Posts Tagged ‘Mindanao’

Philippines: Long-term lack of public safety

July 7, 2018
 / 05:10 AM July 07, 2018
Opinion

For many years, the Social Weather Surveys have monitored the people’s anxieties about burglary of their homes, danger in walking the streets at night, and the presence of drug addicts in the neighborhood.

54 percent fear burglary. The last Social Weather Stations survey, done in March 2018, found the percentage of Filipino adults agreeing that “In this neighborhood, people are usually afraid that robbers might break into their homes,” at 54 percent nationwide. (See “First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by any of the common crimes at 6.6%,” www.sws.org.ph, 6/21/18.)

That is exactly the same as the 54  percent found in June 1985, in response to the same questionnaire item, addressed to respondents of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC) survey of that time.

Image result for crime in the philippines, photos

Nora Acielo, 47, lies dead after she was gunned down by unidentified men while she was escorting her two children to school in Manila, Philippines, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

SWS, which was founded in August 1985, spun this item off from the BBC survey, and then found the fear of burglary at 52 percent in its very first survey of May 1986.  Since then, it has continued tracking this fear in every Social Weather Survey up to the present—twice a year in 1986-91, and quarterly since 1992.

In the last three decades, the fear of burglary peaked at 70 percent (in October 1987), and was never below 40 percent (in March 2001). It averaged 57 percent in the four quarters of 2017. Clearly, there has been no improvement in the last 33 years.

The present anxiety about burglary is all across the nation: 52 percent in both Visayas and the Balance of Luzon, 54 percent or just average in Mindanao, and 60 percent in the National Capital Region (NCR).

46 percent fear the streets at night. In March 2018, the national proportion of adults agreeing that “In this neighborhood, people are usually afraid to walk in the streets at night because it is not safe,” was 46 percent. This is only slightly below the 48 percent that the BBC survey found in June 1985.

Over three decades, the percentage fearful of the streets at night has been usually in the 40s. Its lowest point was 35 percent (in December 1991), and its peak was 54 percent (in December 2016, only five quarters ago). It averaged 50 percent in the four quarters of 2017, just last year. Clearly, there has been no long-term improvement.

Image result for crime in the philippines, photos

By area, the sense of danger in the streets at night is usually greatest in NCR, presently at 52 percent. Next are Visayas at 49 percent, Mindanao at 48 percent, and Balance of Luzon at 42 percent.

40 percent see very many drug addicts around. In March 2018, the national proportion of adults agreeing that “In this neighborhood, there are already very many people addicted to banned drugs,” was 40 percent.

This is above the 37 percent found in March 2005, when SWS began its quarterly monitoring of the public perception of drug addicts in the neighborhood. From that time to now, the perception’s lowest point was 34 percent (in September 2009), and its peak was 62 percent (in June 2016).

The recent 40 percent is below the average 45 percent in the four quarters of 2017, and the average 52 percent in the last two quarters of 2016. There have been gains in the first seven quarters of the Duterte administration, but they are not enough to show a favorable trend in the longer run of 13 years.

The percentage that perceives much drug addiction in the neighborhood is 51 in Metro Manila, or much higher than in Visayas (41), Balance Luzon (39), and Mindanao (33).  Metro Manila is consistently the area with the greatest anxiety about public safety.

Contact mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

Image result for philippine prisons, photos

Thousands of Filipino prisoners crammed into prison built for 800

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/114433/long-term-lack-public-safety#ixzz5KYDozMgo
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Philippines: Planned federal system of government unknown to 75% of Filipinos

June 28, 2018

Federalism planned to topple the “Imperial Manila” — but few know the details and many expect this is an unwanted change in government.

More war on drugs, more extrajudicial killings, more China and less human rights?

Awareness about the federal system of government was highest in Mindanao at 37 percent, followed by Metro Manila at 28 percent, Visayas at 22 percent and Balance Luzon at 20 percent.

AP/Bullit Marquez
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SWS: Only 1 in 4 Filipinos aware of federal government
Gaea Katreena Cabico (philstar.com) – June 28, 2018 – 10:25am

MANILA, Philippines — Only one of four Filipinos knows about the proposed federal system of government, which President Rodrigo Duterte had promised to establish, according to the Social Weather Stations’ poll released Thursday.

SWS also found out that 75 percent of the 1,200 respondents only learned about the federal system during the conduct of the survey, which was fielded from March 23 to 27.

