PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

PALACE: PRESIDENT'S CRITICS BOUND TO FAIL
["THEY ARE 'OPPORTUNISTS' WHO HAVE NO CLEAR SOLUTIONS TO COUNTRY'S ILLS" --COLOMA]


Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz listens to National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera who joined multisectoral groups asking President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz listens to National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera who joined multisectoral groups asking President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down.PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN
Malacañang on Thursday said groups calling for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino 3rd are “opportunists” who have no clear solutions to the country’s ills and therefore are bound to fail.
According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., these personalities are actively sowing dissent in their bid to pursue their “selfish” agenda. But the official refused to say if he was referring to the National Transformation Council (NTC) and former congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and his wife, Margarita, both of whom have joined calls for Aquino to step down. READ MORE...

ALSO: 'Oust PNoy' coalition launched in QC


At a press conference in Quezon City on Thursday, March 5, leaders and personalities from several groups announce the formation of the "Noynoy Out Now", a multi-sectoral national movement calling for the ouster of President Benigno Aquino III. GMA News

FROM 'YOUTH ACT NOW' WEBSITE:
YOUTH ACT NOW is an alliance of student councils, student publications, national youth and student organizations, community-based youth, young professionals, artists and prominent youth leaders and personalities advocating to end corruption and fight for accountability and transparency. The groundwork of Youth ACT Now marks the further strengthening of youth and student involvement nationwide in the collective aspiration to knock on the conscience of our leaders and to awaken hope in the spirit of the Filipino people to bring forth a movement for truth and social change.
Thousands of students from various schools across PH walk out of classes, call for Aquino’s resignation
March 3, 2015 Photo, Press release, Statement Aquino, Mamasapano, Walkout, Youth Act Now, Youth issue


Thousands of students from various colleges and universities not only in Metro Manila but also in key cities of the Philippines walked out of their classes on Friday, February 27, in a massive show of nationwide outrage against President Aquino’s attempt to cover up his involvement in the Mamasapano operation. In Metro Manila, students from the University of the Philippines (Manila and Diliman campuses), the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Philippine Normal University led the opening salvo of the day-long protests, with UP, PUP, and PNU students staging simultaneous class walkouts, snake rallies, and flash dances at around 12 noon today. MaRCH 3, 2015. “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 student leader and YOUTH ACT NOW Spokesman Mico Pangalangan said. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Ex-AFP chiefs pushing peace, not war; Academics urge Aquino to show statesmanship


COLORS OF PEACE A woman peeks from a row of mannequins garbed in the happy colors of the hijab inside a stall at the Barter Trade Center in Cotabato City. The center is known for selling locally handwoven fabrics as well as textiles imported from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in colors that might as well be the colors of peace when it dawns on Mindanao. REM ZAMORA MANILA, Philippines–They are warriors who, in two separate venues and by happenstance, joined sober voices calling for peace, not war, during a forum on Thursday, the 39th day since the Mamasapano fiasco. During the gathering sponsored by academics and international agencies, President Aquino was urged to show statesmanship and acknowledge responsibility for the botched raid that led to the slaughter of 44 police commandos in Maguindanao province on Jan. 25. “Unfortunately what has been lost in Mamasapano was the trust in the presidency,” said Sedfrey Candelaria, dean of Ateneo Law School. “It takes a lot of humility on the part of the presidency to once and for all say that ‘I am accountable as the Commander in Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines.’” “If only to save the peace process perhaps we should think as a nation to help the President walk through this process. It’s very difficult, but if we go through it perhaps that is the tipping point we are waiting for,” Candelaria said. Coincidentally, also on Thursday, a young Special Action Force (SAF) commando who took part in the Mamasapano operation that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” posted an online petition asking people to support the peace process and abandon “demands for an all-out war.”  READ MORE...

ALSO Aquino: I did not order SAF on suicide mission


President Aquino walks with New Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) head, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo, after the Assumption of Command Ceremony at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, on Wednesday March 4, 2015. Aquino said didn’t send the Special Action Force (SAF) on a “suicide mission” in Mamasapano. AP   MANILA, Philippines–He didn’t send the Special Action Force (SAF) on a “suicide mission” in Mamasapano, and neither would he order one in the hunt for other high-profile terrorists.   President Aquino made this clear when he sat down for more than three hours with SAF troopers on Wednesday in his second meeting with them since 44 of their comrades were slaughtered by Moro rebels in Maguindanao province on Jan 25.    “I think the group was satisfied,” said an Inquirer source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with media about the meeting.    The President recalled that he got the impression that the SAF troopers had been properly reinforced based on initial text messages he received through Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and then Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.   Purisima was under suspension for corruption at that time. He subsequently resigned. READ MORE...

