Friday, November 30, 2007

Alexander Martin Remollino

For Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV

There are those who would salute your failed attempts
at leading a changing of the guard,
and there are those who would thumb them down.

But that is beside the point --
the point being that you definitely had a point
in those instances you wondered aloud why people
have repeatedly failed to rise to the occasion
at crucial points
in our recent history of benightedness.
Have their souls become so thoroughly callused
by repeated dehumanization
that they now think like beasts of burden?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


"The NDFP remains open to the resumption of formal peace talks... But the current anti-national and anti-people policies, the gross human rights violations, the scandals of corruption, do not provide grounds for optimism." -- Luis Jalandoni, chairman, NDFP Negotiating Panel.

Vol. VII, No. 42, November 25-December 1, 2007

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’ recent pronouncement that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) should agree to a “mutual ceasefire” as a precondition for the resumption of peace negotiations does not sit well with the leadership of the revolutionary organization, which has been waging an armed struggle against the government for more than three decades.

In an interview with Bulatlat, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairman Luis Jalandoni said Gonzales’ ceasefire demand betrays what he described as the Arroyo regime’s thrust of “securing the capitulation or pacification of the revolutionary movement.”

Gonzales’ pronouncement was reported in the news just as the NDFP and Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal had come to an agreement that the NDFP would provide the Philippine Senate with information on the peace talks, for the purpose of inquiries in aid of legislation. Madrigal met with the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the wake of the recent arrest of NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison on trumped-up criminal charges.

Following this meeting, Jalandoni and Sison both issued follow-up statements expressing the NDFP’s willingness to work with the Philippine Senate in pursuing the peace talks.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., one of the legislators noted for interest in seeing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations move forward, has however urged the NDFP to agree to the ceasefire “proposal” as a way of building an “atmosphere of trust and goodwill.”

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe recently proposed to the European Union that it revise its guidelines for listing personalities and organizations as “terrorists.”

The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations have been stalled for the last five years, following the listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist organizations,” and of Sison as a “terrorist.”

The NDFP’s observations on these developments, and on the prospects for the peace talks in the remaining three years of the Arroyo administration, are articulated in Jalandoni’s interview with Bulatlat.

Following is the full text of the interview:

What can you say about Sec. Norberto Gonzales’ demand that the GRP and the NDFP agree to a “mutual ceasefire” before peace negotiations could resume?

Sec. Norberto Gonzales’ demand for “mutual ceasefire” as a precondition to the resumption of formal peace talks grossly violates The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and the Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) of the GRP and the NDFP Negotiating Panels of 1995 and the Supplemental Agreement thereto of 1997. In these agreements, the end of hostilities or ceasefire is the fourth and last item in the substantive agenda, after the roots of the armed conflict have been adequately dealt with in agreements on socio-economic and political reforms.

Gonzales’ demand for a ceasefire blurs the need to address the roots of the armed conflict through social, economic and political reforms. It reflects the objective of the Arroyo regime of securing the capitulation or pacification of the revolutionary movement.

This precondition of Gonzales is unacceptable to the NDFP. Moreover, Secretary Gonzales is not really for genuine peace talks. In fact, he is a saboteur of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. As head of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), he has fabricated numerous trumped-up charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, the NDFP Negotiating Panel members, consultants and staff, in gross violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

In late 2004, at a top level GRP national security meeting, he made the outrageous proposal, in order to solve all of GRP’s problems, to just assassinate Professor Sison. Secretary Gonzales has publicly admitted that he is responsible for the false and politically motivated charge which has been used by the Dutch authorities to persecute Professor Sison. The viciousness of Gonzales is a real obstacle to the peace negotiations.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. appears to be supportive of the GRP’s ceasefire “proposal,” saying it would create an “atmosphere of trust and goodwill,” which he described as “the key to any negotiation.” What is your view on this?

Unlike Sec. Norberto Gonzales who acts in bad faith, Senator Pimentel’s progressive stand for the people on various issues is appreciated by the NDFP. In this case, however, we would suggest a deep-going exchange of views with Sen. Pimentel regarding the necessity of making sure that the roots of the armed conflict are not set aside and a review of the experience in the 1986-87 GRP-NDFP talks which got bogged down on ceasefire talks without being able to go to the substantive agenda on social, economic and political reforms.

It is important to look into the major agreements mentioned above, the history of past talks, and also the motive of Secretary Gonzales, Gen. (Eduardo) Ermita and other GRP officials. We would also suggest taking up the NDFP’s Proposal for an Immediate Just Peace of August 2005, which brings up the possibility of a truce while both sides sign an agreement on the fundamental demands of the people.

What were the immediate factors that brought about Sen. Jamby Madrigal's meeting last month with the NDFP Negotiating Panel, in which the NDFP agreed to provide the Philippine Senate with information on the peace talks for the purpose of inquiry?

Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal, as a very patriotic and intelligent person committed to the well-being of the people and to work for a just and lasting peace, saw the possibilities of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, which she chairs, to cooperate with the NDFP in effectively pushing forward the resumption of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, either with the current administration or the next one. She also wanted to get from the NDFP what was the impact of the arrest and persecution of Professor Sison and the police raids on the NDFP office and residences of NDFP panelists, consultants and staff on the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. She wanted the views of those affected by the raids for the hearing of her Senate Committee on Peace.

