MILF NEGOTIATOR IQBAL ACCUSED AQUINO OF BREAKING HIS PROMISE 

AUGUST 8 --After a week of negotiations, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are nowhere near resolving the thorny issues that had delayed the crafting of a final draft agreement that will be the basis for establishing a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.
On Thursday, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal accused President Benigno Aquino 3rd of turning his back on his promise that the government will be flexible in its application of the Constitution to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Iqbal noted that the President made the promise before the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) in March this year.He, however, said Malacañang’s legal office almost entirely changed the BBL draft when the office reviewed the draft crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
“Most of their comments are really on the basis of the integrity of the Philippine Constitution. That’s the problem,” Iqbal added. “[They’re] very restrictive. What we’re looking for is the flexibility that they promised to us,” he said.
Although the MILF chief negotiator acknowledged that there were some gray areas in the process of the submission of the BBL to Malacañang, Iqbal noted that it was never said in the agreement that “when it reached the Office of the President, they would not touch it, but it was not stated also that they could touch it.” But despite these roadblocks, Iqbal said they remain confident that the peace process would be completed if the signed agreement was not amended. “As long as the two parties would stick to two principles, one is they still commit that there is really a need to finish this process, and then the second principle is that the signed agreement should not be amended, I think we can finish this one,” he added.* READ MORE...(10 RESPONSES FROM READERS)

ALSO: Draft Bangsamoro law 70% done – Palace 

AUGUST 9 --The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on at least 70 percent of the contents of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Malacañang said on Saturday. The two sides will conclude today their 10-day marathon negotiations aimed at ironing out kinks in the draft law that will be the basis for the putting up of a Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao. Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the two panels have finished discussions on “more or less” 70 percent of the provisions of the BBL. Negotiators will tackle next thorny issues that has delayed the submission of the draft law to Congress. The government and MILF panels went back to the drawing board on August 1 to review the draft and thresh out disagreements since the MILF has complained that Malacañang lawyers had heavily revised the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. The draft bill on the BBL is the fruit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was signed by the government and MILF in April. The CAB includes annexes on transitional modalities, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.
“The panels said that more or less, they are 70 percent [done discussing issues]. The hard issues are the ones that they’re saving for last, and hopefully, we’ll be able to thresh out those remaining issues,” Valte said in a radio interview. “If you ask us, failure should not be on the horizon. This is not for the President personally but it’s for our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro,” she added. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Congress is primed for the BBL deliberations so that the measure can be passed by the end of the year. “They should be transmitting it to us this month. For instance, we have sent legislators to Spain to study regional governments. We have been priming ourselves for this, but there is nothing we can do until we receive the Bangsamoro bill,” Belmonte said. *READ MORE

ALSO: Ochoa in Davao to push BBL 

President Aquino reportedly sent Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa here in a last-ditch effort to come up with the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be submitted to Congress for deliberation. Ochoa arrived here around 1 p.m. yesterday and proceeded to the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, where the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels were about to end their 10-day workshop aimed at ironing out the kinks in the BBL draft. MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar welcomed Ochoa’s arrival. “It is good that he’s there. It shows government’s sincerity in coming up with a final draft of the BBL,” Jaafar told The STAR. Jaafar also said that based on the recent developments, the entire peace process still prevails. “It is an advantage that in spite of the heated arguments and the tension in the workshop and the meetings, still the two panels have maintained their decorum.” He noted that from 18 articles that the two panels needed to resolve at the start of the workshop, they are now down to less than 10 as they found solutions to issues. Jaafar, however, refused to divulge what articles and issues the two panels need to resolve. Ab Ghafar Mohamed, the Malaysian facilitator in the peace negotiation between the government and the MILF, was also present. But since the workshop is not a negotiation, Mohamed could not take part in the activity. “But still he helps in the deliberations,” a source told The STAR. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Phl to observe ‘super moon’ Monday night 

