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Headlines - August 4,2008

Militiaman hurt in North Cotabato clash - officials

08/04/2008 | 12:14 PM

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines - A government militiaman was wounded when 30 suspected New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels raided their detachment in Temporan village in Magpet town in North Cotabato province early Monday morning, officials said.

Inspector Luis Pederio, chief of Magpet police, identified the wounded militiaman as Rogelio Sagucom, 51, of Binay village from the said town.

Pederio said a bullet from an M14 rifle hit Sagucom on his left shoulder.

Based on the initial police reports, the rebel attackers were led by one Commander Dayo of the NPA Front 53 whose areas of operations include towns of Magpet and Makilala in North Cotabato.

At the time of the attack about 5 a.m., two Cafgu teams and two regulars from the Philippine Army were manning the detachment, Pederio said.

Moro groups want deal on Moro homeland inked

08/04/2008 | 10:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines — A group of Moro organizations pressed for the immediate signing of the Memorandum of Agreement for a Moro homeland and called for the postponement of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The Ranaw Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization called on the government to hasten the signing of the MOA on ancestral domain and put the gains of the peace process in place.

In a resolution signed over the weekend, the groups also said it is wise to postpone the August 11 ARMM elections until a Bangsamoro territory is established. They said that if the election is held, the security and well-being of the people in the area will hang in a balance.

MILF sends 50 delegates to signing ceremony in Malaysia

08/04/2008 | 08:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) sent some 50 delegates to Malaysia over the weekend to attend the signing of an agreement on ancestral domain on Tuesday.

A statement on the MILF website posted Monday morning said the government also sent 90 delegates to the signing ceremony.

"In term of significance, the MILF views this signing ceremony as at par with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement of 2001 in Tripoli, Libya, but based on the number of public officials attending and publicity, this one in Malaysia has the edge and ranks first." the MILF said.

The MILF said its 50 delegates include its peace panel, secretariat, technical committee, and representatives of its nominated non-government organizations (NGOs).

Members of the technical committee include former members of the MILF technical working group (TWG).

Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal will head the MILF peace delegation, which will be billeted at the Marriott Hotel or in cottages nearby.

Heading the government delegation is government peace panel chairman Rodolfo Garcia.

Senior members of the Arroyo Cabinet in the government delegation include Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

Also with the government delegation are members of the Philippine Senate, House of Representatives, local government chief executives, and members of the diplomatic community.

MILF fends off opposition, says domain pact a product of over 10 years of talks

08/04/2008 | 08:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday downplayed protests by residents in areas affected by a deal on ancestral domain, saying the deal is already an official government act.

In a radio interview, MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said the draft agreement was a product of more than 10 years of negotiations between the government and MILF peace panels.

Kabalu also indicated that residents of these affected areas should blame the national government if it failed to consult them on the ancestral domain deal.

"Karapatan nilang magsabi ng ganoon but ito, official na act ng gobyernong ito, itong ginawang ito. More than 10 years na ang negotiation na ito (It is their right to protest the pact, but this is
an official act of the national government. Our peace talks have been more than 10 years in the making)," Kabalu said in an interview on dzXL radio.

He also appealed to the Christian and Muslim leaders and residents of Zamboanga, North Cotabato and other areas affected by the deal to keep an open mind.

On the other hand, Kabalu said the MILF is assuming that the government has already made the proper consultations with the areas concerned on the agreement on ancestral domain.

Peace negotiators of the government and the MILF are to sign the agreement in Malaysia on Tuesday.

"I don't think so na yung panel ng gobyerno kulang sa paghimay sa issue na ito... Sinubmit pa ito sa legal groups para mapag-aralan. Tapos sabihin mo hindi nakonsulta, hindi maganda? I don't think so (I don't want to think that this government did not consult the people on the matter. It also submitted the documents to its legal panel for study. Now are we being made to understand that there was no consultation? I don't think so)," Kabalu said.

Kabalu also branded as "disinformation" the claims that some areas in Zamboanga City are to be included in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

Kabalu said the general idea is that the core territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are to be included in the BJE.

But Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat insisted a copy of a "confidential" document obtained by Rep. Isabelle Climaco indicated some villages in the city will be included in BJE.

Lobregat, Climaco and Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian signed a full-page advertisement in the Philippine Daily Inquirer opposing the city's inclusion in the BJE.

