Monday, November 5, 2012

NPAs admit slay of former leader

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 6): NPAs admit slay of former leader

 The Rachelle Mae Palang Command of the New People’s Army has claimed responsibility for the killing of its former leader in Negros Oriental they accused of being involved with the Philippine Army in military operations in Santa Catalina, Siaton and Pamplona towns. The victim, identified as Elmo Taburada, former vice-commander of the Sentro de Grabidad platoon of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Sentral Bisayas, succumbed to three gunshot wounds. He was shot by three suspected NPA assassins on Nov. 1 in Sitio Avocado, Brgy. Talalac, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental. Estrella Banag-banag, spokesperson of the NPA South East Negros, has claimed in a statement that Taburada was a traitor to the revolutionary movement, as he also voluntarily surrendered two high-powered firearms to the military....

Army to send more peacekeepers in conflict affected Maguindanao town

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 6): Army to send more peacekeepers in conflict affected Maguindanao town

The military’s 7th Infantry Battalion sent more troops to Datu Montawal town in Maguindanao as family feud involving Moro brothers continues to sending fears to villagers. Col. Benjamen Hao, 7th IB chief, said the local police in Datu Montawal, has requested for troops augmentation as sporadic fighting between followers of Datu Montawal Mayor Utto Montawal and his heavily armed brother Andy continue to occur. Andy, who has about 30 armed followers, had been at odds with his younger brother, the town mayor, over matters only known to them, authorities said. Hao said efforts have been made by the local leaders, the police and the military to pacify warring groups to no avail. “Mayor Montawal is very willing to sit down and settle differences with his brother in a peaceful manner,” Hao said in a radio interview. “But the brother, Datu Andy, could not be found when soldiers and Muslim religious leaders were trying to reach him,” he added....

Comelec discourages candidates from paying campaign tax to NPAs

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 6): Comelec discourages candidates from paying campaign tax to NPAs

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is discouraging political candidates from paying the so-called campaign tax to the New People’s Army (NPA). Atty. Ryan Castro, Comelec legal officer in Region 6, said politicians being extorted by the NPAs should rather immediately coordinate with the Philippine Army so they could be provided with protection. Col. Arnold Quiapo of the 301st Philippine Army Infantry Brigade, in a recent interview, said there are already about three political candidates from Panay island who have reported receiving feelers from the NPAs. “We learned that the rebels are already sending feelers not only for their tax campaign but also for the permit to campaign and permit to sure win,” Quiapo said. As the election time nears, he said the rebel group is also becoming aggressive in collecting money from political candidates....

IED blast hurts 5 in South Cotabato

From the Sun Star (Nov 6): IED blast hurts 5 in South Cotabato

Five persons were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by still unidentified men at a public market went off Monday night, police said. Chief Inspector Dario Caladrana, police chief of Tantangan, South Cotabato, said the blast occurred at 6:16 p.m. at the town’s public market. He identified the victims as Rogelio Olarte, 59; Almeda Pabistan, 31; and three teenagers aged 12 and 15, all residents of Poblacion Tantangan. Caladrana said police are still investigating the motive of the explosion which occurred at the busy public market cum terminal for tricycles and jeepneys. No one has claimed responsibility. Police said the IED fashioned from 60 mm mortar with mobile phone as trigger mechanism could have been intended to other areas but left at the market due to the presence of policemen.

Kidnapped Filipino mayor freed

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nove 6): Kidnapped Filipino mayor freed

Kidnappers have freed early Tuesday a southern Philippine town mayor after his family reportedly paid ransoms in exchange for his freedom. Security officials confirmed the release, but would not say whether ransoms had been paid for the safe release of Mayor Jeffrey Lim, of Salug town in Zamboanga del Norte province where he was kidnapped in April. Regional army commander Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III said the 36-year old politician was believed taken to Basilan province, just several nautical miles from Zamboanga City. “After seven months of captivity, kidnapped victim Mayor Jeffrey Lim safely returned to his family at about 3 a.m. Tuesday. It cannot immediately be ascertained whether ransom was paid,” Cruz said. No other details were made available by the military.  Lim was kidnapped April 2 by at least 10 gunmen, disguised as policemen, while heading to the town’s bus depot. The military previously suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front members as behind the kidnapping and ordered a series of operation to rescue Lim in Zamboanga Sibugay and Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. The MILF, which is negotiating a peace deal with Manila, has denied involvement in the kidnapping and warned that continued military operations in rebel areas could trigger clashes. The rebel group is fighting for self-determination in the southern Philippines.

Misuari: MNLF Alive and Kicking

Posted to Facebook page of Nur Misuari (Nov 3): MNLF Alive and Kicking

We would like to extend our gratitude to those who attend the MNLF Summit, and those whose hearts are with us on that day. Magsukul tuod, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar!
The MNLF is not a spent force...It's alive & kicking! See the pictorials of the 17th MNLF Grand Summit Crocodile Park, Davao City, October 21, 2012

BAYAN: Filipinos cannot expect real change from US elections

Posted to the pro-CPP Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-New Patriotic Alliance) Website (Nov 6): Filipinos cannot expect real change from US elections

Don’t expect any radical change in US foreign policy, whoever wins in the United States Presidential Elections, says the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance). The Philippine umbrella group said that both US President Barack Obama and his rival Governor Mitt Romney share basically “the same oppressive foreign policy that has been rejected by the oppressed people’s of the world”. “Whoever wins tomorrow, we can be assured that the US troops permanently stationed in the Philippines, in violation of our Constitution, will remain in the Philippines. We can be assured that the US will continue the lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement. We can be assured that the US military pivot towards Asia will push through,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. “Whoever wins in the polls, the Filipino people must continue to assert their sovereignty against US economic and military impositions. At the same time, Filipinos also extend their solidarity with the American people who are struggling for genuine change,” Reyes said....

