MARCH 27 PEACE TREATY CELEBRATION: ARMM PREPARES FOR 'PEACE-TAHAN'

A “peace-tahan” will be held at the 32-hectare Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) compound here on March 27 to celebrate the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB). “The regional activity will be held simultaneous with the signing of the CAB by representatives of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” said ARMM’s regional executive secretary Laisa Alamia. Alamia said ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman has ordered the setting up of large television monitors in strategic spots in the surroundings of the regional government center to enable employees and guests to watch the live telecast of the signing of the agreement. “The ARMM leadership is glad to see the peace efforts end up with a positive outcome. We shall have a celebration of peace and solidarity,” Alamia said. She said a musical and cultural event would cap the daylong “peacetahan.” Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu will also lead a traditional Moro “kanduli” thanksgiving banquet after the signing of the CAB. Mangudadatu said he would invite Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and members of the MILF’s central committee to the kanduli gathering, to be held in Buluan town. “We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. The successful culmination of the government-MILF peace negotiations is beneficial to all sectors in the Bangsamoro homeland,” he said. Ferrer, in a press statement, said the CAB signing would seal the partnership for peace and prosperity between the government and the MILF.

ALSO: 6 months after MNLF siege, death toll still rising

The loss of lives continues six months after a standoff between government forces and a splinter Moro rebel group, casting a shadow over the signing this week of a comprehensive Bangsamoro peace accord the Aquino administration hopes will end decades-long fighting in Mindanao. It is not because of violence, but of disease stalking congested encampments and the refusal of local authorities to allow the evacuees to return to their original homes to lead normal lives long after the emergency spawned by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) uprising had passed. More than 10,000 houses were burned in nine barangays (villages), forcing 116,000 people to flee their homes. About half of those who were displaced have gone back to their residences. Around 20,000 are in nine evacuation centers in appalling conditions and 38,000 are in the homes of relatives or friends. Since the end of the fighting, at least 102 more deaths have been recorded by a UN-led cluster, mainly among the seafaring minority groups in the encampments—the Badjao at the bay-front Roseller T. Lim Boulevard in the area known as Cawa-Cawa and the Tausug at Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex. In February, a spike in the mortality rate, especially among children under 5 years old, was registered. It is regarded as a threshold for emergency intervention and normally rings alarm bells, and prompts urgent action, by UN humanitarian agencies headquartered in New York and Geneva. The MNLF went on a rampage after it was left out in the Bangsamoro peace process with the now dominant Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The final peace accord for what is to become a Bangsamoro entity is to be signed by the government and the MILF on Thursday. If approved in a referendum, it will supplant the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set up under a peace accord with the MNLF under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Countries in 1996. “We are the victims of the failure of the peace talks,” Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar of Zamboanga City said, citing the MNLF attempt to focus attention to their grievances by mounting the September siege in this center of commerce in southwestern Mindanao. READ MORE....

ALSO: A peace agreement in Mindanao, A fragile peace

A long-running insurgency may at last be coming to an end. THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is preparing to sign an agreement with the government that is meant to end decades of conflict in the south of the Philippines. Government leaders hope that the rebel group will begin disarming in May. The southern region of Mindanao is home to most of the predominantly Catholic country’s Muslim minority.The MILF is the most important in a range of armed groups that have been fighting for independence for the majority-Muslim areas. After 18 years of negotiations, often interrupted by heavy fighting, the government and the MILF concluded the last and most crucial part of a four-part peace agreement on January 25th. The first three parts gave autonomy—not independence—to the mainly Muslim areas, in return for peace. The fourth sets out how the government and the MILF will jointly restore order in the autonomous entity, to be called Bangsamoro. It also lays out how the 12,000 or so MILF fighters will put down their weapons, once all the other groups have been disarmed. This is the nub of the agreement. That the negotiators have got this far demonstrates the determination of both sides, weary from 46 years of a conflict that has killed tens of thousands. A few obstacles remain. Hostilities have not yet ceased. Two days after the agreement, the army assaulted a stronghold of a faction of the MILF, known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), that rejects the agreement. The army said it boffed 37 rebels, a claim they rejected. Then there is the question of a constitution for Bangsamoro that must be drafted and enacted by the national Congress.Perhaps the biggest obstacle will be the rebels’ resistance to disarmament. Some of the reasons are cultural. In parts of Mindanao the concept of manhood is tied up with owning a gun.

