NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...

SOME BISHOPS BACK CALLS FOR AQUINO TO APOLOGIZE OVER  MAMASAPANO


Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez ---
– Some Catholic bishops have echoed calls in Congress for President Aquino to apologize over the botched Mamasapano operation. “Certainly, he’s the Commander in Chief,” Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel, Cotabato province, said when asked in a phone interview yesterday with reporters about the demand by some lawmakers for the President to take responsibility for the Jan. 25 massacre of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano. “Humility is a sign of true leadership. He should accept responsibility. Genuine leaders never pass the buck. Humility is truth, a Christian virtue,” Gutierrez said as he urged Filipinos to pray for Mr. Aquino. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Palace rejects calls for PNoy to apologize for Mamasapano tragedy


SYMPATHY AND JUSTICE: President Aquino offers prayers for the slain SAF commandos at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan in January. WILLY PEREZ 
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang believes that President Benigno Aquino III has nothing to apologize for in the fatal January 25 anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao since he was not directly involved in the operation. In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino only deals with the policy level and the lapses in the Mamasapano incident were on the operation level. "The President deals on the policy level. The policy level is to fight terrorism. On the operational level, how the operation was conducted, certainly there were lapses," Lacierda said. "The President does not involve himself in the operation of neutralizing a terrorist," he added, referring to Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan, the target of the Mamasapano operation. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace denies PNoy scolded SAF in 3-hour bull session


President Aquino congratulates newly installed Special Action Force director Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig yesterday. STAR/Willy Perez 
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III did not scold the officials and troopers of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) during their three-hour meeting on Wednesday, Malacañang said.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. dismissed as "baseless" and "speculative" reports that Aquino scolded the SAF officials and troopers over the deadly Mamasapano mission. Coloma said it is not in the nature of the President to make such action. READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy holds 3-hour bull session with SAF


New PNP-SAF head. President Benigno Aquino III greets PNP-SAF Officer in Charge Noli Taliño (second from left) after congratulating newly installed PNP-SAF Director Moro Virgilio Lazo (left) at the PNP-SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa. Malacañang Photo Bureau MANILA, Philippines - For three and a half hours yesterday, the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, particularly those involved in the Mamasapano operation, finally had a bull session with President Aquino to discuss their concerns and needs, something they failed to do the first time the Chief Executive tried to talk to them after the bloody encounter. The atmosphere was lighter at the SAF quadrangle while some officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and SAF, along with troopers, waited for the program to start supposedly at 10:35 a.m. It has been more than a month since the incident. This was in contrast to the meeting of the President with SAF troopers on Jan. 30 during the memorial services for the 44 police commandos killed in a firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25. Emotions were running high at the time, five days after the deadly clash. Thus, when Aquino asked the troopers to tell him what was on their minds, there was only stone cold silence. The President urged them to communicate through letters and whatever means and gave assurance that his door would always be open if they wanted to talk. READ MORE...

ALSO: Santiago questions BBL constitutionality, authority of Aquino and MILF [Who gave President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the authority to negotiate peace and propose a substate in the South?, Santiago asked]


Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday questioned the authority of President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to negotiate peace and the creation of a substate. PHOTO BY RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.NET Who gave President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the authority to negotiate peace and propose a substate in the South? Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked this question on Thursday as she described the whole process of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress unconstitutional. “What is the constitutional basis for the authority to negotiate on the part of the Philippine government? The President simply assumed that he had the power. That’s not so,” she said during a press conference in the Senate. “The President does not have sole power over the foreign policy of the Philippines,” she said. The senator explained that under the Constitution, “foreign policy power” must be equally shared between the President and the Congress, specifically the Senate. READ MORE...

ALSO Palace to critics: Read the 122-page BBL first!


Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. JV Ejercito and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. FILE PHOTOS
Malacañang is urging critics of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to read it first before assailing the measure, which seeks to carve out a new Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. noted that the law Congress would pass would be based on the draft submitted by the Palace. “Expressing doubts (over the BBL) is part of the democratic dialogue and understanding comes once questions are clarified,” Coloma told reporters. “Let’s also ask those expressing these views, ‘Have they read the (draft) law?’” The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) on Wednesday tweeted a link to an online copy of the 122-page draft of the measure hammered out in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that seeks to establish a substate that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. READ MORE...

