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Jan 31 2008

2 MNLF Leaders Accused Of Illegal Recruitment

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 01, 2008) — A senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), urged the group’s chieftain Nur Misuari to censure two of his field commanders for large-scale recruitment and promising new members with high-paying jobs.

Datu Dima Ambil, chairman of the MNLF’s Sebangan Kutawato State, said the two commanders, Johnny Sugagel and Kautin Usman of North Cotabato and Daval del Sus who are known “Misuari loyalists” were allegedly recruiting in Mindanao.

The two were also using Misuari’s name to lure new members to join the former rebel group.

Ambil accused the two leaders of duping Muslim men into joining the MNLF by promising them integration into the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces after the tripartite review of the front’s 1996 peace pact with Manila.

The 11-year-old peace agreement is now subject of an extensive review by the government, the MNLF and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) as part of a three-way effort to address all misunderstandings on its implementation.

Ambil said both commanders have allegedly collected P5,000 from each of their recruits as “entrance fee” for them to be accepted in the MNLF.

“Its good to expand the ranks of the MNLF, but not through promises that would never materialize. Recruits are also not supposed to pay entrance fees just to become MNLF members,” Ambil told reporters.

More than 7,000 MNLF members had been integrated into the military and police from 1996 to 2000 as part of the peace deal. “The government should help check these illegal activities of these two commanders,” Ambil said.

Misuari signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 ending decades of bloody war. After the peace agreement was signed, he became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

The Muslim autonomous region was meant to implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between Manila and the MNLF. But despite the peace accord, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.

Misuari is currently under house arrest and facing rebellion charges after MNLF forces attacked a major military base in Sulu province and took more than 100 people in Zamboanga City in 2001. (Jerick Wee)

Jan 21 2008

Manila To Send Jailed Rebel Chief To Exile In Libya

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 22, 2008) – The Philippines may release a jailed former Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari and would send him to exile in Libya in exchange for his freedom.

Misuari, chieftain of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), is facing rebellion charges after his followers tried, but failed to overrun a major military base in Sulu province where more than 100 people were killed and held over 100 civilians in Zamboanga City in 2001.

Sources close to Misuari said he may be freed this year on condition that he will go to exile in Libya, which had previously supported the MNLF struggle for independence in the Philippines.

“There is an ongoing negotiation for Misuari to leave the country for good, to go to exile in Libyaand never to return and all these in exchange for his freedom,” a source told the Mindanao Examiner newspaper. Aside from Misuari, one of his wives and dozens of loyal supporters are also facing similar charges, but are still at large.

It was unknown whether Tripoli was aware or part of the plan, but Seif al Islam, the son of the Libyan strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi and former Libyan ambassador to Manila Salem Adam were in Manila last year.

The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has also urged Manila to free Misuari. Six of Misuari’s followers who were also accused of rebellion had already been freed earlier this month.

“We reiterate our calls for the Arroyo government to free our brother Nur Misuari. He is a Muslim, a Bangsamoro brother and he should also be freed as others were pardoned and released from jail just like the six MNLF followers of brother Nur and the others like former President Joseph Estrada and other high-profile prisoners,” Eid Kabalu, an MILF spokesman, said in a separate interview.

Estrada who was convicted of plunder was granted absolute pardon last year by President Gloria Arroyo. Estrada was deposed in 2001 by Arroyo after a bloodless revolution.

“Brother Nur is used to that kind of life. He was in exile in Libya and in Malaysia during the Muslim secessionist war in Mindanao. It is nothing new,” Kabalu said.

Misuari was in self exile in Libya and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos was ousted and the Corazon Aquino government was installed in 1986.

Misuari signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 ending decades of bloody war. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

The Muslim autonomous region was meant to implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between Manila and the MNLF. But despite the peace accord, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.

Presently, the governor of the Muslims autonomous region, Zaldy Ampatuan is not a member of the MNLF and is said to be a violation of the peace agreement signed during President Fidel Ramos administration.

Many former guerrillas were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop war-torn areas in the south.

Under the peace agreement, Manilawould have to provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.

And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Sulu and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed.

Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, where he had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. He is now under house arrest in Manila. Misuari’s arrest in Malaysia, which also previously supported the MNLF bid for a separate homeland in Mindanao, was said to be in retaliation for his failure to secure the release of dozens of foreigners and Malaysian citizens kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group on two island resorts off Sabah in 2000 and brought to Sulu province.

But Misuari’s fall had severely affected the MNLF which is now heavily divided and rift among its leaders is becoming more apparent. Other MNLF leaders said Misuari failed to bring developments to the Muslim autonomous region when he was governor.

Misuari also ran twice for governor in Sulu province even while under detention, but lost. He also supported Arroyo’s election bid and her allies in the Senate and Congress in 2004 in exchange for promises that he would be pardoned and freed. (With a report from Juan Magtanggol)

Jan 21 2008

Nur Misuari Losing Control On Own Leaders

MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 22, 2008) — The ongoing tripartite review of the Philippine government’s Sept 2, 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is feared to worsen factionalism in the group, the once solid rebel force now crisscrossed by gaping factional divides.Eleven ranking leaders of the front, some of them members of the defunct “Council of 15,” which took over the MNLF’s leadership from Nur Misuari in April 2000, have sent a letter to the Organization of Islamic Conference questioning the propriety of Misuari’s designation of non-MNLF members to the five “joint working groups,” or JWGs, that are involved in the on-going review of the peace agreement.The five JWGs, comprised of government representatives, officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and those chosen by Misuari to represent the MNLF, are now studying the possible enhancement of the 11-year-old truce, based on five areas: education; Sharia; political representation of Moros; regional security force; and natural resources.Last week’s letter of the complaining MNLF leaders on the composition of the front’s JWGs was addressed to the OIC’s Southern Philippines Peace Committee, which is composed of representatives from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Turkey, Senegal, Malaysia, and Brunei.

The OIC, which helped broker the GRP-MNLF peace agreement, is a pan-Islamic block of more than 50 Muslim countries, including the oil-rich Arab nations.

The 11 signatories to the letter assailing Misuari’s choice of representatives to the JWG — Hatimil Hassan, Abou Amri Taddik, Habib Mujahab Hashim, Alvarez Isnaji, Ustadhz Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, Uttoh Salem Cutan, Estino Jairi Ayyobie, Abdulkarim Langkuno, Bai Sandra Sema, Romeo Sema, and Aishah Fatima Prudencio — also questioned the propriety of Misuari’s designation of lawyer Randolph Parcasio as chairman of the MNLF’s panel to the tripartite review of the peace agreement.

Parcasio, according to the complaining MNLF leaders, is not an organic member of the front. Parcasio, who is a human rights lawyer, is a known protégé of Misuari and was his executive secretary when he was governor of the ARMM from 1996 to 2001.

Parcasio represented Misuari in the November 10-12 first tripartite meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The tripartite assessment by the Philippine government, the MNLF and the OIC of the peace agreement was part of the effort to peacefully resolve misunderstandings on the implementation of the accord and address some of its perceived to be “flawed” provisions.

Parcasio, in a statement circulated to selected media outfits, said Misuari, as founding chairman of the MNLF, has the sole prerogative to select his choice of representatives to the JWG and the panel representing the front in the tripartite activity.

«The members (of the JWGs) that the MNLF chairman chose are experts on their field because this is really based on expertise,» Parcasio told reporters.

Loyal followers of Misuari, among them foreign-trained clerics, said it is Misuari who is recognized by the OIC as “legitimate leader” of the MNLF.

Parcasio has been Misuari’s legal adviser for almost 20 years now, the sources pointed out.