Countries in the northern hemisphere, including the Philippines, will observe next week the “super moon,” which occurs when the Earth is closest to the moon, a phenomenon called “perigee.”  The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Friday said the moon will be nearest to Earth at 358,258 kilometers at 2 a.m. tomorrow. At that time, the moon is 48,280 kilometers closer to Earth than usual. Meanwhile, the annual Perseids meteor shower will light up the night sky next week. PAGASA said the Perseids will peak in the late evening of Aug. 12 until dawn. “This year, however, the bright moon will cast an interfering glare across the nights of maximum activity, reducing visibility from 120 meteors per hour – the typical Perseid peak rate – to less than 30,” the weather bureau said. “Early August might be the best time to watch as Earth plunges deeper into the debris stream before the moon becomes full,” it said. PAGASA said August is one of the most popular times of the year to observe meteor showers. “Meteors are easiest to see if there is no moonlight and light pollution at all and if the sky is clear,” it said. The Perseids meteor shower radiates from the constellation Perseus, which is located in the eastern horizon during August. “If the sky permits, the famous Perseids meteor shower will be observed with its peak in the late evening and early morning hours on Aug. 12 to 13,” PAGASA said.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Southwest monsoon affects N. Luzon; rains to continue

The country will again experience occasional rains as the southwest monsoon affects extreme Northern Luzon, the state weather bureau said yesterday. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the Ilocos provinces and the islands of Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan would experience occasional rains. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. PAGASA also said moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest to west over the Visayas and southeast to southwest over Mindanao with slight to moderate seas.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Falsely charged rebel makes the most of his time   

Kim Gargar, a former physics professor of the University of the Philippines, was detained at the Baganga jail in Davao Oriental for 10 months after he was accused by the military of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). This, however, did not stop him from doing what he loved: teaching. “I prepared myself so I would not feel depressed, bored,” Gargar said in Filipino during a press conference in Quezon City yesterday. “I considered (the jail) as my new school. In teaching, you just need students.”  He said he taught literacy to his fellow inmates using flashcards. He said their sessions were generally informal, but nonetheless informative. Gargar said he was able to teach the inmates the basics of physics and tried to provide them with legal advice. He said some of the jail wardens were his students. “Some wanted to take the civil service test. The others would take board exams in criminology,” he said, noting that he used the review materials brought by the wardens. False charges Gargar, 34, was arrested by members of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Cateel, Davao Oriental following an encounter with NPA rebels. He was charged with two counts of frustrated murder, violation of the election gun ban and the non-bailable offense of illegal possession of explosives.

But according to Gargar, a PhD candidate of Groningen University in the Netherlands, he was conducting rehabilitation study on Pablo-devastated areas when he heard an exchange of gunfire on Oct. 1, 2013. He said he tried to run away from the scene but he fell into a cliff that caused his injuries. Gargar said he decided to stay in the area where he fell, hoping that his team would find him and bring him to a hospital. However, the soldiers found him. He said he was surprised when supposed evidence against him, including rifles and explosives, were presented before the prosecutor when he was charged. Freed on bail Ten months after his arrest, the scientist was freed on bail after Judge Emilio Dayanghari III of the Baganga Regional Trial Court Branch 7 found inconsistencies in the testimonies presented against him. * READ MORE...

ALSO GMA NEWS OPINION: Which Bangsamoro Basic Law?  

The real issue in the current peace process between the GPH and the MILF is NOT whether a Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL would be enacted within the given time frame, that is, before the year end. The BBL, definitely, would be enacted! The crux of the debate and for this reason the only thing that matters is WHICH BBL? There is the original draft passed by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission or BTC (tasked to write the draft BBL) submitted to the Office of the President or OP last April 2014. And there is now another version of the draft BBL post OP review. Now there is an ongoing secret debate on which draft Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL the President should submit to Congress in July 2014. The news is out that the MILF is unhappy with the draft version of the BBL done by the Office of the President. From the reaction of the MILF leaders, the draft BTC version of the BBL was “mangled” by the OP. This may result to a BBL that is even worse than the Organic Act or RA 9054 that presently governs the ARMM.