"We are for the end of any and all armed hostilities... However, as one free people of different faiths and cultures we do not favor the creation of a juridical entity based on religion or segregation," the ad stated.

"We manifest our unflinching opposition to the inclusion of Zamboanga City or any of its 98 barangays in the BJE and Bangsamoro Homeland under the memorandum of agreement to be entered into by and between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF," it

It warned that including the city or any part of it in the BJE would affect the city's territorial and political integrity, cause its dismemberment and extreme prejudice to the people of Zamboanga.

Lobregat, in an interview on dzBB radio Monday, said they will hold mass actions to oppose the deal.

SC wants GRP panel to justify draft domain agreement with MILF

08/04/2008 | 08:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has given government peace negotiators until Monday noon to submit their comments defending an agreement on ancestral domain with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a radio interview, North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol disclosed this Monday, as he voiced optimism the High Court's quick action may yet prevent Tuesday's signing of the deal in Malaysia.

"We filed our petition last week and today at 12 noon binigyan ang GRP panel to submit their comments. Right now we are happy a lot of people are seeing things our way (We filed our petition last week and the high court has given the GRP panel until noon today to submit their comments. We are also happy many people are seeing things our way)," Piñol said in an interview on dwIZ radio.

Last week, Piñol questioned the deal before the High Court, saying there was a lack of consultation with residents of the areas to be covered by the "ancestral domain."

Piñol said he asked the High Court to compel the government to explain the contents of the agreement, and defer the signing of the agreement on Tuesday while the explanation is "pending."

"The good thing is, mabilis din ang Korte Suprema (The good thing is that the Supreme Court acted quickly)," Piñol said, adding that he is optimistic the High Court will act quickly enough to issue a temporary restraining order against the signing of the agreement.

"Under our Constitution kaming mamamayan may karapatan to information (Under our Constitution the people have a right to information). Nothing should be kept secret from us," he added.

Piñol said they have yet to get an assurance from the MILF that after it has been given so much concessions, "walang panibagong grupong sisibol pa at maguumpisa ng kaguluhan (there will be no new group that will come out and wreak havoc)."

"Di dahil pangulo o mataas na opisyal they can decide for us (Just because you are a president or high official does not mean you can decide arbitrarily)," Piñol said. - GMANews.TV

Zambo Christians told to fight Muslim ancestral domain deal

08/03/2008 | 07:08 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Christian residents in Zamboanga are being agitated to protest the inclusion of several Muslim enclaves here in a proposed Islamic homeland in Mindanao.

Local Catholic priests in their homily Sunday also urged residents to join a protest rally on Monday. In their homily, the priests said two villages largely populated by Christians would be included in the proposed Muslim homeland demanded by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is negotiating peace with Manila.

Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat also criticized Manila for including several Muslim villages here to be part of the MILF ancestral domain, including two villages where the century-old City Hall and the Fort Pilar, an open-air Catholic shrine are situated.

Lobregat, who was invited Saturday night at a Lion's Club convention here, spoke lengthily about his opposition to the ancestral domain and the inclusion of Christian villages in the proposed Muslim homeland. He said residents had twice rejected plebiscites in the past to include the city in the Muslim autonomous region.

Government and rebel peace negotiators have reached a deal on the ancestral domain and would sign the agreement on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, which is brokering the seven-year old talks aimed at ending more than four decades of Muslim secessionist wars in Mindanao.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon said there is need to amend the Constitution to allow referendum on areas under the ancestral domain that would make up the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

Esperon also denied Lobregat's claim and said only Sacol Island, about 18 nautical miles, is included in the ancestral domain. "Only Sacol is included in the ancestral domain and islanders would be given a chance whether to be part of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity or not," he told GMANews.TV.

He said: "Included in the proposed plebiscite are the villages in Sacol Island and none in mainland Zamboanga City. We should hear the voice of the people of Sacol, which is populated by Muslims. Any plebiscite will be pursuant only to an enabling law which will be enacted by Congress."

Sacol is one of 25 island communities largely populated by poor Muslims, mostly fishermen and seaweed farmers. Many Muslim enclaves in Zamboanga have little or no development projects at all and villagers rely mostly on foreign aid for its water and electricity sources, despite the city's more than P2 billion savings in banks.

