Saturday, January 31, 2015

Protest in Nevada on Marinduque-Barrick Gold case February 3

Announcement from Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN).
Protest/News Conference in Las Vegas, February 3.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), a known cohesive force in the US for social and environmental justice, joins the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife and other environmental activists in Nevada for the holding of a protest rally to highlight the struggle of people in various places with special focus on the case against Barrick Gold by the Provincial Government of Marinduque.

The protest to be held on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at 12:00 pm will be followed by a news conference at the Nevada Supreme Court in 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas. The activists will then hear their case against Barrick at the Regional Justice Center.

It will be recalled that the District Court of Nevada in February 2011 dismissed the case on the ground of Forum non Conveniens in favor of re-filing the case in Canada with conditions favorable to the province. 

To bring resolution to the case it was then that the parties agreed to consider entering into an agreement subject to consultations with stakeholders in the island-province of Marinduque, where the series of environmental disasters took place.

All the conditions in the proposed agreement offered by Barrick, however, were found to be "onerous and unacceptable" by the province's stakeholders, thus the complete rejection of the proposed deal in substance, amount, form and structure for being disadvantageous to people and the Marinduque environment.

While in the process of exploring appropriate legal representation in Canada in the event the Superior Court upholds the lower court's decision to dismiss in favor of re-filing the case in that country, however, the provincial board became aware that the controversial US legal counsel representing the province had filed an appeal. He argued for the case to stay in Nevada, or that the case be dismissed in favor of re-filing in the Philippines. 

Cornering the $20-M?

Local stakeholders see the move as an attempt by certain parties involved in the case to still corner the $20-million offered by the company that local government units in Marinduque and the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MACEC) have already strongly rejected. 

As far as the said amount is concerned, it was admitted by legal representatives during stakeholder meetings that it was inclusive of a missing $12-million escrow fund set up in 2001, by Placer Dome, Inc. for use in rehabilitation of the Boac river.    

The case against the Canadian company was filed in 2005 in Nevada based on the "long arms statute" which gives a local state jurisdiction over an out-of-state company. Other cases that have been filed in the Philippines since 1996 have not moved because of the slow justice system.  

Oral arguments on the case are set to be heard on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by the Nevada District Court in Las Vegas. PLAN has extended an invitation to interested parties to join them on the day of the hearing and stand in solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

The Marinduque mining disaster of 1996, where millions of metric tons were dumped into the Boac River remains the worst mining disaster in Philippine history in terms of toxicity.

Protesters in Marinduque during last year's anniversary of the Boac river disaster.

Also read:

Friday, January 30, 2015

National Day of Mourning today for the slain elite cops of PNP-SAF; US hand in Maguindanao ops; Aquino on top of botched ops?

Today the country observes the National Day of Mourning for the 44 elite cops of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force slain in a clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front troops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. We mourn with a country that dreams of peace and clamors for truth and justice for the victims.

Courtesy of PNP.

Prayer rally and candlelight vigil 

Meanwhile, Ako ang Simula ng Pagbabago, a multi-sectoral group of active and retired military and police officers and personnel together with civil society groups and religious leaders are calling on all those seeking justice and genuine change to proceed to the EDSA Shrine before 6pm today 30 January for a prayer rally and candle light vigil.
Bring candles and rosaries and also prepare for a long drawn vigil until Justice is served and genuine change is set into motion, according to the organizers. Please pass this message through social media and text messages to all our friends and families. 

US agents paid cash for info on terrorists

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—In a meeting held at the headquarters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police in Parang town, Maguindanao province, sometime in September last year, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ranking Filipino police officials planned a secret operation aimed at getting a notorious international terrorist, a source who declined to be identified told the Inquirer.

The source said the target was on Washington’s list of priority terrorists: Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” who had a $5-million price then on his head. The bounty was later raised to $6 million.

The Inquirer source, a former ranking police official in Central Mindanao, claimed that during the meeting, which he attended, the FBI agents shared an intelligence report on the exact whereabouts of Marwan and another terrorist, Filipino Abdul Basit Usman.

The source said the Americans were certain about their intelligence data because it was provided by a mole from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

To prevent leak

“They were paid cash in exchange for the information,” the source said.
The source said the FBI agents validated the information relayed to them by their mole through the use of “drones and global positioning system.”

“We can even see the hideout of their target,” he said.

