Category Archives: Peace Process

Sentro formally endorses Leni, Walden, Akbayan after MOA signing

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MORE than a week after declaring its support during the International Women’s Day rallies, Sentro formally endorsed vice-presidential candidate Leni Robredo, independent senatorial aspirant Walden Bello and the Akbayan party-list following the recent signing of their respective memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with the national labor center.

Signed last March 19 during separate meetings on the sidelines of the Sentro 4th General Council confab in Quezon City, the MOA binds the parties upon signing to “jointly and steadfastly promote and pursue (Sentro’s) labor and other social advocacies,” which were enumerated in the documents.

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Included here are the general labor and social agenda drafted by Sentro, each with still specific items, such as promoting secure and quality jobs as well as “green” jobs; living wage; social protection and services; strengthening trade union, political and human rights; refiling of certain significant bills that were blocked or rejected or set aside in the past Congresses; and filing other proposed laws and policies that will truly benefit the basic sectors, and ensure national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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More comprehensive and updated Sentro priority legislative and executive agenda were presented to Akbayan, such as on various international and national issues affecting the working people; asset reforms; sustainable employment; living wage, social wage and restructuring the wage determination system; strengthening trade union rights; Labor Code reforms; issues of specific groups of workers; working women’s priority agenda; socialized housing; and institutionalizing workers’ representation.

Some of the top proposed laws that the endorsed candidates will support in the legislative and executive branches of the government are the pending or blocked bills on Security of Tenure (SOT), Freedom of Information (FOI), Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Maternity Protection, and Anti-Discrimination.

Meanwhile, although Robredo has agreed to champion Sentro’s labor agenda, there is still an ongoing discussion with her on other important issues and concerns, like Sentro’s vehement opposition to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) forged between the Philippine and US governments.

Each MOA was “individualized” in its introductory paragraphs to cite the achievements and track record of each candidate in the pursuit of the rights and welfare of the people, particularly the workers and other basic sectors, and – since all of them are either current or former legislators – for advancing other “other progressive and nationalist” causes “inside and outside the halls of Congress.”

Aquino’s Sona report: Conveniently selected; eluding realities

FAILED. A grade given by SENTRO workers to Pres Aquino for failing to address the workers' needs

FAILED. A grade given by SENTRO workers to Pres. Aquino for failing to address the workers’ plight

GOODBYE P-Noy. Enjoy your retirement from the presidency.

But how about the workers and the vast majority of citizens you will leave behind who remain excluded from the much vaunted economic growth that your administration has supposedly achieved after almost six years in power? How about the proposed bills for various social programs – especially the Security of Tenure (SOT) and the Freedom of Information (FOI) bills – that would ensure the rights of the underprivileged as well as strengthen government transparency and accountability, but which Malacañang and Congress have continued to ignore?

Your economic team has trumpeted that your government has posted the highest five-year average hike in the gross domestic product during the past four decades, when the mean annual growth rate of 6.3 percent was registered from 2010 to 2014, one of the biggest in Asia. If the economy grows to at least 7 percent this year, it would also be the fastest six-year GDP average since the 1950s. Likewise, under your helm the Philippines has been granted recognitions by local and international pro-business institutions for its rising “growth” and “competitiveness,” including the much coveted global investment ratings.

However, reality from the ground attests that poverty is still pervasive if not worsening despite the “growths” and the cosmetic solutions to it, like the conditional cash transfer (CCT) dole-out under the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). The enormous wealth of the few top richest Filipinos included in the Forbes’ super rich list as well as the top Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firms and the country’s Top 1000 corporations have further soared to hundreds of billions and tens of trillions of pesos – amid the hand-to-mouth existence of many Filipino families and the starvation wages of millions of Filipino workers. In fact, the mandated minimum wages are practically miserable to sustain a decent life; for instance, the NCR’s basic daily pay, the nation’s highest, has actually rose (real value) by a mere P17 or less than 5 percent since the start of Aquino’s term. We’re still not talking here of the yet rampant non-compliance of minimum wages and other labor standards.

