PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

MAMASAPANO DEATH: 'PEACE PROCESS' IS BLAMED
APRIL 9...[The schism between police and military officials surfaced in all its rawness on Wednesday when the Special Action Force (SAF) accused the Philippine Army of holding back artillery fire, which could have saved the lives of police commandos during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash, to save the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)]


The Philippine National Police Special Action Forces carry the flag-draped coffins of their comrades upon arrival from the southern Philippines Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO The schism between police and military officials surfaced in all its rawness on Wednesday when the Special Action Force (SAF) accused the Philippine Army of holding back artillery fire, which could have saved the lives of police commandos during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash, to save the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, SAF deputy director, and Supt. Michael John Mangahis, the ground commanders for the SAF Mamasapano operation, accused Col. Gener del Rosario, commander of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade, and his boss, Maj. General Edmundo Pangilinan, the 6th Infantry Division chief, of using the peace process as justification for not providing ground and artillery support to the 55th and 84th SAF companies that were pinned down by Moro rebels during the clash. Speaking at an investigation of the Mamasapano clash at the House of Representatives, Mangahis, his voice cracking and full of anger, challenged Del Rosario: “Man up, sir. Man up, sir.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: PH faces daunting challenges, National Peace Council
APRIL 11...[Gov’t needs to address culture of Muslims, deep-seated prejudices, BBL to attain peace]


Convenors of the National Peace Council (from left) Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, former ambassador Howard Dee, former chief justice Hilario Davide and former Constitutional Assembly delegate Wilfrido Villacorta hold their first meeting yesterday. The Philippines faces daunting challenges as it tries to attain lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao, convenors of the National Peace Council said yesterday. Among the daunting tasks that the government needs to address in a bid to attain peace are: “history and culture of the Muslims; centuries of neglect, deep-seated prejudices and biases; the unfortunate clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25; and the strident voices denouncing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and calling for all-out war.”  These were among the subjects tackled by the peace council in their first meeting held last Monday in Makati City. READ MORE...

ALSO World Bank: BBL can’t ensure peace, new threat groups emerging


APRIL 11...Sen. Francis Escudero. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
The government has to contend with other armed groups, including new threat groups, after achieving peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Sen. Francis Escudero said on Friday, citing a World Bank-funded study of the conflict in Mindanao. The World Bank study titled “Rebellion, Political Violence and Shadow Crimes in the Bangsamoro: The Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) 2011-2013” was undertaken to provide data that would help in understanding the conflict in Mindanao. It said information was “critical in dealing with the potential recurrence of conflict after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the government and the MILF. International Alert UK Philippines and the World Bank put up the BCMS to “monitor and analyze conflict, particularly violent conflict with the Bangsamoro and adjoining areas.”  The BCMS collected conflict data from 2011 to 2013 from the Philippine National Police and five credible print media sources in five provinces. (Escudero’s office provided the Inquirer a copy of the World Bank study.) READ MORE...

ALSO AT THE PROBE:  Rescue of SAF troops losing hope recounted
APRIL 9...[“They did not want to move anymore, like they were just waiting to die. They had dead and wounded they could not leave behind,” said 2nd Lt. Gabriel Bannoya Jr., executive officer of the 61st Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) of the Philippine Army.]


Pictures of the slain PNP SAF killed in an alleged “misencounter” with MILF and BIFF in Mamasapano,Maguindanao displayed outside the gates of Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA
It was the first time information emerged about the condition of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were rescued from the site of the daylong clash that left 44 SAF troopers, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and three civilians dead. “They did not want to move anymore, like they were just waiting to die. They had dead and wounded they could not leave behind,” said 2nd Lt. Gabriel Bannoya Jr., executive officer of the 61st Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) of the Philippine Army. “We had to keep picking up after them,” said 2nd Lt. Jeymark Mateo, leader of the platoon that rescued or retrieved the eight dead, 11 wounded and 17 uninjured members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC). In their riveting account, Mateo and Bannoya recalled how they extricated the 84th SAC troopers before the joint committee investigating the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash at the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The corpses were so heavy each one had to be carried by four Army soldiers, sometimes by just two, who had to drag the bodies during the dangerous trek through a cornfield and across a river. READ MORE...

ALSO: Sue us, Noy’s peace aide Deles dares House; GOV’T NEGOTIATORS ALWAYS TAKE MILF’S SIDE — SOLON


APRIL 9...HOUSE PROBE 
“So sue us,” was the cocky response of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles to the whole House of Representatives after being questioned on the manner in which government peace negotiators almost always take the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on contentious issues related to the Mamasapano debacle.
Deles dared any member of the House of Representatives to file a formal complaint against members of the government peace panel who are being accused of taking the side of the MILF. Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, during the House hearing on the Mamasapano incident yesterday, said the government peace panel should start “speaking” for the government and not for the MILF which was a statement that incensed Deles. “I would just like to speak in relation to my record of a lifetime of advocacy for peace, justice and development, should there be any complaint or allegation by this honorable House of Representatives about for which we stand, I hope they would put it as a proper complaint so that there may be a proper decision on this, your honor,” Deles said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Experts split on validity of peace deals Iqbal signed for MILF; Who is Iqbal or Salah Jubair?