During the meeting, it was decided that those involved in the operation would not share information with any other government agencies “to prevent a leak of the plan.”

“They will only coordinate with other government troops—posted along the highway—on their way to their mission,” he added.

The source said, however, that the glaring failure on the part of the police commandos who went to Tukanalipao, a village in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, controlled by the MILF, was going in without back-up hardware and reinforcements.

Capt. Jo-anne Petinglay, spokesperson for the military’s 6th Infantry Division, admitted that US forces “come and go.”

“They are based in Manila and Zamboanga. We don’t have US troops [based] here [in Maguindanao],” she said.

As to the alleged involvement of US troops in the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) operation on Jan. 25 that cost the lives of 44 police commandos, Petinglay said she was not aware of it.

She said what she knew was that US forces helped extract injured SAF commandos using a helicopter.

The Inquirer saw this helicopter, a white and green chopper manned by four Americans.
In Davao City, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Southern Mindanao said it wanted to know the role of the US military in the SAF operation.

Bayan spokesperson Sheena Duazo said the SAF operation was possibly a joint covert-operation with the United States.

“The unfortunate members of the police operation seem to be victims of the latest US-directed antiterror operation sanctioned by President Aquino’s government,” she said.

6,000 US troops

“We want to know what really happened, and why US soldiers are seen with the dead bodies of the PNP-SAF. Are they here just to help the wounded and carry the dead, or is this another one of their botched operations, similar to many of their operations in the Middle East? Is this another case of an imperialist country providing a pretext for its further involvement in local conflict, even if it means death to our fellow Filipinos?” Duazo asked.

Duazo said the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement have ushered in “increasing US military intervention in the Philippines.”

“The 6,000 or so US troops currently deployed in Mindanao may be doing more things on the island that the Filipino public has no knowledge of. President Aquino’s government owes the public [an explanation],” she added. - Full story on Inquirer

In his obsession to obtain the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a political trophy, President Aquino deliberately ignored the pleas from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) for additional reinforcement to rescue trapped operatives from their dire position.

This was bared to The Tribune by a source within the PNP saying not only was Aquino informed beforehand of the SAF operation against Malay-sian Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Mar-wan,” believed to be a key leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islam-iyah, and his alleged Filipino henchman, Abdul Basit Usman, but that he was actually on top of the operation itself.
“The President was actually monitoring the operation. Everything was being reported to him in real time,” said the source.
According to the source, Aquino was in Zamboanga that time, waiting in the wings for the outcome of the operation, ready to jump anytime to Maguindanao should the two suspected terrorists be captured.
“But when the operation went out of control as the MILF and the BIFF Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) joined forces in attacking the SAF, the President refused to send any reinforcement even as the SAF were already crying for help from heir beleaguered position,” the source said.
Aquino, the source said, cannot deny the fact that he was aware all the time of the SAF operation.
“SAF Commander (Police Director Getulio) Napeñas gave it away. He said that a little less than two hours before the initial gunfighting, the joint monitoring team of the MILF and the government called for a ceasefire. As no one was supposed to have been informed of the operation except (suspended) PNP Chief Alan Purisima, Acting Chief Leonardo Espina, (Executve Secretary Paquito) Ochoa and the President, who could make this possible? No one but the President. He could have called (Presidential Adviser on Peace Process) Teresita Deles to inform the monitoring team of both sides and call for a ceasefire but unfortunately, it didn’t work,” said the source.
In an interview with another national daily, Napeñas averred the joint monitoring team from the MILF and the government called for a ceasefire at a little past 6 am, but the “MILF did not stop shooting.”
“General Napeñas said the ceasefire was called for by the monitoring teams of both sides at a little past 6 am, less than two hours after the first shot was fired around 4:20 am. But the gun battle lasted 11 hours until 3:00 pm, and the nearest Army station is only about one kilometer away from where the gun battle was happening, but no reinforcement was sent,” said the source.
“If the President could make a call so early in the morning to Deles so she could in turn call on the monitoring teams to call for a ceasefire, why can’t he make a call to ask the Armed Forces to send reinforcement for the beleaguered SAF personnel?” the source asked.
“Because he was advised by Deles not to do so. They were so obsessed with the peace agreement, they want to save the Bangsamoro Basic Law as they believe it was the last piece for Aquino to earn the Nobel Peace Prize,” said the source.
“Never mind if 50 dedicated cops were killed,” he lamented. - Tribune

