Archive for the ‘insurgency’ Category

AFP Denies NPA-Bicol’s News Advisory

April 20, 2009

Blast NPA for seaborne ambush

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, PILI, CAMARINES SUR—Army spokesperson Major Christopher Morales of the 9th Infantry Battalion in Bicol blasted Monday the “news advisory” sent through email to media outlets that five Army men were killed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in a daring seaborne ambush, supposedly in “North Coastal” of Lagonoy town on March 27”.

“The story should have already been out in the mainstream media at this moment, if assuming something happened like that,” Morales commented and he went on to say that it is a sweeping propaganda aimed at putting doubt on the capability of the Army. “Where are the bodies? Why didn’t people hear the firefight?” he added.

The emailed “news advisory”, dated on the same date of the seaborne ambush was supposedly sent by an NPA commander with certain name of Baldemoro Archangel, spokesperson of Tomas Pilapil Command of the NPA in Camarines Sur’s third district.

Morales added the NPA is just making a political statement that would put the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the bad light.

He said the military establishment encourages the filing of cases against erring members of the AFP and that they would cooperate with investigating body to probe the imputation against any soldier and officer, including alleged human rights violation.

Raising alarm on five deaths attributed to military operations from February to March, the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Bicol links the incidents of killing to the clearing operation of the AFP in preparation to the RP-US Balikatan Exercises in Bicol planned staged in April.

Ka Greg Bañares, spokesperson of NDF-Bicol, enumerated five civilians killed in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes in the course of military clearing operations involving members of Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) with a 16-month-old baby the youngest victim.

According to Morales it was the NPA’s bullets that killed the baby. Their investigation team found out that the NPA were holding meeting it Balanac when the Army soldiers arrived. “Our soldiers did not even fire a shot and when the rebels scampered to flee they indiscriminately fired which resulted to civilian casualty,” he added.

Bañares also accused the Army soldiers and Cafgu members together with the mayor of Presentacion, Jaime Deleña, of firing at the hapless fishermen suspected of fishing illegally in San Jose, Camarines Sur that killed Domingo Bardado and seriously wouding William Arroyo.

In this particular incident, Morales said it was Deleña and Task Force Kalikasan who requested assistance from Army. He said the fishermen charged at the apprehending authorities and fired shots which made the Cafgu members retaliate by firing at the fleeing fishermen.(Bicol Mail)

NPA leader: Military behind daughter’s slay

March 9, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:55:00 03/09/2009

ka-parago

DAVAO CITY—If the killers of elementary teacher Rebelyn Pitao wanted to shatter her father, Commander Parago of the communist New People’s Army’s Pulang Bagani Command, they apparently failed.

Parago, whose real name is Leoncio Pitao, said the killing of his daughter might have devastated him but did not weaken his cause—the “revolution of the people who have been suffering from the hands of an oppressive government.”

Pitao granted selected journalists an interview in an upland village known to be an NPA stronghold in southern Mindanao on Sunday—three days after the body of his daughter was found in an irrigation ditch in Carmen town, Davao del Norte province.

Wearing a Mao cap and the NPA’s signature black shirt, Parago appeared calm but his eyes were somber. He exchanged jokes with NPA cadres.

The military has consistently denied involvement in Rebelyn’s abduction and killing.

“What they did to my daughter was painful but we must not stop. I am here not only as a father to her but a father to many other poor daughters and sons of the oppressed. Am I devastated? I am not. I am even inspired by her death to be relentless in fighting for the freedom of the poor,” Parago said.

He added: “I will not abandon the people because of this loss. Instead, I will continue the people’s revolution.”

His oldest son, Ryan, also an NPA cadre, said the death of his sister was unacceptable. But like his father, Ryan said, Rebelyn will now become their source of courage and strength to move forward.

“She is now our inspiration to broaden the democratic people’s revolution. My sister will now always be with all of us as we struggle against a bankrupt government,” said Ryan. He joined his father after surviving an attack of suspected government agents three years ago.

Parago said he had expected the military to target his family as government forces continuously failed to capture him. He claimed that the 10th Infantry Division’s military intelligence group was behind the abduction and killing of Rebelyn.

“No one has the intention, motive and track record of the MIG [military intelligence group]. They did this to my brother. They almost got my son. My other daughter, Rio, was tailed by elements of MIG when she was still studying and this continued even when she was already working. It was the 10th ID who said they wanted to get me … now who has the desire to see me weakened or dead?” Parago said.

But he said the NPA would not retaliate and follow the approach of the military. He, however, said that time will come for those who were behind the killing of Rebelyn to pay for their debts.

Rebelyn, 20, was on her way home on board a tricycle from St. Peter’s College in Toril District when she was snatched by armed men. She was forced into a white van and was overheard by the tricycle driver as screaming for help.

Her body bore torture marks and five stab wounds. Rope marks were also found around her neck, which could mean she was strangled.

The medico legal also found injuries in her genitals, believed to have been caused by a hard object.

The militant women’s group Gabriela took the killing as the government’s gift to them on International Women’s Day.

“She becomes the symbol of the entire Filipino women whose equal footing with men has been undermined by the Arroyo regime,” said Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan.

“What made it more outrageous was the fact that Rebelyn Pitao has dedicated her life to teaching, a profession that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken for granted over the years,” Ilagan said.

“Her only fault was being her father’s daughter,” Ilagan said.

In Manila, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano in a statement blamed the President, specifically her anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay-Laya on the murder of Rebelyn. Jeffrey M. Tupas with reports from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao, and Gil Cabacungan Jr. in Manila

40 years and counting: The communist movement in Mindanao

January 13, 2009

Written by Edwin G. Espejo
Monday, 29 December 2008
var sburl2669 = window.location.href; var sbtitle2669 = document.title;var sbtitle2669=encodeURIComponent(“40 years and counting: The communist movement in Mindanao”); var sburl2669=decodeURI(“http://zumel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=563”); sburl2669=sburl2669.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl2669=encodeURIComponent(sburl2669);The ride was rocky and uphill.  In another place and time, the roar of motorcycle engines used to ferry visitors and select members of the Mindanao press for 24 hours non-stop would have easily given away that something big is going on in the mountains just a handful of kilometers from the national highway connecting the cities of Butuan and Surigao.

It was the 40th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines and an endless stream of visitors and supplies are being ferried deep into the jungles of a Mindanao town where at least 200 fully armed regulars of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist rebel movement, have assembled themselves to celebrate the four decades of “armed revolution” in the countryside.

Unlike previous celebrations and press conferences of the Mindanao Commission of the CPP, the ride was not easy and worry-free.  For only a little over a week before, some 60 fully armed rebels stormed a police headquarters in nearby Tubay town in Agusan del Norte and a mining company owned by Rep. Edilmero Amante.

Just forty five minutes into the back-breaking ride, we arrived at a makeshift stage hastily prepared for the occasion and for a press conference called by the communist leadership in Mindanao – all muddied and wet.

Instead of arriving at the appointed time of nine o’clock in the morning amid intermittent drizzle and heavy downpour, the last batch of press people did not arrive at the rendezvous point until past noon, our supposed schedule to leave the area.

Interestingly, the press people did not see any of the visitors who arrived the day and night before even as residents near the area said they have not seen them leaving the area.

The customary handshakes and greetings were brief.

Jorge Madlos, a.k.a. Ka Oris, apologized for the bad weather and offered us lunch consisting of rice, slice of roasted pig, pork adobo, beef stew and menudo all neatly packed in separate cellophanes.

We were also handed out kits that include a green sweatshirt with sticker announcing the 40th anniversary of the CPP and logos of the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front – the same sweatshirts worn by young NPA regulars who were racing up and down the road, or shall we say a trail, in the middle of the thick vegetation.

Also inside the neatly arranged press kit were an MTV of revolutionary songs, a planner (revolutionary in theme – of course), and a 2008 first quarter copy of Pasa Bilis, the “people’s magazine” of the Southern Mindanao Region Party Committee of the communist rebel group.

Another leap forward

At 59 years old, Madlos, a member of the CPP Mindanao Commission and Mindanao spokesperson for the National Democratic Front (NDF), still carries the zeal of a man on a mission who has seen the ebb and flow of “people’s war” in Mindanao.

Himself a veteran of almost four decades of life in the underground movement spiked by several years of detention under the Marcos dictatorship and Aquino regime, Madlos read a four page statement of the rebel movement in Mindanao and later held a press conference with invited select members of the press from all over the island.

“We are on the verge of entering a new stage of our revolutionary struggle and have fully recovered from our debacle in the mid-80s,” he told reporters.

He said the CPP-NPA has re-established strong presence in “more than 2,000 barrios (villages) of 200 municipalities in 19 provinces in the island.”

They have also added four new guerilla fronts this year, bringing the total to 39 fronts and did not lose a single guerilla zone in 2008.

In addition, Madlos said the communist rebel group was able to launch more than 300 tactical offensives (up from last year’s 190 NPA-initiated attacks) and seized over 200 high-powered firearms throughout the island.

“All these are signs of the growth of people’s war (in Mindanao),” Madlos quoted one Ka Puman who signed the CPP-Mindanao Commission’s statement on the occasion its 40th anniversary.

They can now again mobilize large formations of up to a battalion of NPA regulars if the target so requires and if conditions call for it, according to him.

“It is a case to case basis.  If there is a subject that needs battalion size formation, we will do that,” he said.

But he also quickly added that the NPA, the military wing of the CPP, has no plans of organizing regular battalions.

“What the NPA is doing right now is to organize a minimum of at least one platoon in every guerilla front, and three platoons or equivalent of one company in every region,” Madlos further explained.

He said at least a company of NPA guerillas was involved in the simultaneous raids on the Tubay police headquarters in Agusan del Norte and on the San Roque Mining Incorporated, a company owned by Rep. Edilberto Amante, where they burned heavy equipment.

The rebel spokesman said they are now setting their sights on entering the advance sub-stage of the strategic defensive stage of their revolutionary struggle.

Debunked

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however quickly belied claims made by Madlos.

AFP Chief of Staff Alexander Yano said the government is right on target in reducing the NPA into irrelevance by 2010, the year President Arroyo said the communist movement will be decisively defeated.

“Defeating and reducing them into irrelevance is the same.  We are on pace,” Yano said in a mobile phone interview.

The general said the communist rebels will no longer be treated as a national security threat by 2010 and would be reduced into a matter of police concerns.
Major Gen. Armando Cunanan, commanding general of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) of the AFP, on the other hand, said the number of armed NPA guerillas dropped by four per cent this year.

Eastmincom spokesperson Major Randolph Cabangbang placed the total strength of the NPAs in the island at no more than 1,400 armed regulars.

“They have been reduced to criminal activities, preying on helpless businessmen,” Cabangbang quoted Gen. Cunanan as saying.

In October, defense chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the CPP-NPA has been reduced to holding criminal activities.  He said the communist movement in Mindanao is extorting money from small scale miners and large mining companies.

Major Cabangbang said the NPAs are generating at least P20 million a month from miners and mining companies in the Diwata ranges in Compostela Valley alone.

“This money is being used to finance the expenses of members of the central committee of the CPP,” Cabangbang added.

The military also said the number of tactical offensives launched by the NPAs in 2008 is misleading.  Cabangbang said more than half of them cannot be even considered harassment activities.

And although he conceded that the NPAs may have seized over 200 rifles, these were allegedly taken from “soft targets” like security guards and government militiamen.

The AFP chief of staff however conceded that the increase in armed activities of the NPA was due to the AFP’s shift in the focus of its military operations to the MILF with whom the NDF has forged a tactical alliance.

Otherwise, Yano said, the rebel group has reportedly suffered huge losses in personnel and territories in Northern and Central Luzon.

The AFP chief likewise said the number of guerilla fronts in Mindanao can be misleading.
“They can easily split their fronts with just a skeletal organization to present some semblance of strength,” he added.

But the AFP chief also conceded that the NPAs are most active in the Davao and Northern Mindanao regions.

Reinventing the NPAs

Madlos said the CPP and the NPAs have learned their lessons in the debacle of the 1980s.

They have abandoned the prolonged encampment of large formations which took its toll on their “mass base” and exposed their supporters to counter offensives from the military.

Instead, they have deployed their armed guerillas in their base areas and directed them to engage in production and political, organizational and ideological work.
Still, Ka Oris said they won’t shy away from inflicting damage on government troops if the situation warrants.

The Mindanao Commission also gave standing orders to all NPA units not to open fire on military targets who are in the company of civilians or inside civilian houses and on private vehicles and public transport with civilian passengers.  Corollary to that, the NPA has abandoned its military policy of providing room for civilian casualties during
tactical offensives.

But he hastened to add that it will be impossible for NPA units to determine the presence of civilians in military installations and encampments at all times.

“That is why we are enjoining civilians to refrain from living inside military camps and riding in military vehicles because these are legitimate targets of the NPA,” Ka Oris said.

“Where before we allow ‘budget’ for civilian casualties, all guerilla commanders and political officers will now face stiff sanctions for any civilian collateral damage,” said Ka Don, an aide to Ka Oris.

But the CPP-NPA said they will continue to mete out “capital punishment” to military personnel, government officials and civilians who have incurred blood debts “against the people.”

“We are the army of the masses.  They run to us to get justice where our bourgeois courts cannot give them.  It is our duty to implement the verdict of punishment by death if it so warrants,” Ka Oris said.

But he also explained that the CPP-NPA has now been very judicious in meting out its brand of justice, described by the military as a “kangaroo court.”

All indictments and decisions by the “people’s court”, he added, will undergo thorough review from the highest territorial units of the CPP-NPA in the area depending on the gravity of the “crime” and the person involved.

The struggle lives on

Ka Oris said the resiliency of the communist movement will allow it to ultimately achieve its objective of “establishing a national democratic government with socialist perspective.”

He said the conditions are ripe for the “revolution’ to move forward and inflict more damage on the Arroyo government.

He likewise warned that any effort to extend the term of Arroyo beyond 2010 will only strengthen the CPP-NPA.

If that happens, he said, Arroyo will go down in history as the “greatest recruiter” of the NPA.

He said they have no illusions that a comprehensive political settlement and lasting peace will be achieved under the Arroyo administration.

He accused the government of continuously undermining the possibilities of the resumption of the peace negotiations.

But also said the CPP-NPA-NDF is not closing its door to the resumption of the peace talks provided the government dropped all preconditions it has imposed on the rebel group.

He also said that before any peace negotiations could proceed, the government must reiterate its commitment to honor the The Hague Declaration.

The Hague Declaration, also known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human rights and International Law (Carhiil) signed by the NDF and the Philippine government under the Ramos administration, was a historic piece of document which should be the basis for further talks between the rebel group and the government, according to Ka Oris.

Otherwise, he said, the NDF is willing to wait for a new government to replace the Arroyo administration and see if the peace process could move forward.

In the meantime, the NDF said it will continue to implement its own brand of agrarian reform in the countryside and wage its armed struggle “even if it takes another four decades to achieve complete victory.” mindanews.com

RP-US WAR GAMES CPP urges attacks on Balikatan in Bicol

January 12, 2009

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 08:29:00 01/12/2009

Filed Under: Guerrilla activities, Military

MANILA, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to attack Filipino and American military forces that will be conducting joint military exercises in three Bicol provinces—Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon—in April.

“NPA units in Bicol are specifically instructed to launch as many tactical offensives as they can in many areas of the region in mockery of the Balikatan exercises and to prevent the US military from strengthening its foothold in the region,” the CPP said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday.

The CPP instructed all communist guerrilla units across the country as well to continue to stage tactical offensives against state security forces.

The current NPA strength has been pegged at 5,239 armed men by the military.

40th anniversary

The CPP celebrated its 40th year on Dec. 26 with the unveiling of a five-year plan to step up the insurgency and move closer to its goal of toppling the government to establish a Maoist state.

The communists have been conducting guerrilla warfare the past four decades against the government.

The rebel group urged the Filipino people to expose and protest the deployment of US troops to more areas of the country, including the Bicol region, by using the Balikatan joint exercises as a pretext.

The CPP said the plan to conduct the annual Balikatan joint military exercise not only in Bicol but in other parts of the country signaled heightened US military intervention in the local civil war.

“In doing so, the US seeks to pave the way for the future regular access of troops to guerrilla fronts in the Bicol region where the NPA operates,” the CPP said.

US spy planes

The CPP claimed that in the past three years, there have been several sightings of US spy planes in the vicinity of NPA guerrilla fronts in Central Luzon, southern Tagalog, Bicol, northeastern and southern Mindanao.

“Recently, US troops have become increasingly active and visible in the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) combat operations against the NPA in Mindanao,” the CPP said.

Last week, Capt. Kelly Schmader, commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, visited the Bicol region to see to the final stages of surveying and planning for the scheduled Balikatan (meaning shoulder to shoulder), which is now on its 14th year in the country.

Last year’s Balikatan was held in Mindanao.

The Balikatan is part of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States. Its primary objective is to improve the “interoperability” of the two countries’ armed forces for mutual defense.

According to Schmader, some 400 American doctors, engineers and nurses, belonging predominantly to the military, will join the month-long exercise to provide humanitarian aid to depressed areas in the three Bicol provinces.

A military report deemed these provinces as hotbeds of the communist insurgency in the Bicol region.

Military officials in the region have assured the public that the aims of the exercises were “peace and development” and there would be no war games with US forces, only humanitarian projects in the form of medical missions and engineering works.

But the CPP dismissed the “no military exercise and only humanitarian works” as “pure hogwash.”

Specific objectives

“The US military does not carry out any operation or mission by any name without specific military objectives. Joint military exercises and humanitarian missions only serve as cover for US troops to gain access to the guerrilla fronts to carry out physical and social terrain mapping, conduct surveillance, recruit local agents and influence the local governments and social infrastructure,” the CPP said.

According to the CPP, retired Gen. Edilberto Adan, head of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, had already admitted that in conducting the forthcoming Balikatan exercises in the Bicol region, the US military has a specific objective of familiarizing its forces with guerrilla conditions and learning jungle combat operations in the area.

Hindi biro ang mag-Cha-Cha

December 13, 2008

Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano

Mahigit 77% ng taumbayan ang di pabor sa pag-aamyenda ng saligang batas, ayon sa sarbey (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Ekspresyon ng pagtutol sa Charter Change: Mahigit 77% ng taumbayan ang di pabor sa pag-aamyenda ng saligang batas, ayon sa sarbey (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

NAKAKATAWA na nakakatakot ang isang bidyo na kumakalat ngayon sa Internet. Ginampanan ng nagpapakilalang Juana Change ang mahigit limang-minutong komedya hinggil sa ngayo’y mainit muling isyu hinggil sa Charter change (Cha-Cha). “Isang araw, magugulat ka na lang. Matanda ka na pala, kami nandito pa,” sabi ng kontrabida bago humalakhak at i-laser gun ng kanyang sidekick ang isang mananayaw na umaalma sa pambababoy diumano ng gobyerno sa kanyang paboritong sayaw.