APRIL 9...‘Who is he?’ Senate panel to press Iqbal on real name;
Who is he? Government peace panel chairman Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer confirmed that the author Salah Jubair is the same person as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. Ferrer, nonetheless, indicated that Salah Jubair was just one of Iqbal's aliases.By AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMA News April 9, 2015 3:59pm Two legal experts are split on the issue of whether Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal's admission of using a nom de guerre would derail the peace talks between the rebel group and the goverment. Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda College of Law, said the two peace deals which Iqbal had signed would remain valid even if Iqbal had admitted using aliases in the past. Among the documents signed by Iqbal were the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on October 15, 2012 and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on March 27, 2014. "It is still valid since his identity is not questioned," Aquino told GMA News Online. He, however, said Iqbal's acts would not go unpunished if a complaint was filed. "He may be prosecuted for the illegal use of an alias," said Aquino, saying the rebel leader could be held liable for violation of Commonwealth Act 142 (An Act to Regulate the Use of Aliases) as amended by Republic Act 6085. Aquino cited the 1996 Supreme Court case Ursua v. Court of Appeals, in which the petitioner was cleared of charges despite using someone else's name to sign a log book at the Office of the Ombudsman in Davao City where he was to pick up a document for his lawyer. READ MORE...

ALSO: Iqbal’s real name known to Palace


APRIL 11...Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA
Malacañang on Friday said there was no deception on the part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when its chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, continues to use an alias while negotiating peace with the government. “There’s no deception on their part because Iqbal made his real name known to [the] government,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. “At least on the side of the executive, allow me to say that the real names of the MILF negotiators are of course known to the Philippine government, and in fact, they possess Philippine passports as issued by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” Valte told a Palace briefing. Valte said that previous governments had allowed rebels to continue using their aliases when negotiating peace with the government. She noted that this was the practice when the government and MILF began negotiations in 1997, with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), and even with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF). READ MORE...

ALSO TIMES OPINION: Smart Communications has smoking gun on Aquino’s stand-down order


APRIL 9...--------------But modern technology could come to our rescue so the truth would come out, even if Aquino and Purisima refuse to submit their cellphones for investigation.
Smart Communications, operator of the cellphones Aquino and Purisima used, has confirmed that it stores the logs — but not the messages — of SMS sent through its system. These would show whether or not there were other SMS messages exchanged between the cellphones of Aquino and Purisima, or between the President and his other officials that day. It would be a smoking gun if the logs showed there were other SMS exchanges between the two that Purisima did not include in his affidavit. Why hasn’t Smart complied with the Senate’s request for it to submit these logs? READ FULL COLUMN FROM BEGINNING....


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

SAF DEATH: ‘Peace process’ blamed; SAF commander to Army colonel, 'Man up, sir. '


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

MANILA, APRIL 13, 2015 (INQUIRER) Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet 2:54 AM | Thursday, April 9th, 2015 - The schism between police and military officials surfaced in all its rawness on Wednesday when the Special Action Force (SAF) accused the Philippine Army of holding back artillery fire, which could have saved the lives of police commandos during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash, to save the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, SAF deputy director, and Supt. Michael John Mangahis, the ground commanders for the SAF Mamasapano operation, accused Col. Gener del Rosario, commander of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade, and his boss, Maj. General Edmundo Pangilinan, the 6th Infantry Division chief, of using the peace process as justification for not providing ground and artillery support to the 55th and 84th SAF companies that were pinned down by Moro rebels during the clash.

Speaking at an investigation of the Mamasapano clash at the House of Representatives, Mangahis, his voice cracking and full of anger, challenged Del Rosario: “Man up, sir. Man up, sir.”

READ: SAF officer urges Col. Del Rosario: ‘Man up!’

READ MORE...
In his testimony, Mangahis claimed that he heard Del Rosario mention “peace process” while he was talking on the phone with Pangilinan around 7 a.m. on Jan. 25.

“I know they know the area very well. I don’t believe they have no assets. The real problem is their people. But I can’t say who he was talking to about the peace process,” Mangahis said.

Del Rosario did not deny he mentioned the peace process, but claimed he was talking to several people on the phone that morning and it was up to Mangahis to identify the person to whom he spoke about the peace process.

Flawed mission planning

Forty-four SAF commandos were killed by Moro rebels in that clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.

Seventeen guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace agreement with the government, and three civilians were also killed during the daylong gun battle.

Del Rosario and Pangilinan have blamed the SAF’s flawed mission planning and lack of coordination as the main reason why artillery fire had been held back nearly 12 hours after Taliño and Mangahis went to the mechanized brigade office in Shariff Aguak on that day.

READ: Mamasapano clash: What happened according to the military

It’s the peace process

Taliño corroborated Mangahis’ testimony that the peace process was the reason for the Army’s reluctance to help the SAF.

“We requested artillery support, he (Del Rosario) was talking to General Pangilinan on the phone and asked if I could talk to him (Pangilinan declined). He (Del Rosario) told me later that his division commander (Pangilinan) refused because of the peace process and the presence of civilians in the area,” Taliño said.

Taliño disputed Del Rosario’s claim that he and Mangahis went to the 1st Mechanized Brigade’s Shariff Aguak office together. Taliño said they went separately, with Mangahis going earlier.

ACT-CIS Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, a former chief police investigator, moved that the four be compelled to undergo polygraph tests to determine who was telling the truth.

The committee deferred action on Pagdilao’s motion.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, a former AFP chief of staff, objected to making the police and the military officers undergo lie detector tests.

Lack of info

Del Rosario insisted that the reason why the Army could not grant the request for artillery fire was the failure of Taliño and Mangahis to give him the exact location of the pinned down SAF commandos.

Del Rosario had previously criticized the two SAF commanders for planning the exit plan on the fly and that they were using a map derived from Google.

The sacked SAF chief, Director Getulio Napeñas, denied the map was from Google, saying the tactical map was provided by the United States.