Thirty-seven percent favored the federal system of government while 29 percent expressed opposition to it. Thirty-four percent were undecided about the matter.

This yielded a net agreement score of +7, classified by SWS as neutral.

The same survey also showed that 58 percent do not know the name of the “state” being promoted in their locality, while there were 31 percent who were able to provide names.

Awareness about the federal system of government was highest in Mindanao at 37 percent, followed by Metro Manila at 28 percent, Visayas at 22 percent and Balance Luzon at 20 percent.

Likewise, support for the federal set-up was highest in Mindanao with very strong +43, followed by Metro Manila with neutral +7, Visayas with neutral +2 and Balance Luzon with neutral -8.

The polling firm also noted that the “support for the federal system of government was directly related to people’s trust in Rodrigo Duterte, their satisfaction with his performance as president and their satisfaction with the overall Duterte administration.”

Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, championed the shift to federalism to topple the “Imperial Manila” in a bid to end conflicts and curb poverty in the countryside.

A separate Pulse Asia survey fielded from March 23 to 28, however, showed that 66 percent of Filipinos said they are not in favor of replacing the present unitary system of government with a federal one. Only 27 percent expressed support for the change to a federal system, while six percent were ambivalent on the matter.

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/28/1828712/sws-only-1-4-filipinos-aware-federal-government

READMost Filipinos oppose Charter change, federalism — Pulse Asia

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Patricia Fox: The elderly missionary nun the Philippines plans to expel — after 28 years service in the Philippines

April 27, 2018

A 71-year-old Australian nun says she will appeal against a decision to expel her from the Philippines for alleged political activity.

Australian nun Patricia Fox speaks to the media in Manila, Philippines, 26 April 2018.
Patricia Fox has been in the Philippines for 28 years. EPA photo

Sister Patricia Fox told the BBC she found out she had 30 days to leave the country from the media.

She admitted she had met political prisoners in Mindanao, an island in the south currently under martial law.

But Sister Fox, who’s been in the country for 28 years, denies any wrongdoing.

“I woke up and I had messages from media people and one that’s a friend of mine… who said the Bureau of Immigration had released a press release in the morning saying that my missionary visa had been cancelled,” she told the BBC’s Howard Johnson in Manila.

“I was given a temporary visitor’s visa for 30 days, and I had to be out of the country within 30 days.”

Supporters of Australian nun Patricia Fox, 71, hold placards while waiting for her release outside of the Bureau of Immigration headquarters in Metro Manila, Philippines April 17, 2018.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSupporters lobbied for her release last week

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte said remarks made by Sister Fox criticising the government had constituted a violation of sovereignty.

He said he personally authorised the Bureau of Immigration to investigate her case because of alleged political activity that breached the terms of her visa.

She was detained overnight last week for “disorderly conduct” but released without charge.

The nun admits to visiting political prisoners on Mindanao, and fasting and praying for their release.

“It’s political if you like – the plight of the political prisoners, the plight of the farmers – but it’s not partisan political. I haven’t been bad-mouthing the president.”

Map of Mindanao in the Philippines

Sister Fox said she had been part of a fact-finding mission to Mindanao to investigate reports of human rights abuses.

“The government was denying there were any human rights abuses, so we actually went to interview people who were victims, or their families were victims, and to find out if there are human rights violations and to document them.”

There has been growing international pressure on Mr Duterte over human rights, particularly over his country’s war on drugs, which has caused the deaths of thousands.

Sister Fox said this was the first time she had had “a run-in” with immigration officials: “I’ve never had any problems renewing my visa before.”

She also says she has not been given a chance to explain her side of the story.

“I would ask that everyone be given due process – whether it’s myself, a political prisoner, a farmer. There should be due process, democratic processes that are followed.”

Sister told the BBC she found out she had 30 days to leave the country from the media.

She admitted she had met political prisoners in Mindanao, an island in the south currently under martial law.

But Sister Fox, who’s been in the country for 28 years, denies any wrongdoing.

“I woke up and I had messages from media people and one that’s a friend of mine… who said the Bureau of Immigration had released a press release in the morning saying that my missionary visa had been cancelled,” she told the BBC’s Howard Johnson in Manila.

“I was given a temporary visitor’s visa for 30 days, and I had to be out of the country within 30 days.”

