Sunday, October 28, 2012

Op/Ed: Bangsamoro framework accord: The inside story

Op/Ed piece by Amando Doronila in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 29): Bangsamoro framework accord: The inside story

The start of the informal talks in February 2011 between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on peace in Mindanao immediately ran into a deadlock. The MILF submitted to the government panel a 40-page comprehensive draft agreement. The government, in turn, responded with a much shorter proposal. Disappointed, the MILF recommended to its central committee the rejection of the government’s proposal. It described the gap between its proposal and that of the government as “heaven and earth.”  Twenty months after, on Oct. 10, the negotiations produced the “peace in our time” framework agreement on the Bangsamoro, carving out an autonomous Moro homeland from the sovereign territory of the Philippine republic. How this agreement closed that heaven-and-earth gap and what tradeoffs were struck are revealed in an academic paper that narrates the inside story of the negotiations. The paper, titled “Forging a Peace Settlement for the Bangsamoro: Compromises and Challenges,” a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, was presented by professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer of the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines, at the recent 2012 Philippines Update Conference at Australian National University in Canberra. Ferrer is a member of the Philippine negotiating panel in the talks with the MILF....

DND reviewing South Korea's offer to supply fighter jets

From the Philippine Star (Oct 29): DND reviewing South Korea's offer to supply fighter jets

An Air Force technical team is evaluating whether 12 FA-50 fighter jets that a South Korean firm is offering can deliver medium range missiles. Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR a private company, Korean Aerospace, has offered to provide the fighter jets at about P18 billion, not including the munitions. “What we are looking for is an aircraft that can be considered a fighter aircraft that can deliver missiles and other types of ammunition,” he said. Manalo, a retired Air Force general, said the success of air defense operations does not depend solely on an aircraft’s capability. “The capability of the pilot and the radar system are also important,” he said. “If a pilot is good, he can maneuver the plane if he engages in a dogfight.” Manalo said the technical team is expected to submit its recommendations to defense and military officials early next month. “The question now is when is it (FA-50) going to be certified as capable of delivering medium range missile,” he said. “We are doing due diligence to see to it that what we are going to acquire is what we need." Manalo said issues need to be threshed out regarding the South Korean fighter jets. “There are issues that we are trying to resolve, and one of the issues is the capability of the FA-50 of South Korea,” he said. Other countries including Italy and Russia are also offering defense equipment, Manalo said....

Akbayan vs. Communists

Op/Ed piece from Malaya by Ducky Paredes (Oct 25): Akbayan vs. Communists

A FORMAL complaint lodged before the Commission on Elections seeks the disqualification of six, highly successful and high-profile party-list groups. Should Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Kabataan and Katribu be allowed to stand for election as party-list groups seeking seats in the House of Representatives in the 2013 elections, even as they are the “creations” of the CPP-NDF-NPA, which seek the armed overthrow of the our system of government? After all, how can such groups participate in a democratic process (such as the election ) while openly seeking to destroy that very democracy that makes our elections possible? This should make sense even to a fourth-grader.... CPP founding chair Jose Ma. Sison openly admitted in a 1987 speech in Brussels, Belgium that Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Gabriela, League of Filipino Students (LFS), ACT and KADENA, among others, are components of the CPP-NDF NPA.

The petition argues that these Communist front organizations “serve the purpose and intentions of the CPP in fomenting both the armed and political struggles” and that “despite their entry and participation in the congressional mill, they have not shed off their street protests and marches with signage calling for the destruction of our free and democratic government and booting out of office the duly elected officials of the country.” They point out that KMU’s partylist is Anakpawis, Anakbayan’s and LFS’ partylist is Kabataan, Gabriela’s is Gabriela, hile Bayan’s is Bayan Muna. If these Communist front party-lists are not stricken off by the Comelec or the 2013 election, can we expect the complaining groups to wage a campaign asking democracy-loving Filipinos not to vote for the above?...

Akbayan is a pioneer partylist group. It is one of the few original partylist organizations since 1998, which has consistently defended the interests of the marginalized and underrepresented. It is a multi-sectoral partylist group composed of workers, farmers, women, youth, professionals, LGBT and informal settlers and is firmly committed to our Democracy! Akbayan enjoys popular support from the public. Since 1998, its leaders have been consistently elected in Congress. Akbayan is one of the few political parties that pushed for the passage of the partylist law. While the extreme left like Bayan Muna was still clinging to its ‘boycott election’ policy, Akbayan was already busy pushing for the implementation of the partylist system to encourage the people’s meaningful participation in our electoral exercise and bring the voice of the marginalized to the halls of Congress.... I do not endorse any party-list group but I would never survive a Communist takeover.

