Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Miriam sends anti-EDCA draft resolution to Supreme Court

From Rappler (Jun 30): Miriam sends anti-EDCA draft resolution to Supreme Court

Senator Miriam Santiago has collected the signatures of the majority of senators but has yet to sponsor the resolution before the Senate plenary

ROADBLOCK. Majority of senators say EDCA needs Senate ratification. EPA/Amiel Meneses

ROADBLOCK. Majority of senators say EDCA needs Senate ratification. EPA/Amiel Meneses

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, June 30, a draft resolution expressing a "strong sense" of the Senate that the military-to-military agreement between the Philippines and the US is "invalid" without the approval of the Senate.

“This is to respectfully enclose, for the presumable information of the Supreme Court, the copy of Senate Resolution No. 1414,” a statetment from Santiago said, quoting her letter to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Read about the arguments in the the draft resolution here.)

The draft resolution reads: “The Constitution is clear and categorical that Senate concurrence is absolutely necessary for the validity and effectivity of any treaty, particularly any treaty that promotes for foreign military bases, troops, and facilities, such as the EDCA.”

Santiago has collected the signatures of 13 senators, a majority of the Senate. But she has yet to sponsor the resolution before the Senate plenary. She said she will do so when session resumes on July 27.

Santiago is the chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations.

The High Court is expected to soon issue a ruling on petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), The deal was signed last year by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. (READ: A year later, SC still sitting on EDCA)

During the oral arguments, the possibility of transmitting EDCA to the Senate was discussed. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay opposed this, arguing that it would diminish the powers of the Office of the President.

EDCA seeks to expand US military presence in the Philipines by allowing them to build facilities inside Philippine bases and preposition their defense assets there.

The deal was negotiated at a time that the Philippines is facing threat of losing to China its claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (READ: SC orals on EDCA: China threat looms over charter issues)

Malacañang maintained it is only an executive agreement, and that its provisions are within the powers of the president to approve or delegate to the defense chief.

But critics argued that EDCA is de facto basing and thus unconstitutional without Senate approval.

The 13 senators who signed the resolution are Santiago, Juan Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III, Manuel Lapid, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Sergio Osmeña III, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla Jr, and Cynthia Villar.

There used to be tens of thousands of US troops in the Philippines until a historic 1991 Senate vote evicted them from the Philippines. They were able to return in smaller numbers through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a treaty signed by both countries in 1998.

[Video reports]

http://www.rappler.com/nation/97913-miriam-sends-edca-resolution-supreme-court

Prosecution rests case in Pemberton trial

From Rappler (Jun 30): Prosecution rests case in Pemberton trial

On August 3, the defense will begin its presentation of evidence in the trial of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine accused of killing a Filipino

ACCUSED. US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (2-R), accused in the murder of transgender Jennifer Laude, is escorted from a courtroom in Olongapo city, Philippines on 24 March 2015. Photo by Jun Dumaguing / EPA

ACCUSED. US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton (2-R), accused in the murder of transgender Jennifer Laude, is escorted from a courtroom in Olongapo city, Philippines on 24 March 2015. Photo by Jun Dumaguing / EPA


The prosecution in the murder case against United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton completed its formal offer of evidence to an Olongapo City court on Tuesday, June 30.

Public Prosecutor Nolibien Quiambao told the media that the defense panel is expected to submit comments on their formal offer.

The US Marine is accused of killing Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in October 2014.

“The court will decide whether they’re going to admit the evidence we marked and presented to the court during the presentation of our case,” Quiambao said.

He said the trial will then continue on August 3, when the defense is scheduled to begin its presentation.

The prosecution presented its last witness, Richard Bush, a forensic consultant of the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) in Singapore.

Bush said he guided and directed the NCIS agents during the parallel investigation the NCIS conducted with the Philippine National Police (PNP) Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO).

A private prosecutor present during an earlier trial said Jessica LeCroy, a latent print examiner from the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, testified that Pemberton’s fingerprints were present on one of 3 condoms recovered by the door of the bathroom where Laude was found dead on October 11 last year. Her body was found in Celzone Lodge along Magsaysay Avenue.

Another expert witness, Derek Dorrien, testified that he had examined lubricants found in the 3 condoms and said Pemberton’s fingerprints matched those on a condom wrapper found in the motel room.

Dorrien said the lubricant matched the same substance found on Pemberton’s penile shaft as well as on Laude’s anal area.