Philippines Muslim Rebel Chief Pursuing Peace After Decades of War

From Voice of America (Nov 5): Philippines Muslim Rebel Chief Pursuing Peace After Decades of War

In October, the leader of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group signed a preliminary peace accord with the government, aimed at ending decades of war that have killed some 120,000 people. When Murad Ebrahim was 21, he quit school and joined Muslim rebels fighting against the government. His older brother, then his guardian, was not happy with the decision, Murad tells VOA. “I feel the necessity at that time, that maybe what came into mind is schooling can wait, but this situation cannot wait," he said. "So I had to decide on that, a very hard decision.” Despite only being months away from completing a civil engineering degree, Murad took up arms in 1969, motivated by the reported killing of more than a dozen Muslim military recruits by Christian officers. He joined the Moro National Liberation Front, which battled the military in the south and was accused of carrying out terrorist attacks and assassinations as part of its separatist campaign. Speaking in the boardroom of the rebels’ committee office in Mindanao, the 64-year-old says in a few years he rose up the ranks.... In 1977, Murad’s group split from the MNLF and later formed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which would become the country’s biggest rebel group. Using experience he gained while fighting alongside Osama bin Laden in the Afghan war with the Soviet Union in the 1980’s, Murad shaped the MILF into a more disciplined force, with modern, powerful weapons. “He was known to be a very good military tactician. That earned him a lot of respect from many Bangsamoro rebels,” said Rommel Banlaoi, head of research with the Philippine Institute on Peace Violence and Terror.... Steven Rood of the Asia Foundation says Murad still needs to demonstrate a wiliness to cooperate with government counterterrorism efforts.“By now there are basically no terrorists being harbored in mainline MILF camps," said Rood. "They’ve all been shooed away. But the government’s point would be, ‘If they’ve been shooed away, you knew where they were and you could have helped us get them.”.... “He was projected as a peace champion now with the framework agreement signed… I think he has the best opportunity to lead not only the transition of the MILF but also the Bangsamoro,” said Rodolfo Mendoza, a retired police general....

Group hits Army commander over statement on human rights

From the Business Mirror (Nov 5): Group hits Army commander over statement on human rights

AN alliance of human-rights groups on Monday assailed the Army commander, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, for saying that the Armed Forces is addressing human-rights violations and that the likes of fugitive retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, tagged as “butcher” by activists, no longer exist in the military. Karapatan, an alliance of individuals, groups and organizations working for the promotion and protection of human rights, said that Bautista’s pronouncement is part of the military’s “amplified psywar and image sanitizer as the Aquino administration through the Armed Forces intensifies its combat operations.” “It’s psywar, not respect for human rights. The disconnect between Bautista’s statement and the reality on the ground is the result of a paradox between respect for human rights and Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino administration’s version of the United States’s Counterinsurgency Program 2009, which Bautista penned,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairman. Hustisya, another human-rights group, also took a swipe at Bautista saying that if the likes of Palparan no longer exist in the military, “why is it that violations of human rights is still prevalent?”....

MNLF twits MILF on disarmament

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 6): MNLF twits MILF on disarmament

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is in a bind over disarmament in the Framework Agreement it had signed with the government, said an official of the Moro National Liberation Front. MNLF political director Gapul Hadjirul yesterday said MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim was facing widespread dissension amid his fighters refusing to surrender their arms as part of the peace process signed last Oct. 15. “This is now the biggest problem of the MILF leadership of Chairman Murad on how to gain back their (MILF) fighters loyalty and trust after signing the framework agreement,” Hadjirul said. He claimed that MILF commanders Abdulwahid Jaianalan, Samer Samsudin Lungkatay and Samer Salamat—brother of former MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat—along with and one Saidale have pledged allegiance to founding MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, who opposed disarmament. In a last ditch effort, Mural, said Hadjirul, was dangling before his disgruntled leaders P5 million each to remain in the fold and keep from standing in the way of implementing the Framework Agreement. The MNLF earlier disclosed that the MILF was offered by the Malaysian government P27 billion over the development of Liguasan Marsh in Mindanao as an energy source.

Aquino gets European support in resolving territorial dispute

From Malaya (Nov 6): Aquino gets European support in resolving territorial dispute

PRESIDENT Aquino yesterday obtained the backing of several European leaders for a peaceful solution to the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).... “In particular, Switzerland and the EU and to some extent also, Norway, indicated their full support to the Philippines in terms of our position that conflicts or disputes in that area are to be resolved peacefully and following international laws. And in particular, they expressed support for an ASEAN-centric approach, which has always been the position of President Aquino considering that four out of the 10 member-states of ASEAN have specific stakes in the West Philippine Sea,” Coloma said in a press conference in Vientiane....

