PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

AQUINO UNFAZED: ATTACK ME, BUT TRUTH WILL SET US FREE


Malacañang said President Aquino is unfazed by the growing public backlash over the Mamasapano incident, saying he remains determined to find out the entire truth. Malacañang Photo Bureau/file --President Benigno Aquino III is committed to ferret out the truth behind the deadly Mamasapano incident and is unperturbed by the criticisms hurled against him, Malacañang said Tuesday. In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. shared some parts of the meeting between Aquino and leaders of the House of Representatives on Monday wherein they discussed the Mamasapano incident and its implications on the Bangsamoro peace process. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy briefs House on Exodus; Lacierda says, It's Napeñas who bungled operations


The Philippine National Police Special Action Forces carry the flag-draped coffins of their comrades upon arrival from the southern Philippines last Jan. 29, 2015 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez --
MANILA, Philippines - Under pressure to tell everything he knows about Operation Plan Exodus, President Aquino briefed leaders of the House of Representatives yesterday about the raid that led to the deaths of 44 police commandos. The briefing at Malacañang was given as the Senate resumed public hearings on the Jan. 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Palace officials pinned much of the blame for the deaths on the ground commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, who has been sacked as chief of the Special Action Force (SAF). READ MORE...

ALSO: Purisima admits informing Espina about Oplan Exodus later than Aquino’s order


PURISIMA -----Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director Alan Purisima confirmed on Tuesday that the President had directed him to tell PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina about the Mamasapano operation but only did so on the day the operation was launched. “Your honor, I informed Police Deputy Director General Espina on the morning of January 25,” Purisima said, responding to Senate President Franklin Drilon’s query during the resumption of the Senate hearing on the incident. “And I confirm the order was given to me by the President, your honor,” he said. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO TIMES EDITORIAL: Thwart whitewash, give PNoy the benefit of the blame


CONNECTING THE DOTS ---.....But the verbal play had nowhere to go. The issue kept coming back to the fact that President did not lift a finger when he might have intervened more decisively. To the question whether PNoy issued any instructions to aid the commandos, the answer was always “No.”  This is the thing that has always rankled with the families of the slain commandos and the public. On a matter of life-and-death, he did not care enough to use his vast powers as president and commander-in-chief to save our men in uniform.No whitewash, no cover-up can wipe away the shame of this failure of leadership.People will always know and remember this.This is why on this 25th of February, the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, people are massing at the EDSA shrine and calling on the President to step down.“In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up,” it said.The Mischief president is misinformed, misleading.READ ENTIRE EDITORIAL FROM BEGINNING...

ALSO STANDARD EDITORIAL: Unworthy of respect


What do you want me to do, get fingerprints of all our enemies? - PRESIDENT Aquino is caught up in a morass of his own making, and the more he flails about to save himself, the deeper he sinks. With public outrage still simmering over his mismanagement of the secret Mamasapano operation that killed 44 police commandos, the President did the unthinkable last week. He met behind closed doors with the widows of the 44 men whom he had sent to their deaths, then chided them for their impatience when they demanded justice for their fallen husbands. Apparently disturbed by the repeated questions about what was being done to make the killers pay, the President blurted out: “Why, what is justice for you? Aren’t we doing it already? What do you want me to do, get the fingerprints of all our enemies? They are so many. Just so we can find out who killed your relatives?”  CONTINUE REAADING....

ALSO: MAMASAPANO WILL BE A FACTOR IN 2016


AQUINO WITH FALLEN SAF WIDOWS ---DON’T expect the truth about the Jan. 25 Mamasapano tragedy to come from President Aquino. He had one whole month to tell the Filipino people about his role in the debacle that claimed the lives of 44 of the country’s elite police officers, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and six civilians including an eight-year old girl who was hit in the crossfire. He had three televised addresses (Jan. 28, three days after the tragedy; Jan 30 necrological service at Camp Bagong Diwa, and Feb. 6 to announce his acceptance of the resignation of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima) and the people expected the truth from no less than the commander-in-chief. But Aquino instead talked about the assassination of his father in 1986 and the 1989 coup against his mother. READ FULL REPORT BY ELLEN TORDESILLAS...

ALSO Fear now reigns in Sulu: Senators grill gov’t peace panel over opening of MILF training camp


THE SENATE INQUIRY ---Fear now reigns in Sulu with the opening of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) training camp in Panglima Estino town. This development prompted some senators to grill members of the government peace panel yesterday at the continuation of the hearing on the Mamasapano carnage by the Senate Committee on Public Order chaired by Sen. Grace Poe. Senators started questioning Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles and government peace panel Chairman Miriam Coronel Ferrer after Poe disclosed a letter sent by Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan showing photos of leaders and members of the MILF and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) gathering at Camp Akbar Demo Farm in Barangay Punay, Panglima Estino town. The photos were taken starting January 1, 2015.
ANOTHER PHOTO: THREE’S COMPANY — THE PEACE PANEL (From left) Government of the Philippines Chief Peace Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, her counterpart in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mohagher Iqbal, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles face the Senate investigation into the Mamasapano incident yesterday amid criticism the government peace panelists have been taking the side of the MILF. (Tony Pionilla) READ FULL REPORT...

