* Â Pals or MILF’s? All united in the global jihad!
Philippines: “rogue Muslims” burn houses, slaughter civilians
Manila Muslim rebels in the Philippines attacked several towns, killing at least 26 people and displacing 7,000.Â
The raids triggered a swift military response and raised doubts over whether the guerrilla movement was in control of its fighters.
According to Ibn Taymiyya — “Sheikh al-Islam” — the jihadist is under no one’s authority, once the jihad is in full swing: “All Islamic lands are one umma. There must be a general call to arms, without requiring permission from the father nor any other opposition,” (fromÂ The Al Qaeda Reader, 93).
Up to 500 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels raided towns in Lanao del Norte province,Â burning houses and shooting or hacking civilians to death. Troops reacted with tanks and helicopter gunships. A rebel leader said that the attack was carried out without his knowledge.
Defend every inch of territory, says President
President deplores treacherous attacks by ‘rebels’Â
By GENALYN D. KABILING
President Arroyo yesterday ordered security forces to defend every inch of the country’s territory from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as she deplored its “sneaky and treacherous attacks” launched in some parts of Lanao del Norte that left several people dead.
In a televised nationwide address in MalacaÃ±ang, the President directed the military and police to protect the people “at all costs” and restore peace in the affected communities amid the ongoing unrest over the territorial deal with the MILF.
“Because of these sneaky and treacherous attacks, as your Commander-in-Chief, I have ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to defend every inch of Philippine territory against MILF forces, and immediately restore peace in the affected areas in Lanao del Norte,” she said.
“We will not tolerate and will crush any attempt to disturb peace and development in Mindanao,” she added.
Mrs. Arroyo convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council in MalacaÃ±ang to assess the situation in Lanao del Norte and other areas in Mindanao and “come up with concrete, firm, and decisive action to defend the peace loving people of Mindanao.”
“I assure the Filipino people that the government will defend them at all costs against any move by any group that will disrupt our aspirations for a genuine and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but in the whole country. I am with you in peace. We are all in this together,” she said.
Reports said around 100 rebels launched attacks on the towns of Kolambugan, Maigo, and Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte, leaving a trail of corpses and burnt houses and forcing hundreds to flee their communities.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the government will file the necessary criminal charges against the erring MILF fighters who he described as “ordinary criminals.”
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said these MILF rebels must face the full brunt of the law for their “unpremeditated” atrocities on civilian communities, saying “no one will be allowed to hide behind the peace process to escape the might of government.”
He urged the MILF leadership to rein in their troops sowing violence in Lanao del Norte pending the completion of the peace agreement.
The MILF, however, has distanced itself from the latest attacks which took place in Lanao del Norte province, saying these were carried out by a renegade commander Abdullah Macapaar without the group’s knowledge.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also called for sobriety and vigilance following the attacks. Esperon, who traveled to Kuala Lumpur apparently to inform the Malaysian government that is brokering the peace talks about transgressions of the MILF, said the peace process will always be given primacy.
“However, we view the recent incidents with grave concern. We must get to the bottom of these very disturbing incidents. I strongly condemn these atrocious acts as I call for sobriety and vigilance,” he said.
President blows top before taping of Mindanao address
President Arroyo yesterday blew her top during the filming of her televised nationwide address on the Mindanao conflict.
Mrs. Arroyo was peeved when she arrived earlier than the government communications group that was supposed to install equipment for her live broadcast at the New Executive Building (NEB) in MalacaÃ±ang.
The President’s temper flared up shortly after she underwent a “stress test” at the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City and installed the bronze statue of the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City.
Coming from NAIA Terminal 3, Mrs. Arroyo arrived around 12:45 p.m. at the NEB briefing room to deliver a statement on the series of attacks by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Lanao del Norte.
The President, however, discovered that Radio and Television MalacaÃ±ang (RTVM), an office that handles all her television and radio coverage, had not yet installed their equipment for live broadcast in the briefing room.
Mrs. Arroyo walked out, went around NEB for a few minutes, and returned later to inspect the briefing room but was again dismayed by the incomplete RTVM setup.