Army battalion pulled out to appease tribal leaders

From Malaya (Nov 6): Army battalion pulled out to appease tribal leaders

AN Army battalion has been pulled out from Kiblawan town in Davao del Sur after figuring in a clash with a group of bandits last Oct. 18 that left a mother and two children dead. Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the pullout of the 27th Infantry Battalion was the result of a dialogue they had with tribal leaders after the incident. “They (tribal leaders) said they want justice. They do not want the military to leave the area, they just want it (the 27th IB) replaced,” said Bernardo. The pull-out was effected last Nov. 1, a day after the dialogue with the leaders of the B’laan tribe to which the victims belong, said 10th ID spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza. “It’s to help the tribal leaders forget the incident even if Lt. Jimenez is already out. It’s for the benefit of all,” Paniza said referring to 1Lt. Dante Jimenez who had been recommended by military investigators to face court martial for lapses in the operation....

Batasan blast suspects allowed to post bail

From the Philippine Star (Nov 6): Batasan blast suspects allowed to post bail

A local court has granted the motion for bail of two suspects tagged in the 2007 Batasang Pambansa bombing that killed six people, including then Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar. In an 11-page decision, Judge Ralph Lee of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 83 allowed Caidar Aunal and Adham Kusain to post bail of P200,000 each because the prosecution “failed to present independent evidence that would link the accused to the Batasan bombing” other than the confession they made....  Aunal, Kusain and a third suspect – Ikram Indama – already recanted their confession, claiming that they were tortured. In their confession, they tagged former Basilan congressman Gerry Salapuddin, then Anak Mindanao Party-list Rep. and incumbent ARMM officer-in-charge Mujiv Hataman, and incumbent Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman for the blast. The Department of Justice has cleared the Hataman brothers after the three suspects recanted their confession.... Meanwhile, the court declined to grant Indama’s motion for bail “in view of the evidence adduced by the prosecution that he was at the scene of the crime prior to the explosion, for no reason at all, despite the fact that he was no longer an employee of the House of Representatives.” Indama was the former driver of Salapuddin.....

Misuari to attend OIC conference in Djibouti next week

From the Philippine Star (Nov 6): Misuari to attend OIC conference in Djibouti next week

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari is set to leave for Africa next week to attend the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Djibouti. A staff of Misuari said that the MNLF leader is expected to report on the Bangsamoro agreement forged by the Aquino government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last Oct. 15 in Manila. The MNLF has been an observer member of the OIC since 1977. In an earlier interview with The STAR, Misuari said he will deliver a report during the plenary meeting of the council. He said the MNLF delegates to the OIC conference include top leaders of the MILF who defected back to the MNLF. Misuari said he will brief the OIC on the progress of the final phase of negotiations for the full implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. He reiterated the position of the OIC that the Tripoli Agreement would continue to form the basis for any settlement of the conflict, provided that it is acceptable by all factions of the Bangsamoro people.

Gov't troops seize 2 big NPA camps in Isabela

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Gov't troops seize 2 big NPA camps in Isabela

.... Colonel Miguel T. Puyao, spokesperson of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division based in Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz, Upi, Gamu, Isabela, said on Monday that the two big NPA camps are located in Barangay Disulap, San Mariano, Isabela province and in Barangay Villa – Robles, Palanan, Isabela. He said that the soldiers under the Army’s 51st Division Reconnaissance Company captured last November 2 a freshly-abandoned NPA camp with structures at Barangay Disulap, San Mariano, Isabela province.... The other NPA camp, he also said, was discovered by the elements of the Army’s 86th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Villa – Robles, Palanan, Isabela last November 3 at 11 a.m....

Malacanang says MNLF will be part of Transition Commission that will draft Bangsamoro Law

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Malacanang says MNLF will be part of Transition Commission that will draft Bangsamoro Law

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) will be part of the 15-member Transition Commission that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a Palace official said on Monday. "From what I understand, there is a seat that is reserved for the MNLF," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang. President Benigno S. Aquino III is set to issue an executive order (EO) creating the Transition Commission following the historic signing of the Framework Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last October, Valte said....

Army engineer killed, two others hurt in Basilan ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Army engineer killed, two others hurt in Basilan ambush

A member of the Philippine Army (PA)'s 55th Engineering Brigade was killed while two others were wounded after being fired upon by still unidentified lawless elements in Ungkaya, Pukan, Basilan Monday afternoon. Major Harold Cabunoc, PA spokesperson, said the incident took place around 3 p.m.... Cabunoc said local police are now conducting an investigation to identify the perpetrators and determine the motive of the attack. The 55th Engineering Brigade was deployed in Ungkaya, Pukan town to help construct school buildings and implement the Basilan circumferential road project. Cabunoc added that Col. Carlito Galvez, Jr., 104th Brigade commander has sent soldiers of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion to pursue the perpetrators of the crime.