Malinaw na tinutukoy ng bidyo si Gloria Arroyo, ang Pangulong pinakamatagal nang nakaupo sa puwesto sunod sa diktador na si Ferdinand Marcos.

Pinaniniwalaang nagmumula pa rin kay Arroyo ang panibagong tulak sa Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso na amyendahan ang 1987 Konstitusyon.

Simpatetikong Korte Suprema?

Halos kasabay ng pagbabasura ng Kamara sa ika-apat na reklamong impeachment laban kay Arroyo, sinimulan muli ng House Committee on Constitutional Amendments ang mga pagdinig hinggil sa Cha-Cha. Tinalakay ang House Resolution 737 ni Espiker Prospero Nograles ng Kamara. Pinababago ng HR 737 ang Seksiyon 2 at 3, Artikulo XII ng 1987 Konstitusyon para payagan ang mga dayuhang pagmamay-ari ng mga lupain sa bansa.

Katuwiran ni Nograles, kailangang isalba ang ekonomiya ng bansa sa gitna ng krisis pandaigdig.

Pero agad na sumingaw ang mas kaduda-dudang motibo sa Cha-Cha sa HR 550 ni Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas. Pinahahaba nito ang termino ng Pangulo hanggang Hunyo 30, 2011.

Sa kabila ng iskandalong nilikha ng HR 550 na agad namang ibinasura ng komite, nagpursige sa Cha-Cha ang mga kaalyado ni Arroyo sa partidong Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino). Itinutulak nila ang pagbubuo ng Kongreso sa isang Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass).

May 167 kongresista na ang pumirma sa ihahaing resolusyon ni Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, presidente ng Kampi. Balak ng Kampi, mangalap ng 197 pirma sa Kamara na kakatawan sa ¾ ng kabuuang miyembro ng Kongreso o 238 kongresista at 24 senador. Pupuwersahin nitong resolbahin ng Korte Suprema, sa wakas, ang isyung bumabara sa pagbubuo ng Con-Ass.

Ayon sa 1987 Konstitusyon, maaaring amyendahan ang Konstitusyon kung boboto ang ¾ ng mga miyembro ng dalawang kapulungan ng Kongreso. Pero hindi malinaw dito kung boboto nang hiwalay o iisa ang Mababa at Mataas na Kapulungan.

Di tulad noong 2006 na ibinasura ng Korte Suprema ang people’s initiative, naunang tangka ng administrasyon para itulak ang Cha-Cha, paborable para kay Arroyo kung magdedesisyon sa susunod na taon ang korte hinggil sa Con-Ass. Pitong hurado ang magreretiro. Pawang mga appointees ng Pangulo ang matitira. Siya rin ang magtatalaga sa bagong mga hurado.

Mismong si dating Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, kinatatakutan ang isang “Korte Suprema ni Arroyo.” Umano’y baka mabahiran ng impluwensiya ng Pangulo ang tanging sangay ng gobyerno—sa ilalim ng pamumuno ni Chief Justice Reynato Puno—na may imaheng relatibong independiyente mula sa ehekutibo.

Paliwanag ni Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, presidente ng United Opposition, “Malakas ang loob ng mga nagtutulak ng Cha-cha sa Kamara na magiging simpatetiko ang Korte Suprema at aalisin nito ang legal na mga balakid sa Konstitusyon hinggil sa term limits ni Arroyo.”

Term extension: ‘Di mapipigilan’

Sa isang birthday party sa tahanan ni Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez noong Nobyembre 15, napabalitang dumalo sina Pangulong Gloria at kabiyak na si Mike Arroyo para basbasan ang Con-Ass. Ngayon, kasama ni Villafuerte sina Romualdez at Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, anak ng Pangulo, sa pangangalap ng pirma para dito.

Itinatanggi ni Villafuerte na ang lahat ng ito ay para maisalba ang Pangulo, na posibleng kumaharap sa iba’t ibang kasong kriminal kapag natanggalan ng immunity from suit sa 2010. Umano’y walang kinalaman ang Con-Ass sa pagharang sa darating na halalan. Dapat lang umanong resolbahin ang moda ng pagbabago ng 1987 Konstitusyon.

Pero marami ang naniniwala na kapag nabuo na ang Con-Ass, hindi mapipigilan ang pagpasok ng probisyon sa pagpapahaba ng termino.

Isa na rito si Sen. Francis Pangilinan. “Kung may humirit at sabihing ayaw ko ng economic provisions lamang, walang magagawa ang sinumang senador o kongresista. Dahil hindi puwedeng ilimita…Oras na magkaroon ng objection, at magkaroon ng proposal, puwedeng pagbotohan iyon. At kung ang pagbobotohan ay term extension, baka matuwa ‘yung napakarami at sabihing, ‘sama-sama na tayong pabor,’” aniya.

Hindi sang-ayon ang mga senador, maging ang kilalang mga kaalyado ni Arroyo na sina Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago at bagong-halal na Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, sa Cha-Cha bago ang 2010 halalan.

Para kontrahin ang Con-Ass, naghain ng resolusyon si Sen. Mar Roxas na nagpapatawag ng isang Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) pagkatapos ng 2010 halalan. Ang mga delegado sa Con-Con na siyang magpapanukala ng mga pagbabago sa Konstitusyon, ihahalal kasama ng iba pang mga opisyal ng gobyerno.

Ayon kay Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., na nagtutulak ng pagbabago tungo sa parlamentaryong porma ng gobyerno, “makukulapulan ng partisanong pamumulitika” ang paghalal ng mga delegado sa Con-Con.

Pero dahil tila mahihirapan ang Kamara na ilusot ang Con-Ass nang walang kaparis sa resolusyon mula sa Senado, bukas sa Con-Con si Nograles—dahilan para umugong ang balitang patatalsikin siya ng mga taga-Kampi mula sa pamunuan ng Kamara—gayundin si Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor ng partidong Lakas.

Walang kinalaman?

Samantala, iginigiit ni Press Secretary Jesus Dureza na walang kinalaman ang Palasyo sa hakbang ng kanyang mga kapartido. Hindi rin umano ito makikialam sa isang kapantay na sangay ng gobyerno.

Gayunpaman, dinedma nito ang hamon ng ilang mga obispo na pumirma ang Pangulo ng isang dokumentong nangangakong hindi siya mananatili sa puwesto lampas sa 2010. “Ipagpapatuloy lamang niya ang dapat gawin bilang Presidente—ang pamumuno (governance),” ani Dureza.

Pero ayon kay Sen. Pia Cayetano, ang pananahimik ni Arroyo at kabiguan nitong sawatahin ang Con-Ass ay nangangahulugang pabor siya rito. “Kung talagang sinsero siyang hindi pahabain ang kanyang termino, bakit hindi niya ihayag ang oposisyon sa mga hakbang ng sarili niyang mga kaanak sa Kamara?”

Nagkakaisa rin ang mga lider-simbahan at ang mga negosyante na anupaman ang moda o ipinapalitaw na dahilan, hindi dapat amyendahan ang 1987 Konstitusyon sa ilalim ng gobyernong Arroyo.

Self-serving” o pakikinabangan lamang ito ng mga nagtutulak ng Cha-Cha, ayon kay Alberto Lim, presidente ng Makati Business Club. Maging si Edgardo Lacson, presidente ng kadikit ng administrasyon na Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sinabing magdudulot lamang ng “political turmoil” o kaguluhang pampulitika ang Cha-Cha ngayon.

Ayon pa kay Arsobispo Gaudencio Rosales, na kilala ring tagasuporta ni Arroyo, hindi dapat ipagkatiwala ang Cha-Cha sa mga nasa kapangyarihan dahil sa kanila umanong “vested interests” o itinatagong pansariling mga interes.

Kahit ang taumbayan, lumalabas na hindi pabor sa Cha-Cha.

Sa pambansang sarbey noong nakaraang buwan ng Ibon Foundation, mayorya o 77.4% ng mga rumesponde ang nagsabing tutol sila sa pag-aamyenda ng Konstitusyon. Tumaas pa ang rating na ito kumpara sa sarbey noong Abril kung saan 68% ng mga rumesponde nang negatibo sa Cha-Cha.

Laging may duda

Bukod sa posibleng pagpapahaba ng termino ni Arroyo, tinututulan ng progresibong mga kinatawan ng party-list at ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) ang iba pang inihahaing mga pagbabago sa Konstitusyon. Pangunahin dito ang pagtanggal sa mga restriksiyon sa dayuhang pag-aari ng lupa, pampublikong yutilidad, mass media, paaralan, at advertising firms.

“Magreresulta ang 100% pagmamay-ari ng dayuhan sa mga lupain ng pinatinding pangangamkam ng lupa mula sa mga magsasaka at pagdambong sa kalikasan,” sabi ni Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

Binabantayan din ng Bayan ang pag-aamyenda sa Bill of Rights na nagsisiguro ng batayang mga karapatang pantao, at pag-alis ng mga safeguard o panlaban sa pagdedeklara ng Batas Militar.

Dagdag pa ng grupo, tututulan nila ang pagpapababa sa kinakailangang mga boto sa Kongreso para ratipikahin ang internasyunal na mga tratado na maaaring nasa disbentahe ng taumbayan, gayundin ang mga probisyong magpapabalik ng dayuhang mga tropa at baseng militar sa bansa.

“Sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang sirkunstansiya…laging pagdududahan ang mga hakbang para baguhin ang Konstitusyon. Sa panahong hindi dominante sa gobyerno ang interes ng mga mardyinalisado at inaapi, laging makikinabang sa Cha-Cha ang mga naghahari sa ekonomiya at pulitika, kapwa lokal at dayuhan,” sabi ng Bayan.

Panahon ng oposisyon

Kung paniniwalaan ang mga grupo at indibidwal na nag-oorganisa ng malaking kilos-protesta sa Disyembre 12, “papuntang Ayala Ave. ang lahat ng daan.” Umano’y panahon nang magpakitang-gilas ang mga tumututol sa Cha-Cha at pananatili sa puwesto ni Arroyo.

Kinabibilangan ito ng mga taong-simbahan, negosyante, estudyante, dating nakakataas na opisyal ng gobyerno, at progresibong mga grupong sektoral na kumakatawan sa mga manggagawa, magsasaka, maralitang lungsod, empleyado ng gobyerno, kababaihan, at iba pa.

“Talagang naghahanap ng venue ang taumbayan para maipahayag ang kanilang galit sa Cha-Cha,” sabi ni Renato Reyes, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bayan.

Kung pagbabatayan ang sentimyento ng ordinaryong mga mamamayan gaya ni Juana Change, magiging makulay at pursigido ang muling pagbuhay ng protesta laban sa hindi birong banta na matapatan o mahigitan pa ni Arroyo si Marcos sa bilang ng mga taon na nakaupo sa puwesto.

http://www.pinoyweekly.org

NPA rebels hold Army commander captive Rebel spokesman says rebels are respecting First Lt. Vicente Cammayo’s rights as prisoner of war

November 17, 2008

By Al Jacinto, Correspondent

ZAMBOANGA CITY: A commander of the Army’s elite Special Forces, who went missing last week after a fierce firefight with communist rebels, is being held captive in Mindanao, a rebel spokesman said Sunday.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a New People’s Army (NPA) spokesman, said rebel forces are holding 1Lt. Vicente Cam-mayo, commander of the 11th Special Forces Company. “He was taken as an NPA prisoner of war,” Sanchez said, adding, the Alejandro Lanaja Command is holding Camayo captive.

Cammayo’s group clashed with rebels on November 7 in Compos-tela Valley’s Monkayo town that left two army soldiers and a government militia dead in the village of Casoon.

“The smashing blow the Alejandro Lanaja Command of the NPA delivered on an enemy unit touted as the regime’s elite combat forces is a testament to the increasing military capabilities of the New People’s Army. It is an apt punishment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the fascist and corrupt Arroyo regime for the grave atrocities it has committed and continues to commit against the Filipino masses,” Sanchez said.

Army Maj. Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the offensive against the NPA would not stop until the rebel group is neutralized.

“Our troops will not get tired of running after the New People’s Army bandits,” he said. “We will never stop until we get hold of Camayo and return him to his loved ones.”

Sanchez warned any rescue attempt would put Cammayo’s life in peril. “The only cause of POW [Prisoner of War] Cammayo’s safety being imperiled emanates from the 10th Infantry Division’s futile attempt to mount a rescue operation,” he said.

Cammayo is being interrogated for possible human rights violations and other crimes related to operations of the Special Forces in Mindanao.

Sanchez said rebels are respecting Cammayo’s rights as a prisoner of war.

“His rights as a POW are guaranteed in consonance with the New People’s Army’s Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention and Protocol II of the Geneva Convention,” he said. “We assure his wife and family that he is well and is adapting to the guerrilla conditions of his captivity.”

The rebels also seized an M60 machine gun and one M14 and two M16 automatic rifles from Camma-yo’s unit during the fighting.

Aris Francisco, spokesman of the New People’s Army’s Alejandro Lanaja Command, accused the Third Special Forces Battalion to which Cammayo’s unit belongs, as responsible for the series of violations on human rights, protocols of war and international humanitarian law in Compostela Valley province.

Francisco said the Special Forces masterminded the June bombing in Nabunturan town that wounded several innocent civilians. “The bombing was a desperate and fascist attack in response to the sparrow operations of the New People’s Army which killed two of their soldiers at that time,” he said.

The New People’s Army also tagged Special Forces members as behind the brutal murder in June of a peasant leader Noli Llanos in Nabunturan’s Mipangi village, where rebels killed three government soldiers; and also the killing of farmer Diego Encar-nacion in the village of Linda in Nabunturan town in July. Both farmers were accused by the military as communist rebel supporters.

The New People’s Army, the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting the government the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (ManilaTimes)

Sergeant Manero gets conditional amnesty

August 26, 2008

By Ben O. Tesiorna


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DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) released retired Master Sergeant Jose Manero on Sunday evening after 103 days in captivity.

Manero is the elder brother of Norberto Manero alias Kumander Bucay, the controversial convicted priest killer.

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The freed sergeant was reportedly turned over by the rebels to Fr. Ronnie Lomata on August 24 around 10 p.m.

The group of Kumander Parago abducted Manero on May 11 from the farm of his employer Raffy Lorenzo. Lorenzo was also taken by the rebels but was released soon after in an area not far from his Calinan farm.

Manero is said to be in his house in Calinan. He is now resting and reunited with his family.

The NPA’s Merardo Arce Command meantime said that Manero was granted a “conditional amnesty,” thus his release from custodial detention by the 1st Pulang Bagani Company.

“This grant of conditional amnesty is based on his (Manero) admission of guilt and issuance of a public apology for the crimes and serious violations of human rights he committed against the people and the revolutionary movement,” the NPA said in a statement.

“These crimes and violations were committed when he was still on active duty as an enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and acted as detachment commander in various areas in Davao City and elsewhere, particularly in Barangay Callawa, Davao City,” it added.

The NPA said Manero vowed to abide by three conditions that led to the grant of the amnesty. These are:

1. He would not undertake any act that would harm the people, cause damage to their lives and livelihood and violate basic human rights, especially to workers and peasants.

2. He would no longer engage in armed and other hostile actions against the NPA and the revolutionary movement, whether individually or jointly with the AFP, PNP (Philippine National Police), Intelligence and paramilitary units of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines).

3. He would be truthful to his admission of guilt and issuance of public apology hereinafter.

“In the event that Jose Manero deliberately and directly violates any single provision of this conditional amnesty, the same shall be automatically revoked. And as a consequence, his name shall be reinstated in the NPA’s standing order for his re-arrest, trial and subsequent imposition of appropriate penalties consistent with the revolutionary legal system and judicial processes of the People’s Democratic Government,” the rebel group said.

With Manero’s release, the rebels said they hope he would now lead “a life respectful of human rights, remold himself and disengage from further anti-people and counter-revolutionary undertakings.” (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

NPA executes suspected informer

August 21, 2008

NAGA CITY — The James Balaquiao Command of the New People’s Army based in the second district of the Camarines Sur has admitted to the killing of one Ramon A. Arias, 43, of Calabanga, Camarines Sur early this month.

In a communication sent to Bicol Mail dated August 6, 2008, Maria Lorena Mendoza, public information officer of the rebel command, said that Arias has been meted to die because of political crimes he committed against the movement and the people.

They accused the victim of being an agent of the Military Intelligence Group 5 of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Arias allegedly spied on the movement to help flush out rebel comrades and sympathizers under the military’s “Oplan Bantay Laya II,” a government campaign aimed at stamping out insurgents in the countryside.

They also accused Arias of being a party to political killings as evidenced by the secret mission orders they allegedly found in his possession when snatched by the armed insurgents.

Such mission orders, according to Mendoza, were signed by Lt. Col. Andrew Castelo, PA group commander, for the months of July-August 2008.

The rebel communication, however, did not state Arias’ actual date of execution and where.

Arias’ wife Melinda had accused the rebels of taking away even the victim’s personal belongings which the rebel command dismissed as lie. “Kinumpiska lamang ng mga kasama ay pawang gamit militar at may kaugnayan sa paniniktik [at] gamit sa kontra-rebolusyaryong gawain nito (the rebels confiscated only the things related to the military and his [Arias’] anti-rebel mission),” the statement signed by Mendoza said.

Confiscated from the alleged military agent were a cal. 45 pistol, a Garand rifle, and clips of ammunitions.

The rebel statement said affected residents were relieved that peace and means of livelihood were restored in their area with Arias no longer around.

The rebels, meanwhile, warned the Calabanga police and the hired AFP paramilitary units from abducting for interrogation minors and innocent civilians in the government’s stepped up war against the rebel movement.

They said such harsh tactics are against the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law where the Philippine government is a signatory.(BicolMail)

NPA renews offensive, 9 soldiers killed in Abra, Kalinga

August 19, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Two commands of the New People’s Army in two Cordillera provinces staged ambuscades on July 30 and August 1 where at least nine government soldiers were killed instantly and a score wounded.

Six army soldiers were killed and nine others were reportedly wounded when the Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC) of the New People’s Army (NPA-Abra) engaged a platoon of operating troops of the Bravo Company, 41st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army on August 1 at Barangay Duldulao, Malibcong, Abra.

Two of the wounded soldiers later died in a hospital, the ABC statement said.

Earlier on July 30, another NPA squad in Kalinga ambushed the 34-member Charlie Company of the 21st Infantry Brigade in Balbalan, Kalinga. The three-hour firefight killed three soldiers and wounded two more, one died later, according to the NPA’s Lejo Cawilan Command (NPA-Kalinga).