ALSO: ARMM prepares security measures for Bangsamoro signing

Preparation of security in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been finalized to prevent any sabotage of the signing of the comprehensive agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, according to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman. “Ang iniiwasan lang naman natin dito ay 'yong mga spoilers,” Hataman said about the security preparation. He said the security forces in the areas of the Muslim region are wary of a possible sabotage attempt and measures have been laid down to address any threat that would derail the signing of the pact on March 27 in Malacañang. Hataman said they are not also undermining the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which from the start has been opposing the GPH-MILF peace talks. According Hataman, he will be present in Manila during the signing of the agreement, which seeks to bring peace and economic development to what is now a reformed autonomous region. “We will be there and we will have a peace march in Mendiola on the day of the signing,” Hataman said. He said on the day of the signing there will also be a celebration inside the compound of the ARMM regional center in Cotabato.

ALSO: MNLF faction maintains Misuari still leader, disowns 'new chairman' Alonto

The faction of the Moro National Liberation Front that has remained loyal to Nur Misuari said the movement’s founding chairman remained its leader, as they disowned Abul Khayr Alonto.Alonto had been described as the “new” MNLF chairman in a “resolution of unity” issued by 33 of the 39 surviving founders of the organization. Interestingly, the resolution was posted on luwaran.com, the website of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which split from the MNLF and is now set to sign a peace agreement with the government. The MNLF, under Misuari, entered into its own peace pact with government in 1996. Since then, however, it has also suffered a split, with the major breakaway faction led by former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema. Sema’s faction, called the Council of 15, has voiced support for the MILF-government peace agreement, which the Misuari faction has rejected. The agreement would dissolve the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, created through the 1996 pact and of which Misuari was once governor, and replace it with a new political entity to be called Bangsamoro. In a kanduli, or thanksgiving ceremony, to mark the 46th anniversary of the MNLF at Camp Datu Umama Malang in Malatimom, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, the organization’s Central Mindanao chief of staff, Alkhudz Simpal said they would never recognize any other leader but Misuari. Around 1,000 MNLF members attended the anniversary.

ALSO: Napoles begs for surgery at St. Luke’s

Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel fund scam, was rushed to the Ospital ng Makati on Friday after she complained of pain following her tearful plea to undergo surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City. Earlier in the day, she appeared before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 to tell Judge Elmo Alameda she was in constant pain due to abnormal bleeding. She begged the court to allow her to have an operation at St. Luke’s. “I am suffering. Please have mercy on me. My medicines are no longer effective. If I don’t have this kind of ailment, I won’t beg like this,” she told Alameda.
Dr. Santiago A. Del Rosario, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose opinion had been sought by Napoles’ family to support their contention that her need for an operation was urgent, said Napoles needed surgery immediately and that she had the right to choose the doctors who would perform the operation.

ALSO: Makati court suggests state hospitals to Napoles

Detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles should instead be hospitalized in a government hospital and not in St. Luke’s Medical Center, Makati Regional Trial Court judge Elmo Alameda said on Friday.Napoles personally appeared before the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on Friday to insist that she be allowed to undergo surgery and hospital confinement.Among the hospitals Alameda suggested were Southern Luzon Hospital, Philippine General Hospital, and Ospital ng Makati in Pembo, Makati, Ruel Perez reported in Inquirer Radio 990 AM.Napoles became teary-eyed as she appealed to the court that she be allowed to have surgery and hospital confinement.Napoles claims to be suffering from heavy menstrual bleeding. One of her doctors said if left untreated, her condition could lead to cancer.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

ARMM prepares for ‘peace-tahan’

COTABATO CITY, MARCH 24, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By John Unson - A “peace-tahan” will be held at the 32-hectare Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) compound here on March 27 to celebrate the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

“The regional activity will be held simultaneous with the signing of the CAB by representatives of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” said ARMM’s regional executive secretary Laisa Alamia.

Alamia said ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman has ordered the setting up of large television monitors in strategic spots in the surroundings of the regional government center to enable employees and guests to watch the live telecast of the signing of the agreement.

“The ARMM leadership is glad to see the peace efforts end up with a positive outcome. We shall have a celebration of peace and solidarity,” Alamia said.

She said a musical and cultural event would cap the daylong “peacetahan.”