Philippine government implements two-tier wages

From the World Socialist Web Site (Nov 5): Philippine government implements two-tier wages

Philippine President Benigno Aquino is dismantling the minimum wage system and, in its stead, establishing a two-tier wage system. Along with the ongoing destruction of regular employment and the expansion of contractualization and underemployment, this is a major assault on the already dire living standards of Filipino workers.... Every section of the so-called left in the Philippines pushes the line of an across the board legislative P125 ($US3) wage hike. This includes the front organizations of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), such as Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Anakpawis, and the various rival organizations that broke from the CPP in the 1990s. The demand was first put forward in 2000 and has been the central demand of these organizations for the past 12 years. They have directed the working class in rallies, marches, petitions and strikes to appeal to the Philippine government to increase wages..... The only way forward for the Philippine working class, in the face of the escalating attack on wages and working conditions, is to break from all the various Maoist parties and pseudo-left organizations and to take up the struggle for socialist internationalism. This requires a serious study of the difficult and protracted struggle of the Trotskyist movement against all varieties of Stalinism, including Maoism, and the building of a Philippine section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Soldier's missing body found near Davao City ambush site

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): Soldier's missing body found near Davao City ambush site

The body of the missing soldier ambushed by suspected communist rebels in Davao City Sunday was found near the place where he and three other companions were waylaid, the military said on Monday. Quoting a report from 10th Infantry Division, Army spokesman Col. Harold Cabunoc said the body of Pvt. Marcelo Himaya, who is said to be missing earlier, was found in a nearby area and believed to be summarily executed. Cabunoc also identified Himaya's companions who were killed during the ambush as Pfc. Ahian Vir Dolero , Pfc. Marvin Lauronal, and Pfc. Noel Sigan. The four were members of the 60th Infantry Battalion’s Peace and Development Team. Reports showed that at least 10 members of New People’s Army in Sitio Cinco, Brgy. Mapula, Paquibato District, Davao City around 5:30 p.m. opened fire at four, who were said to be on board three motorcycles, on civilian attire and unarmed. "They were on their way back to their detachment...when the incident happened", 10th Infantry Battalion spokesperson Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza said. Paniza said troops are now on hot pursuit operations to apprehend the perpetrators.

From freedom fighter to nation builder

From the New Straits Times (Nov 4): From freedom fighter to nation builder

VISIONARY: The MILF chief is eager to raise the standard of Bangsamoro

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim says Malaysia’s Felda scheme is a good model for Bangsamoro to adopt.

AL Haj Murad Ebrahim exudes a certain aura, something which is immediately apparent the moment he walks into the room. It isn't the sort of presence you would expect from the one-time commander of the armed forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). You would expect a commanding presence from a man who has struggled for more than four decades to gain a better life for his people, the Bangsamoro. It's a presence so strong that it would engulf the entire room. On the contrary, Murad, now the chairman of the MILF, has a different sort of aura surrounding him. He is soft-spoken, articulate and a fatherly figure with a pleasant disposition. But, let nothing fool you. He still has a commanding presence, though in a different way. Murad, 64, is deeply respected and loved by his people. It is apparent by the way they talk about or with him at Darapanan Camp, the main base of the MILF, in Sultan Kudarat. He is a father figure to all of them. Though a highly disciplined set-up (the camp is a no-smoking zone unlike other "rebel" camps), the MILF operates more like a huge family. (That perception was perhaps proved right when Murad's grandson burst into the room wanting to play with his grandfather in the middle of this interview.) Murad greets the Malaysian press with a handshake that is not soft, yet not particularly firm, and a warm smile. The relaxed way in which he talks belies the fact that this is a man who has spent the better part of his life fighting a war, and with peace so tantalisingly close, he cannot afford to rest. "Yes, I am busy now. Just as busy as before, but in a different way," he said. From the way he talks, one gets the impression, and correctly so, of a man who loves his people. "They have suffered so much. The challenges ahead are more difficult and complex because our homeland has been devastated. "Our next task is nation-building so that our people can rise from the ashes of this devastation...."

Feel-good factor envelopes Mindanao

From the New Straits Times (Nov 5): Feel-good factor envelopes Mindanao

BIG STEP FORWARD: Fewer violent incidents reported as Bangsamoro people embrace peace deal


International Monitoring Team head of mission Major-General Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Yusuff (seated, left), his deputy Royal Malaysian Air Force Brigadier-General Datuk Zulkafli Mohd Noor (seated, third from left) and other leaders of the team at a recent briefing at the IMT’s headquarters in Cotabato recently. Pic by Effendy Rashid

COTABATO: FOR 30-odd years, he could not celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Aidiladha back home with his extended family. Thanks to the signing of the framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government, the recent Aidiladha celebration was a special one. The local commander of the MILF forces was able to go home to celebrate with his family and relatives -- a joyful homecoming which brought tears to the eyes of many. This is one measure of how successful the Malaysian-sponsored peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government had been, as seen by the International Monitoring Team (IMT) stationed in Mindanao. It is also a measure of how much hope there is for the future of Mindanao. The Malaysian-led IMT also measures just what the signing of the framework agreement means to the Bangsamoro people by the number of violent incidents in Mindanao. IMT head of mission Major-General Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Yusuff said there were only four incidents last month and the month before that. Prior to that, there were about 30 incidents every month. "This is the impact of the signing of the framework agreement. There is a 'feelgood' atmosphere here now. "The locals have gotten to the point where they have no more will for war. "They are happy with the framework agreement and doing many things which they have not been able to do for a long time...."