“Attorney Parcasio stood by Chairman Misuari when some of our companions tried to unseat him as founding chairman of the MNLF. Attorney Parcasio has also been helping Chairman Misuari in his defense against the rebellion charges he is presently facing,” said a follower of Misuari, who is presently occupying a key position in the ARMM government. (Jerick Wee)

Nov 30 2007

8 Killed In New MNLF Clashes In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 30, 2007) – Security forces clashed Friday with Moro National Liberation Front fighters in the southern Filipino province of Sulu, leaving eight soldiers and rebels dead, officials said.

Officials said the fighting also left six marines wounded in the town of Kalingalan Kaluang. Five soldiers and three rebels were killed in the fighting that erupted at around 5 a.m. in the village of Kambing.

Security forces were searching for a wanted MNLF leader Khabier Malik when rebels attacked them, sparking a fierce firefight.

“We have sent the rangers to reinforce the marines in the area and to hunt down those responsible in the killings,” Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the Army’s elite Special Forces in Sulu province, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Malik is facing criminal charges after his group held for 3 days a military peace mission in February and demanded that Manila free their jailed leader Nur Misuari.

Misuari signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 ending decades of bloody war. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari, became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region. But despite the accord, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.

Under the peace agreement, Manila would provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.

Fierce fighting between troops and Malik’s group in April also left at least 21 soldiers and rebels dead and more than 100 wounded.

Malik, who has declared a holy war against the military, previously warned of more attacks after accusing the government of violating the peace agreement, saying, troops, pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants, had killed MNLF members and innocent civilians in several armed encounters in the province.

But the military also accused the MNLF of coddling the Abu Sayyaf.

Many former guerrillas were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the south.

And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Jolo island and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed.

Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. He is now under house arrest in Manila. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 29 2007

Moro Renegades Still A Big Problem In South RP

Moro rebels show their might in Al-Barka town in Basilan island in southern Philippines. (Mark Navales/Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 29, 2007) — Rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have become a major headache for the armed revolutionary group which is currently stepping up efforts to arrive at a peaceful solution to the centuries-old Moro problem in southern Philippines.

Major Benjamin Dolorfino, in a recent interview here, said renegade guerrillas have resorted to banditry, kidnapping, and extortion, criminal acts which are condemned by the fundamentalist MILF.

«Their devolution into banditry, kidnapping and extortion – all of which often end in murder – is not only and embarrassment to MILF but also undermines everythingit is attempting to achieve,» Dolorfino said citing the seriousness of the MILF peace panel to end the conflict in Mindanao.

«That is why the MILF is not merely helping the government tracks down these deserters, but in some cases is actually leading the effort to suppress them,» he said.

Dolofino said the MILF also joined government troops in searching for kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi taken from his parish by Moro renegades on Mindanao in June. «They were leading the search,» he said.

The MILF is not the only Moro group to be plagued and embarrassed by former members who have turned to crime but also some lost commands of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well, which signed a peace agreement with the government after 30 years of fighting.

Unfortunately, not all of the MNLF unit commanders are ready to give up their arms, including Datukan Samad whom the MNLF refers to as the «lost command.»

In May, Samad and nine of his men kidnapped German treasure hunter named Thomas Wallraf, his wife and a Filipino couple they were entertaining, in Pikit town in North Cotabato province.

Even before police could intervene, the MNLF asked rival MILF chief Murad Ebrahim to send his men after Samad who was operating near the MILF territory around Pikit.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said the MILF fighters tracked and surrounded Samad near Pagalungan and asked him to surrender his hostage who refused at first but changed mind after MILF fired a rocket-propelled grenade near his position.

Norodin Matalam, vice mayor of Pagalungan town, praised the Moro groups for what he called their «spontaneous involvement» in recovering the hostages.

Samad’s Lost Command is but one of many such groups of former guerillas and terrorists that have left their parent organizations to turn independent contractors; they no longer fight for a cause –if they ever did – but for profit and to survive; some, like the notorious «Commander Kiddie,» who have turned to be professional kidnapper.

Commander Kiddie, or Abusalam Akiddin, as he is known when he led a Moro guerilla column, has a reputation for taking hostages and holding them for ransom. That reputation is so pronounced that even the Moro leadership believed it was he who had abducted Father Bossi, although the MILF leadership «pointed the finger» at Commander Kiddie, as Agence France-Presse noted, he had since denied playing any role in this particular incident

Major General Nehemas Pajarito, who as commander of forces in the area is well acquainted with the rogue commander, believed Akiddin did not hold the priest saying that authorities are «still investigating his possible involvement» in the kidnapping.

Commander Abubakar leads another Lost Command, lamented an MILF spokesman; Abubakar’s group is believed to be behind the bus and bus terminal bombings in May and June.

Major Randolph Cabangbang of the Eastern Mindanao Command told reporters that Abubakar’s lost command has sought to extort money from the Weena bus company, a family-owned business that operates at least 200 buses.

Abelerdo Gamilla, the company’s operation manager in Davao City, says the group has carried out 17 attacks on his company since 2002; at least nine people have been killed ang 48 others injured in three such bombings since May
In each case, said Major Cabangbang, «extortion was the reason behind the attacks.» (Candido Aparece Jr.)

Oct 10 2007

Clan War Erupts In Southern RP

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 10, 2007) – Clan war between two Muslim groups have erupted Wednesday in the southern Philippines, forcing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes.

The fighting broke out in Kitango village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province after former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels clashed with pro-government militia and police forces.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, has ordered its forces to stay away from the hostilities, Eid Kabalu, the group’s spokesman, said.

Kabalu said some MILF members, who have relatives from both warring groups, were dragged into the fighting. “We have ordered MILF members to stay out of trouble. Our concern now is how to help Muslim villagers displaced by the fighting,” he said.

He said there were no immediate reports of casualties, but the hostilities have affected the livelihood of villagers and were threatening their safety.

“Sporadic clashes are going on in the area and we are appealing to the two warring groups to cease fighting so villagers can return to their homes,” Kabalu said, adding, the skirmishes were probably triggered by a land feud.

The MNLF signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 while the MILF is still fighting for a separate Muslim homeland in the southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 13 2007

RP Army Chief Flies To Jolo Island To Lead Fight Vs Terrorists, Insurgents

Philippine Army chief General Romeo Tolentino is welcomed at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 13 Aug) – Philippine Army chief General Romeo Tolentino flew to Jolo island to lead fresh offensive against the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya.

Thousands of soldiers are on the island, about 950 kilometers south of Manila, where two Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek are fighting alongside with the Abu Sayyaf.

Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon on Monday said the two bombers helped local militants and other insurgents fight security forces that killed 26 soldiers since last week.

“We have a report that they were in the encounters,” Esperon said at news conference in Manila.

Jakarta tagged Dulmatin and Patek as behind the 2002 bombings in the island resort of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly tourists. They are believed to have fled in 2003 to the southern Philippines and provided bomb-making to Filipino terrorists.

The United States has offered as much as US$10 million bounty for Dulmatin’s capture and US$1 million for Patek’s and US$ 5 million for known Abu Sayyaf leaders under the Rewards for Justice System.

Jolo army chief Colonel Antonio Supnet said the two bombers and some leaders of the Abu Sayyaf were being protected by rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace treaty with Manila in 1996.

He said as many as 40 gunmen were killed in fierce clashes in Jolo island. Troops were also pursuing an Abu Sayyaf faction and members of another rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, implicated in the killing of 14 Marines, ten of whom beheaded and mutilated in ferocious battle last month.

President Gloria Arroyo had ordered Tolentino to “pitch camp in Zamboanga” and oversee the theater of operations from the Western Mindanao Command headquarters.