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu will also lead a traditional Moro “kanduli” thanksgiving banquet after the signing of the CAB.

Mangudadatu said he would invite Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and members of the MILF’s central committee to the kanduli gathering, to be held in Buluan town.

“We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for. The successful culmination of the government-MILF peace negotiations is beneficial to all sectors in the Bangsamoro homeland,” he said.

Ferrer, in a press statement, said the CAB signing would seal the partnership for peace and prosperity between the government and the MILF.

“This partnership is based on our shared aspiration to heal the wounds of conflict, enable meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro, and nurture peace and development in Muslim Mindanao,” she said.

The CAB compiles all major agreements signed by the government and the MILF in the course of the 17-year negotiations.


More than 1,000 Bangsamoro supporters gather at Cabili Plaza in Banggolo in the city of Marawi on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Monday, for a mass rally in support of the signing of a framework agreement for peace. — AFP photo

Its most important parts are the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its four annexes on transitional arrangements, wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization.

“These documents provide for the road map and the terms pertaining to the creation of the Bangsamoro entity and the transformation of the MILF from an armed group to an active participant in governance and societal reform,” Ferrer said in a statement.

On Thursday, Japan Ambas- sador Toshinao Urabe said the signing of the CAB is a “huge step forward” toward peace in the Philippines. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Jaime Laude

FROM THE INQUIRER

6 months after MNLF siege, death toll still rising By Fernando del Mundo Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:25 am | Monday, March 24th, 2014


BADJAO EVACUEES Once a popular promenade, Roseller T. Lim Boulevard in Zamboanga City’s Cawa-Cawa District has become a squalid encampment for seafaring Badjao displaced by the siege of the city by Moro National Liberation Front rebels last September. Disease stalks the camps, inflicting a high mortality rate, particularly among children. EDWIN BACASMAS

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The loss of lives continues six months after a standoff between government forces and a splinter Moro rebel group, casting a shadow over the signing this week of a comprehensive Bangsamoro peace accord the Aquino administration hopes will end decades-long fighting in Mindanao.

It is not because of violence, but of disease stalking congested encampments and the refusal of local authorities to allow the evacuees to return to their original homes to lead normal lives long after the emergency spawned by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) uprising had passed.

The military says nine civilians were killed in the three weeks of fighting in September last year that also left 23 soldiers and policemen and 100 MNLF fighters dead. More than 10,000 houses were burned in nine barangays (villages), forcing 116,000 people to flee their homes.

About half of those who were displaced have gone back to their residences. Around 20,000 are in nine evacuation centers in appalling conditions and 38,000 are in the homes of relatives or friends.

Since the end of the fighting, at least 102 more deaths have been recorded by a UN-led cluster, mainly among the seafaring minority groups in the encampments—the Badjao at the bay-front Roseller T. Lim Boulevard in the area known as Cawa-Cawa and the Tausug at Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex.

In February, a spike in the mortality rate, especially among children under 5 years old, was registered: two deaths for every 10,000 population in the evacuation centers. It is regarded as a threshold for emergency intervention and normally rings alarm bells, and prompts urgent action, by UN humanitarian agencies headquartered in New York and Geneva.

The two camps for the seafarers are particularly unsustainable and should be immediately dismantled, said Peter Deck, head of the office in Mindanao of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and international humanitarian groups helping local authorities provide assistance to the evacuees.

The cluster says voluntary returns should be allowed now that the city of 800,000 people had been secured and normalcy had returned, invoking UN guiding principles for the protection of internally displaced peoples, or IDPs. This is the official term applied to those uprooted by civil conflicts—among many other causes—such as what the Aquino administration describes as the “Zamboanga siege” mounted by the MNLF on Sept. 9, 2013.

The MNLF went on a rampage after it was left out in the Bangsamoro peace process with the now dominant Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The final peace accord for what is to become a Bangsamoro entity is to be signed by the government and the MILF on Thursday. If approved in a referendum, it will supplant the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

(ARMM) set up under a peace accord with the MNLF under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Countries in 1996.

“We are the victims of the failure of the peace talks,” Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar of Zamboanga City said, citing the MNLF attempt to focus attention to their grievances by mounting the September siege in this center of commerce in southwestern Mindanao.

