Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Volume 3,  Number 38              October 26 - November 1, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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Mindanao Peace Group Digs into Davao Bombings

As mutiny leaders clam up before the Maniwang Commission, the burden of unearthing the truth falls on the independent probe being conducted by a Mindanao-based peace group.




The Maniwang Commission was created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to probe the July 27 Oakwood mutiny leaders’ allegations that the Davao bombings early this year were masterminded by former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and former armed forces Intelligence chief Victor Corpuz. It held its second hearing at the justice department in Manila last Oct. 21, a few days after the Feliciano Commission said that the young officers’ statements can be used in the cases that would be filed against them in court.


Meanwhile, the Initiatives for Peace (InPeace) in Mindanao, a multi-sectoral, inter-faith group based in Davao City, has also conducted two public hearings – one in Cagayan de Oro City and one in Davao City – as part of its Independent Fact Finding Mission seeking the truth behind the series of bombings in Mindanao. Its investigation began even before the mutineers would expose the mysterious Davao bombings.

InPeace started its investigation as early as May 2003 after several bombings hit parts of Mindanao and affected civilian communities.  “We had to act as early because nobody, not even the government, was taking the bombings seriously,” said Robinson Montalba, Ph. D., convenor of InPeace.

US role

The investigative body, however, fears that as the investigation goes on, more bombings will rock Mindanao.  This was after the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Coorperation (APEC) announced Oct. 21 that they will take necessary actions to dismantle all terrorist groups in the Philippines and worldwide.

“The announcement is alarming to us as we will once again be the targets of military operations,” said Montalba.

Montalba underscored the role of the U.S. in this glaring threat to peace in Mindanao.  “Reports that the U.S. military is helping the local security forces track down Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is only a basis to justify the intervention of the Pentagon into Philippine affairs,” he said.

In a press conference on Oct. 22 in Quezon City, InPeace claimed that this announcement sounds “familiar” and “traumatic for the people of Mindanao especially to the Bangsamoro communities.”

Fall guys

The Moro-Christian Peoples Alliance (MCPA) noted that members of the Bangsamoro community are being used as scapegoats by the Macapagal-Arroyo government. 

“This is unjust and unfair,” said Cosain Naga, Jr., spokesperson of MCPA.  “After losing our homes, our livelihood and our kin in the bombings, we are tagged as the bombers.  The tragedy in our midst seems endless.”

Despite the release of 14 Muslim detainees who were arrested in the AFP crackdown in Basilan in July 2001, Naga said the Moro people have no reason to rejoice as more that 100 of their Muslim brothers remain in prison. 

“The release of our innocent brothers after two years of unjust incarceration proves our claim that they are just fall guys,” said Naga.

The mutineers as resource persons

The leaders of the failed July 27 mutiny have agreed to become resource persons in the InPeace investigation.  Represented by their lawyer Ruel Pulido, the mutineers submitted their affidavits on the two hearings of the InPeace-IFFM in Cagayan de Oro and Davao City. 

InPeace convenors said the young officers have given vital information about the hand of the military in the bombings in Mindanao. 

In the Oct. 22 press conference, Pulido expressed his clients’ belief that the InPeace-IFFM will present an impartial report.

On the other hand, they expressed apprehensions over the Maniwang Commission.

In the Maniwang Commission’s first hearing last Oct. 21, the mutineers invoked their “right to remain silent” as, they said, they have already stated their concerns in their joint affidavit.

Pulido said, “They (members of the Maniwang Commission) are the ones tasked to prove or disprove the involvement of the AFP leaders in the Mindanao bombings.  They should not give that burden to my clients by asking questions which they have answered for the nth time.” 

Pulido added that the government commission was merely fishing for statements that would be self-incriminating to his clients.

Justice not mercy

Justice not mercy – this was the battle cry of the July 27 Committee (Kapamilya, Kamag-anak, at Kaibigan ng Bagong Katipunan / families and friends of the new Katipunan). The wives of the mutineers lead the committee.

In a statement, the committee said: “Asking for mercy is not an option.  For this act is a recourse for those who are guilty.  We will not beg for mercy for the release of our loved ones for they are not guilty.  Instead we shall stand up and let our voices be heard.” 

The families and friends of the young officers who rebelled against the corruption in the AFP are working against the illegal detention of their loved ones.  The mutineers have been detained at the Camp Crame for three months now. 

The InPeace findings will be compiled and published. Copies will be sent to international and national government agencies, including the United Nations, it was reported. Bulatlat.com

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