ALSO: Cebu group, former PMA cadets opposes proposed Bangsamoro law


Government Peace Panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer answers questions from reporters after the Bangsamoro committee hearing chaired by Senator Miriam Santiago on Monday. (INQUIRER PHOTO) 
The death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao last Sunday has created adverse reaction to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that is now being deliberated in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
A group of former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy calling itself PMA Cebu Squad Inc. is lobbying for the disapproval of the proposed law that would operationalize the peace agreement signed by the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March last year. Citing at least 11 unconstitutional provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), members of the PMA Cebu Squad Inc. are seeking that the legislation be subjected to further review and if possible rejected. They placed their observation on the “unconstitutionality” of the legislation in a letter which they sent yesterday to Senator Antonio Trillanes. READ MORE...

ALSO by Tony Lopez: Two traumas shaped Aquino 

Two traumas shaped the mind and the personality of President
Benigno Simeon (BS) Cojuangco Aquino III.  The first is the assassination of his father, Benigno S. Aquino Jr., in broad daylight on Aug. 21, 1983 while the charismatic opposition leader was going down the stairs of a China Airlines jet at the Manila International Airport tarmac.  The second is the ambush against the then-young BS Aquino III and his presidential security escorts at an Arlegui street military checkpoint during the bloody August 28, 1987 coup against his mother, Cory Aquino, near the presidential palace, Malacañang.  The young Aquino thought the checkpoint was still held by loyal yellow presidential security guards. He was wrong. In the ensuing gunfight, he was wounded from the left neck down. It is believed his body still carries pieces of bullet parts.  Noynoy Aquino had been out that day and his mother was frantically looking for him and had told him to rush back to the palace which was then under siege from the military rebels of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) of then Lt. Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan. About 53 died and 200 were wounded in that coup.  BS Aquino sees both incidents as an assassination attempt – the first, in 1983, on his father and the second, in 1987, on his person.  The lesson he learned from the first assassination is vengeance, that someday, he would deliver the comeuppance against those who killed his father and the mastermind behind it. CONTINUE READING...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Some bishops back calls for Aquino to apologize over botched Mamasapano operation


Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (INQUIRER) Tina G. Santos @inquirerdotnet – Some Catholic bishops have echoed calls in Congress for President Aquino to apologize over the botched Mamasapano operation.

“Certainly, he’s the Commander in Chief,” Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel, Cotabato province, said when asked in a phone interview yesterday with reporters about the demand by some lawmakers for the President to take responsibility for the Jan. 25 massacre of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano.

“Humility is a sign of true leadership. He should accept responsibility. Genuine leaders never pass the buck. Humility is truth, a Christian virtue,” Gutierrez said as he urged Filipinos to pray for Mr. Aquino.

Senators Sergio Osmeña III and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito earlier blasted the President for supposedly being bullheaded and for refusing to apologize for any part he played in the Mamasapano operation.

If Osmeña had his way, he would have wanted Aquino to apologize for Mamasapano—just like his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who said publicly she was sorry for the “Hello Garci” controversy.

Ejercito said it seemed Mr. Aquino was having a hard time admitting his blunders.

“His pride is too high and (he) is stubborn at times. Senator Osmeña is correct in saying that he is hardheaded,” Ejercito said.

Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said he agreed with Osmeña that the President should apologize.

“Humility is a great virtue needed by public servants. Pride can lead to destruction,” Bastes said.

Not enough to apologize

Bishops Ramon Arguelles and Broderick Pabillo called on Mr. Aquino to step aside.

“He should step down to give the forsaken 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) eternal rest and give the Filipino people a fresh start,” said Arguelles.

“It’s not enough to apologize. Punish and prosecute the ones who are responsible because lives have been lost,” Pabillo added in a separate interview.

Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo pleaded with government and military authorities to avoid causing collateral damage in the ongoing clearing operations launched recently against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao province and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu province.

In an interview with Radyo Veritas on Monday, Bagaforo repeated Church appeals to government officials and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure the safety of civilians and their properties in mounting military offensive in the conflict areas.

The prelate said several roads between Cotabato City and Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province had already been blocked because of the intensified clash between the AFP and BIFF.

He added that the Cotabato archdiocese was preparing for the possible evacuation of residents at risk of being caught in the crossfire.

‘Is it worth it?’

In Tacloban City, Presidential Assistant on Food Security Francis Pangilinan said on Monday it was up to Aquino to decide if he should apologize for the botched SAF mission.

“That is his call,” Pangilinan told reporters during a visit here.

“There have been critical issues before and he survived. And he will survive this,” the former senator said.

“We know that the President is sincere. That is the main reason he was elected by the people. The people know that his objectives are good. If there are shortcomings, problems, Filipinos will understand him,” he said.

Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said demands that the President resign had no basis. “He has done so much for our economy. I mean, is it worth it (for him to resign) as demanded by some groups?” Petilla said.–With a report from Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas


PHILSTAR

Palace rejects calls for PNoy to apologize for Mamasapano tragedy By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated March 2, 2015 - 3:27pm 13 455 googleplus0 0


SYMPATHY AND JUSTICE: President Aquino offers prayers for the slain SAF commandos at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan in January. WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang believes that President Benigno Aquino III has nothing to apologize for in the fatal January 25 anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao since he was not directly involved in the operation.

In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino only deals with the policy level and the lapses in the Mamasapano incident were on the operation level.

"The President deals on the policy level. The policy level is to fight terrorism. On the operational level, how the operation was conducted, certainly there were lapses," Lacierda said.

"The President does not involve himself in the operation of neutralizing a terrorist," he added, referring to Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan, the target of the Mamasapano operation.

Lacierda reiterated that Aquino had "very clear" instructions to then suspended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima and to sacked Special Action Forces (SAF) chief Getulio Napeñas to have proper coordination with the military and other parties before launching the operation.

Aquino's orders, however, were not followed by Purisima and Napeñas, Lacierda maintained.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

"The fault there is: Were the instructions carried out?" he said.

It is now up to the PNP Board of Inquiry and the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano incident to determine on who should be held accountable on the operational level, Lacierda added.

Marwan was believed to be killed in the Mamasapano operation but 44 members of the PNP SAF were also slain during an armed encounter with combatants from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Public outrage over the administration's ineptitude in handling the Mamasapano fiasco has led to calls for the resignation of Aquino, who has yet to publicly clarify his entire role in the botched operation.

Among those who have criticized the President following the Mamasapano incident was Sen. Serge Osmeña, who believes that Aquino should say sorry just like how his predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, apologized for the "Hello Garci" controversy.

In an interview on radio dzBB, Osmeña called Aquino "bull-headed" for refusing to apologize for the Mamasapano debacle.

Osmeña believes, however, that Filipinos will be able to forgive Aquino should he apologize. ..


PHILSTAR

Palace denies PNoy scolded SAF in 3-hour bull session By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated March 5, 2015 - 2:47pm


President Aquino congratulates newly installed Special Action Force director Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig yesterday. STAR/Willy Perez

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III did not scold the officials and troopers of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) during their three-hour meeting on Wednesday, Malacañang said.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. dismissed as "baseless" and "speculative" reports that Aquino scolded the SAF officials and troopers over the deadly Mamasapano mission.

Coloma said it is not in the nature of the President to make such action.

"Para po sa mga nakakakilala sa karakter at pagkatao ng ating Pangulo, kilala naman po natin na siya ay isang malumanay na tao. He is not given to any type of emotional outburst," Coloma said.

"Ni pagtataas boses o pagpapahayag ng emosyon, wala naman sigurong nakakapansin o makakapgsasabi na yan ay bahagi ng kanyang kinaugalian," he added.

Coloma reiterated that Aquino's meeting with the elite cops yesterday focused on a review of the operations conducted to arrest international terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January.