In two previous plebiscites since the 1996 accord with the MNLF, Zamboanga voted against inclusion in the Moro autonomous region. It also spearheaded an initiative in the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a Bangsamoro juridical entity during the Arroyo administration.

Urgent decongestion

Dr. Rodel M. Agbulos, the city health officer, downplayed reports of increasing deaths in the camps, saying that the latest crude mortality rate from pneumonia, acute gastroenteritis and skin diseases was in fact less than the UN count.

“There are some weeks and days when we don’t have any mortalities. The 102 deaths reported is a cumulative number, meaning counted since September. This did not happen in one day, but over a long period,” Agbulos said.

“The situation is bad. I agree there’s really a need for immediate decongestion. I think that’s the main factor behind the mortalities and even the local government unit, and partner agencies agree with this,” he added.

The doctor said the city government was exerting all the efforts to relocate the evacuees to a transitory shelter, an initiative that the Badjao and the Tausug were opposing.

“They don’t want to be transferred to rehabilitation areas, which are upland. They prefer to be transferred along the seashore,” he said, referring to the Badjao, who live off the sea in makeshift houses on stilts in the water.

“My recommendation is to totally pull them out as soon as possible,” he said. “We lack latrines. They have been staying in tents for six months, exposed to all those things.”

Agbulos said the government had acquired a 17-hectare resettlement site in an area near the sea and that relocation would start there beginning next month.

The Badjao and the Tausug came from the seaside villages of Rio Hondo, Mariki and Barangay IV, where returns have been banned. Philippine Marines guard the entrance to these areas that are also declared off limits to reporters.

Before the MNLF siege, these barangays were known as a haven for drug dealers, smugglers and assassins. Victims of kidnap-for-ransom gangs were spirited out of Zamboanga through Rio Hondo in pump boats and taken to Basilan and Jolo islands—known lairs of the al-Qaida linked Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Screening returnees

The UNHCR recognizes this problem, said Deck, a veteran of many humanitarian emergencies from Africa to Yugoslavia.

“We are trying to support the city authorities in identifying persons who have been living in these barangays who are fishermen and have lived peacefully in the area for over a few years so these persons could immediately be included in gradual return and reconstruction of their burned homes,” he said.

Authorities have allowed 69 Badjao families to relocate to a transit site in an elementary school at Rio Hondo, where temporary shelters have been constructed in a partially burned elementary school, where they have children enrolled.

Security is tight and a curfew is enforced, preventing movement in the village and discouraging potential returns.

Last week, the city government unveiled a P2.7-billion roadmap to recovery and reconstruction to be carried out by the National Housing Authority for 7,248 families beginning next month through 2015. It includes the construction of 3,241 housing on stilts and 2,346 for housing on land.

Intended beneficiaries are property owners, and possibly house renters. It is unclear how many of the informal settlers, the Badjao and the Tausug, are included in the plans. So far, no one in the evacuation sites has been consulted, aid workers say.

Build back better

City authorities do not envision the IDPs returning to their original homes, citing government laws on environmental protection, the need to restore mangroves and protect residents from sea surges.

They cite the tsunami-like waves generated by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November last year, which left more than 6,000 people dead and 4 million homeless in Eastern Visayas.

On Samar and Leyte islands, the Yolanda survivors have returned to their devastated villages, even to those along the coast, in spite of official pronouncements of a “no-build” zone 40 meters away from the shoreline. Four months after the typhoon struck, there is still no serious government effort to put flesh to a promise to “build back better.”

This mantra is printed on the T-shirt of the 47-year-old Zamboanga mayor, a former teacher with a master’s degree in family counseling from Loyola School of Theology at Ateneo de Manila University.

“We are going to bring back our IDPs near or close to their places of origin, with better housing, with better facilities, with infrastructure as well as allow them to engage in commerce,” said the mayor of the cash-strapped city.

Obviously overwhelmed by the magnitude of the uprising she has described as unparalleled in her generation, Salazar has appealed to donors to continue assistance to the IDPs.

Slow death in camps

The city’s rebuilding plan is so elaborate—including water, sewer and electrical systems installed in concrete houses—it would take months, if not years, to carry out, according to Badjao leaders.