Reports reaching the national media, however, quoted Lt. Eduard Sia-ed, 41st IB public information officer as saying the army company had only two casualties and two wounded. He identified the fatalities as Privates First Class Aurelio Begtang and Jones Andrade.

Sia-ed named the two wounded soldiers as 2nd Lt. June-mar Tutoy and Cpl. Oscar Cagurangan.

“The Red Guerillas used a command-detonated claymore mine and safely withdrew,” ABC said. It claimed a company-sized composite contingent of the Bravo and Charlie Coys is “currently terrorizing the people of Malibcong Poblacion, Duldulao, and Bayabas, and is forcing the people to allow the establishment of detachments in the municipality.”

ABC claimed the overwhelming majority of the people, however, opposed the 41st IB plan.

The ambush lasted only five minutes, according to ABC, but Sia-ed said the firefight with about 20 rebels lasted for about three hours.

The communist rebels claimed no casualty but Sia-ed said according to community reports, “at least five rebels were either killed or wounded.”

“Impositions of the Arroyo regime and the big mining companies will only fuel protests and unrests, and militarization will only intensify armed resistance from the people,” the ABC said in a statement. It professed support to the people’s opposition to large scale mining and all its disguised forms, and vows to frustrate all military and PNP operations to impose alleged development projects and in accordance with Oplan Bantay Laya 2. # Northern Dispatch

4 Army soldiers wounded in NPA ambush

August 12, 2008

By Delfin Mallari Jr., Roy Gersalia
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 00:27:00 08/12/2008

LUCENA CITY – Four Army men were wounded when suspected New People’s Army rebels ambushed a group of soldiers from the 16th Infantry Battalion aboard a military truck traveling along the highway in Barangay Llavac, Real town in Quezon province on Monday, the spokesperson of the Army’s Southern Luzon Command said in a report.

Army Capt. Leah Santiago said that at about 2 p.m., an undetermined number of NPA rebels fired at the soldiers while on the way to position themselves as a blocking force to the escaping guerrillas that earlier attacked the town hall in the island town of Panukulan.

A few minutes later, the reinforcement team from the same battalion chanced upon another group of NPA rebels in Barangay Lubayat also in Real.

The firefight was still ongoing as of press time, Santiago said over the phone.

Capt. Peter Garceniego Jr., 16th IB spokesperson, said the four soldiers only suffered minor wounds and were being treated in a hospital in the area.

“The harassment being waged by terrorist communists was only meant to divert attention from our ongoing operations,” he said over the phone.

He claimed that aside from acting as a blocking force to the Panukulan raiders, the Army soldiers were also part of the government forces that were engaged in a major operation against NPA rebels in northern Quezon.

Earlier that day, the NPA rebels attacked the Panukulan town hall and took at least nine firearms from the police station.
A Panukulan policeman said more than 30 guerrillas launched the attack while the local government employees were reciting a prayer during the flag-raising ceremony held at the plaza fronting the town hall.

The raiders seized eight short firearms, one long firearm and several rounds of ammunitions, said the policeman who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to talk about the incident.

“The attack was over in about 10 to 15 minutes. We were not able to put up a fight for fear that many civilians might be caught in the crossfire. There were also many students around because the town hall is near the school,” said the lawman.

The informant said the NPA rebels also partially burned the generator set of a Globe relay station located in the mountainous area of the place.

He said the leader of the NPAs even made a short speech before the assembly of government employees and also talked to Panukulan Mayor Rogel Portos.

“The speech was interrupted several times by shouts of ‘Mabuhay ang NPA’ coming from the rest of the rebels,” said the policeman.

He said the NPA rebels escaped aboard several motorized boats and headed toward the town of General Nakar at the foot of Sierra Madre.

Santiago said at least four Air Force helicopters had been dispatched to track down the escaping rebels.

“This attack was an act of desperation of the terrorists to negate the success of military forces in our counterinsurgency. They want to impress to the public that they are still a force to reckon with despite their losses in the battlefield and declining support from the masses,” she said.

On Friday night, two more cell sites of Globe Telecom were attacked by suspected NPA rebels in Sorsogon province.

One of the cell sites was in Barangay Aguada Norte, a kilometer away from the Magallanes town poblacion, while the other site is located in Barangay Sogoy, Castilla town.

The two incidents were the eighth and ninth in a series of harassments on Globe cell sites in the Bicol region since July 31.

Bangsamoro Juridical Entity should not be used to divide the people of Mindanao

August 4, 2008

Press Statement
25 July 2008

Bangsamoro Juridical Entity should not be used to divide the people of Mindanao

The inclusion of several villages in Zamboanga City in the mapping of the Moro people’s ancestral domain should not appear as a threat to the people of Zamboanga. Rather it should be a venue for the people of Mindanao to assert their right to land and ancestral domain.

It is not new for the Moro people to hear landed families and politicians of Mindanao react to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. However, politicians should know better than to fan anti-Moro hysteria by accusing their Moro brothers and sisters of reclaiming lands and inciting them to arm themselves the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The mapping out of the Moro people’s ancestral claim should undergo a process, and should not be forced on the people. The decision of which and how many villages should be included in the Moro people’s territorial claims should not solely be at the hands of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or be limited at the negotiating table of the GRP-MILF peace talks.

It is the responsibility of the government to correct the pervading notion that the Moro people are out to forcibly take the lands of the Christian settlers and the Lumads. While plebiscite may be a venue for the people to decide whether they want to be part of the Moro people’s ancestral domain, the government should inform and educate the public by providing venues wherein the people can fully discuss not only the Moro people’s claim to ancestral domain, but the issue of ancestral domain and land rights of the people of Mindanao as a whole.

We may view the BJE as the Moro people’s way of correcting historical injustice, that of decades of forcible evacuation as a result of government policies on land ownership, forcible evacuation of residents due to decades of war and military operations and the accumulation of lands by the few business and landed elite families– Christians and Moros alike.

To correct our biases, we must learn lessons from our history. The settlers and the Lumads in Mindanao lost their lands for these same reasons. We were made to fight over what was left of the land, ravaged by multinationals and landed elite. Even in our small tracts we were reduced to being tenants, plantation workers with small pay and, worse, driven away.

The MILF and even the Moro National Liberation Front have yet to realize the aspirations of the Moro people’s right to self-determination. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is a far cry to the genuine autonomy they agreed with the government, for it did not even give the right for the Moro people to utilize and manage their natural resources. ARMM remained tied to the economic polices of the national government, and deep in debt.

The national government and the politicians have had so many years to correct their policies, yet they chose the status quo. Under the Arroyo administration, lands remained at hands of the rich and being sold to multinational companies. Already the government has signed a deal with Exxon Mobil for the exploration of the oil-rich Sulu Sea and other multinationals lining up to get a chunk of the natural gas in Liguasan Marsh.

President Arroyo even intensified the mining policy which has flushed out thousands of Lumads out of their mountains, and continued the land conversion programs that has forced the Christian and Lumad farmers out of their lands. Only the multinationals rake in profit from the low pay of workers in the rubber, palm and fruit plantations in Mindanao.

We must unite to resolve the problem of the people of Mindanao. The people of Mindanao should respect the land of its fellow people. Let us put a stop to the monopoly of land by one clan, one government official and foreign businesses. Let us assert that the Mindanao lands should be for the people – for the Moro, for settlers and for the Lumads. #

Amirah Ali Lidasan
National President, Suara Bangsamoro
Telefax (064)421.5860; Mobile: 09196603839
email: suarabm@yahoo.com

Editorial Cartoon: On MILF Peace Talks

August 3, 2008

Unwitting Chacha Partner.

Now if all of us opposes again the admin-led chacha move, PGMA can easilly call us anti-Moro. Ang galing naman ng pamahalaang ito. Bwisit!

What I am afraid of is the religious war it my cause.  (Remember dude, the Catholic Church is anti-Chacha.)

Bangsomoro to get own state

August 3, 2008

Gov’t, MILF to sign ancestral domain pact Tuesday

By Fe Zamora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:43:00 08/02/2008

PRACTICALLY A NEW STATE WITH “A DEFINED TERRITORY” and “a system of governance suitable and acceptable to [the Bangsamoro] as a distinct dominant people” will be established in Mindanao under the proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain between the Philippine government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Under the proposed agreement, which is scheduled to be signed on Tuesday, the planned Bangsamoro homeland will have its own “basic law,” its own police and internal security force, and its own system of banking and finance, civil service, education and legislative and electoral institutions, as well as full authority to develop and dispose of minerals and other natural resources within its territory.

Copies of the draft MOA were distributed to retired generals during a forum on July 24 in Camp Aguinaldo, where Hermogenes Esperon, President Macapagal-Arroyo’s adviser on the peace process, was the guest of honor. The Inquirer obtained a copy.

But Inquirer sources privy to the peace process said the proposed agreement with the MILF would require amending the Constitution.

They said its provisions on territory and governance would require amendments to the “existing legal framework” and a plebiscite in areas to be included as part of the Bangsamoro homeland.

The proposed homeland will be governed by the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), which will have authority to send trade missions to and enter into economic cooperation agreements with other countries provided it does not include aggression against the Philippine government, and send representatives to the Association of Southeast Nations as well as agencies of the United Nations.

Described as a “landmark deal,” the proposed MOA will pave the way for the crafting of a “comprehensive compact” seen to finally end the 40-year, on-and-off Moro armed struggle in Mindanao.

The conflict has left 120,000 dead despite the signing of a peace agreement between the government and another separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front, in 1996.

Ultimate objective

According to the proposed MOA, the “ultimate objective of entrenching the Bangsamoro homeland as a territorial space” is to “secure [the Bangsamoro’s] identity and posterity, protect their property rights and resources, as well as establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as a distinct dominant people.”

The proposed homeland will include the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Marawi City); the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte; and hundreds of barangays in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato, which voted to become part of the ARMM in 2001.

The proposed MOA also provides for the inclusion of the Bangsamoro’s “ancestral domain” in Mindanao, Palawan and Sulu.

Definitions

“Ancestral domain” and “ancestral land” are defined in the proposed agreement as land “held under claim of ownership, occupied or possessed, by themselves or through the ancestors of the Bangsamoro people, communally or individually since time immemorial continuously to the present, except when prevented by war, civil disturbance, force majeure or other forms of possible usurpation or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of a government project or any other voluntary dealings entered into by the government and private individuals, corporate entities or institutions.”

“The ‘Bangsamoro homeland’ and ‘historic territory’ refer to the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan region,” according to the proposed agreement.

It also states: “It is the birthright of all Moros and all indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as ’Bangsamoro.’ The ‘Bangsamoro people’ refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of their descendants, whether mixed or of full native blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the indigenous people shall be respected.”

Shared authority

Per the proposed agreement, the government — referred to in the document as the “Central Government” — and the BJE are to exercise “shared authority and responsibility” over the Bangsamoro homeland.

The details of the structure of shared governance will be defined in the “comprehensive compact.”

A multinational third party will be jointly invited by the government and the BJE to observe and monitor the actual implementation of the “comprehensive compact.”

The other salient points of the proposed MOA are:

Internal waters extending to 15 kilometers from the coastline belong to the BJE. Waters beyond the 15-km limit belong to both the government and the BJE.

The government and the BJE will share all natural resources such as gas, hydrocarbon, petroleum, etc.

The BJE has the sole power to revoke or grant forest concessions and enact agrarian laws, and to explore or obtain minerals, oil, natural gas, petroleum, etc. within its territory.

Stalled peace talks

Peace negotiations between the government and the MILF have been stalled on the contentious issue of ancestral domain since December 2007.

Only on July 25, informal talks aimed at getting the peace negotiations back on track broke down in Kuala Lumpur, with the MILF panel accusing the other side of trying to “undo” provisions in the “breakthrough” agreement forged on July 16.

The MILF said the meeting had been intended to finalize the text of the draft agreement on ancestral domain, but that the government panel led by retired general Rodolfo Garcia wanted certain settled issues reopened.

Stumbling blocks hurdled

But both Garcia and Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, himself a peace negotiator with the separatist rebels for more than 10 years, expressed optimism that the stumbling blocks would be hurdled and the peace process would go forward.

Indeed, on July 27, the government and MILF panels led by Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal, respectively, initialed the final draft of the agreement on ancestral domain, according to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

“This will lead to the signing of the MOA on ancestral domain on Aug. 5,” Ermita said.

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My Take:

This is a brilliant move for the government, especially to those who’se sole ambition is to amend the constitution and extend their reign as warlords and political lords of this ailing country.

The Bangsamoro people are clearly being used by this government, to justify any planned means to get their juicy ends

The easy part of this show will be done by Tuesday (if a signing would indeed happen).  The hard part of the show will extend for many generations to come, because i have a strong feeling that after the signing, a series of problems will arise, that might lead to yet another armed conflict.

Duterte will ask rebels to stop harassing traders

August 3, 2008

MAYOR RODRIGO Duterte will ask the leadership of the New People’s Army (NPA) to stop harassing  businesses in the city.
In a consultation with members of the business sector, Duterte admitted the rebels have intensified their activities in relation to its revolutionary tax activities to get more funds for their operations.
However, the mayor said he could not discuss with the rebels, particularly the Pulang Bagani Command 1 under Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago. The mayor used to meet Parago.
“I can’t talk to them about policies. I have to go up to the Commission in Mindanao – their pulit-buro,” he said. But Duterte said his efforts could only reach a certain level because it is a nationwide concern which the national government must address.
He said the activities of the NPA and those of other groups are beyond his control. Had they been criminals, he could “eradicate them in 24 hours,” he said, although he added there are rules to be followed
“The NPAs, I can’t control them including terrorists. I can’t solve it myself. I can only take care of the criminals,” he added.
Duterte said the government could not also harm the members of the rebel movement who are in the legal fronts or those in the “white area.” He said doing this would change the equation and would make the city once again as a killing field.
Simeon Marfori II, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said the business sector is grateful that the city government has been pushing for the peace and order situation to be maintained. He said because of this they were able to thrive well in the city.
Marfori said they are willing to cooperate with Duterte in keeping the good climate of the city especially with the recent attacks of NPA which could greatly affect the city’s image.
He said investors will most likely shy away in investing here if a lot of security and peace and order problems are being disseminated.
The recent attack of the group was last Wednesday night in Tigatto, Buhangin District where the member’s of Parago’s group burned four heavy dump trucks and two heavy equipment owned by Lapanday Development Corporation. The report of the military said the 15-men group also strafed the hangar of the company.(MindanaoTimes)

NPA rebels attack farm in Davao

August 1, 2008

DAVAO CITY — Suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked a farm in Tigatto, Buhangin District in Davao City Wednesday night, military said Thursday.

According to reports from the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), the attackers belong to the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command 1 under Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The military said the attackers burned four dump trucks and two heavy equipment. They then disarmed the security guard of the banana farm.

EastMinCom reports said that around 6:15 p.m., at least 50 heavily armed NPA men onboard an L-300 and Starex vans attacked the farm of Nonong Rodriguez. They were led by Kumander Bungot.

The farm’s security guards reportedly tried to drive back the rebels but they were overpowered.

The .9mm gun of one of the security guards, Antonio Espinas, was taken while another guard was divested of his shotgun.

The group also carted away the cellular phone of the unarmed guard.

The rebels destroyed the door of the Rodriguez’s residence and tried to barge inside. Two of the security guards were held hostage as they retreated. The two were released later.

The Starex van with plate number LWW 201 fled towards the direction of Callawa while the L-300 van, with plate number LCV 581, stopped in front of the Lapanday airstrip hangar.

The armed group open fired at the airstrip hangar in Lapanday.

The rebels abandoned the van on Km. 13 in Mandug and boarded a yellow public utility jeepney (PUJ).

The group also abandoned the PUJ at the Mandug barangay hall and boarded a Toyota Prado that sped towards Callawa. The vehicle was found on Km. 15.

The attackers were believed to have fled on foot towards the hinterlands of Callawa.

A pair of rubber slippers found inside the Toyota Prado was believed to be owned by one of the suspects.

The NPA rebels also wrecked havoc at Cabaguio Farm in sitio Fatima, Barangay Mandug, burning four dump trucks and two backhoe heavy equipment owned by Ruben Quigue, a resident of Flores Village in Bangkal, Davao City.

Investigation conducted by the Buhangin police showed that the L-300 van was owned and driven by Charlie Cortez while the Starex van was under the name of Benito Sabido.

The two vehicles were reportedly rented earlier in the morning by Danilo Burlat, a resident of Davao Empress, Panacan for a trip to Pindasan, Davao Oriental. The owners and the renter agreed to meet at Victoria Plaza in Bajada.

Upon reaching the place, a man and a woman ordered the vehicles to be brought to Acacia, Buhangin where a group of armed men wearing fatigue uniforms were waiting.

The vehicles used by the group in their attack are now under the custody of the authorities.

Police and military authorities are hunting down the suspects as of this writing Thursday.

Wednesday’s attack is the latest in the series of attacks perpetrated by communist rebels in the city that is slowly getting nearer the downtown area.

Several weeks ago, rebels also raided a firm in Bunawan district. (BOT/RCO/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Peace talks between the government and NDF dims, says Esperon

July 28, 2008

Davao City- Peace talks with the Communist rebels is getting dim as government continues to insist on a ceasefire as a precondition of the peace talks while the rebel group pressures the government to drop it from European Union terror list.

Presidential Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, said the government still insists on a ceasefire before the holding of the peace talks so that the rebels can prove that they are not terrorists, after all.

“Peace talks cannot go on if rebels continue to burn buses and telecommunication towers,” he said. “It’s difficult if you just go to the negotiation table without a ceasefire.”

He also said that removing the rebel group from the list of terrorist organizations is something the government cannot do because the Philippines cannot dictate on other countries like Europe to drop off the NPA from the foreign terrorists list.

The Oslo-brokered talks between the government and the National Democratic Front were stalled after members of the NDF panel walked out of the negotiations in 2004 to protest the groups’ inclusion in the EU terror list.

Esperon said the government is still exploring ways to resume peace talks with the rebel group. Should the rebels stay firm in their conditions, it would really be hard, he said.

In a statement, the NDF blamed the government for putting up more obstacles for the resumption of the talks. The group said the government’s insistence on a ceasefire and the inclusion of the CPP/NPA in the terror list violated the agreement signed at The Hague, Netherlands between the government and the NDF.

“In demanding for a ceasefire as a precondition to the peace talks, the Arroyo regime violates The Hague Joint Declaration which requires that the peace negotiations address the roots of the armed conflict with social, economic, political and constitutional reforms,” said Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDF negotiating panel. “The declaration said that no precondition whatsoever shall be imposed by one side on the other,” he said.