OIC mechanism “enough forum” for MNLF, MILF to discuss moving forward

From MindaNews (Oct 28): OIC mechanism “enough forum” for MNLF, MILF to discuss moving forward

There is a way for the factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to move forward together and that is through the coordinating mechanism proposed by Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said. Murad told a press conference in the MILF camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Saturday morning that “once it will be implemented, functionalized, then it will be enough forum for all groups of the MNLF and the MILF to discuss among themselves how we can move forward together.” Although he did not name the coordinating mechanism, Murad was apparently referring to the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum that Prof. Ekemelddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the 57-nation OIC, cited in his message to the MILF’s Bangsamoro Leaders Assembly held in Darapanan in July.... “The OIC is trying to set up a Bangsamoro Coordination Forum between the MILF and MNLF, and I seize this opportunity to appeal once again to the two fronts to make this forum operative before the next meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) scheduled to be held in November,” Ihsanoglu said in his message read for him at the Bangsamoro Leaders’ Assembly by Tahir Ahmad Saif, Deputy Head of the OIC Minorities Department. The next CFM will be held in Djibouti, Africa on November 15 to 17....

17 soldiers slain, wounded in Sayyaf fighting in the Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Oct 28): 17 soldiers slain, wounded in Sayyaf fighting in the Southern Philippines

The Philippine military said a total of four marines were killed and 13 more wounded in five hours of fierce fighting between security and rebel forces in the southern province of Sulu. At least 2 Abu Sayyaf gunmen were also slain in the fighting in the town of Patikul where troops had been sent to check on the reported presence of unidentified kidnap victims, said Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command. “A total of four soldiers were killed in the fighting and 13 others are also wounded in the clash that lasted about five hours,” Cabangbang told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. He said Abu Sayyaf gunmen under Radullan Sahiron and followers of Tahil Sali attacked soldiers as they patrol in Patikul, sparking a running gun battle. Cabangbang did not release the identities of the kidnap victims reported in Patikul, but among those believed to be in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf are Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell, 57, who was kidnapped in December last year from his seaside home in the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province. And also two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were also kidnapped earlier this year in Tawi-Tawi province. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding a Japanese man and three Filipinos in Sulu. Philippine authorities have imposed a news blackout on the kidnappings of the foreigners, although there were reports that negotiations for the safe release of Rodwell and the other foreigners are going on.

MILF: CSOs hold forum on the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement

From the MILF Website (Oct 28): CSOs hold forum on the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement

Socsksargen Advocacy Consortium for Peace and Development (SACPD), an alliance of civil society organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), and academe, held a multi-sectoral forum entitled Understanding the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro. The forum held at the Audio-Visual Room of the Graduate School Building, Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City on October 24, 2012 was attended by more than a hundred Moro traditional leaders, NGO representatives, students, women, youth, elders, madrasa teachers, university professors, representatives from the local government units and entrepreneurs. The gathering was geared to increase awareness of the public on the development of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the aim of deepening understanding of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro that was signed on October 15, 2012....

BAYAN: Complaint vs Bayan Muna et al being directed by AFP, implicitly supported by Akbayan

Posted to the pro-CPP BAYAN Website (Oct 28): Complaint vs Bayan Muna et al being directed by AFP, implicitly supported by Akbayan

Press Statement
October 28, 2012
Renato M. Reyes, Jr. BAYAN secretary general

The complainant versus progressive partylist groups Bayan Muna et al has ties with the AFP. Agnes Lopez writes for several AFP publications. Her actions before the Comelec may be under the direction of the AFP. We should ask why the AFP is interfering in the partylist system when it is supposed to be neutral. Is this the policy of the DND and the commander-in-chief? Does this have the imprimatur of Malacanang? Is this a prelude to another wave of harassment by the AFP during the 2013 elections? This is indeed very disturbing and alarming considering the continuing rights abuses taking place under the Aquino regime.  The allegations made in the complaint have been repeatedly debunked before the Comelec by the progressive partylist groups. What we fear is that this complaint merely lays the basis for more attacks on progressive groups during the elections. It also does not help that Akbayan has echoed the same line recently, that the progressive partylist like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and others are “front groups” of the “extreme left”. While Akbayan denies having anything to do with this disqualification complaint, its public statements support the claims of the AFP and the complainants in this case. Akbayan is engaged in the same business of red-tagging as the AFP. It even accuses progressive partylist groups of receiving campaign donations via “revolutionary taxes” from the NPA. Akbayan too is complicit in the commission of rights abuses done under the same red-tagging.