The original draft BBL that the BTC submitted to the OP is simply based on the already negotiated and signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or CAB. The CONTENTS of the original draft were already negotiated, settled, agreed and formally and ritually signed by both the GPH and MILF. In no way would the MILF renegotiate those terms again in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. On the other hand, the OP believes that there are items in the CAB and thus in the BTC-submitted draft BBL that are against the 1987 Constitution. In short, the OP is using the 1987 Constitution as the yardstick in crafting the final draft of the BBL. They would like to see to it that the BBL remains within the four pillars of the Constitution. Moreover, the government officials, including the leadership of Congress, are often quoted saying that the “BBL should pass any judicial scrutiny.” In short, the OP is making sure that if, and when, the BBL is brought for adjudication to the court, it should pass the constitutional test. Now the real question is which items in the original draft does the OP deem questionable? And which items are introduced into the new version of the draft that would make the BBL constitutionally compliant? * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Iqbal: Aquino broke promise

MANILA, AUGUST 11, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTERS


MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal

After a week of negotiations, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are nowhere near resolving the thorny issues that had delayed the crafting of a final draft agreement that will be the basis for establishing a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

On Thursday, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal accused President Benigno Aquino 3rd of turning his back on his promise that the government will be flexible in its application of the Constitution to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Iqbal noted that the President made the promise before the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) in March this year.

He, however, said Malacañang’s legal office almost entirely changed the BBL draft when the office reviewed the draft crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“Most of their comments are really on the basis of the integrity of the Philippine Constitution. That’s the problem,” Iqbal added.

“[They’re] very restrictive. What we’re looking for is the flexibility that they promised to us,” he said.

Although the MILF chief negotiator acknowledged that there were some gray areas in the process of the submission of the BBL to Malacañang, Iqbal noted that it was never said in the agreement that “when it reached the Office of the President, they would not touch it, but it was not stated also that they could touch it.”

But despite these roadblocks, Iqbal said they remain confident that the peace process would be completed if the signed agreement was not amended.

“As long as the two parties would stick to two principles, one is they still commit that there is really a need to finish this process, and then the second principle is that the signed agreement should not be amended, I think we can finish this one,” he added.

* The government and MILF panels will be on their eighth day of negotiations today but Iqbal said the negotiators still failed to thresh out the most contentious provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro law.

“We are making progress and there are a lot of contentious issues that the two parties were able to [solve]… but of course the most contentious issues are still unresolved,” he told ANC.

Iqbal disclosed that the biggest obstacles were the provisions on the extent of “power” that would be granted to the Bangsamoro government and wealth sharing.

“These are the biggest obstacles in our discussions. It’s about powers, and it’s about resources,” he said.

The annexes on power and wealth sharing were part of the initial framework agreement that the two parties signed.
Under the initial agreement, the proposed Bangsamoro government would have its own law enforcers, which some observers say violates the constitutional provision of one national police.

On wealth distribution, the two panels agreed on a 50-50 sharing on fossil fuels, which refer to mineral deposits like coal, uranium, petroleum and natural gas; and 75-25, in favor of the MILF, on the sharing on metallic minerals, among others.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer also on Thursday denied reports that the peace deal with the MILF is nearing collapse.

“Things are going on smoothly and we are confident of reaching a consensus on this. We’ve covered a lot of ground and the ceasefire is very much in place,” she told The Manila Times.

Ferrer noted that the two panels are doing a lot of balancing on the BBL draft so that it would pass the scrutiny of Congress.

She downplayed the MILF complaint on deletions and revisions on the draft law, saying it was done to make it “lean and neat.”

“Some of the deletions were made because there were repetitions in other parts of the draft law. There are so many provisions, for instance, that are replicated in the current part of the article, and that’s the kind of cleaning up that we are doing now, to make sure it will be a lean and neat law without sacrificing any of the provisions or the principles that we have already upheld in the comprehensive agreement,” Ferrer explained.