SOCO testified that the other two condoms recovered from the room did not match Pemberton's DNA samples.

A 3rd expert witness, forensic toxicologist George Jackson, said he took blood samples from Laude.

Pemberton, 19, was on shore leave on October 11, 2014, after participating in the joint Philippine-US military exercise.

He met Laude at an Olongapo bar. Both were later seen checking into a motel.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/97973-prosecution-rests-case-pemberton-trial

NPA bomber arrested in Compostela Valley

From InterAksyon (Jul 1): NPA bomber arrested in Compostela Valley

Troopers from the 28th Infantry Battalion foiled a bomb attack following the arrest of a suspected New People's Army (NPA) member as he was about to detonate two improvised explosive devices in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley Monday afternoon.

The suspect, identified as Rito Lucnod, was arrested at Barangay Araibo, Pantukan town at 2:45 p.m., said Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief Capt. Alberto Caber.

Seized from Lucnod were two IEDs, blasting caps, triggering devices, and 100 meters of electric wire.

Appropriate charges are now being prepared against the communist rebel.

Lt. Col Benjamin Daniel Tianco, commander of the 28th Infantry Battalion, said the NPA IED attack was intended to harass residents living in the area.

As of Jan. 1 to June 30, the Eastern Mindanao Command has seized 56 unexploded IEDs.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/113380/npa-bomber-arrested-in-compostela-valley

Duterte calls for ‘temporary ceasefire’ during Parago’s wake

From MindaNews (Jun 30): Duterte calls for ‘temporary ceasefire’ during Parago’s wake

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte appealed on Monday night to both the government forces and communist rebels for a “temporary ceasefire” during the wake of slain New People’s Army (NPA) leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval.

Duterte, who arrived at the wake at 10 p.m., issued his appeal as he condoled with the family of the slain rebel leader at a funeral parlor here.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte condoles with the wife of slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, at the wake in the city on Monday night. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco
 
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte condoles with the wife of slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, at the wake in the city on Monday night. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco
 
Pitao, chief of the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Command, was killed last Sunday in a clash with the military in the rebels’ stronghold in the hinterlands of Paquibato District.

Alangan mag pinusilay ta na mag bilar pa ta sa patay” (Won’t be easy to continue shooting while we lack sleep mourning the dead), Duterte told reporters at the wake.

Pitao’s remains, along with those of female medic Kyle Limpag who was also killed in the encounter, were brought to Cosmopolitan Funeral Home Monday afternoon.

Aside from Duterte, City Police Director Vicente Danao and Task Force Davao chief Col. Macairog Albert visited the wake.

“Those who want to come down and pay their last respects, you can come down here as long as you don’t have warrants of arrest yet,” the mayor said, referring to the rebels. “Pagkatapos sa haya, kung kursunada pa ninyo balik bukid, limpyuhi na pud na inyo mga pusil” (After the wake, if you feel you still want to go back to the mountains, then you will have to clean your guns), he added.

Duterte said he can guarantee the safety of the rebels and sympathizers who want to come down to the city to pay their last respects to Pitao.

During the Peace and Order Council meeting, the mayor told the Army and the police “to always respect those who fight for their principles.”

While consoling Evangeline, Pitao’s wife, he advised the grieving not take this too personal to avoid more loss of lives.

“I came here to condole with the family of Parago,” the mayor addressed the slain rebels’ friends and relatives.

He added that he will extend any help he can to Pitao’s family.

Duterte disclosed he had told Pitao in previous occasions that should he decide to return to the fold of the law, he should wait for the mayor. “Otherwise, you would be killed,” he recounted telling Pitao.

The mayor, who has been publicly saying that Pitao was his friend, appealed to the NPA not to launch retaliatory attacks during the wake of the slain rebel leader.

During a press conference Monday morning, military officials said that there is no let up on the military operations against Pitao’s comrades in the hinterlands of Paquibato District.

Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said they are expecting a retaliation from Pitao’s followers.

But Año assured that the military is beefing up its security measures to avert any attacks.

He added that with the series of clashes since early June, some rebels have already separated from their main units.

The military official estimated that the rebels are now less than 50 as some of them were already killed in previous clashes.