WORLD NEWS: Islamic State's position on Christians


Peoples of other faiths have reason to fear Islamic State ---
......IS appears to view Christians primarily as enemies that must be fought and subdued. Contrary to the prevailing view in Muslim countries, IS regards Christians as being afforded the protected status of Dhimmis only if they pay a special tax called jizya and fulfil other stringent obligations. Those obligations are subject to IS's own interpretation. When Islamic State in Iraq (ISI), as it was known at the time, targeted a Catholic church in Baghdad in 2010 it linked the attack with the alleged persecution of Muslim women converts by the Coptic Church in Egypt. ISI held Iraq's Christians responsible for the Coptic Church's actions by failing to denounce its alleged crimes committed against Muslims. Shortly afterwards, ISI issued a statement announcing that Iraq's Christians were legitimate targets. A wave of attacks followed in areas with a Christian majority in Iraq. Nevertheless, Christians have not always been seen as enemies by the group.  READ FULL REPORT FROM BEGINNING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Aquino unfazed: Attack me but truth will set us free


Malacañang said President Aquino is unfazed by the growing public backlash over the Mamasapano incident, saying he remains determined to find out the entire truth. Malacañang Photo Bureau/file

MANILA, MARCH 2, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - President Benigno Aquino III is committed to ferret out the truth behind the deadly Mamasapano incident and is unperturbed by the criticisms hurled against him, Malacañang said Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. shared some parts of the meeting between Aquino and leaders of the House of Representatives on Monday wherein they discussed the Mamasapano incident and its implications on the Bangsamoro peace process.

During Monday's meeting, Coloma said one lawmaker expressed concern to Aquino that the public backlash following the Mamasapano incident will grow much worse.

But the president was unfazed, said Coloma.

"Wala namang sektor ng lipunan natin na talagang makokontento," Coloma quoted Aquino's response to the unnamed congressman. "Four and half years in this job, 'di pa ako nagsasalita, inaatake na ako."

"So attack me, but the truth will set us free," Coloma quoted Aquino as saying.

Coloma said that even if the president is now under attack following the Mamasapano incident, "he just takes it in stride while he goes through the painstaking process of knowing the entire truth."

The Palace official said the president's determination to find out the truth should not be questioned despite criticisms that it is taking him time to reveal his knowledge about the botched police operation.

Coloma said the process of ferreting out the truth takes time and Aquino is in no rush to get into the bottom of the Mamasapano encounter.

He said the president is first giving way to the Senate to complete its probe on the incident.

"He is deliberate, he is compulsive. He does not jump into conclusions. Inaalam niya muna dahil maselan na bagay ito. maapektuhan yung prosesong pangkapayapaan. Ayaw niyang magsalita ng kahit ano nang hindi siya sigurado tungkol sa relevant facts," Coloma said.

"Hindi naman niya pwedeng sabihin kaagad dahil hindi pa niya alam kaagad lahat. At kinailangang alamin niya iyon sa isang proseso na magiging ganap 'yung kanyang pagalam ng buong katotohanan," Coloma added.


PHILSTAR

Noy briefs House on Exodus: Lacierda says, It's Napeñas, By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 24, 2015 - 12:00am


The Philippine National Police Special Action Forces carry the flag-draped coffins of their comrades upon arrival from the southern Philippines last Jan. 29, 2015 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - Under pressure to tell everything he knows about Operation Plan Exodus, President Aquino briefed leaders of the House of Representatives yesterday about the raid that led to the deaths of 44 police commandos.

The briefing at Malacañang was given as the Senate resumed public hearings on the Jan. 25 operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Palace officials pinned much of the blame for the deaths on the ground commander, Director Getulio Napeñas, who has been sacked as chief of the Special Action Force (SAF).

Aquino told the lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. that Napeñas bungled the operation by failing to coordinate with the Armed Forces.

Director General Alan Purisima, who has resigned as Philippine National Police chief, also failed to inform PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina about the operation as Aquino had ordered, the President told the congressmen.

During the meeting, the House leaders brought up the need for the government to help the bereaved families of the 44 SAF men obtain justice for the slain policemen.

“The President listened to the representatives’ views on how the killing of the PNP SAF troopers has given rise to a clamor among their constituents that the ends of justice be pursued, as part of rebuilding public confidence on the viability of the peace process,” Presidential Communications Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.

The commandos had just killed Malaysian terrorist Zukifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in his hideout in a remote barangay in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 when they encountered Muslim guerrillas belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. No reinforcements came for the trapped commandos.