READ: Aquino, SAF review Mamasapano mission to improve operations

He said the three-hour meeting became an open forum where there was an exchange of observations and suggestions among the SAF officials.

Noy's cancelled speech

Coloma also denied that Aquino's meeting and attendance at the turnover of SAF command ceremony at Camp Bagong Diwa were unscheduled since the President had been expecting to have a bull session with the police officials.

When asked why Aquino's scheduled speech at the turnover ceremony was cancelled, Coloma said the SAF meeting was more important for the President.

He also dismissed as "purely speculative" reports that Aquino refused to deliver a speech because his recent remarks were not well received.

"There is no cogent reason for reading more into what happened," Coloma said, adding that Aquino's scheduled activities are always subject to change. ..


PHILSTAR

Noy holds 3-hour bull session with SAF By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 5, 2015 - 12:00am 1 34 googleplus0 0


President Aquino congratulates newly installed Special Action Force director Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig yesterday. STAR/Willy Perez

MANILA, Philippines - For three and a half hours yesterday, the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, particularly those involved in the Mamasapano operation, finally had a bull session with President Aquino to discuss their concerns and needs, something they failed to do the first time the Chief Executive tried to talk to them after the bloody encounter.

The atmosphere was lighter at the SAF quadrangle while some officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and SAF, along with troopers, waited for the program to start supposedly at 10:35 a.m.

It has been more than a month since the incident. This was in contrast to the meeting of the President with SAF troopers on Jan. 30 during the memorial services for the 44 police commandos killed in a firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

Emotions were running high at the time, five days after the deadly clash. Thus, when Aquino asked the troopers to tell him what was on their minds, there was only stone cold silence.

The President urged them to communicate through letters and whatever means and gave assurance that his door would always be open if they wanted to talk.

But yesterday, the 10 a.m. meeting of the President with the SAF troopers of Mamasapano, along with the entire PNP-SAF Command and the rest of the PNP leadership, lasted until 1:30 p.m.

Sources said the discussions on the Jan. 25 operation were still emotional because some of them felt Director Getulio Napeñas, their former commander, should not have been relieved and made responsible for what happened.

Aquino witnessed the assumption ceremony for the new SAF commander, Chief Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo, who replaced Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, who served as commander in an acting capacity after the relief of Napeñas.

Aquino no longer delivered a speech during the assumption ceremony.

The sources said most of the discussions were focused on the system of promotion, hazard pay, equipment, benefits, training and even antiquated bullets the SAF troopers were using during operations, among other concerns.

Sources added the President explained to SAF troopers the context of his text messages with suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima.

He told the SAF troops that he took the text messages from Purisima as facts, having known and been familiar with the former PNP chief.

The President also denied he issued any order for them to stand down during the clash, the sources added.

During the meeting, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there was a review of the Mamasapano operation as this was essential in identifying points for improvement in the conduct of similar operations.

He said the President emphasized the importance of rebuilding the capability of SAF as an elite unit of the PNP on account of the vital role it was performing.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told reporters the same issues concerning SAF troopers.

Roxas said the President asked the PNP and the Presidential Management Staff to study the issues raised by the SAF.

Roxas said the President gave the PNP and National Police Commission 30 days to submit recommendations to his office.

Roxas added the President tasked Lazo to boost the morale of the SAF troopers if needed and “heal the wounds” caused by the Mamasapano operation.

“The SAF troopers stressed that ‘we got our man, we accomplished our mission’ and the President said nobody was questioning that. Marwan was a threat to the whole nation and the innocent Filipinos and while he had been wanted for a long time, the President recognized that SAF was the one who got him,” Roxas said, referring to Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, the object of the mission who was killed during the operation.

According to Roxas, the police commandos also tackled with the President their lack of rotation and being on red alert status 100 percent of the time, unlike the rest of the PNP.

Being on red alert 24/7 means SAF troops do not get the chance to take a leave, vacation or a “stand down,” Roxas said.

