Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MILF denies coddling suspects in 2009 Maguindanao massacre

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 22): MILF denies coddling suspects in 2009 Maguindanao massacre

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday denied reports that some of its men are coddling suspects in the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 “Maguindanao Massacre,” which left 58 people dead, including 33 journalists. In a statement, Von Al-Haq, speaking for the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), said their organization has been religiously observing the provisions of the 1997 general agreement on cessation of hostilities with the government. Among its provisions was clearly stated that the MILF will not harbor fugitives and terrorists. Should they seek refuge in MILF identified areas, they will be turned over to the government, Al Haq said. Al-Haq also denied reports that some of the massacre suspects, among them Bahnarin Ampatuan, a grandson of the detained former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., have already joined the MILF. He said MILF forces in Maguindano and nearby areas are working on a mechanism with the government ceasefire panel about possible arrests of suspects in the bloody carnage.....

Probe sought over rampant land speculation in Camp John Hay

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Nov 21): Probe sought over rampant land speculation in Camp John Hay

Arnel Paciano Casanova, Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer, recently sought an investigation into the alleged rampant land speculation and selling of questionable titles in lots 16 and 17 beside the Voice of America compound inside Camp John Hay. Casanova said the areas being subjected to investigation are Lot 16-B measuring 3.182 hectares and Lot 17 spanning 26.65 hectares. These areas, he said, are alleged slowly being encroached in by professional squatters. This lot was supposedly allocated by the BCDA and its estate manager John Hay Management Corporation spanning an approximately 30 hectares to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in support of the Philippine Military Academy for the construction of the AFP Learning Center. He said both parties recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement to seal their partnership for the AFP Learning Center. He also added their initial investigation have already revealed rampant land titling by unscrupulous individuals who want to profit from the government property. The BCDA plans to take over the area and make necessary legal measures to eject alleged squatters in Lots 16 and 17, which fall inside the Camp John Hay reservation. Casanova said some of these land speculators have the lots titled using an ancestral land claim that is why they have formed a Technical Working Group with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to resolve these issues. “We are currently investigating these claims and closely cooperating with the NCIP,” he added.....

MILF: MILF sends delegation to World Peace Forum in Bogor, Indonesia

From the MILF Website (Nov 22): MILF sends delegation to World Peace Forum in Bogor, Indonesia

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is sending a three-man delegation to the World Peace Forum in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia on November 23-25. The invitation was extended by the Muhammadiyyah, the second biggest Muslim social organization in Indonesia with some 40 million card-bearing members. The organization was founded in 1912 by Ahmad Dahlan in the city of Yogyakarta as a reformist socioreligious movement, advocating ijtihad - individual interpretation of Qur'an and sunnah, as opposed to taqlid - the acceptance of the traditional interpretations propounded by the ulama.....  Sheikh Abdulwahab Faisal, Abdulla Camlian, a member of the MILF peace panel, and Hadji Salim Sahaji make up the MILF delegation. Likewise, the MNLF is reportedly represented by no less than Chairman Nur Misuari and Cotabato City Vice Mayor Moslemin Sema, also a chairman of another MNLF faction. Both the MILF and MNLF delegations are expected to arrive in Jakarta on November 22. It was also learned that the Philippine government peace panel is also sending a two-man delegation composed of Bai Yasmin Busran Lao, a member of its peace panel, and Atty. Joe Lorena, a member of its technical working committee on power-sharing. In holding the peace forum, Muhammadiyyah is partnering with the Centre for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilizations (CDCC) and the Cheng Ho Multi Cultural and Education Trust.....

