Monday, July 30, 2018

Commies mock military in Duterte hometown

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 30): Commies mock military in Duterte hometown

Communist rebels on Monday mocked the military for declaring President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, Davao, as free from the influence of the New People’s Army and even freed a police officer there after 7 months in captivity.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said Inspector Menardo Cui was released in Salaysay village in Baguio District on humanitarian grounds and handed over to Duterte’s special assistance Christopher Go on July 27.

“Despite the much-ballyhooed declaration of the fascist AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) that Davao City is virtually free of the New People’s Army, the NPA Regional Operations Command, through its custodial force, released NPA Prisoner of War Menardo N. Cui, PNP Badge No. 0-28281, on July 27 in Sitio Indawhong in Barangay Salaysay, Baguio District following his 7-month detention,” he said.

“Special Assistant to the President, Christopher Go was at hand to receive POW Cui, a move that only showed that the US-Duterte regime has failed to obliterate the reality that the NPA continues to be a belligerent force in the country,” he added.

The 48-year old Cui was taken hostage by rebels during a raid on December 28, 2017 in President Roxas town in North Cotabato where he is the deputy police chief, and subsequently declared him a prisoner of war.

Sanchez said a day after Cui’s safe release, rebel forces killed at least 6 soldiers sent by the military to pursue the NPA in the village of Tambobong also in Baguio District.

“AFP troops deployed for combat and pursuit operations against the NPA custodial force were hit by command-detonated explosives in Sitio Kamarag in Barangay Tambobong in Baguio District at around 10:25 am. Initial reports revealed that the enemy sustained at least 6 casualties in the NPA offensive,” he said.

He said while Duterte has declared the NPA and its revolutionary forces as terrorists and criminals, and scuttled the peace talks with the National Democratic Front, the President nevertheless sent Go to fetch the prisoner. “By sending his closest emissary and chief representative, Duterte has unwittingly acknowledged the status of belligerency acquired by the NPA under international laws,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also rejected Duterte’s proposal for a localized peace talks with rebel forces, saying, this will only serve the pacification and surrender campaign and psychological war operations of the US-Duterte regime. “The NPA is adamant not to be made party to local peace negotiations that reject the masses’ clamour for genuine land reform and national industrialization,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Eastern Mindanao Command and 10th Infantry Division in Davao City over Sanchez’s claims, but police authorities also launched an operation to arrest four people being linked to the communist group following the recent release of warrants in Nueva Ecija province against former lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño; and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza over murder charges filed over a decade ago.

The Communist Party of the Philippines on Monday also denounced the arrest orders and branded the murder charges as trumped-up cases. This is a pointed attack against the broad democratic forces resisting Duterte’s tyrannical rule and moves to establish a dictatorship. It is a portent of a more general crackdown following successive arrests and detention against activists and human rights workers across the country,” it said.

“In just over two years, Duterte’s human rights record has surpassed (President Gloria) Arroyo’s in terms of extrajudicial killings in the drug war. With Arroyo (now House Speaker) by his side, the attacks against the progressive and democratic forces are set to further intensify,” it said.

PAF fighter jets join military exercise in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): PAF fighter jets join military exercise in Palawan

Philippine Air Force (PAF) fighter jet pilots at Camp Antonio Bautista Airbase prepare to participate in DAGIT 2018 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Wescom PAO).

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – Three FA-50 fighter jets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) arrived in this city Monday to participate in the DAGIT (Dagat, Langit, Lupa) joint field training exercise (FTX) to step up the interoperability of all branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

They will be participating in the FTX phase of DAGIT, which will be staged on the eastern part of Palawan until August 3, Western Command (Wescom) commander Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez said.

Briguez said the phase of the military exercise, which started on the third week July, trains participants on Contingency and Crisis Action Planning and Command and Control of joint forces.

"We are thrilled to have our fighter jets joining the FTX phase of this year's AJEX in Wescom's Area of Operations, along with our naval assets and ground troopers, because this will give us the opportunity to test our interoperability doctrine, jointness, and readiness as One AFP," he said.