She creatively proposed the setting up by the aforementioned Senate Committee of a Technical Working Group which would work with the NDFP Committees of Experts to forge tentative agreements on socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The NDFP proposed the setting up of Committees of Experts comprising five persons each to work with the Technical Working Group to forge the tentative agreements within one year.

The successful drafting of such agreements will serve to strengthen the political will of the GRP, particularly the executive branch, to go into serious peace negotiations aimed at addressing the roots of the armed conflict and not just aim for capitulation. This initiative taken jointly by Senator Madrigal and the NDFP has the great potential to get the enthusiastic support of other peace advocates from the church, human rights organizations, the people’s organizations and various sectors.

During the meetings with Senator Madrigal, prior to and after the signing of the Joint Statement on Oct.14, the NDFP presented the list of impediments that the GRP has put up to the peace negotiations. The senator has pledged to work for the removal of these impediments during and after the Arroyo regime.

What does the NDFP hope will come out of the inquiries that may be conducted by the Senate, in aid of legislation, on the peace negotiations?

The NDFP hopes that the Senate will undertake legislation that will help to remove the impediments to the peace talks and for it to take a more active role in the peace negotiations. For example, the Senate can help in pushing for a stop in the spate of extra-judicial killings and disappearances and stop the GRP’s military operations which uproot millions of civilians in the countryside. The Senate can find ways and means for assisting in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The Senate and the Technical Working Group of the Senate Committee on Peace can help in the research that will facilitate the forging of agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

How would the Council of Europe's recent proposals to the European Union to overhaul its current rules on blacklisting "terrorist" suspects affect the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations?

The proposals contained in the draft resolution presented by Swiss parliament member, Dick Marty, can certainly help the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. These would show that the “terrorist” listing of the CPP, the NPA, and Prof. Jose Maria Sison is a violation of their fundamental right to due process and their right to defense and such listing is unjust and must be done away with. These proposals will also recognize the right of Professor Sison and the CPP and NPA to claim compensation for moral and material damages.

How optimistic is the NDFP that the stalled peace talks could be revived under the present administration?

It is difficult to be optimistic, because hardline militarists like Gen. Eduardo Ermita and rabid anti-communists like Norberto Gonzales, and Mrs. Arroyo herself, want the complete destruction of the revolutionary movement through capitulation, prolonged ceasefire, and an all-out war policy. They do not wish to address the root causes of the armed conflict.

The NDFP remains open to the resumption of formal peace talks, if the regime shows it has the political will to address the root causes of the armed conflict and seriously negotiate with the NDFP on the fundamental socio-economic and political reforms. But the current anti-national and anti-people policies, the gross human rights violations, the scandals of corruption, do not provide grounds for optimism. But if we cannot have serious peace talks now, we can prepare for the possibility of such peace talks with the next administration. Bulatlat

Sunday, November 18, 2007


This is the second year a People’s Impeachment Complaint was filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Although the first impeachment complaint against President Arroyo was filed in 2005, the first filed by individuals and organizations identified with the “parliament of the streets” was submitted last year. But the two People’s Impeachment Complaints suffered a similar fate: junked by the president’s men.

Vol. VII, No. 41, November 18-24, 2007

The People’s Impeachment Complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, filed Nov. 12 by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), was returned by House Deputy Secretary-General Artemio Adaza to the complainants just two days after it was filed. It did not even reach the House Committee on Justice.

In returning it to the complainants, Adaza, citing the constitutional ban on the initiation of more than one impeachment complaint against the same official within the same year, said that the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Roel Pulido was already deliberated on by the House Committee on Justice..

Art. XI, Sec. 3 (5) provides that: “No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

The Pulido complaint

Pulido had filed on Oct. 5 an impeachment complaint against Arroyo, citing her for betrayal of public trust in relation to the controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) deal.

The NBN project is a $329-million contract that aims to connect government agencies throughout the Philippines through the Internet.

The deal was signed in Boao, China on April 21 –- when the government was not allowed to sign contracts because of the then-upcoming senatorial and local elections. It has become controversial for allegedly being overpriced and for supposedly having been signed without going through the proper bidding process.

Jose de Venecia III, son of House Speaker Jose de Venecia and co-founder of Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. which is one of the losing bidders in the NBN deal, accused former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos of offering him $10 million in exchange for backing out of the NBN deal –- an accusation the former Comelec chief has denied.

In a privilege speech on Aug. 29, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla said it was Abalos who brokered the deal between the Philippine government and ZTE Corp. Padilla also said Abalos was seen playing golf with ZTE officials in Manila and Shenzen. He also accused Abalos of receiving money and women in exchange for brokering the NBN deal.

In his three-page complaint, of which Bulatlat received a copy courtesy of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran’s office, Pulido said:

“During her incumbency as President of the Republic, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Sec. Leandro Mendoza, on April 21, 2007 entered into an agreement with the ZTE for the latter to provide equipments, construct and install the same for the National Broadband Network Project under terms and conditions apparently disadvantageous to the Filipino people.