MILF: Sarangani PLGU spearheads information drive on Bangsamoro Framework Agreement

From the MILF Website (Nov 22): Sarangani PLGU spearheads information drive on Bangsamoro Framework Agreement

Kalinaw Sarangani Unit (KSU), a small organization under the Office of the Provincial Governor of Sarangani spearheads the information dissemination of the recently inked GPH-MILF Framework for the Bangsamoro in various communities of the province. The initiative which started on October 28, 2012 and still continues to date is being aimed to educate the constituents of Sarangani on the prospects of the framework accord and provide substantial information on the progress of the GPH-MILF Peace Process. The Associations of Barangay Chairmen of Alabel, Kiamba, Glan, Malapatan and Maasim and the Madaris facilitators of the province were the initial groups which were oriented on the framework agreement. Sectoral representatives and key community leaders of Barangays Mindupok in Maitum, Kapate in Kiamba, Lumasal in Maasim, Tokawal in Alabel and Taluya in Glan, were also the audiences of the information drive. Other barangays and groups in the province are waiting for the undertaking to reach their places. Local MILF representatives are invited to share their knowledge on the framework agreement. They also answer questions from the audience during open forum. KSU explains to the audiences the contents of the framework agreement. Representatives from GPH-MILF International Monitoring Team (IMT) Site 4 and the Local Monitoring Team (LMT) – Sarangani partake in the information drive. They share to the audiences their participation in the peace process.....

OPAPP: Turnover up next after inventory of Cordi rebels’ firearms—OPAPP official

From the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) (Nov 20): Turnover up next after inventory of Cordi rebels’ firearms—OPAPP official

Turnover of firearms is the next step to the recently concluded firearms inventory of members of the former rebel organization Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA), which is now called Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development (CFPD), according to Undersecretary Atty. Cleofe Gettie Sandoval of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). In an interview with radio station DZXL Saturday, Sandoval said the inventory was part of the disposition of arms and forces provision that CBA-CPLA agreed to when they entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the government last July 4, 2011. A total of 386 firearms and 25 explosives were inventoried in all six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), broken down into: 115 (Kalinga), 13 (Benguet), 34 (Ifugao), 21 (Abra), 73 (Apayao) and 130 (Mt. Province). The inventory ended on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.... Sandoval heads the five-member Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) that oversees the implementation of said MOA. The JMC is composed of representatives from the OPAPP, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the CFPD, and civil society represented by the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government. The community development projects will be carried out through PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program, the government’s peace and development framework, which has been in place in the region since December 2011.....

9th Marine Brigade (Reserve) activated

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Nov 21): 9th Marine Brigade (Reserve) activated

The Naval Reserve Command, Philippine Navy, has formally activated the 9th Marine Brigade (Reserve) last Sunday morning at Naval Station Romulo Espaldon, Bagong Calarian, Zamboanga City with Maj. Gen. Rustico O. Guerrero, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, as guest of honor and speaker. The activation ceremony was attested by the host, Capt. Primitivo P. Gopo, commander, NAVRESCOM and witnessed by some of the officers and men of the Philippine Navy. The ceremony was highlighted by the unfurling of the Unit Color and the Assumption of Command by Lt. Col. Marciano M. Guinilac PN(M) (Res) as acting commander of the newly activated 9th Marine Brigade Reserve.  “The activation of the 9th MBde (Res) aims to establish a command and control to the marine reserve battalions within the area of responsibility of Naval Reserve Center Western Mindanao in order to strengthen the organizational structure of naval reserve force towards a strong and credible Philippine Navy,” said Col. Ramon M. Mabalot, commander, Naval Reserve Center Western Mindanao, in a statement. He also added that the newly activated, 9th MBde (Res) will now hold the responsibilities in ensuring the operational readiness of marine reserve battalions within its area of responsibility to enable the successful accomplishment of the latter’s mission which mainly concerned in the support of the country’s socio economic development and relief and rescue assistance during disaster and calamities.

