Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012-08-26 Women of the Oglala Lakota Nation move against cultural war waged by Nebraska state-sponsered liquor stores

2012-07-22 "Women’s Day of Peace: The Life Givers of the Nations say no more alcohol in White Clay" from "Deep Green Resistance"
[http://deepgreenresistance.org/feature-help-support-indigenous-solidarity-in-whiteclay/]:
Donate Today and help make this march a success!
Lifting our Hearts, from Wounded Knees
 August, 26th 2012 12:00 p.m. (noon) Billy Mills Hall Pine Ridge, SD
 Action against White Clay Nebraska
“Our Stand Is Locked to the Land, Shut Down White Clay Today!”

Facts about White Clay, NE -

White Clay is an unincorporated village with a population of 14 people in northwest Nebraska. The town sits on the border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota (also known as the Oglala Sioux Tribe).
White Clay lies on disputed land, merely 200 feet from the official reservation border and less than 3 miles from the center of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the largest town on the reservation.
Sale and possession of alcoholic beverages on the Pine Ridge is prohibited under tribal law. Except for a brief experiment with on-reservation liquor sales in the early 1970s, this prohibition has been in effect since the reservation lands were created.
White Clay has four off-sale beer stores licensed by the State of Nebraska which sell the equivalent of 4.5 million 12-ounce cans of beer annually (12,500 cans per day), mostly to the Oglalas living on Pine Ridge. These retailers routinely violate Nebraska liquor law by selling beer to minors and intoxicated persons, knowingly selling to bootleggers who resell the beer on the reservation, permitting on-premise consumption of beer in violation of restrictions placed on off-sale-only licenses, and exchanging beer for sexual favors .The vast majority of those who purchase beer in White Clay have in fact no legal place to consume it, since possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the Pine Ridge Reservation remain illegal under tribal law. Many people have died in the streets due to exposure, as the state of Nebraska fails to uphold state law or police White Clay. As long as the liquor stores in White Clay remains in business, the genocide of the Oglala Lakota people will continue.
Tribal activists of the Strong Heart Warrior Society have conducted annual blockades since 1999, trying to intercept alcohol and drugs being brought into the reservation. In June 2006 tribal activists protested beer sales by blockading the road from Pine Ridge to White Clay and confiscating beer bought in White Clay. These activists hoped to prevent bootlegging and illegal sales on the reservation. On June 9th of this year, young Lakota activists and their non-native allies held a blockade of the highway leading into White Clay, and gained concessions from law enforcement. This action in August will be a continuation of these efforts.

A Message to participants joining in the march:
This will be a Women’s led march, only women will be speaking during and after the march. Men are encouraged to come and will be there to show support and provide security for the women. We will also provide support work at the campsite so the women can get together and have women only circles. The men will also get together at the camp and have male ally circles. There will be more information provided at the campsite.

Donate Today to the Women’s Day of Peace Fund
To get involved contact:
 Olowan Martinez Lead Organizer
 605.407.1773 or truelyn8tive[at]yahoo[dot]com
 or
 T.R. McKenzie Coordinator for Deep Green Resistance Great Plains
trmckenzie[at]riseup[dot]net or 605.868.8111
 and/or the point person in your region. If you would like to be a point person for this action in an area not already covered please contact Olowan or T.R.

Point People:
Western South Dakota – Olowan Martinez
truelyn8tive[at]yahoo[dot]com
 (605) 407-1773
Eastern Iowa – Nate Adeyemi:
adeyemi_dgr_gp[at]riseup[dot]net
 (815) 632-7243
Wisconsin – Ben Cutbank:
ben_dgr[at]riseup[dot]org
 (262) 208-5347
Omaha, NE – Christie Schoening:
tuffenoughtorock[at]gmail[dot]com
 (402) 250-8140
Lincoln, NE – Jeffrey Eggerss
jefferyalaneggerss[at]gmail[dot]com
 (402) 601-6985
Colorado – Jennifer Murnan:
jennifer[at]riseup[dot]net
 (303) 823-6336
Western IA/Eastern SD – T.R. McKenzie:
trmckenzie[at]riseup[dot]net
 (605) 868-8111
West Coast – Xander Knox:
xander_dgr[at]riseup[dot]net
 (253) 906-4740
Southwest (AZ, NM, UT) – Hershe Michele
hershe310[at]gmail[dot]com
 (505) 340-3362

More Info: Everyone is responsible for their own food for this action, there may or may not be camping fires to use for cooking while camping on Pine Ridge, due to the chance of starting a wild fire. Everyone in the caravan is responsible for the gas in the vehicle they are driving and riding in. DRUGS AND ALCOHOL will not be tolerated at all during this entire caravan and action. You will be escorted out of camp and asked to immediately leave. Please do not test us on this rule. Thank you everyone for your commitment and love for the cause.