“It appears that entering into such contract was actually dictated by the illegal and corrupt machinations undertaken by high government officials, including but not limited to Chairman Benjamin Abalos of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. and the Speaker’s son, Jose de Venecia III. In fact, in an affidavit executed by Jose de Venecia III, he admits that a breakfast meeting was organized by House Speaker Jose de Venecia to allow the two proponents of the National Broadband Network Project, ZTE and AHI, to consolidate their proposals and corner the broadband project...

“That these corrupt and illegal negotiations were being undertaken was not unknown to the Respondent. In fact, in his testimony before the Senate, Jose de Venecia III claimed under oath that his father, House Speaker Jose de Venecia told him that the Respondent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., and Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos discussed the respective proposals of AHI and ZTE during a golf game in China.

“Worse, Sec. Romulo Neri, in his Sept. 26, 2007 testimony before the Senate, admitted under oath that he was offered a P200-million bribe by Comelec Chairman Abalos, and that he reported the matter to the Respondent President. Despite being told of the bribe offer, the Respondent did nothing.”

On Nov. 5, lawyer and United Opposition (UNO) spokesman Adel Tamano filed a supplement to the Pulido complaint. It was tossed out on Nov. 13 by the House Committee on Justice –- which found the original Pulido complaint sufficient in form. The committee’s decision provoked a walkout by minority members, led by Deputy House Minority Leader and Parañanque City Rep. Roilo Golez.

The original Pulido complaint was thrown out on Nov. 14 –- just a day after the blast at the Batasang Pambansa which has so far claimed four lives –- by the House Committee on Justice, which deemed it insufficient in substance.

“Verily, in all respects, the Pulido complaint is destitute of substance,” said Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice during the Nov. 14 hearing. “To reiterate, it is so bare that it is akin to a centerfold which may excite but does not excel.”

Later that same day, the People’s Impeachment Complaint was returned to the complainants by Adaza, who cited Art. XI, Sec. 3 (5) of the Constitution.

Initiating complaints

However, Neri Javier Colmenares -– who is one of the counsels for those who filed the People’s Impeachment Complaint -– took issue with Adaza’s arguments. “It is correct that only one complaint may be initiated (against the same official) within a year, but the issue is, when is a complaint initiated?” Colmenares told Bulatlat in an interview.

“The Constitution says only the House can initiate a complaint,” Colmenares said. “The House is the sole authority to initiate a complaint.”

Art. XI, Sec. 3 (1) of the Constitution provides that: “The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.”

“When does the House act as an institution?” Colmenares said. “Is it when somebody files a complaint? Of course not, it’s just the complainant filing. Is it when the Speaker refers it to the Justice Committee? Of course not also. Is it when the Justice Committee finds (it sufficient in form and substance)? The correct interpretation is that the House initiates a complaint when it impeaches the President, meaning when they decide –- as a House of Representatives –- to impeach the President. And when does that happen? When a complaint has the required minimum vote of one-third of the House membership, and that can only happen in the plenary.”

The People’s Impeachment Complaint

Before Arroyo, the Philippine presidents who faced impeachment complaints were Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal (Arroyo’s father), Ferdinand Marcos, and Joseph Estrada. The complaints against Quirino, Macapagal, and Marcos all failed to get the minimum required number of votes at the House of Representatives; while the complaint against Estrada was initiated, but was not completed due to maneuvers by the Estrada camp which resulted in what is now known as the People Power II uprising.

Arroyo faced her first impeachment complaint in 2005. This was when the Macapagal-Arroyo administration first used the tactic of preempting the filing of a complaint by having one of its minions, in the person of lawyer Oliver Lozano, file a weak complaint which, in turn, was summarily dismissed by Arroyo’s allies in Congress.

Anticipating that a similar tactic would be used in 2006, anti-Arroyo individuals and groups, who are mostly identified with the “parliament of the streets,” filed a series of complaints to block another effort by the administration to use the same maneuver. Thus, the concept of a People’s Impeachment Complaint was born. It is, as described by militant organizations, an impeachment complaint filed directly by the people for adoption by the Minority in the Lower House. It is a novel concept as it is initiated and followed through by private citizens and is complementary to the “parliament of the streets.”

However, the Arroyo administration once again used its dominance in the Lower House to reject the first People’s Impeachment Complaint. The initiators of the People’s Impeachment Complaint then held a Citizen’s Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA) which subsequently found Arroyo guilty of the charges contained in the complaint.

“Strongest, so far”

Colmenares believes that the complaint filed by Guingona and Bayan November 12 is the strongest so far of all impeachment complaints lodged against Arroyo. “The evidence is very strong,” Colmenares said.