Building Bangsamoro

From the New Straits Times (Nov 5): Building Bangsamoro

Much work remains to be done to reconstruct lives and silence the guns. At a press conference at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, said his priority was "life-building" programmes to improve the lives and livelihoods of the Bangsamoro who have been "at war for decades" and "suffered so much".... Indeed, as the prime minister said at the signing of the landmark framework peace deal, Malaysia is ready to be a "partner in peace" through the provision of training, education and land development skills to the Bangsamoro people. But, as transplanting the Felda success story will take time and requires a fertile political climate to take root, shorter term solutions are needed for the problems of poverty, unemployment, lack of education and inadequate healthcare.... What is clear in the meantime is that much work remains to be done to reconstruct lives and silence the guns. However, though the road to peace remains as complex as ever, and the two peace panels have their work cut out to come to an agreement on the annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing and normalisation, there is cause to remain cautiously upbeat about prospects for lasting peace....

Mindanao projects get soft loans from KSA

From the Saudi Gazette (Nov 5): Mindanao projects get soft loans from KSA

Mindanao will get an additional P1.96 billion in projects to be funded by soft loans from the Saudi Arabian government, according to the Philippine Department of Public Works and Highways. In a report titled “Saudi Fund for Development-assisted Mindanao Roads Improvement Project,” the DPWH also disclosed that the contracts for the projects were “under process for approval.” The road projects, which are scheduled to be completed in May 2014, include the following: the Cotabato City East Diversion Road, which is estimated to cost P709.03 million; Lake Lanao Circumferential Road from Marawi City to Bayang, P421.6 million; Lake Lanao Circumferential Road from Bayang to Ganassi, P420.3 million; Basilan Circumferential Road from Isabela to Tumahubong, P414.9 million; and the Basilan Circumferential Road from Isabela to Sumisip, P415.2 million....

Soldier killed, 2 others hurt in Basilan attack – Army

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 5): Soldier killed, 2 others hurt in Basilan attack – Army

An Army soldier was killed while two others were injured in an attack launched by lawless elements in Basilan Monday afternoon, the military said. The soldiers, whose identities were still withheld, were members of the Army’s 55th Engineering Brigade, said Army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc. The troops were on their way to Ungkaya Pukan from Tipo-Tipo when they attacked at about 3 p.m.  The wounded soldiers were promptly evacuated to Magcawa village in Al Barka town while waiting for air medical evacuation transport. The soldiers were deployed in Ungkaya Pukan to help in the construction of school buildings and the implementation of the Basilan circumferential road project, Cabunoc said. Colonel Carlito Galvez, Jr, Commanding Officer of the 104th Brigade, has ordered the troops of the Army’s 4th Scout Ranger Battalion to pursue the perpetrators. More details will be given after the investigation, Cabunoc said.

Police hunt killers of fish vendor

From the Sun Star-Davao (Nov 5): Police hunt killers of fish vendor

POLICE are hunting down four armed men who allegedly killed a fish vendor on Km. 29 in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District in Davao City on October 31. Chief Inspector Romeo Abler, head of Paquibato police station, identified the victim as Ranil Edaño Parilla, 34, of the same place. He was found dead inside the public market at around 3 p.m. Abler said the killers are believed to be members of Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) of the New People's Army (NPA) led by Ryan Pitao, son of Leoncio Pitao, alias Ka Paragu, but none so far could give their identities.... Before the men left, one of them said that Parilla was believed to be an "asset" of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division. But Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson for the 10th Infantry Division, denied the victim was their informant. He said the division has its own intelligence personnel....

Another suspected NPA amazon arrested

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Nov 5): Another suspected NPA amazon arrested 

ANOTHER suspected amazon member of the New People's Army (NPA) was arrested by the police at the new public market of Cadiz City last October 30.  The military identified the suspected amazon as Sarah Alvarez alias “Olsen”. She was arrested by the virtue of an Order of Arrest in Criminal Case No. 4311-C for the crime of murder with no bail recommended, issued and signed by Judge Renato D. Muñez of Branch 60, Reginal Trial Court (RTC) 6th Judicial Region, Cadiz City dated September 19, 2012....  Also on the same date, Julia Pacheco Tabat alias “Gab” and “Alex”, also an alleged member of the NPA operating in southwest Negros, died in an armed clash with government security forces in Candoni town. Tabat also has an existing warrant of arrest for attempted and frustrated murder cases.  Lactao has given orders to the 47th Infantry Battalion to assist the family of Tabat in giving her a decent burial and encourages all soldiers under his command to contribute and share in order to soften the pain of the family.  “There is nothing personal in this encounter which resulted to the death of Tabat. We also grieve whether soldiers or NPAs are killed because we are all Filipinos,” Lactao said.