Camping and Caravan Info: To join in the caravan heading from the East, groups will meet again at T.R. and Joey’s place in Jefferson SD, on Thursday August 23rd after 3p.m., dinner will be provided. We will leave from Pine Ridge the next morning around 8am Friday August 24th. All groups are encouraged to meet at Wounded Knee on August 24th at 3pm. The campsite on Pine Ridge will be announced at a later date. If you are traveling from the West please get in contact with Jennifer Murnan from DGR Colorado she will have lodging for folks the night of August 23rd. August 25th will be a day of social gatherings, Women circles, Male Ally circles, and trainings for the March on the 26th.

***Information on the Camping situation in Pine Ridge will come later stay tuned***

Deep Green Resistance Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines.
 1. First and foremost we must recognize that non-indigenous people are occupying stolen land in an ongoing genocide that has lasted for centuries. We must affirm our responsibility to stand with indigenous communities who want support and give everything we can to protect their land and culture from further devastation; they have been on the frontlines of biocide and genocide for centuries, and as allies, we need to step up and join them.
 2. You are doing Indigenous solidarity work not out of guilt, but out of a fierce desire to confront oppressive colonial systems of power.
 3. You are not helping Indigenous people, you are there to: join with, struggle with, and fight with indigenous peoples against these systems of power. You must be willing to put your body on the line.
 4. Recognize your privilege as a member of settler culture.
 5. You are not here to engage in any type of cultural, spiritual or religious needs you think you might have, you are here to engage in political action. Also, remember your political message is secondary to the cause at hand.
 6. Never use drugs or alcohol when engaging in Indigenous solidarity work. Never.
 7. Do more listening than talking, you will be surprised what you can learn.
 8. Recognize that there will be Indigenous people that will not want you to participate in ceremonies. Humbly refrain from participating in ceremonies.
 9. Recognize that you and your Indigenous allies may be in the minority on a cause that is worth fighting for.
 10. Work with integrity and respect, be trustworthy and do what you say you are going to do.

Lakotah: Save Pe'Sla!!!

Please go to Indiegogo and donate to save the heart of the Sioux land from public auction.
[http://www.indiegogo.com/PeSla-LakotaHeartland]