US government agencies such as the USAID, AMORE and GEM and the US military have been very active in providing Muslim villages in Zamboanga City with various infrastructure projects, medical missions and solar-power technology that provides electricity to homes, among others.

Cell phone text messages were also spreading about the inclusion of Zamboanga City in the Muslim ancestral domain. One text message urged citizens to resist the ancestral domain and to join Monday's protest rally.

Many commercial stores here, mostly owned by influential Chinese businessmen and supporters of Lobregat, said they will all close at 11 a.m. on Monday to protest the inclusion of the villages to the ancestral domain. Even some journalists, who are supposed to stay neutral, have joined calls to resist the ancestral domain.

Lobregat said many Muslim village leaders are also opposed to the inclusion of their communities to the Bangsamoro homeland. However, most of these leaders are also the mayor's allies and supporters.

MILF deal with gov't to fail if polls in ARMM push through

08/03/2008 | 04:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The proposed agreement on ancestral domain between the Philippine government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) set to be signed on Tuesday will turn out to be a dud if the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) pushes through on August 11.

This was according to MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu who warned that the MILF leadership might not be able to stop its people from causing tension or even trouble in Mindanao if the Philippine government conducts the ARMM polls.

In an interview with radio dzBB on Sunday, Kabalu said that even if the MILF and the government sign the homeland deal on August 5, the pact would become useless if the polls would be held in the ARMM.

He said the deal “will be sacrificed" with the ARMM polls that would give a three-year fresh mandate to elected officials.

Pag nagkapirmahan, and then you want to implement the agreement…eh hindi po natin maisasagawa sapagkat kung matutuloy ang elections. ‘Yong mga tao diyan ay makakakuha ng fresh mandate na three years, fixed po ‘yan. So hindi po puwede na gagalawin ‘yan. Masasakripisyo ‘yong pagkapirma doon sa agreement, magiging balewala...sapagkat di po mai-implement," said Kabalu.

(Even if the deal is signed, we won’t be able to implement it if the elections push through. Those who will be elected will be given a fresh and fixed mandate of three years. We won’t be able to touch that even with the signed agreement. The signing of the deal will be sacrificed and will become useless because we won’t be able to implement it.)

Iligan nixes inclusion of 8 villages in 'new' ARMM

08/03/2008 | 11:42 AM

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines - Iliganons will wear red and flock the streets Monday to protest the signing of a deal between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) regarding additional areas that will be included in the expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The protest was hatched after Mayor Lawrence Cruz informed the Sangguniang Panlungsod that eight upland villages in their city will be included in the final draft of the ancestral domain aspect.

Cruz said he learned this after he was able to obtain a copy of the supposedly confidential memorandum of agreement that is set for signing on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The eight affected villages – Rogongon, the biggest barangay in terms of land area; Panoroganan; Mainit; Dulag; Lanipao; Kalilangan; Hindang; and Diigkilaan – comprised about 66,502.1464 hectares or 82 percent of the city’s total land land area, which is 81335 hectares.

Cruz said these villages are lead communities responsible in agricultural food production and beholder of sustainable forest development protection and management of rainforest in the city.

"Why should we be included again in another referendum when Iligan City have proven twice before as we rejected the move to include Iligan City in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao(ARMM)," Cruz said.

Statistical records show that on November 19, 1989 ARMM referendum, Iliganons decided and voted "NO" to ARMM with a total of 61,983 votes (96.8 percent) and "YES" votes garnered only 2,044 votes (3.1 percent).

The second plebiscite on expanded ARMM, Iliganons overwhelmingly voted "NO " with a total votes of 61,472 (97.4 percent) while "YES" votes got only 1,604 (2.5 percent).

"We are not against the peace process nor we are against the expansion of ARMM, however we can not allow that the harmonious relationship between Muslim, Christian and lumads will be divided," Cruz said. - GMANews.TV

Cops still clueless on whereabouts of kidnapped nurse in Basilan

08/03/2008 | 10:32 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Suspected bandits who kidnapped a nurse last month are likely moving her from island to island in Mindanao to avoid detection and capture, Basilan police said Sunday.

Basilan Police Chief Sr. Supt. Salik Macapantar said they are still trying to pinpoint the location of the kidnappers and their hostage, Precious Feliciano.

"Malamang palipat-lipat ito sa mga islands (It appears they are moving her from island to island)," Macapantar said in an interview on dzXL radio.

