PH under ML

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): AFP not open to place entire PH under ML

Proposals to place the entire country under Martial Law never crossed the collective mind of the military.

This was stressed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla during a press briefing Tuesday.

"Do you see the need for that to be done? Let's not raise the Martial Law bogey because there is nothing (of that sort is occurring)," the AFP official said.

Padilla added he also see no need, for the moment, to recommend the entire country be placed under Martial Law.

But, the military official said an assessment is still ongoing to determine its possible extension.

"The declaration of Martial Law (in Mindanao) and its possible extension is dependent on the assessment that will be done by the AFP. The assessment is not yet done, so I cannot answer that as of yet," he stated when asked on whether the military will recommend an extension for the ML.

Once the assessment is done along with their recommendation, it will be then forwarded to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the Martial Law administrator, who will then forward it to President Rodrigo Duterte who will then review it.

"The declaration of Martial Law goes out of effect at the end of 60 days and the recommendation and decision to extend it must (be) done before it ends," Padilla said.

Martial Law in Mindanao was declared night time of May 23 shortly after the attack of the Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.

Under the 1987 Constitution, Martial Law is only limited for 60 days and needs the approval of Congress for its extension.

"We are already on the 50th day of the Martial Law declaration which started on the 23rd of May, so we have 10 days to go, the recommendation must reach the Secretary (Lorenzana) before that time, and it must reach the President or the Commander-in-Chief," Padilla pointed out.

As of this posting, Maute Group casualties are placed at 381 terrorists killed along with 90 government troops, and civilians executed at 39.

Number of captured Maute Group firearms were placed at 461 and rescued civilians at 1,723.


Duterte eyes end of Marawi conflict in 10-15 days

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Duterte eyes end of Marawi conflict in 10-15 days

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the Marawi conflict could end in 10 to 15 days.

In his speech during the 10th listing anniversary of the Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Makati City, the President likewise expressed his resolve to visit Marawi City before the fighting ends.

“So ‘yan ang ano ko. I hope that things can… I need about 15 more days,” Duterte said.

He said the effort to clear Marawi of remaining militants is hampered by the apparent number of arms and ammunition that the terrorist have stockpiled.

“Hindi lang kasi ba’t nahirapan tayo, we knew that they were sorts, nandoon na lahat. But ang hindi ko talaga alam at baka si ano hindi din talaga namin --- na-miss ano namin is --- karami ng armas. Hindi maubusan. This is the 45th, 46th day? Hindi maubus-ubos ang --- lalo na ‘yung grenades,” the President noted.

In the meantime, Duterte said that he remains resolute in his decision to visit Marawi City while the fighting is still ongoing.

He said he wanted go there to be with the state security forces that he ordered to fight and die for the country.

“That’s why I’m not in really in --- in what my usual equanimity. Kasi alam mo kung bakit? You want to know the truth? Kasi ako ‘yung nag-declare ng martial law. And I was the one who ordered the Armed Forces and the police to go there and fight and die. Kaya gusto ko talagang pumunta doon,” Duterte said.

The last time the President attempted to visit the conflict area was last Friday but bad weather conditions forced him to go to Iligan City instead and visit the 2nd Mechanized Brigade of the Philippine Army.

“The other day I attempted again, but Marawi is always a rainy place. I was circling Marawi, I could not land, I could not go down nearer baka matyambahan kami ng Barrett na caliber 50,” he said.

But the President is not losing hope to go to Marawi City to be with the military and police who are fighting to free the city from Islamic State-inspired militants and bring normalcy to the region and its residents.

“Gusto kong pumunta doon, ‘yung hindi naman ako maipasubo ng sundalo na really, basta ilayo lang ako nang kaunti, basta I want to be there while there is still fighting so that I can observe. But I’ll try to make it again, this week tignan ko kung… But palagay ko, 10 to 15 days okay na,” Duterte said.


CPP/NPA-NCM: 2 days of encounter: NPA vs. 8th IB

NPA-North Central Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 11): 2 days of encounter: NPA vs. 8th IB

Ka Malem Mabini, Spokesperson
NPA-North Central Mindanao

11 July 2017
Press Release

CABANGLASAN, BUKIDNON – Members of the New People’s Army – South Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command (NPA-SCB-SRC) harassed the 24 troops of the 8th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army on July 4, 2015, 4:20 PM, in Sityo Kalakapan, Brgy. Kanangaan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon. According to reports, a member of the 8th IB was killed while other two were wounded in the two to three minutes’ exchange of fire. Meanwhile, NPA troops safely withdrew from the said area.