Supporters of Australian nun Patricia Fox, 71, hold placards while waiting for her release outside of the Bureau of Immigration headquarters in Metro Manila, Philippines April 17, 2018.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSupporters lobbied for her release last week

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte said remarks made by Sister Fox criticising the government had constituted a violation of sovereignty.

He said he personally authorised the Bureau of Immigration to investigate her case because of alleged political activity that breached the terms of her visa.

She was detained overnight last week for “disorderly conduct” but released without charge.

The nun admits to visiting political prisoners on Mindanao, and fasting and praying for their release.

“It’s political if you like – the plight of the political prisoners, the plight of the farmers – but it’s not partisan political. I haven’t been bad-mouthing the president.”

Map of Mindanao in the Philippines

Sister Fox said she had been part of a fact-finding mission to Mindanao to investigate reports of human rights abuses.

“The government was denying there were any human rights abuses, so we actually went to interview people who were victims, or their families were victims, and to find out if there are human rights violations and to document them.”

There has been growing international pressure on Mr Duterte over human rights, particularly over his country’s war on drugs, which has caused the deaths of thousands.

Sister Fox said this was the first time she had had “a run-in” with immigration officials: “I’ve never had any problems renewing my visa before.”

She also says she has not been given a chance to explain her side of the story.

“I would ask that everyone be given due process – whether it’s myself, a political prisoner, a farmer. There should be due process, democratic processes that are followed.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43906709
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Philippines says it still abides by rule of law

March 31, 2018

 

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who has been labeled a terrorist by the Duterte administration, recently urged Italians to help stop what she described as “fascism” in the Philippines. AFP/File

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) – April 1, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday disputed the claim of United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz that the Philippine government has become authoritarian, saying the rule of law still prevails in the country.

Corpuz, who has been labeled a terrorist by the Duterte administration, recently urged Italians to help stop what she described as “fascism” in the Philippines.

Speaking to delegates of the Human Rights Festival in Milan last March 25, Corpuz said the “authoritarian” government in the Philippines is controlling Congress and is going against institutions formed to balance the executive branch.

Corpuz cited the impeachment petition filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of President Duterte, on charges related to illegal drugs.

Those who want Sereno removed alleged that she failed to meet the 10-year requirement for the filing of statements of assets, liabilities and networth and misusing public funds, among other allegations.

In refuting Corpuz’s claims, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said her statements show “how detached she is with the realities happening in the Philippines.”

He insisted that the executive department does not interfere with the affairs of its co-equal branches – the judiciary and the legislature.

“Democracy in the Philippines is vibrant and strong. All the branches of the government are functioning and the rule of law thrives. The executive branch respects the separation of powers and the independence of the other co-equal branches and doesn’t meddle with their affairs,” Medialdea said in a statement.

Corpuz and about 600 other persons were tagged as terrorists by the government after President Duterte scrapped the peace negotiations with communist rebels, although the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still waiting for the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 to declare them, as required by the Human Security Act of 2007, terrorists.

Under the law, the DOJ should file a petition asking the court to declare a person or a group as terrorist.

Also in the list were Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni and former Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo.

Waging war

Corpuz, in a commentary published in Financial Times last week, claimed that the Duterte administration is waging a war against messengers who report about human rights violations in the country, as she reiterated her criticism over her inclusion in the list of individuals that the government wants to tag as terrorists.

“I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers,” she wrote.

Corpuz, who repeatedly denied allegations of having links with the Communist Party of the Philippine and New Peoples’ Army, said her inclusion in the list made her fear for her safety.

“In lumping its critics together with criminals, the government seeks to make us all guilty by association and thus the next targets of the vigilantes and rogue police officers who have led President Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Now, he has started a new war – with new targets,” she added.

A member of the Kankanaey Igorot tribe, Corpuz vowed to continue fighting for indigenous peoples’ rights in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

“I have spent my life peacefully advocating for the rights of my people and other indigenous peoples around the world. I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either,” she said.

Her next report to the UN, she added, would focus on the topic of indigenous criminalization in different parts of the world.

“As the government continues to press its case, I will have to include my own experience, even though it pales in comparison to what others have faced. If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights,” she said.

