Friday, September 28, 2012

From the Philippine Star (Sep 29):  "Fragile peace" as bandits stop attacks

A “fragile peace” can now be felt in the five Maguindanao towns bandits subjected to a 10-day violent foray last August, but the police and military are still not taking chances. Col. Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said they appreciate the continuing efforts of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to prevent bandits belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters from just even getting close to highways traversing the five municipalities.
From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): OPAPP drafts framework on peace agreement

 The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has drafted a framework on peace agreement which aim to bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao. OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said "the contents of the proposed “framework agreement” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would be presented to the Filipino people before any signing would be undertaken."
From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): Army overruns NPAs camp in North Cotabato

Elements of the 57th Infantry Battalion overran an NPA camp in a remote village in Makilala, North Cotabato after engaging the rebels in an intense firefight, belated reports from the Army said Saturday.... Meanwhile, Galna, spokesperson for the NPA Front 72, told media that their men engaged military troops of the 57th IB and the Scout Ranger Battalion in an intense exchange of fires.
From the MILF Website (Sep 29): MILF to hold people’s assembly in Sulu

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through its political and military organs in the province of Sulu will hold a people’s assembly there before the year ends. Hassan Hatab, an MILF political officer, based in Jolo, Sulu told Luwaran in a phone interview that holding an assembly similar to the one held in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao in July this year has long been overdue....
Posted to ABS-CBN (Sep 28):  Photo-Filipino Muslims Protests "Innocence of Islam" Video

Muslims petition Google and YouTube

Filipino Muslims display a banner with the logos of Google and YouTube during a protest on Friday in Manila against the American film "Innocence of Muslims." The group continues to petition the Philippine government to prevent the film from being searched on the internet.  Photo: ABS-CBNnews
From the Business World (Sep 28): Army hunts downs suspects behind ambush in Sultan Kudarat

Soldiers of the Philippine Army are hunting down suspects responsible for the ambush of two members of a para-military group in Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday. One of the victims, who were assigned to the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion. was killed in that ambush.... Police investigation continues even as soldiers are on a manhunt of the suspects who were said to be members of a rebel group.
From the Daily Tribune (Sep 29): House ratifies bicam report on revised AFP program

Before it adjourned last week, the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on House Bill 6410, which extends the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act for another 15 years.... the revised AFP Modernization Program shall be based on an amount of at least P75 billion for the first five years subject to the capacity of the Department of National Defense to utilize and implement the program in accordance with the Defense System of Management (DSoM).
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): US seeks calm over Asian disputes; won't mediate

The Obama administration on Friday pressed U.S. allies Japan and South Korea to continue their cooperation on North Korea and other key issues despite a dispute over a contested islet. The administration also urged Tokyo and Beijing to make serious diplomatic efforts on an even sharper dispute over maritime borders. Meeting with the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said "every nation in the region has a responsibility to work to resolve disputes, peacefully lower tensions, promote regional security and stability." She noted the three key countries' cooperation is vital to convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, doing her best to calm their disagreement over the tiny islands known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.
From the Stars & Stripes (Sep 28): US troops see terrorism threat diminish on Philippine island of Mindanao

A year after the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. joined the Philippines’ battle against al-Qaida-linked groups in the country’s impoverished southern Mindanao region, calling it a new front in the war on terrorism. A decade later, the number of terrorists has been winnowed down to a few hundred, their major leaders are dead and movements are confined primarily to the dense southern jungles on the islands of Jolo and Basilan.
From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 28): US-Philippine Alliance On Upswing

A senior Pentagon official says the US-Philippine military-to-military relations have reached a new and exciting level while citing the critical role the alliance plays in keeping peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. “I would say this is one of the most important alliances we have," said Mark W. Lippert, US Department of Defense (DoD) assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security, during a conference on the Philippines hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. “It's a critically important part of our security discussions in Asia. The mil-to-mil relations have been on an upswing over the past decade," said Lippert, adding that “the countries now are poised for a new chapter."
From the Manila Standard Today (Sep 29):  MILF autonomy formula gets a nod

Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao agrees to establish the new autonomous political entity espoused by Moro Islamic Liberation Front to achieve genuine peace in Mindanao. “We’re a part of promoting the peace process in preparing the ARMM for the eventual signing of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF,” told the general assembly at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Hataman said fellow officials appointed by President Benigno Aquino III were prepared to support ARMM’s replacement....
From the Manila Standard Today (Sep 29): China says drone use in disputed sea legal

The deployment of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles over the disputed West Philippine Sea was “justified and legal,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said on Friday. Yang made the statement after Defense Department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez expressed concerned over the deployment of drones, saying that might undermine efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea....
Posted to the Manila Times (Sep 28):  Photo--Filipino Muslims Protest "Innocence of Muslims"

Filipino Muslims shout slogans as the Philippine flag and a banner with Arabic words are being waved during a protest against Innocence of Muslims at Mendiola on Friday. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): Group: Gov't lied on rights situation to get US aid