Roxas disclosed the President asked the PNP to study the matter and reorganize the SAF if needed, to make sure the police commandos would have a system of rotation that would allow some to be on red alert while the others were on training or resting.

He explained the case was the same for the elite Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) of the Armed Forces where “there is always a unit on deck” while others are on training.

Roxas said the President decided to meet with the SAF troopers, being “the premier strike force” of the PNP and which was very important to law enforcement.

He pointed out delicate or dangerous missions could not be passed on to the AFP instantly because its mandate was just to attain the objective of law enforcement.

Roxas also dismissed questions about what he felt when he was not informed about the operation and denied he had heated arguments with Aquino at the height of the Mamasapano controversy.

‘Vanguards of peace’

Lazo, for his part, rallied his men to continue being “vanguards of peace.”

After the Mamasapano incident hampered the peace process, Lazo reminded his unit of its role in securing the land.

“Together, united and as one, let us continue to affirm our commitment to be vanguards of peace. May the force be with us all,” he told the police troops.

Lazo, who was with the SAF for several years, said he was “grateful, honored and humbled” to head the elite group.

“[The SAF] has always been close to my heart. To my brothers and sisters in the SAF family, I am so elated to be back home, excited to work again with you,” he said.

The military, for its part, has been asked to donate P30 from their subsistence allowance to the families of the slain 44 SAF troopers.

– With Alexis Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mike Frialde ..


INQUIRER

Santiago questions BBL constitutionality, authority of Aquino, MILF Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 1:16 PM | Thursday, March 5th, 2015 
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday questioned the authority of President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to negotiate peace and the creation of a substate. PHOTO BY RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.NET

MANILA, Philippines — Who gave President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the authority to negotiate peace and propose a substate in the South?

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked this question on Thursday as she described the whole process of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress unconstitutional.

“What is the constitutional basis for the authority to negotiate on the part of the Philippine government? The President simply assumed that he had the power. That’s not so,” she said during a press conference in the Senate.

“The President does not have sole power over the foreign policy of the Philippines,” she said.

The senator explained that under the Constitution, “foreign policy power” must be equally shared between the President and the Congress, specifically the Senate.

“Now where is the Senate authorization for the President to conduct these negotiations sometimes the so called peace process? He does not have an instrument of that nature. He just assumed that he had the power but he does not,” she said.

“Treaty pa lang kelangan na ng concurrence ng Senado ‘yun pa kayang magagagawa ng substate?”

(A treaty already needs the Senate’s concurrence, what more the creation of a substate?)

Santiago added that, “If the Constitution requires that the President cannot move in foreign relations unless he has the concurrence of the Senate, how much more that the spirits of the Constitution require that there should be Senate concurrence when the President authorizes a so-called peace process to a so-called peace panel..?”

“Who gave him the authority? It should be the Senate of the Philippines, at least we are representatives of the people, he (Aquino) is not,” she further said.

On the part of the MILF, Santiago also wondered who gave the group the authority to represent the Bangsamoro in the peace negotiations.

“Who gave the MILF authority to represent the Bangsamoro? Among all those scions of the breakaway group, MNLF, MILF, BIFF and others…,which one of them shall be validly allowed to claim that it represents the Bangsamoro or the entire Islamic people within the Philippine territory?”

MNLF is Moro National Liberation Front, while BIFF is Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Asked then if the entire process of hearing the proposed BBL in Congress was unconstitutional, Santiago said: “In my view. I can’t speak for the others, but it’s possible the Supreme Court might see it that way.”

Nevertheless, Santiago said the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, which she chairs and that conducted hearings on the BBL, will come up with a report on the proposed measure.

“Yes of course because it’s my job. Yes of course, I will submit a report…” she said.

Asked again if the BBL should now be scrapped given the constitutional questions she raised, the senator said: “Well, in my personal view it will be best if we start the process all over again.”

“First of all, let’s find out from the Senate whether it’s willing to grant the power to the President to negotiate a separate form of government without specifying a substate and if so, what kind, what form of government?”

But since the process has already started, Santiago said it would be best if Malacañang forms its own committee to review the constitutionality of the BBL.