Likewise, even the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), an international forecasting and advisory body to business groups, admitted that in spite of the rapid economic growth in the Philippines in the past years, the poverty rate would remain high due to the unabated and sharp income divide between the few rich and the majority poor, thus the country “will remain one of Southeast Asia’s poorest economies, with a lower level of GDP per head (merely $2,843 at market exchange rates) than the majority of the region’s other major economies.”

Your labor, economic and statistics team has boasted that the unemployment rate last year has substantially dropped to 6.8 percent, purportedly the lowest in 10 years. Really? But what’s the real score here? This preposterous claim has to be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, 66 percent of the jobs generated in 2013 to 2014 are either self-employed or own-account workers (38 percent) or working without pay in own family-operated business or farm (28 percent). Underutilized workers, on the other hand, or the unemployed and underemployed have been cut by only by over 149,000 and thus remain a high of 27 percent of the labor force. These are hardly “decent” jobs at all or those with fair wages and benefits and with security of tenure.

An independent research institution also disclosed that last year the ranks of jobless Filipinos have likely risen by at least 100,000, the underemployed by at least a million, and part-time workers by at least 1.5 million. In 2014 there were no less than 4.3 million unemployed and 7.9 million underemployed or a total of 12.2 million people without jobs or with precarious jobs, which mirrors the deteriorating job insecurity and contractualization.

These facts and figures revolve only in the income and employment areas that were heavily tampered with by Aquino and his speechwriters in his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) yesterday. But these areas effectively spell the present adversities and the bleak future being faced by the Filipino people – as long as neoliberal economic programs remain imposed in the country, and as long as the elites and their minions continue to rule and rob us.

Sentro lauds Walden Bello for his ‘consistently principled politics, integrity, courage and dignity to fight the crooked powers that be’

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Rep. Walden Bello

WALDEN Bello is now an ex-member of the House of Representatives or the lower house of Congress, the state institution known for its trappings of power and privileges, which he did not indulge in, anyway, when he was still a congressman. He could have finished his third and last term until June next year either by constantly praising and blindly obeying President Aquino or by just keeping quiet while enjoying the perks of his office, even when he sees something wrong with the P-Noy government.

But, no, Walden is not a political leech nor a lapdog of anyone who does not have or no longer have the moral high ground to govern the nation. He belongs to a still very rare breed and very small group of public officials – hopefully, their tribe will increase sooner – who truly think and act for the good of the people. It is a genuine concern for the “masa” – not the perfunctory “kayo ang boss ko” label repeated ad nauseam in live TV broadcasts, not the pretentious pledge of “dating mahirap, kaya makamahirap,” and not the deceitful “makamasa” slogans that politicians routinely use during elections to win votes.

Walden does not look and speak like a “masa” but his politics and advocacies are certainly for the “masa” as his grassroots, activist and principled politics attest to. It is oceans apart from the prevailing elite politics as well as the politics centered on party bureaucrats and politics of expediency, a euphemism actually of opportunist politics.

Thus, not surprisingly, but with a heavy heart, Walden withdrew his support for Aquino last March 11 by irrevocably resigning as the principal Akbayan party list representative in Congress. While the immediate trigger was Aquino’s speech a day before in which he brazenly washed “his hands of responsibility of (the Mamasapano) mission he planned and executed” – there were also a series of earlier events that piled up which made that Jan. 25 tragedy the proverbial last straw for Walden, an erstwhile staunch but critical supporter of Aquino.

These include his vigorous appeals to Aquino not to lose the moral high ground of his administration’s much vaunted “tuwid na daan” drive and “reform agenda” by sacking Director General Alan Purisima, who was still then the PNP chief and not yet suspended, for his several plunder and graft cases. In the same vein, Walden implored Aquino to fire at least four of his Cabinet members who are mired in anomalies or incompetence: Vice President Jejomar Binay, the government’s housing czar and presidential adviser on OFW concerns for even large-scale and decades-long corruption; Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of the PDAF and DAP infamy; Agrarian Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes for his dismal failure to fulfill CARPER; and Proceso Alcala for being a lame duck agriculture secretary.