They say the concepts do not seem to take into account the culture of the Badjao and the Tausug and the wood houses they live in. These groups had fled violence in their traditional homelands in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces and had been welcomed with open arms in this spanking clean “City of Flowers,” where traces of Spanish colonial rule abound and people cling to a local—if bastardized—version of the Castilian tongue, called Chabacano. Here, toilets are marked “hombre” and “mujer.”

A study conducted by the British charity Oxfam based on interviews with 899 women in the evacuation centers shows that 92 percent of the respondents preferred going back to their original places before the fighting erupted.

“They are killing us slowly by keeping us here,” said Jalnari Hadjirul, a 61-year-old Badjao leader at Cawa-Cawa. “I think they should send us home now, or we will all die.”

EARLIER ANALYSIS FROM THE ECONOMIST

A peace agreement in Mindanao, A fragile peace Feb 1st 2014 | MANILA | From the print edition


No doubting his manhood

A long-running insurgency may at last be coming to an end

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is preparing to sign an agreement with the government that is meant to end decades of conflict in the south of the Philippines. Government leaders hope that the rebel group will begin disarming in May. The southern region of Mindanao is home to most of the predominantly Catholic country’s Muslim minority.

The MILF is the most important in a range of armed groups that have been fighting for independence for the majority-Muslim areas. After 18 years of negotiations, often interrupted by heavy fighting, the government and the MILF concluded the last and most crucial part of a four-part peace agreement on January 25th.

The first three parts gave autonomy—not independence—to the mainly Muslim areas, in return for peace. The fourth sets out how the government and the MILF will jointly restore order in the autonomous entity, to be called Bangsamoro.


BANGSAMORO REGION

It also lays out how the 12,000 or so MILF fighters will put down their weapons, once all the other groups have been disarmed. This is the nub of the agreement.

That the negotiators have got this far demonstrates the determination of both sides, weary from 46 years of a conflict that has killed tens of thousands. A few obstacles remain. Hostilities have not yet ceased. Two days after the agreement, the army assaulted a stronghold of a faction of the MILF, known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), that rejects the agreement. The army said it boffed 37 rebels, a claim they rejected.

Then there is the question of a constitution for Bangsamoro that must be drafted and enacted by the national Congress. Anyone who does not like the peace agreement may challenge it in the (predominantly Catholic) courts. But the main Philippine parties are spurred on by the hope that peace will allow Mindanao to unlock its considerable mineral and agricultural wealth. America stands ready to help financially in the hope that economic growth will prevent parts of Mindanao from harbouring Islamists.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle will be the rebels’ resistance to disarmament. Some of the reasons are cultural. In parts of Mindanao the concept of manhood is tied up with owning a gun. Some resistance to disarmament is political. Communist guerrillas still infest the island, and their leaders are reluctant to talk peace. Other factions of the MILF that are unhappy with the peace agreement may follow the BIFF’s lead.

The MILF itself began as a faction that splintered from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which accepted autonomy for some largely Muslim areas in a peace agreement with the government in 1996. Now the MNLF is upset that the autonomous entity created by the 1996 agreement is to be supplanted by this new Bangsamoro.

In September one of the MNLF’s factions protested with a show of force in the southern city of Zamboanga, in which 24o people were killed over three weeks. Abu Sayyaf is another armed Muslim group, which America linked to al-Qaeda after 2001. Some resistance to disarmament will also come from common criminals. Mindanao is awash with armed gangs of kidnappers and extortionists.

It is little wonder, then, that the MILF has agreed to lay down its weapons only once everybody else has. Peace between the MILF and the government is one thing; peace in Mindanao is another.

ARMM prepares security measures for Bangsamoro signing By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) | Updated March 21, 2014 - 2:39pm 1 44 googleplus0 0


PHOTO Gov’t, MILF seal accord Deal to end 4 decades of fighting in Mindanao By Nikko Dizon Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:09 am | Sunday, January 26th, 2014. DEAL SIGNED Government peace panel chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer shakes hands with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal after the signing of the last annex to the Bangsamoro framework agreement on the fourth day of talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With them are Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

FROM PRESIDENTIAL GAZETTE READ: THE 2012 FRAMEWORK ON THE BANGSOAMORO

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Preparation of security in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has been finalized to prevent any sabotage of the signing of the comprehensive agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, according to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman.

“Ang iniiwasan lang naman natin dito ay 'yong mga spoilers,” Hataman said about the security preparation.