On her third inspection, the President finally saw the RTVM has completed the installation of cameras, lights, and other equipment needed for live broadcast over the governmentrun televisions.
The President also snapped at reporters when they gathered at the briefing room to watch her address. “This is not a press conference. This is just a taping,” she told them.
Some Palace officials said RTVM was caught off guard by the President’s sudden arrival since it was informed she was supposed to record her national address at 2 p.m.
Last week, the President suffered a stomach upset reportedly due to the food she ate during a visit in Batangas province. Her doctor Dr. Juliet Cervantes checked on her in MalacaÃ±ang Friday. Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the President is now healthy and has recovered from her stomach troubles. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)
Mindanao bishops appeal for calm
Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Pena said yesterday the killing of seven soldiers in Lanao del Sur reportedly by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would serve as a wake-up call for everyone on the urgent need to resolve the conflict in Mindanao.
“I think this should be resolved in a round-table discussion instead of letting the guns do the talking, so to speak,” De la Pena said in an interview.
The Marawi prelate is convinced that Sunday’s ambush of the seven soldiers was a consequence of the stalled peace negotiations between the MILF and the government.
“We already foresaw this thing would happen. It’s a pity because we thought we are already at the brink of achieving peace then this thing happened,” he said.
“This is the MILF’s way of dramatizing their sentiment… that if they can’t get what they want through peaceful means they would resort to other means,” he said.
Meanwhile, Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, a member of the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) urged the people to remain calm.
“We would like the people to keep calm,” Capalla said over Catholic-run Radio Veritas 846 yesterday. “We would also like to appeal for reason, sobriety, to be calm and not to be overcome by their emotions.”
Lanao del Norte Bishop Elenito Galido also called on people in Iligan ” to be vigilant and calm in this situation, and to be responsive and mature in responding to the issues because we will not achieve anything with all these fighting.
Sarangani governor vows to pursue Maasim raiders
KIDAPAWAN CITY â€“ Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez has vowed to pursue the attackers and bring to justice the group that staged a dawn attack in Maasim yesterday that led to the killing of two civilians and the wounding of another.
Governor Dominguez said that he was appalled by the “brazenness” and “treachery” of the armed attack at the Maasim town.
“No amount of justification could placate the families of our dead and soothe the anxiety and fear of residents who have lived in peace and harmony throughout the years,” he said.
He added that while the provincial government will remain steadfast in its quest for peace, “it will not cower in fear in the face of open challenges.”
At around 5 a.m yesterday two civilians were killed when suspected MILF rebels attacked the public market of Maasim, reports from the police in central Mindanao said. Police regional director Felizardo Serapio said the armed men emptied vending stalls of grocery items and meat and vegetables and attempted to set the building on fire.
Serapio said Sarangani police engaged the raiders in a brief firefight, wounding at least five of them.
Another group of MILF rebels attacked an Army detachment nearby as they exited the town.
Commander Adan Abdulla of the 106th Brigade of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the MILF’s armed wing, denied it was his group that led the attack in Maasim. “There was no order to attack the town,” said Abdulla in a radio interview.
MILF civil military affairs chief Eid Kabalu hinted the attack could be part of a grand design to put the Front in a bad light.
“We know there are other groups opposed to the peace process and conducting sabotage operations,” he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar)
Senators deploreÂ violence but differ on reasons
Senators yesterday deplored the latest attack reportedly perpetrated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which resulted in the death of innocent civilians in Mindanao.
Senate President Manuel Villar said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should undertake punitive action against the MILF forces involved and uphold the rule of law.
“As far as I know there is an existing ceasefire in place and the recent MILF attack on government forces is a clear violation of this ceasefire agreement,” Villar said.
“I urge President Arroyo to immediately release funds from the Emergency Fund for the purpose of providing relief assistance. With another war in their midst, many of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, particularly in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, fear for the safety of their loved ones. Immediate resolution and a return to normalcy is urged the soonest time possible,” Villar said.
Sen. Manuel Roxas II said the recent violence in Mindanao is only a result of the supposed agreement of the MILF and the government’s peace negotiating panel that has gone awry.