“I am sending my army chief to the frontlines where he can be near my soldiers,” she said.

Esperon on Sunday accompanied Defense chief Gilbert Teodoro to Jolo and Basilan island where they inspected troops and visited the wounded. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 12 2007

New RP Defense Chief Visits Troops In Frontlines Of War In Volatile South





Philippines Defense chief Gilbert Teodoro arrives in Zamboanga City and is escorted by Western Mindanao military commander Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo. Teodoro is accompanied by Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and inspected troops in Jolo and Basilan islands and visited wounded soldiers in Zamboanga City. Esperon has odered troops to intensify the hunt for terrorists in the troubled southern region. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 12 Aug) – New Philippines Defense chief Gilbert Teodoro inspected troops Sunday in two southern islands where security forces are battling Abu Sayyaf militants tied to al-Qaeda, blamed for the killing of dozens of soldiers.

Teodoro, who assumed his post on Wednesday, flew to Jolo island with Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and several army generals on a military transport plane.

They were briefed by local military commanders about the progress of government offensives against the terrorists in Jolo, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are also stationed on the island and helping Filipino forces defeat terrorism.

Teodoro spoke briefly with soldiers. About 5,000 troops are in Jolo and hunting down hundreds of militants and Moro National Liberation Front rebels, blamed for the killing of 26 army soldiers in fierce clashes since Wednesday.

From Jolo island, the group flew by choppers to nearby island of Basilan, where some 4,000 are also pursuing a faction of the Abu Sayyaf and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, implicated in the beheading of ten of 14 Marines in daylong clashes July 10.

Marines Col. Ramiro Alivio, the island’s military chief, also briefed Teodoro’s group about the hunt for some 130 mostly MILF rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants tagged as behind the grisly killing.

Esperon has ordered troops to intensify their hunt for the terrorists and their allies in the two islands.

“There will be no letup in the pursuit operations. The hunt for the terrorists and their allies will continue until they are neutralized,” he told the Mindanao Examiner in Zamboanga City, where they visited and pinned medals to more than a dozen wounded soldiers.

After visiting the soldiers at a military hospital, Esperon and Teodoro comforted family members and relatives of slain soldiers whose flag-draped caskets were flown to Manila late Sunday afternoon.

The fighting in Jolo and Basilan has already displaced more than 20,000 people and is also threatening the government peace talks with the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group.

The MILF denied beheading the soldiers and pointed to the Abu Sayyaf instead, although it admitted killing the Marines in fierce clashes after they entered a rebel stronghold in Al-Barka town.

Esperon said talks are underway to prevent further involvement of the MILF rebels in the ongoing punitive actions in Basilan island.

«There are ongoing talks about that, to put the MILF in one place,” he said.

President Gloria Arroyo has earlier ordered the military to pursue offensive operation against those behind the killing of the soldiers in Basilan and Jolo island.

“The military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf must continue, not as an act of vengeance but as a strategy to win the peace,” Arroyo said. “We cannot allow terrorists to hold the South hostage to their agenda of mayhem and blood sport.”

She also ordered Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, the chief of the army, to lead the operation in the volatile region. Tolentino arrived in Zamboanga City on Sunday.

”I expect General Tolentino, considered as a soldier’s soldier, not just to orchestrate punitive actions against those who wantonly maim and kill, but also to evaluate peaceful overtures of those who will demonstrate remorse,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo commended the bravery of the soldiers “even as we grieve for those who offered their lives in the line of duty, while pursuing our quest for peace and justice.”

”There can be no letup in our fight against terror. The Abu Sayyaf deserves condemnation for its acts of violence that have stalled peace and progress in the southern Philippines.” (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 11 2007

JI Bombers, Sayyaf Terrorists Protected By MNLF, Says RP Military

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 11 Aug) – The Philippine military has accused the country’s former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front of coddling Jemaah Islamiya bombers, including Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Jolo island.

Troops are pursuing the bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the deadly 2002 Bali bombings, and leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo island, about 950 kilometers south of the Philippine capital.

But Colonel Antonio Supnet, the island’s army chief, said MNLF members, whose group signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996, are protecting Dulmatin and Patek and Abu Sayyaf militants. They also attacked government soldiers pursuing the terrorists, sparking fierce clashes since Wednesday in Jolo.

He said Dulmatin and Patek and other Abu Sayyaf terrorists are hiding inside MNLF areas and being shrouded by the peace accord.

Manila blamed the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya for the series of deadly bombings in the country. The U.S. listed the two groups as foreign terrorist organizations.

Officials said 26 soldiers were killed and that more than a dozen injured in the clashes. “We will pursue the terrorists no matter where they hide or whoever is protecting them,” Supnet told the Mindanao Examiner.

The fighting, which erupted Wednesday, have already killed at least 57 people from both sides and sporadic clashes still continue in at least three towns – Parang, Indanan and Maimbung.

More government troops arrived Saturday in Jolo island to help more than 4,000 soldiers fighting the terrorists and rebels. At last 10,000 villagers have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the battle, according to the island’s governor Sakur Tan.

Tan has ordered security forces to ensure the safety of the refugees and also social workers delivering humanitarian aids.

“We must ensure the safety of everybody and the security of vital government installations. We don’t want the fighting to escalate in civilian areas,” he said in a separate interview.

Supnet said troops have killed two sub-leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, Marag Asti and Salip Edimar, including a veteran commander of the Moro National Liberation Front in a clash in Jolo.

He said Asti and Edimar were working for Radulan Sahiron, one of the most senior Abu Sayyaf leaders on the island wanted by the United States and the Philippines for the spate of kidnappings of foreigners and terrorism in the troubled South.

“And when we recovered the body of Salip Edimar, we also got his wallet and there was his identification card – he’s a member of the MNLF and his ID card bore the signature of Nur Misuari, the chieftain of the MNLF,” Supnet said.

Misuari is currently in jail on rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000. Misuari, disgusted with the peace agreement, fled to Malaysia, but was arrested there and later deported to Manila.

He accused Manila of reneging in the peace deal and for failing to uplift the poor living standards of many Muslims in the South. Under the agreement, the Philippines is to provide a mini-marshal plan and housing and livelihood to tens of thousands of former rebels. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aug 10 2007

2 Sayyaf, MNLF Commanders Killed In Jolo Island





Funeral parade in Zamboanga City on Friday Aug.10, 2007 for slain soldiers in Jolo island. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Aug) – Philippine soldiers have killed two sub-leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, including a veteran commander of the Moro National Liberation Front in fierce fighting in the southern island of Jolo, officials said Friday.Officials said the fighting, which erupted Wednesday, have already killed at least 57 people from both sides and sporadic clashes still continue in at least three towns.Thousands of villagers have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the battle.Officials said 26 soldiers were killed and that more than a dozen injured in the clashes in the towns of Parang, Indanan and Maimbung.Colonel Antonio Supnet, the island’s army chief, told the Mindanao Examiner that troops killed Marag Asti and Salip Edimar, both sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf.“Troops killed the two Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders in the fighting,” he said, adding the two terrorists were under Radulan Sahiron, one of the most senior Abu Sayyaf leader on the island wanted by the United States and the Philippines for the spate of kidnappings of foreigners and terrorism in the troubled South.One soldier, Pfc. Abdulhari Bittong, who was wounded in the fighting, said his group also killed a MNLF rebel leader Jahili in the fighting on Thursday in Indanan town.“We slew MNLF leader Jahili in fierce fighting,” he said Friday from his hospital bed in Zamboanga City.The bodies of five soldiers have arrived in Zamboanga City on Friday and officials said 14 more are arriving on Saturday by boat. The seven remaining cadavers of Muslim soldiers were buried in Jolo island.Supnet said they were pursuing Abu Sayyaf gunmen coddling Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek in Jolo island when dozens of militants aided by the MNLF attacked troops on Thursday, sparking daylong clashes.Jakarta tagged both Dulmatin and Patek as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian holidaymakers.Army Lieutenant General Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, has ordered the military to step up offensive against the terrorists in Jolo island, where hundreds of U.S. troops are helping local soldiers fight terrorism.Manila blamed the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya for the series of deadly bombings in the country. The U.S. listed the two groups as foreign terrorist organizations.