Pangilinan concurred with Del Rosario’s claim, pointing out that it was only in the afternoon of Jan. 25 that he learned there were actually two SAF companies on the run in Mamasapano and needing artillery support.

But Taliño insisted that he clearly explained the SAF position to Del Rosario during their first meeting.

“It’s not true that we could not answer his requests for more details on the number and location of the troops. This was a life-and-death situation we were talking about,” Taliño said.

Mangahis claimed that they gave the coordinates and situation of the commandos even before there were casualties among the troops.

He said the Army knew the area where the SAF troops were trapped like the back of its hand.

Taliño said it was not true that civilians were in the way because residents fled the area after hearing gunfire around 7 a.m.

Telltale signs of stand down

Going by the findings of the PNP board of inquiry, several lawmakers tried to poke holes into the military’s version of the event.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the police report was “littered with telltale signs of a stand down” order, citing Pangilinan’s order to hold artillery support due to lack of information on the position of troops, civilians and armed groups; the detailed map of the SAF and that grid coordinates were available in the early morning of Jan. 25; Pangilinan fired white phosphorus at 6 p.m. even though the position of the SAF and the enemies were not yet determined; helicopters were available but were not allowed to fly either for reinforcement or rescue; and the Division Reconaissance Company (DRC) was already a few hundred meters away from the pinned down SAF in the morning but were suddenly withdrawn.

Aquino accountable

Colmenares said the President should be made to account for the apparent stand down order from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., as he was in control of the operations.

Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, a former police official, accused Del Rosario of being “less than candid” with the House investigators as it was clearly stated in the police board of inquiry report that all details necessary to fire artillery at 11 a.m. were necessary even if it was just for white phosphorus.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a former Marine captain, took up the cudgels for the military, criticizing the SAF for its poor planning, lack of exit strategies, and missing several opportunities to abort the mission after losing the element of surprise when the commandos arrived late at the target site.


MANILA BULLETIN

PH faces daunting challenges, National Peace Council by Edd K. Usman April 11, 2015


Convenors of the National Peace Council (from left) Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, former ambassador Howard Dee, former chief justice Hilario Davide and former Constitutional Assembly delegate Wilfrido Villacorta hold their first meeting yesterday.

Gov’t needs to address culture of Muslims, deep-seated prejudices, BBL to attain peace

The Philippines faces daunting challenges as it tries to attain lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao, convenors of the National Peace Council said yesterday.

Among the daunting tasks that the government needs to address in a bid to attain peace are: “history and culture of the Muslims; centuries of neglect, deep-seated prejudices and biases; the unfortunate clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25; and the strident voices denouncing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and calling for all-out war.”

These were among the subjects tackled by the peace council in their first meeting held last Monday in Makati City.

At the same meeting, the council convenors agreed to focus initially on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which continues to suffer rough sailing in Congress in the aftermath of the Mamasapano carnage that left 44 police commandos and 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters dead.

Present in the first meeting were former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., Ambassador Howard Dee, business tycoon Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, and youth leader Bai Rohanisa Sumndad Usman.

They were earlier named, along with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, by President Aquino to convene a national summit to look into the BBL.

They were joined at the meeting by several co-convenors, such as Archbishop Soc Villegas, Fr. Joel Tabora, Bishop Pablo David, Amina Rasul, lawyer Christian Monsod, Dean Sedfrey Candelaria, Dean Danilo Concepcion, Prof. Moner Bajunaid, Pat Sarenas, lawyer Nasser Marohomsalic, Dr. Cielito Habito, John Perrine, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, Bishop Efraim Tendero, lawyer Marlon Manuel, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, and Ramon del Rosario.

READ MORE...
The peace council decided not to name a chairman to preserve the spirit of collegiality. Instead, the convenors will divide the work as required.

“As an initial step, the convenors agreed to focus on the controversial BBL articles and organize clusters,” according to a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin.

The clusters relate to four broad subjects: constitutionality and forms and powers of government to be chaired by Davide; justice (social justice and human development), Dee and Usman as co-chairs; economy and patrimony, Ayala as chairman; and human security, whose chairman has yet to be named.

During the meeting, religious leaders, business executives, youth leaders, civil society advocates, academic experts, and retired professionals shared their expertise and experiences on national development.


former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

Davide welcomed the group, telling them that “the hardwork begins after the BBL is passed.”

Usman said the BBL’s passage has an “immense influence” on the future of the Moro youth, including women.

On the other hand, Ayala provided a glimpse of the council’s role and objectives.

Stressing the body’s independent nature, Ayala said the council is “committed to helping the general public understand what is at stake in the BBL, identify contentious issues, and help find a path toward reconciling divergent views.”

At the closing of the peace council’s first meeting, Dee reminded his colleagues on their goal.

“Our overarching goal is peace with justice and development in Muslim Mindanao: a political peace settlement that addresses the injustices inflicted on the Bangsamoro religious, cultural, and political identity as a people, as after all, they had their political identity before there was a Philippine nation; the human development of the Bangsamoro people by restoring their human rights and freedom to reverse their economic and social marginalization which has resulted in their human poverty level that is about twice the national average; a process of cultural and spiritual healing to overcome the deep-seated prejudices that continue to divide our people,” he said.

The council set their next meeting on April 18 during a plenary to share the result of their work following a series of in-depth sessions.

Meanwhile, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there is no need to create any presidential directive on the creation of the National Peace Council that will discuss the proposed BBL.

Valte said there is no need for an executive order (EO) or an administrative order (AO) for the National Peace Council, noting that it is composed of private individuals.

“In the first place, I don’t know why it would be illegal because it’s a private group that’s not being funded by the government,” Valte said.