The People’s Impeachment Complaint of 2007 cites Arroyo for the following offenses:

· culpable violations of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes by explicitly and implicitly conspiring, directing, abetting, tolerating with impunity as a state policy and rewarding extrajudicial executions, involuntary disappearances, torture, massacre, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention, forced dislocation of communities and other gross and systematic violations of civil and political rights and engaging in a systematic campaign to cover-up or white-wash these crimes by suppressing and obliterating the evidence, blaming the victims, terrorizing, intimidating and physically attacking witnesses, their relatives, lawyers and supporters, and human rights workers;

· culpable violations of the Constitution and graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust by (i) abetting and/or tolerated the commission of a crime in regard to the anomalous “ZTE National Broadband contract”, (ii) knowingly and willfully obstructing, impeding or delaying the apprehension of suspects and the investigation of criminal cases arising from the same, and (iii) participating and giving support to or approving the ZTE broadband contract despite her knowledge that the same is tainted with graft and corruption;

· bribery, graft and corruption and betrayal of public trust by authorizing, abetting, allowing, and countenancing the distribution of bribe money to members of Congress in exchange for the hasty referral of the Pulido complaint to the Justice Committee in an attempt to prevent the filing of a more substantive and genuine impeachment complaint and eventually dismissing the Pulido complaint;

· culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust by abusing her authority to suppress lawful exercise of the people’s rights to free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the freedom of the press and the people’s right to information and curtailing the legislative power to inquire on matters relating to the said electoral fraud committed in the 2004 presidential elections and other matters affecting the legitimacy of her presidency; and

· graft and corruption, by entering into illegal government contracts and “criminally” concealing her conjugal assets.

“For the ZTE alone, we have strong evidence: this is the first time when even allies of the President, by their own admission, put her on the chopping block,” Colmenares pointed out. “Although Romulo Neri’s testimony is not complete, it’s damaging to her. Add to that the statements of the De Venecias on bribery, which are very, very strong.

“Even the charges lifted from the 2006 complaint (which focused) on human rights violations have become stronger now. Now you have witnesses who survived abductions and torture, and point to the military. You have the Manalo brothers –- direct testimony, direct eyewitness accounts. Now you have the Jonas Burgos case... Now you have the Rev. Berlin Guerrero case, where it is clear as day that the government security forces took him and tortured him, and he survived. We even have a Bayan Muna (People First) coordinator, Jing Cardeño of General Santos City, who also survived (abduction and torture) and pointed to the military as the perpetrators.

“Rev. Isaias Sta. Rosa –- there was a dead sergeant beside him -– I mean, what more evidence do you want? The soldier not only had an Army ID, he had a mission order!”

These evidences, Colmenares said, make the People’s Impeachment Complaint of 2007 an “extremely strong” case. “Whichever court you bring it to, Arroyo would be convicted,” he said.

“That is why they didn’t even let it be touched by the Justice Committee,” he added. “It had to be returned to the complainants by the House Deputy Secretary-General -– who holds an administrative position -– without even being referred to the Justice Committee.”

Supreme Court

Colmenares said the complainants would be elevating the issue to the Supreme Court. He said they will ask the High Tribunal to rule on the issue of when an impeachment complaint is deemed initiated – an issue on which there is as yet no known jurisprudence in the Philippines.

He said they are confident the Supreme Court would rule favorably on their petition. Bulatlat

Friday, November 16, 2007

Alexander Martin Remollino

Ang mahigit sa sansiglo ay waring walang anuman.

Naririto pa rin
ang mga maharlikang nagnanais na maging alipin
na humiklas sa iyong hininga.
(Magugunitang matapos ang kanilang kataksilan
sa Bundok Buntis, Maragondon
ay pinilas-pilas nila ang "Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas"
at pinalitan ito ng Kasunduan ng Biak na Bato.)

Sila'y naririto pa rin, Bonifacio:
naghahari pa rin sa ating lupaing
nakasanla pa rin pati kaluluwa.

Sa Biak na Bato,
apatnaraang libong piso ang naging kabayaran
upang ideklara ni Aguinaldo
na bandera ng mga bandolero, bandido't ladron
ang watawat ng mga Anak ng Bayan
at kanyang saluduhan
ang bandila ng Espanya.
Tumalilis siya patungong Hong Kong
bitbit ang magkapatid na Paterno
at iba pang "kapatid ni Cain."

Subalit sinuyo sila ng Estados Unidos
na noo'y kaaway na mortal ng Espanya
at inalok ng tulong sa pakikidigma,
at sila'y bumalik sa Pilipinas
upang muling magtimon sa Himagsikang
ipinagbili nila pati dangal sa Biak na Bato.
Sa Kawit, kanila pang
ipinagsigawan ang "kasarinlan" ng Pilipinas
na nasa mapagkandili diumanong kamay
ng "Dakila't Makataong Bansang
Hilagang Amerikano."

Ngunit ang kasarinlang natamo
ay "tanikalang ginto" lamang pala
at doon sa mga larangan,
muling umalingawngaw ang mga putok ng baril.

Sa muling nagbangong Himagsikan,
dumanak ang dugo ni Luna --
sa kamay ng sariling mga kababayan,
mga tauhan ni Aguinaldo --
matapos ang kanyang pagsigaw ng:
"Mabuhay ang kasarinlan!
Kamatayan sa awtonomiya!"

sa hanay ng Rebolusyonaryong Pamahalaan,
ikinalat ang kamandag ng kabulaanan
laban kay Mabini.
At siya'y nagbitiw sa tungkulin.

Bonifacio, batid nating si Mabini
ay mortal na kalaban ng pananakop --
kagaya ni Luna.