While the MNLF, despite signing a peace deal with the Philippine government in September 1996, had attacked troops in Jolo many times in the past. Its chieftain, Nur Misuari, is currently in jail on rebellion charges after his forces tried, but failed to overrun a military base on the island in 2000.

(Mindanao Examiner)

Jun 01 2007

Soldiers of Misfortune: Children as Weapons

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 02 Jun) — For 377 days, Gracia Burnham, an American missionary, was held captive by Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino group associated with Al Qaeda.
During that time, she experienced horrors we can’t even imagine. She also gained an insight to one of the world’s most pressing issues.

I’m not talking about Islamic extremism, although Burnham obviously has some hard-earned insights into that phenomenon. I’m talking about the use of child soldiers.

After being kidnapped, Gracia and her husband Martin, whose story is told in the June 4th issue of the New Republic, were starved and force-marched through the jungle. Along the way they saw other hostages beheaded and raped. Finally, she saw her husband Martin die after a botched rescue attempt.

One of Burnham’s principal tormentors was a 14-year-old Abu Sayyaf soldier named Ahmed.

Burnham admits to loathing him for “hoarding food when she had none, throwing stones at her while she bathed—fully clothed—in the river, and pushing her along the trail saying ‘faster, faster.’”

And yet Burnham prayed for a way to love Ahmed. She got her chance after he was wounded in a firefight and soiled himself. When she saw that he was embarrassed, she thought of her own son and felt love for Ahmed. She washed Ahmed’s clothes in the river before he was taken into the jungle on a stretcher, bound, gagged and “stark raving mad.” To this day, she has no idea what happened to him.

Apart from being loved by his victim, Ahmed’s story is typical. On any given day, there are an estimated 250,000 children, some as young as eight, being used by “state-run armies, paramilitaries and guerilla groups around the world.” They’re employed as soldiers, porters, sex slaves and even human mine detectors.

In Uganda alone, 25,000 to 30,000 children have been abducted by an especially brutal group calling itself “The Lord’s Resistance Army.” Children are brutalized and then made to brutalize and kill others, including their own siblings.

Other countries where child soldiers are being used include Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Burundi, to name but a few. However the children are “recruited,” the result is the same: “their health and lives are endangered and their childhoods are sacrificed.”

If all of this comes as a surprise to you, you’re not alone. The war in Uganda, never mind who’s fighting it, has been called a “forgotten war.” That’s the first thing that needs to be changed. The church needs to draw attention to what, by any reasonable measure, is a humanitarian crisis. To help you understand the issue, we’ve got some resources at our website.

You may also want to learn about a recently-introduced bill called “The Child Soldiers Prevention Act.” Co-sponsored by Senator Brownback, it seeks to put into action what the Congress has already put into words: that the United States should “lead efforts . . . to end this abuse of human rights.”

Not surprisingly, Christians are among the bill’s principal sponsors and supporters. Because if Gracia Burnham could love Ahmed, the child soldier who tormented her, the rest of us surely can at least speak out on behalf of the many thousands like him.

In the Philippines, child warriors are rampant across the country’s regions — from northern Luzon to the Sulu Archipelgo in the south, rebels and terrorist groups and private armies of political warlords exploit these innocent children.

May 07 2007

Fierce Fighting Erupts In South RP, 4 Dead!

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 08 May) – Four Moro National Liberation Front rebels were killed in fierce battle Tuesday in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Marine Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, deputy chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said troops clashed with wanted MNLF leader Ustadz Khabir Malik. “It was Malik’s group,” he told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Maj. Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, said the fighting erupted before 6 a.m. in the village of Kambing in Kalingalan Caluang town in Jolo island after patrolling soldiers caught up with some 200 gunmen.

“The fighting is still going on. We have sent additional troops in the area. Four enemies are killed,” Batara said in a separate interview.

There were no immediate reports of military casualties, he said.

A Philippine court has ordered the arrest of Malik and ten others in connection with simultaneous attacks April 13 that killed three soldiers in the restive island, about 950 km south of Manila.

Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, Southern Philippines military commander, said the warrants include 3 counts for murder, two counts for frustrated murder and six counts for attempted murder.

Troops were battling Malik’s forces accused of attacking a marine base and the town hall of Panamao town, killing three soldiers and a civilian.

The military also accused Malik’s group of sheltering Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists on the island, about 950 km south of Manila.

“He is a fugitive man and we will help the police track down and arrest Malik and those who are involved in the attacks,” Cedo said.

Malik has denied military allegations that they were coddling terrorists.

Malik accused the military of attacking MNLF forces and killed civilians in the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya.

The military said it was targeting Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya hiding in the camp controlled by the MNLF. Last month, soldiers shelled a base of Khaid Ajibun, one of the most influential MNLF rebel leaders in Jolo island.

The MNLF, under Nur Misuari, signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996. But Misuari accused the Arroyo government of failing to honor the accord and his forces attacked a major army base in Jolo in 2000.

Misuari fled to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. He is now facing rebellion charges.

The military said it killed and wounded dozens of rebels since the fighting broke out in Jolo, a claim strongly denied by the MNLF.

Some 8,000 soldiers are involved in the operation against about a thousand MNLF rebels and Abu Sayyaf members and a dozen Jemaah Islamiya militants, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who were both implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. (Mindanao Examiner)

May 05 2007

Arrest Warrant Out For MNLF Leader, 10 others

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 05 May) – A Philippine court has ordered the arrest of a senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front and ten others in connection with simultaneous attacks that killed three soldiers in the restive southern island of Jolo.

Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, a regional military commander, said the warrants include 3 counts for murder, two counts for frustrated murder and six counts for attempted murder.

Troops were battling Malik’s forces accused of attacking a marine base and the town hall of Panamao town on April 13, killing three soldiers and a civilian.

The military also accused Malik’s group of sheltering Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists on the island, about 950 km south of Manila.

“He is a fugitive man and we will help the police track down and arrest Malik and those who are involved in the attacks,” Cedo told the Mindanao Examiner on Saturday.Malik has denied military allegations that they were coddling terrorists.

Malik accused the military of attacking MNLF forces and killed civilians in the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya.

The military said it was targeting Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya hiding in the camp controlled by the MNLF. Last month, soldiers shelled a base of Khaid Ajibun, one of the most influential MNLF rebel leaders in Jolo island.

The MNLF, under Nur Misuari, signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996. But Misuari accused the Arroyo government of failing to honor the accord and his forces attacked a major army base in Jolo in 2000.Misuari fled to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. He is now facing rebellion charges.

The military said it killed and wounded dozens of rebels since the fighting broke out in Jolo, a claim strongly denied by the MNLF.

Some 8,000 soldiers are involved in the operation against about a thousand MNLF rebels and Abu Sayyaf members and a dozen Jemaah Islamiya militants, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who were both implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 30 2007

MNLF On The War Path!

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Apr) – The Moro National Liberation Front rebels on Monday denied military allegations that it was sheltering members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya in the southern Filipino island of Jolo.