“You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard,” added the UN rapporteur. – Janvic Mateo

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/01/1801666/rule-law-still-prevails-philippines-palace#qv7X4Gh777xW69p0.99

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 (Includes FT Op-Ed)

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
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Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
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 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

  (Xi Jinping’s first public address as “Ruler for Life”)

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All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

Philippines President Duterte Unleashes New War on Filipina United Nations Expert — She called out vigilantes and rogue cops — Accused Duterte of “genocide”

March 31, 2018
Terrorism-accused UN expert: Duterte wages new war, with ‘new targets’

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (philstar.com) – March 31, 2018 – 12:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — As he leads a bloody war on drugs that has left scores dead, President Rodrigo Duterte has started a new battle, with “new targets,” a Filipina United Nations expert whom the government accused of terrorism said.

In a petition filed in a Manila court last month, the Department of Justice said it wants 600 people tagged as terrorists for their alleged links to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

The petition included UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who had condemned alleged rights abuses in the restive southern island of Mindanao where troops are fighting an Islamic insurgency and Maoist rebels.

Image result for Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, photos
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

The state’s move was strongly criticized by human rights watchdogs, with some describing the court petition as a “virtual hit list.”

In an opinion piece published on the Financial Times, dated March 29, Corpuz said those accused by the government of terrorism have become the “next targets” of vigilantes and rogue cops taking a frontline role in Duterte’s deadly drug war.

“My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao,” Corpuz said.

“I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either,” she added.

The targeting of left-wing activists came on the heels of Duterte’s vow to eliminate the communist movement following the collapse of peace talks with rebels.

Aside from the UN advisor, activists like Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño, who helped found the Cordillera People’s Alliance in 1984 to fight for land rights, are also in the DOJ’s terror list.

Reacting to the case, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said “it makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”

‘The message will be heard’

Malacañang earlier defended the filing of the 600-person terror watchlist, saying it was not a witch-hunt on UN experts.

The Palace also maintained that based on “intelligence information,” Corpuz was connected to the underground left, adding that the DOJ would not have filed the petition without evidence.

“When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again,” the Filipina special rapporteur wrote on the Financial Times.

“You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard,” she added.

Duterte’s order to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations has raised concerns among activists in the national democratic movement that legitimate organizations could be targeted as supporters of terrorism.

Membership in or support of a national democratic activist organization is not equivalent to affiliation with the communist movement.

By listing groups and individuals as terrorists, the state can freeze and forfeit their properties or funds, among other measures.

The Philippines recorded the highest number of killings related to land conflicts and struggles in 2017 amid a government crackdown on rural communities, according to advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific.

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES-NEW PEOPLE’S ARMYTERRORISM PHILIPPINESUN RAPPORTEURS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/31/1801516/terrorism-accused-un-expert-duterte-wages-new-war-new-targets#L8ookVu9K2jbzl3c.99

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Financial Times Op-Ed

By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

A silent war is being waged on Philippine indigenous communities

Image may contain: 5 people, outdoor

When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again.

I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers.

The country leads Asia in the number of murders of indigenous and environmental activists, with 41 people killed last year. The most recently reported assassination was that of indigenous leader Ricardo Mayumi; he was killed this month for insisting that indigenous communities lived where the government wanted to place a dam.

I am one of hundreds of people on a new government list of “terrorists”. This list, on a legal petition filed in a Manila court, includes many indigenous leaders and activists and their legal representatives as well as four paramilitary group members, who are wanted for the killing of an indigenous leader in 2012.

In lumping its critics together with criminals, the government seeks to make us all guilty by association and, thus, the next targets of the vigilantes and rogue police officers who have led President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Now, he has started a new war — with new targets.

This is not the first time I have had to worry about government-sponsored violence. As a teenager, and member of the Kankanaey Igorot people, I joined the movement protesting against the Chico River Dam Project, which would have flooded our ancestral domain and displaced 300,000 people. Our leader, Macliing Dulag, was assassinated and many others were detained and tortured. But we did not give up and eventually the project was cancelled.

Later, I worked to set up health programmes for communities who lacked basic government services. The Marcos dictatorship viewed this endeavour as a threat and sent the national army in response to raid my home.

I have spent my life peacefully advocating for the rights of my people and other indigenous peoples around the world. I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either.

The killings make news, but hidden behind these headlines is something even more insidious: the silencing of entire communities

My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao. The UN has been trying to draw attention to this crisis since 2003, as corporate interests have colluded with government officials to clear the lands of their inhabitants, avoid obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, and remove the most outspoken leaders.