ALSO: SAF man who survived Mamasapano clash stresses all-out war not the answer [The petition is for the pursuit of the peace process in Mindanao with the hashtag “fightforpeace” (#FightForPeace)]


War will not bring justice: A SAF Seaborne who took part in the Marwan operation on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano tells the Inquirer that an all out war in Central Mindanao will only give his fallen comrades temporary justice. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)  MANILA, Philippines–A member of the Special Action Force (SAF) Seaborne who took part in the Mamasapano operation that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan on Thursday made a call for peace and urged people to abandon “demands for an all-out war.”   The petition is for the pursuit of the peace process in Mindanao with the hashtag “fightforpeace” (#FightForPeace).   The SAF commando withheld his identity for security reasons, instead using the pseudonym “Jason Navarro” in the online petition.   The commando uploaded his petition on the global online platform, Change.org, at 7 a.m. In nine hours, it has received 326 supporters.  “The true face of war is not that dead soldier or rebel on the battlefield. It is a mother fleeing home with a cartload of offspring, amid sounds of gunfire,” the SAF commando said in his petition that can be seen on Change.org/CommandoCallsForPeace.  READ MORE...

ALSO: AFP wants 72 hours extension of its all-out-war  
[BIFF camps are now empty; Miitary suspects that BIFF members have sought refuge with their relatives in the MILF]



INQUIRER PHOTO Troops retake national highway in Maguindanao. Government troops take over the national highway in Maguindanao a few hours after it was closed by rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Ferdinandh Cabrera  THE Armed Forces of the Philippines asked for a 72-hour extension of its all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters after the Islamist fighters disappeared in the area of operation in Maguindanao and allegedly sought refuge in areas controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  The Army’s Sixth Infantry Division made the request for an extension of the operation as the Maguindanao provincial board approved a resolution declaring the entire province under a state of calamity after 41,000 residents fled the operation which is now on its sixth day. READ MORE...

ALSO: Whitewash seen as Aquino gets first crack at Board of Inquiry report [Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. also believed the Senate investigation will also end up as part of a “systematic cover-up” which aims to shield Aquino from culpability. In a statement, Iñiguez said the Senate hearings focused on distancing the blame on the incident from Aquino]  


ROXAS --- All roads are leading to a cover-up in the investigations on the Mamasapano massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos last Jan. 25 after the Palace said yesterday President Aquino, who is being pinpointed as the main culprit in the bloodshed, will review the findings of the Board of Inquiry (BoI) prior to the release of the report to the public.   The Palace said it will also ask Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II on the appropriate time that the report will be made public. Aquino’s deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said, however, Aquino has yet to receive the report from the BoI which was the body formed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into the incident. Valte said Aquino, after reviewing the BoI report, will issue a statement on his position from the results of the investigation. “At this point I did check with the Office of the President and we have not received any document yet. I understand that it would take some time, not very long, but it would be transmitted to us, but also, as is normal with the President, he would have to look at it himself,” she said. “It would not be unusual for him to call his legal team to go through the report with him before we make any public statements on the content and the context,” she added. CONTINUE reading...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

President’s critics bound to fail – Palace by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER March 5, 2015 11:31 pm


Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz listens to National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera who joined multisectoral groups asking President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz listens to National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera who joined multisectoral groups asking President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (MANILA TIMES)  Malacañang on Thursday said groups calling for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino 3rd are “opportunists” who have no clear solutions to the country’s ills and therefore are bound to fail.

According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., these personalities are actively sowing dissent in their bid to pursue their “selfish” agenda. But the official refused to say if he was referring to the National Transformation Council (NTC) and former congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and his wife, Margarita, both of whom have joined calls for Aquino to step down.

