PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

LOWEST TURNOUT OF EDSA CROWD IN 29 YEARS


HEROES ABOVE ALL Dwarfed by a sculpture of heroes linking arms to defend freedom, President Benigno Aquino III leads the wreath-laying ceremony at the People Power Monument during the 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Wednesday. The bloodless revolt saw people massing at Edsa in Quezon City, to protect soldiers and officials who had withdrawn their support from authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE The 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution was a first in nearly three decades of remembering the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, as protesters outnumbered those who commemorated the historic event on Wednesday. The low turnout is in line with the administration’s low-key celebration of the event. CONTINUE READING...

RIFT BELIED? AFP, PNP walk as one, but ex-President Ramos no-show


Former President Fidel V. Ramos INQUIRER PHOTO/ JOAN BONDOC -- The police and the military’s Unity Walk to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Wednesday betrayed none of the cracks in their relationship that surfaced during the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano fiasco. But the picture of unity was marred by a general’s accusation that the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police chronically ignored the rules of engagement in Moro-controlled areas in Mindanao. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: FVR skips Edsa rites, criticizes PNoy govt


Former President Fidel Ramos and two criminology students do
sit-ups at the Fairview Terraces in Quezon City to commemorate the
29th People Power Revolution. Ralph Piezas and Revoli Cortez
FOR the first time in 29 years, former President Fidel V. Ramos skipped the People Power Revolution anniversary celebration at the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in Quezon City and instead demanded that the Aquino administration come out with the truth on the January 29 Mamasapano incident. Clad in a black shirt and violet cap, both with the insignia of the Special Action Force police commandos, Ramos scoffed at the call of administration allies to “move on” even without definitive findings on the incident that caused the death of 44 police commandos on orders of Malacañang. “Move on ba, kamo? Tuwid na daan ba, kamo? [Did you say ‘move on’? Did you say ‘straight path’?] The road to hell is straight,” the former president said, referring to the call of Senate President Franklin Drilon and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, both leaders of the ruling Liberal Party. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Aquino uses EDSA to push for BBL, peace


The 29th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution also marks the first month since the bloody encounter in Mamasapano.
PHOTO FROM MANILA TODAY FACEBOOK TIMELINE - PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday used the 29th anniversary commemoration of the EDSA “people power” to push for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and call for support to the peace process in Mindanao. He said it would be the best way of re-living the spirit of the peaceful revolution of 1986. Aquino’s call came amid finger-pointing among government officials, accusations of lying, and unanswered questions surrounding the death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25. CONTINUE READING..

ALSO EDSA 29: A day of indignation


The 29th anniversary of the bloodless people power revolution became a day of indignation yesterday as multi-sectoral groups in the thousands marched on the very pavement where democracy was won – this time demanding the resignation of President Aquino, the son of democracy icon, the late President Corazon Aquino.
Angry protesters held President Aquino responsible for the death of 44 commandos of the Special Action Force in the day-long clash exactly a month ago yesterday and demanded that he step down for “betraying the nation.” Leading the march was the youth group Anakbayan, which unfurled streamers on the People Power Monument saying “Game Over, Noynoy” and displayed images of blood-stained yellow ribbons, symbol of the 1986 uprising that raised his mother to power. READ MORE....

ALSO: The widows of Mamasapano


Rohaima Angkay, one of the widows of the slain Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters ----“MY husband is gone.” This was the lamentation of Rohaima Angkay, one of the widows of the slain Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters during the botched operation of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano in Maguindanao on January 25. “Now that he is dead, how will we be able to survive?” the mother of two very young kids — the youngest only 3 months old– asked to the members of a fact-finding mission Monday afternoon in Tukanalipao. CONTINUE READNG...

ALSO by Emil Jurado: No justice, no accountability


PHOTO COURTESY OF MANILA TODAY FACEBOOK --It’s exactly one month today when 44 police commandos were slaughtered at Mamasapano, Maguindanao by a combined force of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Fighters and armed Moro villagers. And after a month, we are not nearer the truth. Justice and accountability seem so remote. What can you expect from a President who refuses to accept responsibility? What can you also expect from from the MILF which insists that the clash was a misencounter? The MILF insist that the police commandos did not ask the Moro rebels permission to enter its “territory”. It was a matter of self-defense on our part, the Moro rebels keep on saying. Santa Banana, that’s baloney! The MILF had been coddling Marwan and Usman for years! So how in the world can the grieving wives and relatives seek justice when the perpetrators of the slaughter refuse to accept responsibility and blame? CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Lowest turnout of Edsa crowd in 29 years


HEROES ABOVE ALL Dwarfed by a sculpture of heroes linking arms to defend freedom, President Benigno Aquino III leads the wreath-laying ceremony at the People Power Monument during the 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Wednesday. The bloodless revolt saw people massing at Edsa in Quezon City, to protect soldiers and officials who had withdrawn their support from authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, MARCH 2, 2015 (INQUIRER) Erika Sauler, Jovic Yee, Nikko Dizon - The 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution was a first in nearly three decades of remembering the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, as protesters outnumbered those who commemorated the historic event on Wednesday.