2012-08-21 "The Heart of All That Is - Saving the Sacred Black Hills" by Corina Roberts:
In the heart of the Great Sioux Nation lies the Black Hills, and on Saturday, August 25, roughly 1,943 acres will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Although the irony is obvious, the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people are in a race against time to raise enough money to buy their land back, and they need all the help they can get.
The auction takes place Saturday, August 25. Up for sale; roughly 1,942.66 acres in the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota...in the heart of Indian Country, of the Great Sioux Nation.
 The native people want to buy it back...and they don’t have very much time to raise several million dollars to do so.
 Known as Pe’Sla to the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota people, it is a land full of history. More importantly, it is the center of the universe for the native people.
 Being one with the land is a difficult thing for many of us to understand. It’s not just a cool thing to say. It means you are born of it; it is recognition that you are made from and given life by the air you breathe, which gives you oxygen from the land. It means the earth that nourishes the plants and animals that feed you is a part of you; that the blood in your veins is moistened by the water of the land, and that you will return to that earth some day to continue that cycle.
 It means that your ancestors are part of that land, and a part of you. It is a connection that cannot be broken without consequence. It is far more than words. It is being a part of a place, and the place being a part of you. It is knowing who you are, and what you are.
 Dr. Sara J. Jumping Eagle, MD, Oglala Lakota from Kyle, South Dakota, described her feelings this way.
 "When someone asked me today, how would I feel if Pe’ Sla were to be bought by a developer, and destroyed, or paved with a road…. I couldn’t talk for awhile – I couldn’t speak – there was a pain in my chest, and I cried….the person on the phone thought I had hung up “Hello, Hello”. “Yes, I am here.”
 "How I would feel? How would you feel if your whole way of life was threatened? If a place that was holy and mysterious was covered up by a parking lot? Bethlehem was an amusement park? How would I feel if Pe’ Sla was destroyed? It would be a pain that it is difficult to describe..I suppose because I have not felt it before….. It would only be comparable to another Wounded Knee Massacre… or to having one of my relatives killed in front of me… When we say Mitakuye Oyasin..It is a prayer…it is a way of life. It is not something we just say. We are all related, and Pe’ Sla is our relative and should be treated as such! Hecetu Ye!"
 The land, being auctioned to satisfy a tax lien, is currently in the ownership of Leonard and Margaret Reynolds, and has been privately owned for some 126 years. The Fort Laramie Treaties should have prevented this kind of thing from happening - non Indian purchase of lands in the heart of Indian Country - but treaty violations are nothing new to the tribes,and there is no time to waste...the auction is this Saturday.
 “People have asked how the land came to be owned by private owners” said Rob Fife, DQU graduate, horseman and artist. “After the (Fort Laramie) treaty of 1868 was violated by the US Government, they then passed new laws (Dawes Act), again violating their own laws, and parcelling out the Great Sioux Nation into allotments. Each Sioux (Lakota) head of household (men) was designated 160 acres and orphans or those under 18 years old were designated 40 – 80 acres. The remainder of land was opened up to settlers to purchase, especially in the Black Hills where Custer’s expedition had found gold.”
 James Magaska Swan, a supporter of efforts to purchase Pe'Sla, asked a very good question.
 "In 1980 the US Supreme Court affirmed the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868, and found that the taking of the Black Hills violated that treaty and awarded liquidated damages of one hundred twenty million dollars, which mostly remains held in trust for the Sioux tribes. Why can't the Sioux tribes use that money to purchase this block of land in the Black Hills?"
 Save Pe'Sla co-organizer Karen Ducheneneaux's answer is critical, and illustrates the resolve of the native people to keep their sacred land and their sacred connection to it:
 "That money is not for 'damages,' that amount represents a 'payment' for the theft of the He Sapa (Black Hills). If we accept any portion of it, we say we are giving up claims to the Hills, since we've been paid."
 Support and awareness is coming from around the world. Individual contributors are making an impact; there is no donation amount too small to be important. As of 9 AM on Tuesday, August 21, $144,880.00 have been raised on Indiegogo.com This is the official site for making donations.
 This is more than a fight to save land. This is in many ways a spiritual awakening and journey for a people who have been romanticized and brutalized, admired and ignored, and desperately misunderstood, since the invasion of their homeland began five hundred years ago. This is a chance to take back what is theirs...and that they should have to buy it back seems criminal in itself...but there is no time left to lament about that now. There are only a few days left before the auction...before the heart of their land goes to the highest bidder.
 It does not matter what color you are. We are all related. We can, and should, come forward, come together, and help the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota people buy their land back. You can make your donation here: [http://www.indiegogo.com/PeSla-LakotaHeartland]
 You can join the Save Pe’Sla Facebook group at [http://www.facebook.com/groups/490836130943714]
 There is also an event page - another planning meeting is coming up on Thursday, August 23. [http://www.facebook.com/events/424416784276719]

Young Lakota Warrior: Makaheya Inyan Hoksila Yracheta, courtesy Karen Ducheneaux

 Indian Land For Sale courtesy Rob Fife: Today's land sale alongside a land-sale poster from the past -

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sarayaku

2012-08-30 "Ecuador: Ruling In Favor Of Sarayaku Tribe" by Latinamerica Press
[http://www.eurasiareview.com/30082012-ecuador-ruling-in-favor-of-sarayaku-tribe/]:
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a judicial institution of the Organization of American States that is headquartered in San José, Costa Rica, found the Ecuadorian state responsible “for not having carried out a free and informed prior consultation process in accordance with international standards, violating the rights to communal indigenous property and cultural identity of the [Kichwa] Sarayaku people, as well as for not granting effective protection and for putting in danger the life and integrity of their members in the presence of high powered explosives in the territory.”
Notified to the Ecuadorian government on July 25, the decision refers to the concession of two contiguous blocks for oil exploration and exploitation in the indigenous territory, located in the Amazonian province of Pastaza, granted in 1996 to Argentina’s Compañía General de Combustibles (CGC) — subsidiary of the US-based company Chevron — and US-based Burlington Resources. The concession was granted without having ensured its residents their right to free and informed prior consultation. The case was submitted to the Court in November 2010.
The ruling stated that Ecuador “did not conduct any form of consultation with the Sarayaku people with their institutions and representative bodies during any of the oil exploration phases.”
The tribunal concluded that some of the company’s doings, which governmental authorities claimed were forms of consultation, did not comply with international standards or procedures, which encourage sustained, effective, and reliable channels of dialogue with the indigenous peoples and participation through their representative institutions.
To be considered prior consultation, the consultation “has to be done in good faith and in an adequate, accessible, and informed manner,” the ruling pointed out. “Thus, the state’s failure to consult created a climate of unrest, division, and confrontation with the indigenous communities of the area, particularly with the Sarayaku people. Additionally, the environmental impact plan was prepared by a private entity subcontracted by the petroleum company, without state control, without the indigenous people’s participation, and with no consideration for the social, spiritual, and cultural impact that the planned activities could have on the Sarayaku people.”
In an Aug. 12 press release, the Kichwa First People of Sarayaku celebrated the ruling and called the Presidential Decree 1247, promulgated on July 19, “illegitimate.” The decree regulates the execution of free and informed prior consultation in bidding proceedings and allocation of hydrocarbon-rich areas and blocks. For Sarayaku people, this decree is a device that “aims to limit consultation with a simple socialization and information procedure.”
As far as reparations, the Court ordered the Ecuadorian state to pay Sarayaku people a sum of US$1.4 million, to remove the explosives present in the Sarayaku territory, to carry out an adequate and effective prior consultation process that complies with international standards if any other extractive activities or projects are intended to be done in the territory, and to perform a public act accepting responsibility for the events.
The legal secretary of the Presidency, Alexis Mera, announced that the government would abide by the Inter-American Court’s decision.
“The Court asked that we publicly apologize. We will do so in due time,” Mera told the press. “There are reparations that we will pay.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Non-Humans think critically and feel empathy, much like humans do but differently