He added that it is significant the Philippine forces and assets train together to enhance their capacity and capability to respond to any future contingency.

"It is highly significant that our forces and assets train together in the spirit of jointness in order to enhance our ability to respond to any contingency in the future. This DAGIT provided us with such important training," he added.

The AJEX DAGIT-PA, on its 4th iteration this year, is a unilateral exercise that focuses on the development of the AFP's capacity on joint operations and enhancing the interoperability of its forces from the Navy, Air Force and Army.

The military exercise will also enhance the individual capacity of personnel and unit capabilities to enable them to be readily deployable to address contingencies in all mission areas.

BIFF blamed for roadside bomb blast in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): BIFF blamed for roadside bomb blast in Maguindanao

A roadside bomb exploded Monday morning in Upi, Maguindanao, hurting no one, police said.

Police Inspector Erwin Tabora, Upi police chief, said the explosion took place around 7:30 a.m. along the section of the highway in Kilometer 13, Barangay Kibleg of the municipality.

“No one was hurt in the incident as the bomb seemingly erupted prematurely,” said in an interview over a local radio station. He said the bombing attempt could have been intended for either military or police convoys frequently passing by the area.

Tabora said the bomb try bore the signature style of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which, in the past, had launched similar attacks against the military and police personnel in the area.

On March 23 this year, two separate bomb attacks also rocked the municipality where three persons, including a policeman, were hurt.

The first bomb went off near the site of a basketball game at a public school in Barangay Borongotan, where many people were watching. Injured were spectators Jonathan Lingatong and Allan De Guzman, who were nearest to where the bomb was planted.

The second explosion injured Police Officer 1 Marjun Lahay-lahay, driver of a police personnel vehicle responding to the first blast.

Moro people back BOL, hope law brings genuine peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Moro people back BOL, hope law brings genuine peace

BOL ASSEMBLY. Thousands of Bangsamoro people gather on Sunday (July 29, 2018) at Camp Darapanan, the main camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, to signify their support to the Bangsamoro Organic Law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last week. (Photo courtesy of the MILF Media Communications Group)

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao -- Thousands of Moro people voiced their support on Sunday to the newly-signed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) during a gathering here, expressing hope it will bring peace on the island and to end the decades-old armed conflict.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) organized the assembly at its main camp here, with ordinary folks, mothers, fathers, children, young and old Moro, politicians included in attendance.

Organizers claimed that some 90,000 Moros from across the island were present in the day-long activity.

We have done our part, we worked hard for this law,” Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, told the crowd, many of them in tears for the success of the peace process.

“This is not for us current MILF leaders but for you and your children’s future,” Iqbal told the crowd.

The BOL is an enabling law of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the national government and MILF forged after more than 20 years of peace negotiation. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the BOL last week, a law that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set up.

“The new law has been enhanced and more inclusive than the current ARMM,” Iqbal said.

Speaking in vernacular, Nasser Abot, an MILF fighter for a decade, said he is now feeling the atmosphere of peace in his hometown in Pikit, North Cotabato “because peace is now here.”

“The feeling is great, I pray that no more blood will be shed in our fight for self-determination,” Kuden Sulayman, a mother of six, told reporters.

Also on Sunday, MILF chief Hadji Murad Ebrahim reiterated the readiness of the MILF to decommission once the Bangsamoro government is in place.

Present were former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema and Yusoph Jikiri, erstwhile governor of Sulu, who both represented the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the assembly.

The MILF is a breakaway faction of the MNLF, which inked a final peace pact with the government in Sept. 1996 under former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari.

Region 9 most wanted 'kidnapper' nabbed

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Region 9 most wanted 'kidnapper' nabbed

PRO-9 releases the photograph of Jehar Nalangan alias Amer Palada, who is listed as Region 9' top most wanted person.

