PNoy in Lanao del Sur

pnoymarawi3aPresident Aquino speaks at the Provincial Capitol Gym in Marawi City on Monday, April 22.  The President campaigned for his Liberal Party candidates for Senate, the province and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but  his message could not be heard clearly. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas
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GPH, MILF peace panels sign MOU for peaceful elections

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 April) – The Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.

The chairs of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo and Said Sheik, Al Haj of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening in Davao City a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

The chairs of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo and Said Sheik, Al Haj of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening in Davao City a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

The MOU was signed at a hotel in the city in the presence of the government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF peace panel chief Mohagher Iqbal and members of the International Monitoring Team.

Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo, chair of the government’s CCCH, said the MOU is a positive measure in support of the previous agreements signed by the negotiating panels.

“This is also very important because as we have observed there are other stakeholders that are not part of the parties. The government and MILF showed another milestone to extend protection to the entities especially to the Board of Election Inspectors,” Sedillo added.


For his counterpart, Said Shiek, Al Haj, pointed out: “Clearly, this is not an election-related function but an undertaking for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the GPH-MILF ceasefire accord.”

Shiek added that both panels signed substantial agreements and it is a sacred duty to safeguard and transform these into a credible political solution.

This is the third time that both parties signed the same guidelines to help ensure peaceful elections. The first was in 2007 and then in 2008.

“This cooperation shows heightening collaboration between GPH and MILF in various ways such as development undertaking, election and good governance, capacity building and most important is promoting the primacy of peace process,” the MILF’s CCCH chair explained.

The MOU says the government and the MILF shall abide by the gun ban as stated in Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9561, the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities in July 1997, among others.

It also aims to strengthen both parties’ cooperation and further define their roles in ensuring peaceful elections next month in order to safeguard the ceasefire and the peace process.

“Here we see in motion our Ceasefire Committees doing its share in making our electoral institutions stronger so that these are able to deliver to us the blessings of democratic elections and at the same time ensuring that our own process is not disrupted,” Coronel-Ferrer said in her message at the event.

She added that the joint undertaking is a “valuable initiative to protect the integrity of the GPH-MILF Ceasefire Agreement and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro while the government ensures the conduct of honest, orderly and peaceful elections on May 13.”

The government panel chair added that the signing the MOU serves to “honor and actively protect the valued processes and commitments between the GPH and the MILF as peace partners” as well as “safeguard the people’s freedom to choose their leaders” during elections.

Her counterpart, Iqbal, also lauded the initiative saying the underpinning principle does not undermine the “hands-off” policy of the MILF during elections.

But he said the mid-term election is significant in relation the GPH-MILF peace process.

“Whoever is placed in the saddle of ARMM will have direct relation to the conduct of the negotiation, especially if we will sign the comprehensive peace agreement,” he stressed.

Anyone who does not believe in the primacy of the peace process, Iqbal added, and in the policy of President Aquino, could pose a problem.

He added the elections are also significant at the provincial and municipal levels “because if they (politicians) don’t support the primacy of peace process, it can hinder the small implementation of what has been or what will be agreed by the panels.”

Iqbal, however, said he does not want discredit any of the candidates. “I cannot judge them, I cannot speculate.”

“This is very significant, although we maintain a hands-off policy. But short of violating that policy, we appeal to our people to vote wisely and intelligently who can support the peace process,“ he said. (Keith Bacongco / Mindanews)


GPH, MILF peace panels sign MOU for peaceful elections

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 April) – The Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.

The chairs of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo and Said Sheik, Al Haj of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening in Davao City a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

The chairs of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo and Said Sheik, Al Haj of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening in Davao City a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More

The MOU was signed at a hotel in the city in the presence of the government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF peace panel chief Mohagher Iqbal and members of the International Monitoring Team.

Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo, chair of the government’s CCCH, said the MOU is a positive measure in support of the previous agreements signed by the negotiating panels.

“This is also very important because as we have observed there are other stakeholders that are not part of the parties. The government and MILF showed another milestone to extend protection to the entities especially to the Board of Election Inspectors,” Sedillo added.


For his counterpart, Said Shiek, Al Haj, pointed out: “Clearly, this is not an election-related function but an undertaking for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the GPH-MILF ceasefire accord.”

Shiek added that both panels signed substantial agreements and it is a sacred duty to safeguard and transform these into a credible political solution.