On the following day, June 6, around 8:00 AM, 40 troops of the 8th IB and Special Forces, under the 403rd Brigade, made a surprise attack on an NPA camp in a sylvan part of Sityo Miaray, Brgy. Manggaod, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon. They were able to infiltrate the camp’s kitchen and from here, more than an hour of exchange of fires occurred, where three of the AFP troops killed. Meanwhile, a column of the enemies’ troops headed to a favorable terrain, without knowing that a command-detonated explosive was installed in. Just as the enemy positioned, the NPA switched the CDX. The casualties of the enemy on the explosion has not yet been confirmed.

These active defense acts of the NPA took place amid the continuing Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) of the 8th IB in the hinter barrios of Cabanglasan and San Fernando, Bukidnon since November last year. They have not been moved to discomfiture despite the several months of mass protests on their wrong-doings. These are also apparent desperate reactions of the 8th IB from the previous months’ series of victories of the NPA-SCB in weakening their confidant Alamara —- the like of the capitulation of arms of seven of their members to the NPA on April 28, the ambush to the siblings Emyong and Oba Balanban on June 2, the sparrow of Jason “Dakson” Lindaw on June 16 and the death of their guide Janie Keblatan during their combat operation on June 23.

The statement of 1Lt. Erwin Bugarin, of CMO-8th IB, that there were NPA casualties on the said encounter, was a big falsehood. They only recovered camp tools and apparatus. No firearms seized and no NPA killed on the said encounters. While he can never disown casualties of the 8th IB, for they mobilized the residents to convey their deceased and injured troops. From these skirmishes, it would be certain that Bugarin would promulgate more fake news through the media against the NPA and the residents of the said town.

On this 48th day of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law over Mindanao, the AFP perpetuated their combat operations, infiltrations and psychological wars towards the revolutionary movement. With the recent decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the said declaration, the AFP have been granted with license to disclose its fangs to suppress the people’s basic rights.

During his visit in Malaybalay City on June 6, Duterte mentioned not a single word to the public concerning abuses of the 403rd Brigade against the Lumad residents, just like the forced evacuation of the residents of Cabanglasan and San Fernando. He did not also make a single glimpse on the aggravating cases of extra-judicial killings towards Lumad-leaders in the province and the several months of harassment to communities by the paramilitary groups Alamara, NIPAR and Dela Mance, amid of the warrant-of-arrests dispensed against them. Instead, he prioritized the injured casualties of the AFP in its encounters against the Maute in Marawi and the NPA in Bukidnon. It is then clear that these protectors of investors and multi-national corporations are in his primacy, not the poor majority who purportedly composed the bulge who let him won the elections.

Hence, up until socio-economic agenda will not be accurately and finally discussed in the negotiation table between the GRP and NDFP, the NPA will remain steadfast in defending themselves and the people they serve against the vicious and fascist attacks of the AFP, paramilitary groups and Philippine National Police (PNP) under the plot of the perpetuating all-out war of the regime. In this case, the revolutionary movement will not just intensify. Moreover, the conceiting “Left President”, in his own accord, will get rid of his smokescreen and will be exposed to whom he directs his “change” and “development”.


CPP: On the Duterte-AFP-US information control in Marawi

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jul 11): On the Duterte-AFP-US information control in Marawi

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

11 July 2017

“Dominate the information environment.” This is one of the key tasks identified in the AFP’s Operational Directive released as part of its implementation of martial law. It is in line with this task that the AFP has seized control of the “information environment” in Marawi City which has been besieged and under total lockdown by AFP troops for 50 days now. This is among the tactics which the US military has taught them. As a result, the Filipino people are being kept completely in the dark as to the real situation inside Marawi and have only the AFP as source of news. The entire narrative of the Marawi siege has been dictated by the AFP’ absolute control of the “information environment” under martial law. The AFP continues to come up with claims and news releases to justify martial law and its extension. The complete truth will remain buried as long as martial law remains enforced in the entire Mindanao.

Over the past 50 days, the AFP has been setting the information rules, including where to go and who can be interviewed. This is largely limited to the AFP spokesperson. Others who have been vetted or briefed by the AFP can be interviewed only under close watch of AFP information controllers. People in media have no means of verification as the military put their movements and sources of information under its complete control. Social media accounts identified by the AFP as being used by “terrorists” have been targeted for takedown.