The low turnout is in line with the administration’s low-key celebration of the event.

Asked about the thin crowd, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. quoted Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa: “This year’s celebration was made simple in view of the mourning period for those who died in Mamasapano last month. For the first time in five years, the holding of a Mass was a focal point of the celebration.”

“This is to acknowledge that the Filipinos’ faith in God was a major element in the peaceful revolution,” Coloma said.

In fact, the number of presidential guards as well as the VIPs invited to the event nearly equaled the crowd that stood in front of the stage bedecked in yellow flowers.

Coloma added that a “bigger celebration is planned for the 30th anniversary celebration next year, which will be the last to be held in the Aquino administration.”

Under the scorching heat of the sun, about a hundred civilians participated in the “short and simple” wreath-laying ceremony led by President Aquino at the People Power Monument.

‘It was so simple’

“It was so simple. Only a few people attended, whereas before there were thousands,” Luzviminda de la Rosa of the Department of Education (DepEd)-Special Events told the Inquirer.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the DepEd usually mobilized people for the Edsa celebration. This year they were told a crowd would not be needed for the simple wreath-laying, but at the last minute they called some students to join the audience, De la Rosa said.

About 20 teachers and 50 students came, mostly from Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo High School. “Most of our classmates were not allowed by their parents because of possible disturbances due to the rallies,” a student told the Inquirer.

First month of debacle

At the foot of the Santolan flyover on the southbound lane of Edsa, some 3,000 members of multisectoral groups calling for Mr. Aquino’s resignation over the Mamasapano debacle were blocked by a police barricade.

The Edsa anniversary came a month after the Mamasapano debacle, the biggest challenge to the leadership of Mr. Aquino as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief.

The Mamasapano bloodbath has spawned several protests demanding truth, accountability and justice.

Unlike other Edsa anniversaries, the “Yellow Army” was sparse.

Members of the Cabinet led by Ochoa were in attendance and so were personalities like former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Edsa heroes missing

But the prominent Edsa heroes were missing, notably former President Fidel V. Ramos, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former Sen. Butz Aquino, the President’s uncle.

Enrile is detained in Camp Crame on plunder charges while Butz Aquino is reportedly indisposed.

Perhaps the most heartfelt reminder of Edsa were the songs like “Magkaisa” that filled the air before and after the arrival of President Aquino, whose mother, Corazon, became the central inspiring figure of the peaceful revolution that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Coloma said Ramos presided over the wreath-laying at Libingan ng mga Bayani on Tuesday, “which was part of the official celebration.”

Ramos has been critical of Mr. Aquino following the Mamasapano incident that took down international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” but left dead 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, and five civilians, and imperiled government’s peace process with the MILF.

Every Edsa anniversary celebration, Ramos would also repeat his famous jump on stage, celebrating the departure of Marcos and his family from Malacañang.

Binay in Atom short

One Edsa veteran, Vice President Jejomar Binay, arrived wearing a yellow August Twenty One Movement (Atom) shirt bearing the figure of the President’s father, Ninoy, prone on the ground with red paint, symbolizing the blood spilled on his assassination on Aug. 21, 1983.

But Binay was apparently sidelined in the event, with organizers asking him to stand with the crowd instead of onstage.

The President arrived at the People Power Monument at 11:30 a.m. and stayed for the 15-minute program that included the laying of a yellow wreath in commemoration of the country’s fallen heroes that include the 44 police commandos.

The highlight of the short event was the unity walk of the 300 policemen and 300 soldiers from Camp Crame to the monument, reenacting the Ramos-Enrile meeting.

Indignation rally

What was supposed to be an interfaith prayer turned into an indignation rally as the police prevented protesters from forming a human chain from Camp Crame to Edsa Shrine.

Religious groups led by the Promotion of Church People’s Response and the National Council of Churches of the Philippines planned to form a human chain as a “link for justice” together with the multisectoral groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

The human chain was supposed to occupy only one lane of Edsa southbound but the police barricade blocked all lanes and caused traffic congestion.

Freedom curtailed

Leticia Buhawi, Alona Philippines Association secretary general, said the strict security measures somehow “curtailed our freedom to assembly and expression.”

While the group of around 100, composed mostly of women and children in white T-shirts, didn’t have protest materials with them, but they were barred by police from getting near the Edsa Shrine after they started to crowd in front of a mall a few minutes before the President arrived.

“We’re just here to celebrate and commemorate [the] Edsa [anniversary], to hear Mass,” Buhawi told the Inquirer. She added that the San Bartolome, Novaliches-based group, which advocates women’s and children’s rights, wore white as a symbol of the “purity of our intention.”

Business process outsourcing employee Cris felt that “the solemnity of the occasion has been lost.” The 30-year-old asked: “Doesn’t freedom of speech and expression symbolize the Edsa [People Power Revolution]?”

Songs, dances, speeches

The Edsa anniversary was also celebrated in other parts of the country.

Angeles City in Pampanga province remembered the anniversary through songs, dances and speeches at Marquee Mall on Tuesday night.

Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, regional secretary general of Bayan in 1986, recalled the human barricades in the neighboring towns of Bamban in Tarlac province and Mabalacat in Pampanga that blocked the advance of military reinforcements to Manila on Feb. 24, 1986.

Zumba, basketball

Protest rallies urging Mr. Aquino to step down and physical fitness gatherings through Zumba and a basketball tournament that both called for peace and unity marked the dual moods in southern Luzon, particularly in Albay province and in Laguna province, as various groups marked the 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution.

Militant groups held protest marches in Legazpi City, in front of the capitol in Sorsogon City, Plaza Quince Martirez in Naga City and the “Elevated Plaza” in Daet town, urging the President to step down.

In contrast, the PNP was in a celebratory mood. Around 200 policemen in Albay and 50 civilian employees of PNP offices joined a “unity Zumba” that formed part of the annual Cagsawa Festival held every February in Daraga town.

SAF widow at protest rally

In Cebu City, Dr. Christine Abucay-Cempron did not usually join protest rallies and was not a member of any militant organization during her student days at the University of Philippines Cebu College. But on Wednesday, she joined militant groups in a rally.

Cempron, 33, widow of PO1 Romeo Cempron, one of the slain 44 police commandos, joined the call for the President to resign.

“They say that this SAF 44 issue is overly emotional. We, Filipinos, are very emotional. They forgot what we are commemorating today, the emotions that we had to deal with. People Power I was made possible because of the people’s emotions at that time, right? This emotion that we feel has united us and allowed us to open our eyes to the different issues that we continue to endure,” she said in front of Camp Sergio Osmeña, the Central Visayas police headquarters.

Cempron wore a black shirt printed with the image of her husband as she marched with protesters led by Bayan-Central Visayas from Fuente Osmeña to Colon Street. Like other protesters, she wore around her head a red ribbon printed with “Resign.”

Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz

In Iloilo City, about 500 protesters led by Bayan held a protest rally along Bonifacio Drive before marching on the city’s main streets.

Youth and student groups also held candle-lighting protests on Tuesday evening in the provinces of Iloilo, Aklan and Capiz to call for accountability and justice for those who died in the Mamasapano clashes. With reports from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Ma. April Mier and Romulo Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Carmel Loise Matus, Jhunnex Napallacan and Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas


INQUIRER

RIFT BELIED? AFP, PNP walk as one but ex-President Ramos no-show Cynthia D. Balana, Gil C. Cabacungan, Jaymee T. Gamil | Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:07 AM | Thursday, February 26th, 2015


Former President Fidel V. Ramos INQUIRER PHOTO/ JOAN BONDOC

The police and the military’s Unity Walk to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Wednesday betrayed none of the cracks in their relationship that surfaced during the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano fiasco.

But the picture of unity was marred by a general’s accusation that the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police chronically ignored the rules of engagement in Moro-controlled areas in Mindanao.

Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr.,chair of the Philippine government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said the PNP’s “ceasefire-damaging” and “blatant disregard” of ceasefire mechanisms in its law enforcement operations had created “enmity” between the police and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and “friction” between commanders of the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He made this accusation in a seven-page assessment of the Mamasapano debacle that he submitted to the AFP chief of staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, on Feb. 4.

But this wrinkle in PNP-AFP relations was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday.

Police and military personnel, numbering around 300 each and converging at the MRT Santolan station, gamely marched and linked arms on the Edsa northbound lane, to join commemoration activities at the People Power Monument where President Aquino laid a wreath Wednesday morning.

Asked if the walk was a bid to belie the rift between the PNP and the AFP, Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, AFP Civil Relations Service head, said, “I don’t think so.”

Shining moment

Kakilala, who led the military contingent in the Unity Walk, said: “This is just to celebrate the [29th] Edsa anniversary, to celebrate when the nation gained its democracy in 1986. It was a shining moment for the country. We became a model [for other countries].”

Chief Supt. Nestor Quinsay Jr., head of the Police Community Relations Group, who was at the forefront of the police contingent during the Unity Walk, echoed Kakilala’s statements.

“This is to celebrate the Edsa anniversary, but also to show to our citizens that the AFP and PNP have strong, solid ties. It’s not true that we have a rift. And [the Edsa anniversary] is the perfect time to show that,” Quinsay said.

The soldiers came out of Camp Aguinaldo’s Gate 2 and met with some 300 policemen who were coming out of Camp Crame. It was the first time that former President Fidel Ramos did not join the unity march.

Reenactment

Quinsay noted that the Unity Walk was like a reenactment of the joining of forces by police and military units in the rebellion against the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

Kakilala marched arm in arm with the SAF officer in charge, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, who he said was his classmate at the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984. Taliño led at least 11 SAF personnel in the Unity Walk.

Kakilala and Taliño were chatting and smiling before the Unity Walk pushed out toward the People Power Monument at 10:30 a.m.

Military and police security detailed along the way, at the flanks of the marching contingent, also linked arms as the Unity Walk marchers passed them.

A police brass band lent a festive air to the march.

Whatever tension there was among the ranks dissipated before the walk started. Officials in front were told off by a barong-clad organizer with a megaphone for linking arms too early. This prompted a ripple of laughter from the officials’ subordinates and gibes of “Praktis lang! (Just practicing!)”