“Why would an EO be needed considering they are not part of government?” she asked, noting that the council is an independent group that has accepted the President’s invitation. (With a report from Madel Sabater Namit)


INQUIRER

World Bank: BBL can’t ensure peace, new threat groups emerging Christine O. Avendaño @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:57 AM | Saturday, April 11th, 2015


Sen. Francis Escudero. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The government has to contend with other armed groups, including new threat groups, after achieving peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Sen. Francis Escudero said on Friday, citing a World Bank-funded study of the conflict in Mindanao.

The World Bank study titled “Rebellion, Political Violence and Shadow Crimes in the Bangsamoro: The Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) 2011-2013” was undertaken to provide data that would help in understanding the conflict in Mindanao.

It said information was “critical in dealing with the potential recurrence of conflict after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the government and the MILF.

International Alert UK Philippines and the World Bank put up the BCMS to “monitor and analyze conflict, particularly violent conflict with the Bangsamoro and adjoining areas.”

The BCMS collected conflict data from 2011 to 2013 from the Philippine National Police and five credible print media sources in five provinces.

(Escudero’s office provided the Inquirer a copy of the World Bank study.)

READ MORE...
With other armed groups in the region, Escudero said the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would not be an assurance of lasting peace in Mindanao.

The World Bank study looked into and analyzed data on conflict in the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi where there were 2,578 violent incidents of violence from 2011 to 2013.

The five provinces make up the bulk of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region.

“The BBL will only provide peace between the government and the MILF,” Escudero said, reiterating his call to government peace negotiators to be “candid, honest and not raise false hopes that the BBL will bring peace to Mindanao.”

‘Irrelevant’

The MILF, however, sees the BBL as a tool that would make the other armed groups in Mindanao irrelevant.

“With the BBL, other armed groups will lose legitimacy because the issues related to the Moro conflict are being addressed,” Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the MILF, said at a recent round-table discussion in Davao City sponsored by the National Union of Journalists.

Iqbal acknowledged that the BBL “may not be a complete formula” for peace. But with the BBL, he said, “the situation will change significantly.”

The passage of the BBL by Congress is part of the peace agreement signed last year by the government and the MILF.

Escudero said the World Bank study showed that the BBL “will not really provide lasting peace with the armed groups in Mindanao.”

“But admittedly, it may lessen the groups fighting the government [with the achievement of peace with the MILF],” Escudero said.

For the government to settle the peace and order problem in Mindanao, it has to “engage all other groups as well and not just the MILF because all other groups that were excluded will still pose serious security threats to Mindanao and our country,” he added.


INQUIRER

Rescue of SAF troops losing hope recounted DJ Yap @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:17 AM | Thursday, April 9th, 2015


Pictures of the slain PNP SAF killed in an alleged “misencounter” with MILF and BIFF in Mamasapano,Maguindanao displayed outside the gates of Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

It was the first time information emerged about the condition of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were rescued from the site of the daylong clash that left 44 SAF troopers, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and three civilians dead.

“They did not want to move anymore, like they were just waiting to die. They had dead and wounded they could not leave behind,” said 2nd Lt. Gabriel Bannoya Jr., executive officer of the 61st Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) of the Philippine Army.

“We had to keep picking up after them,” said 2nd Lt. Jeymark Mateo, leader of the platoon that rescued or retrieved the eight dead, 11 wounded and 17 uninjured members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC).

In their riveting account, Mateo and Bannoya recalled how they extricated the 84th SAC troopers before the joint committee investigating the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The corpses were so heavy each one had to be carried by four Army soldiers, sometimes by just two, who had to drag the bodies during the dangerous trek through a cornfield and across a river.

READ MORE...
It was on the evening of Jan. 25 when the Army soldiers finally reached the “battle-stressed” commandos from 84th SAC in Pidsandawan village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, several hours after the commandos had killed Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian-born terrorist also known as Marwan.

They found the commandos exhausted, hungry and fast losing hope.

As they ran for their lives, the commandos were so disoriented they were dropping their weapons and equipment on the ground. The dead were being left behind. One of the commandos was found sleeping under a tree and had to be shaken awake.

The two Army officers’ story gave rise to new questions about Mamasapano: Were the parties honoring the ceasefire, which should already have been in place at that point? What was the exit strategy of the SAF units executing “Oplan Exodus,” the covert operation to capture Marwan, Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco and their Filipino associate Basit Usman?

Shortcomings of SAF unit

On the other hand, the testimony of the four Army officers at the House hearing also showed there might have been shortcomings on the part of the third SAF unit assigned to support the 84th and the 55th.

Staff Sgt. Whilmer Jaranilla, team leader of the 61st DRC, said his unit spotted members of the 45th SAC resting “under the shade of banana trees” some 700 meters away from where the 55th SAC was engaged in a gun battle with enemy forces.

Bannoya corroborated the information, saying he also saw the 45th “just lying around.”

He recalled telling the 45th troopers to move to a better defensive position, and gave them food and water.

In the evening, the signal finally came to enter the area where the 84th SAC troopers were trapped.

Battle-stressed’

“The first thing they said to me was: ‘It’s good to see you, Sir. We thought this was where we would die,’” Bannoya said.

“I think our [arrival] lifted their spirits,” he said.

“They were battle-stressed. [During the long time] they spent there, they had no food or water. There were wounded among them, many dead,” Bannoya said.

At first, he said, the most senior SAF officer could not even give an accurate count of the casualties.

“Some of those they counted dead were actually just wounded,” he said.

The final count was eight dead, 11 wounded, 17 uninjured, he said.

