Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guns silent as Ramadhan sets in

Military officials said there was no significant activity in the pursuit operations against Ameril Ombra Kato and Abdulla Macapaar, field commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who had been blamed for a series of deadly attacks in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur in recent weeks.

Some 70 civilians and 17 soldiers and militiamen have been reported killed in the fighting, sparked by the cancellation of the Aug. 5 signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the MILF on an expanded Bangsamoro homeland.

The military said 125 MILF followers of Kato and Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo, had been killed in the government counteroffensive, but the MILF confirmed only seven dead.

Gen. Alexander Yano, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, reported that the guns fell silent in Mindanao on the first day of Ramadan, but he said he was not discounting the possibility of terrorist attacks.

“These are recalcitrant groups that have always been identified (as) providing sanctuaries to local and foreign terrorists in the area so that is a possibility that we are not discounting and we are taking due consideration and care and caution,” Yano told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.

Yano reiterated that the military’s punitive actions against Kato and Macapaar would continue throughout Ramadan but that ground commanders had been authorized to “adjust” tactics in deference to fasting Muslims.

The military has put up a P10-million reward for Kato and Macapaar, who reportedly lead 500-1,000 fighters of the 12,000-strong MILF.

Renegade groups

Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, spokesperson for the Central Mindanao conflict, told reporters that the MILF fighters being pursued by the military had splintered into smaller groups.

“We used to engage groups by the hundreds. Now the groups are down to 10, 20, or 30 individuals and they have moved to areas with less probability of engagements. It’s also for their self-preservation,” Segovia said.

Also Monday, the MILF vice chair of military affairs, Aleem Abdul Aziz Mimbantas, warned the government of a total collapse of the ceasefire agreement if the military occupied a satellite office of the peace panel in Butig, Lanao del Sur. Mimbantas holds office in the area.

Mimbantas said the office, where the foreign-funded Bangsamoro Development Agency also maintained a bureau, had been surrounded by government troops. . (With reports from Nikko Dizon in Manila and Frinston Lim, Edwin O. Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem, Charlie C. SeƱase, Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez, INQ.net)

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