Also present at the Palace dialogue were the chairmen of the House committees that conducted hearings last week, namely: Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer of the committee on public order and safety and Rep. Jim Hataman Salliman of the committee on peace, reconciliation and unity.

“Those who spoke at the dialogue with the President also brought up the need for ‘leveling off with the MILF’ on the parameters of their partnership with the government in the peace process including the containment of the BIFF; and their active cooperation in bringing those responsible for the deaths of the PNP-SAF troopers before the bar of justice,” Coloma said.

It was believed Purisima – then under suspension for a corruption case – had led the operation by “remote control” with President Aquino’s blessings. The former PNP chief earlier said his communication with Napeñas during the operation was only an advice.

At the Senate yesterday, Purisima said he informed the President that military reinforcements were already supporting the SAF units in Mamasapano even though this was not the actual situation on the ground.

Purisima revealed a portion of his text messages to the President when the operation was ongoing.

Interviewed after the executive session, Sen. Grace Poe stressed the need for the President to be always given the right information on the ground.

Poe noted that Purisima’s text messages to the President showed that the latter may have been misinformed about developments.

It’s Napeñas

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also blamed Napeñas for bungling the operation even as he stressed that questions will be answered when the final report of the PNP Board of Inquiry (BOI) is released.

“Why was he coordinating with Gen. Purisima?” Lacierda asked, referring to Napeñas.

He cited a Jan. 9 meeting between the President, Napeñas and Purisima who was already under suspension at the time, at Bahay Pangarap to discuss details about Operation Exodus.

Lacierda said Napeñas had stated in Senate hearings that operations against Marwan were done under Gen. Purisima.

“So it was when he (Purisima) was suspended that Gen. Napeñas was brought to the President. The President instructed Napeñas to coordinate. Coordinate with whom? It was a judgment call of Gen. Napeñas to inform 6th ID after the firefight started,” Lacierda said.

“The President instructed Napeñas – remember that those are direct instructions by the President – to coordinate with Gen. Espina. That was not followed. Why was it not followed?” Lacierda asked.

“Is that time on target coordination? It doesn’t seem to be time on target because otherwise the Army would have prepared beforehand,” the President’s spokesman said. “There was no coordination. Now, did he (Napeñas) inform the CCCH, did he inform the AHJAG? No, he did not,” he maintained. CCCH stands for coordinating council for the cessation of hostilities while AHJAG is ad hoc joint advisory group.

“The obligation of Gen. Napeñas to inform time-on-target CCCH was not done,” Lacierda said.

Right to oversee

Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane defended Purisima from accusations that the latter was liable for overseeing the operation while under suspension.

Ebdane, who served as PNP chief during the Arroyo administration, expressed belief Purisima had the right to oversee an operation that he initiated.

“The initial information was fed to Alan Purisima about two years ago. He initiated the operation,” he told reporters in Baguio City over the weekend.

“He is suspended (as PNP chief) but does that mean the operation should also be suspended? No, even ordinary people should be involved until the end (of the operation) if he is the conduit,” Ebdane said.

Ebdane said Purisima should not be prejudged while the events leading to the Mamasapano clash remain unclear.

“Let us understand the situation. Let us not judge him if we do not know what really happened on the ground and I appreciate him because even if he is under suspension, he is taking responsibility,” he added.

Ebdane, who commanded the SAF from 1989 to 1991, said the public should not take advantage of the misery of the families of the fallen policemen.

“Let us investigate the incident but let’s not point fingers or vilify one another,” he added.

Ocular inspection

Members of the Board of Inquiry (BOI), meanwhile, are leaving for Mamasapano today to inspect the sites of the fighting between the SAF commandos and the MILF and the BIFF.

“One of the plans of the BOI under Director Magalong is to do a site survey at the exact site of the incident to compare the testimonies of the witnesses and actual site,” PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said, referring to BOI head Director Benjamin Magalong.

The BOI hopes to submit its report by Feb. 26. The BOI has so far gathered a total of 398 statements from 420 witnesses.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for his part, urged the MILF to finish its internal investigation into the Mamasapano clash so that lawmakers can resume hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

During yesterday’s Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash, Marcos – chairman of the Senate committee on local government which conducted public hearings on the proposed BBL – asked MILF peace panel head Mohagher Iqbal when the results of the group’s investigation into the incident would come out.

Iqbal said that the investigation is 90 percent finished and that they are just verifying some information.

Iqbal said that when the investigation is complete, he would ask MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who is on a pilgrimage in the Middle East, for clearance to release the report.

“The hearings would not resume until the reports from the PNP, AFP, MILF and the other different agencies are completed,” Marcos said.

“We will wait, of course, for your report but if this is expedited then we can return to the hearings on the BBL sooner,” he added.

Sen. Ralph Recto said that several amendments would have to be introduced to the BBL and as such he urged the MILF and the other groups pushing for the passage of the proposed law to soften their stance against amending it.

