22 July 2016
President Duterte visits Basilan, vows to help in its development
ISABELA CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte arrived here on Thursday, encouraging the people of Basilan to shun hatred and help his administration in developing the island province by working on a consensus on how to move forward.
In his speech at Camp Luis Biel III, the President said the government and Moro rebels can’t fight forever as he renewed his commitment to the Moro people, noting he “will give that they want.”

PRRD encouraged the local residents not to add hatred to the already tense situation there that have claimed too many lives. He vowed to find money for the development of Basilan.

The President is pushing for a federal form of government to once and for all solve the Moro rebellion as well other forms of insurgency in the Philippines.

During a discussion with Basilan’s local officials, President Duterte said he is working to stop corruption in government to raise money. He said that if the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) can collect the right taxes and duties, he could have funds to develop Basilan. The BIR lost P300 million a day due to corruption and the BOC P200 million daily, he said.

Lamenting that he lost four relatives as a result of the Mindanao war, the President said there is restiveness and rebellion in the region because the Moro people felt that they are being left behind. To address rebellion and violence, there must be livelihood for the people, and the government should extend the basic needs of poor communities, PRRD said.

Another concern is the Abu Sayyaf Group, of which he expressed willingness to talk to them. Basilan’s local officials said new members of the bandit group now come from Malaysia, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Sulu, which is a rising concern for the government.

They also reported cocolisap infestation in the province that should be immediately addressed. They said they already declared a state of calamity because of the infestation, which has affected 30 to 40 percent of coconut trees in the province. More than 3,000 families have already received assistance from the government.

As a response, the President invited the Basilan LGU officials to have a consensus so they could identity problems confronting the province. He said they could have more meetings in the future, possibly in Malacanan.

To address the needs of the residents displaced by the fighting in Al Barka, Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan, he said he will instruct the DSWD to immediately send assistance there. Regarding Basilan’s coconut sector, he promised to help the industry there and one of the possible sources of money is the coco levy fund, which was declared public by the Supreme Court.

The President said that once a legal mechanism is available, he can release money for the rehabilitation of the Basilan coconut industry.

Aside from meeting Basilan’s local officials and residents, the President also had a security meeting with the military officials of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom). PRRD also led the ceremonial distribution of relief goods to the people affected by the violence in the province. (PND)

Dureza welcomes MILF-MNLF convergence to end Mindanao conflict
MAGUINDANAO (July 22) — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Thursday welcomed as “positive” the convergence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in putting closure to the Mindanao conflict.

The MILF and the largest of three MNLF factions, led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, had twice forged in recent months a deal binding both camps to find a common solution to the now 45-year Moro rebellion.

Sema’s group has more than 20 “revolutionary states” scattered across the country’s south and in all of the five component provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“There is an apparent convergence and inclusivity now in each other’s peace-building initiatives. This is what we want, a peace process involving all stakeholders,” Dureza said Thursday, at the sidelines of his breakfast meeting with MILF Chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim.

The two-hour meeting was held at Camp Darapanan, the MILF’s main enclave located northwest of Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of Maguindanao.

It was the first official engagement between the MILF and Malacañang under President Rodrigo Duterte.

They talked about the prospects of the peace process under the Duterte administration and agreed to resume with all bilateral initiatives complementing all compacts between the MILF and Malacañang, stalled by the recent synchronized local and national elections.

Dureza said he finds beneficial to the peace process the convergence of the MILF and the MNLF-Sema group in a common formula for a lasting peace in the south.

The MILF and the MNLF-Sema group had earlier said, in bilateral press communiqués, their initiatives are meant to synchronize each other’s concepts on how to best address the Mindanao Moro issue.

Through the intercession of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the MNLF and Malacañang signed on Sept. 2, 1996 a final peace deal, after 20 years of negotiations that started in 1976.

The MNLF was yet a solidly monolithic organization then, led by its founding chairman, Nur Misuari.