Walden likewise suggested the shaking up of other executive departments including the DOTC, DOE and DFA as part of the needed revamp and improvement of the bureaucracy. The goal of these and other related efforts is good governance or where the government is able to honestly and effectively serve the people (whom Aquino claims to be his “bosses”) and to institute necessary measures to achieve the elusive genuine inclusive growth – amid the successive GDP “growths” under Aquino but still do not benefit the vast majority of the Filipinos.

But lo and behold! Bello was instead castigated, ostracized and disowned by the President and the government he sincerely wanted to succeed, as well as by his party leadership he thought shared his passion and commitment to truly serve the people and advance progressive agenda.

Sentro expresses its unequivocal and unwavering support to Walden Bello’s well-intentioned proposals and constructive criticisms – emphasizing that no amount of rebuking or disowning him will prevent Sentro from expressing its support to him – as long as what he conveys is for the benefit of the vast majority of people, and not a few privileged ones. Walden should have been thanked for all his efforts.

Indeed, prior to the Mamasapano tragedy, Walden honestly and persistently believed – even amid the growing doubts – in Aquino’s credibility and big potentials. Even at present, he considers Aquino as “a decent fellow untainted by corruption,” but this has been “overwhelmed by his pigheadedness, loyalty to and tolerance of corrupt and incompetent subordinates, inability to appreciate the urgent need for massive social reform, and his allowing the United States undue influence on our foreign policy and internal security policy.”

Walden said that it “seems that the President’s idea of an ally is someone who follows Malacañang’s line without question and without hesitation. It seems that an ally raising legitimate questions and criticisms is seen as sleeping with an enemy.” This is despite his unflinching support to the administration’s core legislative agenda, including the now controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Hence, Walden’s decision to quit his congressional post and privileges – as indignation to Aquino’s intransigent stand against meaningful social change as well as Aquino’s double standards and self-righteousness; and, unfortunately, in deference to the continued and unwavering support to the Aquino administration of his party’s leadership – is a paragon of statesmanship, consistently principled politics, integrity, courage and dignity to engage his adversaries head on.

Sentro and its member organizations are firmly behind you, Kasamang Walden. Mabuhay ka! Mabuhay ang prinsipyadong pulitika!

The Philippines Should Stop Being US’s Pawn and Warfront

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Statement on International Women’s Day:

Today, over five hundred (500) women gathered early in front of the University of Sto. Tomas to mark the International Women’s Day. This was the starting point of their march towards Mendiola where women affiliated with the World March of Women (WMW)-Pilipinas demanded accountability of the highest in command of the recent tragedy in Mamasapano.

The women’s march was joined by human rights groups Amnesty International, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), labor groups such as SENTRO and Partido ng Manggagawa, all calling for peace and self-determination in Mindanao and an end to the intervention in national affairs by the United States.

“The death of transwoman Jennifer Laude in the hands of a US soldier and the death of the child Sarah Panangulon in Mamasapano, are in the same context of US wars,” stated Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the WMW. “Olongapo murder suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton’s ship USS Peleliu ensures amphibious US presence in the Western Pacific, while the PNP SAF operation responsible for Sarah’s murder was clearly sponsored by the US war on terror,” she added.

The group underscored the economic interest of the US in Mindanao in particular, the Philippines and the region in general, as the US “pivot to Asia” strategy started in 2011, or the transfer of military resources to the region, coinciding with a Trans-Pacific Partnership Economic agreement. As a result, “women, children, the environment are considered collateral damages,” according to the WMW statement.

