Monday, February 4, 2013
Sustaining the MNLF Troops vs Abu Sayyaf Group
The MNLF vs ASG war officially started in the morning of 3 February 2013. I am aware that MNLF was engaged in usual routine of assisting the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in negotiating the release of kidnapped foreigners and locals with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), but we were surprised the negotiation ended up into a bloodbath. I have not yet received and released any official report as to how it all started and how this will end. But one thing is sure, WE ARE AT WAR now against the ASG.
Please check out the latest news on fighting between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The ASG had been pestering the security and economy of the Philippines for 22 years already, more than any typhoon or flood. The MNLF is resolved to finish off the dreaded terrorist ASG.
There are 500 ASGs in Patikul that are being engaged by around 3,000 MNLF right now. The ASGs have superior weapons but MNLF have superior numbers. The ASGs will fight to death but the MNLF will never stop until the ASG is completely neutralized.
CALL FOR DONATIONS
Logistics is very important. We expect the fighting to last for weeks and even months. The MNLF is not a "funded" organization and our anti-terrorist fighters on the ground need a little help from the people of the Philippines and all over the world. Someone must procure and cook halal food in Jolo and deliver it up to the men at the front line. They also need ammunition, medicines for wound treatment, etc.
The ASG is in the American's terrorist list and they spend millions of dollars of technical assistance to the AFP in anti-terror campaign, and have even spent months in the jungles of Basilan trying to look for a single ASG and failed. Now, we are presenting hundreds of ASG cordoned in one isolated location --let's see how the Americans see this situation. I contacted the Americans hoping they can send in some ammunition to the MNLF -- I can help in getting the information on what calibers of ammunition are exactly needed by the MNLF at the front line. I'll be transparent. Honestly, I have already sent a message to the US Embassy Facebook Page (see image below). The response time of the Americans should measure either their enthusiasm or their indifference in fighting terrorism -- which should affect the Balikatan Exercises and the face value of genuineness of their anti-terror campaign in the future.
HOW TO DONATE. If you have personal contacts in Jolo who can deliver your donation to the MNLF Command Post in Patikul, please do it through your contact, give it directly to them in the grounds. If you have none, I got this information from our local contact a while ago that the following remittance companies are present in Jolo: Western Union, LBC, MLhuillier, and Cebuana Lhuillier. So I guess we can receive money through these convenient means. Anyone who wants to send in their generosity in whatever amount may send it to to my name directly, John Odonnell R. Petalcorin; kindly indicate that it is for pick-up at any branch. To alert me, please text the following information to (Smart Cellphone#) 0921-7172040: (1) name of the sender, (2) name and branch location of remittance company where the remittance is transacted, (3) reference tracking number, and (4) amount. Alternatively, if you are overseas and have a credit card, you can see a donate button by Pay Pal at the right panel of this blog. I repeat, if you have personal contacts in Jolo who can deliver your donation directly to the MNLF Command Post in Patikul, please do it through your contact, give it directly to them in the grounds.
Sending in packages and cargo stuffs by plane or boat is discouraged -- this is not a relief good operation similar to post-flood or post-typhoon situation. The primary need of our troops is food, we will buy/cook it in Jolo, and deliver it to the front line.
As a token of appreciation, we will publish in this blog the names (only those with consent) of the unsung heroes behind the scenes, whose generosity helped sustain this war against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
MNLF ADVOCACY SENDS MISSION TO JOLO
This MNLF war against terror came in a surprise to all of us. We did not expect this. We did not prepare for this, and we need help. If I can find money to buy plane ticket to Jolo, I volunteer to personally help facilitate in receiving the generosity of the people from all over the world who support this war against the ASG.
If I can't fly to Jolo for some reason, I will make arrangement to assign a non-combat MNLF officer to set up a receiving point in Jolo (from Manila, she will arrive in Jolo on Friday 8 Feb 2013). Our presence will probably be staying in one of these Hotels in Jolo, just for this volunteer mission. I hope people will be generous enough to help sustain our mission in Jolo until this war is over.
Our primary purpose of going there is to facilitate the receiving of financial assistance from anyone and use whatever is available to purchase whatever our men needs at the front line. The mechanics is simple -- whatever donation we receive, we use it to buy the food supplies in Jolo and deliver it up to a specific dropping point in Patikul Sulu where they cook and pack the food to be hand carried and crawled to the men who are directly engaged in combat at the front line.