The government had planned to endorse the draft BBL to Congress in May but a final draft is yet to be crafted because of the MILF’s refusal to accept a “diluted” version.

Sen. Francis Escudero said Congress can pass the law within the year if the draft is submitted by September.

The senator added that all stakeholders in Mindanao should have been consulted before a draft law was crafted to avoid the pitfalls of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“The road to peace in Mindanao is a delicate issue. Our peace panel should find the right approach [that] does not isolate anyone. The direct participation of local and religious leaders, representatives of tribes and clans should be solicited.

Inclusivity should be one of the major bases for the talk,” Escudero said. With JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

10 Responses to Iqbal: Aquino broke promise

JOEL says:
August 8, 2014 at 11:48 am
The Philippine government is walking in into a trap.There is no guaranttee that the Moros will not pull a Putin Crimea and ally themselves to Malaysia or Indonesia. IF so, now what will Pinoy do? Cry to this Muslim Obama?
Arm yourselves, my people.Get a first class Navy and Army, or else, Mindanao is lost forever.Fire all these corrupt military leaders, terminate all these rebels . Stop subsidizing these corrupt moro leaders.
Reply

Haidie says:
August 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm
What is your reference of saying ‘corrupt military officials’? If you have nothing good to say to your own Filipino people (like what everybody else is saying before this comment), the Bangsamoro people, then isn’t wanting to have their own sovereignty a need for them? Plus, what is your evidence that the military officials and moro leaders are corrupt? They are not as budgeted as the AFP is. What is there to corrupt? Before you point fingers, check on your finger first. Sometimes non-Moros need to use their brains, you racist, media-brainwashed commoner.

JT says:
August 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm
For thousand of years, Filipinos were living side by side without fear and segregation. This is also true in many countries such as Thailand, India, etc. Why do we have conflict in the Middle East? It’s all about religion unfortunately. If we allow our country to be divided based on religious ground then we follow the path of ME. We might as well allow the INC, Buddhist, Catholics and Christians to have their own land. It’s crazy to have a Bangsa Moro Land. What about the Ifugaos, tausugs, tiwarays, ilocanos, visayans, etc. Scrap this deal before we it’s too late.I agree with Joel.

Maddflo says:
August 8, 2014 at 11:40 am
I think the strategy of the present administration is simply to talk only to one faction that is the MILF so its easy to fast tract the peace pact before the end of term of President B. S. Aquino. And while doing the negotiation and the final BBL, the DBM is distributing money from DAP to other factions like the MNLF-ARMM among others so as to appease them and just consent or agree to whatever the peace pact produced between the government panel and the MILF group. Nonetheless, this will fail although how smart and shrewd tactics are being employed, there are many considerations that are being omitted like the inclusions of all affected parties in the negotiation and the limitations of the present constitution not to mention the facilitation offered by the Malaysian officials which is inappropriate due to the Sabah claim by our government.
Reply

JT says:
August 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm
Exactly what I said above in response to Haidee. Many other groups would ask for autonomy.Let’s have a strong arm forces and dismantle the local militia.

Braincleaner says:
August 8, 2014 at 11:30 am
The MILF is a Malaysian Trojan horse whose existence is design to keep us from reclaiming Sabah. Funded and provided sanctuary by Malaysia, they splintered from the MNLF, to pursue independence rather than autonomy to serve as a weakening organ of the GRP – prevent muslim unity in Mindanao to look in the direction of reclaiming Sabah, and gain for Malaysia and the British with US connivance – more concessions from GRP.
Reply