“Jennifer’s murder is a hate crime committed by a US soldier who enjoys the protection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” declared the group. “Even in court, the unequal relations manifest in allowing the attendance of several US military personnel while limiting Jennifer’s side to only her immediate family and her lawyers,” said their statement.

Carrying roses to symbolize their call for peace, the women also wore pink shirts with the slogan “Pagkain, hindi Bala.” They were demanding that President Benigno Aquino III be also held accountable for his role in the tragedy, as reports clearly pointed to his direct knowledge of the operation, beginning with the appointment of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima and strengthened by their correspondence. “Evidently, the only consideration of this operation was the US’s desire to get Marwan and show a positive development in its war on terror, without regard for the Muslim communities that would suffer as well as the peace process that would be compromised,” stated Virgie Suarez, Chairperson, of KAISA KA.

The WMW and supporting organizations lamented that the ongoing military offensive already displaced 8,130 families, with women bearing the most of the hardships and dangers that go with the need to evacuate. Young women and children become more prone to trafficking and prostitution.

They called for a political and economic solution, not war, to resolve the problems in the area. WMW also called for an end to the VFA and all agreements that “tie the country to an unequal defense relation with the US and make the government an accomplice to the US war crimes in its unending quest for world dominance.”

The program in Mendiola ended with the women’s movement’s emblematic song “Bread and Roses” as the women leaders demanded justice for all victims of US militarism. Similar marches were conducted by WMW members in Cavite, Cebu, Davao, and Gen. Santos City.

Participating organizations included Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), LBT groups, anti-trafficking groups Action against Violence and Exploitation, Inc. (ACTVE) and CATW-AP, prostitution survivor groups Bagong Kamalayan and Buklod, migrant groups such as Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA).

Women’s organizations present were Kababaihan-Pilipinas, KAISA-KA, KAMP, the indigenous women’s group LILAK, Piglas Kababaihan, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK),SARILAYA, Transform Asia, WomanHealth Phils., Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Welga ng Kababaihan, Women’s Crisis Center, Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE), and World March of Women – Pilipinas.

Stay the Course: Labor, Women and various groups reassert the need to continue the Peace process, but the guilty from all sides must be held liable

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ALONG with our fiercest denunciation of those few heedless and inept local brains and foreign instigators behind the foolish adventurism in Mamasapano, we the undersigned, likewise expressed revulsion over excessive acts in the battlefield. The tragedy resulted to the needless deaths of dozens of police commandos, Moro fighters and innocent civilians. Even wars, where combatants are expected to kill and be killed, have universally recognized rules of engagement that at least lessen the dehumanization inherent in armed conflicts.

Thus, if the video circulating in the social media that supposedly shows the cold-blooded and uncalled-for execution of an already wounded and helpless government trooper in Mamasapano is authentic, it should, without hesitation, be vigorously condemned regardless of who the shooter was or what group he belongs to. Bear in mind that summary killing and mutilation of (and other undignified acts against) an injured enemy survivor as well as fatalities in combat is a blatant violation of the humanitarian law, including International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Rule 113: On the Treatment of the Dead, which is specifically stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

At the same time, we reiterate our previous calls to conduct a thorough, honest and no-nonsense probe on those responsible for the tactless and incompetent planning as well as the gung-ho implementation of that police operation, which utterly disregarded all the standing ceasefire mechanisms with the MILF and which sent the unfortunate PNP-SAF troopers to a veritable death trap in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. We have  specifically identified those most likely to have an actual role in this debacle: President Aquino himself; then suspended (and recently resigned) PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.; and the ubiquitous and shadowy Americans, particularly those in the US military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

Likewise, we again warn the public not to be deceived by rightwing hawks and demagogues who are fanning the flames of Islamophobia and knee-jerk call to arms.