Thursday, January 29, 2015

President Aquino's answers to media questions on the Mamasapano clash

FULL TEXT:  Transcript of PNoy’s News Conference on the Mamasapano, Maguindanao Incident 

President Benigno Aquino III answered questions from media after delivering his speech about the encounter between members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Good evening, Mr. President. I am taking off my questions from the spirit of goodwill and for peace. Sir, it is not the first time that this so-called ‘misencounter’—or however we call it—with supposed friendly forces, the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). Sir, was there any clear coordination with our counterparts in the MILF? If none, of if there was, how should we define ‘coordination’ to them, considering, as you have said, the ‘element of surprise’ against these terrorists?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Reymund, siguro imbes na pag-usapan natin ‘yung sa MILF na palagay ko lalabas doon sa Board of Inquiry, siguro dapat tukuyin muna natin ‘yung mismong puwersa natin; na diumano, bagamat ilang beses nating pinagbilinan na ‘yung tamang koordinasyon sa AFP (Armed Forces of Philippines) ay dapat nandoon, hindi nangyari. So hintayin na lang natin ‘yung resulta doon sa Board of Inquiry para lang malaman ang buong katotohanan.
Mr. Tinaza: Okay. Sir, regardless of whether there was actual coordination, but as a human being and as Commander-in-Chief, how do you assess… Is it acceptable that while there was no coordination at all with our friendly forces, it is just right to open fire with our troops, considering those fatalities?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Namomoblema akong sagutin ‘yang tanong mong ‘yan dahil wala pa akong facts. Aakusahan ko ang isang grupo na wala akong tangan na ebidensya. Kaya, sinasabi ko nga, hintayin natin ang resulta nitong Board of Inquiry. Matutukoy kung sino ang mga pumaslang dito sa ating mga troopers nang may katiyakan, naaayon sa proseso, para naman bago tayo mag-akusa ay mayroon tayong supisyenteng ebidensya.
Mr. Tinaza: Okay, sir. Last point, sir, can we in a way…
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Sandali lang, Reymund. Hindi naman… ‘Yung… Katulad nito, ano, ‘pag… Sabihin nating kung mayroon kayong forces na sila ang bumaril dito sa ating mga SAF (Special Action Force) troopers, ano ‘yung konteksto? May nagsasabing ‘yung misencounter masyado raw malapit na pareho silang kumikilos; baka hinahabol ng isa palayo doon sa nangyayaring aksyon; ‘yung isa naman tumatakas doon sa mga engkuwentro; nagsalubong at nagkagulatan. Tama kaya ‘yon? Hindi. Wala akong fact. Pero kung ganoon ang nangyari, nagkagulatan, pwede ba nating sabihin na… ‘Di ba ‘yung sa kasalanan sa Simbahang Katoliko ‘yung intensyon at saka ‘yung akto parehong masama e. Dito ba may intensyon tayong masasabing mapapatunayan? Mayroon ba talagang kautusan na ‘pag mayroong dumating doon na hindi ninyo kagrupo pwede na ninyong barilin? Hindi natin pwedeng masabi sa ngayong panahon ‘yan.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, last point. Based on reports there are reports of robbery and dishonoring and other forms of atrocities to our already dead or injured SAF members. Is there any way that we could ask the MILF to explain and even return the cellphones and other belongings of those SAF members, which they got from them?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung… Again, ano, ina-assume natin puro MILF ang tumira dito sa ating mga kapulisan; hindi pa natin nae-establish ‘yon. So ang sigurado ako maaasahan natin ‘yung MILF na tutulong magkaroon ng katarungan para dito sa mga troopers natin.
Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir.

42 of 44 fallen PNP-SAF men are accorded arrival honors
at Villamor Air Base this morning.

