PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

15,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED BY CLASHES IN CENTRAL MINDANAO


A woman holds her baby at an evacuation center in Pagalungan, Maguindanao. (photo by Jo Henry)
- The Philippine military's all-out offensive against Muslim militants in Central Mindanao has displaced at least 3,000 families or 15,000 people, a senior government official said today. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said this was a report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has launched operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group in the country. READ MORE...

ALSO: Give Mindanao peace a chance; Aquino, Binay, Church, multi-sectoral groups unite for Bangsamoro law


‘WE ARE ONE’ – Arm-in-arm, a phalanx of soldiers from the major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) walk on EDSA, which was more than just a re-enactment of the historic march, or ‘Unity Walk,’ against the dictatorship in 1986 but a reassuring show of unity after the confusion and misunderstanding between the two branches at the height of the January 25 Mamasapano tragedy. Polarized by the massacre of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, government officials and leaders of the Catholic Church, Muslim groups, and indigenous organizations yesterday found a common ground by expressing full support for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and calling on Filipinos to give peace in Mindanao a chance. READ MORE...

ALSO: WHO IS MARWAN? Int’l terrorist Marwan is a US-trained engineer


Marwan. PHOTO FROM FBI.GOV --MANILA, Philippines–Who was Zulkifli bin Hir? AKA Marwan?  Drowned in the noise of public anger over the deaths of 44 elite commandos from the police Special Action Force (SAF) was the successful mission to take down Zulkifli, an international terrorist better known as Marwan. The Inquirer obtained intelligence information detailing the criminal background of Marwan, showing how dangerous he was until the SAF commandos killed him in his hideout in Pidsandawan village in remote Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25. READ MORE...

ALSO: Fighting erupts between military, BIFF in Maguindanao


Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Fighting between government troops and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) erupted Friday morning. Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said elements of the 45th Infantry Battalion were engaged in a running gunbattle with BIFF forces, led by a certain Commander Kadafi, in Barangay Maytumaig, Datu Saudi Unsay town in Maguindanao. Portions of the highway between Crossing Salbo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan to the town hall of Datu Unsay town, were closed.  The firefight started at 9:30 a.m. in Sitio Kuwari, Barangay Maitumaig, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao. Evacuation of residents continues, authorities said.  But Abu Misri Mama, spokesperson for the BIFF, said the fighting has stopped as government troops withdrew. There was no immediate response from the military to Mama’s statement. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Are MILF members training with Abu Sayyaf rebels in Sulu?


Photos sent to Senator Grace Poe by Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan showed training and recruitment by MILF in Panglima Estino municipality in Sulu. MANILA, Philippines — The government is validating photos showing members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front allegedly training in Sulu with the presence of Abu Sayyaf Group. “We asked the ceasefire mechanism to do their own checking. There is a report from the ceasefire committee about their own analysis,” government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday. The photo is also being validated with the MILF, she added. A copy of the report will be submitted to the Senate READ MORE...

ALSO MILF official: ‘We are not terrorists’


MILF’s Committee on Cessation of Hostilities Chairman Rashid Ladiasan. Photo by Cesar Tomambo / Senate PRIB   MANILA, Philippines–“We are not terrorists—(we) the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). We’ve been fighting terrorism in all forms through the peace process.”    Rashid Ladiasan, chairman of the MILF’s Committee on Cessation of Hostilities, lamented after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano lashed out at the MILF during the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 policemen.   He also denied MILF’s connection with its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“Hindi po sila naniniwala sa peace process. We did not sacrifice more than 17 years para lang mawala ‘yung opportunity ng peace. We will act accordingly,” he said. READ MORE...


ALSO: Palace warned P-Noy critics, including maternal uncle repeatedly vs committing seditious acts


Philstar.com/File --MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has repeatedly issued a stern warning against critics of President Aquino, including his maternal uncle Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, that persistent calls for his resignation will not be readily swept under the rug.  All three Malacañang spokespersons – from Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and his deputy Abigail Valte – have consistently warned detractors against going beyond the lawful freedom of expression.  “As mentioned by the secretary of justice, you have to do that within the bounds of law and there are certain things that, while expressing your opinion, you cannot do in particular,” Valte told journalists in an informal briefing yesterday. READ MORE...