Recto explained that the changes that would be introduced to the BBL are not meant to mangle the bill but to amend it so the final version would be acceptable to the “country, the citizenry and the Constitution.”

“When we propose revisions, it is out of the desire to improve the bill and not to impair,” Recto said.

“If the law is vague, then conflicts will arise during implementation, the resolution of which may be left for the courts to settle and we don’t want a law that would be plagued by court cases and TROs (temporary restraining orders),” he added.

Recto said amendments would also be introduced to “increase its chances of being approved by the people in the plebiscite to be called for its ratification.”

He urged the MILF and the other groups to welcome initiatives to improve the measure.

“First thing they should do is to drop the we-are-infallible stance. If you don’t want to change even a single sentence in the bill, then that policy of extremism won’t bring you anywhere. You must be open to other ideas,” Recto said.

“Otherwise, your bill will be dead-on-arrival in either of the chambers of Congress,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo joined the clamor yesterday for President Aquino to appoint a new PNP chief.

This would allow the PNP leadership “to fully restore order, discipline and the chain of command, and to move the 149,000-member force forward,” he said.

“Malacañang has to appoint a new PNP chief at once, considering that the next presidential election is just 15 months away, and whoever is named may need at least six months to get accustomed to the job,” he said.

The country’s presidential elections are often marred by campaign violence, including political killings that threaten peace and order, he said.

“We expect the forthcoming new PNP chief to push hard for a re-energized force whose officers are wholly committed to the utmost benchmarks of competence, skill, conduct and behavior,” he added. – With Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez, Cecille Suerte Felipe


INQUIRER

Purisima admits informing Espina about Oplan Exodus later than Aquino’s order Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 1:07 PM | Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director Alan Purisima confirmed on Tuesday that the President had directed him to tell PNP officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina about the Mamasapano operation but only did so on the day the operation was launched.

“Your honor, I informed Police Deputy Director General Espina on the morning of January 25,” Purisima said, responding to Senate President Franklin Drilon’s query during the resumption of the Senate hearing on the incident.

“And I confirm the order was given to me by the President, your honor,” he said.

“The order was given to you but you only informed him after the operation was already launched and in fact, na nagkakabakbakan ng alas-kwatro ng madaling araw yung tropa at si Marwan?” asked Drilon to which Purisima answered “yes.”

Marwan is Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, who along with another suspected terrorist Basit Usman, were the targets of the police operation last January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 44 elite policemen dead.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report on Tuesday cited a source who said that Aquino told congressmen during a meeting at Malacañang on Monday that he had ordered Purisima to inform Espina ahead of the operation.

During the past hearings of the Senate, Purisima admitted that he advised relieved PNP-Special Action Force head Director Getulio Napeñas not to inform Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas about the operation.


MANILA TIMES

Thwart whitewash, give PNoy the benefit of the blame February 24, 2015 11:17 pm

This is the most sensible response to the concerted program of deception, which the Administration, with the support of Congress and the crony media, has launched in order to cover up President Aquino’s accountability in the Mamasapano incident.

The political thinker and pundit, Walter Lippmann, gave this classic definition of deception: “I include under the term ‘deception’ the whole art of propaganda, whether it consists of half-truths, lies, ambiguities, evasions, calculated silence, red herrings, unresponsiveness, slogans, catchwords, showmanship, bathos, hokum, and buncombe. . .they are one and all methods of preventing a disinterested inquiry into the situation.”

Lippmann names it, the Administration has employed them all in the Mamasapano crisis.
When both houses of Congress folded their inquiries and televised hearings stopped, the public outcry against a whitewash was so deafening, Congress quickly relented and announced that they would resume the hearings.

Last Monday, the Senate called its fifth public hearing, with the committee on public order under Sen. Grace Poe once again leading the proceedings.

Predictably, as conjectured by some members of the media, the Administration unveiled a new strategy in the resumed inquiry. Where in the previous hearings, it relied mainly on a strategy of tagging fired SAF director Getulio Napeñas as the one responsible for the tragic operation, this time around it transformed the Senate into a kind of wrestling tag team.

The republic’s senators, led by Senate President Franklin Drilon, took turns in constructing a new smokescreen and cover for President Aquino so he could dilute his accountability and role in Mamasapano.

The first element of the strategy consisted of belaboring the word “misinformed.” In questioning generals who got involved in the incident when it was at crisis stage, the senators sought to establish the fact that the President was misinformed on what was happening in Maguindanao that Sunday. They conceded the fact that PNoy knew about the incident as early as five o-clock that morning.

For all their efforts, however, they could not cover up the fact that the President did nothing as commander-in-chief to order swift and urgent reinforcements to be provided to the beleaguered commandos. There were long hours when nothing was done while our elite policemen were being cut down by enemy forces.