Joyce Pañares (Manila Standard Today): Hi, sir. Sir, by now I’m sure you have already established… Who gave the go-signal for that mission?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, ‘yung ‘who gave the go-signal,’ ano?
Ms. Pañares: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENT AQUINO: If you remember… Sa speech ko, binanggit ko sa inyo ‘yung napakaraming operations na ‘yung warrant starts from 2002 against Marwan, okay—marami nang operations. Just for everybody to know, ‘yung AFP actually had an operation against Marwan, Mawiyah, and Doctor Abu of the Abu Sayyaf. Doon na-neutralize si Doctor Abu; supposed to be injured si Mawiyah at si Marwan. May claims na—I’m sure you can research it—na suspected na namatay ‘yung dalawa; obviously, hindi. This particular operation ng PNP ‘yung… I was checking my notes, ano, pero sometime roughly about May of last year ‘nung nagkaroon ng aim for actionable intelligence na tinutukoy kung nasaan specifically si Marwan at saka si Usman.
‘Pag sinabing ‘actionable intelligence…’ Marami kasing intelligence ‘sighted’—sighted dito, sighted diyan—e ‘yung sighted dito at sighted diyan, kung wala kang puwersang makakadakip sa kanila, hindi actionable. Dito, pumirmi sa… Tulad ‘nung operation ng AFP, pumirmi sa isang lugar sa Sulu; dito naman, pumirmi dito sa Mamasapano sa Maguindanao, so actionable. So ‘yung go-ahead, tuloy-tuloy ‘yan e, ano. Bago pa ako naupo sa puwesto, may mga operations against them. Dito, since 2010, all of the PNP, the AFP, and the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) have had their own versions of operations.
This particular intelligence on Mamasapano, starting from May of last year, nandiyan na at ilang beses sinubukan pero na-abort for various reasons. Now, I’ll give you one, for instance. Siguro third or fourth quarter last year, pumasok ‘yung SAF, sinubukang i-apprehend itong dalawa. Nagkaroon ng harassment attack on a detachment of the AFP, nagkaroon ng sagutan, palitan ng putok between the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and the AFP at nahinto sila. ‘Nung humupa, tumigil, naghiwalay ‘yung magkabilang puwersa; umabante ulit ‘yung SAF, tapos diumano, pinutukan sila at in-abort nila ‘yung mission.
Bakit nila in-abort? Dahil inaaalala nila mabulabog itong si Marwan at si Usman at tumakbo na naman or umpisa na naman tayo sa hanapan. At hindi ‘yon ‘yung one-time lang last year na sinubukang pasukin itong lugar na ito. So ‘yung go-ahead, ‘di ba, trabaho nila e. May warrant of arrest. The court orders all law enforcement authorities to serve that particular warrant, and again, from 2002. So ongoing na ito by all of these branches of our security sector.
Ms. Pañares: But on that Saturday evening that they decided they would go to Mamasapano and, you know, act on this what you call ‘actionable intel,’ so the buck stops with the SAF commander? Because there are also reports that—
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Tactically, hindi ba… Okay, one, bakit SAF? ‘Yung… Hindi naman cellphone snatcher ‘yung hahabulin natin dito, ano. Si Usman is reported to have a 15- to 20-member security detail made up mostly of his relatives. You are providing him security in this particular area. Maraming other forces diyan between the BIFF, the MILF, and also a private armed group. Can I just remind everybody—I was just checking through the notes—in the lead-up to the elections of 2013, naalala ninyo mayroong PNP rin na regional… The regional director or his forces were to serve a warrant on a Maguindanao massacre suspect. Nagkaroon ng firefight at nagkaroon ng—parang na-box in rin sila at dumating nga ‘yung army para tulungan silang makalikas, okay. So dito, ‘yung sa go-ahead, parang matagal nang may go-ahead. Siguro ‘yung reverse, ‘pag alam niyong nandiyan, may kakayahan kayong arestuhin, hindi ninyo inaresto… Mayroong konsepto sa batas ‘nonfeasance’ e, hindi mo ginawa ‘yung tungkulin mo. So matagal nang tuloy-tuloy na hinahanap ng gobyerno natin itong mga teroristang ito.
Ms. Pañares: Sir, maybe just two long questions.
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Two long questions, okay.
Ms. Pañares: Sir, the first one. So why was Secretary (Mar) Roxas and General (Leonardo) Espina left in the dark insofar as this operation is concerned? And there are also reports that PAOCC (Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission) under Secretary (Paquito) Ochoa parang had a hand in preparing for or planning this operation and General (Alan) Purisima who is supposed to be on leave. What is your…
PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung… We’ll look into that, ano, kung bakit hindi alam ni Secretary Roxas or Deputy Director General Espina—that will be borne out in the Board of Inquiry. Although—and I was conferring with Secretary Roxas and he will confirm this—there were points before ‘nung mga na-abort that we had discussed this particular operation. Ngayon ‘yung sa dami ng… Paano ba? Paano ba ipapaliwanag ‘yon? Sa dami ng version nito. Kasi hindi naman ‘sinubukan ngayon, abort, tapos panibagong operation.’ Talagang parang nire-refine ‘yung kanilang plano, starting from roughly around May last year, okay. Ngayon… Teka, first question, bakit hindi sila na-inform?
Ms. Pañares: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Second question was… Sorry?
Ms. Pañares: There were reports that PAOCC and General Purisima, sir—
PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung PAOCC that’s news to me. I don’t think PAOCC was involved in this, ano. The intelligence that was utilized starting from, again, May last year was generated by the PNP. I think the unit is called the IG. I guess that means ‘Intelligence Group,’ okay. ‘Yung was General Purisima involved? He was Chief PNP and he was the one reporting to me starting from roughly around May of last year. And ‘yung dito naman, I was talking directly to the SAF director, and… ‘Yung, if at all, baka ‘yung jargon tinutulungan ako ni General Purisima to understand it. But he was involved ‘yung up to the point in time, directly, that he was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman. Tapos after that, if at all, ‘yung siya ang very knowledgeable about the whole thing; ipinapaliwanag sa akin ‘yung intricacies of what the plan being presented to be was.
Ms. Pañares: Sir, for my last question, when will the National Day of Mourning be declared?
Ms. Pañares: Friday. And also, sir, parang what concrete actions would you like to see from the MILF, you know, just to perhaps show sincerity amid this cloud of doubt that was cast over the peace process? And… Kasi like—just to push what Reymund earlier said—parang the photos of the carnage that came out, you know, the policemen were brutally slaughtered. So parang people are also asking for accountability. So what can we, as the government, ask or demand from the MILF that they do in return?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Okay, ‘yung basic, ‘yung pinaka-minimum that they will… ‘Yung they have areas under their control in this particular area of Maguindanao. They will step aside to make the operations against Usman and anybody else who will shield him be less complicated. Wala na ‘yung… Navi-visualize ba ninyo na ‘iwas ka dito para walang misencounter’? Hindi, tatabi, minimum ‘yon. Tapos ‘yung I expect—but they will have to discuss this amongst themselves—ano ba ‘yung extent that they will help us? Recovery of the firearms; identification of the people who actually did the acts; recovery of personal effects and things like that, I think, will be reasonable to expect from them. But at this point in time, I am very, very confident that they will… They will and they are parang studying exactly how to demonstrate their sincerity in this peace process.
Ms. Pañares: Thank you.
Lei Alviz (GMA-7): Good evening, sir. Sir, categorical answer lang po siguro. May go-signal po ba ninyo ‘yung operasyon po o wala?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: “Sir, can we proceed with the mission?” I don’t think I was ever asked that question. At the same token, parang it’s a rhetorical question, ‘di ba, Lei? ‘Yung ‘pwede ho ba naming hulihin itong pinapahuli ng korte?’ Pwede ko bang sagutin na ‘hindi’
Ms. Alviz: So hindi po, sir, kailangan po ng go-signal po ng Pangulo?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: If they will have to wait for me with every action, then they will have to contend with all the other things that are occupying my attention, kailan kaya natin mahuhuli ‘yung kriminal?
Ms. Alviz: Okay. Sir, ‘yung fact po na two international terrorists were in the MILF territory, what does this imply po doon sa sincerity po ng MILF?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Pag tiningnan niyo ‘yung specific encampments, ‘yung separated sila from the BIFF, separate sila from MILF, separate sila from the PAG (private armed group). Can we technically say they were inside an MILF camp? The data shown to me by both the AFP and the PNP say they were not in an MILF camp. We can’t even say that they were in BIFF camp. Pero can we even say that they were in the PAG area? They were in a separate area that was closed by to all of these other encampments.
Ms. Alviz: Sir, how can we strike a balance between finding justice for our falling police officers and going forward with the peace process?
PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, ilang beses nang nagpakita naman ng, ano e, ang MILF na especially—and there are mechanisms already in place—na ‘pag mayroong law enforcement operations tumatabi sila or nagko-cooperate pa. Cinite (cite) ko ‘yung kanina, ‘yung pagre-rescue ‘nung kidnap victim, and there are others. Now, ‘yung how do we strike a balance? Mayroong ano e… Mayroong—paano ba tawag doon—goalposts, milestones on both sides na kailangang ipakita as we advance, at lahat ito nakalagay doon sa ating framework agreements nga. Tapos lalagyan ng more and more na detalye, ‘yung Bangsamoro Transition Authority, ‘yung budget nito na hinanda na, inaprubahan ng Kongreso, and so on and so forth.
So ‘yung dito, ‘pag sinasabi kong ipapakita ‘yung sincerity, they can operate in that area relatively freely. They have access to informants that we may not have access to at this point in time. They have tasked already their own commission to study and determine who is at fault, and we can expect that there will be that much more cooperation from them when we file the appropriate charges, once we have developed the necessary evidence. Madali-dali kasing ilagay na kung sino-sinong pangalan doon tapos wala tayong pruweba; tapos naabsuwelto na lahat ito, walang point ‘non; nagdrama lang tayo. Ang habol natin matukoy ‘yung talagang may mga kasalanan at mapanagot ‘yung totoong may kasalanan.
Ms. Alviz: Okay. Thank you, sir. - GMA Network