NDFP’s legal consultant optimistic in peace talks resumption

From the leftst  and often pro-CPP Davao Today (Nov 5): NDFP’s legal consultant optimistic in peace talks resumption

The legal consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel said there’s still hope for the resumption of peace talks with the Government of the Philippines (GPH). Lawyer Edre Olalia, in a forum sponsored by a peace advocacy group, Sowing the Seeds for Peace, on Saturday, also pointed out that the country’s economic crisis will push the NDFP and GPH “to discuss problems and find solutions.” While there have been recent developments on the side of the GPH in response to a proposal submitted by the NDFP, Olalia, however, said he’s not at liberty to say what is its current status. He revealed though that the Aquino administration has sent emissaries to meet the negotiators in The Netherlands sometime last month. Olalia, who’s also the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said that “timing” remains a question.... One of the major obstacles of the resumption of peace talks, Olalia said, was the GPH’s refusal to release all or most of the 17 NDFP Consultants detained by the GRP/GPH.... Olalia said that without compliance with Jasig, the panelists and consultants cannot function, and that Jasig is needed to build confidence.Olalia also noted “a very serious obstacle.” He said that the GPH, for the first time, has undermined the basic bilateral agreements. In February, the GPH Peace Panel has attacked The Hague Joint Declaration as a document of “perpetual division.” He furthered, the GPH declared that Jasig does not require compliance and that it’s only at their whim that they shall release detained Jasig-protected NDFP consultants. The GPH, he noted, also refused to release about 400 political prisoners in accordance with the clear directive of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl)....

Bayan Muna warns of US influence on GPH-MILF peace pact

From MindaNews (Nov 5): Bayan Muna warns of US influence on GPH-MILF peace pact

Bayan Muna warned the United States might try to influence the final peace agreement that will be entered into by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). “An external power or influence should be a No-No, except for the Malaysian government as facilitator of the peace talks, and the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation),” Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna national executive vice president, said Monday on the sides of Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City. “The US is aggressively interested in meddling in geopolitical, economic and military affairs in Mindanao,” he stressed, citing that the US Agency for International Development has funded several projects in the island. He said the prospects after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) are worrisome even if “we are happy that it (FAB) was duly accepted by the Filipinos, especially the concerned Bangsamoro people, as it is a step forward in resolving the conflict.” He pointed out that the final comprehensive agreement can be derailed either through the plebiscite or by whatever decision the Congress may make....

‘Wealth-sharing’ matters badger MILF on peace deal

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 5): ‘Wealth-sharing’ matters badger MILF on peace deal

How to cut up the bounty appears evolving as a major thorn in the deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the creation of the Bangsamoro substate envisioned in a recently-signed framework agreement as the MILF had started to worry on the channeling of the expected influx of aid offers to Mindanao. The MILF wanted financial aid to be coursed through the proper channel and not directly to individual members of the secessionist group. The rebel group also apparently convinced the government to suspend the awarding of oil exploration contracts on areas expected to be part of the Bangsamoro region as it expressed gratitude in its Web site to President Aquino for “deciding favorably for the suspension of oil and gas exploration bids award in oil exploration contracts in Mindanao, particularly those in Liguasan in the Cotabato Basin and Sulu seas until the wealth-sharing issue is addressed.” Last Oct. 27 in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, before reporters, urged the Aquino administration to forego the awarding of these contracts, saying that the issue of wealth-sharing is still being discussed by the negotiators of both parties when they resume their talks in Kuala Lumpur this month. In an editorial over its website, the MILF said that while it welcomed the “avalanche of aid offers from donor agencies and states”, the matter should be handled carefully so it will not lead to negative results or weaken the organization....‘wealth-sharing’-matters-badger-milf-on-peace-deal

3 soldiers killed, 1missing in Davao ambush

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): 3 soldiers killed, 1missing in Davao ambush

Three soldiers were killed while another was missing after they were ambushed by a group of communist rebels in Davao City, the military said on Monday. Col. Lyndon Panisa, the Army's 10th Infantry Battalion spokesperson, said four of their soldiers were on their way back to camp after they bought supplies market in Brgy. Mapula, Pakibato District, Davao City when they were ambushed around 5 p.m. in Sitio Singko. "Wala pong mga armas ito at naka civilian," the military officer told a radio interview. He added that the four opted to leave their weapons, thinking that they would not be attacked because of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Panisa said the village officials who responded to the scene and recovered the bodies told the military later that there were about 10 gunmen who ambushed the government troops. He said that the members of the Ulang Bagani Command 1, a local communist rebel organization in the area, were responsible for the ambush. "Ngayon conduct tayo pursuit operations kasi hawak pa nila iyong isang sundalo natin... Naghahain din tayo ng violation nila sa CAHRIHL," he added.

2 dead in latest attack in Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): 2 dead in latest attack in Cotabato

Two more were killed in an attack Sunday night by suspected guns for hire in a continuing cycle of violence here. The two latest fatalities have been identified as Chiter Ayunan Velasco and Fahad Utto Ambolodto, who both died from gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies. Superintendent Marlou Martinez, the city’s deputy police director, told Catholic station dxMS Monday that investigators are still trying to determine the personal backgrounds of Ayunan and Ambolodto. Their cadavers were found sprawled several meters away from each other at the Notre Dame Avenue here after residents in the area heard gunshots. The murder of Ayunan and Ambolodto came less than two weeks after motorcycle-riding gunmen shot dead a former barangay chairman at the De Mazenod Avenue here. The incident was preceded by the murder of a couple inside a lodging house here by a suspected hired killer. More than a hundred people have been shot dead in a spate of attacks here since 2010.