Feliciano's abductors had reportedly threatened to kill her if they do not get a P25-million ransom by Monday.

MILF to govt: Don't listen to Piñol's ‘childish’ statements

08/03/2008 | 09:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), currently talking peace with the government, urged the Arroyo administration to not listen to North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol who it said was sowing hatred and mistrust in the peace process.

MILF Secretariat Chairman Muhammad Ameen called on the people of Mindanao to promote trust, understanding and cooperation and not hatred and mistrust.

"(Piñol's claims) are childish statements and should not be heeded seriously by the national leadership," Ameen said in a statement on the MILF.

Suspected Sayyaf bandit captured in Zambo City

08/02/2008 | 10:21 AM

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Police have arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf rebel in this southern Philippine port city on Saturday, reports said.

Police told local radio stations suspected militant Ahmad Edris was cornered at the port of Zamboanga on Friday shortly after he disembarked from a ferry that came from Basilan province, where security forces are hunting down other members of the Jemaah Islamiyah-linked terror group.

No details were made available about Edris' arrest on Friday and little is known about the man that police said is included in the government’s most wanted list. It was unclear how Edris was able to flee from the island without being detected, but police in Basilan said they have no reports about the man's arrest nor it was information about his background.

MILF won't disrupt ARMM polls in August - spokesman

08/02/2008 | 07:34 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Even if its bid to postpone elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would fail, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) promised Saturday not to disrupt the electoral exercise on Aug. 11.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu insisted the MILF has had no history of interfering in electoral exercises, and that it does not intend to break that "record."

"Wala tayong history sa ganitong klaseng activity na nanggugulo tayo (We do not have a history of disrupting elections)," Kabalu said in an interview on DZXL.

"Hindi tayo magpa-participate officially pero hinahayaan natin itong nagaganap na hindi nagmumula sa atin ang kaguluhan (We won’t participate officially in the election but we will make sure any disruption won’t come from our end)," he added.

The MILF wants the Aug. 11 polls postponed to make way for a peace pact with government, where some areas will be added to the ARMM's territory.

Citing lack of time, some senators seem not to show interest in crafting a counterpart bill of the measure filed at the House of Representatives, seeking postponement the ARMM polls.

On the other hand, Kabalu hinted that Congress could do better than just go through the motions of crafting a law that may not be passed in time to halt the Aug. 11 elections.


I will say it again, NO to the ancestral domain issue on the MILF-GRP agreement. Iligan and Zamboanga Cities have already voiced their opposition alongside with North Cotabato. I am not against peace BUT I strongly suggest another route. As we have seen in the past, the MILF are just a bunch of lying and greedy pigs. The reason of ancestral domain cannot be applied to the current situation. If they are basing ancestral domain due because their ancestors live there before us christians, then it would be awarded not to them but to the pagan tribal people before their ancestors..and I might add, before they were wiped out or forced to convert by them. The current situation here is that while the MILF-GRP panel are talking, the MILF brass commanded their so called "Lost Commands" to do havok on the villages that are included in the plebiscite, why? So that when the plebiscite comes, no one will vote because no one will live there anymore..This is the situation here..on the ground..The MILF are using force to scare away the christians..Do you know why they wanted these lands? Because the christians have toiled so much this lands that they earn good. The christians farmers here earn good..and here comes the muslims..they are just jealous of the fact that they can't earn that much compared to a christian..The muslims wanted the christians out because they wanted their land..the land the christians toiled..the land christians have invested much..With this in mind, you'll see that the MILF reason of ancestral domain is pure BULLSHIT. As I speak my mind out..a couple of attacks on the villages in North Cotabato are already being done.. They talk Peace but they walk War..they talk Peace but they walk Greedily, the talk peace but the walk and talk more than Liars.

And that reaction from the MILF that Mr. Pinol is childish? I think Mr. Pinol knows more than just being childish, he has seen much of that chaos the MILF has brought into North Cotabato, he has seen the greediness of the MILF..And this is why he will act in this way..He is not childish, he is just being what a government official should act..TO ACT ON THE PEOPLE'S INTEREST!!! I think the childish here is on the MILF spokesman that reacted to it..He knows Mr. Pinol is right..He knows what plans the MILF have..that is why he is afraid of Mr. Pinol..

I hope the government sees the whole issue, I hope the Supreme Court will nullify or stop this agreement..



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