Horacio B. Freires says:
August 8, 2014 at 10:50 am
That’s indeed very good..!! There is a delay. . MUST: till after 2016 where there is no more oil in the middle east (ARAMCO). . The govt . . and that’s one good thing for Pnoy,.. .heeded my advice (hopefully the two) when an intelligence lady Coronel. . whose PhD thesis was on the PEACE PROCESS. . spoke to us, the joint meeting of two Rotary Clubs here in Manila. . I GAVE THESE TWO POINTS
1.0 DELAY in order for the Philippine govt to negotiate on a stronger position (hindi ung nagmamakaawa tayo. .at the middle of other Islamic nations sponsoring the peace process). . the rebels by that time had no more considerable financial support. . Let there be violence . . no problem. . .that’s their technology. . we accept. .. But it will be temporary. . the rebels wants the peace agreement at their dictation finalized before 2015. . CLEVER. . !!
2.0 NO LAND. . militarily controlled by them, , ,ELSE. . they will point nuclear missiles to Metro Manila. . like what happened to India & Pakistan. . .We have no nuclear missiles to point to them. . We will rely again to the US. . who will further exploit us. .. There will be peace in the atmosphere of fear. . NEVER..!!
Reply

Ramon says:
August 8, 2014 at 10:30 am
This stupid agreement is now falling apart, as it is very, very unconstitutional, and unnecessary altogether….
Why the need to give the Muslims their own territory..are they not free to practice their religion as it is now…? are they being persecuted…heck, no!
Filipinos must see that the Islamic faith is not just a regular religion, interested in the spiritual welfare of its adherents…it is futhermore, a political ideology that FORCES itself to BE THE GOVERNMENT itself…the governmemnt of Allah, enforcing its own constitution and court system, the SHARIA…
Wake up, Filipinos before it is too late….unless you are prepared to convert to Islam in 10 years….
Islam CAN NOT, and WILL NOT coexist with any other religion, or government…it is wholly Allah, Allah and more Allah….
Wherever Islam is, there is always fighting…in the QURAN, it is ordered to fight and kill everyone, until the whole world worships only Allah…
Working for peace, is ostensibly just a ploy to get their own territory, and is a masterful practice of the Islamic doctrine of DECEIT, or AL TAQQIYAH…
Read the QURAN and THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD online, it is fascinating reading, and you will be shocked as to what it REALLY teaches!
Reply

Edgar G. Festin says:
August 8, 2014 at 7:50 am
The root of the probkem is that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is really a separatist group with a military force that the Aquino administration allowed to continue growing.
All those who have seriously studied the Moro problem have seen that the GRP now called the GPH under President Arroyo and then under President Aquino pretended that the MILF’s main goal is just autonomy within the Philippine Republic and not to become an independent Islamic state. The Manila Times and other experts, from academe, the foreign service, present and former Mindanao local government officials have warned of this. They saw that the Aquino Administration’s signing of the Framework Agreement and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro were bioth treasonous acts of the negotiators and of President Aquino because neither document states the MILF’s respect for and willingness to adhere to the Philippine Constitution and the principles of the Philippine Republic.
And we all asked Arroyo and Aquino to please not exclude the Moro National Liberation Front and the 1996 Comprehensive Agreement signed during the Fidel Ramos presidency.
Reply

vg says:
August 8, 2014 at 6:51 am
How can this ever pass? Negotiations were held with a faction and a signed agreement was the result. The government gave away everything including the kitchen sink. Now the government is correcting some of the things that were given away. How can the faction accept that? And how can the other factions ever agree to to anything if they were not involved? This is dead.
Reply

Draft Bangsamoro law 70% done – PalaceAugust 9, 2014 10:34 pm
by Llanesca T. Panti Reporter


VALTE

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on at least 70 percent of the contents of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Malacañang said on Saturday.

The two sides will conclude today their 10-day marathon negotiations aimed at ironing out kinks in the draft law that will be the basis for the putting up of a Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the two panels have finished discussions on “more or less” 70 percent of the provisions of the BBL. Negotiators will tackle next thorny issues that has delayed the submission of the draft law to Congress.

The government and MILF panels went back to the drawing board on August 1 to review the draft and thresh out disagreements since the MILF has complained that Malacañang lawyers had heavily revised the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

The draft bill on the BBL is the fruit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was signed by the government and MILF in April. The CAB includes annexes on transitional modalities, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.

