A discourse of peacebuilders in Lanao.

A story posted… December 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 11:08 am
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Military action vs MILF leaders gets needed boost
By Jaime Laude Updated December 13, 2008 12:00 AM

The ongoing military operations against three notorious Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders in Mindanao got a much-needed boost after President Arroyo recently approved an additional funding to bankroll the costly military campaign against the renegade group in the region.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Alexander Yano bared this latest development in an interview over government-run NBN television Thursday night.

“We have requested for additional funding for these (operations) and lately the President granted an additional, supplemental budget for the conduct of operations,” Yano said.

Without disclosing the exact amount, the AFP top brass said the additional budget will help sustain the ongoing military operations in Mindanao for the next two to three months.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., on the other hand, confirmed the approval of the logistical and budgetary requirement although he did not say how much additional funding was released.

At present there are about five military brigades involved in the hunt for MILF renegade commanders Ameril Umbra Kato in Central Mindanao; Abdurahman Macapaar alias Bravo and Aleem Sulaiman Pangalian in the two Lanao provinces and in Sarangani province.

On top of this, the military had also deployed several companies of elite units in the region not only to go after the MILF renegades but also against the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

The three renegade commanders were tagged as the brains behind the series of attacks against civilian and military targets in their respective areas from August onward following the non-signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Kuala Lumpur between the MILF and GRP Peace Panel.

Yano pointed out that the AFP has the resources to sustain the fight in Mindanao , but also admitted that the operation has been costly because the three MILF commanders and their followers are operating in a big area.

He said in Central Mindanao alone, the military is having difficulty securing the entire Liguasan marsh, an area known to be the bailiwick of Kato’s 105th Base Command.

The rugged terrain in Lanao is also hampering military actions against Bravo, Pangalian and their followers.

Yano said the military has been conducting intelligence- driven actions aimed at downgrading the capabilities of the MILF renegades to conduct atrocities or major offensives like what they did last August in North Cotabato and in Lanao del Norte. – Paolo Romero, John Unson, Christina Mendez Philstar)