The series of clashes have been a factor in tracking down and cutting-off of exit points for the NPA guerrillas, Año added.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2015/06/30/duterte-calls-for-temporary-ceasefire-during-paragos-wake/

Photo: Visiting Parago (Mayor Duterte)

From MindaNews (Jun 30): Photo: Visiting Parago




Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte visits the wake of his friend slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, at a funeral in the city Monday night (29 June 2015). Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco

http://www.mindanews.com/photo-of-the-day/2015/06/30/visiting-parago/

With Parago gone, NPA will weaken in Davao Region – military

From MindaNews (Jun 30): With Parago gone, NPA will weaken in Davao Region – military

The military on Monday claimed that the killing of rebel leader Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Commander Parago Sandoval, is a big blow to the communist movement as it will further weaken the New People’s Army in the region.

But for the communist rebels, Pitao’s death will only further fuel the courage and determination of the NPA guerrillas to pursue revolution in the countryside.

Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said in a news conference on Monday that Pitao’s men have already separated from the main unit following the series of clashes since early June.

Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, briefs the media on June 29 on  the operation that killed NPA leader Leoncio Pitao on June 28 in Paquibato District, Davao City. With him are Eastern Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad and 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Oscar Lactao. Mindanews photo by Keith Bacongco

Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, briefs the media on June 29 on the operation that killed NPA leader Leoncio Pitao on June 28 in Paquibato District, Davao City. With him are Eastern Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad and 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Oscar Lactao. Mindanews photo by Keith Bacongco

Pitao was killed in an encounter with government troops in his known stronghold in the hinterlands of Paquibato District last Sunday.

Año believes that the death of Pitao was a big blow to the NPA fronts operating in the hinterlands of the city and Davao del Norte. “This is going to be the fall of the NPAs in the Davao Region,” he said.

He added that Pitao’s death can cause a huge setback in the entire hierarchy of the communist movement in the region.

Pitao’s group, the First Pulang Bagani Company of the NPA, is the toughest front in the area, the military official admitted.

Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command, claimed that even before the death of the top NPA leader, many cadres have already left the guerilla movement and returned to the fold of the law.

Baladad cited the Army’s data stating that 220 NPA rebels have been neutralized since January until June, which he broke down into 38 killed, 42 arrested and 140 others surrendered.

The data further showed 127 firearms have been recovered.

From 29 guerrilla fronts in the second quarter of 2014, the military was able to dismantle five guerilla fronts in the second quarter this year in its area of responsibility, Baladad said.

He said that from these figures, it goes to show that the rebel movement is weakening.

Eastern Mindanao Command covers the provinces of Agusan, Davao, Compostela and Surigao.

Simon Santiago, NPA’s spokesperson in Davao Region, refuted the military claims, saying that the death of Pitao will not weaken the communist movement in the region.

In a text message to MindaNews, Santiago added that the slain rebel leader has been revered as an icon not just among the ranks of the guerrillas but also among the people in the countryside.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2015/06/30/with-parago-gone-npa-will-weaken-in-davao-region-military/

Pambobomba sa militar naudlot, NPA nahuli

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 30): Pambobomba sa militar naudlot, NPA nahuli

Hawak ngayon ng pulisya ang isang isang rebeldeng New People’s Army matapos itong madakip habang naghahandang pasabugin ang dalawang bomba na itinanim nito sa daraanan ng mga sundalo sa bayan ng Pantukan sa Compostela Valley.

Sinabi ni Capt. Alberto Caber, ang spokesman ng Eastern Mindanao Command, na kasalukuyang iniimbestigahan si Rito Lucnod na nahuli sa Barangay Araibo nitong hapon ng Lunes. Nabigla pa umano si Lucnod ng malamang napaligiran na siya sa madamong bahagi ng barangay ng mga sundalong mula sa 28th Infantry Battalion.

Hindi na nakuha pa ni Lucnod na pasabugin ang mga bomba.

“The soldiers recovered two unexploded IEDs with blasting caps, triggering device and 100 meters electric wire from Lucnod. The local PNP is now filing for illegal possession of explosives and other appropriate charges against the bandit,” ani Caber.

Sinabi pa nito na umabot na sa 56 na mga IEDs o improvised explosive device na itinanim ng NPA ang nabawi ng militar sa ibat-ibang lugar sa eastern Mindanao mula pa nitong taon. Nakikipaglaban ang NPA upang maitatag ang sariling estado nito sa bansa.

http://mindanaoexaminer.com/pambobomba-sa-militar-naudlot-npa-nahuli/