Though the heat of the sun obviously left the Unity Walk participants uncomfortable, prompting them to seek shelter at the MRT Santolan station, once the march pushed through, the marchers were able to keep a steady, unified cadence.

Participants could be seen breaking out into grins, as they passed colleagues and the media on the sidelines.

In his report on the Mamasapano debacle, Galvez said the “ceasefire-damaging” history of the PNP surfaced anew when it launched the mission to arrest Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and Filipino bomb maker Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which was executed with “extreme secrecy.”

Galvez said the military, local police and the CCCH were not informed until 5:30 a.m. of Jan. 25 when the SAF was “already heavily engaged.”

Snafu

He said he got wind of the snafu at 6:38 a.m. from the MILF representative in the CCCH, Rashid Lidiasan.

Galvez reckoned that while the ceasefire mechanism succeeded in containing the firefight in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, it failed in preventing the unnecessary loss of lives of 44 PNP-SAF troops and 22 Moro rebels and civilians.

Galvez noted that the CCCH was informed two hours after the SAF had reached its target which was why the crisis committee was formed only six hours later.

He blamed the SAF for “intentionally withholding information” on the ground that “greatly affected and restrained our mediation and negotiations for a ceasefire.”

He said the situation became even more complicated with the presence of the MILF, Moro bandits and private armed groups in the area.

Galvez said that in the two years the ceasefire agreement was in effect, the military faithfully complied with the existing mechanisms.

“The SAF in particular conducts LEOs (law enforcement operations) in areas with MILF communities and base commands without prior coordination and complete disregard of the existing ceasefire agreements,” said Galvez.

He cited two SAF missions in Maguindanao in 2013 and 2014, and one mission in Lanao in 2012 where the PNP did not coordinate with the military. “These nearly caused open armed confrontations between PNP forces and the MILF, and jeopardized the ongoing peace process,” said Galvez.

Galvez said that during the term of Lt. Gen. Rey C. Ardo, who was the commander of the 6th Infantry Division from 2011 to 2012, the SAF was “very persistent” in arresting Usman in the same general area of the encounter site in the Linguasan Marsh complex.

Rejected three times

Ardo rejected SAF’s plans on three occasions because the 6th ID believed that the mission would “pose colossal risks” to the peace process and lead to “unacceptable, anticipated heavy casualties” due to its close proximity to the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter areas, and the “swampy killer” terrain.

Galvez was appointed to the CCCH in July last year in place of Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, the head of the 6th Infantry Kampila Division in Camp Siongco, Datu Ondin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.


MANILA STANDARD

FVR skips Edsa rites, criticizes PNoy govt By Francisco Tuyay | Feb. 26, 2015 at 12:01am



Former President Fidel Ramos and two criminology students do
sit-ups at the Fairview Terraces in Quezon City to commemorate the
29th People Power Revolution. Ralph Piezas and Revoli Cortez

FOR the first time in 29 years, former President Fidel V. Ramos skipped the People Power Revolution anniversary celebration at the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in Quezon City and instead demanded that the Aquino administration come out with the truth on the January 29 Mamasapano incident.

Clad in a black shirt and violet cap, both with the insignia of the Special Action Force police commandos, Ramos scoffed at the call of administration allies to “move on” even without definitive findings on the incident that caused the death of 44 police commandos on orders of Malacañang.

“Move on ba, kamo? Tuwid na daan ba, kamo? [Did you say ‘move on’? Did you say ‘straight path’?] The road to hell is straight,” the former president said, referring to the call of Senate President Franklin Drilon and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, both leaders of the ruling Liberal Party.

Drilon made the call after the Senate concluded its probe into the incident on Tuesday and said Aquino no longer needed to explain anything because it was clear in the Senate hearings that resigned Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima disobeyed orders.

“I don’t think there is anything more to explain. It is clear that the President gave specific instructions, which if followed, maybe this unfortunate incident would not have happened, and particularly on the coordination,” Drilon told reporters in an ambush interview.

Roxas also urged Filipinos to move on at the conclusion of the Senate probe.

“The Senate has concluded its inquiry into the Mamasapano tragedy. Therefore, let us all move forward,” Roxas said, appealing to the public to stop blaming Aquino and calling for his resignation over the Mamasapano incident.

Ramos, who co-founded the SAF during his tour as chief of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary in 1983, encouraged the public to “fight for the truth” and link arms in cleaning up Philippine society.

“We should clean up society,” Ramos said. “Not only Mamasapano, but also the [Disbursement Acceleration Program] at [Priority Development Assistance Fund],” two of the corruption issues that has hounded the Aquino administration’s “straight path” policy.

“Yung sinasabing daan na matuwid ay baluktot na ngayon [The so-called straight path have become crooked,” Ramos said as he slammed Aquino’s supporters, whom he called “the yellow army” for excluding the Filipino people from the EDSA celebration.

Noting that there were more policemen and soldiers at Wednesday’s EDSA celebration, Ramos said “the people has been left out. It’s only the yellow army that is taking advantage of the situation.”