Police operatives arrested the region’s most wanted person during a law enforcement operation in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, an official said Monday.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer, identified the suspect as Jehar Nalangan alias Amer Palada, allegedly a notorious kidnapper.

Galvez said Nalangan, listed as high value target and most wanted person in Region 9, was arrested in an operation around 9:30 p.m. Sunday in Barangay Militar, Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur.

Nalangan has a standing warrant of arrest for murder and kidnapping, with no recommended bail, issued by a regional court in Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The Regional Intelligence Division personnel brought Nalangan to Imelda town for disposition and issuance of commitment order by the court.

Army deploys newly-activated battalion to Zamboanga Peninsula

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Army deploys newly-activated battalion to Zamboanga Peninsula

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, Army's 1st Infantry Division commander, on Monday, July 30, leads the send-off ceremony of the newly-activated 97th Infantry Battalion. The new unit was assigned to augment the 102 Infantry Brigade in the Zamboanga Peninsula. (Photo courtesy: First Infantry Division PIO)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A military official reminded the officers and personnel of the Army’s newly-activated 97th Infantry Battalion to be soldiers of peace and security by "guarding the welfare of the people."

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, the Army’s First Infantry Division commander, issued the reminder as he led the send-off ceremony on Monday of the youngest battalion, which coincided with the closing ceremony of the unit’s organizational training.

The division's newest battalion has been assigned to augment the 102nd Infantry Brigade here in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

“Always be culturally-sensitive and respectful to all our stakeholders in your new area of responsibility. Also, be disciplined and responsible soldier who is always cautious in his actions so that we may continue to sustain the gains that we have achieved in the pursuit of our mission”, Murillo told the troops.

Led by Lt. Col. Rufino de Leon, the 97th Infantry Battalion is composed of 485 strong and proficient officers and enlisted personnel.

The battalion has completed on Monday its organizational training designed to significantly complement the counter-insurgency efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as the anti-illegal drugs and anti-private armed groups (PAGs) operations of other government agencies.

Maj. Ronald Suscano, Army’s 1st Infantry Division information officer, said the battalion was formally activated last April 10 pursuant to General Orders Number 211 dated March 24, 2018.

Military offensive preempts NPA attack on Army detachment

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Military offensive preempts NPA attack on Army detachment


BATANGAS CLASH. Troops of the 1st Infantry Battalion (1IB) conduct their successful military offensives against members of the New People’s Army (NPA) communist terrorist group shortly before noon on Monday (July 30, 2018) in Sitio Coloconto, Barangay Bulsa in San Juan, Batangas. Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno, Commander of the 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID), Philippine Army, lauded the efforts of the troops as their combat operations have preempted the NPA attacks on the Bulsa military detachment. (Photo courtesy of 2ID-PAO)
CAMP GENERAL MATEO CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal - Troops of the 1st Infantry Battalion (1IB) clashed shortly before noon on Monday with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) communist terrorist group in Sitio Coloconto, Barangay Bulsa in San Juan, Batangas.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan S. Manio, Commanding Officer of the 1st Infantry Battalion, said government troops were conducting combat operations following reports from concerned citizens that a group of NPA terrorists would conduct harassment on the Bulsa detachment.

While scouring the area, the troops traced the enemies’ temporary encampment, with more or less 15 NPA rebels under alias ‘Salma’ of Sub-Regional Military Area (SRMA) 4C, Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC).

This led to nearly an hour of firefight between the government troops and the communist terrorist rebels around 11:20 a.m. Monday. No one was hurt from the government side.

The military troops also recovered a M16 rifle, six backpacks, one commercial radio, one bandoleer, six magazines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at the encounter site.

According to the 1IB troops, the rebels brought along their wounded comrades as they fled the area.

Major General Rhoderick M. Parayno, Commander of the 2nd Infantry “Jungle Fighter” Division (2ID), Philippine Army, lauded the efforts of the troops.

He said that the combat operations made by the troops have preempted the NPA attacks to the military detachment.

"Our troops on the ground are on track and on guard against all NPA threats. We will pursue them until they are decimated,” vowed Parayno.