The second leg of the strategy consisted of pinning suspended PNP director-general Alan Purisima to the wall. The senators pinned him down on (1) giving the go-signal to Oplan Exodus, (2) usurping the post of PNP commander even while he was under suspension; (3) delegating to General Napeñas the authority to launch the operation; and (4) instructing Napeñas not to inform the PNP OIC general Espina and DILG secretary Mar Roxas. But he also established the fact that he gave President Aquino continuous updates on Exodus through text messages.

The resumed hearing also gave the AFP chief of staff, General Catapang, extended time to publicly complain about the troops’ sense of grievance that the AFP was being blamed by the public for failing to go to the aid of the commandos. He discussed how concerned units acted to respond to the request for reinforcements, and how in fact the military saved a number of commandos.

Some media organizations, who have consistently supported President Aquino in every crisis, played along with the strategy, and dutifully informed the public that PNoy was misinformed during the Mamasapano incident. They also took to calling the event a “clash.”

But the verbal play had nowhere to go. The issue kept coming back to the fact that President did not lift a finger when he might have intervened more decisively. To the question whether PNoy issued any instructions to aid the commandos, the answer was always “No.”

This is the thing that has always rankled with the families of the slain commandos and the public. On a matter of life-and-death, he did not care enough to use his vast powers as president and commander-in-chief to save our men in uniform.

No whitewash, no cover-up can wipe away the shame of this failure of leadership.

People will always know and remember this.

This is why on this 25th of February, the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, people are massing at the EDSA shrine and calling on the President to step down.

“In practical terms, that means he should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up,” it said.

The Mischief president is misinformed, misleading.


MANILA STANDARD

Unworthy of respect Manila Standard Today Feb. 23, 2015 at 12:01am
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PRESIDENT Aquino is caught up in a morass of his own making, and the more he flails about to save himself, the deeper he sinks.

With public outrage still simmering over his mismanagement of the secret Mamasapano operation that killed 44 police commandos, the President did the unthinkable last week. He met behind closed doors with the widows of the 44 men whom he had sent to their deaths, then chided them for their impatience when they demanded justice for their fallen husbands.

Apparently disturbed by the repeated questions about what was being done to make the killers pay, the President blurted out: “Why, what is justice for you? Aren’t we doing it already? What do you want me to do, get the fingerprints of all our enemies? They are so many. Just so we can find out who killed your relatives?”

The President also dismayed the families of the Fallen 44 by asserting that he knew how they felt because he, too, had lost his father—more than 30 years ago. This loss, he added, made them “even” (“tabla-tabla na tayo”)—as if the widows had done him some wrong.

In the same session, the President likened the failure of the Armed Forces to provide timely reinforcements to the police commandos to friends texting each other to meet at a mall.

“If we suppose you text your friend so that you’d meet at the [Mall of Asia], is it that easy for you to go there immediately?” Aquino asked the widows.

Instead of admitting his own role in the operation, the President continued to lay all the blame on the sacked commander of the Special Action Force (SAF), trying once again to peddle the fiction that this lone police officer planned, funded, approved, and carried out the ill-fated operation to capture one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

The Palace spin doctors first sought to deny the reported exchanges. Then, when it became apparent that the widows had no reason to lie and more accounts of the meeting began to appear in social media networks, the Palace castigated the press for focusing on the emotional exchanges instead of the benefits that the widows and families would receive.

But the damage has been done, and nothing the Palace hacks can say can cover up the President’s complete lack of empathy, narcissism, intolerance of criticism, and compulsive lying—characteristics that are normally attributed to sociopaths.

As members of a constitutional democracy, we all are expected to show respect for the presidency. But given Mr. Aquino’s unbecoming behavior, we can no longer afford the same respect to the person who occupies that office.


MALAYA

MAMASAPANO WILL BE A FACTOR IN 2016 By Ellen Tordesillas on February 25, 2015


AQUINO WITH FALLEN SAF WIDOWS

DON’T expect the truth about the Jan. 25 Mamasapano tragedy to come from President Aquino.

He had one whole month to tell the Filipino people about his role in the debacle that claimed the lives of 44 of the country’s elite police officers, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and six civilians including an eight-year old girl who was hit in the crossfire.

He had three televised addresses (Jan. 28, three days after the tragedy; Jan 30 necrological service at Camp Bagong Diwa, and Feb. 6 to announce his acceptance of the resignation of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima) and the people expected the truth from no less than the commander-in-chief. But Aquino instead talked about the assassination of his father in 1986 and the 1989 coup against his mother.

Press Secretary Herminio Coloma said Aquino will decide on when to tell what he knows about the operation at the appropriate time: “Pagpapasyahan po niya ‘yan sa takdang panahon.”

Aquino can take his own sweet time about his version of the truth but the people will know what really happened in Mamasapano in one way or another because, borrowing a quote from Chinese writer Lu Xun about the March 1926 massacre in China, “Lies written in ink can never disguise facts written in blood.”