ALSO: Thousands of students stage PNoy-resign rally


Student rally. Students from the University of the Philippines demand the resignation of President Noynoy Aquino before joining students from other Metro Manila schools in a rally at Mendiola Bridge near Malacanang Palace. Manny Palmero THOUSANDS of students from various schools and universities in Metro Manila marched out of their classes Friday to call for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III. “We did not go on heightened alert. Rallies like that are really normally held in Mendiola. We just monitored their actions to make sure there are no criminal elements who have blended in with the students,” Presidential Security Group head Commodore Raul Ubando said.  The students came from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, UP Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Philippine Normal University, and other schools.  “Today, we march out of our classrooms to protest against a shameful presidency that even has the gall to talk about peace, even as it orchestrates a massive cover-up to escape accountability from the Mamasapano operation,” UP Youth Act Now spokesman Mico Pangalangan said in a statement. READ MORE...

ALSO WORLD NEWS: Jordan pilot murder: Islamic State deploys asymmetry of fear; Can Islamic State savagery be explained? Can IS be defeated?


Burned to death Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh,.....Unable to match its opponents on the military front, IS is instead using the weapon of fear Instead, what it has is asymmetric power - the ability to shock and terrify with videos such as the one released on Tuesday. As always, we are the audience and the aim is clear - to shock and scare us.
By burning to death Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, militant group Islamic State is leveraging its power to asymmetrically shock its enemies, argues Shiraz Maher, a Senior Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London. Even by the barbaric standards of Islamic State, the murder of the captured Jordanian pilot is particularly gruesome. The 26-year-old is paraded around the site of an alleged coalition airstrike, presumably to witness its effects first-hand. READ FULL REPORT...

How is IS funded? Watch video...URL below>>>>>


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

15,000 people displaced by clashes in Central Mindanao


A woman holds her baby at an evacuation center in Pagalungan, Maguindanao. (photo by Jo Henry)

MANILA, MARCH 2, 2015 (PHILSTAR) (Xinhua) - The Philippine military's all-out offensive against Muslim militants in Central Mindanao has displaced at least 3,000 families or 15,000 people, a senior government official said today.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said this was a report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has launched operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group in the country.

He said the government has been doing everything to provide the necessary assistance to the displaced population.

Central Mindanao is the stronghold of the MILF. The government considers the BIFF as a lawless group, which was allegedly involved in the tragic death of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano town, southern province of Maguindanao last month.


MANILA BULLETIN

Give Mindanao peace a chance; Aquino, Binay, Church, multi-sectoral groups unite for Bangsamoro law by Genalyn Kabiling February 26, 2015 (updated)


‘WE ARE ONE’ – Arm-in-arm, a phalanx of soldiers from the major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) walk on EDSA, which was more than just a re-enactment of the historic march, or ‘Unity Walk,’ against the dictatorship in 1986 but a reassuring show of unity after the confusion and misunderstanding between the two branches at the height of the January 25 Mamasapano tragedy.

Polarized by the massacre of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, government officials and leaders of the Catholic Church, Muslim groups, and indigenous organizations yesterday found a common ground by expressing full support for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and calling on Filipinos to give peace in Mindanao a chance.

Taking the lessons of the bloodless 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution to heart, President Aquino vowed to pursue peace in Mindanao and prevent the “enemies of peace” to succeed despite the grief over the Mamasapano tragedy.

At the low-key celebration of the 29th anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution, the President admitted that the Mamasapano incident was “truly painful” but should not be a reason to abandon the peace process, particularly the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and resort to war with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“In honor of the Filipinos who fought in EDSA and other countrymen who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for others and country, let us continue the fight toward peace and progress we have long aspired for,” the President said after the mass held at EDSA Shrine to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

‘NOT PEACE AT ALL COST’

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay backed the President, saying he is for peace in Mindanao. However, he said it should not be peace at all cost.

“Let us also continue to work for peace in Mindanao. But not peace at all cost. It should be a lasting and sustainable peace that is not bound by deadlines and timetables,” Binay, who attended the EDSA Shrine rites, said in a statement. “It should be peace within the framework of our Constitution,” he added.

President Aquino, the commander-in-chief, after the wreath laying at the People Power Monument in yesterday’s celebration of the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution which swept his mother, Corazon, to power in 1986. (Mark Balmores) President Aquino, the commander-in-chief, after the wreath laying at the People Power Monument in yesterday’s celebration of the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution which swept his mother, Corazon, to power in 1986. (Mark Balmores)

Aquino, clad in white polo barong and yellow ribbon pin, also asked the public to remain calm amid the outrage over the Mamasapano incident, saying the pursuit of peace would ensure the sacrifices of the brave policemen were not in vain.