“We have no links whatsoever with the Jemaah Islamiya. We don’t even know who were behind this group. How can they link us with the Jemaah Islamiya or Abu Sayyaf?” said MNLF leader Ustadz Khabir Malik.

Troops were battling Malik’s forces accused of attacking a marine base and the town hall of Panamao town on April 13, killing three soldiers and a civilian, said Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.

The military said Malik’s group is sheltering Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists on the island, about 950 km south of Manila.

“We have ordered troops to pursue the terrorists and the fugitive Malik. Our operation is now called Oplan Ultimatum 2,” Esperon said.

But Malik accused the military of attacking MNLF forces and killed civilians in the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya.

The military said it was targeting Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya hiding in the camp controlled by the MNLF. Last week, soldiers shelled a base of Khaid Ajibun, one of the most influential rebel leader allied with jailed MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari.

Misuari is facing rebellion charges after his forces attacked a major army headquarters in Jolo island in 2000. The MNLF signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996, but Misuari accused the Arroyo government of failing to honor the accord.

Malik said the military violated the peace agreement. “Since they have not respected the MNLF and the September 1996 peace agreement and with all those unprovoked attacks against us, it is now better to have no cease-fire at all.”

“Those who want to attack should attack now. They have been attacking the MNLF. So it is now up to them. We will take care of ourselves.”

Esperon said it was Malik’s group started the hostilities in Jolo.

“Malik attacked military and civilian targets without provocation. Malik attacked the marine base with mortars and also attacked the Panamao town hall, which is 31 kilometers away,” he said.

“Malik remains the subject of our hot pursuit. It is very clear that he committed homicide. We now consider him as a fugitive,” Esperon said.

Malik said: “Do not believe what the military say about the MNLF, we have not done anything wrong. It is the civilians who are suffering from these attacks of the military. There is no peace at all here. The blame should fall on the military and the Arroyo government, not us.”

The military said it killed and wounded dozens of rebels since the fighting broke out in Jolo, a claim strongly denied by the MNLF.

Some 8,000 soldiers are involved in the operation against about a thousand MNLF rebels and Abu Sayyaf members and a dozen Jemaah Islamiya militants, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who were both implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 27 2007

Oplan Ultimatum 2, Inilunsad Sa Sulu!

Mga bala ng .50-caliber machine gun, automatic rifles, radio transceivers at satellite phone na nabawi ng mga sundalo mula sa nakubkob na kampo ng Moro National Liberation Front sa lalawigan ng Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

SULU (Mindanao Examienr / 28 Apr) – Isinailalim na sa mahigpit na siguridad ang lalawigan ng Sulu matapos na maglunsad ang militar ng panibagong opensiba upang tugisin ang Abu Sayyaf at Moro National Liberation Front rebels.

Mismong si Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon ang nag-utos na habulin si MNLF leader Ustadz Khabir Malik, na siyang nasa likod ng atake sa isang marine base at municipal hall ng Panamao nuong Abril 13.

Binansagan ni Esperon na “Oplan: Ultimatum 2” ang nasabing opensiba kontra grupo ni Malik at Abu Sayyaf sa Sulu.

“We have ordered troops to pursue the terrorists and the fugitive Malik. Our operation is now called Oplan Ultimatum 2,” ani Esperon sa pahayagang Mindanao Examiner.

Nagtungo si Esperon kamakalawa sa Sulu at nakipagpulong sa mga commanders nito at binisita at pinarangalan ang mga tropang tumutugis sa mga armado.

“Malik remains the subject of our hot pursuit. It is very clear that he committed homicide. We now consider him as a fugitive,” dagdag pa ni Esperon.

Mahigit sa 8,000 sundalo ang naka-deploy ngayon sa Sulu, ngunit walang bagong ulat na nagkaroon ng sagupaan sa pagitan ng militar at grupo ni Malik o Abu Sayyaf.

Hinihinalang nasa bundok ng Mount Tumatangis si Malik. Wala na rin umanong suporta ito mula sa ibang mga MNLF commanders dahil sa ginawang atahe na ikinamatay ng 3 sundalo at isang teenager. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 26 2007

RP Military Intensifies Hunt For Rebels In Jolo Island





Soldiers recover ATM card of rebel leader Ustadz Khabir Malik from a Moro National Liberation Front camp in Jolo island; and Southern Philippines military chief Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo and regional army commander Maj. Gen. Nehemias Pajarito inspect seized MNLF weapons. Also Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon speaks to soldiers in Jolo island and visits a soldier wounded in a clash with Malik’s group. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND – The Philippine military has ordered a massive manhunt against Moro National Liberation Front rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants on the island of Jolo, as troops continue their offensive for two weeks now.

Government soldiers shelled Wednesday an MNLF mountain hideout after Abu Sayyaf militants sought refuge there.

Troops were battling the MNLF forces under Ustadz Khabir Malik also known as Habier Malik, and members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and the Jemaah Islamiya on the island’s Indanan town, about 950 km from Manila.

“We have ordered troops to pursue the terrorists and the fugitive Malik. Our operation is now called Oplan Ultimatum 2,” said Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.

Esperon flew to Jolo island on Thursday and met with his commanders before inspecting troops sent to pursue Malik’s group, accused of attacking a marine base in Panamao town on April 13.

“Malik remains the subject of our hot pursuit. It is very clear that he committed homicide. We now consider him as a fugitive,” he said.

Troops also seized 600 kilos of ammonium nitrate this week from a mini-bus in Panamao town near where security forces were pursuing Malik’s group.

The chemical is widely used in the manufacture of homemade explosives in the troubled southern Philippine region. The bus driver and passengers denied knowledge of the cargo and there were no arrest made.

It was the second time that troops seized such chemical. In Zamboanga City, soldiers manning a checkpoint also recovered 25 kilos of ammonium nitrate from a passenger bus during a security check.

There were no reports of frech casualties, but the military said it was targeting Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya hiding in the camp controlled by Khaid Ajibun, one of the most influential rebel leader allied with jailed MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari.

Misuari is facing rebellion charges after his forces attacked a major military base in Jolo island in 2000. The MNLF signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996, but accused the Arroyo government of failing to honor the accord.

The military said three of its soldiers were killed and dozens more injured in the clashes. It also said the dozens of rebels were killed in the fighting, but the claims had been denied by the MNLF.

Some 8,000 soldiers are involved in the operation against about a thousand rebels and Abu Sayyaf members and a dozen Jemaah Islamiya militants, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who were both implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 25 2007

RP Troops Shell MNLF Rebel Base In Jolo Island

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Apr) – Government soldiers shelled Wednesday a mountain hideout of the Moro National Liberation Front rebels in the southern island of Jolo, as fighting entered its second third week.Troops were battling the MNLF and members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and the Jemaah Islamiya on the island’s Indanan town, about 950 km from Manila.Troops also seized 600 kilos of ammonium nitrate on Wednesday from a mini-bus in Panamao town near where security forces were also pursuing a separate faction of the MNLF.The chemical is widely used in the manufacture of homemade explosives in the troubled southern Philippine region. The bus driver and passengers denied knowledge of the cargo and there were no arrest made.It was the second time that troops seized such chemical. In Zamboanga City, soldiers manning a checkpoint also recovered 25 kilos of ammonium nitrate from a passenger bus during a security check.There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the military said it was targeting Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya hiding in the camp controlled by Khaid Ajibun, one of the most influential rebel leader allied with jailed MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari.Misuari is facing rebellion charges after his forces attacked a major military base in Jolo island in 2000. The MNLF signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996, but accused the Arroyo government of failing to honor the accord.Fighting erupted in Jolo island on April 13 after MNLF forces led by Ajibun’s lieutenant Ustadz Habier Malik attacked a military base and a town hall in Panamao town.The military said three of its soldiers were killed and dozens more injured in the clashes. It also said the dozens of rebels were killed in the fighting, but the claims had been denied by the MNLF.