Coast Guard chief set to retire while under suspension

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 22): Coast Guard chief set to retire while under suspension

Beleaguered Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral Edmund Tan will retire on Dec. 16 while serving a 90-day preventive suspension ordered by the Sandiganbayan in connection with a 2009 graft case filed against him when he was still head of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Visayas Area Command. In a statement, the PCG on Wednesday quoted Tan as saying he still has strong faith in the country’s justice system although in a democracy “due process really takes time.” “Our battles are not only in the field, but also in the courts of law, where I learned that the attributes of courage under fire and patience under adversity are as useful in a court room as they are in an armed conflict. We all have to fight our own battles, especially as we espouse the integrity of a serviceman as we thread the narrow path of a public servant,” he also said.  Tan, appointed on Jan. 24 as the PCG’s 24th commandant by President Aquino, has denied the accusations of wrongdoing. The graft case stemmed from a complaint filed in 2009 by Reynaldo Chua Jr., who accused Tan of causing him undue injury by detaining his shipment of iron ore, which resulted in the businessman’s having to pay some P500,000 in docking penalties at the Pagadian City port. Tan was at the time chief of the PCG Visayas Area Command. He said he detained the ship LCT Kapitan, which was transporting Chua’s iron ore cargo on the basis of an injunction order supposedly issued by a court in Iligan City. The Ombudsman said Tan had presented a fictitious temporary restraining order issued against the iron ore cargo.” But in his remarks at the PMA event, Tan explained there was basis for the PCG to hold the ship.

PMA campus declared no-mining zone

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 21): PMA campus declared no-mining zone

The Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) Fort Del Pilar has been declared a “no-mining zone,” one of the first areas to receive this classification here following the issuance of Executive Order No. 79, the mining policy of President Benigno Aquino III. EO 79, issued on July 6, requires government agencies to segregate environmentally vulnerable regions that may not host any form of mining activities. Capt. Agnes Lynette Flores, PMA spokesperson, said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) had informed the academy about its new status on the same day it held a dialogue with pocket miners operating inside the PMA reservation. Alfredo Genetiano, officer-in-charge of the MGB Cordillera mine management division, said government mine engineers, geologists and the Benguet Provincial Mine Regulatory Board have concluded that the whole PMA reservation stands in an area that is prone to landslides, based on the 2010 geological hazard maps of the MGB.....

Akbayan vs Anakbayan in Davao

From Rappler (Nov 21): Akbayan vs Anakbayan in Davao

NOT MARGINALIZED. Members of Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students stages a rally outside Akbayan senatoriable Risa Hontiveros' press conference. Photo by Karlos Manlupig 
NOT MARGINALIZED. Members of Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students stages a rally outside Akbayan senatoriable Risa Hontiveros' press conference. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

Members of militant youth organizations Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students staged a protest outside the press conference of Akbayan senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros in Davao on Wednesday, November 21. Visiting the city a day after the Commission on Elections allowed the participation of Akbayan in the 2013 elections, Hontiveros said she welcomed the decision. But members of Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao slammed the Comelec verdict as a “ridiculous pro-Aquino administration decision that would further bastardize the partylist system." After holding a protest rally outside the restaurant where Hontiveros was holding her press conference, the protesters attempted to block her van after she left the building through a backdoor. Both groups have been engaged in a word war, which reached fever pitch after members of Anakbayan stormed into Akbayan's press conference in Manila in October. Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Cherry Orendain said Akbayan cannot claim to be marginalized or underrepresented because its leaders hold key positions in the government..... Anakbayan is a national democratic youth organization known to be one of the founding organizations of the two-termer Kabataan Partylist.

Inter-faith Mission documents rampant IP killings in Bukidnon

From the leftist and often pro-CPP Davao Today (Nov 21): Inter-faith Mission documents rampant IP killings in Bukidnon

Beverly Longid, first nominee of the Katribu party-list, said that they were alarmed at the growing number of IP leaders killed due to their opposition to either mining or similar development projects, which have affected their communities and the environment.