Our secondary purpose is advocacy communication to document and publish the facts as truthfully and candid as possible direct from us, the genuine MNLF. Fortunately, there is internet in Jolo. During the day, we collect photos and reports from the battlefield. At night we write a press release and post the photos in this blog and in Facebook. We want everyone to know what is going on.
Our third purpose is documentation. We would like to cover human rights issues. We have a lot of questions that need answers. How is the living conditions of our MNLF fighters at the front? What do they eat? What happened to those killed in combat? Is it true that some combatants were decapitated? How were the casualties buried? Were the wounded given medical treatment? Did any medical group discriminated the wounded just because they are Muslims? Is the Red Crescent present there in Sulu? What happened to those ASGs captured by the MNLF? How were the prisoners treated? Did the Philippine Police provided proper documentation and medical check-up upon receipt of ASGs captured by and turned over by the MNLF? Were the arrested ASGs tortured? What happened to the hundreds of civilian families who are displaced because of the conflict? Were children used as combatants? How's the implementation of the election gun ban? Did the PNP/AFP operated the checkpoints properly according to standard operating procedure? Is it true that the MNLF got into this situation outside the legitimate law enforcement operation of the government? Should I make recommendation that OIC, the PUIC, the UN sends in humanitarian AID? We want to get pictures, interview, documentation, and publish it in form of press release.
By the way, I NEED "SUPPORT OUR MNLF TROOPS" GRAPHIC IMAGES -- to everyone who can create it, please send it to me by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to see this war against terror to be over the soonest time possible. We all want to come home in one piece. It's my first time handling workload like this, never been trained on this, and my first time to visit Jolo. Please forgive me if I commit errors. I need your help.
REMINDING THE MNLF OF THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
The ASGs are wanted by law enforcement on the crime of kidnapping for ransom. If they surrender, arrest them, take proper pictures, interrogate, and document before turn over to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
There is a United Nations Security Council Report in 23 April 2010 that says that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), New People's Army (NPA), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are among the groups around the world that have subjected minors to the most brutal violence, such as killings, maiming, rapes and other sexual assaults. In the said report, the MNLF is not mentioned as a human rights violator and let's maintain it that way.
This zero human rights violation by the MNLF is attributed primarily to its rules of engagement in combat. Each MNLF Freedom Fighter who is involved in combat situation, from top ranks down to the individual levels, are indoctrinated that MNLF does not target unarmed civilians, and does not tolerate human rights violations and cowardice in combat such as ambush, assassinations, torture, maimings, summary executions, maltreatment of prisoners, kidnapping, hostaging, maltreatment of wounded enemies left behind, and terrorism of civilians. The MNLF also does not use bombs, arson, and does not trespass into houses, churches, mosques, and cars as these are considered as sanctuary of people caught in armed conflict. This rules of engagement makes the MNLF different from the NPA, ASG, Private Armies, and other criminals, mercenaries and bandits.
Be reminded. For proper guidance.
MNLF large troops from all over mainland Mindanao are encouraged to replace and reinforce the tired and wary troops in Jolo. Our biggest problem is that there is an election gun ban now and we feel that it would be too much to ask the government to lift the ban in entire Mindanao. Hence, we have to accept the limitation that the troops outside Sulu cannot transport their weapons into Sulu. Therefore, they are advised to come to Sulu only with their combat uniforms, poncho, tent, and food supplies, among others. When they arrive in Jolo (by boat probably), they can coordinate with the MNLF Command Post to replace the tired and wary troops at the front line. Whatever weapons, ammunition, and supplies are available in Sulu is all and everything that we've got -- we cannot bring in any additions.
At this time, we have 5 wounded MNLFs that need to be transported to Zamboanga for treatment and nobody is taking care of this workload because we have no resources. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must pick this blog and do what they are good at.
THE UNSUNG MNLF HEROES
People had been persistently requesting the MNLF to put the law in its hand to finish the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Now the time has come. I hope THE PEOPLE will organize themselves to sustain the needs of our troops in the battle grounds. After all, we will all benefit from the peace and order when this is over.