Military ‘not remiss’

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who presented Mateo, Jaranilla and two other Army officers to the investigative committee, said the accounts of the soldiers showed at least one thing: “The Armed Forces of the Philippines was not remiss in helping out the SAF. Otherwise, more than 44 of them would have died.”

The US-trained 84th SAC, also called Seaborne, was the strike force that infiltrated into Moro rebel-controlled Mamasapano early on Jan. 25 to get Marwan and the two other terrorists.

But the mission went wrong when an explosive device went off in Marwan’s hut in Pidsandawan, waking up armed groups in the community who poured out of their huts and attacked the withdrawing commandos.

Later, fighting would also erupt between MILF rebels and commandos from the 55th SAC, the blocking force for the 84th, in nearby Tukanalipao village. Most of the 44 dead on the SAF side belonged to the 55th.

Left in the lurch

The sacked commander of the SAF, Director Getulio Napeñas, however, told the House panel that he stood by his assertion that the military left the commandos “hanging in the air.”

“There were no reinforcements that came to support the beleaguered SAF,” he said, citing his communications with AFP units on the ground to provide artillery support.

“Now, their tenor is they’re blaming us,” Napeñas said.

Military commanders in Mindanao earlier said they did not send reinforcements to help the pinned-down SAF commandos because they had no complete information about the operation.

Napeñas earlier admitted that he kept the operation secret out of fear that it might be compromised.

Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Central Mindanao, defended himself from the charge that he ordered his men to hold artillery fire because of the peace process with the MILF.

“I never said to hold artillery fire because of the peace process. I said to hold until we get the full details,” he said.

‘We trust each other’

The officer in charge of the Philippine National Police, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, dismissed suggestions of a rift between the police and the military.

“Whatever happened in Mamasapano was a matter of ground decisions not to share information with some AFP elements… This is not reflective of the relationship between the PNP and the AFP, which is very strong,” he said.

The AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., said: “We trust each other. It’s only Napeñas who does not trust the AFP.”


TRIBUNE

GOV’T NEGOTIATORS ALWAYS TAKE MILF’S SIDE — SOLON; So sue us, Noy’s peace aide dares House Written by By Gerry Baldo and Joshua L. Labonera Thursday, 09 April 2015 00:00


HOUSE PROBE

“So sue us,” was the cocky response of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles to the whole House of Representatives after being questioned on the manner in which government peace negotiators almost always take the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on contentious issues related to the Mamasapano debacle.

Deles dared any member of the House of Representatives to file a formal complaint against members of the government peace panel who are being accused of taking the side of the MILF. Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, during the House hearing on the Mamasapano incident yesterday, said the government peace panel should start “speaking” for the government and not for the MILF which was a statement that incensed Deles.

“I would just like to speak in relation to my record of a lifetime of advocacy for peace, justice and development, should there be any complaint or allegation by this honorable House of Representatives about for which we stand, I hope they would put it as a proper complaint so that there may be a proper decision on this, your honor,” Deles said.

Lobregat said he was just referring to the contents of the various reports on the Mamasapano incident.

“Through all the reports, I was very surprised that they mentioned (the death of members of) SAF (Special Action Force), they mentioned MILF, they mentioned civilians. It was only in the report of the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) that the list of SAF members who died in that tragic incident were not mentioned,” Lobregat said. “I am just pointing out a matter of fact and I am not inventing anything,” Lobregat said.

READ MORE...
Lobregat took exception to the report of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), a summary of which the OPAPP released last Monday. Lobregat noted the IMT report had as an attachment of the MILF findings on the Mamasapano incident but the PNP (Philippine National Police)-BoI report on the same incident was not even cited.

Lobregat also noted the IMT report listed the names of MILF rebels killed in the Jan. 25 encounter but had no mention of any names of the 44 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) troopers as well as the five civilians killed in the same incident.

“Would it not be proper that you, who are supposedly representing the Philippines, should also include the names of the SAF (troopers)... So that is why, perhaps, I would agree that it is time that our panel starts speaking for the Republic of the Philippines and also for the government,” Lobregat said.

“I’m putting it forward that if it is the position of the whole House of Representatives, it would be better to put it in a proper forum,” Deles said.

Government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer defended the IMT report saying it was not meant to be a comprehensive review of the incident. She said it was done only in reference to the “matter of the breakdown of the ceasefire that took place last Jan. 25,” Ferrer said.

It was not only Deles and Lobregat who figured in an argument during the hearing. Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP-SAF also had a heated exchange over the supposed failure of the military to provide support to the beleaguered police commandos who engaged rebels from both the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in a firefight.

At one point in the hearing, SAF member Superintendent Michael John Mangahis challenged Colonel Gener del Rosario, commander of the Army’s 1st mechanized brigade, to “man up” as Del Rosario claimed the SAF failed to give the right coordinates of the SAF troopers pinned down in the gun battle.

The fierce exchange between the AFP and the PNP officers prompted lawmakers to propose that resource persons be subjected to lie detector tests. According to ACT-CIS partylist Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, a former police officer, the panel members have had enough of contradicting testimonies.

The move was supported by Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga and Act Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio who seconded the motion. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gregorio Catapang Jr. also lambasted former SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas for saying that the military abandoned the police during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid.

‘’We’re very close with the PNP (Philippine National Police). We are a band of brothers. We trust each other. It is only General Napeñas who does not trust the Armed Forces of the Philippines,’’ Catapang said during the third day of the House hearing on the Mamaspano clash.