He said the security forces in the areas of the Muslim region are wary of a possible sabotage attempt and measures have been laid down to address any threat that would derail the signing of the pact on March 27 in Malacañang.

Hataman said they are not also undermining the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which from the start has been opposing the GPH-MILF peace talks.

According Hataman, he will be present in Manila during the signing of the agreement, which seeks to bring peace and economic development to what is now a reformed autonomous region.

“We will be there and we will have a peace march in Mendiola on the day of the signing,” Hataman said.

He said on the day of the signing there will also be a celebration inside the compound of the ARMM regional center in Cotabato.

“Let’s all celebrate the signing in the name of peace. It is a rare opportunity that we must not miss,” Hataman said.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the government and the MILF peace panel have firmed up the preparations for the signing of the CAB.

She said that the CAB signing seals the partnership for peace and prosperity between the government and the MILF.

“This partnership is based on our shared aspiration to heal the wounds of conflict, enable meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro, and nurture peace and development in Muslim Mindanao," Ferrer said in a statement.

Ferrer said CAB serves as basis for the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) being done by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (btc) and the draft law will be subsequently submitted to Congress and certified by the President as urgent.

A plebiscite will then be held at the areas identified in the agreement after the law is passed, she added.

These areas are the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in six municipalities of Cotabato province.

Based on the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro (FAB) other geographic areas that are contiguous to the enumerated places and that wish to join the plebiscite may do so through a resolution passed by the local government unit concerned or a petition of at least 10 percent of registered voters in the locality two months before the conduct of the plebiscite. The BBL will provide for the modalities that would allow them to join the plebiscite.

FROM INTERAKSYON.COM

MNLF faction maintains Misuari still leader, disowns 'new chairman' Alonto By: Dennis Arcon, InterAksyon.com March 19, 2014 3:27 PM InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5


MISUARI

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The faction of the Moro National Liberation Front that has remained loyal to Nur Misuari said the movement’s founding chairman remained its leader, as they disowned Abul Khayr Alonto.

Alonto had been described as the “new” MNLF chairman in a “resolution of unity” issued by 33 of the 39 surviving founders of the organization.

Interestingly, the resolution was posted on luwaran.com, the website of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which split from the MNLF and is now set to sign a peace agreement with the government.

The MNLF, under Misuari, entered into its own peace pact with government in 1996.

Since then, however, it has also suffered a split, with the major breakaway faction led by former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema.

Sema’s faction, called the Council of 15, has voiced support for the MILF-government peace agreement, which the Misuari faction has rejected.

The agreement would dissolve the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, created through the 1996 pact and of which Misuari was once governor, and replace it with a new political entity to be called Bangsamoro.

In a kanduli, or thanksgiving ceremony, to mark the 46th anniversary of the MNLF at Camp Datu Umama Malang in Malatimom, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, the organization’s Central Mindanao chief of staff, Alkhudz Simpal said they would never recognize any other leader but Misuari.

Around 1,000 MNLF members attended the anniversary.

Simpal accused the government of using Alonto to mislead MNLF members and further drive a wedge into their organization.

FROM MANILA TIMES

Napoles begs for surgery at St. Luke’s by Ritchie A. Horario Reporter And George Nava True II MANILA TIMES MARCH 21, 2014


Obstetrician-gynecologist Santiago del Rosario (right) says that Janet Lim-Napoles has the right to choose the doctors who will operate on her.Photos by Edwin muli and Ruy martinez

MANILA -Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel fund scam, was rushed to the Ospital ng Makati on Friday after she complained of pain following her tearful plea to undergo surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City.

Earlier in the day, she appeared before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 to tell Judge Elmo Alameda she was in constant pain due to abnormal bleeding. She begged the court to allow her to have an operation at St. Luke’s.

“I am suffering. Please have mercy on me. My medicines are no longer effective. If I don’t have this kind of ailment, I won’t beg like this,” she told Alameda.

Dr. Santiago A. Del Rosario, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose opinion had been sought by Napoles’ family to support their contention that her need for an operation was urgent, said Napoles needed surgery immediately and that she had the right to choose the doctors who would perform the operation.

Del Rosario, the chair of the Makati Medical Center’s (MMC) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said Napoles also had the right to get a second opinion and seek treatment elsewhere if she felt uncomfortable with her doctors.