Rebel surrenders in La Union

From the Philippine Star (Nov 5): Rebel surrenders in La Union

A twentyfive-year-old communist guerrilla operating in the Cordillera region has surrendered to La Union policemen. Moises Bumusao alias “Ka Wawi”, who was formerly operating in the Cordillera region and a member of the “Kilusang Laranganga Gerilya (Guerilla Front) Marco” (Mountain Province), has left his rebel group. Bumusao was convinced by La Union authorities to lead a peaceful life and leave the underground movement. Bumusao said he was also convinced to surrender because the leftist movement “was full of frustrations and empty promises of cadres”. Bumusao is from barangay Basao, Tinglayan town in Kalinga and is listed number 27 under 3rd Quarter 2011 Periodic Status Report on Threat Groups (PSRTG). Bumusao is already the second guerrilla to surrender in La Union recently after Gangang Allin, another member of “KLG Marco” turned himself in.

Former NPA commander shot dead

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 5): Former NPA commander shot dead

A former ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army in southern Negros Oriental was gunned down allegedly by his former colleagues in the underground movement in Sta. Catalina town, 7 p.m. Thursday. Col. Marion Sison, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, identified the fatality as Elmo Taburada, of Sitio Avocado, Brgy. Talalac, Sta. Catalina town, who sustained three gunshot wounds and died on the spot. Investigation shows that Taburada was at a sari-sari store near his house at around 7 p.m. Thursday when three men came up and shot him at close range, with .45 caliber pistols, Sison said.  He added that a note left behind by the suspects accused Taburada of helping the Army in its anti-insurgency campaign, turning over a firearm to authorities during his surrender, and encouraging other rebels to surrender. Taburada was the former vice commander of the Sentro de Gravidad Platoon of the NPA's Komiteng Rehiyon Sentral Bisayas-Southeastern Front. He surrendered to the Philippine Army in the first quarter this year, brought with him an M-16 armalite rifle, and had since then led a normal life after being reunited with his family in Avocado, Sison added. The Army condemned Taburada's death, saying the attack was an indication that the government is succeeding in its anti-insurgency campaign, called Oplan Bayanihan, Sison said. “The attack was a desperate move by the NPA who continue to threaten former rebels who have left the organization and also instill fear among the citizenry,” he added.  He also said that after Taburada's burial, the 79th IB will lead an indignation rally in Avocado and dialog with residents to continue supporting the government's campaign to crush the insurgency problem.

PH pushes sea row at Asia-Europe meeting

From Rappler (Nov 5): PH pushes sea row at Asia-Europe meeting

The Philippines on Monday, November 5 pushed its call for an international solution to overlapping claims in the South China Sea at an Asia-Europe summit, saying vital global shipping lanes were at stake. President Benigno Aquino III raised the issue in bilateral meetings with leaders of the European Union as well as with Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in Laos. "We noted the increasing importance of maritime security" in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea, said Aquino's chief spokesman Herminio Coloma. "There was agreement that it was a matter of international interest considering that a significant amount of world trade passes through that body of water," he told reporters in the Laotian capital Vientiane. "Switzerland and the EU and to some extent Norway indicated their firm support to the Philippines in terms of our position that conflicts and disputes in that area are to be resolved peacefully and following international law...."

Army replaces troops in B'laan tribe killings

From Rappler (nov 5): Army replaces troops in B'laan tribe killings

Troops from the Army's 39th infantry battalion (IB) have replaced soldiers involved in the B'laan killings in Davao del Sur who belonged to the 27th infantry battalion. The turnover of command took place on Monday, November 5, at 9 am and was presided over by 10th Infantry Division (ID) commanding general Maj Gen Ariel B Bernardo in the division headquarters in Tupi, South Cotabato, according to Maj Jake Obligado, chief of the 10th ID’s Civil-Military Operations Battalion. The newly assigned company at Kiblawan-Tampakan-Columbio, where the wife and two children of an anti-mining indigenous rebel were killed by military troops in October 18, is now under the 39th IB commanded by Lt Col Shalimar Imperial. Imperial was the former intelligence officer of the 10th ID.... Commission on Human Rights chair Loretta Ann Rosales, who has initiated a separate probe, earlier described the shooting incident as "gross irresponsibility" on the part of government troops. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chair Zenaida Brigida Pawid, who has also conducted a separate investigation, initially said "there's no doubt that human rights violations were committed" in the incident.

4 unarmed soldiers killed in Davao City ambush by NPA

From InterAksyon (Nov 5): 4 unarmed soldiers killed in Davao City ambush by NPA

Four unarmed soldiers were killed in an ambush by alleged New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Davao City's Paquibato district Sunday afternoon, police and military officials said. The soldiers, wearing civilian attire, were onboard three motorcycles when they were attacked by ten alleged rebels at Sitio Barko-Barko, Purok 5 at around 5:30 p.m., Army and Police officials said. They were returning to camp after shopping at the local market when the ambush took place at Barangay Mapula, Maj. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the Army's 10th Civil-Military Operations Battalion, said. All four were members of the the 60th Infantry Battalion's Peace and Development Team, a statement from the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said. The casualties were identified as Private First Class Ahian Vir Dolero, Pfc Marvin Lauronal, Pfc Noel Sigan, and Private Marcelo Himaya.... It's a massacre. They were all unarmed and in civilian attire. They were summarily executed," Obligado said....