For weeks now, the AFP has been making assertions and increasingly wild claims completely without proof, at times revealing inconsistencies suggesting the bigger lies underneath. Of course, the aim is to make the AFP look good by painting their enemies like bloodthirsty demons and hiding their own crimes. It has accused the so-called Maute Group of arming its hostages and children and forcing them to fight and insisting “there is nothing much we can do.” Such claims of the AFP are being made amid questions concerning AFP information that only 39 civilians have been killed. The AFP logic assumes that cadavers recovered across Marawi are so-called terrorists before they are proven otherwise.

Recently, it claims snipers of the so-called Maute Group are positioned in “high-rise buildings” in order to justify the relentless bombing runs over the city which has been roundly condemned by the people of Marawi, the Moro and religious leaders, as well as by progressive groups, human rights advocates and many other sectors.

It claims around 300 so-called terrorists were able to “escape” Marawi after declaring that only 80 are left while around 380 have been killed. The AFP originally claimed there are around 50-100 Moro fighters in Marawi, then raised the number to 200, 400 then 700 as the AFP siege of Marawi dragged from one week to the next. Apparently, the AFP is not really sure how large a force they are up against especially as more and more people are reportedly joining the resistance to the AFP siege as they are left with little choice by the complete destruction of their homes and livelihood.

On the other hand, the AFP has been relentless in attacking anyone who questions its claims as being “unpatriotic” and “siding with the terrorists.” They have kept attention away from the role of the US military in the Mamasapano-like operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon on May 23 which sparked the initial gunbattle. They have also exerted great effort in keeping the lid over information of widespread civilian deaths as a result of AFP bombardment as well as AFP looting of homes in the “safe zones” (areas under control of the AFP) with pictures of soldiers carrying oversized backpacks after “clearing operations” and so on.

Duterte’s Mindanao martial law has violated the people’s freedom of expression as well as the right to know the truth. This is bound to worsen with the AFP’s proposal to extend the Mindanao martial law and threat to impose martial law nationwide.

The people of Marawi and the entire Filipino people demand genuine enlightenment as to the real story and situation in Marawi. The victims of the AFP war of death and destruction, are especially determined to reveal the facts. However, they can not do so as long as martial law and military rule remain.

In the end, however, the Duterte-US-AFP’s alternative version of reality in Marawi won’t be able to withstand the people’s struggle to reveal the entire truth.


MNLF-IIO: MNLF Delegates at the The 44th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

Posted to the Moro National Liberation Front - International Information Office Facebook page (Jul 9): MNLF Delegates at the The 44th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

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MNLF Delegates at the The 44th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

The 44th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation commenced today, Monday, 10 July 2017, in Abidjan, the capital city of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

The OIC Secretary General, Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, delivered a speech in which he emphasized that the unprecedented challenges and fast-paced deve...lopments around us today make it incumbent upon us, more than ever, to duly consider taking practical and positive steps to overcome some of the differences among and within some of our Member States by studying their causes and proffering appropriate solutions to them.

On the political level, the Secretary General noted that the OIC affirms its commitment to follow up on the resolutions adopted by the Summit and the Ministerial Council, especially those relating to the situation in Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Mali, Sahel, the Sudan, Comoros, Djibouti, Yemen, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Jammu, Kashmir, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Turkish Cyprus, the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Muslim communities in the Philippines and Thailand, and the Muslim minorities in the West.


MNLF-IIO: MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari expresses his appreciation for the OIC invitation to attend the 44th OIC CFM Conference

Posted to the Moro National Liberation Front - International Information Office Facebook page (Jul 9): MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari expresses his appreciation for the OIC invitation to attend the 44th OIC CFM Conference

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The MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari expresses his appreciation for the OIC invitation to attend the 44th OIC CFM Conference in Ivory Coast.

The MNLF is the sole representative of the Bangsamoro in the OIC being with an Permanent Observer status in the OIC and PUIC.

The Chairman of the MNLF will be sending a team of delegates to the said conference.



MILF: Editorial - Exploiting People In Times Of Crisis

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 8): Exploiting People In Times Of Crisis

There are reports that copies of the Christian Bible are distributed along with relief goods to refugees of the Marawi siege at various evacuation centers in Mindanao especially in Iligan City. A member of the group known as “I Care for the Bangsamoro Movement” called our attention on this matter. We asked them to provide us with more information. And we are we are waiting!