Habang tinutugis palang parang daga
ng mga puwersa ni Funston si Aguinaldo,
naglalaro na sa kanyang isip
ang muling pakikipagsapakat
sa mga kaaway ng kasarinlang
dinilig ng dugo ng ating mga tunay na kapatid.
Matapos na madakip ni Funston,
agad na sumaludo si Aguinaldo
sa bandila ng Estados Unidos
at muli niyang dinurhan sa mukha
ang mga manghihimagsik na Anak ng Bayan --
kabilang na si Sakay,
na sa malao't madali'y ipagkakanulo sa bitayan
ng mga pumatid sa iyong paghinga.

At hindi matatapos doon
ang kanilang pang-aagaw ng tagumpay
at pagkakanulo sa pakikibaka.

Sa Pambansang Asambleyang natayo,
nagputakang parang mga manok
ang mga Quezon at Roxas
at sila'y nag-unahang parang mga daga pa-Washington
gayong ang hangad lamang nila kapwa
ay kasarinlang gumagapang
at inaalalayan ng Amerika.

Bonifacio, ang mga kapatid din ni Aguinaldo
ang kumilala sa "karapatan" ng Hapon
na gapusin ang Pilipinas
at paulit-ulit na bayuhin ng puluhan ng baril
ang humpak na tiyan ng ating mga kapatid.

Sila rin ang yumakap nang buong higpit
sa "kasarinlang" nagbigay ng pagkakataon sa Amerika
na lamuning tuloy-tuloy ang ginto't bulaklak
ng lupaing Pilipinas --
kasarinlang "lukob ng dayong bandila,"
kung saan ang Pilipinas
ay patuloy na nakasanla pati kaluluwa.
At ito'y pagyakap na kasama pati mga hita't binti.

Sila ang unang pumalakpak
nang iladlad ni Marcos ang tabing ng karimlang marahas
at sa EDSA,
nang masunog sa poot ng taumbayan ang tabing,
mabilis pa sa kidlat
na hinablot nila ang watawat ng pakikitalad
na taumbayan ang siya namang talagang tumatangan
at walang kahihiyang sila ang nagwagayway nito.

Gayundin ang ginawa nila
nang sa pangalawang pagkakataon --
labing-apat na taon matapos mapalayas si Marcos --
ay maging tagpuan ng poot at pag-asa ang EDSA.
nalaglag kapwa ang mga maskara nina Estrada't Arroyo
at napatunayang iisa lang pala ang kanilang mga mukha.

Ginawa nila ang lahat nito
habang nagpupugay sa dayong bandilang
nakalukob pa rin sa ating watawat.

Ganito ang ginawa nila, Bonifacio --
sapagkat ang tunay na hangad nila
ay hindi ang kalayaan, hindi ang dangal
kundi ang mga susi, ang mga susi
sa mga bastiyon ng kanilang pinapanginoong mga dayo.

Huwag munang humimlay, Bonifacio
sapagkat ang "Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas"
ay hindi siyang naging katapusang hibik.
Hindi natatapos ang hibik ng Pilipinas,
hindi matatapos ang hibik ng Pilipinas
hanggang sa hindi nalalagot ng punlo
ang matandang tanikala
at hanggang sa hindi napaluluhod at napahahalik sa lupa
ang mga nagkanulo't patuloy na nagkakanulo
sa ating Himagsikan.

Pasasalamat na walang hanggan, Dr. Renato Constantino -- Ang May-akda

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Sunday, November 11, 2007


The 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the GRP and the MNLF is set to be reviewed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the next few days. The MNLF said it has been demanding such review of the said pact for several years.

Vol. VII, No. 40, November 11-17, 2007

The 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is set to be reviewed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the next few days as announced by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in a press conference last week. The MNLF said it has been demanding such review of the said pact for several years.

“Even before the establishment of the Expanded ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), which (was) established by virtue of Republic Act No. 9054, the MNLF and the Bangsamoro people asked the government to consider a thorough review of the Peace Agreement, especially in its implementation,” said Ustadz Morshid Ibrahim, MNLF secretary-general, in a phone interview with Bulatlat. “When we were still in the (original) ARMM, we had asked the GRP to conduct a comprehensive and honest review of the proposed bill submitted by the government before Congress.”

Created on Aug. 1, 1989 through RA 6734, the original ARMM covered the provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao. The ARMM was officially inaugurated on Nov. 6, 1990 in Cotabato City, which was designated as its capital.

The GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement provides among other things for amendments to or the repeal of RA 6734. It was specifically provided that amendments to or the repeal of RA 6734 would be initiated within the period 1996-1997, after which the amendatory law would be submitted to a plebiscite or referendum in the original ARMM provinces as well as in the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, Sarangani and Palawan and the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, lligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Zamboanga and Puerto Princesa.

In the plebiscite held in November 2001 –- less than eight months after RA 9054 lapsed into law without President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s signature, in accordance with the Constitution –- only Marawi City and Basilan (except Isabela City) elected to be part of the expanded ARMM.

“We wanted that the bill would actually reflect the entirety of the Peace Agreement,” Ibrahim added. “But unfortunately the voice of the Bangsamoro people was not heard instead the government came up with a unilateral and arbitrary act, without consulting the parties concerned like the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) and the MNLF.”