The NDF also cited the illegal “suspension” of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig); various human rights violations, including the persecution, murder, arrest and enforced disappearance of NDF consultants; and the refusal of the government to indemnify human rights victims under the Marcos regime, among the obstacles of the peace talks.

“It is the obligation of the government to comply with the agreements it has signed with the NDF, otherwise, it blocks the way for the resumption of the formal talks,” said Jalandoni.

The statement said that the Norwegian government facilitated informal talks between the NDF and the government in May this year to find ways for the peace talks to resume amidst all obstacles. But the NDF was disappointed at the results.

Esperon said that in the absence of the peace talks, government taps the Local Peace Security Assembly to entice the rebels to go back to the folds of the law.

The absence of peace talks also increased rebels’ offensives, which recently included the raid of municipal station in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental; the burning of a Davao Oriental cell site; the attack against the 3rd Special Forces Battalion-Philippine Army in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley; the attack against the Asares and JBMC mining firms in Mt. Diwata, Monkayo, Compostela Valley and the raid of police station in Dapa, Surigao del Norte in a span of two weeks.

Concerns over recent NPA attacks in the region and in other parts of Mindanao alarmed the business sector, particularly the members of Mindanao Business Council, who vowed to support all peace efforts of the government.

Esperon was in Davao in a forum at the Mindanao Economic Development Council where he also discussed the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Grace S. Uddin/ davaotoday.com)

Editorial Cartoon: Request

July 27, 2008

Anti-insurgency drive to focus on Compostela, Davao Sur

July 26, 2008

Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 04:06pm (Mla time) 07/26/2008

DAVAO CITY, Davao Del Sur — The government’s anti-insurgency campaign in Southern Mindanao has been directed to Compostela Valley and Davao Del Sur because these provinces have become a “priority area,” according to a military commander in the region.

Major General Jogy Fojas, commander of the 10th Infantry Division based here, said on Saturday that military operations have been intensified, especially in Compostela Valley, because it is there where the “degree of insurgency is very, very active, well developed, and well organized.”

Fojas said more troops from Luzon and the Visayas have already arrived to augment troops in Compostela Valley and in Davao Del Sur.

“Along with the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion and 3rd Field Artillery Battalion are 24 armored vehicles and 12 howitzer tubes,” he said.

Fojas made the announcement in the wake of attacks by the communist New People’s Army in the region and in nearby areas.

On Thursday, a village official was killed while three police officers were wounded in a landmine explosion after communist rebels attacked a banana plantation in the village of Luna Norte in Makilala, North Cotabato.

The attack occurred as Armed Forces chief General Alexander Yano proposed an indefinite ceasefire with the rebels to re-start the stalled peace talks.

Major Armand Rico, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, told the Inquirer by phone that about 15 rebels swooped down on the plantation of Dole-Stanfilco around 5:50 a.m. Thursday.

Rico said the rebels overpowered the guards at the plantation before burning the palletizing equipment.

“Shortly after the attack, a team of pursuing law enforcers on board a multi-cab (hit)… a landmine along the road, killing barangay (village) councilor Ricky Apolinario and wounding three other policemen,” he said.

Rico said the landmine explosion was aimed at discouraging troops from pursing the rebels.

North Cotabato Governor Jesus Sacdalan said despite the incident, soldiers went to pursue the fleeing rebels.

Rico said the rebels attacked Dole-Stanfilco because of the company’s refusal to give in to the rebels’ extortion demands.

Fojas said the concentration of troops in Compostela Valley and Davao Del Sur was the response of the military hierarchy “to the clamor from our local government executives.”

“(They wanted) more troops with the continued atrocities perpetrated by these communist New People’s Army turned criminals and bandits against our business and investment communities,” Fojas said.

The NPA, however, said the military was “patently wrong in its assumption that massive troop and artillery deployment would spell the difference in their fight against the revolutionary movement.”

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command, said that the beefing up of government troops showcased the government’s “shock and awe method.”

“The intent is quite clear: Use an overwhelming force against the NPA and instill fear in the minds of the revolutionary mass base. But is this overwhelming force effective? A display of superior armament and troop strength by the AFP is inconsequential to the New People’s Army,” Sanchez said.

He said while tanks and artillery remained important weapons in conventional warfare, “they hardly play a significant role against a mass-based army waging guerrilla warfare.”

“For one, the NPA at the current stage of the people’s war is basically a mobile politico-military army. Thus, the AFP has no fixed military target to attack,” he said.

The government has said it will crush the insurgency by 2010.

Malacañang recently approved the release of P1 billion to the military to beef up its capability against the rebels, who have been waging a guerrilla war to establish a Maoist government in Asia’s oldest democracy.

The communists backed out of the Norwegian-brokered peace talks after it failed to convince the government to lobby for its removal from Washington and the European Union’s list of terror organizations.

Reports from Jeffrey M. Tupas, Jeoffrey Maitem, Dennis Santos, Edwin Fernandez, Eldie Aguirre and Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao

War vs communists must be won with ‘military force’–Teodoro

July 26, 2008

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:23:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the war against the communist insurgency should be “won with military force, not without,” as he rejected anew a military proposal to declare an “indefinite” ceasefire with the rebels to revive peace negotiations.

But at the same time, Teodoro played down his and General Alexander Yano’s contradicting positions, saying only President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would have the “last word” on the matter.

“I know what’s always said, the cliché that you cannot win it by military force alone, but it should be won with military force, not without, or else you will not be able really to have a clear settlement of the problem,” Teodoro said in an interview with reporters in Camp Crame on Friday.

Teodoro was asked if sustained military offensives were necessary to meet the President’s 2010 deadline to defeat the nearly four-decade-old communist insurgency.

In a statement, Yano said: “Until an official policy is given on the matter, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] will not waver on its campaign to reduce the insurgency problem to an inconsequential level by 2010.”

Yano reiterated his position that a ceasefire would in fact “enhance” the counter insurgency campaign since the rebels would be given the choice to “take the better option” of “talking peace.”

But with or without a ceasefire, Yano said the AFP was “on track” to meet the President’s deadline.

Teodoro said the military offensives would not be “on a grand scale” but troops would apply “increased pressure” on the NPA that would lead to the dismantling of guerilla fronts.

“What I’m saying is until such time that there is a definite policy on the ceasefire, there is no ceasefire to talk about,” he said.

The defense chief said that Yano could have been “baited” by media into proposing a long-term ceasefire with the communist insurgents.

“I know him to be a professional officer, perhaps his views may not coincide with mine. That’s fine. We’re both professionals and we follow the directives to us,” Teodoro said.

Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 after the insurgents protested the government’s alleged inaction in having them removed from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.(PDI)

Defense chief downplays NPA attacks in south

July 26, 2008

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:25:00 07/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro played down the attacks of communist rebels on mines and communication facilities in the south, saying these are not signs of their growing strength.

Over the past weeks, the New People’s Army (NPA) has burned mining equipment and attacked telecommunication towers in Central and Southern Mindanao, in an attempt to extort “revolutionary tax” from businessmen.

“The area is really conducive for NPA activity because there are a lot of potential profit-making activities in the area. [It is] very easy to extort from miners,” Teodoro told reporters in Camp Crame.

Asked if the attacks showed that the rebels were gaining ground, Teodoro said: “Hindi naman [not really]. They are concentrating in one area because they are being cleared from other areas. They are concentrated there, and they want to create, perhaps, their last stand there.”

Teodoro acknowledged that it was “difficult” to secure businesses in far-flung areas, especially cell sites, so it is important for the military, the police and local government units to “fuse” their security efforts.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, General Alexander Yano, “has called the attention” of military commanders over the attacks, Teodoro said.

“Not to intensify offensives, but to intensify attention to the problem. If offensives are necessary, then it should be done,” he said.

On Sunday, a Mechanized Infantry Battalion composed of roughly 500 troops with two dozen tanks, and two 100-man Field Artillery batteries armed with grenade launchers were deployed to the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) area to thwart the NPA attacks.

The reinforcements were stationed at 1001st Brigade headquarters in Compostela Valley province.

But on Thursday morning, the rebels struck again and burned equipment at a facility of Dole Philippines in Makilala town, North Cotabato province.

On the same day that the reinforcements arrived, the rebels torched a drilling machine of the Sagittarius Mine in Davao del Sur province.(PDI)

Insurgents in Mindanao vow to launch more offensives against govt, military targets

July 25, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected communist rebels on Friday vowed to launch more attacks against government and military targets in Mindanao even as thousands of troops were sent to the strife-torn region to fight insurgency.

The New People’s Army (NPA) said the deployment of military forces in Mindanao would give the rebels opportunities to carry out more “telling tactical offensives.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the deployment of more troops in the southern region was in response to growing NPA attacks in the provinces.

Marco Valbuena, a rebel spokesman, said the NPA forces have launched hundreds of successful tactical offensives since last year. The more recent, he said, was the raid on a drilling site of the Sagittarius Mines in Kiblawan town, Davao del Sur on July 19 where rebels carted away a dozen of firearms from the firm’s arsenal.

But police and military also blamed communist rebels for the killing of a government militia in a landmine attack Thursday that also wounded three others in Makilala town in North Cotabato province where NPA gunmen raided a banana plantation owned by Dole Philippines.

Valbuena said the deployment of additional troops would not affect rebel offensives in Mindanao. “The deployment of troops will in no way hinder the advance of the armed revolutionary movement. On the contrary, by pouring in more fascist troops and brutalizing more and more people in its campaigns of suppression, the AFP succeeds only in teaching the people the need to wage an armed revolutionary struggle against the reactionary regime,” he said.

“The redeployment of AFP troops allows the armed revolutionary forces in other guerrilla fronts greater leeway to step up their revolutionary work and continue tactical offensives against small and isolated enemy units.”

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said the government operations against the NPA are ongoing, despite a proposal by AFP chief Alexander Yano to forge an “indefinite cease-fire” with rebels to pave the way for the resumption of suspended peace talks with communist leaders.

Rigoberto Sanchez, another rebel spokesman, downplayed the presence of huge government forces in Mindanao, saying, it is no match to the guerrilla warfare the NPA is campaigning in the south.

“A display of superior armament and troop strength by the AFP is inconsequential to the New People’s Army. While tanks and artillery are important weapons in conventional war, they hardly play a significant role against a mass-based army waging guerrilla warfare.”
— Al Jacinto(ManilaTimes)

Half of Army force sent to Mindanao

July 23, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of soldiers have been sent to Mindanao to tackle a rapid rise in communist guerrilla attacks on civilian targets, the military said Tuesday.

A battalion of mechanized infantry – about 500 soldiers with tanks and armored vehicles – plus two field artillery batteries of about 200 gunners were deployed to Mindanao on Sunday, said the region’s military spokesman, Maj. Armand Rico.

The transfer of soldiers previously assigned to the North was in “response to the clamor of governors and mayors of (the region) to stop the criminal and terroristic acts of the godless communist terrorists,” Rico told reporters.

Eastern Mindanao had seen “more than 100” attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) against mining firms, telecommunications towers and banana plantations in the first half of the year.

In the past year the 5,000-member Maoist guerrilla force had also attacked a resort island, two prison facilities and municipal police posts in eastern Mindanao as it stepped up its campaign to seize weapons and raise funds through extortion.

Last weekend, the NPA set fire to a drilling rig at the Tampakan copper mining project of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Xstrata plc.

Rico said the military figures excluded the rebels’ unreported extortion efforts.
Four infantry divisions – nearly half the Philippine Army – are already deployed in Mindanao, with about half assigned to deal with the NPA threat to the north and east of the country’s second largest island.

Western Mindanao is also a hotbed of a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency, though a ceasefire is in effect amid peace talks.

Rico said the reinforcements would allow the military to field more mobile and more powerful units against the NPA in the gold-rich Compostela Valley region and around Davao City, center of commercial farming.

He warned there was a danger of a “possible return of the chaotic situation during the 1980s,” when the NPA operated out of the slums of major Mindanao cities and launched assassination campaigns against soldiers and policemen.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a 39-year armed campaign across the country. AFP

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My Take:

Attention CHR Chair de Lima!

A number of human rights violations directed to civilians will soon swell on this part of our country!

Armadong grupo sa Bikol kinukunsinti ng militar?

July 17, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Binatikos ng Karapatan-Bikol ang militar dahil umano sa pangungunsinti nito sa mga armadong grupo sa Sorsogon at ang sunud-sunod na paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa Albay.

Ayon kay John Concepcion, tagapagsalita ng Karapatan-Bikol, may itinayong armadong grupo sa probinsiya na tinatawag na Hukbalapas o Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Pasmado, na itinulad sa Hukbalahap o Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig.

Subalit sa halip na mga Hapon, mga “pasmado” ang target ng Hukbalapas na tumutukoy sa mga New People’s Army.

Sinabi ni Concepcion na nabuo ang armadong grupo sa pamamahala ng 2nd Infantry Battalion ng Philippine Army.

“Kinukondena namin ang gawaing ito at gusto naming maparusahan ang nagbuo sa Hukbalapas. Siguradong magdaragdag ito sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa Bikol at maaaring tularan pa ng iba pang armadong grupo,” ani Concepcion.

MNLF, MILF want ARMM polls deferred after Isnaji arrest

July 4, 2008

By Roel Pareño
Friday, July 4, 2008

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ZAMBOANGA CITY – The two largest Muslim secessionist groups urged government to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) due to the arrest of Indanan, Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) called for deferment of the regional elections next month, also citing the tensions brought by the attacks staged by some restive MILF groups in recent weeks.

Isnaji, a gubernatorial candidate in the regional polls, was arrested by the police after being implicated in the kidnapping of broadcast journalist Ces Drilon and her crew early last month.

Isnaji will be running in the ARMM election under the banner of the MNLF. His candidacy is being supported by one of the two dominant factions in the MNLF.

MNLF chairman and Cotabato City Mayor Muslimen Sema could not be reached for comment on the alleged unity call of the two fronts to postpone the election.

But Sema earlier urged the postponement of the ARMM elections and called on Malacañang to instead appoint the governor.

Sema said the appointment of the ARMM governor instead of holding an election for the position would be cost efficient and would abide by the 1996 peace accord that allowed the MNLF to govern the autonomous region.

ARMM administrator Norie Unas, concurrent regional secretary-general of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, said they have received similar reports but could not confirm if the plan has been forwarded to Malacañang.

But incumbent and reelectionist Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, the anointed candidate of President Arroyo, remained unperturbed by the calls to postpone the election.

“We respect anybody’s views not only concerning the election but also other issues confronting the ARMM region,” Ampatuan said.

Ampatuan believed the effort to cancel the regional elections would be futile since any postponement would need amendments to the law that has scheduled the ARMM elections on Aug. 11.

Unas also said it would be too late to amend the law to postpone the elections since Congress is on recess and would resume session on July 28, just 12 days ahead of the elections.

Unas said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has already prepared for the elections that will showcase the government’s efforts at full automation of the electoral process.

Comelec earlier expressed its opinion on the possible postponement of the ARMM elections, particularly in Sulu, citing the security situation stemming from military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf extremists.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said this would only be the “extreme measure” if the poll body cannot ensure the integrity of elections in ARMM.

He said Comelec has the power to recommend the postponement of the elections but only as an extreme measure.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo also expressed concerns over the possible effects of military operations in the upcoming elections in Sulu and five other provinces under the ARMM.

Melo said the military operations might discourage voters from going out to vote, with other armed groups taking advantage of the situation to sabotage the elections.

The military has intensified the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf following the release of Drilon and two others held captive by the bandit group for nine days.

Isnaji, who acted as negotiator, was among those implicated by the police in the kidnapping.

Concerns over the recent attacks by some MILF factions in Central Mindanao were also raised.

A ranking military official said the attacks by the MILF were meant to force the government into accepting the ancestral domain issue and their demand for self-rule. – With John Unson(PhilStar)

NPAs raid Davao police station

July 4, 2008

By Edith Regalado
Friday, July 4, 2008

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DAVAO CITY – Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels swooped down on the police station of Banay-Banay town in Davao Oriental yesterday morning, carting away several firearms and ammunition.

The guerrillas, numbering about 50, reportedly posed as rallyists applying for a permit and arrived in front of the Banay-Banay town hall at about 8:30 a.m. on board two Elf trucks and a Mitsubishi van, Chief Superintendent Andres Caro II, Southern Mindanao police director, said.

The rebels disarmed some of the lawmen guarding the town hall and then ransacked the police armory, taking six M-16 rifles, two 9-mm pistols and a caliber .22 revolver.

Other police officers put up a fight, later reinforced by government troops. A certain PO3 Pesian was reportedly wounded in the 30-minute firefight.

Caro said the rebels belong to the Front Committee 18 of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command led by a certain Danilo Nodalo, alias Kumander Benjie.

Caro said elements of the 1106th Regional Mobile Group and the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion are pursuing the raiders.

Davao Oriental and the neighboring provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur are considered to be NPA strongholds in this part of the country.

The NPA rebels have intensified their attacks against police and military personnel in the region in the past six months.

NPA rebels were also suspected to be behind a grenade explosion in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley past midnight yesterday, killing at least three people and injuring 11 others.

Last week, insurgents raided two town halls and police stations on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, stealing firearms and communication equipment, but soldiers caught up with them, killing 15 and capturing a dozen others.

Meanwhile, the military discovered late Tuesday the shallow grave of Josefino Estaniel, a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church who was kidnapped by the NPA in May, a regional military spokesman said.

Estaniel was “tortured before he was executed and buried,” said Lt. Col. Kurt Decapia.

Civilian informants led the military to the grave on the outskirts of Davao City.

The pastor was apparently killed because of NPA suspicions he was helping the military with its anti-insurgency operations, Decapia said.

In Cagayan Valley, Army units have been placed on heightened alert in the wake of intelligence reports, corroborated by seized documents, that NPA rebels would launch attacks and other terrorist acts starting this month.

The Army’s 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela said the alert came after guerrillas torched a Globe Telecom cell site in remote Barangay Kabayabasan in Lallo, Cagayan last Saturday.

“It (cell site burning) was (perpetrated) by seven armed men. That is their handiwork and they made the burning of cell sites simultaneous with other (attacks elsewhere in the country),” said Maj. Gen. Melchor Dilodilo, chief of the 5th ID which has jurisdiction over the Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Ilocos regions. With Charlie Lagasca(PhilStar)

Gov’t receives MILF reply to draft agreement

July 3, 2008

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 July) – The Philippine government received Tuesday the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) reply to its draft memorandum of agreement on the ancestral domain, government peace panel chair Rodolfo Garcia announced.