Ramos also hit several moves of the Aquino administration, particularly the ouster of Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona and the jailing of former President Gloria Arroyo.


Quit call. Protesters urge President Benigno Aquino III to resign at a rally in Cebu City to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.

“That is not part of nation-building, but war-making,” said the former leader.

But Ramos warned against precipitate calls for Aquino’s resignation because “baka sino naman diyan ang papalit [he may be succeeded by someone worse].”

The 86-year-old Ramos, who was president from 1992 to 1998, was one of the key leaders of the 1986 People Power Revolution, along with then Defense Minister (now Senator) Juan Ponce Enrile and the Aquino’s paternal uncle Agapito “Butz” Aquino.

Both Enrile, who is detained at nearby Camp Crame while under trial over the pork barrel scandal, and Butz Aquino were absent from Wednesday’s commemoration.

On the eve of the of the celebration, Aquino’s maternal uncle and former Tarlac congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. said he regretted supporting his nephew and announced he would support the presidential bid of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016.

In an interview with a news program of the ABS-CBN television network, Cojuangco even urged his nephew to resign in order to preserve the gains of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

“I think I did my part in restoring the democracy in the country and I don’t want to lose it,” Conjuangco answered when asked to explain why he has withdrawn support for his own nephew.

“I feel that I owe it to the country. I owe it to the people. I served the people from being a congressman and as a private citizen.

At the same time, Cojuangco denied that he and his, former Tarlac governor Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, started criticizing the Aquino administration because he was not given a position in the government.

“I do not live for politics. I have my own things to do,” said Cojuangco, who is now the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.


MALAYA

Aquino uses EDSA to push for BBL, peace By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR on February 26, 2015


The 29th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution also marks the first month since the bloody encounter in Mamasapano. - ANC, The World Tonight, February 25, 2015

PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday used the 29th anniversary commemoration of the EDSA “people power” to push for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and call for support to the peace process in Mindanao.

He said it would be the best way of re-living the spirit of the peaceful revolution of 1986. Aquino’s call came amid finger-pointing among government officials, accusations of lying, and unanswered questions surrounding the death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro autonomous region in Mindanao. It is provided in a peace agreement signed last year by Aquino’s government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front whose fighters killed the 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force.

The MILF had said its fighters were forced to fight back because the SAF commandos entered its territory in barangay Tukanalipao. The MILF was aided by members of its supposed breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, during the clash against the SAF men.

The Mamasapano clash led to a suspension of Congress deliberations on the BBL that Malacañang wants passed in the first quarter of this year. Aquino, in a speech after a Thanksgiving Mass at the Mary, Queen of Peace/Our Lady of EDSA Shrine in Quezon City, said trust, compassion, love and peace were the keys to ending the chaos in 1986 and the successful conduct of the EDSA “revolution” then. Aquino said these should also be the key to addressing the disarray in Mindanao, which was aggravated by the Mamasapano incident.

“Magkukulang po ako kung hindi ko ipapaalala sa lahat na, sa mga panahon ng dalamhati, hindi tayo nag-iisa, at may ibang daan. Sa harap ng mga video na nagpapakita ng karahasan, sa harap ng galit na maaaring mamuo sa ating mga puso, kailangan nating ipaalala: Mas makapangyarihan pa rin ang tiwala, ang malasakit, ang pag-ibig, ang kapayapaan,” he said.

He related the death of the SAF 44 to the 1983 assassination of his father, Benigno Aquino Jr., when, he said, he wanted to exact revenge on those responsible for his father’s death. He said he felt hatred when he saw a photograph of the almost unrecognizable face of his father after he was shot, and of how his body was handled and transported to a waiting van.

He said his feelings changed when he saw the solidarity of the Filipinos who went to the Aquino home on Times Street after the assassination, and when they went to EDSA three years later, in a show of support for his family and to push for reforms and freedom.

The President said he made the recollection, including showing the photos and footage of his father’s death, not to draw sympathy but to stress the lessons of EDSA and how it should continue to be applied now following the Mamasapano incident. Aquino and recently resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima are being blamed for the bungling of the SAF operation because it had not been coordinated with the military, among others.

The operation, which had been kept from top security officials, was reportedly under the supervision of Purisima who has been under suspension since December 4 for graft charges. The killing of the SAF 44 has blown up into Aquino’s biggest political crisis. Some lawmakers, Catholic bishops and civil society groups have called on him to resign because of what they see as his poor handling of the conflict. Aquino said the country had to seize the opportunity for peace.

“To all those calling for a stop to the peace process, and to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we ask: How can they guarantee that such an opportunity will present itself once more?” he asked.

Aquino said everyone is obliged to pursue peace. “It is only by realizing a just and lasting peace that we can say that the sacrifices of those who fought in EDSA -- together with those who gave their lives to put an end to the sowing of fear and violence in society -- were worth it,” he said, referring to the “People Power” uprising.

The 45-year insurgency by the MILF has killed 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth in the poor but resource-rich south.


