By Richard James Mendoza
THOSE were some of the words uttered by Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, the wife of Benito Tiamzon, both of whom are the alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), as they were asked for some words in an ambush interview. Her complete statement was : “Binabati ko ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa ika-45th na anibersaryo nito. Patuloy na lumalakas sa buong bayan. Hindi matalo-talo ng AFP!” (“I greet the New People’s Army in its 45th anniversary. They continue to grow in strength nationwide. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can never win against it!”). It was a defiant statement delivered with full conviction, and it was actually quite inspiring that she is steadfast in her principles even though she has been arrested and placed behind bars.
As the anniversary of the New People’s Army neared, several tactical offensives were launched after the arrests of the Tiamzons on March 22nd, although it is not sure if it was either connected to the aforementioned arrest or to its nearing anniversary. Lightning rallies were also conducted by allied organizations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the CPP. Members of the revolutionary women’s group the Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Free Movement of New Women, MAKIBAKA) staged a lightning rally along Rizal Avenue on Tuesday, while those belonging to the government employees group Makabayang Kawaning Pilipino (Patriotic Government Employees) held theirs at the Divisoria Market on Wednesday.
Both of the lightning rallies mentioned, including the one that I’ll narrate next, called for the release of the Tiamzons and the other political prisoners, as well as calling on the people to celebrate the NPA’s 45th anniversary.
The clash at the Peace Bridge
Last Thursday another lightning rally was held, this time led by the Revolutionary Council on Trade Unions (RCTU) alongside the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth, KM), the PMST as well as COMPATRIOTS (Revolutionary Movement of Our Compatriots Abroad and Their Families), all which are allied organizations of the NDFP. It looked to be a grand finale of sorts, as the NPA’s anniversary neared. At the same time though, a group of Moros were holding a prayer vigil celebrating the recently-signed Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) at the historical Mendiola Bridge.
While a representative of the RCTU was reading its group’s statement, the Moros began to shout at the marchers who thought that it was a show of disrespect against them. As soon as the road traffic became empty, the latter began to run against the activists which resulted in a minor riot. The NDF force was outnumbered and was forced to run away from the scene. Some of them, including the media, were caught along the ensuing scuffle that resulted in injuries. It was only after the intervention of the Imams and the police that the melee was contained. At the time, the activists had already fled from the place.
After the confrontation, a certain “Mario”, perhaps from the RCTU, was interviewed by the media about what had just happened. He said that they came from Bustillos Street and that they didn’t mean anything disrespectful to the Moros and issued a call for our Muslim brothers to unite against their common enemies, which he mentioned as the Aquino government, US imperialism, bureaucrat-capitalism, and feudalism.
It’s hard to point fingers here; where to place the sole blame on the incident. While some courtesy could have been shown by the marchers for the Muslims who were reading the Quran as part of their program by minimizing their chants, perhaps our Muslim brothers shouldn’t have bothered to pay too much attention to them, since all they did was read their own statement. The revolutionaries would probably have marched onwards Recto Avenue after that. As of this writing, I’m waiting for the statements of the parties involved, as well as the statement of the present administration.
These tactical offensives and lightning rallies, despite the fact that the third lightning rally disastrously degenerated into a bad riot, are most likely meant as a show of force by the revolutionary movement to the Aquino regime in light of the arrest of the Tiamzons and their companions, as well as celebrating the 45th anniversary of the New People’s Army.
The Aquino regime is boastful of its so-called achievement in arresting the Tiamzons despite the fact that the arrest violates the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which the current administration along with the peace panel regards as “irrelevant” in the peace talks. They argue that they are ineligible because “…that would mean they can wage war and violence against government and when caught, claim Jasig protection and expect to be released,” as said by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda sometime ago.
He may sound like he has a point, but it’s quite shallow. Isn’t it precisely because the CPP-NPA-NDFP is waging a protracted armed struggle against the government that they are involved in peace talks? The GRP, through the likes of Ging Deles and Alex Padilla, are narrow-minded in their view about the peace talks. They believe that one should surrender first before talking about peace. How does that solve the question of peace? How can that kind of attitude address the root problems of poverty? But what can one expect of the Aquino regime in resolving the question of peace if he himself has sided time and time again with the side of the exploiters and oppressors?