The problem with Aquino telling the truth about the Mamasapano debacle is because he will have to deal with his accountability as commander-in-chief.

The line that the administration is trying to sell the public is that the President was misled by Purisima of the real situation on the ground as shown by the text exchanges between Aquino and his trusted police officer.

But Aquino can’t still escape accountability for giving a suspended government official authority to be involved in a highly sensitive security operation.

And if Purisima is the culprit, how come Aquino was all praises to him when he accepted the former’s resignation?

The reason why Aquino can’t find the “takdang panahon” to tell the truth was articulated by his sister, Kris Aquino, who said last Sunday, ““Let’s be honest, maraming magiging kaso next year (na isasampa laban sa Presidente.)”

Kris said that in answer to the question by actress Nora Aunor if she will run for an elective position in the 2016 elections. The presidential sister said, anticipating the lawsuits, she has to support her brother.

The Mamasapano tragedy will surely be a factor, in more ways than one, in the 2016 elections.

Aquino will have to make sure that his successor will be an ally or someone who will not do to him what he did to Gloria Arroyo and what Arroyo did to her predecessor, Joseph Estrada.

***

Speaking of lawsuits, Secretary Leila de Lima should not waste government resources on the National Transformation Council. But it was a good statement “Do not pervert a nation’s grief” that she issued last Sunday especially her description of the group: “religious and political has-beens.” De Lima’s statement:

“The coup threats that have been making the rounds recently are not coup threats in the strict sense of the word. They do not come from any section of the government’s security forces. Basically, they emanate from a long- standing strategic policy of a loose aggrupation of disgruntled GMA allies, former officials, and politicians and members of the Catholic clergy likewise closely identified with GMA, known as the National Transformation Council or the NTC, to instigate or foment a military-backed people power uprising, or an EDSA 3 (or EDSA 4, depending on how one counts the May 1, 2001 Mendiola uprising) as they would wish.

“The NTC has carefully formulated this strategy in the false hope of propagating it legally in the mass media and among supporters without however accruing any criminal liability under the penal laws on rebellion, sedition, and coup d’etat. This is a false hope, since certain actions already implemented by the group, from organizing foras and conferences of supporters and sympathizers, can already be contemplated as conspiracies relating to sedition, rebellion or coup d’etat.

“This false hope was recently articulated by former Defense Secretary and NSA Adviser Norberto Gonzales in his interview with Karen Davila of ANC’s Headstart the previous week. Gonzales is an active member of the NTC, having attended most of its previous gatherings since last year in Lipa, Batangas (the NTC’s founding ‘Congress’ on August 27, 2014) and Cebu City. According to Gonzales, there is nothing wrong with people power, or a change in regime through people power, which was the case with EDSA 1 and 2.

“This is Gonzales’ doublespeak. The NTC has publicly declared in its meetings and so-called consultations that a people power strategy for regime change can only be successful if backed by military support for the installation- of the National Transformation Council as a “transition government”, and the suspension of elections or any other democratic process sanctioned under a constitutional government, until the enactment of reforms to be dictated by the NTC as the de facto government of the Republic.

“Everything in this strategy is illegal and unconstitutional, except probably for the people power part if executed merely as a form of mass mobilization in the exercise of the people’s freedom of assembly. The installation of the NTC as the governing body of the Republic is nothing but the installation of a civilian-military junta, and the call for the military’s support for its defense and installation is nothing less than a proposal or conspiracy to commit the crime of coup d’etat.

The NTC’s pronouncements and publicly declared strategy for the capture of state power through active military support to the NTC are therefore acts which already constitute conspiracy or proposal to commit rebellion and coup d’ etat (Art. 136 in relation to Arts. 134 and 134-A, Revised Penal Code), conspiracy to commit sedition (Art. 141 in relation to Art. 139, RPC) or, at the very least, inciting to sedition (Art. 142, RPC), as well as illegal assemblies (Art. 146, RPC).

“A junta by any other sanitized name is still illegal and unconstitutional. By calling for people power and military support to force the President’s ‘resignation’ in order to pave the way for a junta, the NTC and its mushrooming allied alphabet soup organizations of discredited government officials consisting of charged plunderers, grafters, and tax evaders, or of those under investigation for such crimes, may have just crossed the line of legitimate dissent. The government will not relent in applying the full force of the law against them in order to protect the people and the State from an unconstitutional and illegal power grab.

“In the end, any civilian or religious-led putsch will not succeed, because the military will never support the extra-constitutional installation of a junta led by GMA bishops and ex-officials.

The AFP and the PNP stand behind the President, no matter how the Mamasapano incident is exploited by opportunists, such as NTC, to sow discord and division among their ranks. It is the height of pathetic gutter politics, when the tragic loss of 44 police officers killed in the line of duty is used by disgraced pathological personalities to crawl their way back to national relevance, at the expense of the people’s effort to come to terms with the complex issue of peace in Mindanao in their search for justice for the SAF44.