Garcia, who retired as Armed Forces vice chief of staff, told MindaNews the MILF has counter proposals he cannot as yet divulge.

But he quickly added “there are good possibilities.”

“Once cleared by our side, I believe talks will then be scheduled,” he said.

MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews Wednesday morning that their “proposal this time is multiple choice. Three options for GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to choose one, for each of the remaining three issues on governance.”

“I can’t go into details,” Iqbal said but he acknowledged the “three governance issues” are the only kinks that need to be ironed out.

Iqbal, like his counterpart Garcia, sounded optimistic. “I think the gap will eventually close if GRP really wants to sign (the agreement on ancestral domain).”

The MILF received the government peace panel’s draft through the Malaysian facilitator, on June 25 and sent its reply last Sunday, June 29.

The Philippine government’s peace panel received a copy on July 1.

No date has been set for the government and MILF peace panels to meet in Kuala Lumpur.

This as the government’s policy on the “primacy of the peace process” was put to test again Tuesday with military commanders holding on amid harassments from the MILF and calls for engagement from their own men.

“If (Major) General (Raymundo) Ferrer (commander of the 6th Infantry Division) will commit my battalion, the situation will be irreversible,” a field officer in one of the areas that were reportedly harassed by MILF forces, told MindaNews.

Ferrer, a division commander who adheres to the primacy of the peace process and whose leadership is marked by peace-building seminars within his command, did not.

The field officer said the MILF central committee “must not be ambiguous in what they are talking about and what they are doing on the ground.”

”Tell them to be patient and just adhere to the ceasefire agreement. The Malaysians (the facilitator of the talks ) will not lose. We will lose when fighting ensues,” he said.

Last week, a paramilitary element was killed and hundreds were displaced in Maitum, Sarangani when MILF forces swooped down on the area.

On June 30, a farmer was injured in Barangay Malamote, Matalam town. On July 1, an unidentified farmer was killed when suspected members of the MILF clashed with elements of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion in sitio Tugal, barangay Pagangan-Uno in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

Iqbal said “the serious provocation is coming from the government by dilly-dallying, not complying with the signed documents… We will look deeply into the larger picture,” he said.

Iqbal said they were “on our way home from Kuala Lumpur.”

“We submitted our reply to the GRP draft,” he said. Only the MILF panel representatives went to Kuala Lumpur. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

Civil society groups launch campaign to bring nego panels together

July 3, 2008

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 July) – Alarmed with the growing tension and sporadic skirmishes between government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces, civil society groups here have designed a 16-day campaign plan that they hope would culminate with the convening of the peace panels. “Each day counts. We dread the sight of more people trooping to the evacuation center everyday. We do not want to hear more people dying,” representatives of organizations working in the conflict-affected areas, said.

Among those who met are the Peacebuilders Community, Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) and Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC), including the grassroots ceasefire monitor, Bantay Ceasefire, and representatives from Overseas Development Agencies.

The campaign will be launched on July 7, shall culminate on July 22 with CSOs convening the peace negotiators of the government and MILF.

“We will just call them to a meeting that will merely bring them together to discuss whatever it is that they have to talk about. We will not interfere with their agenda,” said lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, the secretary-general of the MPC

Rexall Kaalim, coordinator of Bantay Ceasefire, said that since the government and the MILF have yet to scheduled the resumption of the talks despite persistent calls for them to immediately go back to the negotiating table, “we, the people, will schedule a day for them to come together.”

Kaalim said they will use the scheduled meeting as reason to “persuade the restive forces on the ground to hold their fire, go back to their respective camps and give us 16 days to bring the panels together.”

Within the period, peace groups vowed to solicit the broadest support they could muster to help them pressure government and the MILF to go back to the negotiating table and sign the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.

The peace groups will call on the Bishop-Ulama Conference, business groups and Overseas Development Agencies (ODA).

Elwyn Neri of the Peacebuilders Community said they would call preliminary conferences with military generals, church leaders, businessmen and foreign donors who have projects in Mindanao to convince them to support their plan.

Neri said that “while we are preparing the communities, our colleagues would also meet the opinion-makers and other stakeholders of peace in Mindanao.”

Kaalim said that if both panels would not heed their call to meet on July 22, they may ask “businessmen to close shop for a day or two. We will also request ODAs to suspend their operations in Mindanao until the government and the MILF resume talks.”

He explained that because of the tension happening on the ground, the ODAs could not really do what they want to do because of travel advisories. “This has happened in the past. When ODAs threatened to momentarily pull-out their staff in Mindanao and for the time being suspend their operations, the government and the MILF listened to them,” Kaalim added.

The government and MILF peace panels were supposed to have met in December to sign the agreement on ancestral domain but the MILF peace panel opted not to meet with the government when it saw government’s draft veered away from the consensus points earlier agreed upon.

The MILF peace panel received government’s revised draft on June 25 and submitted its reply on June 29. The government panel received the MILF’s reply on July 1. (Romy B. Elusfa/MindaNews)

NPA raids coal mine in Negros Occidental

June 11, 2008

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 10:36pm (Mla time) 06/09/2008

BACOLOD CITY – The military alleged on Sunday that the New People’s Army raided a coal mine in Calatrava town, Negros Occidental and burned its equipment after its owners allegedly failed to pay revolutionary taxes.

Maj. Nathaniel Villasor, 303rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations chief, placed at P150,000 the damage to the equipment of a coal mine owned by former board member Fernando Leonor and Melvin Villamero.

Villasor said the raid on the coal mine was done simultaneously with the burning of three Tanduay Distillery Inc. delivery trucks at the Barcelona Port in Barangay Old Poblacion, Escalante City, on June 4.
The rebels, allegedly led by a certain Odot Danoso, took handheld radios and cellular phones of the mineworkers, who were not harmed, the military said.

Calatrava police chief Inspector Danilo Zuniega said on Sunday that the work at the mine site has been suspended.

The mine workers expressed their dismay at being temporarily displaced from work at the time classes were about to open, Zuniega said.
The military also advised the Calatrava police investigators not to proceed to the mining site as the 15th Infantry Battalion soldiers were still pursuing the suspects, Zuniega said.

Police placed the damages on the Tanduay delivery trucks and cargo allegedly burned by suspected rebels at the port of Escalante at P6 million.

Villasor said the series of incidents, including the liquidation of a former civilian volunteer organization and the attack on an Army detachment in Guihulngan, showed desperation on the part of the NPA rebels, after they lost their guerrilla bases in central Negros to the 11th Infantry Battalion.

Senior Supt. Rosendo Franco, provincial police director, urged the community to report the presence of strangers in their place to prevent more atrocities that would be committed by insurgents.

Capt. Lowen Gil Marquez, chief of the AFP Civil Relations Group in Western Visayas, said the incident at the port of Escalante could have been prevented if the liquor firm personnel had informed the military of the extortion letters they have received from the CPP-NPA.

Lt. Gen. Pedro Ike Insierto, AFP Central Command chief, who recently visited the 303rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia town, has ordered the military to pursue the suspects behind the simultaneous raids and destruction of properties in northern Negros.

Meanwhile, CPP spokesperson Gregorio Ka Roger Rosal hailed the NPA for its string of recent victories against government forces.

“With the government forces suffering more losses, the more they try to pursue their military offensives against the revolutionary forces, it is they and not the revolutionary forces who will be significantly weakened by the target end of their current counterinsurgency operational plan Bantay Laya II,” Rosal said in a statement released Sunday by the CPP’s Information Bureau, a copy of which was furnished the Inquirer.

Ka Roger said the most recent communist offensive against government forces was a lightning attack Saturday afternoon against a detachment of the Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion in south Mindanao’s Compostela Valley.

Rosal said the guerrillas quickly overpowered government militiamen manning the detachment and torched it down before leaving with the paramilitary forces’ 14 M1 Garand rifles.

The CPP spokesman also reported that NPA rebels also attacked another Army detachment in Sallapadan, Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Citing initial reports, Rosal claimed that five government soldiers were wounded in the firefight, including the detachment commander.
“The NPA also burned down the Army detachment after overrunning it,” he said.

With reports from Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

Anwar Ibrahim: “Malaysia should stay put”

June 8, 2008

Gus Miclat*/Special to MindaNews
Saturday, 07 June 2008 20:32
var sburl4310 = window.location.href; var sbtitle4310 = document.title;var sbtitle4310=encodeURIComponent(“Anwar Ibrahim: “Malaysia should stay put””); var sburl4310=decodeURI(“http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=4490&#8221;); sburl4310=sburl4310.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl4310=encodeURIComponent(sburl4310);MANILA (MindaNews/07 June) — “Malaysia should stay put,” former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in response to an appeal by the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) for him to assist in the peace talks in Mindanao.

Ibrahim’s comments on the reported pullout of the Malaysian contingent in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao was on MPW’s specific request for him to “help us (MPW) convince your government to please continue to stay on as the leader of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao and to be in general patient with our peace process.”

In an exclusive interview, Ibrahim said the quest and accompaniment for peace must be paramount even if there may have been compelling reasons for Kuala Lumpur to think about pulling out as the peace negotiation has continued to drag and some initial agreements on the framework of the talks had been reneged upon.

The Mindanao Peaceweavers,  the broadest coalition of civil society peace networks in the island, sent their letter to Ibrahim saying it was awed by what he represented and epitomized “not only in your beloved Malaysia but also in this region and the Muslim world in general.”

“We understand that it may be very disappointing for Malaysia to facilitate and broker the talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front without seeing any huge strides, but the IMT has definitely contributed to the relative silence of the guns in Mindanao. Trust and harmony among the combatants and more so among the general population could also be attributed to their presence.  Leaving the IMT, or even a hint of downsizing your presence has released a deep anxiety among our people. And we know that anxiety can lead to hostilities,” the MPW said.

The Malaysian IMT contingent is set to end its mission in August. Its tour of duty can be extended according to the Terms of Reference but only upon the request of both the Philippine government and the MILF. The Philippine government has sought more Libyan presence at the IMT.

Both panels have yet to meet after its last exploratory talks in November 2007.

Earlier, in September 2006, the talks ended in an impasse which was finally broken 13 months later, in October 2007.

In December 2007, when both panels were supposed to finalize the draft memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain, the MILF peace panel refused to meet with its counterpart after receiving a government draft that the MILF claimed, veered away from the two sides’ consensus points.

Ibrahim arrived in Manila last Thursday to address a colloquium on Islam, Politics and the Prospects for Peace sponsored by the De La Salle Graduate School and the Asian Institute for Democracy.  Deposed President Joseph Estrada tendered a dinner in his honor, with former President Corazon Aquino among the guests.

Ibrahim could become Malaysia’s next Prime Minister as the People’s  Justice Party he founded and led by his wife chalked up a hefty number of seats in the recent parliament elections and is reportedly on the verge of forming a government along with defectors from the ruling  Barisan coalition which he also once led along with his mentor, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad.

Mahathir sacked him after Ibrahim questioned certain policies related to fiscal reforms prior to the 1997 Asian financial crisis and sent him to jail on sodomy and other graft charges which the courts dismissed after six years in detention. Mahatir meanwhile retired from his post and resigned from the ruling party after a row with his successor and incumbent Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Mahathir’s choice to replace Ibrahim then and eventually anointed him his successor as well.

Ibrahim’s three-party alliance won an unprecedented 82 seats in the March 8, 2008 elections, shaking the ruling national front’s grip on power for the last 40 years.  They only need another 30 seats more to form a government. Malaysia’s parliament has 222 seats. Ibrahim thinks he can form the government by September but wants the transition to be peaceful and democratic. September is symbolical, as September 16, 1963 was when the Malaysia Federation was formed.

Ibrahim said that if his party takes over the government, the dynamics will entirely be different, thus, the approach and role of the Malaysian government in the Mindanao peace process will also be one that is more pro-active and inclusive.

He said he would have loved to meet with and listen to leaders of the MPW and civil society in general and offer anything to help achieve peace not only in Mindanao, but apologized that his visit to the country was brief. He promised to do so in the next opportunity. The MPW has meanwhile invited him to come to Mindanao.

Ibrahim also met last Friday with former President Fidel Ramos, former Speaker Jose de Venecia, Senate President Manny Villar, administration senator Edgardo Angara and other officials from both the current and past administrations and the opposition.

Ibrahim was in the country last September to keynote the second assembly of the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA).  The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a Davao-based regional advocacy and solidarity organization and Mindanao Peaceweavers’ lead secretariat, organized and hosted the assembly. (*Gus Miclat is the Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue).

NPAs free Davao cop

June 7, 2008

By Edith Regalado
Saturday, June 7, 2008

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DAVAO CITY – Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels released a rookie policeman Thursday night, two days after they seized him and his superior in Boston, Davao Oriental.

The guerrillas, belonging to the Front Committee 20 of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command, however, killed the superior of freed PO1 Ruel Balmores, Inspector Jonnel Belenson, police chief of Boston town, for resisting their attempt to take them hostage last Tuesday.

Belenson and Balmores were reportedly on their way to the adjacent town of Baganga on board a motorcycle to testify in an illegal drug case when the rebels accosted them.

Superintendent Jimmy Manabat, Davao Oriental police director, confirmed Balmores’ release in Boston town, saying he is now in the custody of the provincial police.

Manabat said Balmores was brought from Boston to the provincial police headquarters in the capital, Mati City, by GMA-7 reporter John Paul Seniel and his cameraman.

Manabat said Balmores still has to undergo debriefing after his ordeal in the hands of the NPA rebels.

Seniel said Balmores seemed to be in good health when the rebels handed him over to them.

Seniel was reportedly accompanied by a priest and an official of the Association of Barangay Councils of neighboring Cateel town when Balmores was released to them.

Manabat denied reports that at least P300,000 was paid for Balmores’ release.

“We do not pay money in exchange for the release of our policemen,” Manabat said.

Seniel himself told The STAR that no one among those who accompanied him in fetching Balmores would confirm the reported payoff.(PStar)

MILF fighters told to boycott Armm elections

June 6, 2008

KORONADAL CITY — Al Haj Murad Ebrahin, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has ordered its 10,000 strong combatants to refrain from participating in the coming elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

In a statement released Monday, Murad reiterated the front’s policy on the “non-recognition, non-participation” in any elections the government is undertaking.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

His statement, which was posted at the rebels’ news website http://www.luwaran.com, jibed with the beginning of the election period in the Armm, which the MILF denounced as an antidote to the genuine resolution to the centuries-old Bangsamoro problem.

Its release came the same day that a powerful bomb exploded outside Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga that reportedly injured 10 people.

The latest Zamboanga bombing, however, will not affect preparations for the Armm polls, assured Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose A.R. Melo, who added the that they are contemplating on augmenting security forces in the wake of the attack.

Armm Governor Datu Zaldy U. Ampatuan is seeking reelection with the backing of the Lakas administration party.

Murad claimed: “Armm did not and cannot cater to the basic needs of the Bangsamoro people and instead has worsened their already depressed condition and added confusion to the populace.”

On several occasions, the government has allegedly dangled the Armm to leaders of the MILF but each time it was offered, it was turned down immediately, the statement said.

Murad was reported to have rebuffed a very high unnamed Philippine government official, who offered him the Armm few years ago, saying: “What happened to our brothers in the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) when they accepted Armm will also happen to us.”

A cabinet member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also offered Abdulazis Mimbantas, MILF vice chair for military affairs, the same post, but it was also turned down.

This cabinet member, who was not named, was reported to have converted to Islam as a means to win the trust and sympathy of the Moro people.

The Comelec has started accepting certificates of candidacy for the positions of governor, vice governor and assemblymen for the Armm polls on August 11.

The filing of COCs will run until June 4.

The Armm election is expected to be under close public scrutiny, as it will serve as a prelude to the automation of the 2010 national and local polls.

“We will learn how much better automated elections can be; and we will discover unique challenges this new model will present,” the MILF statement quoted Melo as saying. (BSS) (SunStarGenSan)

Assassination by Hired Killers Failed Twice

June 3, 2008

The Philippine government tried to get rid of Communist leader Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht. The Philippine government sent hired killers to The Netherlands to kill the Communist Sison. Details are coming out now

BY FOLKERT JENSMA
NRC.NEXT
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7,2008

The Hague.  They stayed in the Amsterdam budget tourist hotel Tourist Inn at the Spui [downtown Amsterdam], the members of the Filipino ‘hit team’ which came to The Netherlands in October 1999 in order to perpetrate a political murder. Their target was Jose Maria Sison, the rather elder Filipino Communist leader who has resided in Utrecht as an exile since 1987. Two men, with several thousand dollars cash and travelers  checks. They had landed in Frankfurt and travelled by train to Amsterdam.  There they bought two prepaid mobile cards and rented a car at Avis.

But the assassination of Sison was not committed. A second attempt with a second team, a few months later, also failed. The aspirant-killers first had difficulty in finding Sison. When they had found out his home, office and routes, they almost came into action twice. One time against the wrong person.  another time they got afraid and withdrew because Sison was walking, holding a child. Their rented car was also broken into – luggage gone. They gave a notification of this to the local police because of the insurance.

The killing was supposed be carried out with a knife and an axe. But it took so long  The teams lost courage, felt literally cold in The Netherlands and they got worried about home. They also found that they were conspicuous. The Utrecht people walked around in the cool spring weather just in T-shirts. They had thick jackets. And they had to hide therein the axe. Why did Manila anyway want that it had to be done with a knife? A real gun, that’s what they wanted!

The details come from the interrogation conducted by the Nationale Recherche [National Criminal Investigation] in the end of February 2008 at the American army base, Clark, in the Philippines with Jose Ramos (53). This person stayed for weeks over seven years ago in The Netherlands with the objective to kill Sison. He dropped out because he heard that back home he had been put on record as “deserted” [AWOL “away without leave”]. That made him afraid. He feared that the secret service would kill him after the assassination.

Sison himself had in the meantime found out about everything. His sources in Manila had informed him by letter. And he gave a detailed notification to the Utrecht police. This latter warned the AIVD [General Intelligence and Security Service], and after this everything remained still. No one was arrested. “Too few reference points,” says the Public Prosecutor’s Office later.

Until last week. Then the current lawyer of Sison, Michiel Pestman, came back from vacation. He found six new folders with testimonies on his desk. It looked like “the nth installment” in the procedure of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to get Sison in jail for a double murder in the Philippines. For against Sison there are the necessary complaints (see sidebar). But in the dossier there was a little gift: the curious declaration of Ramos – who appeared to incriminate himself, and so delivered the first proof that the attack [assassination attempt] earlier was real.