Catapang made the comment just minutes after Napeñas told the joint panels his recollection of how the military failed to send reinforcements to the besieged SAF troopers who were under severe fire from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The military has repeatedly said that the failure to send reinforcement and the late firing of artillery was due to the lack of information on the whereabouts of the SAF troopers and the hostile forces. Catapang said the request for artillery fire should meet three parameters under the AFP rules of engagement.

PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina echoed Catapang’s statement belying any animosity or mistrust between the AFP and PNP. Espina said what happened in Mamasapano is not reflective of the relationship between the two organizations.

No raps filed over massacre Roughly three months after the Mamasapano tragedy, the Aquino administration has yet to hold anyone accountable over the incident. In a statement, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda avoided categorically addressing the query on Aquino having any idea on who to charge.

The Palace spokesman also dodged inquiries on whether Aquino is through with reviewing the BoI findings on the incident He instead drew the attention to other government agencies, namely to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

“The BoI made recommendations in respect of actions to be taken by specific government agencies, among them is the DoJ,” Lacierda said.

Aquino was cited in the BoI report as having violated the Philippine National Police (PNP) chain-of-command in putting then suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima in the loop of operations.

To date, the President has yet to divulge why he assigned Purisima to the mission and on what basis.

In an earlier speech after the release of the BoI findings, Aquino was quick to take a jab against the police body saying some of its findings were based on “speculation,” accusing the probe of not getting his side on the issue even as he was completely evasive om the investigations conducted on the incident.

Even as the BoI found Aquino to have violated the chain of command, it did not recommend any sanctions on Aquino similar to the findings of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous drugs that found Aquino as “ultimately responsible” for the mishap but did not recommend any action to hold the President responsible.

The Palace, for its part, downplayed the probes saying such were only “fact-finding” investigations, as the DoJ is the only one to determine culpability.

Critics have assailed that the DoJ is whitewashing its investigation on who to be charged for the incident and who is responsible for the botched operations, as Justice Secretary Leila De Lima continues to shield the President from the smear courtesy of the issue.

De Lima said the United States has a limited involvement in the Jan. 25 police mission which was covered by existing bilateral agreements and did not transgress Philippine sovereignty. Appearing at the continuation of the House joint probe into the Mamasapano incident, De Lima also pointed out that the US participation, which was limited to intelligence sharing and medical evacuation of wounded Special Action Force commandos, was well within the bounds of the Constitution.

“The bottom line always, as I said, is the ability of the Philippine government to determine the extent of US involvement and the full exercise of its control in making the decisions as to what, who, when and how of a particular operation,” De Lima told lawmakers.

She added: “So long as these considerations are met and absolute Philippine control is exercised all throughout, there can be no argument that US involvement has transgressed any of the constitutional and legal boundaries on foreign participation in Philippine military and law enforcement activities under the facts so far established in any of the investigations.”

De Lima said the presence of the American troops in Mindanao was covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the U.S. “Foreign affairs is the primary jurisdiction and core competence of the executive branch of government and therefore the President, as Chief Executive, may enter into agreements that do not need concurrence of the Senate as treaties for purposes of enhancing international cooperation in global law enforcement, specifically against terrorist threats and especially if such threats find sanctuary through the back doors of the country’s largely unguarded coastal frontiers like Mindanao,” she pointed out.

The justice chief also cited the 2002 Supreme Court ruling in Lim v. Executive Secretary which, she said, “painted the allowable activities for joint military cooperation in broad strokes.”

“It states that the VFA contains no enumeration or limitation of what activities would be covered by the [agreement] and provides only the broad limitations that must be approved by the Philippine government and that they must not be inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement, which is cooperation,” De Lima said.

In the same hearing, De Lima insisted that President Aquino is not covered by the chain of command within the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“In my reading of the Constitution and law, the principle of chain of command does not strictly apply insofar as the President is concerned,” De Lima said, noting that President’s relationship or dealings with the PNP is not as commander-in-chief but only as chief executive.

“It is in the same manner as the chief executive over all executive offices and departments. We all know that in a civilian agency or in a civilian organization, chain of command is not there,” she added.


GMA NEWS TV

Experts split on validity of peace deals Iqbal signed for MILF; Who is Iqbal? April 9, 2015 10:02pm


‘Who is he?’ Senate panel to press Iqbal on real name;
Who is he? Government peace panel chairman Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer confirmed that the author Salah Jubair is the same person as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. Ferrer, nonetheless, indicated that Salah Jubair was just one of Iqbal's aliases.By AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMA News April 9, 2015 3:59pm Two

Two legal experts are split on the issue of whether Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal's admission of using a nom de guerre would derail the peace talks between the rebel group and the goverment.

Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda College of Law, said the two peace deals which Iqbal had signed would remain valid even if Iqbal had admitted using aliases in the past.

Among the documents signed by Iqbal were the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on October 15, 2012 and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on March 27, 2014.

"It is still valid since his identity is not questioned," Aquino told GMA News Online.

He, however, said Iqbal's acts would not go unpunished if a complaint was filed.

"He may be prosecuted for the illegal use of an alias," said Aquino, saying the rebel leader could be held liable for violation of Commonwealth Act 142 (An Act to Regulate the Use of Aliases) as amended by Republic Act 6085.

Aquino cited the 1996 Supreme Court case Ursua v. Court of Appeals, in which the petitioner was cleared of charges despite using someone else's name to sign a log book at the Office of the Ombudsman in Davao City where he was to pick up a document for his lawyer.

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Harry Roque Jr., law professor at the University of the Philippines, thinks otherwise.

Roque said the peace agreement between the government and the rebel group would be affected due to Iqbal's admission.

"Hindi na valid iyong deals kasi (lumalabas) fictitious person siya eh," Roque said in a separate interview.