“Maganda po sana kung bukod sa pambabatikos ay may nailalatag silang alternatibong solusyon. ‘Di tuloy natin maiwasang isipin: Ayaw nilang magkaroon ng kapayapaan dahil sila mismo ang nakikinabang sa gulo at karahasan. Ang gusto nila muling magkanya-kanya ang mga Pilipino at mawala ang tiwala natin sa isa’t isa upang isulong ang kanilang pansariling agenda [It would be nice if, apart from criticizing, they are also presenting alternative solutions. We can’t help but think: They don’t want peace because they themselves will gain from the trouble and the violence. They want Filipinos to go their separate ways so that they will lose trust in each other and push their own agenda],” Coloma said in a news briefing.

He called on the public to be vigilant against efforts to take advantage of the Mamasapano massacre, where 44 elite police commandos died. The Philippine National Police Alumni Association (PNPAA) is set to launch a Walk for Justice for the SAF (Special Action Force) 44 on March 8.

But the event, according to Coloma, may be used by critics of the President to press their demands.

“Pansinin natin na noong mga nakaraang araw, umusbong ang mga panawagan para sa pagbibitiw ng Pangulo, kasabay ng mga umano’y bantang kudeta at iba pang destabilization efforts. Ginamit pa ng mga oportunistang grupo ang pagdiriwang ng ika-29 na anibersaryo ng EDSA People Power Revolution bilang okasyon upang himukin ang mga mamamayan na gamitin daw muli ang people power laban sa pamahalaan [Note that in the past few days, calls for the President to resign grew, simultaneously with a coup threat and other destabilization efforts. The opportunistic groups even used the 29the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution as an occasion to convince the people to use people power against the government],” he said.

Coloma described the President’s critics as “desperate.” He echoed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s statement that groups seeking the ouster of Aquino are committing illegal acts.

The PNPAA said a march scheduled for Sunday will not be political, an assurance that groups such as the NTC and its allied organizations are not welcome.

Coloma earlier warned NTC against stepping over the boundaries of legitimate dissent as the government stands ready to have them charged for violation of the Revised Penal Code.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, a convenor of the NTC, last week taunted the government by saying he is not afraid to go to jail.

The NTC also called on the entire Cabinet and all members of Congress to resign for they, too, benefited from so-called pork barrel funds.

“It will be a great pleasure for me if I go to jail. Many of those in jail are innocent and still many of those guilty are there not because they are the only sinners but the greater sinners are free and are placed in government,” Arguelles, who led the latest gathering of the council in Lipa City, Batangas, said.

He insisted that their actions cannot be considered sedition or rebellion.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

'Oust PNoy' coalition launched in QC Uploaded on 5:32PM Mar 5


At a press conference in Quezon City on Thursday, March 5, leaders and personalities from several groups announce the formation of the "Noynoy Out Now", a multi-sectoral national movement calling for the ouster of President Benigno Aquino III. GMA News

FROM YOUTH ACT NOW WEBSITE:
YOUTH ACT NOW is an alliance of student councils, student publications, national youth and student organizations, community-based youth, young professionals, artists and prominent youth leaders and personalities advocating to end corruption and fight for accountability and transparency. The groundwork of Youth ACT Now marks the further strengthening of youth and student involvement nationwide in the collective aspiration to knock on the conscience of our leaders and to awaken hope in the spirit of the Filipino people to bring forth a movement for truth and social change.

Thousands of students from various schools across PH walk out of classes, call for Aquino’s resignation March 3, 2015 Photo, Press release, Statement Aquino, Mamasapano, Walkout, Youth Act Now, Youth issue


Thousands of students from various colleges and universities not only in Metro Manila but also in key cities of the Philippines walked out of their classes on Friday, February 27, in a massive show of nationwide outrage against President Aquino’s attempt to cover up his involvement in the Mamasapano operation.

In Metro Manila, students from the University of the Philippines (Manila and Diliman campuses), the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Philippine Normal University led the opening salvo of the day-long protests, with UP, PUP, and PNU students staging simultaneous class walkouts, snake rallies, and flash dances at around 12 noon today.

“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 student leader and YOUTH ACT NOW Spokesman Mico Pangalangan said.

Students of private universities also joined in the protests, voicing out their concern not only about the Mamasapano operation but also with the Aquino government’s “lackadaisical” approach to impending tuition hikes. Noise barrages and class walkouts were held in the University of Sto. Tomas, De La Salle University-Manila, University of the East, University of Manila, National University, and the National Teachers’ College.