“The panels said that more or less, they are 70 percent [done discussing issues].

The hard issues are the ones that they’re saving for last, and hopefully, we’ll be able to thresh out those remaining issues,” Valte said in a radio interview.

“If you ask us, failure should not be on the horizon. This is not for the President personally but it’s for our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro,” she added.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Congress is primed for the BBL deliberations so that the measure can be passed by the end of the year.

“They should be transmitting it to us this month. For instance, we have sent legislators to Spain to study regional governments. We have been priming ourselves for this, but there is nothing we can do until we receive the Bangsamoro bill,” Belmonte said.

* He noted though that Congress will not sacrifice the “quality” of the BBL even if lawmakers are determined to speed up passage of the measure.

“We will try to do it as expeditiously as we can, but if it cannot be done, we will not force it. But as of now, it [December] is still the target,” Belmonte said.

The Bangsamoro region will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) headed by Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

This developed as MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal denied accusing President Benigno Aquino 3rd of reneging on a promise that the government will be flexible in applying the Constitution on the BBL law.

In a statement sent to The Manila Times, the BTC Communication Group headed by Abdullah “Dong” Cusain said Iqbal was surprised by the report that quoted him as saying that the President broke his promise to be flexible.

“I have never said those words, nor will I ever say that about the President,” Iqbal said. Cusain quoted Iqbal as saying that he is “fully aware that making false accusations do not have any place in this process.”

Cusain said Iqbal reiterated his position that “peace is the only option right now” and that they are doing everything to realize it.

He said Iqbal appealed to “friends in the media to be more mindful of the reports being published…to be faithful to the truth and serve as a source of hope in this difficult time.” As to the progress of the ongoing negotiations between the government and MILF panels, Cusain said he is not privy to the proceedings and that the two panels may issue an official statement.

“Maybe tomorrow both panels will divulge what they have discussed so far,” he said. With JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL

FROM PHILSTAR

Ochoa in Davao to push BBL By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 11, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


OCHOA

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Aquino reportedly sent Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa here in a last-ditch effort to come up with the final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be submitted to Congress for deliberation.

Ochoa arrived here around 1 p.m. yesterday and proceeded to the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, where the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels were about to end their 10-day workshop aimed at ironing out the kinks in the BBL draft.

MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar welcomed Ochoa’s arrival.

“It is good that he’s there. It shows government’s sincerity in coming up with a final draft of the BBL,” Jaafar told The STAR.

Jaafar also said that based on the recent developments, the entire peace process still prevails. “It is an advantage that in spite of the heated arguments and the tension in the workshop and the meetings, still the two panels have maintained their decorum.”

He noted that from 18 articles that the two panels needed to resolve at the start of the workshop, they are now down to less than 10 as they found solutions to issues.

Jaafar, however, refused to divulge what articles and issues the two panels need to resolve.

Ab Ghafar Mohamed, the Malaysian facilitator in the peace negotiation between the government and the MILF, was also present. But since the workshop is not a negotiation, Mohamed could not take part in the activity.

“But still he helps in the deliberations,” a source told The STAR.

Phl to observe ‘super moon’ tomorrow By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 10, 2014 - 12:00am 9 692 googleplus1 1

MANILA, Philippines - Countries in the northern hemisphere, including the Philippines, will observe next week the “super moon,” which occurs when the Earth is closest to the moon, a phenomenon called “perigee.”

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Friday said the moon will be nearest to Earth at 358,258 kilometers at 2 a.m. tomorrow.

At that time, the moon is 48,280 kilometers closer to Earth than usual.

Meanwhile, the annual Perseids meteor shower will light up the night sky next week.

PAGASA said the Perseids will peak in the late evening of Aug. 12 until dawn.

“This year, however, the bright moon will cast an interfering glare across the nights of maximum activity, reducing visibility from 120 meteors per hour – the typical Perseid peak rate – to less than 30,” the weather bureau said.

“Early August might be the best time to watch as Earth plunges deeper into the debris stream before the moon becomes full,” it said.