“In the face of a video showing violence, the anger in our hearts, we should remind ourselves: trust, concern, love and peace are still more powerful,” Aquino added, exactly a month after the death of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos while on an anti-terror mission in Mamasapano.

The President then lashed back at the groups opposed to the Mindanao peace process for their selfish interests.

He lamented that that they merely hurl criticisms instead of presenting alternative solution to the conflict. He said these people do not want peace because they will benefit from chaos and violence.

This time, Binay disagreed with Aquino.

“Perhaps, some are opposing it, but not taking advantage of it,” the Vice President said.

Binay stressed that he is all for “lasting peace” in Mindanao but the peace agreement should be in accordance with the Constitution.

“Let us just help each other in finding ways to achieve lasting peace. But then, the agreement should be in accordance with our laws and the Constitution,” he said.

CHURCH SUPPORT

In a separate statement, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo also expressed full support for the passage of the BBL, calling on Filipinos “to hear Mindanao” and “to give peace in Mindanao a chance.”

“Today, precisely because of what happened in Mamasapano, that path should not be abandoned. Hear Mindanao: The peace process should not be imperiled. Let the revolution stop. Let Mindanaoans turn factories of war into factories of prosperity. Let those in the north and in the south who are charged with leadership walk humbly, calmly, and wisely before the God of Peace together,” said Quevedo in a statement signed by members of the clergy, the academe, the Moro community, and other peace advocates.

Citing the Golden Rule, “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do to you,” said Quevedo. He also appealed “not to requite evil with evil. Requite evil with good, confusion and rage with wisdom, death with life. Pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law that secures justice and peace.”

Aquino, clad in white polo barong and yellow ribbon pin, also asked the public to remain calm amid the outrage over the Mamasapano incident, saying the pursuit of peace would ensure the sacrifices of the brave policemen were not in vain.

“In the face of a video showing violence, the anger in our hearts, we should remind ourselves: trust, concern, love, and peace are still more powerful,” Aquino added, exactly a month after the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were on an anti-terror mission in Mamasapano.

MULTI-SECTORAL BACKING

Those who signed the statement in support of the peace talks include Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Archbishop Romulo Valles, Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable, Jesuit Provincial Superior Fr. Antonio Moreno, Fr. Joel E. Tabora of Ateneo de Davao University, Msgr. Julius C. Rodulfa of Holy Cross College of Davao, Sr. Paz P. Paglinawan, OP of Holy Cross College of Magsaysay, Rev. Leopoldo R. Naive, Dr. Lourdes Cabintoy of Philippine Women’s College, Dr. Antonio La Viña of Ateneo School of Government, Fr. Carlos Ronquillo of St. Aloysius Theological and Mission Institute, and Fr. Roberto Yap of Xavier University.

Moro and indigenous people leaders who signed the statement include Ustadz Noli Darindigon (Asatidz Council of Davao), Jaafar Kimpa (Jabu-Jabu, Inc.), Sh. Maher Gustaham (Sama and Bajau Council of Leaders), Lt. Gen. Aurelio B. Balabad (Eastern Mindanao Commands), Ustadz Janor C. Balo (Asatidz Council of Davao), Ustadz Nasser Usman (Salam Tribal Council), Hadji Cani Waradje (Ilang Muslim Village), and Arasid Idlana Kimble (Laminusa Peoples Organization).

LASTING PEACE

“If we will surrender to the enemies of peace, we would only allow the conflict in Mindanao to worsen. If we abandon the establishment of the Bangsamoro, we would only leave weapons to the next generation of Filipinos,” Aquino said.

“We will not allow this. Attaining lasting peace would ensure the sacrifices of of those who fought in EDSA and those who risked their lives to end fear and violence in society would be worthwhile,” he added.

Aquino emphasized that the lessons of EDSA revolution, where Filipinos chose the path of peace instead of violence, should be applied to the Mamasapano incident.

In explaining his position for peace, the President also shared a photo of his slain father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. during his speech at the EDSA ceremony, saying it reminded him of the hardship his family endured during martial law.

The photo showed the lifeless senator lying on a stretcher. He was assassinated upon arrival in Manila from the United States on August 23, 1983. His death triggered the first bloodless revolt that ousted the Marcos regime in 1986.

“I recalled this story not to get sympathy for me but to share the lesson from this,” he said.

“As your President, it is clear that I will be remiss in my duty if I don’t remind the nation about the power of compassion or care for others,” he added.