“Students are joining in today’s nationwide walkout for two reasons: first, to call on the president to resign from his post as he no longer has the moral ascendancy to rule the nation.Second, to protest against the Aquino administration’s continued policy of education deregulation, which is the root of incessant tuition and other fee increases that students face every year,” said Sarah Elago, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines and convenor of the RISE FOR EDUCATION (R4E) Alliance.

R4E has earlier reported that about 400 colleges and universities are set to increase school rates for the incoming school year.

By 2 p.m., student protesters joined ranks with other sectors of society in three mass-up points in Manila: Nagtahan Bridge, Taft Avenue corner Finance Road, and UST España Boulevard. From these points, rallyists marched and converged at Mendiola Bridge, in effect literally encircling the Malacañan Palace.

“Today, we shall let the thunder of a thousand steps echo to the Palace’s gates. The youth and people want truth, justice, accountability and change. The movement for Aquino’s resignation is growing and the people’s call is getting louder,” Anakbayan Chair Vencer Crisostomo said.

“We no longer want a government ruled by a corrupt, liar, US puppet, haciendero brat. Game over na, Noynoy. It’s time to step down,” he added.

Youth and students also held protests in key cities and provinces, including Baguio, Pampanga, Laguna, Iloilo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

“This nationwide class walkout is only the beginning of the end. Aquino’s days in Malacañang are numbered. In the coming weeks, we urge more Filipino youth to join the protests, and together, let us kick out of office this incompetent, callous, and murderous president,” Pangalangan said, adding that a transition council should replace Aquino and pave the way for justice and reforms.

In the coming weeks, groups are gearing for camp-out protests and vigils. A large mobilization is again set on March 8, International Women’s Day and March 13.###


INQUIRER

Ex-AFP chiefs pushing peace; Academics urge Aquino to show statesmanship Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:30 AM | Friday, March 6th, 2015


COLORS OF PEACE A woman peeks from a row of mannequins garbed in the happy colors of the hijab inside a stall at the Barter Trade Center in Cotabato City. The center is known for selling locally handwoven fabrics as well as textiles imported from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in colors that might as well be the colors of peace when it dawns on Mindanao. REM ZAMORA

MANILA, Philippines–They are warriors who, in two separate venues and by happenstance, joined sober voices calling for peace, not war, during a forum on Thursday, the 39th day since the Mamasapano fiasco.

During the gathering sponsored by academics and international agencies, President Aquino was urged to show statesmanship and acknowledge responsibility for the botched raid that led to the slaughter of 44 police commandos in Maguindanao province on Jan. 25.

“Unfortunately what has been lost in Mamasapano was the trust in the presidency,” said Sedfrey Candelaria, dean of Ateneo Law School. “It takes a lot of humility on the part of the presidency to once and for all say that ‘I am accountable as the Commander in Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines.’”

“If only to save the peace process perhaps we should think as a nation to help the President walk through this process. It’s very difficult, but if we go through it perhaps that is the tipping point we are waiting for,” Candelaria said.

Coincidentally, also on Thursday, a young Special Action Force (SAF) commando who took part in the Mamasapano operation that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” posted an online petition asking people to support the peace process and abandon “demands for an all-out war.”

Retired generals Rodolfo Biazon and Emmanuel Bautista, who both served as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, made a similar plea for peace during the peace forum in Makati City.

In sum, these three men said that those calling for war in the aftermath of Mamasapano did not know what it was like to see blood spilled, to live in fear.

The SAF trooper, who used the pseudonym “Jason Navarro,” uploaded his petition on the global online platform, Change.org, at 7 a.m. By 5 p.m., the petition had 335 supporters.

“I lost 44 of my comrades and was wounded in battle. I will carry physical and emotional scars for life. Even so, I grieve to hear demands for ‘all-out war.’ For I, too, am a child of Mindanao. In childhood, I watched the flight of thousands of people from nearby towns. Entire families desperately seeking safe haven, war having obliterated their communities,” Navarro said.