Some 8,000 soldiers are involved in the operation against about a thousand rebels and Abu Sayyaf members and a dozen Jemaah Islamiya militants, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who were both implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 19 2007

Rebels Accused Philippine Soldiers Of Violating Peace Accord

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 19 Apr) – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Thursday accused the Philippine military of starting hostilities in the southern island of Jolo that left at least two dozen people dead and over 100 wounded.The fighting, which began April 13, have displaced some 42,000 civilians in seven towns in Jolo, about 950 km south of Manila. The military said the MNLF rebels are coddling Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya terrorists on the island.“It was them who started the fight. The military attacked our forces and killed our members in the guise of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf and later tell us that the killings are a mistake and so on.”“We cannot tolerate this abuse anymore. Our members are asking us what is happening and we cannot tolerate this violation of the peace agreement anymore. We wanted peace, but it appears the military does not want peace at all,” an MNLF leader, Habier Malik, said.Security officials said rebel forces attacked several military posts in Panamao town and that one of the mortars exploded near a government building, killing a child and wounding another villager. But the military said there could be more civilian casualties.Two marine soldiers were also killed and eight more wounded many seriously, when rebels attacked their post in the village of Tayungan with mortar bombs last week.Army Major Eugene Batara, a regional military spokesman, said Malik’s group fired mortar bombs on the headquarters of the Philippine Marines in the village of Seit also last week.The MNLF rebels, under its chieftain Nur Misuari, signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region. But despite the agreement, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.Under the peace agreement, Manila would provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.Many MNLF members were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the south.And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Jolo island and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed.

Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 18 2007

Explosion In South RP Kills Suspected Bomber

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Apr) – A powerful explosive rigged to a motorcycle exploded late Wednesday in the southern Philippines, killing its rider, police said.Police said the explosion occurred at around 6.30 p.m. in Cotabato City in the troubled province of Maguindanao. One civilian was also wounded from the explosion just outside a residential village called Happy Homes.“We still don’t know what really happened, except that a motorcycle exploded and its rider was killed. We are awaiting full reports from our investigators about this explosion,” a police officer, Jose Dimaano, told the Mindanao Examiner.Police have put up roadblocks and checkpoints in Cotabato following the blast.Reporters who were in the area said the powerful explosion decapitated the body of the still unidentified man. Police suspect the man was a bomber and that the explosive may have accidentally detonated.It was unknown if the bomb was intended to target civilians or if the man had any links with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya or the Moro National Liberation Front.

Security forces are battling the three groups in the southern island of Jolo, where at least 20 soldiers and rebels had been killed since last week.

(Mark Navales)

Apr 17 2007

RP Troops Kill MNLF Rebel In Jolo Clash

Muslim children play at an empty military checkpoint in Tagbak village in Jolo island in southern RP.(Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 17 Apr) – Government soldiers clashed Tuesday with Moro National Liberation Front rebels in the restive southern Filipino island of Jolo, killing one gunman, officials said.

Officials said one rebel was also captured and that he is being interrogated at a military base on the island.

“One rebel was killed in the clash and a second gunman has been taken alive and is under interrogation. Troops also recovered an M203 automatic rifle from the area,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command headquarters, told the Mindanao Examiner in Zamboanga City.

He said the fighting erupted in the village of Bitan-ag in Indanan town, scene of fierce clashes since April 13. There were no military casualties, he said.

But previous clashes had already killed three marine soldiers and wounded at least 53 others, according to Army Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan said.

Pabustan said 17 rebels had been killed and that 50 more were wounded in the fighting since last week.

Police on Tuesday also confirmed that Abu Sayyaf militants allied with the MNLF rebels have kidnapped seven people on the island. Other reports said nine soldiers were killed when rebels attacked a military truck with bazookas in Parang town and that two more soldiers had been seized by Abu Sayyaf militants at a checkpoint, but these could not be independently confirmed.

The military blamed MNLF leader Ustadz Habier Malik for the fighting, but he said troops started the skirmishes when they strayed inside rebel strongholds in the guise of pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants.

The government also put up one million pesos bounty on the head of Malik.Thousands of civilians gave fled their homes on the island because of the fighting and many are now housed at temporary shelters in safer areas.

A militant party list group, Suara Bangsamoro, on Tuesday condemned the reward offer and said the military was covering up its role in the skirmishes.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is resorting to bounty to cover up its actual role in provoking Ustadz Habier Malik to declare a jihad,» Amirah Ali Lidasan, the group’s national president, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

She said Malik has declared a holy war on the island. “Most likely the people in Sulu will heed Ustadz Habier Malik’s call for a jihad because of the long list of human rights violations and the intensifying military offensives against MNLF camps hiding under the pretext of running after Abu Sayyaf and Jeemayat Islamiya.”

“We believe that the call for a jihad was a response to the long list of injustices and violations to the peace accord that the AFP has committed against the MNLF and the people of Sulu,” said Lidasan.She said the fighting displaced as many as 50,000 civilians on Jolo island.

“We fear for the lives of those fleeing military operations and their lives once inside cramped makeshift evacuation centers. For the sake of the evacuees, we call for an end to the military’s pursuit operations. We urge AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon to heed the calls of the civilians,” Lidasan said.

Lidasan said the government offensives have affected residents in eight towns — Luuk, Panamao, Panglima Estino, Patikul, Kalinggalan Caluang, Talipao, Indanan and Parang. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 16 2007

Fighting Continue In Jolo Island





Scenes in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where troops are battling Moro rebels and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in two fronts. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND – President Gloria Arroyo has ordered the Philippine military to pursue Moro National Liberation Front rebels, blamed for a spate of attacks in Jolo island.

Dozens of people were reported killed and injured in a series of mortar attacks by Moro National Liberation Front rebels and suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, officials said.

Officials said the rebels attacked several military posts in the town of Panamao, Parang and Talipao. One mortar bomb exploded near a government building, killing a child and wounding another villager. But the military said there could be more civilian casualties in the fighting that began last week.

At least 11 government soldiers were allegedly killed and about a dozen more wounded, many seriously, when rebels attacked a military post in the village of Tayungan with mortar bombs and ambushed a military truck transporting troops.

Two rebels were also killed and many wounded in the weekend clashes.

Army Major Eugene Batara, a regional military spokesman, said the rebels, under Khabir Malik, also rained mortar bombs on the headquarters of the Philippine Marines in the village of Seit last week.

“Malik’s group fired at least 5 rounds (of mortars) at the marine base, but only one exploded inside the (headquarters). The rebels also fired three more rounds toward the Panamao municipal hall (building). Security forces are in control of the situation,” Batara told the Mindanao Examiner newspaper.

Batara said the motive of the attacks were unknown, but troops last week clashed with suspected Abu Sayyaf militants allegedly aided by MNLF rebels in the village of Buanza in Indanan.

He said security forces have occupied a major MNLF camp under Malik in Bitan-ag village in Indanan town, but the rebels said they abandoned the base even before troops could arrive.

“You would be so stupid to stay in the camp that you know would be targeted by military offensive,” one rebel commander said.

Major General Ruben Rafael, the island’s military chief, condemned the attacks and said security forces will suppress «this lawlessness perpetrated by this group.» He said: «The (exact number of) civilian casualties are still unknown as of this report.»

Other reports in Jolo said Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped at least 8 people, including two soldiers, in Parang town, but this could not be independently confirmed.

The fighting forced thousands of villagers to flee their homes. Many are staying in different refugee shelters in Jolo. Government schools were also converted into temporary shelters.