AFP convenes Davao youth summit

From the Business Mirror (Oct 28): AFP convenes Davao youth summit

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) convened on Sunday in Davao City its first National Youth Leadership Summit attended by more than 700 participants as the military pursues its peace program. “By uniting various youth organizations, we are ensuring the continuity of our programs that contribute to the AFP’s overall mission and harbor support for our government’s national development agenda,” said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Jessie Dellosa. The eagerness of our youth to participate in positive national conventions such as the Youth Leadership Summit clearly manifests the commitment of our young movers to contribute to our country’s enduring efforts for lasting peace and sustainable development,” he said. The summit convened members of the Youth for Peace, graduates of regional leadership trainings, until the end of this month in order to form the National Youth for Peace Movement whose goal is to promote a culture of peace, enhance leadership qualities and strengthen nationalism among the participants.

Government removes MILF from Mindanao terror threat list

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 28): Government removes MILF from Mindanao terror threat list

The Philippine Army’s (PA) 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Tupi, South Cotabato has removed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from the list of terror threats in the province. This was confirmed yesterday by the 27th IB executive officer Major Gerald Monfort days after the peace agreement was signed between the MILF and the government. Monfort however clarified that the military is now focusing in the towns of Surallah, Lake Sebu and Tampakan following intelligence reports of presence of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. Since the offensive operations and tight monitoring being conducted by the military in the said places, NPA rebels reportedly decreased by at least 38 percent. As this developed, the military expanded its forces in the said localities while establishing close coordination with local government units to serve residents. Monfort said the moves are part of PA’s counter measures against NPA presence....

More American warships dock at Manila harbor

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 28): More American warships dock at Manila harbor

Aside from the USS George Washington (CVN-73), considered one of the world’s most advanced carriers in service, the Philippines is also playing host to the USS Cowpens (CG-63), one of the US Navy’s most potent warship which can fire missiles at air, sea and land targets. Presently berthed at Pier 15 of Manila’s South Harbor along with the USS McCampbell (DDG-85), the USS Cowpens is a “Ticonderoga class” of missile cruiser. The ships, with the USS George Washington, arrived in the country last Oct. 24 and will leave on Oct. 29. The ships are on a five-day port visit which highlights the historical and military ties between the Philippines and the United States. “(The strike group’s visit) to the Philippines shows that our 61-year-old mutual defense treaty is still alive,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas stressed. “It shows that the United States is committed to the Filipino people, and that we actively support a reliable partner and a strong ally,” he added. During the five-day engagement, officers and crews of the above-mentioned ships will be conducting community development activities with their local counterparts....

Peace Envoys Visit North Cotabato

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 28): Peace Envoys Visit North Cotabato

Celebrity peace ambassadors are set to lead a government package of entertainment and relief food distribution today for residents here and nearby areas, especially the internally-displaced villagers. The Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) said actor Epy Quizon, singers Ebe Dancel and Khomeini Bansuan will perform their roles as peace ambassadors through instant entertainments combining musical and comical presentations with a child feeding program and distribution of footballs for the children of conflict-affected residents.... According to Cunanan, the OPAPP is also arranging immersion visits of other ambassadors of peace to other conflict-affected areas in Mindanao in the succeeding weeks.... Aleosan is one of five towns in North Cotabato where 39 barangays (villages) that voted for inclusion in area of autonomy in the 2001 plebiscite would form part of the Bangsamoro entity envisaged under the framework agreement signed on October 15 by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Philippine Army To Augment Security

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 28): Philippine Army To Augment Security

HINABANGAN, Western Samar — A Philippine Army (PA) brigade based in Samar will augment the Philippine National Police’s peacekeeping forces in Eastern Visayas when the region observes All Saints’ Day and All souls’ Day. Col. Romeo Labador, commanding officer of the PA’s 801st brigade’s 8th Infantry Division based in Barangay Fatima, this town, said soldiers under his command conducting internal security operations in their area of responsibilities will augment police, barangay officials and tanods, religious groups, and other concerned organizations in their respective localities in the maintenance of peace and order, particularly in cemeteries in the rural or hinterland areas, Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Labador said augmenting existing forces tasked to maintain peace and order during the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is part of the army’s civil-military operations.