Their lands hold an estimated $1tn worth of natural resources that is coveted by foreign interests — but the local people already live off of these resources, sustainably, without transforming the environment. Like the vast majority of indigenous peoples around the world, many in Mindanao do not have legal titles to the lands their ancestors have lived on and protected for generations. Overnight, governments may declare them squatters and if bulldozers will not compel them to move, deadly force is often the next step. The killers are rarely brought to justice.

I have reported on the impact of these killings, and the “criminalisation” that often precedes them, throughout my travels on behalf of the UN, to Honduras, Brazil, Mexico and many other countries. I have seen the scars left by bullets and the graves of murdered leaders. The killings make news, but hidden behind these headlines is something even more insidious: the silencing of entire communities.

My next report to the UN will focus on the topic of indigenous criminalisation. We are hearing testimony from indigenous and community leaders, human rights officials, and academic experts from more than two dozen countries, and will issue an official report later this year.

As the government continues to press its case, I will have to include my own experience, even though it pales in comparison to what others have faced. If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights.

You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and an indigenous leader of the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera region in the Philippines

https://www.ft.com/content/4561c904-2dfb-11e8-97ec-4bd3494d5f14

Related:

No automatic alt text available.
China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
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No automatic alt text available.
Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
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 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

  (Xi Jinping’s first public address as “Ruler for Life”)

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All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

Daesh militants waging fresh bid to set up Southeast Asian caliphate

February 23, 2018

 

Daesh-linked militants occupied Marawi City south of the Philippines for over five months before government forces retook control in October last year. (AFP)
MANILA: Months after being routed from the southern Philippine city of Marawi, militants are waging a fresh and deadly bid to set up a Southeast Asian caliphate in the same region, the military warned Friday.
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The gunmen have mustered a force of about 200 fighters and fought a series of skirmishes with the security forces this year after government forces retook Marawi last October, Col. Romeo Brawner said.
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“They have not abandoned their objective to create a caliphate in Southeast Asia,” said Brawner, the commander of a Marawi-based military task force.
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“Mindanao is the most fertile ground,” he said, referring to the country’s southern region.
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Struggling with widespread poverty and armed Muslim insurgencies seeking independence or self-rule, Mindanao must improve poor supervision of Islamic schools or madrasas where most young gunmen are recruited, he added.
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He said the armed forces are retooling to meet the challenge of the Maute group, which occupied Marawi over five months and has pledged allegiance to the Middle East-based Daesh group.
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Gunmen who escaped during the early days of the US-backed operation to recapture Marawi are leading the recruitment effort, flush with cash, guns and jewelry looted from the city’s banks and private homes, Brawner said.
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The recruits are mostly locals, but an unspecified number of Indonesians, some with bomb-making skills, have recently arrived there, he said.
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Mindanao military officials said the Maute gunmen murdered three traders in the town of Piagapo, near Marawi, in November last year.
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Three militants were killed in Pantar, another neighboring town, on February 8, while three of the Piagapo merchants’ suspected killers were arrested in that town last month.
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The military also reported skirmishes with the Maute gunmen in the towns of Masiu and Pagayawan near Marawi last month.
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The renewed fighting came after President Rodrigo Duterte and other political leaders in the Mindanao region warned of a potential repeat of the siege of Marawi which claimed more than 1,100 lives.
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Duterte has imposed martial law over Mindanao until the end of the year to curb the militants’ challenge.
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Ebrahim Murad, head of the Philippines’ main Muslim rebel group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a peace treaty with Manila in 2014, also warned Tuesday that militants were recruiting and could seize another Filipino city.

‘Marawi attackers set sights on 2nd city’

February 20, 2018

 

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said the plot to attack either Iligan or Cotabato city fell apart after the Marawi siege ended, but the extremists have continued to recruit new fighters to recover from their battle defeats.  Credit KJ Rosales

(Associated Press) – February 21, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Islamic State (IS) group-linked militants planned but failed to attack another southern Philippine city shortly after troops crushed their siege of Marawi last year, the leader of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group said yesterday.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said the plot to attack either Iligan or Cotabato city fell apart after the Marawi siege ended, but the extremists have continued to recruit new fighters to recover from their battle defeats.

Murad said his group relayed intelligence about the planned attacks on the two cities, which are bustling commercial hubs, to government forces through ceasefire channels established during years of peace talks. He made the comments at a forum with foreign news correspondents, stressing how his group has helped battle terrorism.

President Duterte and military officials have also said that remnants of the radical groups behind the five-month siege that devastated Marawi were hunting for new recruits and plotting new attacks.