MANILA BULLETIN

EDSA 29: A day of indignation by Chito A. Chavez February 26, 2015


LIBU-LIBONG TAO ANG NAGMARTSA PATUNGONG CAMP CRAME UPANG MAGPROTESTA---FACEBOOK PHOTO

The 29th anniversary of the bloodless people power revolution became a day of indignation yesterday as multi-sectoral groups in the thousands marched on the very pavement where democracy was won – this time demanding the resignation of President Aquino, the son of democracy icon, the late President Corazon Aquino.

Angry protesters held President Aquino responsible for the death of 44 commandos of the Special Action Force in the day-long clash exactly a month ago yesterday and demanded that he step down for “betraying the nation.”

Leading the march was the youth group Anakbayan, which unfurled streamers on the People Power Monument saying “Game Over, Noynoy” and displayed images of blood-stained yellow ribbons, symbol of the 1986 uprising that raised his mother to power.

“Aquino clearly betrayed the nation. To please the United States, he directed the Mamasapano offensive which led to the death of at least 69 people. He allowed Filipinos to be used as cannon-fodder in the US war,” Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said.

Crisostomo assailed the “desperate attempts to cover-up and whitewash Aquino’s criminal accountability in the Mamasapano offensive.”

“Aquino’s web of lies can no longer be untangled. His time is up. In the language that the president would better understand: it is game over, Noynoy. Time to step down,” he added.

Crisostomo called on youth groups to work for a “new people power” to force Aquino to resign.

“Aquino is delirious if he still believes People Power is about him and his family. People power is the Filipino people’s collective weapon against injustice, oppression and lies. We call on students to walkout and work to encircle the Palace and force Aquino to resign,” Crisostomo added.

He said a “transition council” could take over to pave the way for meaningful reforms and fair elections.

“We cannot allow more people to die under Aquino’s misrule. We cannot let impunity and injustices continue. Let us launch big protests, encircle Malacañang and wage people power,” Crisostomo dared.

He called on youth and students to stage a walkout and continue to express their displeasure by marching to Malacañang on February 27.


PWERSA NG KAPULISAN OF THE AQUINO GOVT

PREPARE DEFENSE

Even campus scribes urged Aquino to quit.

Thousands of campus journalists belonging to the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) called on Aquino to admit his liability in the botched Mamasapano operation.

The campus journalists massed at the EDSA Shrine and called for Aquino to quit and prepare for his defense defense when he is asked to explain his indispensable collaboration in the conduct of Operation Exodus, the SAF operation to arrest or kill Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his Filipino understudy Basit Usman, who was wounded in the engagement.

CEGP national president Marc Lino Abila said it is also an irony that the day which brought Aquino’s mother to power is also the day 29 years later that the people expressed their wrath against her own son

“In retrospect, the spirit of EDSA centers on the mass movement, the people, and not Cory Aquino. Thus, the People Power anniversary is the right venue to manifest the people’s disgust over the deceptive, inefficient and vicious Aquino administration,” Abila said.

“The recent bloodbath at Mamasapano illustrates the incapacity of the current President to offer and win a just and lasting peace. It also manifests Aquino puppetry to US dictates,” Abila added.

CORRUPTION STILL PRESENT

Groups from Southern Tagalog region with the same resignation call also trooped to Manila to stage their own protest at the Mabuhay Rotunda.

But before proceeding to the Rotunda, Kapayapaan-Southern Tagalog group formed a human chain in Baclaran church early morning calling for Aquino’s accountability and the truth behind the deadly Mamasapano clash.

“Almost 30 years after EDSA 1, history is repeating itself where people are once again uprising for truth and accountability, this time over Noynoy Aquino’s gross incompetence and rabid subservience to his US masters. After selling-out our sovereignty with the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, sacrificing the lives of Filipinos, both police and civilians is not only a grave insult to the families of the victims but also a mockery of justice,” Rev. Gil Sediarin, Kapayapaan spokesman said.

Flor Chan, spokesperson of the Southern Tagalog Resign Movement for Aquino (ST Remove Aquino) said the Aquino administration is full of issues such as graft and corruption in the pork barrel and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) scam. This aside from escalating human rights abuses and the policies that push more Filipinos into poverty and suffering.

After two people power uprising, it is about time that we step-up again and fulfill the failed and long-overdue promises of EDSA ,” Chan emphasized.

OWN UP

But the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the country’s largest labor group did not support resignation calls for Aquino but challenged the beleaguered president to be man enough to accept and take command responsibility over the unfortunate Mamasapano massacre.

“The nation expects the president to stand by the PNP-SAF. The PNP-SAF deserves nothing less. The people expect him to lead from the front and receive our quiet gratitude in good times and be accountable when things go wrong. We urge Mr. Aquino to take responsibility because in a constitutional democracy, the buck stops with the President. And in our culture, he is the “Father of our Nation. It comes with the territory. The people want him to lead from the front and he must take the lead in providing justice to our fallen 44,” TUCP-Nagkaisa spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.

Tanjusay said that Aquino should exact accountability from the MILF who are also Filipinos and who are not above the country’s laws.

“We need the President to publicly require and demand the MILF leadership to surrender the MILF fighters who participated in the killings and surrender suspected terrorist Basit Abdul Usman to the fold of the law,’’ Tanjusay said.