Aquino also said the nation must not lose the “golden opportunity” to advance peace in Mindanao, citing the gains of the Mindanao process, such as trust and confidence between the government and the MILF.

The two parties forged a peace pact last March but the agreement is reportedly in peril as several lawmakers and other concerned sectors expressed outrage over the rebel group’s involvement in the slaying of the 44 police commandos.

LASTING PEACE

Binay stressed that he is all for “lasting peace” in Mindanao but the peace agreement should be in accordance with the Constitution.

“Let us help each other in finding ways to achieve lasting peace. But then, the agreement should be in accordance with our laws and the Constitution,” he said.

The proposed BBL is the legal translation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will entrench the Bangsamoro region.The CAB was signed by the government and the MILF on March 27, 2014.

The Aquino administration is targeting the early passage of the BBL, hoping that an election will be held in Bangsamoro in 2016.

But the country’s second highest official in previous interviews had appealed for the administration not to rush the passage of the BBL.

GET EVERYBODY INVOLVED

Binay said that the incident in Mamasapano, which claimed the lives of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF),”only highlights the need to involve all sectors in the formation of the BBL.”

Binay had also said that the proposed plebiscite for the BBL should not cover the Bangsamoro alone, but the nation as a whole as it involves the interest of the whole country.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the BBL remains the best shot and historic chance to attain peace in Mindanao.

“I honestly believe that the BBL remains our best shot and historic chance for peace in Mindanao. I publicly supported MOA-AD before and studied the Tripoli Agreement and 1996 agreement with the MNLF and this is a superior document. It is imperfect but you cannot correct all the wrongs in one agreement because it is a process, a work in progress,” Salceda said in a statement during the 29th anniversary of EDSA Revolution.

Meanwhile, in a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News post, Quevedo said, 45 years of intermittent war “has caused suffering in Mindanao, killing over 150,000 combatants and civilians. Violence in Mindanao only led to more war, more wailing of widows and children, and poverty.” The prelate said the framework of the 1987 Constitution supports “the Moro quest for a homeland where they could live in prosperity as Filipinos fully integrated in the Philippine nation was possible through a path of peace.”

The first cardinal from Mindanao noted, “In Mindanao, the peace has been kept. Cooperation between the MILF and the Philippine Army through the joint GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, supported widely by a host of civilian groups, has been helpful in securing the peace and in bringing criminals to justice. Let us heal our wounded trust in each other, and continue to strengthen each other in achieving peace and prosperity,” he stressed. (With a report from Niño N. Luces)


INQUIRER

WHO IS MARWAN? Int’l terrorist Marwan is a US-trained engineer Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:42 AM | Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015


Marwan. PHOTO FROM FBI.GOV

MANILA, Philippines–Who was Zulkifli bin Hir?

Drowned in the noise of public anger over the deaths of 44 elite commandos from the police Special Action Force (SAF) was the successful mission to take down Zulkifli, an international terrorist better known as Marwan.

The Inquirer obtained intelligence information detailing the criminal background of Marwan, showing how dangerous he was until the SAF commandos killed him in his hideout in Pidsandawan village in remote Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.

Marwan was believed to be 30-35 years old. He was a US-trained engineer and was among the last few known militants of his generation of al-Qaida-inspired extremists who survived the antiterror crackdowns in Asia following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Known as a master bomb maker, Marwan was skilled in evading capture. He had more than two dozen aliases and spoke the languages of Malaysia and the Philippines, along with English and Arabic.

Aside from a $6-million reward offered by the United States, the Philippine government also had a P7.4-million reward for information that would lead to his arrest.

Jemaah Islamiyah links

He had been in the Philippines since 2001 and trained members of the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in bomb-making.

Marwan was the alleged head of Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and a senior member of the Indonesia-based, al-Qaida-linked terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

He was believed to be involved in the JI bombing of two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, that killed 202 people, mostly Australian tourists, on Oct. 12, 2002.

Marwan was reported to have fled to the southern Philippines after the bombing and sought refuge in Central Mindanao.

In 2005, Marwan and other foreign militants trained members of the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. He became associated with leaders of the group, including Khadaffy Janjalani, Raddulan Sahiron, Yaser Igasan and Jumdail Gumbahali, also known as Dok Abu.

Marwan was among those who survived a US-backed military air strike in Jolo on Feb. 2, 2012, that killed Gumbahali and seven of his followers.