When fat salaried Philippine Government soldiers who are sitting on their trucks to stroll the forest get ambushed and decapitated by the Abu Sayyaf Group [ASG], the Philippine media and entire Filipino People call it an outrage, pours in donations, and make the dead HEROES.
When the non-compensated MNLF FREEDOM FIGHTERS drops their farm plows to volunteer to fight against the ASG, march on foot to the forests, gets wounded, killed, decapitated in action, the Philippine media and entire Filipino People just watch, wouldn't even care to donate a piece of noodles, and just count the dead MNLF as part of statistics and these unsung heroes are buried without any ceremony.
What do you think runs in our mind when people tell us that Bangsamoro MNLFs are Filipinos? What do we feel when they say that Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao is "one" Filipino nation?
THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT
President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday that the firefight between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu, "has no clearance" from the government.
The Government of the Philippines (GPH) will not help the MNLF in combat, but will play a vital role in safely guiding the movement of affected civilians away from combat zones.
We don't know who the PNP and AFP is helping. They are making it difficult for us MNLF to move our troops, ammunition, and supplies on the main roads, piers, and ports. They say they are implementing an election gun ban. Do they want us to undergo the gun ban exemption application paperwork? Do we look like going to an election campaign?
That Government of the Philippines (GPH) blocking, under the pretense of election gun ban, of MNLF large troops movement, reinforcement, supplies, medicines, and logistics from outside going to the combat zone in this MNLF war against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), may cause a stand-off and may "trigger" an MNLF-GPH gunfight at the checkpoints and piers. When this happens, it will become inevitable that war will escalate and spill-over. Can we control it? I don't think so. It is up to the MNLF commander in the ground who encounters "a situation" to decide what to do.
You know my greatest fears? At the moment the time comes that MNLF corners the ASG, it will be very frustrating to see the ASGs to slip away out though the PNP/AFP checkpoints.
All MNLF officers has to be guided on the following mindset: (1) that there is no brother-to-brother relationship between MNLF and Abu Sayyaf Group [ASG], (2) that ASG are globally recognized terrorists and enemies of the MNLF, enemies of the Bangsamoro People, enemies of the people of the Republic of the Philippines, and enemies of mankind in general; (3) that Islam, as a religion, is not an issue on the situation at hand; and (4) that no one in the MNLF is authorized to make a statement that would preempt that Nur P. Misuari has imprimatur on this anti-terrorism operation.
WHERE IS NUR MISUARI?
Where is Prof. Dr. Nur P. Misuari, the founder and leader of the MNLF, when this MNLF-ASG war is taking place? He is on official travel to attend to a bigger task in the MNLF. He represents the MNLF in the 8th Session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC) in Khartom Sudan in 21 January 2013. He attends the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Islamic Summit in Cairo Egypt in 6 February 2013. I hope we can complete the mission to eradicate the ASG before Nur Misuari returns on the 9th of February. It's his 71th birthday on 3 March (am I right?).
The PUIC “urges member States as well as charity institutions in the Islamic world to increase the volume of its humanitarian assistance for Muslims in South Philippines in order to accelerate economic and social development”. We don't want the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to scare off these investments.
The lead MNLF Ground Commander of this operation is Cmdr. Ustadz Habier Malik. All troop movements and strategies in the battle front is his responsibility. The onset and end of this war is in his discretion.
The war against terror is society's responsibility. The MNLF contribution in this war against the ASG is already very huge, we have lost many lives of our fighters already. As of today (Wednesday 6, Feb 2013 21:10H) our MNLF fighters at the front line has not eaten yet since Sunday. If society will not care to help us, we simply drop this thing off and go home; and in the future if they talk about foreigners getting kidnapped by ASG or Marines getting beheaded by ASG, we just refer them back to this blog. If they talk about AFP Modernization, Balikatan, US War on Terror, blah blah blah, we just simply refer them to this blog. That's all there is. That's fair enough.