Hundreds of refugees were also staying in Panglima Mamah Elementary School in Tag-bak village in Indanan town and many of them blamed provincial officials for failing to help them.

“It is so difficult here, as you can see, there is not even clean water here and provincial officials should look into our situation here,” one refugee, Usman bin Abubakar, told the Mindanao Examiner. Fighting erupted last week in Talipao town near a major MNLF stronghold where troops raided a Jemaah Islamiya hideout and captured three local terrorists.

But an Indonesian bomber Umar Patek and a senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, had escaped the raiders in the village of Kanlimot. One soldier was also wounded in a separate this month in Bakong village in Patikul town on the other side of the island.

Besides Patek, soldiers were also hunting down Dulmatin and Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir and other Jemaah Islamiya militants hiding on the island under the protection of the Abu Sayyaf. Jakarta tagged both Patek and Dulmatin as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian holiday-makers.

While Zulkifli bin Hir, an engineer trained in the U.S. allegedly heads the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and is a member of Jemaah Islamiya central command.

Washington offered as much as $10 million reward for the capture of Dulmatin and $ 5 million for Zulkifli and Hapilon and another $1 million bounty for Patek.

The latest fighting broke out ahead of a planned peace advocacy forum in Jolo island on the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group. The MILF, which broke away with the MNLF, is fighting the past three decades for a separate homeland in Mindanao.

The MNLF rebels, under Nur Misuari, signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari, became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region. But despite the agreement, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.

Under the peace agreement, Manila would provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.

Many MNLF members were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the south.

And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Jolo island and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed. Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. (mindanaoexaminer.com)

Apr 13 2007

Rebels Storm Military Posts In Jolo Island, 3 Dead, 12 Wounded!


Military and police armored vehicles patrol Jolo Island, where Moro National Liberation Front rebels attack military posts, leaving 3 people dead and about a dozen more injured. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 14 Apr) – At least 3 people were killed and about a dozen more injured in a series of mortar attacks Saturday by Moro National Liberation Front rebels in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, officials said.

Officials said the rebels attacked several military posts in Panamao town and that one of the mortars exploded near a government building, killing a child and wounding another villager. But the military said there could be more civilian casualties.

Two marine soldiers were also killed and eight more wounded many seriously, when rebels attacked their post in the village of Tayungan with mortar bombs at around 6 a.m.

Army Major Eugene Batara, a regional military spokesman, said the rebels, under Jabier Malik, also rained mortar bombs on the headquarters of the Philippine Marines in the village of Seit before dawn Saturday.

“Malik’s group fired at least 5 rounds (of mortars) at the marine base, but only one exploded inside the (headquarters). The rebels also fired three more rounds toward the Panamao municipal hall (building). Security forces are in control of the situation,” Batara told the Mindanao Examiner newspaper.

Batara said the motive of the attacks were unknown, but troops on Wednesday clashed with suspected Abu Sayyaf militants allegedly aided by MNLF rebels in the village of Buanza in Indanan.

Major General Ruben Rafael, the island’s military chief, condemned the attacks and said security forces will supress «this lawlessness perpetrated by this group.» He said: «The (exact number of) civilian casualties are still unknown as of this report.»

Fighting also erupted earlier this week in Talipao town near a major MNLF stronghold where troops raided a Jemaah Islamiya hideout and captured three local terrorists.

But an Indonesian bomber Umar Patek and a senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, had escaped the raiders in the village of Kanlimot.One soldier was also wounded in a separate clash Monday in Bakong village in Patikul town on the other side of the island.

Besides Patek, soldiers were also hunting down Dulmatin and Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir and other Jemaah Islamiya militants hiding on the island under the protection of the Abu Sayyaf. Jakarta tagged both Patek and Dulmatin as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian holiday-makers.

While Zulkifli bin Hir, an engineer trained in the U.S. allegedly heads the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and is a member of Jemaah Islamiya central command.

Washington offered as much as $10 million reward for the capture of Dulmatin and $ 5 million for Zulkifli and Hapilon and another $1 million bounty for Patek.

The latest fighting broke out ahead of a planned peace advocacy forum in Jolo island on the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group. The MILF, which broke away with the MNLF, is fighting the past three decades for a separate homeland in Mindanao.

The MNLF rebels, under Nur Misuari, signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari, became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region. But despite the agreement, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.

Under the peace agreement, Manila would provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.

Many MNLF members were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the south.

And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Jolo island and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed. Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Apr 11 2007

Fighting Flares Up In Jolo Island, 2 Soldiers Killed

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 12 Apr) – Two soldiers were reported killed in a clash with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, officials said Thursday.Officials said the fighting erupted on the village of Buanza in Indanan town on Wednesday where more than 100 militants were holed out. There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Abu Sayyaf side.The fighting, described as fierce, lasted over two hours. The gunmen, led by Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron, split into smaller groups and fled to the hinterlands.Other reports said renegade members of the Moro National Liberation Front aided the gunmen in the fighting.There were no immediate reports of fresh clashes, but more troops were sent on Thursday to the town to track down the militants, whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.On Monday. Government soldiers raided a hideout of the Jemaah Islamiya in Jolo’s Talipao town and captured three local militants.But one of two Jemaah Islamiya bombers, Umar Patek, and a senior Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon, had escaped the raiders in the village of Kanlimot, a known stronghold of the local terrorist group.One soldier was also wounded in a separate clash Monday in Bakong village in Patikul town on the other side of the island. Besides Patek, soldiers were also hunting down Dulmatin and Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir and other Jemaah Islamiya militants hiding on the island under the protection of the Abu Sayyaf.Jakarta tagged both Patek and Dulmatin as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian holiday-makers.While Zulkifli bin Hir, an engineer trained in the U.S. allegedly heads the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization and is a member of Jemaah Islamiya central command.Washington offered as much as $10 million reward for the capture of Dulmatin and $ 5 million for Zulkifli and Hapilon and another $1 million bounty for Patek.The latest fighting broke out ahead of a planned peace advocacy forum in Jolo island on the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group.

The MILF is fighting the past three decades for a separate homeland in Mindanao.

(With a report from Hassan Hatab, Special for the Mindanao Examiner)

Mar 17 2007

MNLF Humirit!


MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU – Posibleng madiskaril ang balak ni jailed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari sa anunsyo nitong pagtakbo bilang gobernador sa lalawigan ng Sulu sa darating na halalan.Nais kasi ng maraming miyembro nito na asikasuhin na lamang ni Misuari ang kapakakanan ng MNLF upang maisaayos ang gusot sa September 1996 peace agreement.

Hindi agad makunan ng pahayag si Misuari na tatakbo bilang independent candidate, ngunit ilang eleksyon na rin ang sinalihan nito sa Sulu at ilang ulit rin nilampaso ng mga katungali.

Malabo pa rin kung may magdadalang partido kay Misuari at tiyak na walang suportang makukuha ito sa pamahalaan na kanyang inakusahan dahil sa hindi pagsunod sa alituntunin ng peace accord. Maging ang oposisyon ay dumidistansya rin kay Misuari.Naunang inihayag ng pamahalaan na wala itong kinalaman sa plano ni Misuari na muling sumabak sa pulitika matapos na magparehistro nuong nakaraang buwan sa Commission on Elections (COMELEC) sa Sulu.Sinabi ni Secy. Jesus Dureza, ang Presidential peace adviser, na siyang tumulong upang makapagparehistro si Misuari sa Sulu na walang kinalaman ang pamahalaang Arroyo sa anumang plano ng dating rebelde.»We are not privy to or involved in Chairman Misuari’s future political plans. Our participation was only to uphold and ensure the exercise of his right to suffrage,” ani Dureza.Under house arrest ngayon si Misuari sa Maynila dahil sa kasong rebelyon matapos na umano’y maglunsad ng atake ang mga tauhan nito nuong 2001 sa Sulu upang pigilin ang halalan sa Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) na kung saan ay gobernador ito. Nabigo rin si Misuari noon bilang gobernador na iahaon sa kahirapan ang maraming Muslim sa ARMM.