A relative of one of the 44 slain PNP-SAF commandos stands beside the officer's coffin inside a C-130 military plane at Awang Airport in Maguindanao on Thursday, January 29. Remains of the 42 police commandos killed in the January 25 Mamasapano encounter were flown to Villamor Air Base where arrival honors were accorded to the fallen men this morning. Two other slain officers were earlier laid to rest in Zamboanga City in accordance to Islamic rites. Mark Navales

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Maguindanao: Purisima planned it all; Aquino let suspended chief run the show - Manila Standard

‘Purisima planned it all’
By Christine F. Herrera, Francisco Tuyay and Rio Araja | Jan. 28, 2015 at 12:01am

Aquino let suspended PNP chief run show
The fatal covert operation that killed 44 members of the elite Special Action Force and wounded 12 others had been assigned by President Benigno Aquino to suspended National Police Chief Alan Purisima, apparently without the knowledge of Interior Secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas 11.
A police general, who was part of the planning and actual operation and is privy to the ongoing investigation told the Manila Standard on Tuesday that Aquino may have considered Purisima as still the “de facto PNP chief” in assigning to him the sensitive mission.
“It was a tragedy in the making,” according to the police general.
“The President was aware of the Marwan covert operations. Purisima reported directly to him. In fact, the President went to Zamboanga prior to the troop’s jump off to Mamasapano in Maguindanao so that he would be in the vicinity when Malaysian terrorist Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino Basit Usman, both bomb experts linked to the Jemaah Islamiya terror cell, are captured,” said the general, who requested anonymity.
“The President was there as he expected the turnover of Marwan to the Philippine government. The President would be present during the presentation of Marwan. Such was the solid plan,” he said. “The President expected a successful operation.”
He added that “Roxas was not with the President. He was kept out of the loop. No one else knew of the covert operations because the subject were terrorists wanted worldwide by the US government, which even offered a $5-million bounty for Marwan’s capture and $1 million for Usman.”
He said there was “no clear leadership” other than a marching order that it was sanctioned by Malacañang.
“From the ground, the SAF officials reported directly to Purisima, who ran the operations from the White House in Camp Crame, despite his suspension,” the general said.
“Purisima would then report either to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. or directly to the President,” the source said.
The controversial white house was the official residence of the PNP chief and was the reason why Purisima was suspended following his acceptance of P25 million in donations for the renovation of the residence.
“Secretary Roxas was kept out of the loop. He was so incensed that when he called for an emergency meeting, the first he did was confront [PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director Gerardo] Espina and the SAF officials and blamed the SAF. We felt no empathy from him. He blamed us,” the general said.
“Why was I not informed? Why was I kept in the dark?” the general quoted Roxas as saying when he arrived at the command conference.
“Who was behind this operation?” Roxas demanded.
Espina immediately took a hands-off stance and told Roxas he was also not aware of the Palace-sanctioned raid.
The general explained that the President allowed Purisima to run the operations because it was Purisima who was in possession of all intelligence information about Marwan.
Purisima, he said, had followed and tracked Marwan’s moves since 2005.
“Due to the sensitivity of the information, Purisima would not share the intel with anyone and asserted he had to personally run and oversee the operations,” the general said.
Besides, the general said, Purisima needed such a huge break and successful operation to redeem himself from the controversies linking him to graft and corrupt practices, for which he was suspended for six months.
The President, thinking of the possible worldwide attention he would be getting for having to capture the world’s most wanted terrorist, gave Purisima the go signal.
“Purisima was told by the President to operate “incognito”,” the general said.
“The President acceded to Purisima’s condition and ordered Ochoa to provide Purisima the resources, ammunition and artillery that his troops would need,” the source said.
“So all the SAF men involved, including the 44 who perished, the 12 who were seriously wounded and a survivor of the carnage, were all trusted men of Purisima,” the general said.