Despite absence of help, the MNLF fighters have already accomplished much. Unconfirmed report in the grounds says we have rescued at least two foreigner hostages -- they are being cared well by the MNLF, tactical interview will have to be done by MNLF, and we await for Nur Misuari to arrive from Egypt for proper presentation to media. We wounded and captured at least 6 Abu Sayyafs, and killed many of them. MNLF have at least ten casualties and seven more wounded. During the fighting yesterday (Wednesday), the tired and wary MNLFs continued to perform their combat mission and finally cracked through the line of defense of the ASGs and the enemy have fled all over in different directions -- perhaps many of the ASGs already managed to slip out through the PNP/AFP cordon. So, basically, the remaining days will be on sweeping and clean-up operation on that large area to ensure that ASG is completely eradicated in Patikul Sulu -- we don't want any of them to be still hiding in Sulu. I hope our fighters can still extend their energies for a couple of days to wrap this whole thing up.
TO WHOM WILL THE RESCUED HOSTAGES BE TURNED OVER TO?
QUESTION: Sir John, to whom should the rescued hostages be turned over?
ANSWER: MNLF, as an observer member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, a cluster of the United Nations), has responsibility to follow proper international protocol on human rights in this situation. It depends, if local, we turn them over to Philippine Government. A kidnap victim who is a foreigner that is rescued by legitimate MNLF operation must be turned over only by MNLF chief Prof. Dr. Nur Misuari to the representatives of their respective Embassies. Before turn-over, the victims must undergo an internal process in the MNLF such as identity recording, routine human rights interview, and medical attention, among others. We cannot fly the rescued hostages to Manila because we don't have funds. We have to coordinate with their embassies. It's their embassies who will pick them up at Jolo and arrange the transfer to Manila.
BARELY HOLDING ON
In the history of MNLF, the major factor that causes temporary retreat is when our fighters get hungry and tired. We are brave, we can face enemy force, but when we experience days and weeks of hunger in the battlefield, the commander has no choice but to order a retreat. MNLF retreat is not something that happens sometimes, but something that happens ALL THE TIME because we are an "unfunded" organization. Five days without food supply is all there is that any army in the whole world can withstand.
Today, Thursday, is the fifth day of a no-food situation of our fighters at the front-line war against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Last Tuesday, I started blogging and emailing to request for donations; Philippines heard it, Americans heard it, but nothing comes in yet. If supply will not come at the end of this day, they will become vulnerable and too weak to maneuver, so I will have no choice but to advice them to call it a day. Anyway, the mission is already accomplished, the ASG is already neutralized. It's time to leave. It's up to the PNP/AFP to guide the displaced civilians in the evacuation camps to return back to their homes and clean-up the area.
It feel strange that many parties seems to be grieving instead of rejoicing over the victory of the MNLF's war against terror. I can roughly calculate the feelings of the Philippine Government, they appear either grieving or embarrassed of their impotence. While the dead bodies and decapitated heads sprawl all over, I ask myself, who the hell are the big people behind this dreaded Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) that terrorized this part of Asia Pacific for over 20 years already?
QUESTION: Sir John, you mentioned that you have "unconfirmed" report about a number of ASG kidnap victims rescued by MNLF, how do we get confirmation? What is the MNLF's procedure on establishing proof of existence? Do we get the confirmation from the MNLF spokesperson?
ANSWER: Considering that we have to split out 3,000 pursuing fighters into more than 20 teams, we have many mini command posts in Patikul. We receive many unconfirmed reports every now and then coming from all everywhere, some are even coming from our enemies who provide us with false information. Some say we have rescued victims. Some said we have not recovered any victims. Everytime there is a hint of good news, even if it is unconfirmed, I announce it because everyone wants to hear "HOPE" or anything positive. This is a very frustrating and helpless fight, the only thing left in our hearts is FAITH and HOPE.
Proof of existence is name, birthday, birthplace, mother's name, father's name, and a vital information that only the victim and the victim's relative knows. So when I receive information about rescued victim who is alive, I routinely tell the reporter to pass through the process of proving existence by asking the reporter to talk to the victim and ask his/her personal information. A picture of victim holding a front-page of a current newspaper may also serve as proof of existence.
The MNLF spokesperson speaks for anyone in the MNLF, and whatever is spoken by the spokesperson is not a confirmation. The only person who can confirm the existence and identity of any live rescued or deceased victim recovered by MNLF is a Doctor (MD) that I will personally brief (in coordination with the embassies of the victims) on the procedure and send to Jolo. There are also other relevant persons, such as relatives, who can possibly confirm it. Even in confirming the existence of an ASG leader who allegedly died in combat, we need a doctor to do it, dig the grave if necessary, especially if there is a reward that can be claimed on the head. I am 24/7 ready to send in the Doctor to Jolo as soon as I get a proof of existence of a rescued victim.