Amid all these, we still support the noble ideals and aspirations of the current peace process. This initiative, while admittedly painstaking, complex and protracted, remains the only viable, just and ultimate solution to the decades-long bloodshed in Mindanao and elsewhere. Let us give “peace with justice” the chance it fully deserves and the goal that the people need and longed for. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has to pass in the form that reflects the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Transform Asia

Sentro slams sectors sowing anti-muslim prejudice and anti-peace talks sentiments after Mamasapano

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#TruthandJusticefortheFallen64+ #MoroLivesMatter

SEEPING OUT of the so-called “misencounter” last Jan. 25 are the troubling questions and apparent evasions and cover-ups: Who really are responsible for sending the PNP-SAF troops into a veritable death trap in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao? Why did this police operation flagrantly disregard the existing ceasefire mechanisms, including not notifying the Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)? What are the exact roles and how are is the accountability here of President Benigno Aquino III; his favorite PNP chief, the suspended Alan Purisima; his alter ego and executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa; and the shadowy US military-led Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines?

However, these are not the only ones that unfortunately cropped up in the Mamasapano incident. Impulsive hawks with their knee-jerk reaction and rightwing demagogues with their messianic blabbers are fanning the flames of Islamaphobia or indiscriminate hatred and distrust of anything Muslim, of Hollywood-inspired call to arms for an all-out war, of a distorted black and white worldview of good and evil, of wholesale anti-MILF stance, of reckless and sweeping call to terminate the peace process between the government and the MILF.

Centuries of attempts to violently subjugate and wantonly exploit the peoples in Mindanao (or anywhere else for that matter) – from the colonial invaders to Manila-based “imperial” government – have resulted only to interludes of fleeting “peace and order” but followed again and again by either scattered or organized uprisings. Indeed, a long lasting peace will be realized if genuine justice and freedom are ensured. On the other hand, sincerely talking and striving for peace, however difficult and painstaking, is also a very promising avenue for paving the way for this elusive “peace with justice” dream.

Thus, while actively seeking honest and unedited answers to the Mamasapano incident – from both the government and the MILF – we must consciously strive for an inclusive justice to ALL those who have fallen from this tragedy – the 44 PNP-SAF personnel, the 7 unnamed civilians and the 18 MILF fighters. Their respective families also lost a husband, father, brother, kin, comrade and friend.

This is why the DepEd directive – that during flag raising ceremonies, schoolchildren should offer one second of silence to every SAF operative killed “plus one more second for all other casualties” – is a half-baked tribute for justice and peace. Why not extend the same homage to every civilian and MILF fighters who were also killed in Mamasapano? What does such a “tribute” tell our kids? That the life of one PNP-SAF is equal to the lives of all the civilians and MILF who were killed?

We must continue to support the current peace process as it remains a viable, just and enduring solution to the never-ending armed conflict in Mindanao. At the same time, any form of religious or racial bigotry should be vigorously opposed as it has no place in human society and it would only further inflame anger, violence and mistrust.

Women and Labor call for “Justice for ALL Fallen in Mamasapano”

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#TruthandJusticefortheFallen64+ #MoroLivesMatter

Noting the invisibility of fallen Muslims in the President’s speech last Friday, labor and women’s groups, progressive parties, other anti-war advocates, and ordinary Filipinos held a candle-lighting action at 6 this evening, at the Boy Scout Circle, Timog cor. Tomas Morato. They demanded for truth and justice for all. “This also means accountability of those in command,” according to Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the World March of Women.

Enriquez added that “It is critical that investigations of integrity (especially by the International Monitoring Team) are made public, because whoever were at the helm of this reckless operation should account for the lost lives, not only of the elite police force but for the Moro people, including a 5-year-old child.” She added that to date, media reports of more than 500 who evacuated for fear, with the female and the young among them rendered vulnerable to trafficking.