Issues related to the implementation of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement had been a source of tension between the two camps.

Earlier this year, MNLF fighters led by Ustadz Habier Malik “detained” a group led by Muslim convert Marine Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino in Jolo, Sulu.

Dolorfino, who also uses the name Ben Muhammad, went with Undersecretary for Peace Ramon Santos and 13 others to the MNLF’s Camp Jabal Ubod in Panamao, Sulu in the morning of Feb. 2 to talk with MNLF representatives headed by Malik. The group included two colonels, a junior officer, nine enlisted men, and several members of Santos’ staff.

The talks were to tackle the holding of a tripartite meeting, proposed late last year by the MNLF, with the GRP and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

The tripartite meeting was to address issues related to the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement, and Malik’s group was protesting its repeated postponement by the GRP.

In the afternoon of that same day, Dolorfino and his group were prevented from leaving the camp, and were only released after agreeing with Malik and his men on a schedule for the tripartite meeting.

The tripartite meeting scheduled for March 17 this year was yet again postponed, and to make matters worse two grandsons of MNLF state chairman Khaid Ajibon were fired upon by soldiers while on an errand in the market of Indanan, Sulu on Feb. 17. This was followed by a bombardment of Ajibon’s headquarters, also in Indanan, and a massacre in Patikul.

The MNLF retaliated and in the wave of fighting that took place, more than 80,000 were displaced.

1996 Peace Agreement, Phase I

“Most of the controversies and differences of opinion between the government and the MNLF are with respect to Phase I of the Agreement,” Ibrahim explained to Bulatlat.

Signed on Sept. 2, 1996, the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement provides among other things for the organization of MNLF forces to be integrated into the AFP into separate units. This is covered in Phase I of the Final Peace Agreement, which provides that:

“a. Five thousand seven hundred fifty (5,750) MNLF members shall be integrated into the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP), 250 of whom shall be absorbed into the auxiliary services. The government shall exert utmost efforts to establish the necessary conditions that would ensure the eventual integration of the maximum number of the remaining MNLP forces into the Special Regional Security Force (SRSF) and other agencies and instrumentalities of the government There shall be a special socio-economic, cultural and educational program to cater to MNLF forces not absorbed into the AFP PNP and the SRSF to prepare them and their families for productive endeavors, provide for educational, technical skills and livelihood training and give them priority for hiring in development projects.

“b. In the beginning, the MNLF forces will join as units distinct from AFP units. They will be initially organized into separate units within a transition period, until such time that mutual confidence is developed as the members of these separate-units will be gradually integrated into regular AFP units deployed in the area of autonomy. Subjects to existing laws, policies, rules and regulations, and approbate authorities shall waive the requirements and qualifications for entry of MNLF forces into the AFP.

“c. One from among the MNLF will assume the functions and responsibilities of a Deputy Commander of the Southern Command AFP, for separate units that will be organized out of the MNLF forces joining the AFP. The Deputy Commander will assist the Commander of the Southern Command AFP in the command, administration and control of such separate units throughout the aforementioned transition period. The Deputy Commander will he given an appointment commensurate to his position and shall be addressed as such.”

The organization of the MNLF forces joining the AFP into separate units, which was specifically agreed upon, never took place.

“The Agreement actually calls for the establishment of separate military units,” Ibrahim said. “But what the government did is the opposite.”

Worse, the AFP has over the past six years engaged in what MNLF vice chairman Jimmy Labawan described as “provocative actions” that have forced the MNLF to retaliate.

In October 2001, the military was then in hot pursuit of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits who had abducted tourists in Sipadan, Malaysia. At one point they announced the defeat of an “Abu Sayyaf contingent” in Talipao, Sulu.

The massacre in Talipao led the MNLF, just five years after signing a peace agreement with the government, to once more take up arms. According to MNLF leader Nur Misuari, a former political science professor at UP who was then ARMM governor, the Talipao massacre was a “violation” of the 1996 peace agreement.

Misuari, who was then in Malaysia, ended up being arrested and subsequently detained in a military camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna (38 kms south of Manila). He is presently under house arrest in New Manila, Quezon City.

Since October 2001, there has been sporadic fighting between the AFP and the MNLF.


The MNLF traces its origins to a massacre of between 28 and 64 Moro fighters recruited by the government in 1968 for a scheme to occupy Sabah, an island near Mindanao to which the Philippines has a historic claim.

Sabah ended up in the hands of the Malaysian government during the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965). His successor Ferdinand Marcos conceived a scheme involving the recruitment of Moro fighters to occupy the island.

The recruits were summarily executed by their military superiors in 1968, in what is now known as the infamous Jabidah Massacre.

The Jabidah Massacre triggered widespread outrage among the Moros and led to the formation of the MNLF that same year. The MNLF waged an armed revolutionary struggle against the GRP for an independent Muslim state in Mindanao.

The Marcos government, weighed down by the costs of the Mindanao war, negotiated for peace and signed an agreement with the MNLF in Tripoli, Libya in the mid-1970s. The pact involved the grant of autonomy to the Moro peoples.