Together with his Singaporean associate Muawiya, he fled to Patikul town, Sulu province, after the air strike and then moved to Maguindanao, where he joined the group of Abdul Basit Usman, a bomb expert who belonged to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Allegiance to IS

Sometime in 2014, Marwan, together with Usman and other guerrillas from the BIFF, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), the Middle East jihadist group that had seized swaths of Syria and Iraq.

Marwan was also a member of the Justice Islamic Movement and a former member of the Special Operations Group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He maintained a training camp in Dulangan in Butig town, Lanao del Sur province, where he instructed MILF members in bomb-making.

He was also an adviser to the Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao.

Expertise

Marwan’s chief expertise was explosives, but he was also adept at heavy weapons, artillery and map reading.

In 2002, he attempted to ship a ton of explosives and 17 M-16 rifles to Indonesia, but the cargo was intercepted in Labangal, General Santos City.

Marwan served as conduit for funds from then JI operations chief Riduan Isamudin, alias “Hambali.” The funds were used in JI’s bomb attacks in the Philippines called “Soccer Games.”

His younger brother, Taufik bin Abdul Halim, known as Dany, was a suspect in the 2001 bomb attack on the Jakarta Atrium Mall. Taufik is detained in Indonesia.

Attacks in PH

Marwan was involved in several deadly bomb attacks and other crimes in the Philippines, including the bombings of a business establishment in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato province, and an LBC branch in Cotabato City in 2007.

He also took part in the kidnapping of International Committee of the Red Cross volunteer Eugenio Vagni in 2008 and in a foiled robbery of a Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Basilan province.

Marwan was believed to be the mastermind of an attack on Isabela town, Basilan, on April 3, 2010, where three Marine soldiers and three civilians were killed. Six Abu Sayyaf members, including Marwan’s brother-in-law, known only as Abu Tarik, were killed in the fighting.

Marwan was also behind a bombing in Basilan in February 2010 and the bombing of Max Andrea Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City in October 2012.

Even before the Jan. 25 raid on Mamasapano, SAF commandos tried but failed to capture Marwan near the corn-growing community last year. Military officials have long suspected that Marwan eluded arrest by taking cover near rebel strongholds.–With a report from AP


INQUIRER

Fighting erupts between military, BIFF in Maguindanao Edwin O. Fernandez and Karlos Manlupig @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Mindanao 1:50 PM | Friday, February 27th, 2015


Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

KIDAPAWAN CITY – Fighting between government troops and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) erupted Friday morning.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said elements of the 45th Infantry Battalion were engaged in a running gunbattle with BIFF forces, led by a certain Commander Kadafi, in Barangay Maytumaig, Datu Saudi Unsay town in Maguindanao.

Portions of the highway between Crossing Salbo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan to the town hall of Datu Unsay town, were closed.

The firefight started at 9:30 a.m. in Sitio Kuwari, Barangay Maitumaig, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao. Evacuation of residents continues, authorities said.

But Abu Misri Mama, spokesperson for the BIFF, said the fighting has stopped as government troops withdrew. There was no immediate response from the military to Mama’s statement.

“The soldiers ran away, leaving behind their amphibian tank that was hit by a 90RR which we got from the SAF (Special Action Force) commandos. They left behind the tank in the middle of the road in Maitumaig, Datu Unsay,” Mama told the Inquirer by phone. Von Al Haq, vice chair for military affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said the military “coordinated with the MILF for this operation.”

“All MILF units in the area were given directives to reposition considering that a big mass of government forces is going inside the area,’’ he said.

If the MILF will be able to fully reposition then we can start providing assistance for the displaced residents,” Al Haq said.


INQUIRER

Are MILF members training with Abu Sayyaf rebels in Sulu? Frances Mangosing @FMangosingINQ INQUIRER.net 1:54 PM | Tuesday, February 24th, 2015


Alleged members of the MILF purportedly training with Abu Sayyaf rebels in Sulu. Photos sent by Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur M. Tan to the office of Senator Grace Poe


Photos sent to Senator Grace Poe by Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan showed training and recruitment by MILF in Panglima Estino municipality in Sulu.

MANILA, Philippines — The government is validating photos showing members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front allegedly training in Sulu with the presence of Abu Sayyaf Group.

“We asked the ceasefire mechanism to do their own checking. There is a report from the ceasefire committee about their own analysis,” government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

The photo is also being validated with the MILF, she added.

A copy of the report will be submitted to the Senate

“I would like the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to look into the said allegations as these developments have raised fears among ordinary citizens. The images show that high-powered firearms being used during training. These activities are provocative actions which are inimical to the security of our people. It also violates the implementing operational guidelines on the cessation of hostilities between the Philippine government and the MILF,” Poe said.