As of press time, the government troops are continuing their massive pursuit operations against the terrorist insurgents and expanded check points in the area.

Duterte calls Joma Sison as having 'bankrupt mind'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Duterte calls Joma Sison as having 'bankrupt mind'

Calling communist leader Jose Maria Sison as having a “bankrupt mind,” President Rodrigo Duterte lambasted the Communist Party of the Philippines founder for reportedly pushing insurgents in the country to become "robots."

In his Monday speech at the destruction of contraband luxury vehicles and motorbikes at the Port Irene here, President Duterte described New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas as slaughterers who kill their own countrymen for decades.

“There is only one person thinking (for the NPAs). There is only one person using his ...gray matter between his ear. You are like robots,” he said.

Duterte also described members of the NPA as “arrogant” who push war and stop the progress and development of communities.

”You cannot even occupy a barangay. When you’re able to shoot somebody, kill civilians, kill soldiers, for nothing. For nothing! Not even an ideology. There is actually none at all. You’re fighting for a bankrupt mind," the President said.

Instead of continuing the armed struggle, Duterte said communist guerrillas must “trust the government” and support economic centers and businesses.

Saying the communist rebels are strong in Cagayan, President Duterte said it would mean nothing to them except for Sison whom “you (rebels) believe what is in his head.”

He stressed that he was once mesmerized by Sison but he admitted that he later reflected and reviewed his thoughts.

“You know there is always a time to reflect and review what we have in this life. It is not has to be evolution,” he said.

PN trains personnel to use Chinese-donated patrol boats

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): PN trains personnel to use Chinese-donated patrol boats

The Philippine Navy (PN) has already assigned personnel to undergo training on the operation and maintenance on the four patrol boats donated by the People's Republic of China.

This was bared by PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata in a message to reporters Sunday.

"The equipment provided are being assessed as to how this can be integrated within the organization and supported in the long-term in terms of logistics," Zata said.

"Likewise we have assigned personnel to train on its operation and maintenance," he added.

The one-week training of the above-mentioned PN personnel on the use of Chinese patrol boats was completed Monday, Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said.

The four patrol boats, along with 30 units of 40mm grenade launchers, were received during the third week of July.

The items are part of a weapons grant from China to the Philippines worth USD14 million made in 2016.

The grant includes fast boats, drones, night vision goggles and communication equipment, among others.

Talks with ASG won't violate gov't no-negotiation policy: Lorenzana

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Talks with ASG won't violate gov't no-negotiation policy: Lorenzana


President Rodrigo Duterte's proposal to talk peace with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits will not weaken the government's no-negotiation policy with terrorist groups.

This was emphasized by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stressing that the policy refers to ransom payments with terrorists.

"Hindi naman. (Not really). The government no-nego(tiation) stance is with terrorists who want to exchange their hostages with ransom money," he added in a message to reporters Sunday.

Lorenzana added the Duterte administration does not facilitate the release of money to recover hostages.

The DND chief earlier expressed support for Duterte's plans to talk peace with the ASG terrorists, especially those who have not committed capital offenses.

"Yes, I do. If we have peace talks with the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) why not the ASG? Especially those who have not committed capital offenses," he added.

However, Lorenzana clarified that those who have brutally killed civilian and military hostages must be held liable for their atrocities.

"Those that decapitated hostages will have to answer for their crimes," the DND chief added.

Duterte has renewed his call to dialogue with ASG on Friday, a day after signing the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

“Abu Sayyaf, mag-usap na lang tayo (let’s talk),” the Chief Executive said in a speech during his visit to fire victims in Jolo, Sulu.

“Ano bang gawain natin? Magpatayan tayong lahat? Ako, pwede niyo akong patayin maski saan. Anong makukuha ninyo? (What are we going to do? Kill each other? You can kill me anywhere. But what will you gain)? he said.

