NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

PALACE BRAGS: NOY's RATINGS STILL HIGHER THAN PAST PRESIDENTS


Aquino has been heavily criticized for passing the blame to relieved SAF commander Getulio Napeñas instead of taking accountability of the Mamasapano tragedy. 
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is unfazed by the huge decline in the performance and trust ratings of President Benigno Aquino III. In a press briefing on Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino's newest rating is still higher than the scores of previous presidents. "Matingkad naman ang pagkakaiba hinggil sa pagiging mas mataas to a significant degree ng mga performance ratings ng pangulo. Ganito rin po sa trust ratings," Coloma said. The March 2015 Pulse Asia survey revealed that Aquino's approval rating nosedived from 59 percent last November to 38 percent this March while his trust rating plunged from 56 percent to 36 percent. The survey was conducted more than a month after the botched January 25 Mamasapano operation that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos dead.

ALSO Senator Grace Poe: PNoy 'ultimately responsible' for Mamasapano mission


Sen. Grace Poe said that as chief executive and commander-in-chief, President Benigno Aquino III is "ultimately responsible" for the Mamasapano operation which left 44 police commandos dead under the hands of Moro rebels last January 25. Malacañang Photo Bureau/Benhur Arcayan 
MANILA, Philippines - The Senate committee report on the Mamasapano incident concluded that President Benigno Aquino III is responsible for the mission as chief executive and commander-in-chief. "As to the president, he is ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano mission," Sen. Grace Poe said during a press conference on Tuesday. Poe, who heads the Senate Committee on Public Order and Safety, presented the summary of the report. The senator stressed that the president assented to resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima's unlawful exercise of authority while he was on preventive suspension. "The president relied on and directly coordinated with the suspended PNP chief as it was shown that he continued to communicate with the latter on Oplan Exodus based on testimonies and evidence presented in the public hearing," Poe reported. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senate report confirms US involvement in Mamasapano operation
[One of the Americans, identified by Napeñas as Mr. Al Latz, supposedly handled the training of the Seaborne unit. One of the Americans ordered Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to fire the artillery. However, Pangilinan refused and told him, 'Do not dictate me what to do. I am the commander here!']


Oplan Exodus led to the death of 44 police commandos during a bloody encounter with Moro rebels at Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25. File photo   MANILA, Philippines - The Senate joint committee report on the Mamasapano operation confirmed that the United States (US) was involved in the mission. "There are indications that the planning and execution of the botched mission were not 100 percent Filipino-planned and implemented," Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chair Sen. Grace Poe said during a press briefing on Tuesday. Poe presented the summary of the committee report on the bloody incident that left 44 police commandos dead in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25. The senator said that the US provided training, equipment and intelligence for the said operation to arrest terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias "Marwan" and Basit Usman. READ ON...

ALSO: Palace vows to pursue peace at all costs


STAR/File photo 
MANILA, Philippines - Peace at all costs. Malacañang renewed yesterday its vow to pursue the government’s peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) amid reluctance on the part of Muslim rebels, especially since President Aquino’s popularity is starting to dip. “The government remains firmly committed to establishing enduring peace, which is built on a foundation of mutual trust,” Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said. He issued the statement following claims of MILF chairman Al Haj Murad that trust between the two panels has been affected after he was offended by Aquino’s failure to inform him about the Jan. 25 Mamasapano operation when they actually met days before. The MILF official also predicts the stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill in Congress will not be passed on time because of the waning popularity of Aquino, who is now the subject of public outrage over the killing of 44 elite police commandos by the MILF. READ MORE...