Pentagon awards $1.8M contract for weapons system of BRP Ramon Alcaraz

From InterAksyon (Oct 28): Pentagon awards $1.8M contract for weapons system of BRP Ramon Alcaraz

The Pentagon has awarded a $1.8 million contract for the purchase of modern weapons systems that would be installed in the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16), the second high-endurance cutter that the Philippines recently acquired from the United States, the Philippine embassy in Washington DC said in a news release Sunday. The embassy said the purchase and installation of two Mk38 Mod 2 autocanon systems for the Alcaraz is part of a $24-million contract the Pentagon recently awarded to the Kentucky-based BAE Systems Land and Armaments Inc.... He said the contract, which is covered under the Foreign Military Sales Program, does not include the weapons system for the sister ship of the Alcaraz, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF15), which will be covered under a separate contract.... “The overhaul will take at least 11 weeks once it gets started,” Captain Aguilar said, adding that the vessel’s 14 officers and 74 enlisted personnel headed by Capt. Ernesto O. Baldovino continue to train under the US Coast Guard at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston , South Carolina where the vessel is currently moored....

USS George Washington visits Manila

From Rapper (Oct 28): USS George Washington visits Manila

The US Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is on a 5-day goodwill visit to the Philippines. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, which arrived in Manila Bay last Wednesday, October 24, aims to highlight the strong historic, community, and military connections between the Philippines and the United States. The supercarrier was anchored several kilometers from Mall of Asia in Pasay City.... Members of the media were taken aboard the carrier by ferry boats on a 45-minute cruise despite Storm Signal No. 1 due to "Ofel" in the metropolis. A short press briefing was conducted inside the hangar with the commander of the carrier group and its public affairs officer.... George Washington sailors will have the opportunity to interact with the locals through several community service projects set up by the ship. Projects also include teaching basic first aid at a local hospital facility, and general cleaning and landscaping. The carrier’s port visit serves also as a homecoming for nearly 800 sailors of Filipino descent....

5 dead, 10 wounded in Sulu encounter

From Rappler (Oct 28): 5 dead, 10 wounded in Sulu encounter

Government troops and members of the Abu Sayyaf group clashed in Sulu Sunday morning, October 28, leaving 5 people dead and 10 soldiers wounded. The clash occurred between a company of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 and an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf members under Radullan Sahiron and Tahil Sali, Col. Randolph Cabangbang of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said. The marines were patrolling Barangay Bakong in Patikul at around 6:30 am, responding to a report of the presence of kidnap victims in the area, when they encountered the ASG. Three of the 5 casualties are members of the Philippine Marines, while one of the bandits killed was identified as a certain Kaisar. Maj Gen Rey C. Ardo, newly installed Westmincom commander, immediately ordered the dispatch of all available air and naval assets to support the troops on the ground, as well as to evacuate the casualties.,-10-wounded-in-sulu-encounter

Next PH navy ship from US has $1.8-M weapons

From Rappler (Oct 28): Next PH navy ship from US has $1.8-M weapons

Modern weapons systems worth $1.8 million (Php 74.2 million) will be installed on the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the latest refurbished navy ship the Philippines recently acquired from the United States. The Alcaraz, the second Hamilton-class cutter the country has acquired from the US, will be fitted with two Mk38 Mod 2 autocannon systems as part of a US$24-million (P988 million) contract the Pentagon awarded to BAE Systems Land and Armaments Inc., the Philippine Embassy said in a statement Saturday, October 27. The contract for the Kentucky-based BAE Systems involves the purchase of 21 units of the remotely controlled naval gun systems and spare parts for both the US and Philippine navies," the embassy said, quoting Capt. Elson Aguilar, Naval Attache at the Office of the Defense and Armed Forces Attache at the Philippine Embassy. The Alcaraz was first commissioned in 1968 as the USCGC Dallas. It was decommissioned and turned over to the Philippines last May, and is currently being refurbished and refitted at a cost of $15.15 million (P618 million)....