Yet, there may still be some shred of hope in resuming peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP. In an article written by Andreo Calonzo of GMA News, “PHL govt, communists can still break impasse in peace talks – analyst”, “Rey Casambre, executive director of the Philippine Peace Center, said both parties should immediately discuss their disagreements, through informal talks, to remove impediments to the peace negotiations.
“Both have repeatedly announced they are open to peace negotiations. Neither one has issued a notice of termination to the other party… The impasse can be broken if both parties agree to consultation and/or informal talks to discuss the alleged violations and the disagreements, ” Casambre said at a press briefing Wednesday.
However, I doubt the GRP would press on with the negotiations given the actions that it undertook. Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the CPP, said in a report, “Joma Sison on Tiamzons’ arrest: It may be the last straw“
“I hope that the President will think hard about what he’s doing. While he might believe that he will benefit more from arresting and imprisoning political consultants, truth is, it is better for the country when peace negotiations continue. Does he want to be known in history as the President who killed the peace negotiations?” Sison, who has been in exile here for years, explained in Filipino.
Contradictions arise out of a society where the exploiting class thrives on the hardships of its people; where the only known definition of peace is the peace of the cemetery. Perhaps the only way to resolve the Aquino regime’s contradictions is for the so-called leader to be ousted by a genuine mass movement. Then a transition stage shall take place for a new societal order that shall truly serve the people and not just a few.
[By Weng dela Peña]
A Personal Account of the Zamboanga Hostilities
SEPTEMBER 8, 2013. It was the night of the Feast of the Nativity when my Aunt Lucita and I were exchanging text messages about the condition of my Lola Basing who was rushed to the Brent Hospital in Zamboanga city the day before.
She was in their home in Lustre Street with her husband Uncle Bong, along with my other aunt, Aunt Malou and Uncle Vic, who came all the way from Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur to attend to my lola. They all just came from the hospital and have decided to spend the night there, in that soon to be ill-fated Lustre street.
Past 6am the next morning, I got a call from our radio station in Zamboanga requesting me to call back ASAP as they are about to report an attack happening in the city. By 7am, as I read the news, headlined was my beloved city under attack by heavily armed MNLF men in the barangays of Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon and Sta. Barbara, where Lustre Street in located.
After my program, I called my father, who was living in town, and he confirmed that police and military are engaged in battle with rebels who were spotted near Fort Pilar, near the city’s shrine of the Holy Mother.
Shortly after our talk, I called my Aunt Lu. With a worried voice she told me about the presence of armed men just outside their house, the presence of the MNLF. They cannot get out because of gunfire.
They were just inside, taking cover silently, not knowing what to do.
We were all at a loss. All I could tell was just to keep calm, stay down when gun fires erupt and pray that these men would go away. But they never did.
I contacted our radio station there and gave them the address of my Aunt Lu so authorities can be alerted that there were civilians in their houses along lustre street, and that they need help to be evacuated. Help never came. Rescue seemed impossible. The street was taken over by the MNLF and government forces were facing heavy resistance in the area, so I heard from news reports.
Reports keep coming in of sightings and encounters of MNLF and government forces now spreading and a school, the Southern City Colleges was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. People who were up at dawn that day got the chance to run away from the barangays now occupied by rebels. Reports of residents being taken hostage were all over the news by then. Monday afternoon came. My Aunt Lu with her husband Uncle Bong, along with my Auntie Malou and her husband Uncle Vic were trapped in their house. She told me that their neighbor slipped in from their back door bearing the news that these MNLF men were picking up and holding hostage residents in the area. None of them attempted to leave their homes for fear of being spotted.
Night came and in our brief communication she told me in Chavacano, “Brownout aqui aura noy” (there’s brownout now).” We said our goodbyes and told her to hold on and that we’ll be praying for help and safety.
The next day, Tuesday, September 10, 2013, I texted her, but got no reply. I called her up but her phone was unreachable. Hers was the only phone number I had. I assumed her phone got discharged because there wasn’t any electricity. That day I went to be in touch with my father to know how my Lola Basing was doing. We began to worry about when this situation will end because both of my aunts are trapped in their houses and are unable to go out. News came that my lola wasn’t doing good and it got us worried that only my young cousins were looking after her in the hospital for it was really risky to go out. By nighttime, I still can’t reach my Auntie Lu. My cousin Mercy, the daughter of Auntie Malou, called me up to say that she was worried too as she can’t reached her mother in Lustre. Then we went on to talk about Lola and how we can coordinate for her care while we wait for news from Lustre.