TRAFFIC OUTRAGE

While the Palace declared a holiday for schools, it was a normal working day and motorists and commuters were fuming mad at the terrible traffic that clogged streets starting early morning after the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) closed the northbound stretch of EDSA from Shaw Blvd. to Santolan midnight Tuesday. Aside from this, perpendicular roads were also closed to traffic.

The closure caught drivers, motorists and commuters were surprise. Workers were seen walking to their destinations when traffic stalled for hours.

Three six-by-six trucks were deployed to ferry those stranded but were not much of help.

As of press time yesterday, EDSA was still a huge parking lot and traffic was not moving along P. Tuazon, Quezon Avenue, Araneta Avenue, Dimasalang, and Aurora Boulevard.

The public took to MMDA’s official page on Facebook over the agency’s traffic management plan.

Some said the government should have declared Wednesday a holiday because of the heavy traffic.

“Please help us understand why it’s not a holiday. All I can think of is the small group in the celebration while the rest of the Metro are unproductively stuck in traffic. If it’s a holiday, more can participate at the commemoration venue or watch it at home on TV,” said Kat Turingan.

Joseph Ramirez, commented, “Today is a school holiday but it is difficult for people working to commute going to work. Lifting the number coding today would have helped a lot of people in travelling to and from work.”

Others urged the MMDA to be more considerate of employees working the night shift and advise the public ahead of time. (With reports from Jenny F. Manongdo, Samuel P. Medenilla and Anna Liza Villas Alavaren)


MANILA TODAY ONLINE

The widows of Mamasapano FEATURES Feb 15, 2015 A contribution by Kilab Mutimedia


Rohaima Angkay, one of the widows of the slain Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters

“MY husband is gone.”

This was the lamentation of Rohaima Angkay, one of the widows of the slain Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters during the botched operation of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano in Maguindanao on January 25.

“Now that he is dead, how will we be able to survive?” the mother of two very young kids — the youngest only 3 months old– asked to the members of a fact-finding mission Monday afternoon in Tukanalipao.

Still grieving over the death of her husband, Angkay recounted the events on that fateful Sunday morning when members of police elite commandos stormed their village at dawn.

She said the SAF fired the shots first. What the MILF did, she said, was an act of self defense.

“Had they (SAF), before entering, coordinated with the LGU and the MILF, the bloodshed would have been avoided. Had they coordinated with the MILF, the capture of Marwan would have not been tragic.”

The police commandos intended to serve the warrant of arrest against Jeemah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli Bin Hamir, alias Marwan, and Filipino bomb-maker Basit Usman.

The incident, however, resulted in the death of 44 elite members of the Police, 17 MILF members, and four civilians.


Widow Lyn Lyn Sandigan carry her youngest child Widow Lyn Lyn Sandigan carrying her youngest child

Not less than 1,500 individuals left Mamasapano because of fear of being caught in the crossfire, an exodus in the face of alleged human rights violations on civilians committed by the police commandos.

Another widow, Lyn Lyn Sandigan, poured out her grief as she carries her youngest child.

“It hurts to lose a husband and be left alone with my children,” she said. ” Our dream is simple: we only wanted peace, even if my husband was a rebel.”

She recalled hearing a staccato of gunfire around 5 am January 25.

“We woke up from the sounds of gunshots and my husband immediately went out, took the banca, and paddled to where the battle was.”

Sarah Langalen, the wife of Badrudin, the farmer whose body was found close to the Tukanalipao bridge after the firefight subsided, alleged that the police commandos captured her husband who was on his way home.

Her husband’s body bore torture marks — his eyes gouged out. The wife only learned of his death at 6 pm.

“He suffered a terrible, painful death,” she said, noting that her husband was found hogtied in the cornfields close to the bridge.


Widow Sarah Langalen together with her children Widow Sarah Langalen together with her children

Sarah never saw the corpse of her husband because the elders has it buried. It is in the Moro culture to bury their dead before nightfall.

The widows are now calling for justice as they join those who call for accountability. Zaida Canidbar, a resident of Tukanalipao, the community was peaceful before the SAF’s “assault.:

“We also had our share of deaths,” she said. “We share the pain of the widows of the 44 slain elements of SAF.”


Widow Zaida Canidbar: “We also had our share of deaths." Widow Zaida Canidbar: “We also had our share of deaths.”

People’s Fact Finding Mission

Human rights lawyer Beverly Musni of Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) said the police operation apparently disregarded the possible impact it would have to the civilian residents of the village.

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan shared the same observation. “There was nothing to indicate that the operation did take into consideration the safety of the civilians in the area,” Ilagan said.

Psycho-social treatment

According to the Children’s rehabilitation Center, fear is still being felt by the residents of the village, especially by the children.

“Fear and trauma manifest especially during night time,” said Rius Valle. “Children think what happened on January 25 will happen again.”

Because of the incident, only 100 out of 600 school children have returned to school.

The group Suara Bangsamoro earlier noted the violation committed by the government of the Philippines of the ceasefire agreement and its disregard of the operation’s implication on the peace negotiations, particularly on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Philippine lawmakers already suspended deliberations of the BBL pending the results of the investigation on the Mamasapano incident.

