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, November 25, 2008

MILF finishes probe on 2 field commanders

COTABATO CITY – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has completed its investigation on the role of two of its field commanders in the armed skirmishes in Mindanao in August.

Muhammad Ameen, MILF secretariat head, said the MILF investigation on the acts of Commanders Ameril Ombra Kato and Abdulla Macapaar alias “Bravo” had been completed but the MILF would not make it public.

“The investigation reports are classified in nature and for internal use or guide of the MILF in its continuing effort to strengthen or consolidate itself, including the institution of punishment for erring commanders or members,” Ameen said.

MILF chair Ebrahim Murad said in a news conference in September that the MILF field commanders would be punished if found to have violated MILF policies.

“Definitely, sanctions await anybody in the organization who violated our policies, whatever it would be, that is something internal in our organization,” Murad said, adding that the MILF has a justice system where everybody gets justice.

Two probe teams were created by the MILF to investigate the incidents in Lanao del Norte and in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. The two separate findings had been forwarded to the MILF central committee for action.

“It will never be made public,” Murad then said.

Both reports, aside from the narratives of events and interviews with respondents, also contained findings and recommendations, Ameen said.

Col. Julieto Ando, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the MILF’s completion of its investigation on its erring field commanders and the decision not to make public its findings have no bearing on the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“That is a whitewash. If there’s investigation, the result should be made public because the field commanders committed sins,” Ando said.

He said the AFP’s mandate is to bring before the bar of justice MILF field commanders who torched houses and killed civilians in North Cotabato.

“Results or no results of MILF probe, the manhunt against Kato and “Bravo” continues until the two commanders and their men are neutralized,” Ando said.(By Edwin Fernandez;INQ.net)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Road to be built in Lanao conflict areas

Residents in conflict-ridden towns in Lanao del Norte may soon enjoy some basic government services that never reached them before and a robust livelihood with the scheduled construction of a 27-kilometer road courtesy of the US military.

The road will stretch through three towns -- which used to be havens of wanted Moro rebel commander Abdullah Macapaar alias Bravo -- Kauswagan, Matunggao and Poona Piagapo, said Army 104th Brigade Commander Col. Benito de Leon.

Three months ago, renegade Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters attacked several coastal towns in the province, including Kauswagan, where many civilians were killed and families displaced.

De Leon learned from US Army Captain Christian Knutzen, who met with Lanao del Norte Gov. Mohammad Khalid Dimaporo, that the road project has already been given the green light by the US government.

The survey prior to the implementation of the road project would take place "within a few days," according to the US captain.

Knutzen is part of the US military stationed in the province in line with the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement to carry out civil-military activities in support of the local military.

"This will significantly address the security issues in these towns because the military and the police would be able to patrol the areas easily while government services will flow in with a paved road," De Leon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone on Sunday.

In the meantime, residents and even soldiers watching over these towns have been trekking craggy pathways, which the colonel described as "worse than a carabao road" to reach their destinations.

Vehicles and trucks traveling through may run the risk of getting damaged along the way, he added. The easy way to these towns was via a chopper, he also pointed out.

In the absence of concrete roads, the towns -- mostly in the hinterland -- became hotbeds for Moro rebels, who "harped" on nothing but the government's shortcomings, said De Leon.

"Since the towns were isolated, residents became exposed to what Bravo was saying against the government," he said.

Poona Piagapo was the seat of Bravo's turf, Camp Bilal, which he previously controlled. The camp was earlier allowed as an area of temporary stay for Bravo's group while the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF was ongoing.

But he was barred from the site following his raid of Kolambugan and Kauswagan towns on August 18.

The US military also agreed to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines build a military camp in Poona Piagapo to secure residents frequently distressed over the ongoing clashes between the government and the MILF troops.

"We are optimistic that the planned development of the area will address the security issues associated with its inaccessibility, and will eventually usher in economic activity to benefit the locals," added De Leon.(By Jocelyn Uy; INQ.net)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

US envoy calls for ceasefire in Mindanao

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Shariff Kabunsuan -- United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney has warned of more displacements in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao unless the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front declare a ceasefire.

Monday, November 3, 2008

5 killed in Lanao Norte ambush--police

Five people were killed, including two children, when still unidentified men shot their vehicle in the province of Lanao del Norte Sunday afternoon, a police official said on Monday.

Chief Superintendent Danilo Empedrad, director for administration of Lanao del Norte police, said the victims were on board a passenger truck on their way home from a picnic and traversing Barangay (village) Lumbac in the municipality of Magsaysay shortly before 5 p.m. when a still unidentified number of suspects fired at them.

Killed on the spot were Mohaimen Mamao, 20, Cairoden Guinal, 20, Musa Omar, 50, Paypay Buanding, 5, and Sainoden Acamping, 9, Empedrad said.

The incident also left 11 others wounded, namely: Diamon Buanding, 18; Jenny Acampong, 16; Sulaiman Abas, 11; Minsuari Buanding, 36; Maluba Guinal Bucay, 20; Hidaya Guinal Bucay, 1; Haslil Macaangga Bucay, 37; Modiahid Guinal Bucay, 3; Waway Omar, 13; Abar Solaiman, 10; and, Amerodin Guinal, 27.

The wounded victims were rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment, Empedrad said.

Police are now conducting follow-up investigations on the incident to identify the suspects and determine the motive behind the killings, he added.(Abigail Kwok; INQ.net)