The Marcos government insisted on a plebiscite to settle the coverage of the autonomous government that would be established. The MNLF refused to recognize the results of the plebiscite and peace negotiations bogged down.

GRP-MNLF peace negotiations went on and off until 1996, when the two parties signed a Final Peace Agreement. This same Agreement is slated for review in Jeddah in the next few days.

“Hopefully (the review) would be a good step toward a better understanding and knowledge on the implementation of the Peace Agreement,” Ibrahim said. “Because there is no other effective means to solve the problem than for the contending parties to meet across the negotiating table.” Bulatlat

Friday, November 09, 2007

Alexander Martin Remollino

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- A 12-year-old girl, who became despondent over her family’s poverty, hanged herself inside their makeshift house a day after her father told her he could not give her the P100 she needed for a school project.

Using a thin nylon rope, 12-year-old Mariannet Amper hanged herself in the afternoon of November 2. She was a sixth grader at the Maa Central Elementary School.

Her father, Isabelo, 49, who was out of job as a construction worker, said Mariannet asked him for P100 which she needed for school projects, on the night of November 1. He told his daughter that he did not have the money yet but he would ask his wife if she could get some money for her. The morning after, however, he was able to get a P1,000 cash advance for a construction work on a downtown chapel.

By the time he got home, Mariannet already lay dead...

-- Nico Alconaba, "Girl Who Killed Self Lamented Family's Poverty in Diary," Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7 November 2007

Ang mga pahina ng talaarawan niya
ang nagsasalita para sa kanya:

Mga pangarap lamang ang bumuhay sa kanya
sa loob ng ilang taong nagdaan.
Ngunit payak man ang mga pangarap na iyon
ay mistulang mga suntok sa buwan:
patay na bago pa man maisilang.

Isang araw, natagpuan siyang nakabigti.


Ilan na ang sa kanya'y nauna
at tiyak na hindi siya ang huli.
Para sa marami,
matagal nang nakabigti ang mga pangarap
sa "bansang ito ng ating mga kalungkutan."

Kaninong mga kamay ang pumaslang sa pag-asa
ng kayraming nawalan ng pag-asa?

Mga kamay na walang hinawakan buong buhay
kundi ang salapi nilang hindi kanila.
Mga kamay na sumenyas na ayos lang ang lahat
habang kayrami ng mga taong
sinasawi ng dalita.

Salaring lahat silang nasanay nang mabuhay
na parang mga patay --
silang mga patay na buhay, mga buhay na patay
na maiging magpatiwakal na lahat
upang mabuhay na muli ang pumanaw na pag-asa
ng napakaraming tao,
lalo na ng mga batang hindi pa man isinisilang
ay tiyak nang walang bukas na haharapin.


Humimlay na si Mariannet Amper:
sinamahan na niya sa paghimlay nang walang hanggan
ang mga pangarap niyang isinilang nang walang buhay.
Sa ating mga diwa, sa ating mga puso --
hayaang magsaya si Mariannet sa kanyang kamusmusan,
hayaang ang kanyang mga pangarap
ay mabuhay nang walang katapusan.
Kasama rin sa

Sunday, November 04, 2007


The recovery of a dead U.S. soldier in Panamao, Sulu and reports of U.S. troops in counter-“terrorist” operations in Basilan raise questions on their role in Mindanao.

Vol. VII, No. 39, November 4-10, 2007

The recent recovery of a dead U.S. serviceman in Panamao, Sulu as well as previous reports that U.S. soldiers are involved in counter-“terrorist” operations in Basilan raise questions on the role of U.S. troops in strife-torn Mindanao.

Earlier news reports said that the U.S. serviceman had gone swimming with fellow soldiers in a lake in Panamao a little over a week ago. His body was recovered on Oct. 27. According to Rebecca Thompson, spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, the U.S. serviceman had died the day before.

Sulu police director S/Supt. Ahirum Ajirim gave media no details on the U.S. serviceman’s death except that his body was recovered from the lake in Panamao at around 8 a.m., Oct. 27.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Fred Kuebler confirmed the U.S. serviceman’s death to media. He said the U.S. serviceman had perished in a “non-combat related incident.”

Government spokespersons have always said the presence of U.S. troops in Sulu is for training Philippine troops in counter-“terrorism” operations, and for “civic” or “humanitarian” missions.

But as Concerned Citizens of Sulu convener and former Jolo councilor Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie told Bulatlat in an interview earlier this year, U.S. troop movements have always been seen in areas where the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) engaged or figured in clashes with either the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) or the bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“Military operations always take place not far from where U.S. troops are,” said Tulawie. “The presence of U.S. troops has been visible in areas where military operations have taken place.”

While Tulawie said there is yet no evidence that U.S. troops have actually participated in combat operations, their visibility in areas where AFP operations have been conducted raises questions on the real reasons behind their presence in the country’s southernmost province.

Such questions again come to the fore with the recent recovery of a U.S. serviceman’s remains in a lake in Panamao, Sulu.

But it is not only in Sulu that U.S. troops are present. In mid-September, Army officials announced that a small number of U.S. troops had been deployed to Basilan to support the AFP’s Task Force Thunder in its operations against the ASG.