Labor groups were at the forefront also of the call for peace in Mindanao, as politicians fan the flamesMuslim hatred and wholesale MILF condemnation. “With the President focusing on the 44 PNP-SAF as victims, the Moros are immediately relegated to perpetrators, preemptive of an independent investigation,” according to Josua Mata, Secretary-General of SENTRO.“In the same manner, politicians such as former Pres. Joseph Estrada, former Interior Sec. Rafael Alunan, Sen. Alan Cayetano, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, former Cong. Teddy Locsin, are fanning the flames of Muslim-hatred, wholesale anti-MILF sentiment, driving netizens to call for all-out war. It is critical to turn the country’s rage and grieving to greater understanding, and not back down in the peace process.”

Herbert Docena, one of the organizers and member of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) reminded the public of the context of this fragile peace,carelessly broken by the operation: “It was the Philippine state that immorally, if not illegally, effectively annexed Morolandia without the Moros’ consent in the early 20th century, backed foreign and local corporations in taking over thousands of hectares of Mindanao lands for their plantations or mining projects, drove hundreds of thousands of landless families from Luzon and the Visayan to settle in the ‘uninhabited’ lands of Mindanao to quell agrarian unrest in the North, and unleashed terror when the displaced people began fighting back.”

The group reminded the public that the ruling oligarchs who dominate the Philippine state – “they who have benefited the most from plundering Mindanao’s resources and subjugating both Moros and Christian landless peoples” – have succeeded in depicting the history of Mindanao as anything else but a history of settler-colonialism, in portraying themselves as other than colonizers, and in casting the Moros and other indigenous peoples as other than anti-colonial movements fighting for self-determination.

Holding a tarpaulin of 69+ faces, with names of the slain Moros after the faces of the 44 PNP-SAF members, the group demanded that the long road to peace be continued.

Organizers: Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Bukluran Ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), World March of Women (WMW) – Pilipinas, Stop the War Coalition, PLM – PartidoLakasngMasa, Friends of the Bangsamoro, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Focus on the Global South, Philwomen on the ASEAN, and other orgs and individuals

‘No whitewash in Mamasapano bloodbath probe’ – SENTRO

INSTEAD of shedding light on the circumstances behind the bloody clash last Sunday between security forces and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao which killed at least 44 policemen, President Aquino’s “explanation” in his televised address last night has in fact opened more questions and bolstered more doubts on the official “misencounter” line being mouthed by the government.

Official accounts said that the “misencounter” between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) troopers and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – which has an ongoing ceasefire and peace talks with the government – happened when the police “entered” the MILF territory in a remote village in Mamasapano town. The elite police force was on a covert mission to arrest a fugitive Malaysian Islamist and his Filipino associate, who were both involved in several high-profile bombings and allegedly sheltered by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway group of the MILF. The SAF team was pinned down by both MILF and BIFF forces.

The national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa calls on the government along with other independent sectors to immediately conduct a thorough, honest and no-nonsense probe of this “secret” police operation that has gone awry. No stones should be left unturned in investigating the following, among others:

  • Aquino’s culpability since he knew all along of – he actually sanctioned – the said secret mission of the SAF in Mamasapano;
  • the reported active role of Director General Alan Purisima, Philippine National Police chief, despite being suspended from office for six months since December for graft charges;
  • the alleged important role of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) which he heads, while the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which ostensibly controls the PNP, and the PNP officer in charge were both kept in the dark about the operation.
  • the apparent role of the US military, part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), which, if the suspicion that the operation was “directed” by the Americans was true, would clearly indicate a blatant violation of the Constitution and infringement on the country’s sovereignty.
  • the supposed “non-coordination” with the MILF forces in that area as well as with the government’s military troops in the vicinity, which purportedly resulted to the “misencounter” with the MILF members and the “failure” of the military to timely assist the besieged police commandos.

Amid all this, SENTRO strongly urges the government and the board of inquiry not to whitewash the investigation and not to alter the facts so that truth and justice will be achieved.

At the same time, SENTRO reiterates its support for the peace process as the only viable, just and ultimate solution to the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao and elsewhere. Likewise, SENTRO warns the public not to be duped by right-wing elements who agitate for Islamaphobia or anti-Muslim sentiments.