ALSO: WHY MURAD IBRAHIM WANTS PEACE DEAL UNDER PNoy PRESIDENCY


Pres. Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) and MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ibrahim INQUIRER FILE PHOTO 
The Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group that forged a peace agreement with the government a year ago wants key aspects of the deal implemented before President Benigno Aquino steps down next year, fearing that the next administration will not be as supportive as the current leader is. 
Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim issued the statement Monday amid the possibility of congress not passing within the calculated timeframe the proposed law for the creation of a Bangsamoro region and the establishment of a Bangsamoro government in the Muslim-dominated region of central Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Some lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the said components of the Mindanao peace process, which had earlier been projected to be implemented before the end of Aquino's term in June 2013, after a deadly clash ensued in January between government policemen and MILF fighters in Maguindanao province in Mindanao. In an interview with Kyodo News at the group's administrative camp in Maguindanao, Murad said the reason why a peace agreement signed by their mother organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, with the government in 1996 failed was the succeeding administration's lack of interest to implement the other aspects of that pact. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Malacañang shields MILF leaders on citizenship issue
[Following the MILF’s warning, presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. issued a statement clearing Murad and Iqbal from allegations raised by former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan that the two own Malaysian passports]


Iqbal and Ibrahim   In an apparent bid to win back the “trust” of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which was “eroded” following the Mamasapano clash, Malacañang yesterday defended the Moro group’s leadership over allegations that its chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad and chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal are not Filipino citizens. Murad was earlier quoted by Reuters as saying the trust that the MILF has in the government has been eroded by the bloody incident in Magundano last Jan. 25. “We are studying to see if the approval of the police operation came from the highest level of government,” he said. Murad noted that it was a violation of the ceasefire agreement. READ MORE...

ALSO FVR: Aquino does not sound presidential
[Who the heck is advising President Aquino?]


RAMOS disappointed at P-Noy’s advisers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO RAMOS disappointed at P-Noy’s advisers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines–Who the heck is advising President Aquino?  Former President Fidel V. Ramos would like to know. On Wednesday, Ramos said he was disappointed at Aquino’s speech on the Mamasapano clash on Monday, describing it as less than the “high standard of behavior” required of the Commander in Chief. Ramos also criticized the President’s advisers for their failure to maintain the dignity of the Office of the President. Ramos said Aquino’s advisers “failed in their mission to keep the President of our country up there, instead of being the target now of all kinds of criticism high and low.”  He added that he observed this failure not only in the President’s meeting with evangelical leaders, in Malacañang on Monday, but also in other previous instances. CONTINUE READING....


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Palace: Noy's ratings still higher than past presidents'


Aquino has been heavily criticized for passing the blame to relieved SAF commander Getulio Napeñas instead of taking accountability of the Mamasapano tragedy.

MANILA, MARCH 23, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani Updated March 17, 2015 - 4:43pm - Malacañang is unfazed by the huge decline in the performance and trust ratings of President Benigno Aquino III.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino's newest rating is still higher than the scores of previous presidents.

"Matingkad naman ang pagkakaiba hinggil sa pagiging mas mataas to a significant degree ng mga performance ratings ng pangulo. Ganito rin po sa trust ratings," Coloma said.

The March 2015 Pulse Asia survey revealed that Aquino's approval rating nosedived from 59 percent last November to 38 percent this March while his trust rating plunged from 56 percent to 36 percent.

The survey was conducted more than a month after the botched January 25 Mamasapano operation that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos dead.

Aquino has been heavily criticized for passing the blame to relieved SAF commander Getulio Napeñas instead of taking accountability of the Mamasapano tragedy.

Coloma admitted that Aquino's lower ratings reflect public sentiment arising from the Mamasapano incident.

However, Coloma said Aquino has accepted personal responsibility of the tragedy in his televised address to the nation on February 6.

The Palace official said the Aquino government is determined to work even harder to continually earn the people's trust and confidence.

"The president has repeatedly said that all successes and all failures of his administration land on his doorstep. He believes that in time, the truth will set us all free," Coloma said. ..


PHILSTAR

Senator Grace Poe: PNoy 'ultimately responsible' for Mamasapano mission By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated March 17, 2015 - 4:16pm


Sen. Grace Poe said that as chief executive and commander-in-chief, President Benigno Aquino III is "ultimately responsible" for the Mamasapano operation which left 44 police commandos dead under the hands of Moro rebels last January 25. Malacañang Photo Bureau/Benhur Arcayan

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate committee report on the Mamasapano incident concluded that President Benigno Aquino III is responsible for the mission as chief executive and commander-in-chief.

"As to the president, he is ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano mission," Sen. Grace Poe said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Poe, who heads the Senate Committee on Public Order and Safety, presented the summary of the report.