WHY GPH-MNLF ASSAULT COORDINATION IS IMPOSSIBLE
QUESTION: Sir John, why is it that when government soldiers get ambushed, the MNLF would say it's their fault because they did not coordinate with MNLF? Equally, when MNLF assaults the ASG, the GPH would deny their involvement in it?
ANSWER: That's a good question. Coordination is a provision in the 1994 MNLF-GPH Ceasefire Agreement and 1996 Final Peace Agreement. Coordination of large troop movement is mandatory, but there have been repeated lapses. Coordination between two traitors is ridiculous because the target would possibly be informed and escape. Mistrust is a barrier of coordination. Nobody wants to release vital information to the possible ally of the enemy.
When the government says the MNLF did not coordinate to them this MNLF assault against the ASG, they are lying. Records would show that the government have been assisting the evacuation of civilians even before the fighting erupted. The government even received two ASGs captured by MNLF on the first day, but the government released one for reason that the captured ASG combatant is minor child. The government have reports on this that any smart media could pick-up. But you have not heard about it in the news.
I believe the GPH and MNLF should sit down to once and for all agree on the Implementing Rules and Regulations on Coordination of Armed Large Troops Movement. OPAPP should pick this up if they are smart.
IS THERE ANY MNLF PRESS RELEASE ON THIS MNLF-ASG CONFLICT?
QUESTION: Sir John, is there any official MNLF Press Release on this MNLF war against ASG?
ANSWER: None yet. We have not issued any press release yet at this time. Press Release means it is already cleared for publication in the trimedia. You would know that it is Press Release by just looking at it,it will show a large banner "MNLF PRESS RELEASE".
Materials you read in this MNLF FB Page and in our Blog sites are not Press Release. Meaning, the media can neither echo nor quote it in their write-ups in newspapers or broadcast in radio. When you read messages and postings in this MNLF FB Page or any MNLF Blog Site, you are merely reading the mind of the writer, who is an MNLF. I am MNLF Director for Advocacy and Economic Projects -- it is my duty to function as such for the best interest of the MNLF. Rallying public support in any cause-worthy MNLF activity (such as this assault on ASG) is my technical expertise, and I can use any tactics I want (i.e. solicitation of donation) to measure public support.
This MNLF assault against Abu Sayyaf did not generate a single centavo of support from within the MNLF, none from the public, none from the OIC, none from PUIC, none from the Americans, none from the Bangsamoro People, none the Muslims, none from the Philippine society in general. An open-minded MNLF like me would accept this signal that we are somewhat "isolated" and this puts our organization at a floating status in terms of public support for our cause. We have to face this fact and the MNLF Leadership must implant this fact in mind.
Advocacy and Spokesperson are two different things. Advocacy can speak its own mind, but Spokesperson can only speak in behalf of others.
Our MNLF Spokesperson is Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla. When you read a media published material about an interview with the official MNLF Spokesperson, you are merely reading the mind of the "MNLF behind" the Spokesperson who requested his speaking services. The MNLF behind could be Nur Misuari, or the Political Director, or me (the Director for Advocacy), or the ground commander, or someone else of higher rank in the MNLF. It is the duty of the MNLF Spokesperson to speak in behalf of any MNLF who is in a restrained position to speak (maybe sick, or far isolated place, or in prison, etc).
If you want to get information DIRECTLY from Prof. Dr. Nur P. Misuari, please contact him DIRECTLY. If you want to hear the mind of the grounds, you can read materials in this MNLF FB Page, or any of our blog sites, or talk to a combatant, or talk to me directly.
WHERE IS THE ACCOMPLISHMENT REPORT? (2/24/2013)
WHERE IS THE ACCOMPLISHMENT REPORT of the MNLF attack on Abu Sayyaf? Did the rumors we heard of really happened? Should the MNLF be given appreciation for a great deed to society? Marami na etong mga tanong sa akin ng mga foreign media networks from Switzerland, Australia, Japan, etc.
Honestly. I have no answer to those questions. I am in Manila, inside an office, in front of a computer. I'm not in Sulu. I receive a lot of reports, but when I ask for evidence, they can't give. So, all reports fall under UNCONFIRMED category.