Duterte mentioned the threats in a speech late Monday in which he criticized Canada for imposing restrictions on the use of combat helicopters the Philippines has sought to buy. He has ordered the military to cancel the purchase.

“They are about to retake another city in the Philippines or to take another geographical unit but I couldn’t use the helicopters,” Duterte said, explaining that the Bell helicopters could not be employed in combat assaults.

Duterte has not elaborated on the nature of post-Marawi attack threats.

Murad’s group, which the military estimates has about 10,000 fighters scattered mostly in the marshy south, hopes Congress will pass legislation this year implementing a 2014 autonomy pact with the government.

He said the prospects appear bright, but added that the rebels are aware that the government failed to enforce peace pacts in the past, prompting disgruntled rebels to form breakaway groups.

The rebel leader warned that restive young Muslims in the southern Mindanao region, homeland of Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, may be drawn to extremism if the peace efforts fail.

As IS group militants lose bases in the Middle East, “we will increasingly find them in our midst as they seek new strategic grounds where the hold of government is weak such as in Mindanao,” Murad said.

Last year, Murad said his group lost 24 fighters who were defending rural communities from breakaway militants who have aligned with the IS. “We know we cannot decisively win the war against extremism if we cannot win the peace in the halls of Congress,” Murad said.

The new Muslim autonomous zone, which generally covers five poor provinces, is to replace an existing one that is seen as a dismal failure. The new plan grants much more autonomy, power and guaranteed resources to the region.

The rebels have been fighting since the 1970s for Muslim self-rule in Mindanao in an insurrection that has killed about 150,000 combatants and civilians. The United States and other Western governments have backed the autonomy deal, partly to prevent the insurgency from breeding extremists.

Read more at https://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/21/1789910/marawi-attackers-set-sights-2nd-city#TMKuVgfiM2cuKfkH.99

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Philippines: Islamic group warns of heightened extremism if Congress does not pass law

February 20, 2018

Murad Ebrahim, chairman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), gestures as he speaks during a Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum in Manila on February 20, 2018. (AFP)
MANILA: If the Philippines Congress does not pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), extremism could rise in Mindanao, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) warned on Tuesday. The BBL follows the peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014.
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Foreign fighters continue to arrive in Mindanao, said MILF Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim.
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“They’re coming in from the porous borders in the south (Mindanao), from Malaysia, Indonesia,” he added.
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“And it’s not only Malaysians and Indonesians… There are some Middle Eastern people coming in.”
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The MILF received information that a Canadian of Arab origin, not older than 25, entered recently and went to Patikul in Sulu to join the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Ebrahim said.
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“So this challenge with extremism is really very high, and… we really need to cooperate, everybody, in order to counter extremism,” he added.
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Daesh continues to be a threat to the Philippines because it is being displaced in the Middle East, he said.
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“We’re all aware of what happened in the Middle East. I think nobody wants it to happen here,” he added.
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The chances of another Marawi siege cannot be ruled out because extremists “can still partner with many other small groups, like Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF),” Ebrahim said.
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“We’ve seen the destruction in Marawi. In more than 40 years of conflict in Mindanao, this never happened,” he added.
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“There has been no city or community that was turned into rubble completely. And this happened… when we’re already in the final stage of the peace process.”
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While the MILF is doing its part to prevent terrorists from gaining ground on the island, “the best and most effective counter to them is when the peace process will succeed,” he said.
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“We can’t decisively win the war against extremism if we can’t win the peace in the halls of Congress.”
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The assistant secretary for peace and security, Dickson Hermoso, told Arab News that the BBL “will be passed based on the reaction of the majority of the people on the ground.”
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He added: “They want the BBL, based on consultations by the Senate and congressional committees. There’s overwhelming support from the Bangsamoro people.”
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The Senate plans to pass the bill by March 22, before it goes on recess, Hermoso said, expressing hope that it will be signed into law by the president before the end of next month.
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Political analyst Ramon Casiple said he expects the BBL to be passed soon, but warned that if not, another Marawi siege is possible.
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The president may call for a special session of Congress just to see the bill passed, Casiple added.
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Another Marawi possible, Philippine rebel chief warns

February 20, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Cecil MORELLA | Murad warns that another Marawi is possible
MANILA (AFP) – The chief of the Philippines’ main Muslim rebel group warned Tuesday that jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group, flush with looted guns and cash, could seize another Filipino city after Marawi last year.Murad Ebrahim has billed his Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has made peace with the government, as a rival to IS for the hearts and minds of angry young Muslims in the impoverished south of the mainly Catholic nation.