The nation is still grieving, and without any sense of shame, these personalities would use the people’s grief to pervert a national catharsis, serving only their own thirst and craving for absolute power by imposing upon this nation a tyranny of religious and political has-beens.”


MANILA BULLETIN

NOW Fear reigns in Sulu: Senators grill gov’t peace panel over opening of MILF training camp by Hannah Torregoza February 25, 2015 Share this:


THREE’S COMPANY — (From left) Government of the Philippines Chief Peace Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, her counterpart in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mohagher Iqbal, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles face the Senate investigation into the Mamasapano incident yesterday amid criticism the government peace panelists have been taking the side of the MILF. (Tony Pionilla)

Fear now reigns in Sulu with the opening of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) training camp in Panglima Estino town.

This development prompted some senators to grill members of the government peace panel yesterday at the continuation of the hearing on the Mamasapano carnage by the Senate Committee on Public Order chaired by Sen. Grace Poe.

Senators started questioning Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles and government peace panel Chairman Miriam Coronel Ferrer after Poe disclosed a letter sent by Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan showing photos of leaders and members of the MILF and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) gathering at Camp Akbar Demo Farm in Barangay Punay, Panglima Estino town. The photos were taken starting January 1, 2015.

Tan, in his letter, told the committee that the opening of the MILF camp in Panglima Estino was reportedly facilitated by former Mayor Hadji Munib Estino and his son, incumbent Mayor Benshar Estino. The Estinos reportedly announced the move is intended for the basic training of the Bangsamoro National Guard, a prerequisite to becoming bona fide members of the MILF.

“These recent developments have raised fears among ordinary citizens in the province, instead of hope, after the signing of the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro. More so when the pictures show high-powered firearms being handled by the above-named former and incumbent local officials and their supporters,” Tan said in his letter which was read by Poe during the resumption of the Senate probe into the Mamasapano incident.

“These activities are provocative actions which, to our minds, are inimical to the security of our constituencies and violate the implementing operational guidelines on the cessation of hostilities between the GPH and the MILF,” Tan added.

Iqbal had earlier manifested in the previous hearings that the MILF is not conducting recruitment activities, saying were merely organization of volunteers from various provinces as the MILF prepares for organizing a political party.

“However, if such is true, why are there firearms involved? Are they preparing for war instead?” Tan asked.

When Senate President Franklin Drilon asked MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal to check on the veracity of the photos, the MILF official said he already saw the pictures at the hearing held at the House of Representatives and had vowed that the MILF leadership will look into reports that those in the pictures are MILF members.

MILF CONFIRMS CAMP

“But your honor that area, that municipality is embroiled with political problems. There is an ongoing misunderstanding among the politicians in the area. It has something to do with that,” Iqbal clarified.

Questioned by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Iqbal confirmed the MILF has a camp in Sulu, but “not the one showed in the photos.”

When Drilon turned to ask Deles about the photos, the Cabinet official said they have referred the photos to one of the secretariat of the MILF.

“We have relayed the matter to the MILF secretariat that this is something we have to respond to because we received it on an official basis,” Deles said. She added that the panel has also asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) to verify the pictures.

WHAT HAS THE GOV’T DONE?

“Should the government have not done its own investigations? Isn’t this revealing? We are government. On issues such as this, you are asking the MILF to comment? And of course, the MILF… that is expected of them to deny anything, everything as Mr. Iqbal,” Drilon told Deles.

Deles said the government has done its part and investigated the matter by referring it first to the West Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Ferrer said they asked the ceasefire mechanism of the government to conduct a parallel investigation.

“They have given us a report of what they found out about this and we can provide the Senate with a copy of their response,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer told the government peace panel that they are willing to give the committee details of the report only in an executive session since there are national security issues involved.

Asked if they have provided the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) with copies of the report, Ferrer admitted they did not elevate the report to Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin due to the sensitive nature of the report.

But Drilon pointed out that he finds nothing irregular with revealing the details of the report on the pictures.

“I am asking if you have provided a copy of the report to Secretary Roxas and Secretary Gazmin because in the past five hearings, it is obvious that many of these things happened because of lack of coordination, lack of information, lack of proper reporting,” Drilon said.

SULU POLITICS

“Sir, this issue has to do with Sulu politics and therefore that is part of the context of executive privilege. This is also in compliance with what the Sulu officials have asked us to do. We have done our own investigation,” Ferrer insisted.

Ferrer said the CCCH is already composed of members of the AFP and the PNP and the source of the validation was the Westmincom.

“There are some identified personalities there and there are some private armed groups there in terms of the weaponry and so on, but it’s very sensitive because of the nature of the politics in the area,” Ferrer said.