The group got fragmented in 2000 when a bloc of Misuari’s lieutenants, among them Sema and many other MNLF leaders in the ARMM’s five provinces, broke away due to loss of confidence in his leadership.

There is a third MNLF group that emerged recently, led by Abulkhayr Alonto, who hails from Lanao del Sur. Unlike the MNLF-Sema group, Misuari and his men are hostile to the MILF.

They have been ranting on what is for them “abrogation” of the government-MNLF peace agreement with Malacañang’s having crafted two compacts with the MILF, the October 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Sema said he is grateful to Dureza for his optimism on the MILF-MNLF convergence, which the OIC, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa, has also been supporting.

The MILF and the MNLF-Sema group now have a joint technical committee tasked to study a common approach in resolving the Moro problem.

Sema said the committee will meet in Cotabato City on July 30 for initial exploratory studies on having one peace track to hasten the resolution of a rebellion that has never been permanently addressed.

The MILF-MNLF convergence was first espoused by the erstwhile president of Libya, the late Muammar Gaddafi, who even sent his son, Saiful A-Islam Al-Gaddafi, to Mindanao twice in the late 1990s to help unite both fronts.

Gaddafi was a staunch supporter of the peace overture between Malacañang and the MNLF, which he provided with firearms and ammunition while fighting the government in the 1970s.

PRRD to prioritize welfare of uniformed services
ZAMBOANGA CITY – President Rodrigo R. Duterte vowed on Thursday to give priority to the welfare of the military and police personnel as he urged them to intensify the government’s offensive against criminality and urban terrorism.

In his speech before soldiers of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), the President said, “In our talks during the command conference, I was informed there is a need for more soldiers.” Citing the need for more law enforcers to put an end to criminality in the country, he added he would need about 3,000 policemen to meet the challenges of urban terrorism.

PRRD has remained firm on his stance in fighting against illegal drugs, terrorism, violence, and criminality in the nation. He exhorted the police and military that they should not be scared in discharging their duties for the country.

The President stressed it embarrasses the country when soldiers and policemen cannot stop criminality and terrorism with foreigners and locals being killed or executed.

“But in the long term, you know we have a problem. As a nation, it has started many, many years ago, para tayo’ng sinasampal na (it’s like we’re being slapped that) every time there is a foreigner executed or a local killed, and with the dimensions such as yung nakikita kasi may pelikula, ‘yung mapapahiya (those that have filmed footage, it’s quite embarrassing),” he said.

PRRD added that he will go ahead with the salary increases on a staggered basis of the police and the military, and that would include the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The President also revealed plans to develop the V. Luna General Hospital in Quezon City into one of the best medical centers in the country, and to give the soldiers, policemen, and their families the best medical care. (PND)

Viber for Change launched
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO), in partnership with Israel-based messaging app Viber, launched #ViberForChange stickers.

“Viber is now a partner for change,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said during the launching of the first batch of Viber stickers held last night in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

“Part of our role is to reach out directly to the people which Viber allows us to do. We believe that when citizens engage with the government, they become partners for change,” Andanar added.

The sticker messages, inspired by President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership personality, include #PartnerForChange, Bawal ‘Yan, May Gad!, Uwian Na, and Daghang Salamat. These messages echo the President’s campaign slogan for Change, which the administration intends to pursue through its various agencies and the President’s intensive drive against illegal drugs and drug lords, criminality, and corruption.

The stickers feature illustrations of the President’s face in various moods and his characteristic hand gestures. They are ready to be distributed after the President’s first State of the Nation Address on July 25.

In addition, the PCO partnered for the Viber Public Chatroom “to make this government a part of Filipinos’ daily conversations.”

“Anything goes in the world of social media,” Andanar said when asked about the advantages and disadvantages of this new development in exploring social media communication. “But we encourage citizen engagement, making them part of the process for positive change in the country.”

Viber has a huge user base in the Philippines and is now a top messaging app with over 24 million downloads.