“Ito’y nagpapatunay na iyong kasunduan sa pagitan ng MILF at ng GRP (government of the Republic of the Philippines) ay isang bulok na kasunduan,” Roxas said.
Roxas said both sidesâ€”the GRP and the MILFâ€”is to blame for the string of attacks, the MILF for directly launching a “virtual declaration of war” and the GRP for promising an agreement that they can’t deliver due to its unconstitutionality.
Sen. Benigno Aquino III voiced concern that the recent MILF attack would pave the way for a more serious political agenda of President Arroyo. Aquino says he sees the possibility of President Arroyo’s declaring martial law if the skirmishes in the south grow fierce.
“The peace agreement is supposed to calm the situation but it actually increases calls for emergency powers. The groundwork has also been laid for Charter change. The soldiers now were the same during martial law,” Aquino said.
Senator Richard Gordon also condemned the violence committed but urged the military not to “wage a total war yet” on the MILF as he believed that dialogues should continue between the GRP and the Muslim separatist group.
“We should not wage a total war yet. This is an isolated case. But continue the dialogue. Conduct the dialogue,” Gordon said.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri condemned the attacks which, he said, could be linked to the aborted signing of the proposed memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain two weeks ago. (Hannah L. Torregoza & Mario B. Casayuran)
Tamano appeals for peace; MaranaosÂ warned to avoid Iligan
United Opposition spokesman Adel Tamano yesterday appealed to Muslim and Christian leaders to help stop the spiralling violence in some parts of Mindanao.
Tamano made the appeal as alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked yesterday parts of Mindanao’s provinces of Lanao del Norte and Sarangani.
“I call upon all our leaders, both Muslim and Christian, to make a strong and unqualified call to end all hostilities between the government and the MILF. Now is not the time for blame and finger-pointing but for statesmanship on all sides,” said Tamano, whose support for the annulment of the MoA-AD has earned the ire of some of his fellow Moros.
As this developed, suspected high-ranking MILF commanders yesterday warned Maranaos against venturing into Iligan City, saying in text messages that the city will be the “final” target of attacks in a “morality” campaign.
Regional Science and Technology Secretary Macacuna “Mike” Pangandaman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has received a text message in the Maranao dialect, warning Maranaos not to go to Iligan City.
“Pakitokawan sa langon a Maranao a taga sa Iligan, ago taga Marawi or ingud wag pumunta ng Iligan bukas kasi yon ang final na pasabog sa mga lugar na may ginagawang ‘haram’: hotel, bar, videokehan, disco, sabungan, binggo kasi doon itinanim or inilagay yong mga bomba (This is to warn all Maranaos living in Iligan and Marawi or other Lanao areas not to go to Iligan tomorrow because that is where the final bombing is going to be in areas doing ‘haram such as motel, bar, videoke pub, disco house, cockfighting arena, and binggo. That is where bombs were planted),” said the text message sent to Pangandaman.
As this developed, recent incursions of secessionist rebels in Mindanao provinces have raised serious questions about the ability of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to discipline its members and could severely damage peace talks with the government, Speaker Prospero C. Nograles said yesterday.
Lanao del Sur Rep. Faysah RPM Dumarpa appealed to both Christian and Muslim leaders in Mindanao to join the call for ceasefire as she pointed out that reports of skirmishes between government and MILF forces could set back any hopes for peace in the region.
“I appeal to my colleagues in Congress and all local leaders in Mindanao to refrain from discussing the merits and faults, if ever, of the MoA (memorandum of agreement) on Ancestral Domain. Instead, we should collectively air an appeal for sobriety as we try to find the best solution towards attaining peace,” she said.
Nograles said the latest rebel attacks in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Saranggani, if unauthorized by the MILF leadership, serve as a “very bad sign that the MILF chain-of-command is breaking apart.”
Nograles noted that when interviewed over the radio, Cotabato City Mayor and MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said that he was also surprised by the attack because there is no order from the MILF hierarchy for them to launch an attack.
“How can we proceed with the peace talks if the top officials of the MILF cannot control their field commanders and are apparently acting on their own? We really have to know first from the MILF leaders if they are still in control,” Nograles said. (with a report by Ben R. Rosario)