During the hearing of the House of Representatives on the Mamasapano clash Wednesday, Iqbal refused to divulge his real name saying even heroes use aliases.

At the Senate, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he would bring up the issue of Iqbal's use of an alias in negotiating with the government at the resumption of the Senate's hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on Monday.

The senator said Iqbal's decision not to use his real name on government documents raised many questions.

Marcos added that beyond the legal implications of the use of an alias, it calls into question the MILF’s good faith in entering into the peace agreement.

Iqbal has already admitted that he did not use his real name in the peace agreements with the government.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law is the embodiment of the peace agreements signed by the Philippine government and the MILF which aims to end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

It seeks to create the Bangsamoro political entity which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It will also specify wealth- and power-sharing arrangements between the national government and the new political entity. —NB, GMA News


INQUIRER

Iqbal’s real name known to Palace Nikko Dizon and Tarra Quismundo @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:18 AM | Saturday, April 11th, 2015


Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

Malacañang on Friday said there was no deception on the part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when its chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, continues to use an alias while negotiating peace with the government.

READ: Iqbal: Yes, I have many aliases

“There’s no deception on their part because Iqbal made his real name known to [the] government,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

“At least on the side of the executive, allow me to say that the real names of the MILF negotiators are of course known to the Philippine government, and in fact, they possess Philippine passports as issued by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” Valte told a Palace briefing.

Valte said that previous governments had allowed rebels to continue using their aliases when negotiating peace with the government. She noted that this was the practice when the government and MILF began negotiations in 1997, with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), and even with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF).

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Negotiators knew

“They were allowed to continue using their aliases that they used as part of their underground rebel organizations as a matter of personal security,” she said.

READ: Gov’t allowed Iqbal, others to use aliases for security

Chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Thursday said she had known for a long time that “Mohagher Iqbal” was a nom de guerre (French for war name or assumed name). She said she also knew Iqbal’s other names, including the aliases he used as an author.

According to Ferrer, Iqbal’s signing the peace agreement with an alias was not an issue because “there is no other Mr. Iqbal who signed the document.”

“In signing the contract, his identity is clear. He has his biometrics. He has his passport and voter’s ID. He registered in time for the 2013 elections,” she said.

Legally liable

Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Iqbal may be legally liable and face imprisonment for signing official documents using an alias.

Lacson, in a radio interview, said Iqbal would need judicial authority to use his chosen alias in official documents. Without this, he might be imprisoned and fined under the law regulating the use of aliases, he said.

“If he can show a court order and he went through the judicial process allowed under the law… to use the name he used to sign, ‘Iqbal,’ then there would be no problem,” he said in the radio interview.

READ: Lacson questions Iqbal’s use of alias in signing official documents

He also warned that Iqbal’s signature on documents pertaining to the peace agreement could invalidate them.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said Iqbal’s admission that he used an alias has put into question the sincerity and motives of the MILF.

“There was no absolute transparency and honesty on the part of the MILF peace negotiator. If we are really sincere, we should lay all our cards on the table and hide nothing,” Nograles said.

There is no legal risk that the peace process would suffer any setbacks because the chief rebel negotiator was using an alias.

This was the opinion expressed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over lawmakers’ concern that the name of the separatist MILF principal negotiator, Iqbal, was just one of his many aliases.

De Lima said the use of a nom de guerre was common practice in revolutionary organizations.

Besides, Iqbal can no longer deny that he is, in fact, the man named Mohagher Iqbal, she said.

According to De Lima, the use of a pseudonym in this case would fall under the exceptions of Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes the use of a fictitious name.

“That won’t be a problem because we can say that he is deemed to be in estoppel already. He cannot anymore deny that it is his alias,” she said.

De Lima referred to a legal doctrine that “precludes a person from denying, or asserting anything to the contrary of, that which has, in contemplation of law, been established as the truth, either by the acts of judicial or legislative officers, or by his own deed, acts, or representations, either express or implied.”

One of many aliases

Iqbal admitted to using an alias, including the name by which he is popularly known, before a hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, when he was confronted with allegations that he was, in fact, a Malaysian citizen.

He is known to have used his alias to sign the government’s peace agreement with the MILF, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, in March last year.

Iqbal is also known to have used the name “Salah Jubair,” in publishing the books, “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process” and “Bangsamoro: A nation under endless tyranny.”

Some senators, led by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, said they were bothered by the rebel’s use of an alias in signing documents pertaining to the peace agreement. Marcos, who chairs the hearings on the draft Bangsamoro basic law, said he would pursue the issue when discussions on the bill resume next week.

READ: Iqbal alias, MILF ‘deception’ may affect peace pact—Marcos

READ: Iqbal puts entire peace process in ’jeopardy’ – Marcos

De Lima believes that rebels should be allowed the courtesy of continuing to use their pseudonyms, or war names, when they are involved in peace negotiations, otherwise no peace process could proceed, she said.

“We have to understand that in revolutionary organizations, I think it is common practice among these rebel leaders to use a nom de guerre, and when there are peace negotiations and they need to surface to participate,” she said.

No threat to peace accord

Nor is the justice secretary unduly worried that Iqbal’s signing the peace agreement using an alias could invalidate the document.

“I don’t think it will affect the authenticity or the very legality of the document just because it is signed under a nom de guerre or an alias, because he already admitted that it is his alias. He can no longer deny such representation under the estoppel doctrine,” said De Lima.