This is the third time that both parties signed the same guidelines to help ensure peaceful elections. The first was in 2007 and then in 2008.

“This cooperation shows heightening collaboration between GPH and MILF in various ways such as development undertaking, election and good governance, capacity building and most important is promoting the primacy of peace process,” the MILF’s CCCH chair explained.

The MOU says the government and the MILF shall abide by the gun ban as stated in Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9561, the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities in July 1997, among others.

It also aims to strengthen both parties’ cooperation and further define their roles in ensuring peaceful elections next month in order to safeguard the ceasefire and the peace process.

“Here we see in motion our Ceasefire Committees doing its share in making our electoral institutions stronger so that these are able to deliver to us the blessings of democratic elections and at the same time ensuring that our own process is not disrupted,” Coronel-Ferrer said in her message at the event.

She added that the joint undertaking is a “valuable initiative to protect the integrity of the GPH-MILF Ceasefire Agreement and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro while the government ensures the conduct of honest, orderly and peaceful elections on May 13.”

The government panel chair added that the signing the MOU serves to “honor and actively protect the valued processes and commitments between the GPH and the MILF as peace partners” as well as “safeguard the people’s freedom to choose their leaders” during elections.

Her counterpart, Iqbal, also lauded the initiative saying the underpinning principle does not undermine the “hands-off” policy of the MILF during elections.

But he said the mid-term election is significant in relation the GPH-MILF peace process.

“Whoever is placed in the saddle of ARMM will have direct relation to the conduct of the negotiation, especially if we will sign the comprehensive peace agreement,” he stressed.

Anyone who does not believe in the primacy of the peace process, Iqbal added, and in the policy of President Aquino, could pose a problem.

He added the elections are also significant at the provincial and municipal levels “because if they (politicians) don’t support the primacy of peace process, it can hinder the small implementation of what has been or what will be agreed by the panels.”

Iqbal, however, said he does not want discredit any of the candidates. “I cannot judge them, I cannot speculate.”

“This is very significant, although we maintain a hands-off policy. But short of violating that policy, we appeal to our people to vote wisely and intelligently who can support the peace process,“ he said. (Keith Bacongco / Mindanews)


For peaceful polls

SignedThe chairs of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the government Brig. Gen. Cesar Sedillo and Said Sheik, Al Haj of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed Monday evening in Davao City a memorandum of understanding on ceasefire-related functions to ensure a peaceful mid-term election.Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco | Read Story


Save Mother Earth

23earthday4Priests from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente march along the national highway of Surigao City to commemorate Earth Day on Monday April 22, 2013. MindaNews photo by Vanessa Almeda


Retired

RetiredAFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista pins the Philippine Legion of Honor medal on Lt. Gen Jorge Segovia during the change of command at the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City on Monday, April 22. Segovia, who has reached the mandatory retirememt age of 56, was replaced by Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainer Cruz. Mindanews Photo by Ruby Thursday More | Read Story


GPH AND MILF STRENGTHEN CEASEFIRE MECHANISM FOR 2013 ELECTIONS

DAVAO CITY (April 23, 2013) – Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer lauded on Monday the ceasefire mechanism of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the signing of the Guidelines for Mutual Understanding for Ceasefire-Related Functions during the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections.The MOU aims to strengthen both parties’ cooperation and further define their roles on the peaceful elections next month in order to safeguard the ceasefire and the peace process.

“Here we see in motion our Ceasefire Committees doing its share in making our electoral institutions stronger so that these are able to deliver to us the blessings of democratic elections and at the same time ensuring that our own process is not disrupted,” noted Coronel-Ferrer in her message at the event held in Davao City’s Waterfront Insular Hotel.

On behalf of the entire GPH peace panel, Coronel-Ferrer congratulated members of the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) for their “valuable initiative to protect the integrity of the GPH-MILF Ceasefire Agreement and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro while the government ensures the conduct of honest, orderly and peaceful elections on May 13.”

Coronel-Ferrer underscored the significance of signing the MOU because it serves to “honor and actively protect the valued processes and commitments between the GPH and the MILF as peace partners” as well as “safeguard the people’s freedom to choose their leaders” during elections.

Also present in the conference is MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal. Iqbal also lauded the initiative of the ceasefire committees saying that this does not undermine the “hands-off” policy of the MILF during elections. He added that elections should reflect the mandate of the people.