“What is so sensitive in the politics in the area? (Political) parties are never sensitive,” Drilon retorted.

“Sir, the political alliances that are emerging in time for the 2016 elections,” she responded.

“What is so sensitive about political alliances for 2016? Why is that confidential? Why can’t it be revealed in pubic? Because what is in issue here, as our chair has stated is that apparently there is a continuous build up of arms notwithstanding the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro that we have signed,” Drilon pointed out.

Deles, however, clarified that the government’s first response was to conduct its own investigation on the photos through its own mechanism, before asking the MILF to verify the photos.

When pressed by Drilon to bare the contents of the report, Ferrer insisted the matter is an intelligence information and should be then “treated confidentially.”

DRILON GIVES UP

Drilon gave up after Ferrer’s insistence. “Madam, chair. I submit,” Drilon told Poe.

Deles defended Ferrer, saying that the matter may complicate the ongoing peace process with the MILF.

“Your honor, maybe more correctly, as we know the peace process navigates through a terrain that is not always that certain, not always that black and white, and we prefer, I think your honors, I will say that it is not so preoccupied with the hearings here, this report would have reached me and I would have sent it immediately,” Deles said.

But Poe countered Deles’ assertion, saying they cannot just invoke executive privilege over matters that can hamper criminal or military investigations.

“For the record, I think that it should be clear also that when you invoke certain security concerns it is because you do not want to jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or military operation,” Poe said.

“Technically, we cannot allow you to invoke that unless there is a clear and present danger on the lives also of the constituents within the area… we request you to submit those documents, please,” she added.

Ferrer agreed, saying they will provide the committee a copy of the report.


WORLD: BBC NEWS MIDDLE EAST

Islamic State's position on Christians 7 February 2015 Last updated at 08:25 ET Share


Peoples of other faiths have reason to fear Islamic State

The recent abduction of dozens of Assyrian Christians and the mass beheading of Egyptian Copts at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) militant group raises questions about its stance on Christians, both in the Middle East and worldwide.

While there is a general consensus among Islamic scholars that both Christians and Jews enjoy special status under an Islamic state which guarantees them safety in exchange for paying a special tax and other conditions, IS has recently signalled that this status would be an exception rather than the rule.

When the group announced the beheading of the Copts earlier this month, it said it had acted in revenge for the alleged mistreatment of Coptic women converts to Islam by the Egyptian Coptic Church.

But it also indicated that they had been targeted because they were part of the "nation of the Cross" - an apparent reference to Christians worldwide - which was waging a "Crusader" war against Islam.

This appeared to suggest that all Christians, regardless of their sectarian affiliations, were legitimate targets for IS.

Nevertheless, there is also evidence that the group is willing to tolerate Christian minorities in areas under its control.

'Protected status'

The news was reminiscent of the abduction of the Egyptian Copts in Libya who were subsequently beheaded by IS militants there.

The fact that IS has taken the Assyrians prisoner would suggest they are not accorded protected status. Islamic State militants fighting in clashes around Assyrian Christian villages in Syria


IS fighters have captured Assyrian Christian villages in Syria

It has already signalled its hostility towards the Assyrian Christian prisoners by describing them as "Crusaders".

Unlike other religious minorities - such as the Yazidis - Christians and Jews are generally considered to have protected ("Dhimmi") status because they belong to monotheistic religions like Islam.

But IS appears to view Christians primarily as enemies that must be fought and subdued.

Contrary to the prevailing view in Muslim countries, IS regards Christians as being afforded the protected status of Dhimmis only if they pay a special tax called jizya and fulfil other stringent obligations. Those obligations are subject to IS's own interpretation.

When Islamic State in Iraq (ISI), as it was known at the time, targeted a Catholic church in Baghdad in 2010 it linked the attack with the alleged persecution of Muslim women converts by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

ISI held Iraq's Christians responsible for the Coptic Church's actions by failing to denounce its alleged crimes committed against Muslims.

Shortly afterwards, ISI issued a statement announcing that Iraq's Christians were legitimate targets. A wave of attacks followed in areas with a Christian majority in Iraq.

Nevertheless, Christians have not always been seen as enemies by the group.

A few years earlier, Christian minorities in areas of Iraq that had been under ISI control did enjoy the group's protection. A statement issued by the group's Mosul branch in 2008 referred to a pact concluded with Christian community leaders and ISI.

More recently, in 2014, IS offered similar protection to Christians in its stronghold of Raqqa in Syria and possibly in other areas under the group's control in both Syria and Iraq.

IS gave Christians three options: to convert to Islam; to remain Christian but pay taxes and conform to strict Islamic rules; or to reject the first two options and face war from the group.

But in the latest edition of its English-language magazine Dabiq, the group listed Christians among IS's main enemies.

It said IS advocated jihad against "the Jews, the Christians, the Rafida [Shia] and the proponents of democracy".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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