Flowers for the dead. A relative of one of the policemen killed during
an encounter with MILF fighters on Sunday offers flowers in his
memory at the PNP Heroes’ Monument inside Camp Crame.
(Manny Palmero)

Asked what went wrong as the SAF troops had engaged in a fierce firefight with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the general said it was the MILF that violated the ceasefire.
“The ceasefire was in effect. We observed it. We expected the MILF to observe that too. There was no way we could coordinate with the MILF when the terrorists we were after were in their territory,” the general said.
“We were there only to serve warrants for the arrest of Marwan and Usman. There was no intention to engage in a firefight with the MILF. We did, however, expect an exchange of gunfire with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in case they turned up because there was no standing ceasefire with them,” the general said. “We also came ready with our weapons.”
“We were caught unawares when the MILF fired upon us. And so we radioed for back-up and artillery from the Philippine Army. The Army refused to send the artillery and told us their hands were tied because of the standing ceasefire,” the general said.
“The army officials even thought the distress signal and SOS for back-up over radio was a prank call because they insisted there was no operation slated in Mamasapano,” the general said.
He said the call for help went to a circuitous route – from Mamasapano to Camp Crame to Zamboanga, where the President ordered Ochoa to call the Army and send an extraction team.
“It took us several hours of convincing the “higher-ups” that our ranks were already being slaughtered,” the general said.
“The artillery came at 6 a.m. when most of the men were decimated already,” the source said.
The general said a seven-man fact-finding team has been formed to get to the bottom of the Masasapano carnage.
Asked to elaborate on the President’s order for Purisima to remain “incognito,” the source said it meant, that “Purisima, even if the operations turned to be successful, cannot claim credit for it.”
But now that it turned into a huge failure, the general said, it would be an injustice to the 44 men who got killed if no one would be made responsible for their death.
“This is why this early, we wanted the real story to come out so that no one could bend the truth as to what really happened and who were responsible behind the operations. We want the real story told. Lives had been lost. Those were good men,” the general said.
As this developed, Espino sacked Director Getulio Napenas as chief of the Special Action Force on Tuesday following the fatal operation.
Espina announced Napenas’ relief during a press briefing in Camp Crame. Espino said SAF Deputy Director Chief Supt Noli Talina will replace Napenas as SAF officer in charge.
“I talked personally to Director Napenas about his relief at the start of the Board of Inquiry. I would like to get to the bottom of things,” Espina said.
Roxas had ordered that a BOI be formed to unravel the whole truth behind the special operations led by the SAF Sunday at Brgy Pidsandawan, Mamasapano.
The BOI will be headed by Director Edgardo Ingking, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operation in Mindanao, with PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Director Benjamin Magalong and Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriguez, of the PNP Directorate for Research and Development and the PNP Secretariat as members.
“What happened during the encounter, were there lapses, and if were there persons liable, they should be meted sanctions,” Roxas said.
“It is also important to know whether there were operational lapses so that this would not happen again,” Roxas said.
The SAF special operation was centered on arresting Malaysian terrorist and Jemaah Islamiya-trained bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino counterpart Basit Usman.
Roxas and Espina both claimed that Marwan was killed during the operation. Roxas said that Marwan’s death was properly documented with a photograph showing the supposed dead body of the terrorist.
Roxas said the clash between the SAF mmebers and MILF was a misencounter, but sources from the police and the military rejected the claim as highly improbable.
“That’s very farfetched. Obviously, the SILG has no exposure to combat. In the field, misencounter can be established only minutes after the initial shooting. But in Mamasapano, the SAF were engaged in intense, hours of firefight,” a source from Camp Crame said.
“Worse, some of the SAF troops bore bullets wounds at their backs, which means that the perpetrators managed to get near the troops. So, how can that be a misencounter?” the source added.
Roxas had clarified the SAF commandos went to the lair of the MILF and BIFF, a splinter group of MILF, in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano in Maguindanao last Sunday not because of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation $5-million bounty and another P1 million reward on Marwan and Usman, respectively.
The SAF operatives were doing a legitimate police operation when they were attacked by BIFF and MILF elements, and that the misencounter began when the elite police force had entered an MILF-controlled area, he said.
A total of 392 elements of the PNP-SAF were involved in the operation, of whom 44 were confirmed dead, 12 were wounded, while 336 were all accounted for, Roxas said in an official statement. He also ordered PNP’s Comptroller Director Rolando Purugganan to ensure that all the benefits due “our fallen heroes” will be given to them “Put up a system to ensure that they (victims’ kin) will immediately receive all assistance due them,” he said.
The supposed arrest of Marwan and Usman had nothing to do with the suicide bomb threat on Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the country, he said.