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16) is moored at the United States Coast Guard station in Charleston, South Carolina, in this photo provided by the Office of the Naval Attache, Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. Photo by the Office of the Naval Attache, Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16) is moored at the United States Coast Guard station in Charleston, South Carolina, in this photo provided by the Office of the Naval Attache, Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. Photo by the Office of the Naval Attache, Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC$1-8-m-in-next-ph-navy-ship

Army chases after NPAs who torched Zambo Sur poultry farm

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 28): Army chases after NPAs who torched Zambo Sur poultry farm

The Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division had immediately launched a search against a band of New People's Army (NPA) rebels who roasted alive more than 10,000 chickens from a farm in Zamboanga del Sur early Saturday morning. Seven Communist rebels attacked the poultry farm of businessman Onyx Go after he refused to provide “protection money” to the NPA’s Mindanao Regional Party Committee. Army Capt. Alberto Caber, 1st ID spokesperson, said the NPA had been attempting to extort P65,000 every month from Go who owns the poultry farm in Barangay Dalaon, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur. The farm's loss was estimated at P4.5 million. The poultry farm owner reportedly received a phone call supposedly from the NPA and warned him of more attacks if he will continue to ignore the NPA demands of protection money.

Army awards 6 wounded soldiers in Comval NPA attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 28): Army awards 6 wounded soldiers in Comval NPA attack

Six soldiers of the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army who were wounded during an encounter with Communist rebels received the "Wounded Medal Award" on Friday. Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commanding officer of the 10th Infantry Division based in Mawab, Compostela Valley, awarded the wounded soldiers inside the Camp Panacan Hospital here where they were still recuperating as of this time. Bernardo said the awardees were recognized for their courage and willingness to risk their lives to protect the country from the enemies of the state. Awarded were Sgt. Marlon N. Parong, Cpl. Romualdo N. Tangonan, Erwin C. Manabat, Jaypee D. Sionillo, Carmelo R. Cachuela and Ludivico C. Elegio, Jr., all Private First Class. They were among those repelled 60 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who attacked them while conducting a Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) in Barangay Calabcab, Maco town in Compostela Valley last October 21, 2012.

Soldier killed in an encounter with NPAs

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 28): Soldier killed in an encounter with NPAs

A soldier was killed during an encounter with undetermined number of the New People's Army (NPA) remnants in Sitio Tabionan, Brgy Bucari, Leon, Iloilo on Saturday. The soldier,airlifted to a hospital in Iloilo city but expired, was identified as Private First Class John Philip Durana of Bravo Company of the 82nd Infantry Battalion of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division (3ID). Government troops under 1st Lieutenant Camlon Ramones were conducting peace and security operations in the area when they encountered NPA rebels. "Our persistent call for peace with the people shall continue despite this response from the NPA rebels. This 'armed struggle' has become not only anti-government but anti-people as well", said Major General Jose Mabanta Jr, 3ID Commander.

3 Marines, 2 ASG killed in Patikul clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 28): 3 Marines, 2 ASG killed in Patikul clash

Three Marines and two Abu Sayyaf (ASG)rebels were killed during a clash in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, Sulu on Sunday morning prompting the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) to launch an air, sea and ground assaults against the armed group. The firefight also left 10 other soldiers wounded, said newly designated Westmincom chief Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo. Ardo said that elements of 6th Marine Battalion Landing Team were conducting search operations for kidnap victims in the village of Bakong when they were fired upon by ASG men headed by "Tahil Sali" and "Radullah Sahiron" at around 6:30 a.m..... Westmincom spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said one of the two slain ASG rebels was identified only as a certain Kaisar. Cabangbang did not identify the kidnap victims sighted in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, but among those believed to be in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf are Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell, 57, and wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland, and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland....

PAMANA program completes 3.5-km. farm–to-market road for the Mandaya tribe in Compostela Valley

Philippine News Agency (Oct 28): PAMANA program completes 3.5-km. farm–to-market road for the Mandaya tribe in Compostela Valley

.... Today, Mandaya tribes men and women are all smiles as they transport their vegetables aboard vehicles, thanks to the newly-finished road constructed through the PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program of the government. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which oversees the PAMANA program, said on Sunday the new farm-to-market road stretches from Purok 2 to Purok 4 in Barangay Panansalan, Compostela town. Oliver Binancilan, area manager of the eastern side of Mindanao, said the road project covers the Davao-Compostela Valley-Caraga zone of the PAMANA program. In a simple turnover ceremony, Binancilan assured the project beneficiaries that through PAMANA, “the government is here to help them reach their aspirations and strengthen their community.” PAMANA is the national government’s peace building program and framework....