2012-08-23 "Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us" by George Dvorsky
[http://io9.com/5937356/prominent-scientists-sign-declaration-that-animals-have-conscious-awareness-just-like-us]:
 An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways? [http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf]

Full size -
While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it's the open acknowledgement that's the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, and it's no longer something we can ignore.
What's also very interesting about the declaration is the group's acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some cephalopods.
"The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states," they write, "Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors."
Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.

Full size -
 The group consists of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists — all of whom were attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals [http://fcmconference.org/]. The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, and included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many more.

The declaration made the following observations:
* The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.
* The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).
* Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in articular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.
* In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

Read more about this here [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/octopus-chronicles/2012/08/21/octopuses-gain-consciousness-according-to-scientists-declaration/] and here [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christof-koch/consciousness-is-everywhere_b_1784047.html].

2012-08-21 "Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists’ Declaration)" by Katherine Harmon from "Scientific American" [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/octopus-chronicles/2012/08/21/octopuses-gain-consciousness-according-to-scientists-declaration/]. Image via Vittorio Bruno/Shutterstock.com


2010-10-26 "Mirror makes elephants reflect" by Roger Highfield from "(London) Telegraph" [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1532889/Mirror-makes-elephants-reflect.html].


2008-12-27 "Animal Einsteins: New research shows that monkeys make art, dolphins chat and there's no such thing as a birdbrain" by Michael J. Weiss [http://hi.baidu.com/%C2%ED%B9%FA%B6%B0Ӣ%CEĿ%E2/blog/item/a20f46162b08d356f2de326b.html].
Photograph showing Irene Pepperberg and Alex the African Grey Parrot:



dar Umma sa "Filipino"

The "Cold War" between the Romans and dar Umma within the Philippines archipelago has erupted into a "Hot War".
Solutions are found through which a secular government may rule the market, peacefully. 
Sovereign governments who are not submitted to the Republic of the Philippines are representing the aspirations of entire nations...


2012-08-05 "Solons want bullying of poor, oppressed people criminalized" by Charlie V. Manalo from "The Daily Tribune"
[http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/2457-solons-want-bullying-of-poor-oppressed-people-criminalized]:
Bullying marginalized, oppressed and powerless (MOP) people may soon be declared as a criminal act punishable with imprisonment and a fine.
AKO Bicol party-list Reps. Christopher Co, Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin Jr. filed House Bill 6386 seeking to stop such offensive and discriminatory acts against children, women and indigenous people.
“This bill will strengthen the constitutional provision that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights,” Co said.
Co added the people who belong to the MOPs like children, women, religious minorities, the indigenous peoples, among others, are still subject of the physical and verbal abuses of those “who are close-minded and discriminatory against them.”
“No one has yet been prosecuted for these constitutionally offensive acts,” Co said.
Under the bill, violators face a jail term of 30 days to six months and a fine of not more than P100,000.
MOP-bullying shall refer to any severe or repeated use by one or more persons of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another person because of his race, ethnic origin, religion, or religious affiliation or beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, social status, age, looks, or political beliefs.
The bill provides that when the offender is a corporation or association, the officer or employee responsible for the violation shall suffer the penalty imposed in its maximum period.
Also, the maximum penalty is imposed when the perpetrator is an ascendant, parent, guardian, stepparent or collateral relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of the victim, or is the manager or owner of an establishment which has no license to operate or whose license has expired or has been previously revoked.
The Commission on Human Rights, in coordination with concerned agencies and organizations, shall have the duty to prevent or deter the commission of acts of MOP-bullying and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts that violate the provisions of the proposed statute.
The bill also provides for administrative proceedings and sanctions for violations committed by public officers. The measure also provides for reparation for victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. 