The senator stressed that the president assented to resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima's unlawful exercise of authority while he was on preventive suspension.

"The president relied on and directly coordinated with the suspended PNP chief as it was shown that he continued to communicate with the latter on Oplan Exodus based on testimonies and evidence presented in the public hearing," Poe reported.

The Senate investigation found that Purisima committed usurpation of authority, adding that an administrative complaint might be filed with the Ombudsman against him for grave misconduct.

On the other hand, former PNP Special Action Force Getulio Napeñas committed grave misconduct, inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties, according to the Senate report.

Poe noted that Aquino could have used his authority to lessen the number of casualties during the Mamasapano incident.

"The president and other high-ranking government officials could have done more under the circumstances to prevent or minimize the number of deaths that jolted the nation," Poe said.

The senator explained that less lives could have been lost if Aquino, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gregorio Catapang discussed the progress of the Mamasapano operation while they were together in Zamboanga.

Poe said the president could have given out orders in if only he was given accurate information regarding the operation.

"Since he was familiar with the plan, the president might have stepped in and displayed stronger positioning or leadership regarding the rescue operations if he was given the proper information," the senator said.

The senator added that Aquino as commander-in-chief of the military could have given out orders to assist the police commandos.

"As commander-in -chief of the Armed Forces, the president wields great power and has vast resources at his disposal. The decision of the president and his men not to use these resources immediately to prevent the carnage must be explained," Poe said.

Aquino's approval rating dropped from 59 percent last November to 38 percent this March after the Mamasapano incident. His trust rating sank from 56 percent to 36 percent during the same period. ..


PHILSTAR

Senate report confirms US involvement in Mamasapano operation By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated March 17, 2015 - 5:55pm


Oplan Exodus led to the death of 44 police commandos during a bloody encounter with Moro rebels at Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate joint committee report on the Mamasapano operation confirmed that the United States (US) was involved in the mission.

"There are indications that the planning and execution of the botched mission were not 100 percent Filipino-planned and implemented," Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chair Sen. Grace Poe said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Poe presented the summary of the committee report on the bloody incident that left 44 police commandos dead in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

The senator said that the US provided training, equipment and intelligence for the said operation to arrest terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias "Marwan" and Basit Usman.

The following are some of the facts from the report that were approved to be made public:

• Napeñas brought three Americans into the Army Brigade headquarters (HQ). A helicopter arrived and three more Americans into the HQ and joined Napeñas at his work table.

• One of the Americans, identified by Napeñas as Mr. Al Latz, supposedly handled the training of the Seaborne unit.

• One of the Americans ordered Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to fire the artillery. However, Pangilinan refused and told him, 'Do not dictate me what to do. I am the commander here!'

• The Americans provided surveillance in the area through their Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR). TV monitors were brought in by the Americans to the HQ.

Napeñas admitted the involvement of a "US counterpart" during one of the public hearings:

“Your honor, tumulong iyong US counterpart doon sa intelligence... Mayroon kaming isang US counterpart doon sa Seaborne who is working with them in terms of training at saka iyong... equipment provision, Your honor. Kasama po iyon na ibinibigay nila iyong maps na ginagamit for operation. But never nakasama iyong US counterpart in actual combat operation. ”

Poe noted that the said facts raises questions whether the Philippine National Police would have engaged in the said operation without the support of the US and the $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan.

The report clearly stated that the Mamasapano incident was not just a misencounter but a massacre.

"The concerned members of the MILF, BIFF and other armed groups murdered and robbed the 44 PNP SAF commandos," Poe said.

The report was based on the testimonies of resource persons who attended the Senate inquiry on the Mamasapano incident, as well as documents submitted such as the PNP Board of Inquiry report and the president's public statements. ..


PHILSTAR

Palace vows to pursue peace at all costs By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 17, 2015 - 12:00am


STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Peace at all costs.

Malacañang renewed yesterday its vow to pursue the government’s peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) amid reluctance on the part of Muslim rebels, especially since President Aquino’s popularity is starting to dip.

“The government remains firmly committed to establishing enduring peace, which is built on a foundation of mutual trust,” Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said.