Mothers, children

“I wrote this petition to give voice to the many who share my belief in peace. I write for the countless mothers who have seen offspring sacrificed to war. No mother wants to see her child with a gun, not even when their husbands are warriors. Mothers and children suffer the most. No prize, no victory will ease their pain. War does not distinguish among faiths. War snuffs out lives—Filipino lives,” he added.

As the saber-rattling in Manila became more pronounced in the Senate investigation, the media, and on Facebook, the commando said the villagers he saw in the cornfields on Jan. 25 filled his mind—the women and children fleeing for their lives.

“I couldn’t forget their worried faces. There was a mother pulling a carabao with a wagon where her children sat with their belongings,” the commando said. He initiated the petition, addressed to the government, because “it is them, the women and children, whom I want to protect.”

Scared of war

At the forum, Bautista was introduced by Biazon as the “son of a general who was killed while pursuing peace.”

“I was 37 years old when I was fighting in Jolo together with the father of General Bautista. Now I am 80, and the reason for which General Bautista’s father died is still the problem we have to address,” Biazon said.

“It is going to be a very difficult one but we cannot abandon the search for peace. We cannot drop the Bangsamoro Basic Law. I am scared of the possibility of the collapse of the peace process,” Biazon said. “I am scared of war.”

‘Peace ultimate justice’

Brig. Gen. Teodulfo Bautista and 33 other officers and men were gunned down by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels in Patikul on Oct. 10, 1977, when they arrived unarmed for a meeting with MNLF leader Usman Sali to talk about a ceasefire.

The younger Bautista was then a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy.

Bautista admitted that he had also thought of avenging his father’s death, that he was overcome by anger and rage. “But later on, you come to realize that what kind of justice would you want to achieve? My father had advocated peace. What was the purpose of him giving up his life? Should I turn my back on that and perpetuate conflict?” Bautista told reporters.

At the forum, he said “justice is served when we give peace. Peace is the ultimate justice we can get.”

Inclusive charter

Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy president Amina Rasul-Bernardo said that as the peace process moved along in the past four years, “everyone thought we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We didn’t know it was [instead] a train,” Bernardo said.

Almost all the speakers said the passage of a good Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should be the next step to attain peace.

“It is not a cure-all to all the problems in Mindanao but it will create the conditions, the prospects of peace and prosperity if we have a representative and inclusive BBL,” said Sen. Sonny Angara.

Successful mission

Abhoud Syed Lingga, an MILF peace negotiator, said that part of moving on was the acceptance that the SAF had a successful mission, that of taking down international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”

“We were drowned in the issue of what led to the deaths. We should disaggregate the issue and then we can move forward,” Lingga said, stressing that he was speaking as an academic and not as an MILF negotiator.

Lingga said that the Bangsamoro people, and not just the MILF, continued to support the peace process and the passage of the BBL.

“Although the BBL [aims] to devolve [certain powers] to the Bangsamoro region, it will not lead to dismemberment of the Philippines. Moros are Filipino citizens and the Bangsamoro region will even strengthen the central government,” Lingga said.

Stop finger-pointing

Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, vice chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, said everyone should “refocus” on the BBL and “calm the emotions” in the aftermath of the Mamasapano tragedy.

“We should minimize the finger-pointing,” he said. Calling for justice for the deaths of all those who were killed in Mamasapano was right, he added, “to make sure that what happened will not happen again.”

“But the passage of the BBL remains very important,” Oaminal said, adding that there would certainly be amendments “but not a watered down law.”


INQUIRER

Aquino: I did not order SAF on suicide mission Christian V. Esguerra @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:38 AM | Friday, March 6th, 2015


President Aquino walks with New Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) head, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo, after the Assumption of Command Ceremony at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, south of Manila, Philippines, on Wednesday March 4, 2015. Aquino said didn’t send the Special Action Force (SAF) on a “suicide mission” in Mamasapano. AP

MANILA, Philippines–He didn’t send the Special Action Force (SAF) on a “suicide mission” in Mamasapano, and neither would he order one in the hunt for other high-profile terrorists.

President Aquino made this clear when he sat down for more than three hours with SAF troopers on Wednesday in his second meeting with them since 44 of their comrades were slaughtered by Moro rebels in Maguindanao province on Jan 25.

“I think the group was satisfied,” said an Inquirer source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with media about the meeting.

The President recalled that he got the impression that the SAF troopers had been properly reinforced based on initial text messages he received through Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and then Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima.