The photo had something to do with Sulu politics, Ferrer said.

“There are some identified personalities and some private armed groups in terms of weaponry. It’s very sensitive because of the nature of politics in the area,” she said, referring to “political alliance emerging in 2016.”

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said that it is not only political but political with a possibility of violence.

“Violence may break out between parties if information will be disclosed about the said photos,” she said.

It was the Western Mindanao Command that provided information on the photos.

MILF negotiating chairman Mohagher Iqbal, could not confirm the authenticity of the photos, which he said was first presented at a Congressional hearing last month.

“It merely states in that hearing showing the MILF is recruiting fighters in Sulu it doesn’t mean there were Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

He added that he was not given a copy of the photos to validate it with the MILF leadership.

“That area, that municipality is embroiled with political problems. There is ongoing misunderstanding among politicians in the area I think it has something to do with that,” he said.


INQUIRER

MILF official: ‘We are not terrorists’ Julliane Love De Jesus @JLDejesusINQ INQUIRER.net 2:24 PM | Tuesday, February 10th, 2015


MILF’s Committee on Cessation of Hostilities Chairman Rashid Ladiasan. Photo by Cesar Tomambo / Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines–“We are not terrorists—(we) the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). We’ve been fighting terrorism in all forms through the peace process.”
Rashid Ladiasan, chairman of the MILF’s Committee on Cessation of Hostilities, lamented after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano lashed out at the MILF during the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 policemen.

He also denied MILF’s connection with its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“Hindi po sila naniniwala sa peace process. We did not sacrifice more than 17 years para lang mawala ‘yung opportunity ng peace. We will act accordingly,” he said.

(They don’t believe in the peace process. We did not sacrifice more than 17 years just so we could lose the opportunity to attain peace. We will act accordingly.)

Ladiasan added that allegations of MILF coddling terrorists, including Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zukifli Bin Hir or Marwan, have already been addressed and clarified.

“We even provided places and cooperation with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to allow the peace process to undertake its course. We’ve been doing all of these,” he said.

In turn, Senator Grace Poe asked Ladiasan to furnish the Senate copies of their operation plan with the PNP and the AFP to get terrorists.

He also thanked Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Ging Deles and Peace Panel chair Miriam Colonel-Ferrer for supporting the government’s deal with the Muslim community.


PHILSTAR

Palace warned P-Noy critics, including maternal uncle repeatedly vs committing seditious acts By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 28, 2015 - 12:00am


Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has repeatedly issued a stern warning against critics of President Aquino, including his maternal uncle Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, that persistent calls for his resignation will not be readily swept under the rug.

All three Malacañang spokespersons – from Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and his deputy Abigail Valte – have consistently warned detractors against going beyond the lawful freedom of expression.

“As mentioned by the secretary of justice, you have to do that within the bounds of law and there are certain things that, while expressing your opinion, you cannot do in particular,” Valte told journalists in an informal briefing yesterday.

“So perhaps that is just a reminder. They will keep doing this until… It is up to them when they will continue to do this but at least on the part of government, we stand firm on the position of the President,” she added.

Lacierda also made similar pronouncements earlier.

“It’s a statement made by Secretary Leila de Lima on issues – or rather, on statements that may sound... going beyond the pale of the freedom of expression,” Lacierda said when asked about the sentiments of Cojuangco and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales.

Cojuangco, his wife former Tarlac governor Tingting Cojuangco, Gonzales – who served as a security adviser of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – and several others comprise the National Transition Council that has repeatedly called for Aquino’s resignation.

“I would defer to Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima. She would be in a better position to determine what would constitute sedition, what would constitute coup d’etat. Those acts are clearly defined under our penal laws,” Lacierda said.

Coloma also issued a similar warning to demonstrators who want Aquino out.

Coloma also cited the statements of De Lima regarding moves to oust the President.

He said this is the basis for the government to warn the continuing anti-government protests.

Coloma said it is the job of the Department of Justice to ensure that no laws are violated.

Malacañang also belittled the alleged call of former Marine colonel Generoso Mariano for the Armed Forces to withdraw its support from the President following the Mamasapano fiasco.

Valte said it was not the first time Mariano made such call.

“Mariano has made these sentiments known. I understand that he has done the same in 2011 and his call went generally unheeded by men in the uniformed service,” Valte said.

“There is no expectation that it will change in the present situation,” she said of the former Marine officer.