Commander who quit post after deadly B'laan tribe encounter says his conscience crystal clear

From InterAksyon (Nov 50): Commander who quit post after deadly B'laan tribe encounter says his conscience crystal clear

The battalion commander who quit his post after 13 of his men were ordered court martialed for the deaths of a B’laan woman and her young sons said on Monday that he has not lost sleep over the incident and that his conscience “remains crystal clear.” “I volunteered to be relieved not because I feel guilty (for the death of Juvy Capion and her two sons). For the past two weeks, I slept well every night. I eat my meals with gusto,” Lieutenant Colonel Alexis Noel Bravo said during ceremonies where he turned over the command of the 17th Infantry Battalion to Lieutenant Colonel Shalimar Imperial.  “I volunteered to be relieved as CO of the 27th IB because I believe it is the right thing to do,” Bravo added.... However, after initially announcing the relief of Bravo, the military said he had not been sacked from his post since a board of inquiry determined that the responsibility for the incident was at Imperial’s level alone.... Colonel Glorioso Miranda, 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, told reporters that Bravo’s decision caught him by surprise. He said Bravo should have stayed on because no order from the higher headquarters were issued to replace him....

USAID official to launch development projects in the Phl

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 5): USAID official to launch development projects in the Phl

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment Eric G. Postel is now in the country to help launch several new development projects. In a release by the United States Embassy in Manila, Postel will meet with top government officials, business chambers, and other stakeholders to discuss the US-Philippines Partnership for Growth (PFG). The said partnership was launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in November 2011. According to the US Embassy, the PFG provides a new framework for deepening and strengthening bilateral engagement to promote broad based and inclusive economic growth. It is intended to mobilize the resources of both countries to address the most serious constraints to economic growth in the Philippines. In line with this, Postel will launch a new partnership between USAID and the city of Valenzuela that will implement the use of mobile money in the city’s financial transactions under the Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money Project.... Postel will also participate in the launching of the USAID-supported Judicial Strengthening for Court Effectiveness Project along with Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno....

Nolcom, DepEd, ABS-CBN partner in putting up schoolbuildings in Tarlac

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Nolcom, DepEd, ABS-CBN partner in putting up schoolbuildings in Tarlac

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya Foundition Inc (ASKFI), recently built schoolbuildings in Tarlac province in an effort to help the government address the classroom gap in the country. 2nd Lt. Oscar D. Zaldivar Jr., Nolcom's officer-in-charge of the Command Information Office, said the new one unit-two classroom schoolbuildings at the Malinta Elementary School in San Jose town and at the San Raymundo Elementary School in Ramos town, will be turned on Tuesday. Lt. Gen Anthony J. Alcantara, AFP-Nolcom commander and Tina Monzon-Palma, program director of ASKFI and Bantay Bata 163, will be the guests of honor in the turnover ceremonies. Other guests to the activity are Tarlac governor Victor A. Yap; Tarlac's second district Rep. Susan Yap-Sulit; San Jose town mayor Jose A. Yap and Ramos town mayor Gregoria J. Maglicmot. This is part of the IPSP Bayanihan campaign where pooling of resources and the convergence of efforts of every stakeholder is being initiated towards fulfilling the national government’s desire to address some of the basic needs of its people, Zaldivar said....

PA condemns NPA attack on defenseless soldiers in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): PA condemns NPA attack on defenseless soldiers in Davao City

The Philippine Army strongly condemned on Monday the New People's Army (NPA) rebels for the brutal attack on four unarmed soldiers in Sitio Cinco, Barangay Mapula, Paquibato District, Davao City Sunday afternoon. "We want all of our peace partners to condemn the NPA's dastardly act of killing four unarmed, off-duty soldiers," Major Harold Cabunoc, PA spokesperson, said. He stressed that the attack was a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law and Republic Act No. 9851 or "An Act Defining and Penalizing Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity." Considered as war crimes and punishable under Chapter III, Section 4(b) of R.A. 9851 are:
 1) Violence to life and person, in particular willful killings, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; 2) Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; 3) Taking of hostages; and, 4) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable.  It can be recalled that on Sept. 1, 2012, the same group of NPA rebels led by Leonardo Pitao, a.k.a. Parago, lobbed a grenade at a local circus show, wounding 48 residents, 18 of them children. "It is high time for the Filipino people to be united in renouncing the NPA's continuous use of violence to advance its interests. We must never allow the NPA to freely carry out its violent attacks because this will never end our various problems," Cabunoc said.

MILF: MNLF officials assure support to GPH-MILF Framework Agreement

From the MILF Website (Nov 5): MNLF officials assure support to GPH-MILF Framework Agreement

Ground officers of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) expressed warmly welcomed and assurance of support to the recently signed historic Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). "As Muslims, we truly believe that it is our obligation and fraternal fervor to express our solidarity and cooperation with our brothers in the MILF on the Framework Agreement it forged with the government," said an MNLF local commander in Barira, Maguindanao. The MNLF commander made that pronouncement in a message of solidarity he delivered during the Prayer Kanduli and Advocacy organized by the BIAF – MILF Central Mindanao Front Command at Barangay Bualan, Barira few days ago. "I am indeed honored for the invitation extended to us by the MILF to participate in this prayer kanduli. I am optimistic and convinced that the agreement will pave the way for the peaceful resolution of the Bangsamoro struggle for justice, peace and genuine self-governance," he added. More than 2000 persons participated the kanduli advocacy which kicked off with motorcade from Camp Darapanan of more than 200 motorcycles draped with green streamers and flag lets expressing the victory of peace, unit and prosperity....