BanDag on interfaith dialogue December 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 7:59 am
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Dear All,
Let me share to you my experience and thoughts on interfaith dialogues.
It seems to me that the idea of interfaith dialogue has been abused that even people who seems not to have faith advocate for it! faith to me is a very deep commitment to believe on something that we do not even see. I’m wondering if may mga tao bang ganito pa ngayon? Who still believe in what they do not see. Perhaps there are… Marami nga sa mga filipino and to some extent mga Bangsamoro, still believe in the ideals of our leaders despite not seeing it. Marami pa rin naniwala na ang mga leader natin are their to serve the people despite the fact that its the power and money that they are after of.
My experience with intefaith dialogue is a bit funny. When I worked as a free-lunch journalist in the late 80’s, I was invited by a friend priest to a “tri-people interfaith dialogue” somewhere in Central Mindanao. Of course, a penniless journalist at the time, I went because the lunch is free! To my surprise, a fraternity buddy back in the university was there. He was leading the Muslim delegations from communities where there NGO was working . He was wearing something like an Afghan turban that reminds me of the Taliban guerillas fighting the Russians at that time.
At the opening prayer, three people were to lead the prayer: a Muslim, a Christian and a Lumad.  
first was the Muslim who recited verses of the Qur-an in Arabic. I was standing beside my old frat buddy and I asked him what does the Arabic prayer means. My friend, blushed and with a smile whispered to me: “Hindi ko rin naintindihan basta verse yon ng Qur’an.” I smiled back at him.
Next was the Christian woman. She gave praises, asked forgiveness and blessings from God the father, son and holy spirit. The prayer was very emotional and a bit long. The woman seems to be about to cry. I whispered to my friend-priest: “Is she a Catholic?” My friend whispered back: “A Charismatic, ” then he smiled as the woman ended her prayer. I wonder, are Charismatics, Catholics. Mind you, while she was praying, her eyes were closed. So I also close my eyes but seconds later, I opened my eyes to see if the others were also closing their eyes. To my surprise, most eyes were wide opened. The most serious faces were the Muslims!
The last was the Lumad. The Lumad was a man around his 50s. He wore a tubao in his head and a black vest with some embroidery. I thought that he will be praying in chant or with dancing. To my surprise, he started with a sign of the cross: “Sa ngalan sa Amahan, sa Anak ug sa Espiritu Santo. (In the name of the father, and of the son and the holy spirit). Amen.” (Mind you, I was jolted and I made the sign of the cross taught to me secretly by my Boholana mother. My father dislike it because he wanted me to pray at the mosque.) The Lumad asked God’s blessings for everyone and for the success of the activity. He ended his prayer with the Catholic “Glory Be.” I look at my priest-friend with a questioning look. He whispered to me: “He is a Kapilya leader active in our Tribal filipino Apostolate. He was baptized just about three years ago.”
At the end of the opening prayer, I was at a bit confused. But that experience did not saddened me. 
What saddened me is the observation idea of interfaith has been politicized in the last few years. Even GMA is now stressing that interfaith dialogue is key to the solution to Mindanao. I agree with GMA but doing interfaith dialogue to solve the Moro issue will never work.. The Moro problem is not rooted in faith alone. It has economic and political dimensions.
If interfaith approach is to be done, the common problems experienced by people of both faiths should be addressed. Poverty, landlessness, internal displacement are problems not exclusive to the Bangsamoro People. filipinos in Mindanao also experience the same. If we count the poorest of the poor in Mindanao, I bet that there will be more Christians than Muslims. And if we count the richest people in Mindanao, i’ll bet that among the richest are Muslims.
Central to any interfaith dialogue in Mindanao is to discuss the central problem in Mindanao: unsecured land tenure of the majority of both Muslims and Christians both in the urban and rural areas. Not discussing this issue could make any interfaith dialogue senseless and devoid of the real reasons why the great faiths of the world take roots. for judaism, its promise land. for Muslims, its the ummah, a community of faithfuls — of course, in a secured place.  for Christians, still a community in a secured place … a secured “balay sa langit nga nagsidlaksidlak. ” I’m sure Christians (of whatever religion or denominations) never think of renting or being displaced from his/her place in the Kingdom of God.
A “secured place” – in reality or idea, on earth or in heaven – is core to the traditions of the great faiths. for interaith dialogues to become authentic as what PGMA wants, the issues of homeland, ancestral domain and agrarian reform (urban and rural) should be the core issue if the Mindanao conflict is to be resolved. The solution that will result from any dialogue or peace process shall address the problems of the people irregardless of faith or religion. If it will only resolve the Moro problem, it will never be acceptable to the filipinos in Mindanao.
I believed that one of the reasons why the MOA-AD is not acceptable to most Christians is that it only refers to the domain of the Bangsamoro. It is not clear on the domain of the Indigenous Cultural Communities. Much more that it did not say about agrarian reform. Of course a genuine one, not that includes areas of Lake Lanao
I’m really wondering how much faith is put in interfaith dialogue by the people engage or advocating it.

About dialogue

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 7:36 am
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(This is part of the earlier conversation of CSOs in Lanao of which I have just unearthed. -vmg)

October 3, 2008 8:00pm

I just have arrived from the field (Brgy. Kalilangan, Iligan City) with colleagues Jam and Harriet who conducted the barangay governance strengthening, we took the trek from Old Rogongon to Kalilangan since it is unsafe to travel to Mandulog-Dulag Road (due to the recent tower toppling at Lanipao)  

 At the area I was able to share with the community the MOA AD documents and conversed with them but prior to that I asked them what they felt and think about the conflict occurred and what have they understood about it. Honestly it wasn’t really surprising when Baylan Trining Sisayan said that the community were really scared, puzzled and disturbed because of these reasons; people bagged the area as home of the MILF offenders, retaliation of Commander Bravo to the rebel returnee, and unsorted news from the media (radio) which totally brought fear. The second question was what they knew about the MOA AD? Kagawad Khalil Macausor shared that the MILF passed MOA and President Gloria have not supported it, and it is a separation of Muslim area from the Christian.