According to the MOU signed by the Parties today, the government and the MILF will abide by the gun ban with reference to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9561; the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities in July 1997; and the FAB, amongst others.

”In this manner, in our own way, in the areas where our constituencies co-exist, through the joint security cooperation between our forces, we are able to strengthen the integrity of Philippine elections,” Coronel-Ferrer added.

The implementation of the MOU guidelines is effective from April 22 to May 20, 2013 as agreed by the JCCCH, with the concurrence of the International Monitoring Team Mission 8 (IMT 8).

Signatories to the document are BGgen Cesar Dionisio Sedillo Jr, Chairman of GPH-CCCH and Said Sheik, Chairman of MILF CCCH with IMT 8 head MGen Dato’ Fadzil Bin Mokhtar as witness.

The Parties clarified that this partnership to strengthen ceasefire in the elections is in line with the functions of the joint CCCH in the peace process and “not to be interpreted as MILF’s inconsistency to its standing policy not to take part or meddle in whatever capacity on the government electoral process.”

Among the most crucial parts of the guidelines are the following: (1) the Parties shall ensure coordination of the unhindered movements and deployment of election personnel and equipment and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, as deputized by COMELEC in polling centers within the MILF dominated areas; (2) the Parties agreed to establish Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Post as quick response team for this endeavor in various areas; and (3) the MILF shall refrain from consolidating its forces from the time PCOS machines are deployed and until election has been completed.

IMT – 8 DEPUTY HEAD OF MISSION FIELD VISIT TO TEAM SITE 2 ILIGAN CITY

ILIGAN CITY (21-22 April 2013) – Deputy HOM accompanied by Maj Masmun, Mr Knut, and Mr Lars visited IMT Team Site 2 in Iligan City to introduce Mr Knut’s successor, Mr Lars, which will actively serve as the new IMT Training Officer starting on April 24, 2013. Team Site 2, in the eyes of Deputy HOM, is known to have two experience cook among it’s member. Maj Wijayanto from Indonesian Arm Force (IAF) specializing in Indonesian cuisine and Mr Djatu from Ministry of Foreign Affairs Indonesia (MOFA-INA) specializing in Western cuisine, a good combination to please everyone’s appetite. During his visit in Team Site 2, Deputy HOM was served with an exquisite taste from both Asian and Western cuisine, the well known Oxtail Soup and Beef Ribs Steak. Both tasty combination certainly pleased Deputy HOM and his entourage expectation after a long distance travel.

Ex-VP Guingona to NPA on mayor-wife’s ambush: Apology not enough

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/23 April) – The New People’s Army has issued an apology for the ambush Saturday night of the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, but his husband, former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr., wanted nothing less than for the revolutionary group to sanction those responsible for the attack.

Guingona, a prominent street parliamentarian during Martial Law, said he expects the NPA to conduct an investigation of the ambush that killed two of the mayor’s bodyguards in Barangay Capitulangan, Gingoog City.

“There has to be an investigation. Just like in any investigation find out the facts. Apply the principle of accountability. He who ordered that assault should be responsible. Not only to us but to their organization,” Guingona said in the press conference here on Monday.

The former vice president assured the National Democratic Front that his respect for the revolutionary movement has not changed despite the ambush of his wife and the killing of two of her aides.

“My personal friendship to some of its leaders will not be changed. We were saddened by what had happened and I would like to know the details that lead to this tragedy,” Guingona said.


The convoy of Mayor Guingona was fired upon by NPA rebels who set up a checkpoint made of bamboo poles in Capitulangan, some ten kilometers from Gingoog City.

President Benigno Aquino III, an ally of the Guingonas, ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to deploy an additional 500 soldiers to run after the NPA rebels who are busy setting up checkpoints in several areas to force candidates to coordinate with them when campaigning in villages that are under their influence.

Aquino issued the order during the political rally of the Liberal Party’s local candidates at the Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center in this city Monday afternoon.

Mayor Guingona survived the ambush but was wounded in her right arm, buttocks and foot while two of her aides (not three as earlier reported) were killed by the rebels who were positioned on both sides of the road.

She underwent surgery at the Capitol University Hospital where doctors tried to fix her shattered right arm, according to her daughter, Marie.

Marie said her mother was conscious and was stable after the operation. “She asked for food because she was very hungry after the operation.”

Mayor Guingona is on her third term. Marie is running for mayor of Gingoog under the LP.

NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos has apologized to the Guingonas saying the NPA unit was only trying to stop the convoy to disarm the mayor’s bodyguards.

Madlos said the rebels fired at the convoy after the mayor’s bodyguards opened fire and tried to ram the bamboo checkpoint of the NPA.

He said they have repeatedly warned the mayor not to bring armed bodyguards in her campaign sorties in the hinterland villages in Gingoog City.

Calling the ambush an “an unfortunate incident”, Madlos said the NPA unit would not have stopped the convoy had they known that the lady mayor was traveling with it.

“We ask forgiveness from the Guingona family. It was not our intention to hurt Mayor Guingona,” Madlos told a local radio station here Sunday.

In a statement emailed to news organizations, the NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Command said they recognize the “significant contribution” of the former vice president to the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship and his nationalist stand on various issues.

As senator, Teofisto Guingona III voted against the continued stay of US military bases in the country.

He was also a member of the first government panel that negotiated peace with the NDF from 1986 until the early part of 1987. Talks were aborted however after the January 22, 1987 Mendiola Massacre which left 14 protesting farmers dead near Malacanang.

Regional NPA spokesperson Allan Juanito promised they would indemnify the heirs of the civilian aides identified as brothers Tomas and Nestor Velasco who died in the attack.

Juanito said they regretted that Guingona was wounded and they would not have stopped the convoy had they known that the lady mayor was riding in the lead vehicle.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said law enforcers are now pursuing the group responsible for the attack.

“We have already been told that the army’s 58th Infantry Battalion will be spearheading the investigation,” Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

The official also appealed to politicians who are campaigning for the May 13 elections to reject the reported demand of the rebel group to pay “permit-to-campaign” fees.

“Again, we have already mentioned to our PNP (Philippine National Police) and also to our politicians who are campaigning not to give in to the demands of the CPP-NPA-NDF. This scheme is not tolerated under our system of government,” he said.

“The AFP is fully aware and they have taken steps to ensure that the politicians are spared from all this permit to campaign,” Lacierda said.

“Now, we would like to ask the local candidates to inform us of such demands, and we will let AFP units go and make sure that there are no NPA checkpoints. This is not tolerated under this system of government,” he added. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)


DA-12 pushes for bigger cassava prod’n areas

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 April) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 is pushing for the expansion of cassava production areas in the region as market opportunities for the crop remain high.

Edgar Laboy, DA-12’s cassava focal person, said Tuesday they presently consider cassava production as among the most viable alternative ventures for farmers in the region due to its increasing demand and stable market prices.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Laboy said business conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has been offering production and marketing contracts with local farmers who wants to venture into cassava farming.

He said DA and SMC are jointly promoting the massive production of fresh yellow cassava, which is ideal for food production as well as ingredient for bio-ethanol alcohol formulations.


In line with this, he said they launched a training program on cassava production for farmers in South Cotabato, which was earlier identified as among the areas that were highly-suitable for the crop.

He said the training, which focused on the utilization of postharvest facilities and processing technologies for cassava, is facilitated by DA-12’s Agri-Pinoy Corn-Cassava Program.

The participants were also trained in creating dishes like Jolly Roll, Yuk Sticks, and sour-sweet cassava for possible additional livelihood ventures, he said.

Ben Brasales, SMC area coordinator, said that they are buying cassava for processing into animal feeds, alcohol and food products.

“SMC prefers to use cassava as substitute ingredient or raw material because of its lower cost. It is not economically viable to import the crop and besides. our farmers have enough capacity to produce them,” he said.

Studies showed that cassava is considered as a viable field crop due to its capability to survive drastic climatic changes, especially dry spells or drought, he said.

Brasales said farmers will have no problem with possible fluctuations of its market prices as SMC buys fresh cassava at P2.50 per kilo and dried-chips in granulated form at P8.50 a kilo.

At present, Brasales said there is a huge demand for the crop in the markets as SMC alone needs around 500,000 metric tons (MT) annually for its animal feed production.

He said they expect the market prices and demand for the crop to continually increase in the coming years.

“As long as we eat chicken meat, eggs and processed food products or drink beer, there will always be a high demand for cassava,” he said.

Data from DA-12’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division showed that the region’s cassava production reached 60,000 MT in 2011 and increased to 80,000 MT last year.

The crop’s production areas are located in parts of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)