This is simply exploiting people in times of crisis!

For fairness’ sake, however, we are still validating the reports from various sources. Any unscrupulous person can do this to destroy religion or to sour relations. Surreptitiously, it can also be done by individuals or groups who are sympathizing with those fighting the government in order to gain support or to give religious colour to the conflict in Mindanao, at least the Marawi crisis.

However, the disturbing part is that even during the bloody siege on Zamboanga City in 2013, Bible distribution to displaced people was also reported – and validated. But nobody or group came forward to accept the responsibility. If we have identified them, we could have initiated a dialogue or perhaps requested the Bishop-Ulama Conference to start a bridging session. Or if they belonged to any of the protestant sects in this country, which we have excellent relations, it is not difficult to connect either. We have been in dialogues for years.

What makes the reports this time very sensational and particular was that the Bible was not an ordinary one written in Standard English; it is a translation of it in Maranao language, which means that there is a deliberate plan to convert non-Christians to Christianity. It is means also that it is a long-term missionary programme. Thus, we expect more and more of this problem in the future. So, what must be done? To us, it is better to address them now than to let it grow bigger and bigger until the perceived religious configuration of the Mindanao conflict is reinforced. Perhaps, the oft-repeated cliché, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” will be the right decision to adopt.

By and large, proselytizing people aggressively is not civil; it should be prohibited. True men and women of religion must shun this unethical practice. Islam had already banned this practice more than 1400 years ago. Allah says in the Qur’an: “There is no compulsion in religion, unto you your religion and unto me my religion.”(2:256)

We urge anyone (of the refugees) to come forward and show us more evidence. This can be an opportunity not to sour Muslim-Christian relations but it can be a great opportunity to better the same. We believe that a threat is also at the same time an opportunity. We don’t believe that if such distribution is true can lead to more problems. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to sort thing for the better. We are sure that legitimate or mainstream religious groups both on the Christian and Muslim sides would ever agree to such a cheap way to spread the messages of religion.

We also appeal to the Christian communities through their various ministries to extend a helping hand to validate these reports. If found to be correct, we can use these to improve our working relationships. Knowing the truth is halfway to solving it.


MILF: UMYO Hosts Forum On Youth As Initiator Of Peace In Cotabato City

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 10): UMYO Hosts Forum On Youth As Initiator Of Peace In Cotabato City


70 young individuals gathered at Muassasah Bldg., Bubong Road, Brgy. Datu Balabaran, Cotabato City who enthusiastically participated during the Peace Advocacy Forum organized by Union of Muslim Youth Organizations (UMYO) with the theme: "How to make the Youth as the Source and Initiator of Peace for the Society?" on July 8, 2017.

The participants are officers and members of different organizations and agencies based in Cotabato City and nearby areas such as: AAI, Daiyah Phils., DYMAMin, JTO, KDSAI, MPDA, MWAH, MYB, MYRO, Nuroshabab Organization Al-Islamie, TRO, UNYPAD Cotabato City Chapter, UNYPhil – Cotabato, UVPN, YIPA, and YPPA.

UMYO is a federation of different organizations in the city and nearby municipalities composed of active young Movers of Peace in the community.

The Forum was graced by different personalities who are famous icons in the promotion of peace especially in the Bangsamoro which include Hon. Von Al Haq, the Spokesperson of BIAF-MILF, Sheikh Muslim Guiamadin of Muassasah Khalifah-Asma Lilhidayah Wal-Islah, as well as Ulama from Jumeyyatul Huffaz bil Filibeen including Sheikh Abdulkahar Musa and their President, Sheikh Mas-od Lantong.

The inspirational message was delivered by Sir Von Al Haq where he reminded the youth that they have a major role in building the society. He also highlighted the importance of education to transform the youth as effective agents of peace, both in terms of secular and Islamic aspects of knowledge.

Acquiring proper education is crucial as it can lead individuals to become an asset of society or otherwise, a burden thereto. In conclusion, he advised the youth to learn from the experiences of the elders, leaders, and Ulama and always make consultations with them to have proper guidance in every step that they take.