PAGASA said August is one of the most popular times of the year to observe meteor showers.

“Meteors are easiest to see if there is no moonlight and light pollution at all and if the sky is clear,” it said.

The Perseids meteor shower radiates from the constellation Perseus, which is located in the eastern horizon during August.

“If the sky permits, the famous Perseids meteor shower will be observed with its peak in the late evening and early morning hours on Aug. 12 to 13,” PAGASA said. – With Lalaine Jimenea

Southwest monsoon affects N. Luzon; rains to continue By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 10, 2014 - 12:00am 29 16 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - The country will again experience occasional rains as the southwest monsoon affects extreme Northern Luzon, the state weather bureau said yesterday.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the Ilocos provinces and the islands of Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan would experience occasional rains.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

PAGASA also said moderate to strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest to west over the Visayas and southeast to southwest over Mindanao with slight to moderate seas.

Falsely charged rebel makes the most of his time By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 10, 2014 - 12:00am 11 1384 googleplus0 0


Gargar

MANILA, Philippines - Kim Gargar, a former physics professor of the University of the Philippines, was detained at the Baganga jail in Davao Oriental for 10 months after he was accused by the military of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

This, however, did not stop him from doing what he loved: teaching.

“I prepared myself so I would not feel depressed, bored,” Gargar said in Filipino during a press conference in Quezon City yesterday. “I considered (the jail) as my new school. In teaching, you just need students.”

He said he taught literacy to his fellow inmates using flashcards. He said their sessions were generally informal, but nonetheless informative.

Gargar said he was able to teach the inmates the basics of physics and tried to provide them with legal advice.

He said some of the jail wardens were his students.

“Some wanted to take the civil service test. The others would take board exams in criminology,” he said, noting that he used the review materials brought by the wardens.

False charges

Gargar, 34, was arrested by members of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Cateel, Davao Oriental following an encounter with NPA rebels.

He was charged with two counts of frustrated murder, violation of the election gun ban and the non-bailable offense of illegal possession of explosives.

But according to Gargar, a PhD candidate of Groningen University in the Netherlands, he was conducting rehabilitation study on Pablo-devastated areas when he heard an exchange of gunfire on Oct. 1, 2013.

He said he tried to run away from the scene but he fell into a cliff that caused his injuries.

Gargar said he decided to stay in the area where he fell, hoping that his team would find him and bring him to a hospital.

However, the soldiers found him. He said he was surprised when supposed evidence against him, including rifles and explosives, were presented before the prosecutor when he was charged.

Freed on bail

Ten months after his arrest, the scientist was freed on bail after Judge Emilio Dayanghari III of the Baganga Regional Trial Court Branch 7 found inconsistencies in the testimonies presented against him.

* The judge granted his request for bail even as the illegal possession of explosive charge was a non-bailable offense. The total bail for all charges was initially set at P420,000 but the court reduced it to P210,000.

Gargar said the court ruling on his bail petition proved that the evidence against him was weak.

He expressed hope that the charges against him will be dismissed.

Rey Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said they are studying the filing of counter charges against witnesses who falsely testified against Gargar, including military officers and prosecutors who connived to file the trumped up charges.

Giovanni Tapang, chairman of AGHAM, said the arrest of the scientist would have impact on the investigation of the country’s biodiversity.

“It might lessen the drive of scientists to investigate the country, which is the center of biodiversity in the world,” he said.

Tapang cited the case of renowned botanist Leonard Co, who was killed along with two of his companions in Leyte in 2010 when the military mistook them for NPA members

He said they are coordinating with Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate for the filing of a measure that will create a Magna Carta for the protection of scientists, especially those conducting fieldwork.

GMA NEWS NETWORK OPINION

Which Bangsamoro Basic Law? By FR. JUN MERCADO, OMIJuly 11, 2014 3:37pm 87 11 1 347 Tags: Bangsamoro Basic Law


FR. JUN MERCADO

The real issue in the current peace process between the GPH and the MILF is NOT whether a Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL would be enacted within the given time frame, that is, before the year end. The BBL, definitely, would be enacted! The crux of the debate and for this reason the only thing that matters is WHICH BBL?