PH breaching US sanctions on Moscow firm 'illogical': Russian envoy

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): PH breaching US sanctions on Moscow firm 'illogical': Russian envoy

Russia Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev (Photo courtesy of Russian Embassy in PH)

The Russian Embassy in Manila on Sunday said it is "illogical" to say that the Philippines could breach sanctions imposed by the United States against blacklisted Rosoboronexport if it finalized an arms deal with the state-run firm.

In a statement, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said the restrictions against Rosoboronexport were introduced in accordance with the US internal legislation, and not the international law.

On July 18, Reuters published a report that the Philippines could breach US sanctions if its arms deal with Russia proceeds.

"If we follow their line of reasoning, it would appear that the very same American laws should work in the Philippines. In legal terms this is called 'exterritoriality' -- a principle from the colonial times according to which the laws of the parent state would also apply in its colonies," the envoy said.

Khoavev also explained the agreement is a matter of trade relations between two independent nations and does not involve a third country in any way.

"Russia advances itself only through a high quality and reasonable price policy. It is called fair competition," he said.

"One more thing Russia does not have is a practice of making our trade partners hostages of that partnership, forcing them to twist their domestic and foreign policy to our liking. The only way we can pave is to persuade the countries buying from us that they are making the right choice," he added.

Apart from the Philippines, Khovaev said 100 other nations around the world "successfully cooperate" with the Rosoboronexport "with no harm to their foreign policy."

The envoy shared that in 2017, Russia signed agreements worth more than USD16 billion for export of its arms and military equipment, including with new partners like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Turkey.

"Not a single one of these deals has been canceled," he said.

Khovaev is optimistic the partnership will push through, saying the deal will basically contribute to regional peace and stability since it is aimed at fighting terrorism.

"Russia considers the Government of the Philippines a reliable partner with whom we are firmly set on building a long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation," he noted.

Citing an anonymous Philippine defense official, the report said US has not officially notified the Philippines about the restrictions on Rosoboron export, blacklisted by America in April.

“It’s still a go until we are informed,” the official was quoted as saying.

But in response, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Malacañang will study the issue. He initially expressed doubts the Philippines will violate US sanctions on the state-run firm since the sale would be in Russia.

Roque, a professor of international and constitutional law, also questioned the legal basis of US to impose sanctions on countries like the Philippines that has “absolute immunity as a sovereign state”.

He said he has no idea if the arms deal will proceed but “the official stand is, we will study the matter."

PH Navy prepares for acquisition of submarines

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): PH Navy prepares for acquisition of submarines

The Philippine Navy (PN) is now conducting market research and doctrine studies on how to fully utilize the submarines it is planning to acquire as part of the efforts to modernize its fleet.

The former refers to costing of an affordable submersible vessel while the latter refers to specific mission use of the submarine in Philippine naval service.

"Now the Navy (is) studying doctrines (on submarine usage and deployment) and planning its procurement. This has never been done before and I think that is significant (as it provides a direction for the PN's future acquisition)," Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in an interview with reporters Monday.

Earlier, the DND spokesperson said the acquisition of the country's first submarines will be brought forward to Horizon Two of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP), which was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last May.

The procurement of the above-mentioned naval craft was earlier scheduled for Horizon Three, which is expected to run from 2023 to 2028, while Horizon Two is scheduled from 2018 to 2022.

The budget for the program is roughly placed at PHP300 billion. Horizon One lasted from 2013 to 2017 and resulted in the acquisition of the three Del Pilar-class frigates, 12 FA-50PH light-lift interim jet fighters, two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.

"Hindi na (when asked on whether submarines will be acquire on Horizon Three), pinush na dito (Horizon Two), ngayon (now), how will this come to be, yan ang kailangan pag-aralan (that is what needs to be studied)," Andolong said.

The DND spokesperson said submarines are a great equalizer for the country's naval arsenal once acquired.

He added that incumbent Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad can be credited for pushing the inclusion of diesel-electric submarines in Horizon Two.

