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The New BTC


The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Friday announced the new members of the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), a body that will draft the new Bangsamoro enabling law.
The crafting of the law is part of the implementation process of the southern peace pact or the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014.
Just how this announcement would affect our city, at least to this corner - Writing Sniper (WS) - is yet unclear. What is fairly remembered is, our cityfolk led by Congressmen Celso L. Lobregat, vehemently opposed the move. But the same development now indicates, the Duterte Administration is bent on implementing it.
Gladly, however, such a draft will have to be scrutinized in both Houses of Congress, where in 2014, the original Bangsamoro Basic Law failed to be enacted into law in deference to disparities with the Philippine Constitution.
The way things stand, though, WS feels, the BBL is moribund, if or as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) insists - as espoused, on a lock, stock and barrel Comprehensive Bangsamoro Agreement (CAB).
Look over. The composition of the Transition Commission is rebel dominated, composed of as decreed, an MILF is chair with 11 members, (That’s 12 in all), while the government nominates only 10 members, and yet with three members from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) (That may leave government with only seven (7) members. 12 versus 7… Whew!
The point now is, owning the clear majority in the consultative body, the MILF might go for an untouched CAB and haved it their way.
When that happens, as what they pronounce to be their stand, having the majority, the original BBL goes.
But saner minds in the legislative body - the final arbiter on the matter - would definitely thrash their draft. 
Then it’s back to square one. The MILF must only reasonable demands backed  by existing laws.
Recollection - The BBL, crafted with the CAB as module, was killed in congress in 2014.
And what was deemed unconstitutional then, withstanding even the mighty Duterte whip, the possible new draft will meet the same fate.

On the sides, the list of government nominees, include  only two who WS knows -  Atty. Hussin Amin, former Sulu congressman and Jolo Mayor, and Atty. Jose I. Lorena, former law practioner here and a secretary of the ARRM, both known to WS as open-minded and fair. But will their wisdom weather the MILF domination of the commission?
You conclude.
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President Duterte has unselfishly allocated yesterday P2 billion relief funds for the victims of the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that shook Surigao del Norte on Friday.
According to the President, he will release the funds through Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who leads the relief efforts for the earthquake victims.
He added that the fund is intended for the purchase of medicines for the victims especially those who sustained trauma injuries.
Seven people have been reported killed due to the quake as of Sunday afternoon.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reminded the public to be cautious of structures visibly weakened or damaged by the 6.7-magnitude earthquake in Surigao del Norte as aftershocks and other seismic hazards may still happen in the coming days, as it did on Sunday, when a series of light tectonic tremors hit Surigao City anew with magnitude scales ranging from 2.2 to 4.1.
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US Pres. Donald Trump has reacted swiftly to what is seen to be a North Korea provocative firing of a ballistic missile on Sunday.
The needling came as Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and just days before North Korea is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong-un’s late father, Kim Jong-il.
Appearing with Trump at a news conference at the president’s south Florida estate, Abe condemned the missile launch as “absolutely intolerable.”
Trump followed Abe with even fewer words, saying in part: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”
Though Pyongyang has been relatively quiet about the transfer of power to the Trump administration, its state media has repeatedly called for Washington to abandon its “hostile policy” and vowed to continue its nuclear and missile development programs until the US changes its diplomatic approach.
And just days ago, Pyongyang also reaffirmed its plan to conduct more space launches, which it staunchly defends but which have been criticized because they involve dual use technology that can be transferred to improve missiles.
Kim Dong-yeop, an analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, speculated the missile could be a Musudan or a similar rocket designed to test engines for an ICBM that could hit the US mainland.
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Pope Francis on Sunday criticized the everyday use of “insults”, an apparent reference to anonymous attacks he has faced over the last week in Rome.
In his weekly Angelus address, Francis highlighted Jesus’ commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” saying the edict applied not only to actual homicide, “but also to those behaviors which offend the dignity of the human person, including insulting words.”
“Certainly, these injurious words do not have the same gravity and do not lead to the same verdict of guilt as homicide, but they are placed on the same level because they are the premise of more serious acts and reveal the same malevolence,” he said.
But the Ponntiff said, “We are used to insults,” and added, “It is like saying, ‘Good morning’.”
On February 4, Romans woke up to more than 200 posters of a stern-faced pope plastered all over the city, with a caption asking in Italian, “But where is your mercy?”
The unidentified posters accused Francis of having “ignored cardinals” and “decapitated the Order of Malta” - references to a bitter dispute between the order and the Vatican that sidelined a
The 80-year-old church leader shrugged off the criticisms and in-fighting.
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The communist New People’s Army (NPA), after all, still has certain residues of concern for civilians.
The NPA operating in Surigao and portions of Agusan del Norte has declared a unilateral interim ceasefire with government troops effective Feb. 11 following a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck the region, leaving six people dead and several structures damaged.
In a report in Mindanews, Ka Oto, the NPA’s spokesman in the region, said the communists had ceased tactical offensives against government forces effective 6 p.m. on Saturday “until the province will recover from the disaster.”
Instead, he said the rebels will focus on humanitarian efforts to help the quake victims.
The ceasefire indeed is tentative, as Oto added, “Rest assured we will not do any harm to the military as long as they will not come to our areas.”
The military had earlier urged the communist rebels not to attack its soldiers conducting rescue and rehabilitation operations in the areas affected by the earthquake.
The military’s appeal came as the NPA announced a “heightened armed resistance” against the government’s all-out war declaration on Saturday.
On Friday, Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison urged his former student, President Rodrigo Duterte, to continue with the peace negotiations with the communists to clarify “misunderstandings” that he said were instigated by the peace “spoilers.”
But Malacañang told the communist rebels to show their sincerity before any peace talks could continue.
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Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II admitted that state agencies are taking time to build an airtight case of drug traffiking  against Senator Leila De Lima in relation  to her alleged role  in the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
The panel of prosecutors headed by Senior Asst. State Prosecutor Peter Ong has already submitted the case for resolution without the answer from De Lima, who was repeatedly summoned to attend the hearing and submit her counter-affidavit.
The consolidated complaints against De Lima were filed by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian in connection with her alleged involvement in illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was still Justice secretary.
The complaints filed against her include indirect bribery, violation of the Anti-Graft Law and  of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
But Aguirre said the resolution on the complaints against the senator would be out in a matter of days or this week. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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