He issued the statement following claims of MILF chairman Al Haj Murad that trust between the two panels has been affected after he was offended by Aquino’s failure to inform him about the Jan. 25 Mamasapano operation when they actually met days before.

The MILF official also predicts the stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill in Congress will not be passed on time because of the waning popularity of Aquino, who is now the subject of public outrage over the killing of 44 elite police commandos by the MILF.

“What we know is that both sides continue to work on confidence-building measures and on seeing to it that an acceptable BBL may be enacted by Congress within the time frame set by the leadership of both houses,” Coloma stressed.

Aquino wants Congress to pass the BBL before June 4, when they resume sessions after their Holy Week break and when both Senate and the House of Representatives deliberate again on May 4.

Global support for Bangsamoro

The government peace panel said yesterday that global support for the Bangsamoro agreement belied the terrorist tag on the MILF.

“If the MILF was considered a terrorist organization, why does the international community, including the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), support the peace process on the Bangsamoro?” asked government peace panel head Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.

Ferrer said that official statements of support were issued by several countries and multilateral bodies when the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed. These include Singapore, Cambodia, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Brunei, Norway, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, European Union, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, among others.‎

“By forging the peace agreement with the government, the MILF has committed to renounce violence and terrorism as an ideology and way of life,” Ferrer said.

Genuinely Filipinos

Meanwhile, Malacañang downplayed reports that two officials of the MILF who have been dealing with the government peace panel are not Filipino but Malaysian citizens.

Coloma said that for 17 years of negotiations, the citizenship of Murad and MILF peace panel head Iqbal has never been questioned.

“In fact, both houses of Congress have recognized their legitimate roles in the peace process by inviting them to appear in congressional hearings,” Coloma said.

More peacekeepers

In Maguindanao, a new batch of Malaysian peacekeepers arrived on Saturday to replace a team of compatriots that helped enforce a ceasefire between Moro rebels and the national government for 12 months.

The leadership of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) had been relinquished by its outgoing head, Maj. Gen. Abdul Samad Yaakub, to successor Maj. Gen. Sheikh Mokhsin Hassan.

The IMT, composed of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Libya and non-uniformed conflict resolution experts from Norway, Japan and the European Union, has been helping monitor the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF since 2003.

Hassan, who will supervise the activities of the IMT-10 Mission, and his team arrived in Central Mindanao from Kuala Lumpur through Maguindanao last weekend.

A symbolic turnover of command, from Yaakub, head of IMT-9 Mission, to Hassan was initiated by both Malaysian Army generals immediately after the new peacekeeping contingent alighted from their C-130 plane.

Abad pitches for BBL

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad yesterday made a pitch for the BBL, which was envisioned to help lift some of the poorest provinces in the country out of poverty and put an end to conflicts in Mindanao.

“We must consider the prevailing conditions in the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). These include the 54 percent poverty incidence in the first semester of 2014, and the 81.5 percent simple literacy rate in 2008. These marks are one of the lowest in the country, so the region requires strong and consistent funding support to lift it out of poverty,” Abad said.

Three ARMM provinces – Sulu, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao “ are among the poorest in the Philippines. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, John Unson, Zinnia dela Peña, Christina Mendez ..


ABS-CBN

Why Murad wants peace deal under PNoy presidency (ABS-CBN) By Ronron Calunsod, Kyodo News Posted at 03/16/2015 8:50 PM -


Pres. Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) and MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ibrahim INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

CAMP DARAPANAN -  The Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group that forged a peace agreement with the government a year ago wants key aspects of the deal implemented before President Benigno Aquino steps down next year, fearing that the next administration will not be as supportive as the current leader is.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim issued the statement Monday amid the possibility of congress not passing within the calculated timeframe the proposed law for the creation of a Bangsamoro region and the establishment of a Bangsamoro government in the Muslim-dominated region of central Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Some lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the said components of the Mindanao peace process, which had earlier been projected to be implemented before the end of Aquino's term in June 2013, after a deadly clash ensued in January between government policemen and MILF fighters in Maguindanao province in Mindanao.

The incident that left at least 67 people killed, including 44 policemen, 18 MILF members, and five civilians, was blamed on the failure of the policemen to coordinate with the MILF their law enforcement operation against a suspected terrorist in the area. A coordination mechanism has long been in place while the government and the MILF were still negotiating the peace agreement.