Rights group Karapatan on Friday slammed the Aquino government for allegedly lying on the human rights situation in the Philippines in exchange for $13 million in US military aid. “Human rights defenders, victims and their relatives, and communities under military attack can attest to the prevailing, if not more emboldened, climate of impunity under Aquino," Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): Gov't appeals to hacktivists to stop attacks

The Department of Science and Technology's Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) on Friday appealed to hacktivists to stop attacking government websites as it admitted that there is a need to upgrade the state's internet security system.... Casambre said that the latest attacks expose the existing vulnerabilities of government websites and underscores the need for a "national cybersecurity plan."
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): Muslim leaders urge calm over anti-Islam film

The Muslim elders and religious leaders cautioned their flocks from “agitators” espousing violence to show protest gainst the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims.” “To protest the showing of the film is considered by us as our religious duty. But we caution our people and communities not to be easily provoked and trapped to become violent in our reaction – because this kind of move or action is also contrary to the personality, the behavior and attitude of our holy prophet,” said Sheihk Jamal Munib, chairman of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu chapter. Munib told newsmen in a conference at Ma’had Moro Al-Islamie Institute that appealed to the media to help them in harmonizing the differences of building humane and just society where Christians and Muslims can co-exist.
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): Eid'l Adha is regular holiday

The next regular holiday in the Philippines in 2012 is on October 26, a Friday, in solidarity with Muslims’ tribute to patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) for his willing sacrifice of his son Ishmael to Allah in an act of obedience. Through this year’s Proclamation No. 295, President Benigno Aquino III extends the Muslim religious holiday Eid’l Adha commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham, whose commitment Allah tested, to all Filipinos of different creeds....
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): BCDA to develop more idle military lots

The Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) is eyeing the development of idle military lots so these could generate funds that would support the Armed Forces’ modernization programs.
Arnel Casanova, president and chief executive officer of BCDA, said more than half of military properties are not being maximized and are even being claimed by squatters and land grabbers.
“We’re looking at helping the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to master plan most of its military lands,” Casanova said in an interview Thursday.
From the Philippine Star (Sep 28): Brigade of Marines deployed back to Palawan

Key officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command (Wescom) welcomed a brigade of Marines back to Palawan on Friday as the military is gradually shifting from internal to territorial defense.... Fresh from their anti-terror duties in Sulu, the returning Marines are facing a new round of challenges in Palawan. This after they found out that their eight-hectare camp in Barangay Tiniguiban in Puerto Princesa City, where they were formerly based, is now being owned by a private individual. Sabban himself was surprised that the Marine camp established inside a military reservation has been titled and privatized. With this development, Sabban is calling for a thorough investigation into what he called systematic land-grabbing activities of government lands by dubious individuals in the province.
From InterAksyon (Sep 28): Govt demands surrender of rebels behind Davao blast that hurt civilians

The Aquino government is demanding that New People's Army guerrillas responsible for the grenade explosion in Davao City’s Paquibato district that injured 47 persons, mostly children, give themselves up.... "If it were truly a champion of human rights and international humanitarian law, the NPA would readily surrender the rebel perpetrators of the Paquibato bombing and their other human rights and international humanitarian law crimes to the Philippine justice system, which, however imperfect, remains a far better legal remedy to stakeholders and to the public than the so-called justice system of the NPA," the government committee said on Friday.
Posted to the conservative Heritage Foundation Website (Sep 24): Getting the Philippines Air Force Flying Again: The Role of the U.S.–Philippines Alliance


The recent standoff at Scarborough Shoal between the Philippines and China demonstrates how Beijing is targeting Manila in its strategy of maritime brinkmanship. Manila’s weakness stems from the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) lack of air-defense system and air-surveillance capabilities to patrol and protect Philippine airspace and maritime territory. The PAF’s deplorable state is attributed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ single-minded focus on internal security since 2001. Currently, the Aquino administration is undertaking a major reform to shift the PAF from its focus on counterinsurgency to its original role of air defense, an effort hindered by the perennial lack of funds. It is imperative for the U.S.— Philippines’ alliance—to assist the PAF in developing the air power and skills to spread its wings and protect the country’s territory.
Posted to Jane's Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis Website (Sep 27): Mujahideen of the Sulu Sea - the Philippines' Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)


The most prominent Philippine militant Islamist group is Al-Harakat al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Movement - more commonly referred to as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), or Father of the Sword.

In this vein, the group's decapitation of its victims, from security force personnel to Christian missionary workers, has almost become a signature of the ASG. The act of decaptitation serves to not only underline the group's commitment to its fundamentalist ideology but also to send a message to the government and the local populations in its areas of operation. In a report released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in 2002 - entitled Knowing the Terrorists: The Abu Sayyaf Study - the military claims that the ASG uses "brutal acts… as a means to show they mean business, and [to] create and instil fear".

While the ASG initially rose to public prominence with a series of high-profile kidnappings throughout the 1990s, it has subsequently become better known for a series of urban explosive device attacks - most notably the SuperFerry 14 bombing in the capital Manila in February 2004 that left more than 100 dead - along with a continuing steady tempo of guerrilla operations throughout the Sulu Archipelago, the southwest island provinces of the Philippines. The group is also noted for its past links to regional militant Islamist groups, specifically Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al-Qaeda-linked personnel.