INQUIRER

Palace to critics: Read the 122-page BBL first Christian V. Esguerra, Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:28 AM | Thursday, March 5th, 2015


Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. JV Ejercito and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. FILE PHOTOS

Malacañang is urging critics of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to read it first before assailing the measure, which seeks to carve out a new Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. noted that the law Congress would pass would be based on the draft submitted by the Palace.

“Expressing doubts (over the BBL) is part of the democratic dialogue and understanding comes once questions are clarified,” Coloma told reporters. “Let’s also ask those expressing these views, ‘Have they read the (draft) law?’”

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) on Wednesday tweeted a link to an online copy of the 122-page draft of the measure hammered out in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that seeks to establish a substate that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Congressional leaders are eyeing June to pass the draft BBL, about two months behind the Palace schedule, following widespread outrage over the slaughter of 44 police commandos by forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.

Videos of the massacre and subsequent autopsy showed wounded commandos were gunned down at close range.

On Wednesday, Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, rejected demands in Congress that the group surrender Moro rebels involved in the massacre of the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, pointing out that the MILF remained a “revolutionary group” until the full realization of the peace agreement.

“We need to respect each other,” Iqbal said. “When you make demands, you are no longer negotiating. You are dictating.” He warned that the BBL should not be “watered down.”

Parallel moves

Iqbal’s position drew an angry reaction from the Senate on Wednesday.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said approving the draft BBL and seeking justice for the commandos must be parallel endeavors. “We have to continue both paths: One is justice for Mamasapano victims, but at the same time we must not make it hostage, the BBL, to the Mamasapano incident,” Guingona told reporters.

But there are conditions that have to be met in approving the draft BBL, said the chair of the Senate peace and unification committee.

“Congress has plenary powers and we are free to do what’s best for the country as a whole,” Guingona said. “We will be guided by, number one, the interest of the Filipino people as a whole; number two, the parameters of the Constitution.”

Stepping on Senate

Sen. JV Ejercito, who has withdrawn his support for the BBL, said the MILF was in no position to make demands.

“It’s as if they’re stepping on our authority as lawmakers,” Ejercito told reporters. “They don’t want to give us the chance to study and review the BBL.”

He said the MILF was holding the government and the legislature hostage.

“If they are really sincere, they have to let us perform our duties and respect the authority of Congress to review and make the adjustments if necessary,” Ejercito said.

No rubber stamp

Sen. Francis Escudero, in a statement, said Congress was no rubber stamp for the BBL and would not approve it without first going through it meticulously.

“Let the MILF be reminded that we in Congress are not dictating, we are legislating,” Escudero said.

The Opapp and the government peace panel should explain to the MILF that what Congress is doing is part of the legislature’s duties in a democratic process, he said.

The peace negotiators should have made this clear to the MILF from the start, Escudero said.

He noted a letter from Murad Ebrahim to the House of Representatives where the MILF chair said its understanding was that it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government.

Harassment

Sen. Grace Poe said it was natural for the MILF to be displeased if the bill would be touched, given its agreement with the government peace negotiators.

But Congress has to do its job and tweak or remove what it finds unconstitutional in the measure, Poe said.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed displeasure at a tarpaulin put up in Sultan Kudarat, photographed by the Inquirer, showing him, Ejercito and Alan Peter Cayetano as “anti-BBL senators.”

“I am not opposing it. I want to perfect the BBL, which is why we’re studying it thoroughly. That is why I do not want to rush the process,” Marcos said.

“They’re harassing the senators,” Ejercito said.


CEBU DAILY NEWS

Cebu group, former PMA cadets opposes proposed Bangsamoro law 12:00 AM | Thursday, January 29th, 2015


Government Peace Panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer answers questions from reporters after the Bangsamoro committee hearing chaired by Senator Miriam Santiago on Monday. (INQUIRER PHOTO)

The death of 44 members of the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao last Sunday has created adverse reaction to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that is now being deliberated in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A group of former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy calling itself PMA Cebu Squad Inc. is lobbying for the disapproval of the proposed law that would operationalize the peace agreement signed by the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March last year.

