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Mario J. Mallari

Senior MILF leader, soldier dead in Lanao clash

Monday, 14 July 2014 00:00 Published in Headlines

While peace panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were sorting out kinks in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Malaysia last Friday, violence erupted between security forces and MILF in Lanao del Sur, killing a leader of the Muslim group, his two supporters and a soldier.
Belated report reaching Camp Aguinaldo said the MILF band of sub-commander Javier Macagaan instigated the violence that erupted along the vicinity of Barangay Bacayawan in Marantao town around 4 p.m. Friday
The report added Macagaan’s group shot at the soldiers of the Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion and 51st IB who were tasked to secure television crew members in the boundary of Marantao and Balindong towns to conduct a documentary.
Col. Glenn Macasero, commander of the 103rd Brigade,
said the MILF open fire on the soldier waiting for the crew of TV 5 with no apparent reasons or provocation, instantly killing a soldier and wounding two others.
“The soldiers had no recourse but to return fire and defend their position until reinforcement arrived.  Firefight ensued for an hour until elements of the MILF withdraw to different direction,” the report said.
Two other soldiers were wounded during the clash. They are now in stable condition.
On the other hand, the military reported that Macagaan was killed during the firefight, along with two of his followers.
The conflict was pacified after Macasero coordinated with the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the MILF-Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and civil society organizations in the area.
Capt. Franco Suelto, acting spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division (ID), branded the latest violence as “unfortunate” as he stressed that military’s commitment to the peace negotiations with the MILF.
“This is an unfortunate incident and sad that our soldiers were ambushed while maintaining peace and security of the area.  We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those killed and wounded,” said Suelto.
“The 1st Infantry Division is fully supporting the peace process on Bangsamoro. We gave much importance on this stage of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and we will not let anyone spoil the gains of the peace process,” he added.
The violence erupted while GRP and MILF peace panels held a special meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the final text of the BBL which is designed to end the decades-long conflict in Mindanao through the establishment of a Bangsamoro government.
But the July 8-11 talks at the Bellamy House in Kuala Lumpur yielded “modest progress,” the MILF said.
The two panels agreed to meet again in Manila within the next few days to come up with a mutually acceptable BBL for submission to Congress.
“They achieved modest progress and identified consensus language in the light of signed agreements” and “resolved to continue working together to come up with a mutually acceptable draft Bangsamoro Basic Law,” the GRP and MILF said in a joint statement.
“The meeting provided the panels the opportunity to clarify misperceptions and affirm the intent and sincerity of the parties to abide by the signed agreements,” they added.
The MILF said the consensus reached by both panels in Kuala Lumpur special meeting shall be brought back to their respective principals for consultation and approval.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) yesterday declared the military’s internal peace and security plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan” a “complete failure.”
 The CPP made the declaration days before Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, regarded as the chief architect of the IPSP “Bayanihan,” retires from the military service. Bautista is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 20.
“General Bautista’s Oplan Bayanihan is a complete failure,” declared the CPP.
 The AFP launched IPSP “Bayanihan” in January 2011 aimed at rendering the insurgency problem posed by the New People’s Army (NPA) to inconsequential level.
 The IPSP “Bayanihan” shifted military paradigm from the body count syndrome, or operations focused on combat score, to whole-of-nation approach of winning the peace through civil military operations.
 The IPSP “Bayanihan” succeeded Operation Plans Bantay Laya 1 and 2, which were heavy on military combat operations.
 While declaring more provinces ready for development, meaning the threat of communist insurgents is very minimal, during the implementation of IPSP “Bayanihan,” the last estimated number of NPA fighters released by the AFP remained at 4,000 level throughout the country.
This year, the AFP has not issued an estimated strength of the NPA.
The CPP, however, stressed that the military failed to decimate the strength of the NPA.
“The AFP has failed, not only in its declared objective of decimating the NPA in three years’ time, but also in putting a stop to the nationwide growth and strengthening of the NPA,” it added.
 The CPP also said that IPSP “Bayanihan” was a brutal as the two Oplan Bantay Laya.
“In waging a brutal war, the AFP has succeeded only in subjecting entire communities to militarization, occupying barangay halls and other civilian structures, violating the people’s domiciles, hampering production and commerce, obstructing school activities and traumatizing children and subjecting community leaders to harassment, illegal arrest and murder,” the CPP said.
“Behind the signboard of ‘peace and development,’ the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan operations have proven to be equally as brutal as all previous campaigns of suppression carried out by the AFP against the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces,” it added.
Contrary to claims by Bautista that the military is gaining ground against the NPA, the CPP said that the communist armed wing is continuously expanding in rural areas where injustices to the masses are common.
“Across the entire Philippines, the New People’s Army continues to expand and grow in strength amid the worsening exploitation and oppression of the toiling masses who suffer widespread poverty, unemployment, low wages, land grabbing and spiralling costs of food and basic services even as the ruling classes continue to enrich themselves through plunder and corruption,” said the CPP.
“With increasing frequency, units of the NPA are carrying out ever bigger tactical offensives against the AFP, police forces, paramilitary units, private armies of big despotic landlords, armed security forces of big mining companies and other armed groups that suppress the people,” the communists added.
Only last Thursday, the NPA attacked the Alegria Municipal Police Station in Surigao del Norte, carting away firearms and taking four policemen as hostages.

4 cops snatched in Surigao police station attack

Saturday, 12 July 2014 00:00 Published in Nation

Communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Thursday attacked and overran a police station in Surigao del Norte province, wounding two policemen and a civilian before carting away with firearms and taking four lawmen as hostages.
Chief Supt. Dominador Aquino, director of the Caraga Police Regional Office (PRO), said that pursuit operations are now ongoing to track down the rebels who attacked Alegria Municipal Police Station at around 3 p.m. Thursday.
Two policemen and a civilian were wounded during the daring attack by more or less 60 fully armed NPA rebels from the Guerrilla Front-16, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
Six firearms — an M14 rifle, four M16 Armalite rifles and one shotgun, were taken by the NPA rebels from the police station, along with four policemen.
“We have ongoing operations, hopefully we can recover them,” said Aquino, referring to the four policemen taken by the rebels.
Aquino said that police blocking force managed to engage the NPA rebels after attacking Alegria police station, resulting to two communists killed. An AK47 assault rifle was also recovered.
Also recovered were the truck used by the NPAs in attacking Alegria police station and personal belongings of the four cops taken as hostages.
Aquino refused to identify the policemen taken as captives by the rebel band. He said the four were conducting barangay visitation when intercepted by the NPAs.
However, reports identified them as PO3 Vic Concon, PO1 Joen Zabala, PO1 Edito Roquino and PO1 Rey Morales.
Aquino said that the provincial peace and order council immediately convened to address the matter.
The Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion (IB) is now assisting the police in tracking down the rebel band who fled towards Agusan del Norte province.
The NPA attack came amid claim by outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista that the government is gaining ground against the communist rebels.

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