Ramos had kept the hotel bill and gave this willingly to the Nationale Recherche. The witness Ramos had contact with the [Philippine] secret service, from whom he received money and travel papers. And thus there was a connection with the Philippine government. Even a failed attempt at political assassination, according to Pestman, is a violation of the Dutch sovereignty by a foreign power.  Since when does a friendly country send death squads, to Utrecht, by the way?

The new information is for him also a chance to give a new turn to the Sison case. This Ramos and his travel companions must be extradited to The Netherlands. Or at least, in his estimation, they should be prosecuted in the Philippines. The Public Prosecutor’s Office says that the assassination was not carried out and thus it is not criminally punishable. But Pestman rejects the juridical argument of ‘voluntary withdrawal” [“vrijwillige terugtred”].  A ‘defective attempt’ remains criminally punishable if it is a grave crime which is committed ‘in association’. That was the case here. He now demands criminal prosecution.

In the dossier there was still something crazy. In one of the murders of which Sison is suspect, the police have discovered another suspect. A certain Edwin Garcia, also with connections to the secret service, who was supposed to also be in Utrecht. This man is supposed to have been recognized at the assassination of a renegade member of the party of Sison, a certain Kintanar. This person had gone over to the government side and appears to have organized the attack in Utrecht.

In that way, the ‘James Bond film’ was complete. The killing of Kintanar in the Philippines  could have been organized in order to put the blame on Sison. Sison is supposed to then have a double motive. Revenge against a traitor from one’s own circle who also tried to kill him in Utrecht.

Did Sison really do it or was he caught? There is no concrete proof for this. Only indications. Pestman points to official Philippine requests to The Hague to have Sison prosecuted. The suspicion against Garcia precisely takes the burden off his client. Just like the attack [assassination attempt] in Utrecht, it proves that the Philippine state wants to go very far to put Sison out of the way. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office sees no connection between the cases.

Pestman calls the whole case a “stinking game” [“onwelriekend spel”]. Pestman is still making complaints against all the steps that the Public Prosecutor’s Office takes against Sison. Up to now, he is declared correct by the judges.  Against Sison there were insufficient serious complaints to seriously consider him a suspect. Pestman thinks that the case of the state is so weak that he would consider an interim dismissal disappointing. He prefers most a complete acquittal.

On June 10 the judge will issue a ruling on his complaint against the ‘notice of further prosecution’. Depending on that, the spokesman of the national office of the prosecutor says, “we are again evaluating the case”.

Sison on the EU-terror list

Jose Maria Sison causes a headache to the US and the Philippines already for decades. Since last year, the national office [of the Public Prosecutor] in Rotterdam tried to get Sison behind bars for the killing of two renegade members of his party in the Philippines.

The national office acknowledges that Sison was not in the Philippines during the time of the killings and that he has not spoken with the actual perpetrators. But because of his leading political role, it finds Sison to be a ‘functional perpetrator’ [‘functioneel dader’].

The Nationale Recherche, with American and Philippine support, carried out extensive investigation in the Philippines. Sison is since 2002 on the US and EU terror list. His bank account was blocked.

The EU Court of First Instance, part of the European Court of Justice, decided in 2007, that the listing on the terror list is unjust. The Council of Ministers however keeps him [on the list]. Sison was refused asylum in The Netherlands, but is tolerated because he cannot be expelled. Posted by Bulatlat

* This article is an unofficial translation sent to Bulatlat of an article that was published in a Dutch news magazine NRC.NEXT May 30, 2008.

We Did Not Attack Gov’t Troops in Basilan – MILF

June 3, 2008

MILF welcomes ceasefire violation rap by AFP, says they will also protest

The MILF through its chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, denied taking part in a May 25 attack on a Marine outpost in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan that left two Moro fighters dead and 17 Marines wounded. The Moro revolutionary group also “welcomed” the filing of a ceasefire violation complaint against it by the AFP, and announced that it will file its own protest.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7, 2008

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), through its chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, denied taking part in a May 25 attack on a Marine outpost in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan that left two Moro fighters dead and 17 Marines wounded. The Moro revolutionary group also “welcomed” the filing of a ceasefire violation complaint against it by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and announced that it will file its own protest.

Marine commandant Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino had pointed to both the MILF and the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as the instigators of the May 25 firefight. According to Dolorfino, the MILF’s 3rd Brigade and the ASG attacked the Marine detachment in Barangay (village) Tongbato, Ungkaya Pukan at around 5:45 a.m. on May 25. Ten Marines were wounded in the first attack, Dolorfino said, while another was wounded when a V150 commando vehicle was fired at in Brgy. Materling, Ungkaya Pukan.

Soldiers on the way to Tongbato as reinforcement were also attacked, Dolorfino said. Six Marines were wounded and two Moro fighters were killed in the ensuing encounter.

“They (MILF) always join (ASG attacks) so indeed that’s a violation of the ceasefire agreement,” Dolorfino told reporters on May 25. “They are supposed to help us against the Abu Sayyaf.”

But Iqbal denied that the MILF took part in the attack on the Marine outpost in Brgy. Tongbato.

“There were two separate firefights last May 25,” Iqbal said. “The first was between Marines and the ASG at Brgy. Tongbato; the second from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. between MILF forces and Marines, which took place in Brgy. Materling. The first was initiated by the ASG, while the second took place right inside an MILF territory. The Marines were the ones who started the second firefight.”

He also denied Dolorfino’s claim that the MILF “always joins” ASG attacks. “ASG is a separate group, their ways of doing things are mostly contrary to our ways,” Iqbal said.

“The MILF has a very clear and legitimate agenda to pursue,” Iqbal also said. “We do not resort to anti-people or ‘terroristic’ methods of pursuing our cause.”

The AFP filed a ceasefire violation complaint against the MILF before the Joint Committee on Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) on May 26.

“The reasons why the protest was filed are the following: one is to know the reason why the attack was carried out, and second is to determine the perpetrators of the incident,” said Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, AFP information chief, at a news briefing on May 26.

Iqbal said the MILF “welcomes” the filing of the protest. “We welcome the filing of the protest in order to ferret out the truth of the incidents, especially the second,” Iqbal said. He added that the MILF would be filing its own protest before the JCCCH.

First clash after Malaysia pullout from IMT

The May 25 encounter is the first firefight between government troops and MILF fighters since Malaysia started pulling out its contingent from the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which is tasked to observe and monitor the cessation of hostilities between the two parties to the negotiations as well as the implementation of socio-economic projects in the areas of conflict.

The IMT – which is composed of delegates from Malaysia, Brunei and Libya – was deployed to several areas in Mindanao in 2004. Malaysia, which facilitates the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, had the biggest contingent in the 60-member IMT.

An initial group of 29 Malaysian delegates left Mindanao on May 10. The remaining 12 are set to follow by August.

Malaysian facilitator Othman Abdul Razak was reported as saying on May 3 that the GRP-MILF peace negotiations “will not move forward” if the GRP kept insisting that the talks be conducted in accordance with “constitutional processes.”

Last December, the GRP-MILF peace negotiations reached a deadlock over the ancestral domain issue.

The ancestral domain issue, which was first discussed only in 2004 or some eight years after the talks started, has turned out to be the most contentious issue in the GRP-MILF peace negotiations.

The MILF last year was proposing a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) that would be based on an ancestral domain claim of the Bangsa Moro over Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan.

The GRP had insisted that areas to be covered by the BJE other than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) should be subjected to a plebiscite. This repeatedly led to an impasse in the peace negotiations.

The impasse was broken only in November last year, when the GRP and the MILF reached an agreement defining the land and maritime areas to be covered by the proposed BJE.

Things seemed to be looking up after that, causing lawyer Eid Kabalu, then MILF spokesperson, to make media statements to the effect that they expected a final agreement to be signed by mid-2008.

But all hopes for forging a peace pact between the GRP and the MILF were dashed last December, when the peace talks hit a snag following the government’s insistence that the ancestral domain issue be settled through “constitutional processes” – a phrase which, according to Iqbal, had been inserted into the agreement without their consent.

Roots of conflict, prospects for peace

Moro historian Salah Jubair traces the roots of the present conflict in southern Philippines to the U.S. annexation of Mindanao and Sulu into the Philippine territory in 1946. Jubair argues that the Bangsa Moro is a people with a socio-political, economic, and cultural system distinct from that of the Filipino people.

The inclusion of Mindanao and Sulu in the scope of the 1946 “independence” grant to the Philippines paved the way for large-scale non-Muslim migration to the two islands. This large-scale migration, which began in the 1950s, brought with it the problem of land grabbing.

At some point the government even instituted a Mindanao Homestead Program, which involved giving land parcels seized from Moro peoples to landless peasants from the Visayas islands and Luzon and also to former communist guerrillas who availed of amnesty.

This was intended to defuse the peasant unrest and the revolutionary war that was staged in the late 1940s and early 1950s by the communist-led Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB or People’s Liberation Army), which was basically a peasant army.

The Jabidah Massacre triggered widespread outrage among the Moros and led to the formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that same year. The MNLF, led by former University of the Philippines (UP) professor Nur Misuari, waged an armed revolutionary struggle against the GRP for an independent state in Mindanao.

The Marcos government, weighed down by the costs of the Mindanao war, negotiated for peace and signed an agreement with the MNLF in Tripoli, Libya in the mid-1970s. The pact involved the grant of autonomy to the Mindanao Muslims.

Conflicts on the issue of autonomy led to a breakdown of talks between the GRP and the MNLF in 1978, prompting a group led by Dr. Salamat Hashim to break away from the MNLF and form the MILF. Since then, the MILF has been fighting for Moro self-determination.

In 1996, the MNLF signed the Final Peace Agreement with the GRP, which created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a concession to the group. That same year, the MILF began peace negotiations with the GRP.

While the peace agreement with the MNLF supposedly holds, armed skirmishes between the AFP and MNLF did not stop. On Nov. 19, 2001, Misuari declared war on the Arroyo government for allegedly reneging on its commitments to the Final Peace Agreement. The MNLF then attacked an Army headquarters in Jolo. Misuari was subsequently arrested in Sabah, Malaysia for illegal entry and was turned over to the Philippine government by Malaysian authorities. He is currently under house arrest in New Manila, Quezon City.

Meanwhile, the recent armed encounter between government troops and MILF rebels seems to confirm what Iqbal said earlier that with the pull-out of the IMT, the peace talks are “shaky on the ground.”

When asked whether the May 25 fighting could lead to a renewed escalation of fighting between government forces and the MILF, Iqbal said it depends on the government. Bulatlat

NPA-Abra notes flaws in military victory report

May 29, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (May 22) — The New People’s Army’s (NPA) Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC), operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions, pointed out inconsistencies in the military reports that underscored victories in dismantling rebel fronts in northern and central Luzon.

In a statement, Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed victory in its operations to dismantle guerrilla fronts in Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac.

The Nolcom chief Lieutenant General Rodrigo F. Maclang said in a May 8 statement that in the first quarter of this year, the government successfully dismantled four guerrilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA in North and Central Luzon and downgraded five guerrilla fronts in some areas.

The Nolcom also reportedly neutralized a total of 34 rebels including five top NPA officials. It also recovered 17 assorted high-powered firearms during encounters and through voluntary surrender.

However, according to the ABC statement signed by Ka Diego Wadagan, there are inconsistencies with the military reports, pointing out similar deceiving tactics in the past.

The ABC statement said that the military operations failed in the tri-boundary of Abra, Mt. Province and Ilocos Sur, the 50th Infantry Battalion 503rd Infantry Brigade and the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, contrary to reports that indicated successful operations in the area.

“The prolonged large-scale military operations in the tri-boundary area where the 50th Infantry Battalion and 503rd Infantry Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division used high-powered military armaments such as mortar, howitzer and aerial support, is another failure,” said Wadagan.

According Wadagan, what the military reported to have dismantled was an abandoned NPA camp.

The military also reported soldiers killed many rebels during the said operations and denied any casualty.

“We only had two casualties on two different encounters while 10 soldiers were killed and three wounded,” said Wadagan adding that during the April 5 encounter, the soldiers reported that they only had one casualty but later admitted they actually had two 50th IB soldiers and another two from the 52nd Division Reconnaissance Company killed.

The ABC statement mentioned the NPA lost two fighters in two encounters. Sammy Rey Cayago, a.k.a. Ka Cholo was killed in an encounter on March 24 while Maximo Dumag, alias Ka Atong figured in the April 5 firefight, both in the Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur border.

According to Wadagan the military is skilled at weaving stories to hide the truth that the government troops failed in crashing the revolutionary movement.”

Nolcom was acknowledged as the top Unified Command during the First Quarter Internal Security Operations Assessment and Command Conference held in Camp Aguinaldo in April. # Northern Dispatch

Looking for Randy Malayao: Guilder’s exchanges

May 26, 2008

Hinggil sa paghahanap ng abogado ni Randy:

–> si romy capulong ba pala, ndi ba pwede makausap para mahawakan ang kaso ni randy? i think he’s the expert pagdating sa ganitong kaso. nakausap na ba sya? — Lahlee T.

–> we need siguro to gather muna ang lahat ng briefs regarding randy’s many cases sa cagayan valley before we can ask for an appointment with rtc.  pero sa bahagi ng legal struggle, we defer to his defense counsel atty ephraim lasam.

we know of 6 murder cases in two provinces.  baka mayroon pang iba.  the hr workers are still checking sa ibang mga rtc. — Raymund V.

–> Malabo si RTC. He’s too busy with the cases of other Guilders, namely me and Satur. Ha ha ha. Paborito talaga ng mga pasista ang Guilders. Palibhasa mga “tall, dark and handsome” ayon kay Tonyo. — teddy c.

–> I have sought assistance from a Beta Sigma friend from UP Diliman — Melvir Buela. they got a lawyer naman siguro. Nangangalap sila.

I suggest to the brods of Randy in UPV-Miag-ao hasten efforts to help on that end. Loaded talaga ang PILC lawyers natin. — Vince B.

–> ano ba, teddy boy… paborito lang talaga ng mga pasista ang guilders. period. kay randy mag-aapply ang tall, dark and handsome. ewan ko lang sa ‘yo. 🙂 — Ruzanne R.

–> What are the updates kay Randy Malayao?

For the information of those who care (meron ba!), Randy stayed with my family for like — forever!!! — in 1994, tended to my mama’s flower garden, cooked and cleaned the house, and most of all, witnessed the birth of my eldest son, si Gian (a.k.a. Bayan), and stood, along with teddy and bency, as my son’s “tatay” sa binyag.

nataranta nang konti si randy when i proposed ang ipangalan kay Bayan: Felix Teodoro Cyrus (after teddy, him and bency). hahaha.

last time we saw each other in 2002, and by sheer chance na nasa manila ako and he was with our “original kagandahan and kapogi-han” group sa 90s guilders, randy and i spent lots of time together. coffee, kain, coffee, kain. tapos parati remind  me to stop with the yosi.

anyways, randy’s stay with my family brought us so much joy and social consciousness. na-appreciate nang family ko why i am me bec. of randy and his words of wisdom…

please keep me posted. gotta stop here. mangiyak-ngiyak na me. feeling gretchen kasi. as usual! — Ruzanne R.

— > ruzanne,

I’ll be in malaybalay on wednesday, kita ta. my number is 09292146198. text or miskol me. am contacting sila ni former political detainee stan (i think sa batch natin, si stan was the first pol det, april 1996). he is working for an NGO in butuan. am also trying to contact sila oliver, he is now connected in the Provincial Gov’t. of Mis. Or., Atty. Felwina Opiso, who is now with the Court of Appeals. sorry my sched is very busy but we should try to get something on the ground. i’ll track on others whom randy had worked with when he stayed here in NM in 1994 in preparation of the 1994 CEGP Congress where we co-chaired the COC. -bency

==================

Panawagan sa mga brod ni randy sa UP-Miag-ao: maaari nyong kontakin yung brod nyo sa UP-D na nabanggit ni Vince, para mas madali ang inyong koordinasyon.

Luis V. Teodoro: The Regime of Mockery

May 26, 2008

By Luis V. Teodoro

Let’s not exaggerate. Retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon is not really as Senator Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal described him.

Senator Madrigal compared Esperon to Adolf Hitler and to Josef Stalin when she learned that Esperon had been appointed Presidential Peace Adviser. Esperon did have command of the Armed Forces. But he commanded no force as powerful as the Wehrmacht as Hitler did, or an army as vast as the Red Army Stalin used to defend Soviet soil.

Neither did Esperon focus the energies of an entire nation into the conquest of vast territories and the annihilation of over six million men, women and children. And he certainly had not the vision, perverted as it may have been, of a thousand-year empire, or of a system in which all would be equal.

Hitler wrote a book, Stalin several. Esperon didn’t— and he doesn’t seem to have even “written the book,” figuratively speaking, on the Armed Forces’ Bantay Laya anti-insurgency strategy. Other men, from all appearances led by creatures who claim to be for others, seem to have done that. Or at least systematized and tweaked that part of a strategy that goes back to the days of the Huk rebellion by refocusing, and providing the justification for, the use of state violence on activists and unarmed militants.

What’s being laid at Esperon’s door is small potatoes, offenses trivial, puny, picayune and piddling when compared to the truly great crimes of our age. One is hawkishness, and of presiding over an Armed Forces accused of committing some of the worst human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances, since the martial law period.

He’s also being accused of pivotal involvement in the electoral fraud of 2004, having been mentioned in the “Hello Garci” tapes by Virgilio Garcillano, that paragon of bureaucratic virtue, among the generals that assured Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a final tally of more than a million votes over the late Fernando Poe Jr.

Nearly a thousand men, women and children have been killed, and several hundreds abducted, over the past seven years. Those numbers don’t even come close to the millions slaughtered in Hitler’s death camps. But they do have a bearing on how successfully the peace adviser can do his job. As small time and paltry as his purported offense is compared to Hitler’s, if he’s being blamed for at least some of these deaths, negotiating in bad faith would be only the first complaint against the government; total insincerity would be the other.

But that’s to assume that both he and the appointing power are indeed after an honorable negotiated peace as the rest of the world understands it, not a peace premised on the annihilation of the other side– in this case the 40 year old Communist Party-led rebellion as well as the Muslim movement for autonomy.

The latter does seem to be the logic behind the appointment, as illogical as it may seem to less crafty folk. In short: Esperon’s negotiating abilities, whatever they may be, would come into play only when, as the Arroyo regime has pledged, it has reduced the New People’s Army to insignificance, and forced the Moro Islamic Liberation Front into surrender.

In the meantime, Esperon wouldn’t be doing so badly, earning his keep as a peace adviser by adding his voice to those of the other hawks advising Mrs. Arroyo on how to best defeat social movements militarily. Reward enough, it would seem, for services rendered both during as well as post-2004.

A military man as peace adviser? A hawk for the dovish tasks of peace negotiations? It shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Arroyo regime of ironies and mockery has done as badly and even worse.