2012-08-05 "Philippine school bans Muslim hijab" from "AFP" newswire:
A Catholic-run school in the southern Philippines has caused controversy by banning Muslim students from wearing the hijab headscarf.
Mehol Sadain, who heads the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said Sunday he had written to Pilar College in the mixed Muslim-Christian port city of Zamboanga to demand it reverse its policy.
While the school was right to claim it could exercise academic freedom, Sadain said it should do so with "justice and fair play".
"Pilar College should realise that while educational institutions can formulate their own policies, the same should not run counter to existing laws and state policies," Sadain said.
The complaint has reached the local city council, which asked the school to reply to the allegations.
The school is believed to be the first in the Philippines to enforce an outright ban on wearing the hijab.
Sadain noted that an education department policy states that Muslim girls should be allowed to wear their head coverings in school and be exempted from non-Muslim religious rites.
But the school, run by the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, said in its letter to the council that it could not "deviate" from its Catholic leanings.
It said students from other religions were welcome to enrol but must strictly follow its non-hijab policy.
"Rules and regulations are explained to them, particularly the non-wearing of the hijab or veil," the school said.
"This is part of academic freedom in connection with which the school has the right to choose whom to teach," it said.
It was not clear what percentage of students were Muslim but it is fairly common that children from different denominations or religions mix at school in the mainly Catholic but largely tolerant Philippines.
Education department officials in Manila were not available for comment Sunday.
More than 80 percent of the Philippines' nearly 100 million population are Catholic, while Muslims form a large minority in the south of the country.


2012-08-07 "Rebels with chainsaws attack 11 Maguindanao towns; 3 dead" by Mario J. Mallari, Fernan J. Angeles from "Daily Tribune", with information from "AFP" newswire, [http://tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/2606-rebels-with-chainsaws-attack-11-maguindanao-towns-3-dead]:
Members of a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by Ameril Umbra Kato, used chainsaws to launch simultaneous attacks across 11 towns in Maguindanao province yesterday, leaving at least three dead, officials said.
A civilian died in a crossfire, while the Army said the bodies of two Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) had been recovered hours after the attacks, police and the military said.
The rebels used chainsaws to bring down electricity pylons before dawn, plunging several towns into darkness, and then opened fire on Army detachments, they added.
“Sporadic heavy fighting continued in the morning, but we have set up roadblocks while the military went after the rebels,” Maguindanao police director Senior Supt. Marcelo Pintac said.
He added that as well as cutting off electricity, the rebels were also believed to have planted improvised bombs along Cotabato-Tacurong Highway that runs through the strife-torn province of Maguindanao, where the fighting erupted.
Col. Mayoralgo de la Cruz, 1st Mechanized Brigade commander, for his part, said the attacks started around 11:30 p.m. that sparked sporadic clashes between the government troops and the BIFF fighters.
As of press time, De la Cruz said government forces were still combing the highway to clear it from the BIFF.
“They (BIFF) really planned to challenge us…it (fighting) is still continuing,” he added.
De la Cruz is not discounting the possibility that the attacks were meant to derail the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the MILF. “Maybe they (BIFF) want attention,” he said.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said “hundreds” of villagers were believed to have fled their homes as government forces repelled the rebels with helicopter gunships.
“They sabotaged power lines and attacked 11 towns. We are now largely in control except for a section of the highway that remains closed,” he added.
“We are trying to reach out to them so we can have a truce, but in the meantime, commuters are advised to stay put and avoid traveling to the area.”
The government’s chief presidential adviser on the peace process, Teresita Deles, said the attack was apparently meant to derail negotiations with the larger, more mainstream MILF, which has dropped its bid for full independence and is negotiating for an autonomous region.
The government has said it hopes to sign a peace deal with the MILF by the end of the year, but has asked the MILF leadership to help contain Umbra Kato’s forces. BIFF opposes peace talks with the government.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership maintained that the attacks will not affect the ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and the government.
AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said: “ “It is our hope that the incident will subside and further armed skirmishes be prevented for the betterment of the people of Maguindanao and the whole country,” he added.
Abu Misri, a spokesman for Umbra Kato, however, told Agence France Presse by phone that the attack was launched to avenge the alleged unprovoked killing of a BIFF member by troops in June.