Valte said the Navy court-martial convicted Mariano in June 2013 for criticizing Aquino on the continued poverty in the country.

On the other hand, hundreds of students from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City joined calls for the ouster of President Aquino over the Mamasapano fiasco and the continuing increase in tuition and other school fees.

The students joined other multi-sectoral organizations in a protest in Mendiola.

Also taking part in the student walkout were members of different militant youth organizations form different schools in the country.

“From EDSA we return to Mendiola, which is near the seat of power. We come from various communities, schools and workplaces demanding that the current leadership step down and that a People’s Council for National Unity, Reforms and Peace be established,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary-general Renato Reyes.

The groups decried what they called a cover-up of Aquino’s role in the Mamasapano incident where 44 policemen were killed in a firefight with Muslim rebels on Jan. 25. – With Janvic Mateo, Rhodina Villanueva


Thousands of students stage PNoy-resign rally By Joyce Pangco Panares | Feb. 28, 2015 at 12:01am


Student rally. Students from the University of the Philippines demand the resignation of President Noynoy Aquino before joining students from other Metro Manila schools in a rally at Mendiola Bridge near Malacanang Palace. Manny Palmero

THOUSANDS of students from various schools and universities in Metro Manila marched out of their classes Friday to call for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III.

“We did not go on heightened alert. Rallies like that are really normally held in Mendiola. We just monitored their actions to make sure there are no criminal elements who have blended in with the students,” Presidential Security Group head Commodore Raul Ubando said.

The students came from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, UP Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Philippine Normal University, and other schools.

“Today, we march out of our classrooms to protest against a shameful presidency that even has the gall to talk about peace, even as it orchestrates a massive cover-up to escape accountability from the Mamasapano operation,” UP Youth Act Now spokesman Mico Pangalangan said in a statement.

“Aquino’s long list of atrocities compels the Filipino people to fight for change and intensify the clamor for his resignation. Soon, millions of Filipinos will take the streets and write another page in history by ousting Aquino,” said League of Filipino Students chairperson Charisse Bañez.

The Palace appealed for sobriety as calls for Aquino’s resignation mounted.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also reiterated the government’s warning against those who are pushing for a change in leadership that they should express their sentiments “within the bounds of the law.”

Various groups from the academe and even Church leaders have added their voices to quit calls led by the National Transformation Council following the botched operation in Mamasapano on Jan. 25 that left 44 police commandos dead.

Business groups, however, have not supported moves to unseat the President even as they threw support to efforts to seek justice and accountability for the death of the Special Action Force troopers.

“It’s nice to see or at least pleasant to hear that support is also likewise voiced for the President. It shows you that there is a vibrant discussion among our communities and stakeholders on this particular matter. But we do echo the call for sobriety and that while we recognize that emotions remain high, we must stay the course for peace no matter how difficult,” Valte said.

“That it is part of the democratic space that you have contrary opinions and they make those opinions known. But as mentioned by the Secretary of Justice, you have to do that within the bounds of law, and that there are certain things while expressing your opinion that you cannot do in particular,” Valte added.

The NTC is pushing for a transition government to be led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and advised by a council that will include Catholic Church leaders.

Sereno, however, has already rejected the offer for her to lead a transition government.


WORLDNEWS: BBC MIDDLE EAST

Jordan pilot murder: Islamic State deploys asymmetry of fear 4 February 2015 Last updated at 07:33 ET Share this pageEmail Print Share this page


Despite the efforts of his family, it never appeared likely that Moaz al-Kasasbeh would be freed ---Unable to match its opponents on the military front, IS is instead using the weapon of fear Instead, what it has is asymmetric power - the ability to shock and terrify with videos such as the one released on Tuesday. As always, we are the audience and the aim is clear - to shock and scare us.

By burning to death Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, militant group Islamic State is leveraging its power to asymmetrically shock its enemies, argues Shiraz Maher, a Senior Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London.

Even by the barbaric standards of Islamic State, the murder of the captured Jordanian pilot is particularly gruesome. The 26-year-old is paraded around the site of an alleged coalition airstrike, presumably to witness its effects first-hand.

He is then placed in a metal cage and set alight. The scenes are harrowing, the screams of anguish unimaginably horrific.

The slow, soft focus cinematography - coupled with primitive sadism for which IS's videos have come to be known - is always designed to shock.

Islamic State: Can its savagery be explained?

Since the sudden appearance of the extremist Sunni Islamic State (IS), the group has seized headlines with a shocking level of blood-letting and cruelty - but can its savagery be explained, asks *Fawaz A Gerges.