Wednesday morning, September 11, 2013, was my daughter’s birthday.
My cousin Mercy called me up bearing the news I never expected I’d hear. That Aunts Lu and Malou, Uncles Bong and Vic were taken hostage. She said, she got a call from a friend who saw their names flashed on TV as the latest hostages of Kumander Malik in Lustre. I texted a few Cabinet secretaries to appeal for a peaceful means of ending this crisis for the safety of all hostages. But it seems the way to end this was with hostilities.
Government forces kept on with the assault saying they meant to contain the rebels. The agony is in the waiting, the uncertainty of it all. Sunday came and my beloved city is in ruins. The number of deaths were increasing. Food supply was limited. Zamboanga city is devastated. By this time, my Lola Basing is now dependent on medical tubes for her life, while her daughters are held somewhere in the dark.
Around 1:30pm of Sept. 16, my Uncle Nestor texted me to call him.
Lola Basing was critical already and it was only a matter of hours, he said. My uncle told me that they were all there, my father, my two other uncles, their children. The only ones not there were my aunts Malou and Lucita, Lola’s eldest daughters. I cannot think of words to describe this moment that came before us. My uncle asked me if I wanted to talk to her even though she cannot respond anymore she may perhaps be able to listen to me with her heart.
In tears, memories of my Lola Basing when I was a little boy came flashing back and how I saw her smile the last time I visited her in Zamboanga last February. I showed her pictures of her great grandchildren and gave her my hug of goodbye that day of February and she kissed me then saying her usual, “Ta resa gayot iyo cun cuntigo pirmi pati dituyu mga anak, mujer y mamang (I always pray for you, you wife and your children and mother).” I spoke to her softly to say thank you and that I wanted her to hold on and she has yet to see her great grandchildren in person. And that I love her very much.
My Lola Basing a few days later from pulmonary disease and heart complications. But up to her death, my family never told her about what happened to her daughters. But, I guess she knew all along…she knew from the very beginning even if she never could open her eyes, she never could talk.
Early morning of September 17, news of the release of around 60 hostages broke out. Among those released were my Aunt Malou and Uncle Vic. While being attended by the medical team as part of their debriefing procedures, a relative of mine informed them that Lola Basing was gone. With my Aunt Lucita and Uncle Bong still being held hostage we waited for a miracle to happen. As I close this writing, I pray that Auntie Lucita and Uncle Bong be granted the strength to hold on for they have come a long way already. I pray that God will be their protector, their liberator and freedom will be theirs any moment now.
[Editor’s Note: Mr. Dela Peña’s Aunt Lucita and Uncle Bong were eventually released a few days later, along with the remaining hostages who were caught in the battle between MNLF and government troops.]
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by: Erick San Juan
PNAC—the Project for the New American Century was a neo-conservative think tank (1997 to 2006) that had strong ties to the American Enterprise Institute. PNAC’s web site said it was “established in the spring of 1997” as “a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.” PNAC’s policy document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” openly advocated for total global military domination.
The centerpiece of this operation clearly manifests the move to dominate sovereign nations by force through military intervention. And it was carried out successfully after the ‘terrorists attack’ in September 11, 2001. Since then, the pattern for regime change has been to help nations to unseat leaders who are anti-democracy. Such countries were categorized as part of the Axis of Evil, Rogue States and Arc of Crisis. #OpinYon #US
read cont | http://bit.ly/GN5qZn
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- Alan Watt on PNAC and Syria – the Agenda for the Middle East Was Published Before 9/11 (financearmageddon.blogspot.com)
THE Australian Government today announced it will provide up to Php10 million (A$252,000) in emergency aid for families left homeless by the humanitarian crisis in Basilan and Zamboanga City.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said the conflict in Zamboanga and Basilan has created a humanitarian crisis deserving an Australian response.
“We are deeply concerned by the recent violence in Mindanao and the effect this has had on local people,” Ambassador Tweddell said.
More than 120,000 people have been displaced and 10,000 homes destroyed by fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City and the province of Basilan in Mindanao.
At the request of the Philippine Government and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Australia’s assistance will provide emergency aid including food, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets, water containers, kitchen and hygiene kits for people left homeless by the conflict.
“Many people have lost their homes and livelihoods and are now staying in evacuation centres with very limited access to food, health, hygiene, water, and other basic services,” Ambassador Tweddell said.