The ASG's activities have seen it designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States Department of State and listed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, European Union and United Kingdom among others.
From the Philippine News Agency: KALAHI-CIDSS project expands in five PAMANA areas in Davao Region

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project has added five more PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) municipalities in Davao Region.... Razon said KALAHI-CIDSS PAMANA, which covers 71 conflict-affected barangays in the region with a grant of P21.3 million, aims to improve access of conflict-affected barangays to quality basic social services and responsive, transparent and accountable local governments.... Compostela Valley has become the focus of the agency because between 2003 and 2010, the province had the highest number of conflict incidences.... OPAPP is the lead agency that oversees the implementation of PAMANA.
From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 28): Army brigade conducts support program to strengthen family relationship

In response to the increasing number of separation of couples in the military, the Philippine Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental conducted on Friday a one-day Family Welfare Support program for its soldiers and their spouses to strengthen family ties and marital relationships....  Col. Francisco Patrimonio, brigade commander, in an interview noted a high incidence of failed marriages and broken marital unions in the military because of the nature of their job. He, however, could not give specific figures, but admitted this is a trend in the military that is known to the public.
Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 28): US warns citizens of threat in the Philippines

The United States on Friday warned its citizens in the Philippines to take extreme caution following reports of threat against Americans staying in metropolitan Manila, particularly in Pasay City. In an emergency message, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said the threat against American citizens has been detected by reliable security forces. “The U.S. Embassy advises American citizens in the Philippines that a threat against American citizens in metropolitan Manila, specifically the Pasay City neighbourhood, has been detected by reliable security forces. This threat remains in effect until October 10, 2012,” it said.
From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 28): 'Innocence of Muslims' protests subside in the Philippines

While the protests against the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” have subsided in the southern Philippines, anger among individual Muslims in Mindanao still persist, particularly in social media sites where the issue continues....In the Islamic City of Marawi in Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur province, thousands of Muslims gathered on the streets and burned US and Israel flags in protest of the film believed made by Egyptian-American Nakoula Basseley Nakoula... Army Col. Daniel Lucero, commander of military forces in Lanao provinces, said the Muslim protests over the film were peaceful. “The protests were peaceful and so far there had been no reported violence in connection with the film Innocence of Muslims. The government is on top of the situation,” he said in a separate interview.
Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 28): Ambush kills village chief, injures another in Zambo Sibugay

Unidentified gunmen have killed a top village official and injured another in an ambush in the hinterlands of Zamboanga Sibugay province, a report reaching Luwaran said.  The report disclosed that the incident took place at Purok Mangga in the village of Bangco, Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay province last September 25. The slain government village official as Alberto Arabia, 40, the village chief of Marcelo, Kalawit town, Zamboanga del Norte Province, and the wounded companion as Ernie Sumaylo, also a resident of the same village and town.  The motive for the attack has not yet been established.
From Bulatlat (Sep 28): MILF expresses ‘guarded optimism’ in peace talks with government

The peace panels of both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines are set to meet again next week in Kuala Lumpur in an atmosphere they both described as guarded optimism. They had concluded their latest negotiations, the 31st, earlier this month saying that they “reached substantive gains.”
From ABS-CBN (Sep 28): RPA-ABB member killed in Iloilo

A member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) was killed in an ambush in the vicinity of Barangay Bad-As, San Joaquin, Iloilo and the towns of Sibalom and Hamtic in Antique Thursday morning. The fatality was identified as Alfredo Sidlao Jr. alias “Kumander Onyok”...Authorities said Sidlao, along with other RPA-ABB members, were patrolling in the area when at least 15 rebels under the Southern Front Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army opened fire at them.
From GMANews (Sep 28): Police: Sayyaf member with P1-M bounty arrested in Basilan

A notorious member of the Abu Sayyaf Group with P1-million bounty on his head fell in the hands of police and military operatives in Lamitan City in Basilan last Wednesday. In a news release, Police Senior Inspector Kimberly Molitas-Gonzales of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said CIDG director Samuel D Pagdilao Jr. identified the wanted ASG member as Yatim Batah alias Yatin Hakimin, who was collard along Rizal Brgy. Maganda.
From the Sun Star (Sep 28): AFP: Human rights cases vs military down

Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan Jr., AFP Human Rights Office chief, said the number of human rights complaints against the military has declined in the first two years of the administration of President Benigno Aquino and cited the actions they have undertaken to stop or lessen the alleged violations. In a live interview on state-run People’s Television Network on Thursday evening, Tutaan said the AFP received only 96 complaints from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from July 1, 2010 to June 30 this year.
From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 28): Local Reds vow to fight with PH forces vs Chinese aggression

Philippine communist rebels, while embracing the ideology of Mao Zedong, will not side with China in the event the two countries’ territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) gets ugly. Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of National Democratic Front in Mindanao, said New People’s Army rebels will fight alongside government security forces if China declared war on the Philippines. “If there is a direct foreign invasion of our country, the focus of the revolutionary movement would be to fight the foreign aggressor,” Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.