“This support includes the sharing of information as well as the planning and execution of Civil Military Operations,” said Maj. Eugene Batara, an Army spokesperson in Basilan. “U.S. troops have commonly supported AFP operations in Basilan going back to 2002, and have worked with the AFP most recently to conduct medical clinics and participate in engineering projects. They are helping us defeat terrorism and at the same time help carry out humanitarian activities.”

Task Force Thunder was created by the AFP to combat what is described as the “growing” ASG presence in Basilan, where Marines purportedly in search of the kidnappers of Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi were beheaded following an encounter last July.

JSOTF-P and Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines

The U.S. troops in Sulu and Basilan are part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), which is reportedly based in Zamboanga City. Based on several news items from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the JSOTF-P are in Mindanao to train the AFP’s Southern Command (Southcom) and to conduct civic actions.

However, an article recently written by Command Sgt. Maj. William Eckert of the JSOTF-P, “Defeating the Idea: Unconventional Warfare in Southern Philippines,” hints that there is more to the task force’s work than training AFP troops and embarking on “humanitarian actions.” Wrote Eckert:

“Working in close coordination with the U.S. Embassy, JSOTF-P uses Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations forces to conduct deliberate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in very focused areas, and based on collection plans, to perform tasks to prepare the environment and obtain critical information requirements. The information is used to determine the capabilities, intentions and activities of threat groups that exist within the local population and to focus U.S. forces –- and the AFP –- on providing security to the local populace. It is truly a joint operation, in which Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land forces) and SOF (Special Operations Forces) aviators work with their AFP counterparts to enhance the AFP’s capacities.”

The JSOTF-P was established by the U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC). It began its work when SOCPAC deployed to the Philippines Joint Task Force (JTF) 510. Based on an item on the website, JTF 510 was deployed to the Philippines “to support Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name given to the U.S. government’s military response to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City. It entails a series of anti-“terrorism” activities in Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, Trans-Sahara, and Pakinsi Gorge.

JTF 510 was deployed to Basilan in January 2002 purportedly to help in uprooting the ASG. Its mission was carried out under the auspices of Balikatan 02-1, supposedly a series of joint military exercises between U.S. and Philippine troops.

Its mission ended in July 2002 and the task force has since transitioned into what is now the JSOTF-P, with its base located in Zamboanga City.

In 2004, the JSOTF-P deployed to Sulu and U.S. military presence in the island-province has been continuous since then.

U.S. troops would have entered Sulu as early as February 2003. The AFP and the U.S. Armed Forces had both announced that the Balikatan military exercises for that year would be held in Sulu.

This provoked a wave of protest from the people of Sulu, who had not yet forgotten what has come to be known as the Bud Dajo Massacre, in which more than 700 Moro fighters wielding meleé weapons were crushed by U.S. troops with naval cannons in 1906. The announcement in February 2003 that the year’s Balikatan military exercises would be held in Sulu summoned bitter memories of the Bud Dajo Massacre and led to protest actions where thousands of Sulu residents participated.

But by coming in small groups bringing relief goods, U.S. troops were able to win the hearts of a large number of Sulu residents and resistance to U.S. military entry into the island-province was neutralized.

And now, aside from being in Sulu, JSOTF-P troops are again in Basilan, if we go by the military’s own statements, to help in counter-“terrorism” operations there.

Sulu and Basilan

Sulu and Basilan are both part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was created as a concession to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996.

During the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965), Sabah, an island near Mindanao to which the Philippines has a historic claim, ended up in the hands of the Malaysian government. His successor Ferdinand Marcos later conceived a scheme which involved the recruitment of between 28 and 64 Moro fighters to occupy Sabah.

The reported summary execution of these recruits in 1968 by their superiors, which Moro historian Salah Jubair says was due to their refusal to follow orders, led to widespread outrage among Moros and led to the formation of the MNLF that same year.

The MNLF, which fought for an independent state in Muslim Mindanao, entered into a series of negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), beginning in the 1970s under the Marcos government. Conflicts on the issue of autonomy led to a breakdown of talks between the GRP and the MNLF in 1978, prompting a group led by Dr. Salamat Hashim to break away from the MNLF and form the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Since then, the MILF has been fighting for an Islamic state in Mindanao.

In 1996, the MNLF signed a Final Peace Agreement with the GRP which created the ARMM as a concession to the group. That same year, the MILF began peace negotiations with the GRP.

Sulu is also currently the site of oil exploration operations involving several foreign companies including a U.S. corporation.

In 2005, the Department of Energy awarded Service Contract 56 to Australia’s BHP Billiton Petroleum PTY Ltd., Amerada Hess Ltd., Unocal Sulu Ltd., and Sandakan Oil II, LCC. Amerada Hess Ltd. is a unit of Hess Ltd., a U.S.-based oil and gas exploration company.

Based on a 2005 news item published by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Service Contract 56 covers some 8,620 hectares offshore Sulu Sea, an area described as “one of the most prospective areas for oil and gas exploration as indicated by the previous drilling activities conducted in the area.”

Basilan, meanwhile, is presently a known stronghold of the MILF, whose peace talks with the GRP have repeatedly hit a snag on the issue of ancestral domain. Bulatlat