Wednesday ∗ 28 Jan 2015

taking stock: Mamasapano clash

yes, a statement, not a question. because there’s just too much not being said, or being spun? about the Mamasapano clash that has killed 50 policemen (as of last count) 44 police commandos of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force and an unreported number of MILF and / or BIFF fighters. and yet there is also an overload of information — such is the nature of social and online media in this country — and some of the more basic questions and answers get lost in the noise.

and so this is me, trying to make sense of it all.

i am for peace.

i do not think it is right to simply view this clash as “a compelling reason” to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). this clash killed people and displaced and endangered the lives of civilians. what should be compelling right now is to take stock of the situation, and be a bit more sensitive to those who have lost so much in this “misencounter.”

i also don’t agree that the DILG and DND must release immediately — or rush into — finishing their reports on the clash. delivering on these reports so quickly, given a highly confidential operation, will just raise more questions than deliver answers.

notions of grand gestures and acts of goodwill have entered the picture, where Senate President Franklin Drilon “urges the MILF leadership to surrender to authorities BIFF commander Basit Usman and all those involved in the firefight with the Philippine National Police Special Action Force.”

but this already presumes that it is the MILF that made a mistake, that it was the MILF that is at fault, because they’re the ones that must give government a grand gesture.

the MILF has released a statement on the clash, asserting that

“The MILF have been in negotiations with the Philippine Government for some time now. During this time, both parties have established protocols, ways of proceedings and mechanisms, which support and keep the peace. Adherence to these mechanisms have created a peaceful environment and lessened actual hostilities through the years. It is unfortunate but not entirely surprising that when parties do not follow established protocols lives are placed in harm’s way.”

across much of the information that has come out on the clash, including those that are for peace and those that are for all-out war, what is clear is the fact that the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) had entered MILF territory without proper coordination with MILF representatives to the peace panel. the notion of “asking for permission to enter” is one that is at the heart of those who insist that there is something wrong with the MILF. it is also at the heart of the withdrawal of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano from being co-author of the BBL in the Senate. the Senator has been quoted as saying:

“Ang basehan ng peace agreement is that may framework na meron tayong rule of law. Pero kung sasabihin mo lang na hindi nag-coordinate sa amin, kung mangyari kaya sa kanila yun, yung singkuwentang MILF fighters, will go into an area at may engkuwentro at mapatay sila, puwede ba nating sabihin na hindi kayo nag-coordinate na pumasok kayo? <…> Para saan pa yung BBL kung ngayon pa lang na hindi pa nila kontrolado yung area, ang sasabihin lang nila pag may napatay na singkuwentang pulis, ay hindi nag-coordinate?”

this note from Ayrie Ching on Facebook is enlightening with regards questions on permissions and territories. on permissions:

So, why do state forces need to ask for “permission” if they are to conduct an arrest or operation in an MILF area, and vice-versa?

First of all, it is not as simple as “asking for permission” the same way a child asks his parents if he could play outside. Let’s get that one oversimplification out of the way, shall we?

“The AFP/PNP, shall convey to the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) through the AHJAG (Ad Hoc Joint Action Group) the Order of Battle […] containing the names and identities of the criminal elements” whom they will pursue. The AHJAG, or the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, is composed of “eight members, four from the GPH and four from the MILF agreed upon and named by the panels.” The AHJAG also has teams under it, covering different areas in Mindanao. [1]

In the case of high profile targets, a “list of which shall be provided by the GPH panel to the MILF panel,” there is still a need to coordinate with the AHJAG, though not with the GPH and MILF Coordination Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH). The CCCH, however, needs to be informed of operations at least 24 hours before in the case of targets that are not considered “high profile.”

Either way, high profile or not, the MILF and GPH need to be informed as per agreements signed by both the GPH and the MILF.

on territories:

Another point of clarification: an identified MILF area is not arbitrarily determined and claimed by MILF troops. MILF areas are JOINTLY determined by the GPH and the MILF Peace Panels. Also, display of the MILF flag in a non-identified area is actually considered a provocative act, under the operational guidelines of the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

meanwhile, i wonder about this report that ex-PNP Chief Alan Purisima being at the helm of this operation, and the President being in on it, as i wait for the President’s address to the nation tonight at 6:30PM.

readings courtesy of Ayrie as well. —
[1] Implementing Guidelines of the 2002 AHJAG Communique
[2] Implementing Operational Guidelines of the Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities


Posted in: bayan, gobyerno, komentaryo, lugar, pangyayari, pulitika

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