“Peace in Mindanao and the peace process were sabotaged by the government of the Philippines and the US government,” said Suara Bangsamoro National President Amirah Lidasan.

The Senate is currently conducting a probe on the carnage. However, nothing about the death of the civilians has been discussed yet. Kilab Multimedia


A people's fact finding mission was conducted at the Municipality of Mamasapano.


MANILA STANDARD

No justice, no accountability By Emil Jurado | Feb. 25, 2015 at 12:01am


EDITORIAL CARTOON: PRESIDENTIAL LOGIC --PHNO POST COURTESY OF MANILA TODAY ONLINE

It’s exactly one month today when 44 police commandos were slaughtered at Mamasapano, Maguindanao by a combined force of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Fighters and armed Moro villagers.

And after a month, we are not nearer the truth. Justice and accountability seem so remote.

What can you expect from a President who refuses to accept responsibility? What can you also expect from from the MILF which insists that the clash was a misencounter?

The MILF insist that the police commandos did not ask the Moro rebels permission to enter its “territory”.

It was a matter of self-defense on our part, the Moro rebels keep on saying. Santa Banana, that’s baloney! The MILF had been coddling Marwan and Usman for years!

So how in the world can the grieving wives and relatives seek justice when the perpetrators of the slaughter refuse to accept responsibility and blame?

And how can the nation, in pain and anguish over the Fallen 44, expect justice from a President who refuses to accept accountability as the head of the nation? From Day One, he was aware of so-called Oplan Exodus.

All along, President Aquino had his former bodyguard, suspended and resigned police chief Alan Purisima, on top of the operation.

We have no less than eight investigations going on the same time to find the truth and seek justice and accountability, but at the rate they are going, we may never find out the truth.

There’s the PNP Board of Inquiry. But, my gulay, will the President ever be held accountable since the PNP is under him? He broke the chain of command.

There are also the Senate and the House of Representatives conducting investigations. The latter has since suspended hearing because it was getting to be a circus. The Senate on the other hand, has found out that there was no coordination at all between the police commandos and the armed forces that was stationed not far away despite frantic calls from the SAF who were being slaughtered.

My gulay, and to think that the firefight lasted 10 hours! That means that the Armed Forces is to blame for the slaughter when it could have been minimized.

Santa Banana, even the President was found to be misinformed when Purisima, who was at his mansion in Nueva Ecija at that time and resting, texted the President that artillery and mechanized reinforcement had already been sent to Mamasapano. My gulay, that’s unforgivable. And where in the would you find police commandos and armed forces relying on mere text messages? How Jurassic can we be?

With President Aquino so insensitive, scolding the widows who were only seeking justice, we should not expect too much.

No wonder civil society, the clergy, academicians, students and even the President’s uncle, Peping Cojuangco and aunt-in-law Tingting Cojuangco are getting restive. While all these may not amount to a coup, this should prompt Mr. Aquino to think and reflect -- that is, if he is even capable of doing so.

***

The big question now is: What will the MILF, which considers itself still a “revolutionary organization” until the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, do if the Bangsamoro Basic Law, is not enacted into law before President Aquino steps down?

MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal answered the question when he said “we are ready for it,” meaning that the Moro rebels will continue to be at war with government. In fact, the MILF has been preparing for war with its continued recruitment and training of its 10,000 fully-armed rebels. My gulay, the MILF even has its own factory of high-powered firearms, although reports say that Malaysia keeps on shipping arms to the MILF through Sabah.

This just shows you the duplicity of the MILF. While talking peace with the government, they are in fact gearing for war.

What I am worried about, however, is that government peace negotiators like Miriam Coronel Ferrer and Teresita Deles have become MILF spokesperson to the extent of coming out with statements that they are willing to compromise with the MILF just to have the BBL enacted by Congress.

The bottom line here is sincerity and trust. Can we still trust the Moro rebels that slaughtered 44 police commandos who were simply sent on a mission to serve arrest warrants on two terrorists?

So, what will government do if the BBL is not enacted? Analysts say that it must exert all efforts to have all stakeholders, not only the MILF, enter a peace agreement. It was a mistake for President Aquino in the first place to talk only with the MILF when there are so many other stakeholders that are crying out for peace.

This may take some time, but it’s worth all the effort. We have seen how untrustworthy the MILF has become.

***

While the nation’s focus is on the pursuit of justice and accountability for the Fallen 44, let us not be diverted from other critical problems which are mounting.

There’s far instance, the report of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency that of the 1,706 barangays in Metro Manila, just over 130 may now be considered drug-free.

About 92 percent of the villages in the National Capital Region are “drug-affected” or found to have drug-users, manufacturers, peddlers or “cultivators” in their areas. Metro Manila remains the worst among the regions, followed by Calabarzon where 33.78 percent of the barangays were declared drug-affected. But, nationwide, only 20.51 percent of the country’s 42,065 barangays is considered significantly affected by the drug menace. The drug of choice or the most used narcotic remains to be shabu and marijuana, which are still considered affordable.

I am alarmed at this. Aren’t you?

MANILA STANDARD TODAY COLUMNIST


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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