“Marwan is a high-value target both internationally and locally. Authorities had
long been after him for being the most wanted terrorist,” he added. - Manila Standard Today

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nevada, US activists keen on progress of Marinduque vs Barrick case

Activists in Nevada are getting behind the case filed by the Marinduque provincial government against Barrick Gold in Nevada.  This is so because many mining communities in the said state have also been badly affected by Barrick's operations, in particular indigenous Shoshone peoples who have suffered because of losses. Their struggle, like those of the people of Marinduque's struggle that also rings true to many mining communities in the Philippines, also involve lawsuits.

The Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife actively involved in the awareness campaign against destructive mining activities in Nevada is currently engaged in fighting against a proposed expansion of the Bald mining operations by Barrick that could have serious negative impacts to the Ruby Mountain mule deer herd.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), a known cohesive force for social and environmental justice joins the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife in their current struggle, also highlighting the case against Barrick to stand in solidarity with the people of Marinduque. 

Nevada mule deer.

Mine expansion threat to Nevada mule deer herd
The Ruby Mountain deer herd is the largest and most important deer resource in the state, comprising approximately 22 to 24 percent of Nevada’s entire deer population.
Between deep, open-pit mines, ore and waste rock stockpiles, and haul routes, the proposed mine expansion will disturb almost the entire cross section of the mountain range. 
Migration corridors along the eastern side of the range have been agreed to, but the main western corridor is in dispute. A convoluted “pathway” between open pits and stockpiles is proposed by Barrick (who objects to the terminology of “migration corridor” because of implications of required mitigation).

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared according to the coalition, but so far Barrick:
• ·  Is refusing to pay for impacts of loss of winter range in areas proposed to be destroyed by mining activity.
• ·  Opposes inclusion of Nevada Department of Wildlife's (NDOW), recent collaring data of mule deer movements into the EIS.
• ·  Refuses any adaptive management to change their operations if future data indicates
serious impacts are occurring.
• ·  Has hired outside consultants to refute NDOW data and conclusions.
• ·  Questioned NDOW, authority in the delineation of Seasonal Distribution Maps that show large amounts of crucial winter range being present in areas of proposed disturbance.
• ·  Barrick analysis has concluded negative impact to springs and other water resources upon which wildlife is dependent.

Native, vegetated, undisturbed corridors are vital to the preservation of this deer herd. In mild winters, herds will survive. However, harsh winters with deep snow is another matter altogether. Deer only have so much fat stored to allow a successful migration to winter areas. If the migration route is interrupted, deer cannot readily find their way through and mill around, thereby unnecessarily expending energy and fat reserves. Much greater winter kill can result.

The Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife will be serving the Nevada Department of Wildlife with a “request for information” prior to submitting comments on Bureau of Land Management's s draft EIS. The Coalition will be preparing comments on the EIS back to BLM for consideration and transmit the same to sportsmen groups and other conservation interests for further cooperation in these activities.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), a known cohesive force for social and environmental justice joins the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife in their current struggle, also highlighting the case against Barrick to stand in solidarity with the people of Marinduque. 
Toxic Marinduque river
Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife P. O. Box 70143, Reno, Nevada 89570;  Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada,