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Mario J. Mallari

MNLF pans OPAPP over ‘divide and rule’ tack

Sunday, 19 April 2015 00:00 Published in Headlines

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) accused yesterday the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) of employing a “divide and rule” policy on Muslim rebel groups by ignoring the group’s faction under Chairman Nur Misuari in a “unification meeting” in Davao City.
The MNLF’s Misuari group also accused the OPAPP, led by Secretary Teresita Deles, of confusing the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) through the snub.
Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman for the MNLF Misuari group, scored the OPAPP for continuously employing its “divide and rule tactics” in dealing with the MNLF.
“We welcome the coming of the OIC to help in building peace but we renounce the manipulation of the OPAPP for confusing the OIC of the real representative of MNLF,” Fontanilla told The Tribune.
Fontanilla stressed that there are only two representatives of the MNLF — he and Rev. Absalom Cerveza.
“The rest are pretenders. Thanks to OPAPP for its divide and rule tactics,” Fontanilla said.
According to Fontanilla, officials of the OIC called for the “unification meeting” between the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and discuss the development of the peace negotiations.
Fontanilla said that OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani has arrived in the country for the meeting.
“What we understand is that OIC coursed the invitation to OPAPP,” said Fontanilla, adding “because it was handled by OPAPP, we were not (invited).”
But Fontanilla said that Cerveza attended the meeting to represent the MNLF Misuari group which is recognized by the OIC.
Asked who were invited by OPAPP for the two-day meet that opened yesterday in Davao City, Fontanilla replied “the MNLF Malacanang group of 15 and others.”
Fontanilla said that the agenda of the meeting is “unification of MILF and MNLF for peace.”
The MNLF-Misuari group has vowed that it will only participate in process to be facilitated by the OIC after declaring independence from the Philippine government and establishment of its so-called Bangsamoro Republik in August 2013.
The MNLF said that the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the government has not been fully-implemented and that the government reneged in its obligation under the FPA. It also denounced the government’s signing of a peace agreement with the MILF covering areas under the FPA.
Madani led an eight-man delegation for a four-day visit to the Philippines to reaffirm its long support to the Mindanao peace process.
Last Friday, Madani met with Deles to discuss the ongoing negotiations with the MILF and the MNLF.
Deles said the visit of Madani shows OIC’s firm commitment to help in the current peace efforts in Mindanao.
“OIC has contributed so much to the peace process since the Tripoli accord and now more than ever, Filipinos both Muslims and Christians look to you for guidance and support to open a new era of social peace and progress in Mindanao,” she told Madani during the meeting.
Madani expressed the OIC’s full support and commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process.
Madani said the OIC mission is to boost their role in the peace process, saying that the OIC has long been involved in the effort to address the conflict in Mindanao and secure the welfare of Muslims in the country.
Prior to his arrival here on Thursday, Madani had a three-day visit in Malaysia where he met Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak.
The OIC said the two sides “discussed the status of the peace agreement on the Southern Philippines. The Secretary General stressed the need for all parties to remain committed to the peace agreement.”
Malaysia, being a member of the OIC, has been facilitating the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF which concluded in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on March 27, 2014.
Madani also made courtesy calls to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, as well as to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, who was joined by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez, Bai Sandra Sinsuat A. Sema, and Sitti Djalia Hataman. He also met with the Senate Peace, Unity and Reconciliation Committee Chair Senator Teofisto Guingona III. Madani noted during these meetings the current legislative work on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The OIC secretary general will also meet top leaders of the MNLF and MILF to strengthen the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum, which was created by the OIC to harmonize the two Moro fronts.
Together with Madani are Sayed El-Masry, OIC Special Envoy for Peace in the Southern Philippines; Maha Mostafa Akeel, director of the OIC Department of Information; Dr. Hassan Ahmad Abdein, Head of the OIC Department of Muslim Communities and Minorities; Saidu Dodo, Liaison Officer for OIC Special Envoy for PCSP; Mohammed Adoum, Personal Assistant to the OIC Sec-Gen; Mohammed Naghi, Protocol Officer; and Ahmad Madani.
Madani is expected to meet President Aquino and Senate President Franklin Drilon before flying back to Saudi Arabia today.
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization, next to the United ?Nations, composed of 57 member-states spread over four continents.   PNA

Military ’99.9 percent sure’ Umbra Kato is dead

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 00:00 Published in Headlines

Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, the founding leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), reportedly died of cardiac arrest yesterday.
This was the third time that Kato, considered as the religious and military leader of the BIFF, was reported dead. He was first reported dead in 2008 and then in 2011.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, at a press briefing, said the military is 99.9 percent of the information that Kato is dead.
He cited the announce-ment made by Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), confirming the death of Kato.
“We can say 99.9 percent that he is dead…no less than Iqbal confirmed it. But we are trying to validate the information to be sure,” said Cabunoc, adding the military is trying to get photographs to back up the information.
Aside from Iqbal’s pronouncement, the military official also cited information from a nephew of Kato stating he is dead.
According to Cabunoc, the report said that Kato died around 2 a.m. due to cardiac arrest and that his cadaver was reported in Barangay Kateman, Guindulungan, Maguindanao.
Cabunoc said Kato suffered a suffered second stroke last April 7.
Prior to his supposed cardiac arrest yesterday Kato also suffered a stroke in November 2011.
For his part, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said the military dispatched intelligence units to confirm Kato’s death.
He added that if true, Kato’s death is a welcome development on the government’s fight against the BIFF.
“Our intelligence units are still confirming it. But the information is a welcome development,” said Kakilala.
“Kato is the source of inspiration by the members of the BIFF who joined him in waging violent attacks against peaceful communities,” he added.
Kakilala foresees the demise of the BIFF with the death of Kato.
“If he indeed has died, the group will lose its influence and will see its gradual demise due to the lack of popular support. Also, his death would open the door for greater peace and unity in Central Mindanao because Kato was staunchly against the peace talks bet the GPH and MILF,” said Kakilala.
Kato, who studied Islamic theology in Saudi Arabia as a scholar, founded the BIFF in 2010 after breaking away from the MILF due to differences from the MILF leadership in handling the peace negotiations with the government. Kato is pushing an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.

Five dead, eight hurt in Samar road mishap

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 00:00 Published in Nation

Five people died while eight others were injured after a passenger bus side-swiped a van along the highway in Eastern Samar province Sunday night, a police official said yesterday.

Senior Insp. Emerson Davilla, chief of Quinapondan municipal police station, said that the mishap happened at around 6:40 p.m. along the national highway in Barangay Bagte, Quinapondan town.
Davilla said that a DLTB bus with licensed plate numbers ADA 1586 bound for Guiuan from Manila, driven by Roland Salape Mondal, 39, hit a DUP Tours van (HVT 128).
The tourist van came from Tacloban City and was bound for Borongan when the accident happened. It was driven by William Galenzoga, 37.
The fatalities were identified as PO1 Lea Caores, who is assigned to the Eastern Samar Provincial Police Office; Wendell Amande; Judy Ann Malindog and her sister Rowena Malindog, who all died on the spot.
The fifth fatality, seven-year-old Reggie Guerra, died while undergoing treatment at the Immaculate Concepcion Hospital in General MacArthur.  
All of the fatalities and seven of those injured were aboard the van which was side-swiped by the bus. Two other passengers of the bus were unharmed.
The eighth injured was Mondal, who was placed under police custody after undergoing treatment.
Davilla said that Mondal would be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, serious and slight physical injuries and damage to property.

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