 Hearing those sentiments from the community I shared with them MOA AD Documents and discussed what truly happened and how the scenario brought unpeace, I was really amazed of their faces hearing every word translated from the documents, from the maps covered areas of BJE, list of barangays included in Annex A and B and shared insights the community was really responsive, Bapa Sarakan Mansumayan shared that “we heard different stories from the radio, last August we heard the City Mayor asking people to arm, and the radio was on panic, people are on the streets, and Atty. Leo Zaragoza even called and asked the commentator to stop… we don’t know how to read that’s why we listen but it was not a good information. .”


After that I felt at ease even after the seven (7) km trekked and had crossed three unbridged rivers, sharing to them real stories and understood it, is really rewarding.  

 Let us inform our communities even a simple conversation will do, we know that it would change a lifetime perception rather than letting them side with nothing but a culture of fear. 



Indie film…Bible sharing on HR day? December 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 1:01 pm
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Dear All,
Not all Indie (independent) films have sexual themes….though most of them dwell on this lines that are also very excellent. Indie films like a beautiful life, and other locally produced independent films are also doing well in terms of appreciation like Ploning, Sikil, 100, yanggaw, thank you girls, etc.
It’s time to support locally produced indie films na may katuturan and broaden our appreciation. These indie films are getting into the mainstream already.
Probably, next year, we are producing an Iligan-made indie film called the love and lust Commander..( opps dili lang nako nganlan) –then ang Sub title kay “the greatest warrior of his time”.
Sige lang gud….”sakay na!”
PS: Hapit na ang December 10 ug wala pa man gyapon mag text sa akoa kung interesado mo…Kung maglisud mog walay lipod lipod, mag bible sharing na lang ta oy.

Celebrating International HR Day with Gandhi?

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 10:46 am
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Hi VMG and All,
Thanks for that idea of saving the conversation.
I have a suggestion for more action. I hope Bong will not push for his temporary retirement.
Can we gather on December 10? I suggest that we can watch the film “Gandhi” and have some discussion afterwards. This could be one way of Celebrating HR Day and reflect on what we can strategically do in our small ways.
What do you think?