Earlier, the PN chief said that he fully supports all proposals that would allow the country to acquire its first diesel-electric submarines at the soonest possible time. This is because undersea or submarine warfare is now the trend in naval warfare as it is very difficult to fight an opponent you cannot see or detect due to its ability to go underwater.

In line with this project, Empedrad said the PN has already created a Submarine Group, which is now sending Navy personnel for study and training on submarine operations in preparation for the country's eventual acquisition of submarines.

He added that this is necessary as the submarine acquisition, including training, support facilities, and the vessel, often takes seven to 10 years.

The PN chief added that the decision to acquire submarines for the Philippine military was further bolstered by a recent conference he attended in London, United Kingdom, where more and more modern navies are shown building up their submarine fleet and anti-submarine capabilities.

PNP urges wanted militants to surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): PNP urges wanted militants to surrender

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde reiterated his call for the voluntary surrender of four progressive leaders, who were ordered arrested by a Nueva Ecija court.

"(W)e have received a copy of the arrest order issued by Honorable Evelyn Atienza Turla, Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 40 of Palayan City against Satur Ocampo, et. al., The PNP is duty bound to implement orders of judicial authorities. That is our constitutional mandate that law enforcers must abide with due consideration to human rights and dignity of the accused," Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing Monday.

"I have directed the CIDG over the weekend to immediately send out arresting teams to serve the warrant of arrest against Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casiño, Rafael Mariano, Vicente Cayetano, Delfin Pimentel and Emeterio Antalan. However, I am also appealing to these individuals to just turn themselves in and to submit themselves to judicial processes," the PNP chief added.

Earlier on Monday, progressive groups held a protest in front of the PNP headquarters denouncing the impending arrests.

Last July 11, the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 40 issued an arrest warrant against former Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino, Rafael Mariano, former Anakpawis representative and Agrarian Reform secretary and Liza Maza, former Gabriela representative and now head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

They were tagged in the abduction and murder case of New People's Army rebels Danilo Felipe in 2001, Jimmy Peralta in 2003 and Carlito Bayudang in 2004.

Dureza calls for sustainable peace after BOL passage

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Dureza calls for sustainable peace after BOL passage


Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza on Monday rallied peace advocates to work even harder to achieve genuine peace and development “now that a milestone has been achieved” following the enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Now we have reached milestone but it has still to be worked out,” Dureza said in his speech during the 1st United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP) Stakeholders Conference at the University of Makati, Makati City.

Dureza said the crafting of the BOL was one of the major steps that President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to achieve to address the so-called historical injustice that the Bangsamoro people have experienced in Mindanao.

“We cannot address peace with Bangsamoro if we will not address historical injustice that the Moro long to address,” he said.

He said the Duterte administration wanted to make sure that improvement of people’s lives should be sustained along with genuine peace in the region.

“We cannot achieve peace if we don’t improve the lives of the people. It must simultaneously come together,” he said.

In line with the UNAP confab’s theme, “The role of Education in Our Journey to Peace and Security”, Dureza emphasized the need to improve the climate for education in the Bangsamoro area.

“The truth is because there are so many children who are uneducated, many of them had already adopted violent extremism. They thought there is no way to improve their society. They’re giving up on it,” Dureza said.

“But education will be very important tool in trying to change the outlook of the people. The children must be given the opportunity of having a perspective,” he added.

Dureza expressed hope that the BOL would finally lead to a peaceful and progressive Mindanao, calling on the Bangsamoro people to unite to make their region a better to place for everyone.

“Whether it will work or not, will really depend now amongst them already. I trust that this mechanism will bring about a better Bangsamoro area,” he said.

He said the Bangsamoro leaders must address the breakaway groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters by convincing them to help in bringing peace and development in Mindanao.

“It is now left in the hands of Bangsamoro on how to make their area a better place for everyone. They have to chart their own future. They have already the mechanism. They have a big block grant of I think PHP50 billion every year from national government,” Dureza said.