Islamic State has become synonymous with viciousness - beheadings, crucifixions, stonings, massacres, burying victims alive and religious and ethnic cleansing.

While such savagery might seem senseless to the vast majority of civilised human beings, for IS it is a rational choice. It is a conscious decision to terrorise enemies and impress and co-opt new recruits.

IS adheres to a doctrine of total war without limits and constraints - no such thing, for instance, as arbitration or compromise when it comes to settling disputes with even Sunni Islamist rivals. Unlike its parent organisation, al-Qaeda, IS pays no lip service to theology to justify its crimes.

It was quite deliberately aimed at capturing the world's attention. That it did. Within less than an hour of its release, US President Barack Obama issued a statement regarding the video's grisly contents.

King Abdullah of Jordan also shortened his visit to the White House and is returning home.

Supporters and family members of the murdered pilot have called for revenge Questions abound over how or why IS could do this. To understand their mindset requires a brief examination of Islamic, or Sharia, law.

IS believes in a principle known as "qisas" which, in its broadest terms, is the law of equal retaliation. Put another way, it is the Islamic equivalent of "lex talionis", or the doctrine of an eye for an eye.

Within Islamic law qisas typically relates to cases of murder, manslaughter, or acts involving physical mutilation (such as the loss of limbs) and creates a framework for victims (or their families) to seek retributive justice.

As a pilot fighting with the Western coalition, Lt Kasasbeh would have been associated with dropping incendiary bombs - so burning could be seen by them as appropriate retaliation.


File photo: Moaz Youssef al-Kasasbeh Lt Kasasbeh was captured after his plane came down in Syria in December Even then, the issue of "punishing" with fire is deeply contested among Muslims. Many regard it as absolutely prohibited in all circumstances.

Indeed, the outrage from Muslims has been so strong that IS members have been forced to respond quickly with their own justifications for the act.

Regardless of the group's reasoning, this was the fate to which Lt Kasasbeh was condemned.

From the moment Islamic State captured him they had made it clear that he would be killed.

Indeed, they even attempted to crowd-source his murder, at times asking users on social media to suggest precisely how he should be killed.

For this reason, there was never any realistic prospect of his release.

It is likely that all the recent talk of a possible prisoner swap was merely a ruse. Islamic State was only ever offering to trade Japanese hostage Kenji Goto in exchange for Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed al-Qaeda suicide bomber.

Demonstrators protest against the murder of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh (03 February 2015) Many have protested against the pilot's killing, but others have asked why Jordan is participating in air strikes That was not enough for Jordanian authorities, who insisted they also wanted Lt Kasasbeh released.

When officials in Amman asked for proof of life none was offered, prompting speculation that the murder may have actually taken place some weeks ago.

This would make sense. Shortly after his capture, the Jordanian and American armies launched two abortive attempts to rescue Lt Kasasbeh.

Fearing that another attempt might succeed, it is likely the group killed him weeks ago and then waited for an opportunity to release the video.

All armies want to develop an edge over their adversaries. Typically this involves investment in better hardware to project more power and menace.

IS knows this is not an area where it can compete.

Unable to match its opponents on the military front, IS is instead using the weapon of fear Instead, what it has is asymmetric power - the ability to shock and terrify with videos such as the one released on Tuesday. As always, we are the audience and the aim is clear - to shock and scare us.

In that regard the video has already been a success. Jordanians are outraged, but many are also asking why the country is participating in the coalition air raids against Islamic State.

The United Arab Emirates had already gone a step further after Lt Kasasbeh was captured in December. It withdrew from the coalition altogether, citing fears for the safety of its pilots.

That is perhaps the most potent weapon Islamic State possess today - the carefully curated asymmetry of fear.

Can IS be defeated?

The most effective means to degrade IS is to dismantle its social base by winning over hearts and minds, a difficult and prolonged task, and to resolve the Syria conflict that has given IS motivation, resources and a safe haven.

Indeed, there is no simple or quick solution to rid the Middle East of IS because it is a manifestation of the breakdown of state institutions, dismal socio-economic conditions and the spread of sectarian fires in the region.

IS is a creature of accumulated grievances and of ideological and social polarisation and mobilisation a decade in the making.

*Fawaz A. Gerges is a professor of international relations and Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is author of several books, including "The New Middle East: Social Protest and Revolution in the Arab World."

HOW IS ISLAMIC STATE FUNDED:?: Watch video HERE


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