There is the original draft passed by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission or BTC (tasked to write the draft BBL) submitted to the Office of the President or OP last April 2014. And there is now another version of the draft BBL post OP review.

Now there is an ongoing secret debate on which draft Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL the President should submit to Congress in July 2014.

The news is out that the MILF is unhappy with the draft version of the BBL done by the Office of the President. From the reaction of the MILF leaders, the draft BTC version of the BBL was “mangled” by the OP. This may result to a BBL that is even worse than the Organic Act or RA 9054 that presently governs the ARMM.

The original draft BBL that the BTC submitted to the OP is simply based on the already negotiated and signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or CAB. The CONTENTS of the original draft were already negotiated, settled, agreed and formally and ritually signed by both the GPH and MILF. In no way would the MILF renegotiate those terms again in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

On the other hand, the OP believes that there are items in the CAB and thus in the BTC-submitted draft BBL that are against the 1987 Constitution. In short, the OP is using the 1987 Constitution as the yardstick in crafting the final draft of the BBL. They would like to see to it that the BBL remains within the four pillars of the Constitution.

Moreover, the government officials, including the leadership of Congress, are often quoted saying that the “BBL should pass any judicial scrutiny.” In short, the OP is making sure that if, and when, the BBL is brought for adjudication to the court, it should pass the constitutional test.

Now the real question is which items in the original draft does the OP deem questionable? And which items are introduced into the new version of the draft that would make the BBL constitutionally compliant?

* The real solution to the present dilemma is to make the draft BBL public. Both the original draft and the one coming out of the OP review need to be made public! There are no ifs and buts. We are NO longer in the negotiating mode. We are actualizing what have already been agreed and signed. And the people, particularly the constituency of the core areas, have the right to know. Right now there are groups asking the government to make public the draft BBL.

In the previous peace process, specifically the 1976 and the 1996 Peace Agreements, the Constitution and the constitutional processes have always been the parameters set by government. It is for this reason that both agreements have remained within the four corners of the Constitution and they are deemed constitutional.

On the other hand, this present government has remained VAGUE or ambivalent in putting the Constitution and the constitutional processes as the parameters of the negotiation or settlement. It is for this reason that in the agreed and signed Framework Agreement, the four Annexes, the additional Addendum on Territorial Waters and the CAB have NO reference to the Philippine Constitution and the constitutional processes required. The Philippine government believes that the present Constitution has the “flexibilities” to accommodate all the negotiated, agreed and signed issues and concerns in the above stated agreements.

The MILF is firm in its conviction that the current Constitution would require an amendment to finally address the Bangsamoro aspiration. But the government side is equally firm in its stand that the present Constitution has the flexibilities to accommodate and implement legally the CAB. Moreover, the government has also repeatedly said that they will not sign an agreement that they cannot implement.

In the final reckoning, the government has little option but to submit to Congress a draft Basic Law that is constitutionally compliant. In order to do so, there are items in the draft Basic Law that need to be toned down or simply omitted to make it constitutionally compliant.

Here lies the debate and the dilemma. While the government seeks understanding, the government position, definitely, appears short-changing the MILF from the measure of the CAB.

What else is new…? The present peace process appears to be heading in the same direction as its predecessors or antecedents. As the saying goes: “Sa hinaba-haba ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy.” Thus in the end, the Constitution and its constitutional processes notwithstanding their absence in the agreements remain to be the final measures of what this government can deliver.

A more forthright position is for the government avowedly committed to Daang Matuwid to be honest and admit that the Constitution needs to be amended to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Bangsamoro. There is NO way that this aspiration can be addressed by any legalese or constructive ambiguities.

The time has come for the PNoy government to buckle up and put its money where its mouth is. The only way this dilemma can be resolved is to GO the way of constitutional change.

GMA NEWS NETWORK: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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