“The Australian Government is making these items available through our partnerships with the Philippine Red Cross, the World Food Programme, and the United Nations Population Fund to assist the Philippine Government to respond quickly and effectively to the ongoing crisis in Zamboanga City and Basilan.”
Fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MNLF broke out in Zamboanga City on September 9, and by September 13 had spilled over to the nearby island of Basilan.
In partnership with the Philippine Government, Australia’s aid program is working to improve the conditions for peace and security in Mindanao. #OpinYon #Foreign #Australia #Mindanao
- Victory over MNLF in Zambo too costly, says peace advocate (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Army ready to contain, quash MNLF attacks in Zamboanga City – Army general (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- UPDATE: 200 civilians held hostage in Zamboanga City standoff; 6 killed, 24 wounded (mindanews.com)
- Basilan on alert; MNLF sets demands (rappler.com)
- Bloody Philippine Siege Brought to an End (thaiphong.wordpress.com)
- No end in sight for Zamboanga conflict (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- 158 dead in Philippines standoff (edition.cnn.com)
- Mindanao Conflagration (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- More clashes in Philippine south (bbc.co.uk)
- Hostages, The Homeless, and Gunmen at Large: The Zamboanga Crisis Is Far From Over (world.time.com)
By Miguel Raymundo
PRESIDENT Aquino’s choice to stay in the Zamboanga war zone and away from Malacañang is taking a toll on his Presidency.
With much of Zamboanga’s commercial and business facilities shut down because of continued fighting between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels, the President is unable to attend to other issues of import that require his immediate attention.
Away from the public eye since Sept. 14 when he left the Palace for Zamboanga City, many are wondering what the President is doing there and who’s running the government’s affairs while he is away.
Is the President still in control? Has he gone AWOL to escape public censure over the P10-billion pork barrel scandal? Is he just sitting around playing his video games—content to sit in the sidelines while the lives and livelihood of the people of Zamboanga lie in the balance?
read cont | http://bit.ly/15srVOR
- Schools reopen in Zamboanga (channelnewsasia.com)
- Classes resume in 149 schools in Zamboanga City (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- PNoy: Zambo standoff ‘getting closer to an end’ (mindanews.com)
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- Truce talks fail (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Aquino in Zamboanga for 5 days: No newspapers to read, no stand on key issues (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- P3.89B to rebuild Zamboanga City, says Aquino (rappler.com)
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By Herman Tiu-Laurel
IN AUGUST of 2012 at the height of peace talks between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), the two negotiating parties belittled the possibility that the forces of Nur Misuari and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and Amerail Umbra Kato’s BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) could derail the talks.
The convulsions the past week in Mindanao shows the folly of the government and MILF’s presumptuous disregard for the other stakeholders in Mindanao’s future. Then chief GRP negotiator and now Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen said, “As far as Nur forces, it is nothing we are too bothered about.”
On August 12, 2013 MNLF founding Chairman Nur Misuari declared the establishment of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik in in his Sulu stronghold, envisioning a territory consisting of Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan, and Sabah. This declaration came amidst the final stages of peace negotiations between the GRP and MILF to set up the Bangsamoro Political Entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that became part of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and created by law through Republic Act No. 6734 known as the ARMM Organic Act.
continuation | http://bit.ly/1a2XwES
- Is the Moro Problem really over? Part II of Two Series (mussol22.wordpress.com)
- Misuari still in Sulu, says ARMM gov (rappler.com)
- Misuari, myths and the MNLF (rappler.com)
- Philippines Struggles With Muslim Rebels (ipsnews.net)
- Habier Malik: Trapped in the city he seized (rappler.com)
- Nightfall comes to Moro armed separatism (opinion.inquirer.net)
- OIC steps in; Misuari loses Kiram (manilastandardtoday.com)
- UPDATE: 200 civilians held hostage in Zamboanga City standoff; 6 killed, 24 wounded (mindanews.com)
- Betraying the Moro cause (dinmerican.wordpress.com)
- A BOHOLANO’S VIEW: Nur Misuari’s Challenge to the Bangsamoro Peace Process (mindanews.com)
by: Mentong Tiu Laurel
THE website 9/11Review.com provides us a historical summary of U.S. “False Flag” operations. As Wiki defines: “False flag operations are covert operations which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own.” #OpinYon #Syria
continue here: http://bit.ly/16gxVIn
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