The second input was delivered by Sheikh Abdulkahar Musa who delved on the importance and process of acquiring Hikmah (wisdom). In his discussion, he stressed that wisdom is one of the most important things that should be acquired not only by elders, but by each and every one. The one who has given ‘Hikmah’ is someone whom Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'ala) loves and indeed it is a gift of bounty of goodness.

He also pointed out the process of how to attain this Hikmah. It includes acquiring sound knowledge from Ulama and elders, being in company of good people, strengthening of one's Taqwa (consciousness of Allah), and abstaining from one's wordly desires. Sheikh Abdulkahar reminded the youth that Hikmah is very important and that they must strive to attain and possess it within themselves.

Sheikh Muslim Guiamadin, the third lecturer, discussed about the main point of the program's theme which is about making the youth as the source and initiator of peace for the society. He focused his discussion on one of the beautiful verses of the Qur'an in Surah Al-An'am: 82 which says: "Those who have believed and have not mixed their faith with injustice are the ones who deserve peace, and it is they who are on the right path.”

In his lecture, he emphasized that the attainment of peace is closely tied with strengthening of Aqeedah (Firm Creed). Differences in Aqeedah are one of the major factors that cause the sprouting of different groups with different ideologies who are all claiming as Islamic group, including the violent extremists.

Sheikh Muslim highlighted that the true movers of peace are those having the righteous Aqeedah who practice the authentic teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).

In his closing message, Sheikh Mas-od Lantong narrated the story of As-habul Kahf (People of the Cave) in the Noble Qur'an, Chapter, Al-Kahf (The Cave).

With this, he related to the participants the story of this young people who have taken great sacrifices to preserve their Faith where Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) aided them with a great favor.

Lastly, he advised the youth to be good followers of our leaders and elders, heed their advices, and act accordingly.

The forum ended with much inspiration, motivation, and new learnings gained by the young participants towards becoming agents of peace in their communities.

The organizers were grateful to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for the success of the program, and for the invaluable efforts rendered by the special guests who shared much of their experiences and knowledge.

Moreover, to all the participants who actively participated in the activity.


MILF: ‘There Is ‘fair Chance’ For BBL In Congress”: Senate Pres. Pimentel

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 10): ‘There Is ‘fair Chance’ For BBL In Congress”: Senate Pres. Pimentel

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday said the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be submitted by President Rodrigo Duterte will have a “fair chance” in Congress said a report by GMA News on July 7.
“BBL has a fair chance this time,” Pimentel, President of ruling PDP-Laban Party said in a text message to GMA News.”

In a series of deliberations on the new draft BBL, Bangsamoro Transition Commission members have removed the unconstitutional aspects of the first draft BBL for smooth-sailing in congress.

Pimentel also noted that “there is no more Mamasapano negative effect at this time unlike before.”

The new draft BBL will be submitted by BTC on July 18, a week before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Pres. Duterte on July 24, who in turn will submit it to Senate President Pimentel and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. (Source: GMA News)


MILF: ARMM Gov Hataman, MRLs Criticize Proposed Muslim-only ID

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 10): ARMM Gov Hataman, MRLs Criticize Proposed Muslim-only ID

Photo by : ARMM Bureau of Public Information        

ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman and Muslim Religious Leaders (MLRs) criticized the proposal to replicate in Central Luzon the reported Muslim-only ID system of Paniqui town in Tarlac, said an online report by Rappler on July 8.

44In a statement on Saturday, July 9, Hataman said his region "expresses alarm over reports" that the Paniqui local government is implementing a Muslim-only ID system.

"We believe this policy clearly discriminates against the believers of Islam and could set a dangerous precedent. It could also ignite anger among young Muslims who are the primary target for recruitment of extremist groups," Hataman said.

"If the requirement is security related, the ID system should be applied to every resident of the community, to every Filipino, not just Muslims," he added.

In an interview with reporters on Friday, July 8, Imam Council of the Philippines president Ebra Moxir also said the proposed Muslim-only ID is saddening.

Moxir, 51, leads around 1,000 imams or Muslim clerics in the Imam Council of the Philippines, out of around 2,000 to 3,000 imams nationwide. He has also been a chaplain at the Philippine National Police for the past 21 years.

Speaking after the launch of the Pasa Lord interfaith prayer movement on Friday, Moxir explained that their council supports an ID system if it will be implemented for all, not only for Muslims.

“But if, for example, our brother Muslims will be singled out, majority would be sad," he said.