Purisima was under suspension for corruption at that time. He subsequently resigned.

In the first meeting on Jan. 30, none of the SAF troopers spoke. But the Inquirer source present on Wednesday said the President took the opportunity to assure the SAF troopers that he did not abandon them during the ill-fated operation.

It just so happened that there were “loopholes” in the operations that led to “improper reinforcement,” the source quoted Aquino as telling the police commandos.

One SAF trooper spoke up and told the President that his team was “happy” to capture terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and that they would be willing to go even on a “suicide mission” next time.

“I don’t order suicide missions,” replied Aquino, who also denied that he had asked government troops to “stand down” while Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and other Moro rebels were raining bullets on the SAF men.

The source said the meeting at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City was arranged to help provide “closure” between Aquino and the SAF troopers.

‘Guidance’

Aquino noted that he had given “guidance” for the SAF operation to be “coordinated” with the military and other appropriate government agencies.

But there were problems with the “execution,” he told the SAF officers.

A Senate inquiry earlier showed that the then SAF chief, Director Getulio Napeñas, failed to coordinate “time on target” with the military shortly before his troops moved in on Marwan and another terrorist, Basit Usman.

In the Camp Bagong Diwa meeting, the source said, the troopers also informed the President about weapons and other equipment they needed as the PNP’s frontline unit against terrorism.

In Malacañang, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the meeting was in part an “operations review” for the SAF.

“There was also a free exchange (between Aquino and the SAF troopers). There was an exchange of observations and suggestions,” Coloma said.


INQUIRER

SAF man who survived Mamasapano clash stresses all-out war not the answer Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:47 PM | Thursday, March 5th, 2015


War will not bring justice: A SAF Seaborne who took part in the Marwan operation on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano tells the Inquirer that an all out war in Central Mindanao will only give his fallen comrades temporary justice. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines–A member of the Special Action Force (SAF) Seaborne who took part in the Mamasapano operation that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan on Thursday made a call for peace and urged people to abandon “demands for an all-out war.”

The petition is for the pursuit of the peace process in Mindanao with the hashtag “fightforpeace” (#FightForPeace).

The SAF commando withheld his identity for security reasons, instead using the pseudonym “Jason Navarro” in the online petition.

The commando uploaded his petition on the global online platform, Change.org, at 7 a.m. In nine hours, it has received 326 supporters.

“The true face of war is not that dead soldier or rebel on the battlefield. It is a mother fleeing home with a cartload of offspring, amid sounds of gunfire,” the SAF commando said in his petition that can be seen on Change.org/CommandoCallsForPeace.

“I was part of January 25 Mamasapano operation to capture the terrorist Marwan. For security reasons I have to withhold my identity. I am a Special Action Force (SAF) officer. I lost 44 of my comrades and was wounded in battle. I will carry physical and emotional scars for life,” he wrote, stressing:

“Even so, I grieve to hear demands for ‘all-out war.’ For I, too, am a child of Mindanao. In childhood, I watched the flight of thousands of people from nearby towns. Entire families desperately seeking safe haven, war having obliterated their communities.”

“I wrote this petition to give voice to the many who share my belief in peace. I write for the countless mothers who have seen offspring sacrificed to war. No mother wants to see her child with a gun, not even when their husbands are warriors. Mothers and children suffer the most. No prize, no victory will ease their pain. War does not distinguish among faiths. War snuffs out lives – Filipino lives,” the SAF trooper said.

The Inquirer met the police commando through former journalist and now Change.org senior campaigner Christine Roque a few days before he put together his petition and uploaded it on the site.

At that meeting, the SAF commando narrated how he saw women and children fleeing the village of Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao as the gun battle on Jan. 25 intensified.

As he and his fellow Seaborne ran through the cornfields, as armed men pursued them, the commando remembered gesturing at the villagers with one hand while the other held on to his firearm.

He was telling them to run and seek cover.

“I couldn’t forget their worried faces. There was a mother pulling a carabao with a wagon where her children sat with their belongings,” the commando said.

As the saber rattling in Manila became more pronounced in the Senate investigation, the media, and on Facebook, the commando said the villagers he saw in the cornfields filled his mind—the women, the children.

“It is them whom I want to protect,” the commando told the Inquirer.