Gov’t sets up new peace panel for nego December 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 8:02 am
I gathered info about the reconstitution of the peace panel.
What can you say about this?
Gov’t sets up new peace panel for nego with MILF
Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews   
Sunday, 30 November 2008 22:24
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 Nov) —  National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales announced Saturday afternoon before a conference of Mindanao’s young leaders that Presidential Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon would announce “in a day or two” the  members of the new peace panel that would negotiate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Esperon confirmed to MindaNews Sunday that that was the original schedule but added he needs another week of consultations to complete the panel composition.
In a press statement Sunday,  Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban), welcomed the designation of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis as the new chair of the government peace panel.
But Esperon told MindaNews  “kandidato si USec Seguis” (Usec Seguis is a candidate).
Malacanang dissolved its peace panel in the negotiations with the MILF on September 3, in the wake of the controversy over the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD)  that was initialed in Kuala Lumpur on July 27.
The agreement was scheduled for formal signing morning of August 5 but in the afternoon of  August 4, the Supreme Court granted the petition for the issuance of a  temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the executive department from signing the MOA in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The High Court declared the initialed MOA-AD unconstitutional.
The dissolution of the government peace panel came barely a week after it sought, along with the MILF, an extension of the tour of duty of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) from August 30 to November 30.
Under the Terms of Reference of the IMT, an extension of the tour of duty can be made only upon the request of both panels.
In the absence of the government peace panel, Esperon, through the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, requested in mid-November the governments of Malaysia, Libya, Brunei and Japan to extend the tour of duty of their members in the IMT, from November 30 to February 28, 2009…
Malaysia, however, turned down the Philippines’ request.
On November 27, Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim announced they were “suspending its participation in the IMT upon expiry of its mandate.”
The Malaysian team was fetched by the Malaysian Air Force in Cotabato City and returned to Malaysia Sunday morning (November 30).
The IMT  has been in Mindanao since October 2004. It has had four batches  and IMT4
initially had 57 members — 41 soldiers from Malaysia, 10 from Brunei, five from Libya and the lone development specialist from Japan – but since Malaysia’s phased withdrawal in May, the number had been reduced to 29 — 28 of them soldiers – 12 from Malaysia, 10 from Brunei, six from Libya and the only non-soldier member, from Japan.
The IMT members from Libya, Brunei and Japan are still in the country awaiting further notice. But without the mandate for extension, they cannot operate.
Yatim said Malaysia is “prepared to consider its future participation in the IMT, when there is progress in the peace process and a formal request is made by both the Peace Panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”
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Malaysia “remains supportive of the peace process and hopes that both sides opt for dialogue and negotiations in bringing about a peaceful solution in Mindanao,” he added.
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews on November 20, when Esperon said he sought extension, that the MILF “will not propose (the extension) but we will not oppose.”
But the MILF reportedly  imposed three conditions,  the reconstitution of the government peace panel, the investigation by the IMT of the attacks in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani and that the warrants of arrest against the wanted commanders be lifted.
Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the MILF peace panel said there are several issues both parties need to address but “how can we talk without the panel?”
He said they want the IMT and other independent groups to investigate the attacks as part of due process. The lifting of the warrants, he added, is also part of due process. “That has been done before,” he said.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews )

What??? New peace panel?

Filed under: Uncategorized — panaghisgot @ 8:00 am
Unbelievable. …!!!!!! Ridiculous!! !!!!!!!
Thank’s for circulating this JOKE, VMG…
A new peace panel… in a time nearing elections… for what??????? To help in the campaign in the Moro Areas??? No need! The Comelec and the Military are already there. 
Of course, Garci is out but I’m sure there are more. 
Talking for Peace with the GRP this time, would be a waste of energy for the MILF. It has been very clear that some of the minimum demands of the Bangsamoro are unconstitutional. Hence, talking peace when the Philippines still believes in the current constitution is useless.. I think the best strategy for the MILF is to intensify the war not only in Mindanao but throughout the Philippines to pressure the Philippine Government to change its Constitution allowing assurance that the key provisions of the MOA-AD become implementable OR force the government and the international community to recognize the Bangsamoro State.
Perhaps the Bangsamoro who are members of MILF, YES! How about the Bangsamoro civilians who are not members of the MILf? I think many are TIRED! Will they not be pacified by their kins who may hate the Philippine Government but will fight with tooth and nails just to be elected to any available position in Government? Will the MILF commanders not be tempted to receive money from Moro politicians who are willing to work with Manila-based politicians?
Does the MILF represents the Bangsamoro civilians? Does the Bangsamoro civilians ultimately understand what the Bangsamoro struggle is all about? I think the Moro intelectuals have a deep understanding, but how about the Civilians especially the IDP’s? All they wish now is to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.
WILL THE RESUMPTION OF THE TALKS HELP THEM? To rebuild their lives, I think YES. To continue supporting to the Bangsamoro cause, I’m in doubt. It is interesting to note that almost all the major basis of the MILF are now controled by the Military. When the IDP’s return to their villages, they will be under constant watch, indoctrination and to some extent to be helped by the soldiers in rebuilding their homes.
I’m afraid that while the War eroded the territory of the MILF, the peace process during election season will erode the hearts and minds of their mass base.