In an interview with Kyodo News at the group's administrative camp in Maguindanao, Murad said the reason why a peace agreement signed by their mother organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, with the government in 1996 failed was the succeeding administration's lack of interest to implement the other aspects of that pact.

"If we make the transition very long, then, it will go beyond the term of the president. So, there is no assurance that the next president will really be pushing hard the remaining part of the implementation process," Murad said of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the MILF and the government signed on March 27, 2014.

"That's the reason why we are trying very much to have it now, because we have proven that we can work with the present administration. On my side, I saw (in Aquino) that he is really sincere and he has all this political will to solve the Bangsamoro problem and end the decades of war and conflict in Mindanao," he added.

Murad lamented at how some lawmakers have taken advantage of the deadly January incident to advance their political interests in light of the upcoming national elections in May 2016 at the expense of the Mindanao peace process.

He shrugged off allegations, among others, that MILF is a terrorist organization and that he holds a Malaysian, instead of a Philippine passport, as attempts "to destroy" the MILF, the peace process, and Aquino.

"There is that bias against the Bangsamoro people in the northern part of the country. But they don't see that the people in Mindanao have been very hurt about what they are saying. That...is not productive because we will continue to be divided," Murad said.

While he regards the January incident as "very unfortunate," especially because it happened during the "finishing touches of the peace process," Murad stressed it had "nothing to do with the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law."

He said the MILF has conducted its own investigation on the incident, the results of which can hopefully be released next week, and any member found to have violated their rules will be dealt with by use of appropriate sanctions.

"We have to find a way that we can return to the track of the peace process. The commitment of the MILF has not changed. The objective of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is really to solve, to address the root cause of the problem in the Bangsamoro, which is self-determination," the 66-year-old former combatant said.

"We tried very much within the flexibility of the Philippine constitution to see that the Bangsamoro will be given enough political power, fiscal autonomy and substantial level of self-governance. This is actually an alternative to the aspiration of independence," he added.

Murad said he remains optimistic about the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro law and the establishment of the Bangsamoro government within the Aquino presidency because the latter and the MILF remain committed to the peace process and have mutual trust.

"As we see him now, with his consistent and persistent efforts to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, our confidence in him remains," Murad said of Aquino, who assumed the presidency in 2010.

Recounting Japan's role of hosting his first meeting with Aquino in 2011 that paved the way for the smooth run of the peace negotiations, the rebel leader appealed also for continued support from the Japanese government in the Mindanao peace process amid the prevailing situation.

Murad revealed he met recently with a ranking official of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and they "have agreed that JICA will continue to implement the peace building on the ground with its socio-economic programs."

"One of the objectives, aside from improving the situation of the people, is to demonstrate to the people that while the peace process is going on, they already have some benefits. So we would like Japan to continue these activities," he said.

The peace agreement is aimed at ending more than four decades of armed conflict in Mindanao that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced millions of people, and arrested economic growth in the country's largest and resources-rich island.


TRIBUNE

Malacañang shields MILF leaders on citizenship issue Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 17 March 2015 00:00 By Joshua L. Labonera and Mario J. Mallari


Iqbal and Ibrahim

In an apparent bid to win back the “trust” of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which was “eroded” following the Mamasapano clash, Malacañang yesterday defended the Moro group’s leadership over allegations that its chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad and chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal are not Filipino citizens.

Murad was earlier quoted by Reuters as saying the trust that the MILF has in the government has been eroded by the bloody incident in Magundano last Jan. 25.

“We are studying to see if the approval of the police operation came from the highest level of government,” he said.

Murad noted that it was a violation of the ceasefire agreement.

Following the MILF’s warning, presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. issued a statement clearing Murad and Iqbal from allegations raised by former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan that the two own Malaysian passports.

The Palace official said Alunan’s accusations have no proper basis, pointing out that Iqbal and Murad’s citizenships have remained unquestioned for almost two decades.

“For the past 17 years, or dating back to the Ramos administration, Messrs. Murad and Iqbal have engaged the Philippine government in peace negotiations. Throughout this period, their citizenship has never been questioned,” he stressed.