In college, he said, his Muslim friends were forced to skip classes several times because they had to attend to their families who had to flee the fighting and settle in evacuation centers.

Their lives had been so disrupted, the commando said.

The commando also stressed that if the public wants justice for the SAF 44, all-out war is not the answer.

“That will only give their families temporary justice. The families whose loved ones will be killed in that war will also demand for justice. It will be, as it is now, a never-ending cycle,” the commando said.


Screengrab from www.change.org 


MANILA STANDARD

AFP wants 72 hours extension of its all-out-war vs BIFF
[BIFF camps are now empty; Miitary suspects that BIFF members have sought refuge with their relatives in the MILF]
By Francisco Tuyay | Mar. 05, 2015 at 12:01am


INQUIRER PHOTO Troops retake national highway in Maguindanao. Government troops take over the national highway in Maguindanao a few hours after it was closed by rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Ferdinandh Cabrera --Some Muslims groups have expressed opposition to the military's all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a report on “24 Oras” said Friday. The BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is also blamed for January 25 Mamasapano clash that left 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) dead.

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines asked for a 72-hour extension of its all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters after the Islamist fighters disappeared in the area of operation in Maguindanao and allegedly sought refuge in areas controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Army’s Sixth Infantry Division made the request for an extension of the operation as the Maguindanao provincial board approved a resolution declaring the entire province under a state of calamity after 41,000 residents fled the operation which is now on its sixth day.

“[But] the BIFF camps are now empty,” said Absalom Cerveza, spokesman of the Moro National Liberation Front which also has former members in the area.

“The military cannot find the BIFF because they had already fled to different MILF controlled areas in Maguindanao,” Cerveza said, citing reports from MNLF commanders in the area.

Even military spokesman Col. Harold Cabunoc confirmed that the military also suspects that BIFF members have sought refuge with their relatives in the MILF.

“That is one of the challenges,” Cabunoc said when told of the information from the MNLF. “But we are closely working with the local government officials, up to the barangay officials, and also with the MILF. They committed to help us,” Cabunoc said.

The disappearance of the BIFF rebels was also a puzzle to the militray because they had earlier gained control of all key roads in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, including remote civilian communities, and they encountered no BIFF.

But Cerveza explained that the BIFF, like the MILF and MNLF in past clashes, could easily have fled the area by stashing their firearms in hiding places and mingling with the thousands of civilians who have been moving out of the area.

After disarming themselves, he said the BIFF could have joined the preemptive evacuation of at least three barangays in Maguindanao before the military unleased air and artillery fire on known BIFF positions.

Lawyer Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary and Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team chairperson, said they have recorded a total of 8,236 families, or 41,180 individuals, who were displaced by the fighting from 11 of Maguindanao’s 36 towns.

Maguindanao provincial board member Asnawi Sinsuat Limbona said they had already approved a resolution declaring the state of calamity that would enable the provincial government to use the provincial calamity fund.

Provincial Board Member Bobby Katambak said Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu was expected to sign the resolution on Wednesday even as the provincial government attended to the needs of the refugees through relief and rehabilitation teams led by provincial budget officer Lynette Estandarte.

At the same time, 6th ID commander Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan said he need a 72-hour extension of the operation because there were still 350 BIFF members in their area of operation.

Local bodies overseeing the ceasefire between the government and the MILF approved the extension, after which the military were able to clear a suspected BIFF training facility at a school in Brgy. Kitango in Datu Saudi town.


TRIBUNE

Whitewash seen as Aquino gets first crack at BoI report Written by Joshua L. Labonera Saturday, 07 March 2015 00:00


ROXAS

All roads are leading to a cover-up in the investigations on the Mamasapano massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos last Jan. 25 after the Palace said yesterday President Aquino, who is being pinpointed as the main culprit in the bloodshed, will review the findings of the Board of Inquiry (BoI) prior to the release of the report to the public.

The Palace said it will also ask Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II on the appropriate time that the report will be made public.

Aquino’s deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said, however, Aquino has yet to receive the report from the BoI which was the body formed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into the incident. Valte said Aquino, after reviewing the BoI report, will issue a statement on his position from the results of the investigation.

“At this point I did check with the Office of the President and we have not received any document yet. I understand that it would take some time, not very long, but it would be transmitted to us, but also, as is normal with the President, he would have to look at it himself,” she said.