De Lima said she would submit her formal position to the House on Monday. With reports from DJ Yap and Leila Salaverria


MANILA TIMES OPINION

Smart Communications has smoking gun on Aquino’s stand-down order April 9, 2015 9:32 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

The Indonesian-Japanese venture Smart Communications has proof, or at least the smoking gun, for President Benigno S. Aquino’s “stand-down order” to the military, telling them not to save the police commandos trapped in Mamasapano.

This is contained in the company’s log of SMS messages between Aquino and his bosom buddy, the resigned Police Chief Alan Purisima.

The President in effect illegally designated Purisima—despite his being suspended—as his executive officer for the police elite unit Special Action Forces’ Oplan Exodus, the plan to terminate international terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir aka “Marwan” and two of his collaborators.

As part of his sworn testimony to the Senate hearing last month, Purisima submitted a transcript of what he claimed was the exchange of SMS messages between him and Aquino on that fateful day.

His first message was at 5:45 a.m., which in a self-congratulatory tone reported that Marwan was killed, the mission successful, although the body was left behind. Purisima sent seven more text messages, his last at 6:20 p.m.

Aquino replied when he woke up, at 7:36 a.m., not to ask how the SAF troopers were but only as follows: “Why was it (Marwan’s body) left behind?

The other two targets?” (Aquino’s second question reflected his intimate knowledge of the operation as he knew more than what the public had been told that there were only two targets, Marwan and his associate Basit Usman.

Only when this transcript of SMS messages was submitted by Purisima and inquiries made why Aquino referred to two targets did the government disclose there was a third target, who got away – another Malaysian bomb expert, Amin Baco.)

But according to Purisima’s testimony, Aquino’s last message was at 10:16 a.m.

This is impossible.

Aquino couldn’t have abruptly ended his communication with Purisima at 10:16 a.m. This even contradicts Aquino’s statement in his impromptu speech before the SAF on Jan 31 that “he was receiving reports the whole day” on the ongoing firefight.

Deleted? Facsimile of Purisima’s affidavit claiming SMS exchanges between him and Aquino on Jan 25.

The most crucial hours of the firefight were around midday, when the SAF 55th company commandos – ironically the “blocking force” – were being overrun and massacred.

That was the life-or-death period when Purisima would have told Aquino how desperate the situation of the SAF troopers was, and when Aquino, the commander-in-chief, should have issued his crucial orders to save them.

Testimonies at the Senate and, more recently, at the House of Representatives yesterday bolster this newspaper’s Feb 5 report that President Aquino ordered his troops to “stand down” for the sake of his peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose forces have attacked and massacred the SAF troopers.

As SAF officers’ testimonies revealed yesterday, how could veteran army generals invoke the “peace talks” as their reason for withholding artillery fire they knew could save the lives of their comrades-in-arms, if they were not just quoting the President’s orders?

Based on all the testimonies of Aquino’s officials in the Senate, only Purisima was reporting to him, except for a single message the interior and local government secretary sent to him early morning, to which the President replied with an obviously dismissive “Thank you.”

Or perhaps Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang was actually briefing him the whole day, which means the general was lying, committing perjury in his testimonies at the Senate as he stated he didn’t have cellphone communications with the President that day.

Purisima is obviously taking the Senate and us for fools by testifying that Aquino’s last message was at 10:16 a.m. He is covering up for his bosom friend.

Why did he delete Aquino’s messages after that early hour of the daylong crisis?

Because Aquino’s messages would have indisputably shown that he ordered his forces to stand down, as army actions to save the SAF troops could have endangered his peace talks.

The messages would most probably show that he told Purisima that he had spoken with peace adviser Teresita Deles, who assured him that the MILF had issued a ceasefire order to its troops.

From Aquino’s behavior, I would bet he cursed Purisima again and again for the botched operation.

This reminds us of the infamous 18-minute gap in the 79-minute conversation between US President Nixon and his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, which had obviously been deleted deliberately as it would have shown his complicity in the Watergate break-in cover-up. (At least Nixon agreed to submit the tapes to Congress. In our case, our Congress has been too timid to ask Aquino to surrender his cellphone.)

But modern technology could come to our rescue so the truth would come out, even if Aquino and Purisima refuse to submit their cellphones for investigation.

Smart Communications, operator of the cellphones Aquino and Purisima used, has confirmed that it stores the logs — but not the messages — of SMS sent through its system.

These would show whether or not there were other SMS messages exchanged between the cellphones of Aquino and Purisima, or between the President and his other officials that day.

It would be a smoking gun if the logs showed there were other SMS exchanges between the two that Purisima did not include in his affidavit.

Why hasn’t Smart complied with the Senate’s request for it to submit these logs?

I do hope Smart Communications would be patriotic enough to submit to Congress the SMS records of Aquino and Purisima — and even of Gen. Gregorio Catapang and his field commanders — so the truth can be established, which is important for strengthening our rule of law.

What am I talking about asking Smart to be patriotic?

It is a foreign-owned firm. A 100-percent subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Smart, therefore, is 46 percent owned by foreign firms, with the next biggest single stockholding bloc of only 8 percent being owned by Filipino John Gokongwei.

About 26 percent is owned by the First Pacific Co. Ltd of Hong Kong, of which, 45 percent is held by Indonesian Anthoni Salim, son of former Indonesian strongman Suharto’s biggest crony, the late Sudono.

The other 20 percent is held by the Japanese giant NTT, which is in charge of the firm’s technology. (Its chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan, has 0.11 percent)

Foreigners control a strategic, near-monopoly communications firm that provides crucial telecom services for the battles fought by our military.

Foreigners now hold information that would determine indisputably whether this President, deliberately or not, allowed 44 of our elite troopers to be massacred?

What a pathetic country we’ve become.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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