Makati fully implements new timekeeping system for city hall employees’ attendance - Tuesday, 29 July 2014
At least 19 civilians were killed while 13 others, mostly children, were wounded after the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group opened fire on two vehicles in Sulu province yesterday.
Capt. Rowena Muyuela, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said the attack happened around 8:30 a.m. along Barangay Lower Talipao in Talipao. He added initial reports showed that the 40 civilians, along with 10 members of Barangay Patrol (BPAT) members, were on board two vans when they were fired upon by the Abu Sayyaf band of Idang Susukan and Sibih Pisih.
“The result of the incident –16 persons killed and 13 children sustained gunshot wounds. Initially, the wounded children were rushed to Integrated Provincial Health Office for medical treatment,” Muyuela said.
Killed were six male civilians and 10 females.
But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) later in the afternoon raised the death to 19.
Muyuela said more or less 50 Abu Sayyaf terrorists staged the ambush.
It was not clear what prompted the ambush but Muyuela theorized that the attack was a retaliation against the BPAT members who are supportive of the military and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“This could be a retaliatory action by the ASG against the BPATs who are supporting the AFP and the PNP,” the military official said.
Local Marine commander Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto, for his part, said some of the dead belonged to a civilian security force and were engaged in a clan feud with the Abu Sayyaf.
Violent clan wars, known as “rido,” have complicated security worries in the country’s south, which is already mired in decades-long Muslim rebellions.
According to Muyuela, the military’s 2nd Marine Brigade immediately launched pursuit operations against the ASG attackers.
AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala condemned “this heinous atrocity that victimized innocent civilians,” adding the military “will continue its pursuit operations until those responsible are brought to justice.”
“This attack cannot be justified by any ideology and shows the Abu Sayyaf’s terroristic nature,” he added. AFP
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao) agreed to release the four policemen today after Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas agreed on a five-day ceasefire in some towns in Surigao del Norte.
In a statement issued yesterday, Roxas said he will be flying today to Mindanao to ensure the safe release of four police officers held captive by the New People’s Army (NPA) after a rebel raid on the Alegria municipal police station in Surigao del Norte last July 10.
The DILG chief, however, refused to give details of the release, saying the specific location and mechanics were still being worked out by negotiators from the government and the NDFP-Mindanao.
Negotiations for the safe release of the four police officers scored a major breakthrough after Roxas secured the commitment of the NDF to free their captives once the military and police agree to a five-day ceasefire in six towns of Surigao del Norte.
Earlier, the military rejected calls from the NDFP-NPA for a ceasefire for the release of PO3 Vic Calubag Concon, PO1 Rey O’niel Morales, PO1 Joen Zabala and PO1 Edito Roquino, stressing that the communist group can free the hostages without any condition.
Suriago del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas, however, supported Roxas’ initiative of seeking the release of the four cops held by the group of Jorge Madlos, alias Ka Oris.
“We have talked with the NDF about the release of the four policemen since the NDF scrubbed the turnover scheduled for June 25,” said Roxas.
“The NDF in North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDF-NEMR) has decided to reduce substantially their conditions for the safe release of the four police officers,” he added.
Roxas said the NDFP-NEMR initially sought a 10 day-ceasefire of military and police operations in Surigao City and 14 municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte before the policemen are released.
Eventually, he noted, the NDF reduced the ceasefire period to six days covering only six municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte.
This was how military observers viewed the ongoing “impasse” between the government of the Republic of Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which will pave the way for the establishment of a Bangsamoro entity.
“It’s really a concern right now... and this (impasse) has effects on the ground,” a senior military officer told the Tribune on condition of anonymity.
“And with the recent pronouncements by the MILF leadership regarding BBL putting the blame on the government, the government should now take extra care in handling the peace process,” he added.
The “impasse” came after the government returned the proposed BBL, crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission headed by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, to the MILF last June 23 or 61 days after the BTC submitted it last April 22.
The MILF branded the BBL returned by Malacañang as “diluted” and has departed from the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) which was signed by the GRP and the MILF.
The Muslim group insisted that all issues settled by the peace panels under FAB and its annexes will not be subjected to renegotiation.
“The negotiations are now at a very sensitive stage, one wrong move may lead to violence. Both parties should be opened for more discussions. The talks have gone a long way, pushing forward is the better road to take for the country,” another officer said.
“Worrisome,” a retired general told the Tribune when asked of his assessment on the ongoing stalemate between the GRP and the MILF.
“The MILF failed to show a united front with BIFF’s (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) breakaway and MNLF’s (Moro National Liberation Front) many discordant voices. Too many leaders with different agenda,” he added.
Over the weekend, the MILF accused the military of conducting uncoordinated troop movement in Maguindanao province.
The government and MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) were not aware or coordinated of these provocative uncoordinated massive deployment and movement of government forces.
“This nature of uncoordinated movement can trigger untoward incident and worst fierce encounter between the government and MILF forces,” Rasid Ladiasan, head of the MILF CCCH Secretariat, said.
“We do not want any tension or confrontational situation between MILF and government forces. Otherwise, we are being remiss with our responsibility,” he said.
Another military source, however, stressed the Aquino administration has done its part in pursuing lasting peace in Mindanao.
“Government has bent backward in pushing for talks. MILF’s tirade is a cover-up for its own inadequacies,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the GRP-CCCH, yesterday clarified that the movement of military units in Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi towns, Maguindanao late this week was not aimed at the MILF.
He said this move was aimed at preventing members of the BIFF from harassing and attacking civilians in the two areas.
“The movement of troops (helicopter flights) was done as a show of strength against the BIFF so that they will not create trouble in those areas. The MILF misconstrued it (as a possible truce violation) as those areas are near their positions,” Galvez said in Filipino.
He added the troop movements in the above-mentioned towns were done “preemptively” so that the BIFF will have second thoughts about attacking, specially during President Aquino fifth State of the Nation Address today. PNA
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