Such choice is the patient’s right recognized by “civilized” countries, he said.

Heavily guarded by members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Napoles, wearing a blue hoodie, jeans and rubber shoes, arrived in court at around 9:20 a.m.

Her lawyers presented her before the judge to seek favor for her motion asking the court to allow her to be admitted at St. Luke’s.

Napoles claims she is confused about the results of her laboratory tests, conducted separately by the Southern Luzon Hospital (SLH) and PNP General Hospital (PNPGH).

The findings of SLH indicated that the detained businesswoman had an ovarian tumor, while the PNPGH results showed it was a uterine cyst.

Last Thursday, Napoles’ lawyer filed the motion for the court to subpoena her so she could make her appeal.

The prosecution panel, headed by Prosecutor Christopher Garvida, questioned Napoles’ petition, saying they were not informed about it.

Garvida asked for Napoles’ plea to be stricken from court records, but Alameda turned him down, saying he wanted all records to be included to determine the merit of Napoles’ motion to undergo surgery.

If Napoles’ motion is granted, the operation has to be done at a government hospital, Alameda said.

For that purpose, he suggested several government hospitals such as the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City and the Ospital ng Makati.

But Napoles’ lawyer Fay Isaguirre Singson did not agree, explaining that her client’s doctors and medical records were at St. Luke’s.

Del Rosario said Napoles’ right to choose her doctors is guaranteed by the Declaration of Lisbon.

He corrected newspaper reports (not in The Manila Times) that quoted him as saying that the heavy bleeding experienced by Napoles could lead to cancer. Del Rosario clarified that abnormal bleeding by itself does not cause cancer but could indicate the presence of cancer, which is why it should be investigated at the earliest possible time.

This is a possibility in middle-aged women like Napoles, he said.

It is not right for the court to limit Napoles’ choices when it comes to medical treatment for this is a clear violation of her rights, Del Rosario said.

He clarified that Napoles is not his patient and he has never examined her. He said he does not have any right to speak about her but did so when her family visited him and sought his professional opinion.

Diana Quintos, a medical technologist, and Romil Aguirre, a physician, from Accucell Diagnostic Center in Antipolo City, also testified at yesterday’s hearing.

They said they did not actually see Napoles when they conducted the test on a blood specimen that supposedly belonged to the businesswoman.

Quintos said the blood specimen, labeled with the name Jenny Tan, was brought to the laboratory in Antipolo by a messenger.

Although they did not meet Napoles personally, they insisted that the result of the blood test was accurate, since it was done using their semi-automated CBC counter.

However, Dr. Perry Peralta, medical director of Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) said there was no urgent need for Napoles to be confined.

Peralta said after Napoles underwent electro cardiogram (ECG), ultrasound and blood test, her condition was found to be “stable.”

After almost three hours of stay at OsMak, Napoles was discharged and brought back to Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where she is being detained.

Napoles has been detained at Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna, on charges of serious illegal detention. The complaint was filed by pork barrel scam primary whistleblower Benhur Luy.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Makati court suggests state hospitals to Napoles INQUIRER.net 11:42 am | Friday, March 21st, 2014 1 24


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2014/03/napoles-makati-rtc-0321.jpg
The counsel of alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles asks Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on Friday to allow Napoles for a check-up in “Ospital ng Makati” due to abdominal pains. The court did not object to the recommendation. Napoles was rushed to the hospital for an emergency check-up after the hearing. Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Jaymee Gamil.

MANILA, Philippines – Detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles should instead be hospitalized in a government hospital and not in St. Luke’s Medical Center, Makati Regional Trial Court judge Elmo Alameda said on Friday.

Napoles personally appeared before the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 on Friday to insist that she be allowed to undergo surgery and hospital confinement.

Among the hospitals Alameda suggested were Southern Luzon Hospital, Philippine General Hospital, and Ospital ng Makati in Pembo, Makati, Ruel Perez reported in Inquirer Radio 990 AM.

Napoles became teary-eyed as she appealed to the court that she be allowed to have surgery and hospital confinement.
Napoles claims to be suffering from heavy menstrual bleeding. One of her doctors said if left untreated, her condition could lead to cancer.

Napoles faces plunder charges over the elaborate pork barrel scam, where billions of discretionary funds were funneled to Napoles’ questionable non-government organizations.

She is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna over a serious illegal detention charge.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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