It’s put secretaries in the department of environment who have issued logging and mining permits as if they were going out of style, the better to assure the communities involved that the next floods will be worse than the most recent. It’s appointed secretaries of agriculture who can’t explain why the country’s rice production is so low it has to import rice in vast quantities.

It has a justice secretary whose concept of justice is so unabashedly political he didn’t see anything wrong in pro-active involvement in the defense of US Marine Corporal Daniel Smith and company. Much less does the same secretary see anything contrary to justice in persecuting those party list representatives with whose politics he doesn’t agree, no matter how often the same charges are made, dismissed, and again made only to be dismissed again.

Over the same regime presides a putative president who every now and then vows allegiance to free expression and claims this country to be human rights haven, even as demonstrators are beaten, journalists arrested while on the job, media franchises threatened with cancellation, community journalists killed with impunity, and activists assassinated and abducted.

It’s a national security regime disguised as a democracy, a reign of assassins cloaked in legal cloth. It’s a regime of mockery in which an Esperon for peace adviser makes as much sense as a Raul Gonzalez for justice secretary. (pinoypress.net)

Soldiers to remain in depressed metro areas–Yano

May 25, 2008

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:38:00 05/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Soldiers deployed in depressed areas in Metro Manila will stay at their posts as long as the military leadership deems it necessary, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano.

In a talk with reporters yesterday, Yano said the soldiers were “doing a fine job.”

“If you ask local executives, barangay captains and people on the ground, you can have a good response to the need for our soldiers,” Yano said.

Last year, the AFP announced it was deploying soldiers in the metropolis to help contain the growing crime rate. But when the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it did not need the help of the AFP to maintain the peace, the AFP backtracked and admitted that it put the soldiers there to combat efforts by militant groups to organize dissent among the urban poor.

The AFP also said the soldiers were there on “civil-military” operations, like helping in the construction of barangay halls and in undertaking medical missions.

“They are not doing combat assignments. They are helping the people understand the true nature of the insurgency movement,” Yano said.

Yano said he expected militant groups to protest the continued stay of the soldiers in the areas.

“For sure you will have a clamor from many of these sectoral groups allied with the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) to pull out. We feel they are feeling the effects of the deployment on their organizing efforts. They are being hurt by the presence of the soldiers who explained to the public the real intent and nature of the insurgency. That is expected,” Yano said.

But Yano said that when the AFP leadership feels a need to redeploy the soldiers somewhere else it would do so immediately.

“As of now, there is a need for them to stay. It’s an open-ended thing. If we feel there is a need, we will continue. But in the future, if we feel they have to be redeployed somewhere else, then that is an option.”

The AFP has deployed around 500 soldiers around Metro Manila, divided into 50 teams of 10 soldiers each.

Palparan claims to have no copy of subpoena in libel case

May 25, 2008

By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 16:05:00 05/25/2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines–Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. said on Sunday he had yet to receive a copy of the subpoena issued by the Quezon City prosecutor on May 7 in connection with a libel case filed against him by a national fisherfolk alliance.

“Wala. Wala akong natanggap [None. I have not received it],” Palparan said when the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) reached him through his mobile phone.

“I don’t know what libel case is that,” he said.

The P20-million libel case was filed by the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya, National Forces of the Fishers’ Movement of the Philippines).

Told that it stemmed from a story published in the Inquirer newspaper on July 2, 2006, Palparan said: “Sinabi ko na militants at [New People’s Army] ang nanggugulo pero wala akong specific (I said that militants and NPA were causing trouble but I did not mention anything specifics).”

“Sila ang mga nagdodominate sa mga palaisdaan before kaya kami pumasok dun. Nagko-complain ang mga fishpond owners na nangongolekta o kinikikilan sila ng NPA o militants (They dominated the fishpond industry in Bulacan’s coastal towns, that’s why the military went there. Fishpond owners were complaining that the NPA and militants were collecting money or extorting from them. So we drove them out),” Palparan said.

In the subpoena, assistant prosecutor Corazon Romano ordered Palparan and Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap to appear before her on June 19 for a preliminary hearing.

The Inquirer’s July 2, 2006, story tackled the deployment by Palparan, then commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, of soldiers in Central Luzon’s rural and urban areas.

This expansion of the “theater of war” in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign had never been done in the region since after the imposition of martial rule in 1972, civil libertarians said.

In an interview a few days before his retirement in September 2006, Palparan said his deployment of special operations teams outside of known guerrilla fronts had not been officially adopted by the Army’s higher headquarters.

Army field commanders called this phase as the “white area-red area tactic.” It referred to the presence or operations of the military in “white areas” or places where organizations suspected to be legal fronts of communists were active. At the same, the military conducted tactical offensives in “red areas” or guerilla fronts.

In the 2006 story, Palparan was sought for comment on Pamalakaya’s allegations that a “climate of terror had intensified” in Bulacan and that the group and the party-list group Anakpawis were “often singled out and accused of supporting the NPA.”

Palparan, in that story, confirmed that Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders and members were being singled out, justifying the action by saying, “Sila ang nagbibigay ng problema diyan [They’re the ones causing problems there].”

Asked what these problems were, he said those groups had been “intimidating civilians,” “recruiting for the NPA, ” “seizing fishponds” or “extorting P50,000 monthly” from fishponds owners.

The story quoted Pamalakaya’s Gerry Albert Corpuz as saying that Pamalakaya and Anakpawis were “not ever engaged” in the activities that Palparan was attributing to them.

Palparan said that he should be the one filing a libel case against people calling him a “butcher” and attributing to him some 500 cases of human rights atrocities during his stints in Central Luzon, Mindoro and Samar since 1985.

In a statement on Sunday, Hicap feared that Malacañang and the Department of Justice “will meddle and dictate the outcome” of the libel case.

“The possibility is always there. In fact that possibility is very strong given that this government is the principal author of this across the nation extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and political persecution of leftwing activists and ardent critics of President Macapagal-Arroyo,” Hicap said.

Looking for Randy Malayao: Happy Now? (akda ni uberjam)

May 25, 2008

Randy Felix Malayao had just come from having dinner with some friends somewhere in Ortigas. Unable to secure a taxi ride, he opts to take the bus instead going to a relative’s house somewhere in Pasig. As he alights from the bus, several men grabs him and shoves him to a vehicle where he is blindfolded. They drive in to the night, to God knows where. He later (as in a week later) turns up in a military camp in Isabela. Since then he has been turned over to the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the same province.

This is the good news.

And that is how pathetic it’s become.

Malayao is currently a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front, which has been in an on-and-off relationship with the Philippine government insofar as negotiation processes go. He is also a former youth leader and vice-president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines for the Visayas.

Do these qualifications make his abduction and detention legal? No. Do they make him a convenient target for the government’s anti-insurgency campaign? Apparently, very much so.

But I digress. The sad thing about this affair is that the fact that Malayao actually turns up alive, albeit bearing signs of torture (according to reports of KARAPATAN), is actually good news. After all, his family would rather have him this way, bruises and all, than buried somewhere in some unmarked grave or just simply gone… forever.

Nevermind that his arrest (if one can call it that) was conducted in such a questionable manner. Nevermind that it was done by the military. Nevermind that after almost a week, he remains in custody without any case having been filed against him. Nevermind that during his “stay” with his abductors, he was prevented from having access to an attorney, or to any acquaintance at the very least, who could at least try to protect his rights.

Nevermind all that. At least he’s still alive and breathing.

Ang mga pinoy, mababaw lang ang kaligayahan.

Suddenly, that’s gone to take a whole new meaning. And that’s sad.

(Bisitahin nyo naman ang kanyang tahanan dito)

Looking for Randy Malayao: Photo

May 25, 2008

Randy Felix Malayao, 39, was being presented to the media before he was turned over to police custody led by Isabela provincial director Senior Superintendent Dominador Aquino at the Army’s 5th Infantry Division headquarters yesterday (20 May). Photo taken by FRANCIS C.HIDALGO JR. (Photo grab: karitoon.com)

Int’l group slams US-backed security operations

May 23, 2008

THE United States-backed security operations in Mindanao may push the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group to the bosoms of the larger Islamic insurgent groups.

An international conflict and resolution non-government organization (NGO) said, “The US and the Philippines need to refocus energies on peace processes in Mindanao or they risk new hostilities between government forces and insurgents.”

The “Philippines: Counter-insurgency vs. Counter-terrorism in Mindanao,” the latest report from ICG warns that US-backed security operations in the southern Philippines are confusing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism and risk pushing the Abu Sayyaf group — their target — into the arms of the broader insurgencies in Mindanao — the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“The ‘Mindanao model’ of combining military operations with civic action operations against the Abu Sayyaf has been widely heralded as a success, but the gains could be short-lived”, said Kit Collier, a consultant for Crisis Group.

“The model involves using counter-insurgency techniques for counter-terrorism goals, but the only way the Philippines will effectively manage domestic terrorism is to secure the cooperation of the MILF and MNLF – and that requires concrete progress toward formal peace agreements,” he added.

The government has forged a final peace deal with the MNLF in 1996 but there have been provisions still unimplemented, which the Organization of Islamic Conference is trying to settle.

On the other hand, peace talks with the MILF have been snagged by the ancestral domain issue.

ICG said the urgency of finalizing agreements [with the MILF] is even more acute since the Malaysian government announced last month that it was withdrawing from an international monitoring team that has kept the lid on conflict in Mindanao since 2004.

The report also urges the Philippines government to revive the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (Ahjag).

Designed to facilitate information sharing between the Philippine government and the MILF, Ahjag was critical to the prevention of conflict escalation in 2005-2007 as the search for terrorists intensified, the report added.

After a six-month hiatus, its mandate was formally extended in November 2007 but is not yet fully restored.

A similar arrangement should be developed with the MNLF.

But the leadership of both insurgencies will only be willing to provide information on terrorists in their midst as part of a political endgame, and the Philippines government is stalling, while the US appears more focused on economic aid than political agreements, the report said.

“The number of terrorists in the Philippines is small relative to the mass-based insurgencies in which they take cover”, said John Virgoe, Crisis Group’s South East Asia director.

“But the ASG and its allies remain dangerous because of their potential to drag the MILF and MNLF back into war,” he added. (BSS) (SunStarGenSan)

MILF wary of military presence in Basilan

May 23, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Muslim rebels engaged in peace talks with Manila on Thursday warned that the presence of military forces near their camps could spark fighting in the southern island of Basilan.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said more government soldiers have been spotted near rebel camps in the hinterlands of Tipo-Tipo and Al-Barka towns, scenes of previous clashes between guerrilla and security forces.

Both areas are also known strongholds of the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for independence in southern Philippines. Some 500 marines are also on their way to Basilan from Manila and expected to arrive this week to augment thousands already deployed on the island, where rebels and soldiers clashed last week.

“The presence of government soldiers near MILF areas is a provocative act and could spark clashes if troops encroach in our places,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator.

He said the military failed to coordinate the movement of the soldiers, which is a violation of the truce agreement.
— Al Jacinto(ManilaTimes)

Arroyo reiterates vow to crush rebels by 2010

May 22, 2008

Blames foes for slow growth, rights violations

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has renewed her vow to crush the communist insurgency by 2010, accusing the rebels of impeding economic growth and of committing a wide range of human rights violations.

Speaking at a local peace and security assembly in Bacolod City, Arroyo ordered the military and police to remain vigilant against communist rebels extorting from businesses and recruiting members, especially in the rural areas.

“The communists have spent years as [a] low level threat. It is time for their disruption [of the economy] and violation of human rights to be put to rest so that our nation can move ahead,” she said.

Arroyo also said the peace deal between the government and the communist breakaway group Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade in the Visayas has helped stem the growth of insurgency in the region.

“If we are to become first world by 2010, we have to put a stop to this ideological nonsense. By 2010, we hope the Philippines should be well on its way to achieving that vision. But for that to happen by 2010, the insurgency should be defeated,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo also defended the police and military from allegations that they are involved in human rights abuses, saying it is the rebels who are responsible for these.(PDI)

CEGP Press Release:CEGP condemns abduction, torture of former student leader

May 22, 2008

May 22, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference:
Vijae Alquisola, Deputy Secretary-General, 09162034402

CEGP condemns abduction, torture of former student leader

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) condemns in strongest terms the illegal abduction and emotional and physical torture of former student leader Randy Malayao by suspected Military Intelligence Group agents (MIG).

Malayao was CEGP Vice-President for Visayas in 1991-1994.

Malayao was forcibly abducted last May 15. Last May 20, he was presented by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to the media at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Upi, Gamu, Isabela.

He was then brought to the Regional Trial Court in Tuguegarao, Cagayan and is now being held at the Cagayan Provincial Jail under murder charges.

Malayao is a Peace Consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Cagayan Valley. He was included as one of the co-accused in the killing of notorious martial law torturer Rodolfo Aguinaldo in 2003. Malayao denied the charges.

According to Malayao’s account as per human rights group Karapatan, “… he was grabbed by government agents as he went down the bus at around 9:45P.M of May 15.  He was shoved inside a vehicle, the model and brand of which he did not know.  He was immediately blindfolded… recalls that he could hear the sound of aircrafts passing above the place he was brought to…(h)e did not have any concept of time while under interrogation.  He said the military covered his head with a plastic bag while being hit in different parts of the body.  The soldiers threatened that he would be killed and that his mother will never see him again.  His blindfold was only removed when he was presented to media on the 20th of May, five days after he was abducted.”

“We are on one hand relieved while at the same time outraged by this development. Relieved that our dear alumnus is alive, outraged that he has been subjected to severe torture and his right to due process ignored and outrightly violated,” said Vijae Alquisola, CEGP Deputy Secretary-General.

“His being presented to the media by authorities after his five-day absence attests to the PNP and AFP’s extra-judicial and unlawful tactics in persecuting government critics. This is shameful and a cause for considerable alarm,” Alquisola said.

Alquisola said that regardless of his political affiliation, Malayao should not have been illegally abducted and tortured ‘under any circumstance. ‘ “He has apparently been working underground for more than a decade and his contemporaries and fellow Guilders respect his choice. The AFP and PNP still had no right and license under law to do to him or anyone what they did.”

“The CEGP hands to Malayao its deepest respect for his determination to stand up to his convictions, even under torture and duress. He is still what he was and more when he served us our student leader.”

Malayao was the Editor-in-Chief for two consecutive years of Mangingisda, the official campus publication of UP Visayas in Miag-Ao. He is also a brother and alumnus of the Beta Sigma fraternity in the UP Visayas.

He was elected CEGP Vice-President for Visayas during Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino’s term as CEGP President in 1991-1994. ###

COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES
Rm 305, National Press Club Bldg., Intramuros,
Manila, Philippines
Tele Fax.: 524-3937
Email: cegpnational@ yahoo.com
“To Write Is Already To Choose”

Looking for Randy Malayao: His Story (from Bukaneg’s blog)

May 22, 2008

Five nights and four days of hell

Friday night, as Pom and I were at a gas station on our way home from another long day, I received a text message. The message contained a girl’s name and it asked permission if she could call me. The number was unregistered and so I was having second thoughts whether to answer the text or not. Besides, phone calls were prohibited in gas stations. But I said yes nonetheless.

The voice at the other end of the line was unfamiliar. But the distress was in her voice was unmistikable. She said she needed to talk to me as soon as possible and will I meet her that same night? I asked her, “About what?” “About Randy,” she replied.

It immediately felt like someone dropped a heavy stone at the pit of my stomach. This kind of call with a very unusual request can never be good. I had no choice but to say yes. We hung up. After a few minutes I got another text informing me of a change in plans. It also said it was too late in the night and it may probably be too unsafe. The meeting was surely not about a good thing.

I spent a fitful night. I kept waking up, worried to death. Randy has been working underground for more than a decade as a National Democratic Front political consultant. He was the Visayas’ most popular and effective student leader and organizer before that.

Very early the next day, Saturday, without a proper shower and breakfast, I rushed over to where I would meet the woman who turned out to be just a girl by her looks. She broke the shocking news—Randy has been missing since Thursday night and his cellphones could not be reached. The best case scenario was that he was abducted by the military, the worst case scenario was that he was tortured and killed.

I called up Manang Perla, Randy’s elder sister. She did not want to believe me at first but I am sure she knew I would never kid her with something like this—especially when my voice cracked.

I rushed over to the Karapatan human rights group and the Desaperecidos, an organization of relatives of the disappeared. They were already informed when I reached their offices. There were also volunteers from the Cagayan Valley human rights group Lakbay CV. We immediately asked Randy’s friends and relatives the circumstances of their last meeting with him. We got a rough sketch of what might have happened to him. We came to the conclusion that it could only be the military responsible for this dastardly act. I parked myself before a computer and started writing all about Randy, from our boyhood, our families, our fathers’ unparalled friendship that was broken only by Uncle Felix’s untimely death by vehicular accident. I also wrote about Randy’s history as student leader and organizer. It was an easy task for me. I know him more than his family does in this aspect. I also wrote down what information we had that day.

In the afternoon, a search group was formed and they drove around his last known point of origin to where he might have been abducted. When the group came back, we made plans for more searches the next day.

All the while, I burned cellphone lines to his family and other friends, asking additional information and suggesting courses of action. To hell with astronomical phone bills. This guy is more than worth it.

I came home very late that night on my own. As I rounded the street corner leading to Matalino street, I thought someone took a picture of me because a camera flash pop on my face. I drove from out of there like mad.

At home, I told Pom what I knew at the time. Another fitful night’s sleep passed. Randy kept appearing in my dreams, smiling at me everytime as if we were just having lunch at a restaurant. It was just that, when we were together at the CEGP, we could hardly feed ourselves, much less afford a restaurant meal.

Sunday morning, I met Aya Santos and we drove to Camp Crame. We visited her mom, Elizabeth Principe, who suffered the same ordeal as Randy did six months back. It was I who broke the news to her, Aya so choked with emotions she could hardly open her mouth. We spent five hours inside the claustrophobic visiting area thinking of what could be done for Randy. We went back to the human rights offices just as the two search teams arrived from their rounds. Then we digested the information they brought back. We also drafted media advisories. As the volunteers faxed them, we talked, waited, talked some more and waited. My cellphone was peppered with messages from distraught relatives and friends.

At about nine o’clock, I asked Randy’s siblings to send Manung Dodo, their eldest, for the press conference and the camp searches the next day. Before midnight, I drove to the airport to collect two volunteers. I was home and in bed by three in the morning.