Ang kasugustuhan ng MNLF ngayon ay matugunan ang problema ng organisasyon at mapagtibay muli ang peace agreement. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mar 10 2007

Nur Misuari Inilaglag Ng MNLF Sa Sulu

SULU (Mindanao Examiner / 11 Mar) – Posibleng madiskaril ang balak ni jailed Moro National Liberation Front chieftain Nur Misuari sa anunsyo nitong pagtakbo bilang gobernador sa lalawigan ng Sulu.Ito’y matapos na dumistansya kay Misuari ang maraming mga miyembro ng MNLF at tagasunod nito at sa halip ay kumampi sa isa pang lider na si Yusop Jikiri. Naging gobernador ng Sulu si Jikiri at ngayon ay tatatkbo bilang Congressman sa ilalim ng KAMPI ni Pangulong Arroyo.Bagsak ang suporta ni Misuari sa Sulu dahil si dating Gov. Sakur Tan ang siyang running mate ni Jikiri sa pagka-gobernador. Matindi ang line-up ng KAMPI sa Sulu at bitbit rin nina Jikiri at Tan si Sulu 1st District Rep. Hussin Amin na sasabak sa pagka-alkalde ng Jolo.Hindi agad makunan ng pahayag si Misuari na tatakbo bilang independent candidate, ngunit ilang eleksyon na rin ang sinalihan nito sa Sulu at ilang ulit rin nilampaso ng mga katungali.

Sumanib na rin sa grupo nina Jikiri, Tan at Amin ang partidong LAKAS at Partido Demokrasya at Sosyalista ng Pilipinas sa ilalim ni dating security adviser ni Pangulong Arroyo na si Secy. Norberto Gonzalez.

(Mindanao Examiner)

Mar 01 2007

MNLF Camps Off-Limits Sa Heneral

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 01 Mar) – PINAGBAWALAN NG MILITAR si Major General Mohammad Dolorfino na pumasok sa anumang kampo ng Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) kasunod ng naunang insidente ng paghostage ditto sa lalawigan ng Sulu.

Inamin kanina sa Mindanao Examienr ni Dolorfino na ayaw pa rin siyang payagan ni AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. na magtungo sa kuta ni MNLF leader Udtadz Habier Malik sa Panamao, Sulu para sa panibaging peace mission.

Naninigurado lamang umano si Esperon na hindi na mauulit ang nangyaring tensyon na muntik nang maging sanhi ng pagsiklab ng panibagong giyera sa pagitan ng militar at ng rebeldeng grupo nuong nakaraang buwan.

Tatlong araw na hawak ng grupo ni Malik si Dolorfino at ibang mga opisyal at sundalo, kabilang na si Defense Undersecretary Ramon Santos.

Binihag ang grupo matapos na mabalitaanan ng MNLF na iniurong ng pamahalaang Arroyo ang nakatakdang tripartite meeting sa Saudi Arabia sa pagitan ng Pilipinas, Organization of Islamic Conference at MNLF upang pag-usapan ang September 1996 peace agreement.

Pinalaya sina Dolorfino matapos na siguraduhin ng pamahalaan na tuloy ang tripartite conference ngayon Marso.

Magugunitang sinabi ng AFP Chief na kung nais ni Malik na makipagkasundo sa gobyerno at magkaroon ng pag-uusap ay kailangang isagawa ito sa isang neutral na lugar.

Pinaninindigan pa rin ni Dolorfino na hindi matatawag na hostage ang naganap matapos mabigong palabasin ng kampo ang heneral, kasama ang mga tauhan ng GRP peace team.
«Pero sinabi ko na rin noon kay Malik na kapag ginawa na niya yun (hostage), hindi na ako makakabalik dun,» ani Dolorfino.

Gayunman, sinabi ni Dolorfino na tuloy naman ang misyon nito na makipagnegosasyon para sa kapayapaan sa iba pang rebeldeng grupo sa Mindanao tulad ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) kasama ang mga kinatawan ng Philippine peace panel. (Juley Reyes)

Feb 25 2007

Jolo Fighting Escalates, 12 Killed, 13 Wounded

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Feb) – At least 13 government soldiers were wounded and six gunmen killed in fierce clashes Sunday in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, where security forces were battling Moro National Liberation Front rebels.

A regional Army spokesman, Major Eugene Batarra, said the soldiers clashed with unidentified gunmen in Indanan town and killed six of them in the fighting.

“At least 13 soldiers are wounded and six were killed on the enemy side,” Batarra told the Mindanao Examiner in Zamboanga City.

But the MNLF said it forces were fighting government soldiers and had killed at least 6 members of the Philippine Army’s Scout Ranger in the town.

Philippine Marine commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino earlier said troops clashed with MNLF rebels in Indanan.

He said the soldiers were pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants near an MNLF stronghold when they encountered the rebel forces.The MNLF rebels, he said, were also helping the government track down the militants. (Mindanao Examiner)

Feb 25 2007

MNLF Fighting Breaks Out In Jolo Island, 6 Soldiers Dead, Says Rebels

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Feb) – At least one government soldier was seriously wounded in fierce clashes Sunday with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, officials said.Rebel sources said at least six soldiers were killing in the fighting.Officials said troops, pursuing Abu Sayyaf militants, clashed with rebels late Sunday afternoon in the hinterland village of Marang in Indanan town. Fighting was raging later in the night with soldiers trying to get out from an area where rebels, under Habier Malik and Khaid Ajibun, are actively operating.There were no immediate reports of MNLF casualties. “One soldier is wounded in the fighting,” said Marine commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, who was monitoring the situation in Jolo.“There is a need to put up a coordinating committee between the MNLF and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prevent hostilities. There is truce and we signed a peace agreement with the rebels, but sporadic clashes still occur. We have worked a long way to preserve peace in the South and we will pursue peaceful ways to resolve this problem,” Dolorfino told the Mindanao Examiner.Hundreds of Muslim villagers have fled their homes, leaving farm animals behind, for fear the battle would escalate. The military on the island have sent more forces to reinforce the beleaguered soldiers.Early this month, Malik and Ajibun held for 3 days a peace mission headed by Dolorfino and Defense Under Secretary Ramon Santos and demanded that Manila free their jailed leader Nur Misuari, who is facing rebellion charges, so he can attend a tripartite meeting arranged by the influential Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Saudi Arabia.Dolorfino’s group was seized after reports of a scheduled tripartite meeting between the MNLF and the Philippines and the OIC on Feb. 6-8 in Jeddah had been shelved off by the Arroyo government. The OIC, which brokered the MNLF peace talks, organized the tripartite meeting to discuss the full implementation of the agreement.The rebels signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari, became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region. But despite the agreement, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.Under the peace agreement, Manila would provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.Many former guerrillas were disgruntled with the peace deal, saying, the Arroyo government failed to comply with some of its provisions and uplift their standards of living. They accused Manila of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the south.

And in November 2001, on the eve of the elections in the Muslim autonomous region, Misuari accused the government of reneging on the peace agreement, and launched a new rebellion in Jolo island and Zamboanga City, where more than 100 people were killed. Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, but had been arrested and deported to the Philippines.

(Mindanao Examiner)

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