Dureza said the government will also continue to talk peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“Right now, the President has declared na kansel muna ang talks. Remember kansel muna. It means not totally cancelled (Right now, the President has temporarily cancelled the talks. Remembers, it’s temporary, not totally),” he said.

He exhorted the UNAP stakeholders to keep on working with the government to bring about genuine peace throughout the country.

“Our association (UNAP) would be a very big help in our work forward. As I said a milestone has been reached but still a lot to do. We need your support, assistance, knowledge and continued faith that we can work together on this,” Dureza said.

The UNAP was established in 1947 to help promote global understanding, cooperation and peace in the Philippines and among nations based on human dignity and universal service.

The association is an affiliate of the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

Bangsamoro Organic Law ceremonial signing slated Aug. 6

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): Bangsamoro Organic Law ceremonial signing slated Aug. 6

President Rodrigo R. Duterte will lead the ceremonial signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on August 6, his top aide said Monday.

Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go confirmed in a message to reporters that a ceremony will be held in Malacañang, but did not give further details.

In an earlier Palace briefing, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Chief Executive was not really fond of holding ceremonies but he personally felt that the BOL deserves one.

“Alam ninyo si Presidente talaga, hindi mahilig sa seremonya (You know the President, he’s not really fond of holding ceremonies),” Roque said.

“I would personally want to see a ceremony and I would like to invite all the stakeholders. But it’s not my decision. So, I’ll find today what that decision of the President will be. But, I think we deserve one,” he added.

Roque said if the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III held a ceremony for the signing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite it not being passed by Congress, the Duterte administration’s BOL certainly deserves a ceremony as well.

“You could imagine what the ceremony that the previous administration had on the BBL that was not passed. Ito BOL na napasa (This BOL was passed),” Roque said.

The BOL, which seeks to establish a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is expected to pave the way for lasting peace in Mindanao.

MNLF hopes BOL would bring peace and development to Bangsamoro land

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 29): MNLF hopes BOL would bring peace and development to Bangsamoro land

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is optimistic that the recently signed Bangsamoro Organic Law or BOL would bring “peace, hope and development” in the Bangsamoro land in Mindanao.

(Wikipedia | Manila Bulletin)
“The content of the BOL is very laudable and I know that President Rodrigo Duterte is very much sincere to bring peace and development in Mindanao by ending the decade-old conflict and poverty that the Moro people is experiencing in Mindanao and I know he is sincere with his desire,” Jikiri said.

The MNLF is very much thankful to the president for his vision to end the conflict in Mindanao and introduce changes in the lives of the people by allowing them to live a better live ahead away from poverty and conflict, he emphasized.

He said that while prospects for a better Mindanao is still on a drawing board, measures are now being undertaken by the government to attain and meet this vision of a better Mindanao and a better Bangsamoro homeland.

For his part, MNLF Vice Chair Hatimil Hassan said prospects is so high now that a “better hope for a better tomorrow” for all of us is now starting to begin with the signing of the BOL by President Duterte.

Our people are now happy, especially after learning that once the BOL will be implemented, many programs of development of the government will flourish in Mindanao, jobs will also made available to most of the Moros in Mindanao, Hassan said.

Adding that many of their combatants can now expect to enroll in the regular forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and of the Philippine National police (PNP) which is a great opportunity for them all.

Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) President Amina Rasul said the BOL provides fiscal autonomy, automatic appropriation of the block grant, funds for the rehabilitation and development of conflict-ridden areas, a judiciary based on Shari-ah laws, and a new form of government.

Rasul added: “We expect all sectors of the Bangsamoro civil society to support this Law to enable our communities to live in peace and end the civil strife which had plagued the island of Mindanao for decades now.”

The PCID she said hopes that foreign and local investors would flock to Mindanao and assist the Bangsamoro people in growing its economy.

Rasul emphasized that PCID hopes that the BOL will pave the way for genuine autonomy and self-rule for the Bangsamoro and urged everyone to support the Bangsamoro community as they embark on their journey toward achieving peace, social justice, good governance, and inclusive growth and development.