Murad said the MILF was battling pro-IS groups for influence in schools as the jihadists worked to infiltrate madrasas (Islamic religious schools) and secular universities.

At the same time IS gunmen were making their way into the southern Philippines from Malaysia and Indonesia, he added, but gave no estimates.

A five-month siege flattened the city of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao, the Philippines’ main Islamic centre, and claimed more than 1,100 lives.

Murad told reporters conditions on the ground were still ripe for another Marawi-style siege.

“This ISIS group continues to penetrate us because they are being displaced in the Middle East and they want to have another place,” Murad said, using an another name for IS.

“The chances of having another Marawi cannot be overruled.”

The Marawi attackers found and looted stockpiles of munitions, cash and jewellery from homes — some owned by MILF members — before the city was retaken by US-backed Filipino troops in October, he said.

“When they (MILF members) fled from Marawi they (could) not bring their vaults. That is where the ISIS was also able to get so much money and now they’re using it for recruitment,” he added.

“It’s very sad. In our country some people say buying weapons and ammunition is just like buying fish in the market.”

The combination of weak central government authority, the presence of rebel groups and long-running blood feuds means Mindanao is awash with weapons, he added.

Manila signed a peace deal with the 10,000-member MILF in 2014 after decades of Muslim rebellion in Mindanao for independence or self-rule that had claimed more than 100,000 lives.

Murad urged President Rodrigo Duterte’s government to speed up the passage of a Muslim self-rule law to flesh out the peace accord, warning pro-IS militants were recruiting for a new attack.

“If the (self-rule law) will not be passed now I think it will develop a situation where these extremist groups can recruit more adherents, because it will prove their theory that there is no hope in the peace process,” he said.

“Since they have the capability also to supply money and then they also have the ability to make explosives, bombs, they can just use these young recruits to work out their plan.”

by Cecil MORELLA

Philippines: Polling Shows People Reject Idea of “Revolutionary Government”

January 13, 2018

 

President Rodrigo Duterte had warned that he would declare a revolutionary government if “things go out of control.”

Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante, File
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (philstar.com) – January 13, 2018 – 12:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — More Filipinos oppose the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte declaring a revolutionary government, a Social Weather Station survey found.

Several times in his public remarks, Duterte has threatened to declare a revolutionary government — a form of self-coup disabling the current government system and Constitution — to quell a supposed conspiracy by his critics to destabilize his administration.

EXPLAINER: Can Duterte declare a revolutionary government?

But Duterte, in an apparent move to douse fears incited by his threat to revamp the government through extraconstitutional means, later called on the military to ignore talks about a revolutionary government.

According to SWS’s fourth quarter survey conducted on December 8 to 16, 39 percent of 1,200 Filipino adults polled said they disagree with the establishment of a revolutionary government.

Meanwhile, 31 percent agree while the remaining 30 percent were undecided.

Based on the findings, SWS said opposition to a revolutionary government was “stronger” among those who are dissatisfied with, or have little trust in Duterte.

Nonetheless, Duterte’s previous plan to create a revolutionary government got support from his home region of Mindanao with a net agreement score of +16.

That was followed by Metro Manila (net -7), Balance Luzon (net -16) and Visayas (net -17).

“Net agreement scores are at single-digit across locale, class, and sex, ranging from net -9 to +4,” the pollster also found.

Duterte earlier slammed those who supposedly took his remarks about founding a revolutionary government “out of context,” saying they just wanted to “draw publicity.”

According to the same SWS poll, 63 percent of respondents, most of whom were from Mindanao, believe that Duterte has plans to change the present government to a new one that he likes.

Awareness of Duterte’s plan to overhaul the government was higher among those with more years of formal schooling, SWS also found.

The survey likewise revealed that almost half of respondents (48 percent) think it is possible to have a revolutionary government under the present Philippine Constitution, while 27 percent said otherwise.

On the other hand, stronger opposition to a revolutionary government was seen among those unaware of Duterte’s plan and those who said such a declaration is not possible under the present Constitution.

READ: Supporters, counterprotesters cross paths as Duterte toys with revolutionary gov’t

Read more at http://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/13/1777404/sws-more-pinoys-reject-revolutionary-government#3l2alI6rXsqLuJbL.99