“It would not be unusual for him to call his legal team to go through the report with him before we make any public statements on the content and the context,” she added.


VALTE

The same process was also done with the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) committee report on the bus hostage crisis that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong tourists that went into the whitewash of the report that resulted in the shielding of Aquino’s close associates from accountability in the 2010 incident.

Valte dodged queries on whether Aquino will review the findings before it is released to the public, saying “As is his preference, media wise if you want to know his thoughts on what the results are, the president has always, as a habit, go through it himself.”

Critics suspect a whitewash courtesy of Malacañang on the findings of the BoI since Aquino has been tagged as having a huge involvement in the incident with his responsibility extending to the actual execution of Operation Plan Exodus that targeted Malaysian terrorist Marwan and his Filipino henchman Basit Usman.

In total, 60 people died during the encounter between the SAF and a combined force ofthe Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). On when the findings will be made public, Valte said they would have to ask Roxas on the matter.

“I also would not, it would not be unusual for the PNP, I am not quite aware of the decision of Secretary Roxas of when it will be made public on the interim. We would have to get confirmation on that from him,” she said.

The Mamasapano incident is the most serious crisis that faced the Aquino administration as it generated public outrage against the President. Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. also believed the Senate investigation will also end up as part of a “systematic cover-up” which aims to shield Aquino from culpability.

In a statement, Iñiguez said the Senate hearings focused on distancing the blame on the incident from Aquino.

“Systematic cover-up. That sums up the main takeaway from the legislative hearings into the Jan. 25 Mamasapano tragedy,” the bishop said.


Iñiguez Jr.

Iñiguez also criticized leaders of the House of Representatives who called off hearings on the Mamasapano clash after a single session. He said that while the president may have been “misguided, misled, [and] misinformed” on the operation, Congress should not “shield the President”.

“Mamasapano is not just about 68 persons slain on Jan. 25. Mamasapano is also about the thrashing of a fragile peace process. Above all, Mamasapano is a glaring example of the president’s willful violation of all tenets of good governance and accountability,” Iñiguez said.

“To ignore that would be a mockery of the Senate’s oversight functions. To ignore that would make lawmakers complicit in rewarding the corrupt,” he continued.

Senate probers will have to obtain a court order to be able to secure information concerning the text exchanges between Aquino and resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima during the crucial hours of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clashes.

Besides the legal setback, lead prober in the Senate, Sen. Grace Poe was also told by the telecommunications company, Smart Communications Inc., that it’s incapable of retrieving the actual short message service (SMS) between Aquino and Purisima as they can only provide information on the time log of the mobile text messages.

“Smart telecom has formally replied to the committee that its system is not capable of tracking the contents of SMS but only the log of the time and numbers,”

Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said in a text message to reporters. The telecoms company also informed her, in response to the subpoena duces tecom that her committee served last week regarding the said information, that the panel will have to obtain either a court order or a written consent from the subscriber for it to comply.


POE

“The committee is still weighing its options on the matter given time considerations and the relevant legislative recommendations in the committee report,” she said.

Despite this development, Poe said they are now in the thick of completing the panel report that will include appropriate recommendations for all those concerned, especially that may be found liable in the mishandling of the Mamasapano operation that resulted in the loss of lives of 44 SAF members.

When asked if high officials in government could be as high as those in the Office of the President, the senator would not give a categorical answer, saying the report will encompass all those involved in the operation.

The Senate report will also take into consideration the results of the investigation of the PNP’s Board of Inquiry (BoI) for cross-checking of figures and other significant information, the senator said.

Poe said she would rather see the BoI report presented to the public, with the exclusion of those information that may jeopardize national security, diplomatic relations, ongoing criminal investigations and privacy and safety of a concerned individual.

“I think a report should be made public. Especially as the BoI is about accountability. There are matters there which can be covered by concerns on national security or diplomatic relations, there should be a separate report on classified information but the ones that have nothing to do with national security, should be made available to the public,” she said.

“They should be able to release it. Meaning, the liability of officials, for example, in the encounter, their misjudgement should be part of what they are going to report to the public,” the senator said.

Poe allayed fears of some that the report whitewashing what actually transpired during the fateful SAF operation. Angie M. Rosales


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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