The Palace official noted as a fact the recognition of Congress of the legitimacy of the MILF leaders’ citizenship and their participation in the peace process.

He said the notion that they were able to attend congressional hearings attests to their legitimate roles.

“In fact, both houses of Congress have recognized their legitimate roles in the peace process by inviting them to appear in congressional hearings,” Coloma added.

Coloma also quoted a media report saying that both Murad and Iqbal have denied that they are Malaysian citizens.

“The issue on Murad and Iqbal’s citizenship should not be a major deal because the two MILF personalities have been widely recognized even during the term of past administrations that discussed peace with the rebel group,” the Palace official said.

Alunan, in an earlier statement not only assailed the citizenship of Iqbal and Murad, but has also accused the Malaysian government, which facilitated peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government, of orchestrating everything that is happening with the peace process.

Coloma, however, stressed the Philippine government and the MILF are committed to the peace process and will continue to work to strengthen mutual trust.

“What we know is that both sides continue to work on confidence-building measures and on seeing to it that an acceptable Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may be enacted by Congress within the time frame set by the leadership of both Houses,” he said.

“The government remains firmly committed to establishing enduring peace, which is built on a foundation of mutual trust,” Coloma added.

Meanwhile, combined military and police operatives last Sunday arrested Mohammad Ali Tambako, one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and founding leader of the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) who figured in the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF), in General Santos City.

BIFF is a breakaway faction of the MILF.

Tambako apparently escaped the all-out military offensives in Central Mindanao – particularly within the so-called “SPMS box” or Salvo, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak, launched last February 21 to decimate the BIFF.

During the past weeks, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been conducting artillery and air assaults within the SPMS box targeting the group of Tambako, who is the former chairman of the BIFF’s Military Affairs.

The military said Tambako’s group was coddling bomb expert Basit Usman and five foreign terrorists.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., at a press briefing, said Tambako was captured around 9 p.m. last Sunday along Barangay Calumpang.


INQUIRER

Ramos: Aquino does not sound presidential Jeannette I. Andrade and Christine O. Avendaño @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:04 AM | Thursday, March 12th, 2015


RAMOS disappointed at P-Noy’s advisers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO RAMOS disappointed at P-Noy’s advisers. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Who the heck is advising President Aquino?

Former President Fidel V. Ramos would like to know.

On Wednesday, Ramos said he was disappointed at Aquino’s speech on the Mamasapano clash on Monday, describing it as less than the “high standard of behavior” required of the Commander in Chief.

Ramos also criticized the President’s advisers for their failure to maintain the dignity of the Office of the President.

Ramos said Aquino’s advisers “failed in their mission to keep the President of our country up there, instead of being the target now of all kinds of criticism high and low.”

He added that he observed this failure not only in the President’s meeting with evangelical leaders, in Malacañang on Monday, but also in other previous instances.

President Aquino spoke to leaders of evangelical groups on Monday, insisting that the sacked commander of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF), Director Getulio Napeñas, gave him wrong information about the Jan. 25 counterterrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, that cost the lives of 44 SAF commandos.

While the public was urging Aquino to take responsibility for the tragedy as Commander in Chief, he dumped the blame on Napeñas, saying the former SAF chief disobeyed his order to coordinate the operation with the military.

Speaking to reporters at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 minutes before boarding his flight to Burma (Myanmar), Ramos said he was “so disappointed with the language used” by Aquino.

“If that (language) were used in a meeting of group of international leaders or even just ordinary foreigners visiting our country, the impact, including the message given, would have been so negative for our country,” he said.

‘Navigator’ of country

According to the former President, Aquino is not just the father of the nation or just the Commander in Chief of the uniformed services, but is also the “navigator” of the country.

“We are on board one ship and therefore our lives, including those of our families and the unborn, depend on this man called the President and as such he has a certain high standard of behavior, even paternal feelings and even leadership ascendancy over everyone in this country,” he said.

Ramos left for Burma to lead the Rangoon International Water Summit on Friday, meet with the country’s top officials and participate in a dialogue called “Challenges to Peace and Development: The Philippine Experience,” organized by the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation Inc.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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