Citing at least 11 unconstitutional provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), members of the PMA Cebu Squad Inc. are seeking that the legislation be subjected to further review and if possible rejected.

They placed their observation on the “unconstitutionality” of the legislation in a letter which they sent yesterday to Senator Antonio Trillanes.

Copies of the letter were also sent to other PMAers who now hold seats in the House of Representatives, namely Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, Rep. Romeo Acop, Rep. Romeo Bataoil, Rep. Samuel Pagdilao Jr., Rep. Gary Alejano and Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo.

“Daghan kaayo unconstitutional provisions sa BBL. Karon gani nga wala pa na approve, daghan na kaayo nahitabo samot na ug ma approve,” said Atty. Rameses Villagonzalo, the group’s legal counsel referring to the recent killing of SAF members. (There are many unconstitutional provisions in the BBL. Now that it is not yet approved, there are already incidents, how much more when approved.)

Villagonzalo said that a legislation like the BBL should not be passed.

“With the latest development regarding the murder of the 50 SAF personnel, it is our collective humble opinion that the so-called Bangsamoro Basic Law suffers constitutional and legal infirmities and should, thus, be rejected. Otherwise, the worst is yet to come, said group’s one page letter.

Don’t rush At the Senate, a day after two co-authors of the proposed BBL withdrew, at least two senators cautioned their colleagues in the Senate “not to rush into any decisions” on the proposed law.

“Inevitably it will be affected somewhat but I urge our colleagues not to rush into any decisions yet. Just until we know what happened,” Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said.

At least two senators—Alan Peter Cayetano and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito—have decided to withdraw their support for the BBL.

Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who signed the proposed BBL, said he would not withdraw his support for the measure.

“I’m not withdrawing. As I said, we have to continue the process. Hindi ibig sabihin na ipagpapatuloy yung proseso ng BBL, we will sweep this under the rug,” Aquino told reporters.

“I just think that it’s a gut reaction that we let go of the peace process right after this tragedy had happened. Magandang pag-usapan muna kung anong nangyari, imbestigahan, charge who needs to be charged (and) get to the bottom of things…” he added.

Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Grace Poe, and Teofisto Guingona III have filed separate resolutions seeking to investigate the Maguindanao carnage.

At the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said they are sticking with the March 2015 deadline to pass the BBL.

According to Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro and chairman of the BBL ad hoc committee, they are continuing executive sessions to deliberate on the law. The ad hoc committee he added has tasked the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to submit a report to them on February 2 regarding the tragic Mamasapano incident.

Poe said the Senate committee on public order, which she chairs, will start its investigation on the issue on February 6.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, in an interview Tuesday, said that despite the incident, the hearings on the BBL can still proceed “independently and simultaneously.”

“However, should later on we would find out that some elements are involved that are detrimental or prejudicial to the continuance of the peace talks, then that’s the time we make a move. Let us not waste time; particularity the legislative window of the Senate is closing. We can proceed with caution interdependently and simultaneously,” Trillanes said./Edison delos Angeles and Inquirer


MANILA STANDARD by Tony Lopez

Two traumas shaped BS Aquino 3rd By Tony Lopez | Mar. 04, 2015 at 12:01am

Two traumas shaped the mind and the personality of President Benigno Simeon (BS) Cojuangco Aquino III.

The first is the assassination of his father, Benigno S. Aquino Jr., in broad daylight on Aug. 21, 1983 while the charismatic opposition leader was going down the stairs of a China Airlines jet at the Manila International Airport tarmac.

The second is the ambush against the then-young BS Aquino III and his presidential security escorts at an Arlegui street military checkpoint during the bloody August 28, 1987 coup against his mother, Cory Aquino, near the presidential palace, Malacañang.

The young Aquino thought the checkpoint was still held by loyal yellow presidential security guards. He was wrong. In the ensuing gunfight, he was wounded from the left neck down. It is believed his body still carries pieces of bullet parts.