At six the next day, I was up and rushing to the CERV office because a departing volunteer insisted on talking to me before leaving. I rushed to collect Manung Dodo and brought him to the Bayan conference room for the presscon. It was a bit disorganized. The media people who arrived early requested to interview us immediately because there were other events to be covered. Then other journos trickled in, so we had to give interviews many times. Teddy was there, Edith Burgos was there, Dr. Carol Arraullo was there and many other Guilders and friends. Manung Dodo was amazed at how popular his brother is. He could hardly believe the people who he regularly saw on television were shaking his hand and telling all sorts of positive stories about their kid brother. Ma’am Edith even gave him a hug.

After a quick lunch, though we have to force ourselves to swallow the food, we set off for a camp search. We visited the notorious ABC (Camps Aguinaldo, Bonifacio and Crame) to submit letters to the Chief of Staff of the AFP, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army and the Chief PNP, respectively. We also visited known holding (and torture) areas within Bonifacio and left pictures of Randy. We noticed the soldiers, with their M4 rifles at the ready, could not look us in the eye and seemed to be ill-at-ease at our presence.

We proceeded to where Randy was last seen by friends at the Ortigas Center. We talked to managers, security guards and crew and showed them pictures of Randy (wearing a suit!). By then, Lakbay CV volunteers already talked to a security guard who confirmed someone who looked like the guy on the picture had dinner there on the night in question.

At this time, Manung Dodo and I received a call from Manang Perla about a hopeful information.

Then we proceeded to Barangay Rosario and had Randy’s case blottered. While waiting for the police to process the complaint, I crashed right on the driver’s seat and caught a short but deep nap. I was energized enough after to drive again.

As it was getting dark, we terminated our search and went back to the office. All of us were tired and hungry, but no one was complaining. Upon reaching office, we bought some bread and ate while we assessed the day just past and made plans for the next day. The fish crackers Mrs Burgos bought was consumed in no time. (Bless this lady!)

I went up to the Kodao office were Pom was patiently waiting for me. Then we went to a nearby hotel to meet two of our volunteers. Afterwards, short of cash, we ate at a street eatery and went back to Kodao office for me to get another nap. At ten, we drove to the airport to pick up another volunteer. We were home by two in the morning.

By then, I was more than 50 percent sure the military would admit they have Randy. I woke up before six and started trawling the internet. There were several stories about Randy, a couple of which quoted me, as Randy’s close friend, blaming the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army for Randy’s enforced disappearance. Then I received another text message confirming the public presentation. That was when I spammed the good news to fellow Guilders.

At about eight, I was flooded with calls and sms texts. Manang Perla, relatives and Karapatan volunteers were on their way to Camp Melchor dela Cruz of the 5th ID where Major General Dilodilo led Randy’s public presentation. At about 10:30 am, he was shown for 30 seconds and 20 meters away from family, friends and the media. At 12 o’clock, I again spammed this latest development. Randy was then being taken to Tuguegarao where he is being accused as one of those responsible for the death of the notorious Martial Law torturer and rapist Rodolfo Aguinaldo (who later reinvented himself as provincial governor and congressman).

My phone never stopped ringing with calls and sms messages after. At about four in the afternoon, I received a phone call from Manang Perla. While we were talking, I heard a familiar voice in the background. I asked Manang Perla to put him on. When he answered, relief flooded all over me like a cold shower on a hot Manila summer day. It felt that good and more!

It’s one in the morning already. I should be getting my fair share of rest and sleep, moreso that I downed a bottle of brandy in celebration. No, scratch that—in jubilation. (Brandy for Randy, got it? got it?) But am I ever so stoked I can not now sleep even when I have the luxury to do so.

My five nights and four days of hell are over.

= = = =

Randy’s five nights and four days of hell

As briefly as I could, here it is (as narrated to me by Randy himself a few hours ago):

From a fast food joint in the Ortigas Center, Randy tried to flag down several taxis. He noticed several guys before him waving the cabs off. He then decided to board the next G Liner bus that came his way. Upon hindsight, he said he was already being cased at that point.

Randy alighted near the Cainta Junction. When he stepped off the bus, two persons grabbed him and dragged him to a waiting car. Also taken from him was a substantial amount of cash, gadgets and personal items.

He was blindfolded and driven to where airplane noise came at short intervals. (Fort Bonifacio)

Still blinfolded he was interrogated for what he thought was 24 hours straight. By this time, he no longer had sense of time. He was being hit relatively mildly but repeatedly, so the marks won’t show. A bag was put over his head to asphyxiate him. All the while, he was being forced to admit he was someone else. His torturers kept on saying Randy’s mom, Auntie Nena, will die soon after she learns of Randy’s death. They also made him listen to voices they said belonged to his friends being tortured.

All the while, Randy said, he had just one answer for his abductors and torturers: “Kill me now if you want, but you will not get anything from me!”

After about 24 hours of physical, psychological and mental torture, Randy was taken to the CIDG headquarters at Camp Crame. This was most probably on the night of Saturday until Sunday. What followed was what felt like to him another 24 hours of interrogation and torture. At just about the time when Aya and I were also at Camp Crame, possibly just a few dozen meters away, Randy was there being tortured.

He overheard one of his captors saying there were already groups looking for him. He was then whisked back to Fort Bonifacio. A few hours later, they took him on a very long drive. On the road, they might have possibly passed Manung Dodo’s bus on its way to Manila.

When his blindfold was finally taken off, he was ordered to wear an orange shirt printed with the words “CIDG Detainee.” He then talked to some people in the holding cell and learned that some of them were from Tumauini, Isabela. Randy asked them to make contact with Manang Perla to inform her that he was at Camp Dela Cruz. He was then marched to where the cowardly military proudly presented him.

Twenty meters away, Randy saw his Manang Perla, Manung Anton and other relatives, friends and human rights workers. He beamed his famous smile at them.

Randy’s five nights and four days of hell ended.

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Abra files cases with GRP-NDFP joint monitoring committee

May 22, 2008

Bombings reminiscent of Beew massacre

BAGUIO CITY (May 13) – Elders of Tubo, Abra announced in an interview that they will file cases of human rights violation with the joint monitoring committee of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The violations inflicted on their villages in the month long militarization under the 50th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army that reminded them of a nightmare in the 1980s when the nearby village of Beew was transformed into a no man’s land after government troops burned houses, killed a pregnant woman, and committed various human rights violations.


BIG SHELL. A Pananuman resident disclosed that mortar and cannon shells are big enough for a boy’s foot. Community folk estimated the craters to be as deep as 1.5 to 3 meters, created by bombs dropped in their domain. Photo by Lyn V. Ramo/NORDIS

More than two decades ago, the Beew villagers then, took refuge in Sagada, at the church of the St. Mary the Virgin, which was more than a day’s walk. The late Anglican priest Paul Sagayo Sr. brought it to the attention of national media which ignited the call for the withdrawal of troops in the area. It became known then as the Beew massacre.

Today in this interview, elders of Pananuman,Tubo narrated a similar story that has violated their rights as indigenous peoples to community peace, cultural integrity, and economic development.

Some 300 troopers of the 50th IB took over their village from March 12 to April 12. The villagers were not allowed to attend to their farms, animals and other activities.

“They bombed the forests outside the village. But the troop’s artilleries and their headquarters were inside the community as they conducted their war. The villagers were exposed to the crossfire,” said Dagson Buyagan.

Firearms are not allowed in the village. Pananuman is a peaceful village where policies and practices are strictly observed. The militarization brought disruption on their peace.

“There was even no prior information to the local barangay officials of the military operation,” added Rudy Sabino, a barangay councilman of Pananuman.

Sabino claimed that they have a barangay ordinance that prohibits bringing in any firearms inside the community. They informed the government troops about the ordinance but to no avail. The villagers consistently invoked the same ordinance on all armed groups.

As the militarization inflicted fear on the people, particularly during the bombings, the villagers called a community meeting. “We came up with a petition addressed to the military to stop the bombings and withdrew from the area,” added Gilbert Ganipis, another kagawad of Pananuman, in Tubo. They submitted the petition to the military headquarters in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. The military withdrew from the area sometime afterwards.

Undermining indigenous culture

“When one of the government troopers was killed by the New People’s Army (NPA), they ordered us to recover the remains,” said Buyagan adding “But we only agreed to do it only after they have halted the exchange of fire.”

As dictated by their culture and because it happened in their village, Buyagan explained that they are responsible for the recovery of those killed. He reiterated however that the troops do not understand their culture and most of the time violate them.

In the retrieval of any human remains, the elders are compelled to perform some rituals first, Buyagan said. “Even after any retrieval, the elders are to perform the daw-es (cleansing ritual). The sanctity of the ritual and respect for the dead calls for a community holiday to be declared for the performance of the ritual,” added Buyagan.

“We are to do these rituals at the villagers’ expense and visiting outsiders must observe these practices too,” he said pointing-out that “any violation of the observance usually done by outsiders would require a repeat of the rituals which is not easy to perform.”

Econ effects worry villagers

On the other hand, uncertain future heighten the worries of these Tubo villagers because of the war waged in their community that has forced them to abandon their livelihood.

Also, under suspect to be members or aiding the NPA, the villagers were forbidden to get out of their houses, leaving their farms untended to the point of deterioration.

According to Buyagan, the plantation of sugarcane was destroyed because of the explosions. The implementation of a fishpond livelihood project was canceled because the location for the fishpond was taken by the military for the landing of their helicopters.

Farm animals such as cows and livestock were lost or alleged stolen by the camping soldiers. The villagers now worry about their food supply, and have little hope for recuperation and most of all they fear the possible comeback of the military.

Under the guise of executing the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) II of the government, the military’s series of aerial bombings and ground operations on suspected lairs of the NPA in these villages has inflicted traumatic terror on the people.

According to the reports of the fact-finding mission conducted at Pananuman on May 3-5, 2008 by a multi-sectoral group headed by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and the Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA-KARAPATAN), about 48 bombs were exploded in an average of two days.

“They shelled mortars and cannons day and night,” It was nonstop because the soldiers did these operations in shifts.” Buyagan noted.

At first, the cannons were placed near the drinking-water source of the community. This was only about 10 meters away from the nearest house. The soldiers eventually transferred it but only a few yards away from the church and then, to the school grounds.

Lack of support

The people of Pananuman have been asking for help from the municipality of Tubo, Abra, when the military left their community but until now, they have not received any kind of support, beside the council resolution that reportedly asked for the military pullout.

Amid the military operations, the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) and the CHRA forwarded a letter of concern to the local government of Abra.

They also have tried asking support from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) but they have not heard or received any support from them. All they heard is word that relief operations could not be conducted there because of military operations.

How villagers cope

“A dialog with the military was planned because we are hoping that there will be compensations,” said Atty. Mary Ann Bayang, Spokesperson of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Monitor.

“They (the villagers) cannot quantify the cost of damage,” she added.

Pananuman villagers have started bringing back order in their lives and are trying to rehabilitate their devastated farms. However, inadequate food supply in the coming months is real.

“We do not have enough rice now, that is why we are planting kamote as a possible alternate,” Buyagan added.

To file cases

The residents claimed that they will submit the result of the fact-finding mission to the GRP-NDFP joint monitoring committee.

“We want that the rights of the civilians to be strictly observed by the warring parties and to exempt our village from their war,” said the elders.

The GRP-NDFP came up with a comprehensive agreement on the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law which was signed on March 16, 1998. The monitoring of the implementation of the said agreement is done by the joint monitoring committee which is based in Manila.

The said agreement states that “Civilian population and civilians shall be treated as such and shall be distinguished from combatants and, together with their property, shall not be the object of attack. They shall likewise be protected against indiscriminate aerial bombardment, strafing, artillery fire, mortar fire, arson, bulldozing and other similar forms of destroying lives and property, from use of explosives as well as the stockpiling near or in their midst, and the use of chemical and biological weapons.” # Arthur L. Allad-iw with reports from Niña Camille M. Pacial for NORDIS

Military tags churchmen as NPA members

May 22, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (May 12) — Even the church is not safe from the recent military occupation at the tri-boundary of Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur provinces.

In a press conference of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance at the Cordillera Peoples Alliance office, two churchmen professed they were allegedly tagged by the military as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

During the military operation at the tri-boundary, Deacon Pedro Dungoc from Pananuman, Tubo, Abra and Father Mario Oplawan from Lamag, Quirino, Ilocos Sur said military men were telling the villagers that they are members of the NPA and that they have guns hidden in the church.

“While I was away, the military entered the church without any permission searching for weapons,” Oplawan said.

According to Oplawan, the military was making stories to cause fear on the people and to make the people mad at the church. The military were allegedly telling the people of Lamag that he (Oplawan) and his sakristan (assistant) are members of the NPA.

Oplawan denied being a member of the NPA and maintained he does not have any weapons such as a gun. He said, “The church is against the use of bombs and guns.”

“The military allegedly found a gun among my personal things,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dungoc was interrogated by the military during the military operation in Pananuman. The military asked him questions such as “where does the fund of the church come from” and “what is the orientation of the church.”

According to Dungoc, the military was trying to tell him that he should admit that he is a member of the NPA.

“They intimidate us by visiting us everyday. They threaten us by telling that we are members of NPA,” Dungoc added.

Several activities by the church were disrupted during the military operation in the said places. One project such as the fish pond for the community was about to be finished when the military came and built there camp in the same place according to Dungoc.

“They do not respect even the church. They came without any notice or permission by the villagers and then they tag us as NPAs,” Dungoc added.

Since the military pulled out its troops last April, Pananuman is still recovering from the severe damage of their crops. Several human rights violations such as forced entry into the villagers’ houses, threats to their lives, aerial bombings over the agricultural fields and stealing of agricultural animals were recorded by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Monitor. # John Eric B. Escalante for NORDIS

Communist leader Sison asks Dutch court to drop case

May 21, 2008

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands — Philippine communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Tuesday asked the Dutch court to drop the case against him for his alleged involvement in the killing of his former comrades Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.

After the hearing, the court, according to Sison’s lawyer Michiel Pestman, said it will issue a ruling on or before June 10.

Pestman said the prosecution, on the other hand, asked for an extension of the investigation period.

“The request for extension is necessary because they have not got anything, otherwise, they would have indicted him already,” he said. “This is a desperate attempt to save the case.”

Pestman said the court decision on or before June 10 may indict Sison or drop the case.

But Sison’s lawyer is optimistic about the case going their way because the prosecution submitted a new set of evidence that were “more of the same,” like the structure of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“There is no evidence whatsoever linking Sison to the killings,” he said.

“They admitted that there would be no smoking gun [against Sison] and they would have to construct a case with circumstantial evidence,” he added.

Pestman said that under ordinary circumstances, Sison’s case should have been dropped “a long time ago…There are higher forces at work because obviously this is not an ordinary case. There’s a lot of political pressure involved.”

Dutch investigators went to the Philippines in February and interviewed some witnesses, he said, but even then, they “did not find any witness” to prove their case (PDI)

Press Statement NDF-Cagayan Valley condemns latest AFP abduction of NDF consultant

May 20, 2008

May 18, 2008

Press Statement NDF-Cagayan Valley condemns latest AFP abduction of NDF consultant

The National Democratic Front-Cagayan Valley condemns the abduction of Randy Malayao, 38, last May 15, 2008 at the vicinity of Rosario, Pasig City. He is a political consultant of the National Democratic Front for Cagayan Valley. We hold the 5th Infantry Battalion, through its special agents and death squad, responsible for Malayao’s abduction.

A month before his disappearance, Malayao was reported in the Cagayan Valley’s Security Council meeting as “about to be captured.” Malayao was active in various political activities for the advancement of the people’s national democratic interests. He pushed for justice for all political prisoners and victims of the state’s terrorism, the advancement of the peasants’ struggles and fought against unjust government programs and policies. He was an active leader in the campaign against the Dy political dynasty in the region, which led to the overthrow of Faustino Dy, Jr as governor. Before his disappearance, he was active in peasants’ discussions and fora regarding the high rates of rice and other issues concerning farmers. The Arroyo government has once again committed a blatant violation of human rights and International Humanitarian Laws.

Malayao was an unarmed NDF consultant covered by immunity when they took him and detained him against his will until now. We urge all sectors, people’s organizations, human rights groups and other justice-loving individuals in Cagayan Valley and the country to join in various actions to compel the AFP to resurface Malayao. We shall not cease until his whereabouts are known and the criminals responsible are punished.

Army confirms arrest of NDF consultant

May 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of Randy Felix Malayao whom it described as a ranking communist leader in the Ilocos region linked to a number of killings including that of former Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo.

In a statement, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said Malayao was nabbed by combined military and police operatives about 9 p.m. on May 15 at the vicinity of Malik village in Cainta town in Rizal province, east of Metro Manila.

The Army statement described Malayao as the deputy secretary of the Northeast Luzon Regional Party Committee (NELRC) (formerly Cagayan Valley Regional Party Committee); a regular member of the EXECOM; and head of the Regional Education Department and the spokesman of the NELRC.

Brawner said Malayao was arrested by virtue of two warrants of arrest issued against him: two counts of murder and frustrated murder docketed as criminal case #9090, 9091 & 9092 in Tuguegarao City. He has another case filed in Ilagan, Isabela.

The Army statement said the arrest was carried out by elements of the 502nd Brigade, intelligence operatives from the 5th Infantry Division, the National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Police Regional Office (PRO) 2.

Brawner said Malayao is currently under the custody of the PRO 2.

The statement said Malayao was a student leader during his college days at the University of the Philippines.

“Due to his performance and aggressiveness in pursuing party works, he became a full-time party member of the CPP/NPA/NDF. He was the political officer of Northern Front, CVRC prior to his designation as the spokesperson and head, of NELRC. He used the name Salvador del Pueblo in Region 2 in his dealings with the media and propaganda works,” the statement read.

It added that Malayao is being investigated, among others, for the killing of Aguinaldo; ambush of Army elements in San Mariano, Isabela; liquidation of village chieftain Nicholas Collado of San Mariano, Isabela; liquidation of Army personnel in Ilagan; and the slaying of businessman Benjamin “Rigor” Olalia Jr of Ilagan after a failed extortion try.

Earlier, the Desaparecidos, an organization of families of victims of enforced disappearances and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) voiced concern over the “disappearance” of Malayao, whom they said was seized while on his way to Pasig City.

Likewise, the National Democratic Front human rights monitoring committee scored the disappearance of Malayao, whom it described as a political consultant of the NDF in Cagayan Valley.

“A month before his disappearance, Malayao was reported in the Cagayan Valley’s Security
Council meeting as ‘about to be captured,'” said Jansel Reyes, media officer of NDF-Cagayan Valley.

“The Arroyo government has once again committe a blatant violation of human rights and International Humanitarian Laws. Malayao was an unarmed NDF consultant covered by immunity when they took him and detained him against his will,” Reyes said. – GMANews.TV