Noynoy Aquino had been out that day and his mother was frantically looking for him and had told him to rush back to the palace which was then under siege from the military rebels of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) of then Lt. Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan. About 53 died and 200 were wounded in that coup.

BS Aquino sees both incidents as an assassination attempt – the first, in 1983, on his father and the second, in 1987, on his person.

The lesson he learned from the first assassination is vengeance, that someday, he would deliver the comeuppance against those who killed his father and the mastermind behind it. The gunman, the one who pulled the trigger that delivered the fatal bullet to Ninoy Aquino was identified as a police sergeant, Rogelio Moreno.

The lesson Noynoy learned from the second assassination attempt, in 1987, is that one must trust only very few people. Trust only your loyal military officers. They may be stupid, incompetent, callous or corrupt -- but they are your loyal servants who will take bullets for you. So keep and nurture them. Support them.

Of Noynoy’s four bodyguards, he claims three were killed at the checkpoint encounter. The Davide Commission (page 182) reports only one bodyguard killed but adds, “two other people died, and a third one was seriously wounded in the car behind them.” Only the timely arrival of the group of a young police officer, a certain Alan La Madrid Purisima, saved the day for the young Aquino in that dawn encounter of August 27, 1987.

There is a third lesson Aquino learned from the two incidents – that people are expendable, that they could be killed in pursuit of a higher goal, one not necessarily noble. That is why faced with so many deaths, Aquino can sometimes be unfeeling and completely lacking in empathy.

Fast forward to Jan. 25, 2015. A group of loyal police officers concocts a mission to get two high-value targets – Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, a Malaysian bomb expert believed responsible for the Bali bombing of 2002 in which more than 200 died, and his Filipino cohort, Basit Usman, also a notorious terrorist bomber, operating in Mindanao.

This is Oplan Exodus. Its mastermind is now police general Purisima. His chief operating officer is police two-star general Getulio Napeñas, the chief of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF). Purisima and Napeñas work for only one boss, President BS Aquino who provides them the inspiration and the wherewithal to undertake a very dangerous mission that took months to plan.

It didn’t matter that on the day (Jan. 9, 2015) the three finalized Oplan Exodus, Purisima was serving the 36th day of his 180-day suspension by the anti-graft prosecutor Ombudsman on graft charges. So legally, the disgraced former PNP chief had no personality nor power to supervise Exodus. Still, BS Aquino trusted Purisima 100 percent. After all, he saved BS Aquino’s life, didn’t he, in 1987?

Napeñas handpicks 74 men for the mission – the 38 men of the SAF 84th Company, under Capt. Raymund Train, and the 36 men of the SAF 55th Company, under Police Senior Inspector Ryan Pabalinas. Napeñas actually recruited 392 men for the delicate mission but 318 of them idled themselves for more than 18 hours along the Maharlika Highway of Mamasapano town, in Maguindanao province while the oplan was in progress, 5 kms north of the road.

As it happened, SAF 84 got their man, Marwan, who they claimed they killed but forgot to carry his body. The second target, 300 meters away from Marwan’s hut, Usman, escaped. A firefight ensued, lasting for more than 12 hours. At the end of the day, as the cliché goes, nine of the 38 of SAF 84th died and 35 of the 36 of the SAF 55th died. Total dead, government side, 44; enemy side, 18. Civilians dead 5. Total toll: 67 dead.

In the Mamasapano massacre, Aquino’s two traumas went into autopilot. When the President met with the widows of Fallen 44 on Feb. 18, 24 days after the incident, one of the widows asked him pointblank for justice for her husband. Aquino’s reply: “My father was also killed, so I know how you feel. We’re all even now.” A policeman killed Noynoy’s dad, remember?

As for the second trauma, well, Purisima and Napeñas are running true to form. They are protective of their commander-in-chief. Aquino, their boss, cannot be blamed. Boss Noynoy gave the instructions – for Napeñas to coordinate with the military in undertaking Exodus, and for Purisima to ask the military for infantry and tank support to provide cover to the retreating embattled SAF men. Napeñas and Purisima did not obey their boss.

So 44 had to die. Here, the third lesson is at work.

How traumatic.

 


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