As assassins of local Lumad (indigenous) leaders here continue to roam free and unpunished, a national indigenous peoples (IP) party-list labelled Bukidnon as one the provinces where impunity reigns. The group Katribu party-list came up with this conclusion after an inter-faith solidarity mission (ISM) held last November 17-19 here documented three lumads killed in the span of a few months. The mission report also said that aside from the killing of Dao chieftain Datu Jimmy Liguyon last March 5, a certain Abon and an Erning Mantugohan were also killed in Slide Dao, San Fernando, this province. Abon was killed in January while Mantugohan was killed in October.

Beverly Longid, first nominee of the Katribu party-list, said that they were alarmed at the growing number of IP leaders killed due to their opposition to either mining or similar development projects, which have affected their communities and the environment. “They got killed because they remained steadfast to their cause to protect their respective ancestral domains and the environment against further destruction,” Longid told Longid lamented that the lives of both IPs and non-IPs advocating for the rights of the Lumad and for the protection of the environment are getting more and more endangered.....

The Mission report added that some 35 lumad families or 130 individuals from Dao, San Fernando were forced to evacuate to the Capitol grounds in Malaybalay City after they were allegedly harassed and intimidated by paramilitary group National Indigenous Peoples Army Reform (Nipar), which is said to be under the command of 86thInfantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The ISM was organized by the Katribu’s Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization; rights group Karapatan-Northern Mindanao; Community-Based Health Services; and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao......

Govt-MILF agreement would complement existing pact

From the Manila Times (Nov 22): Govt-MILF agreement would complement existing pact

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles on Wednesday said that the that framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation From MILF) will only complement, not disregard, the existing Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA).“Yes, all agreements can be harmonized for the greater common good of the Bangsamoro,” she said. Deles made the clarification after the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) urged the Philippine government and the MILF not to abandon the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and to include its provisions in the final peace agreement being forged by both parties. She explained that there would be no framework agreement without the previous agreement, stressing that this will only add to what was already being done and will only improve the previous agreement. The latest agreement would pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous region that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Deles said that she believes that the recent agreement with MILF will be implemented as they continue to work hard to address both parties commitment “on the table and on the ground.” “In the face of whatever doubts and skepticism, we continue to focus on the work that needs to be done to ensure that the process—difficult as we know it is and will continue to be—remains on course,” she added. Earlier, government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen had expressed confidence that both parties would be able to complete the three annexes of the peace pact by the end of the year. MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, on the other hand, shared Leonen’s positive view. “I know everybody exerted their utmost efforts and have managed to settle many things. But the remaining issues are still so many and very hard but with determination and commitment of both parties, I think we will be able to overcome a lot of issues,” he said.

Iranian in NBI hands sparks extradition row

From the Philippine Daily Inquier (Nov 22): Iranian in NBI hands sparks extradition row

An Iranian national arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation on the request of the US Department of Justice remains in NBI custody six months after his capture, a bureau official said. According to NBI-Foreign Liaison chief Claro de Castro Jr., a court battle is ongoing between the US government and Iran over the extradition of Parviz Khaki, 45, of Tehran. De Castro said the Iranian Embassy in Manila, which is representing Khaki in the proceedings, had petitioned the Manila Regional Trial Court-Branch 21 to stop the extradition of Khaki to the US. De Castro said Khaki was on his way back to Iran when he was arrested by NBI agents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on May 26, 2012. He said that based on the information from the US justice department, the Iranian had been indicted by the District Court of Columbia for being part of a conspiracy to smuggle to Iran about 20 tons of specialized steel “with nuclear applications” and which are considered suitable for gas centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. Khaki was indicted in the US for six counts of fraud over his attempt to deliver highly technical materials and nickel alloy to Iran, the NBI official also said. De Castro said the suspect was also charged with money laundering and violating US laws with respect to the American embargo against Iran.

Senate confirms Subic toxic waste dumping

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 22): Senate confirms Subic toxic waste dumping

A US Navy contractor violated Philippine environmental laws by dumping toxic waste into Subic Bay in October, Senate investigators found Wednesday. The contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Philippines Inc., was also found to have no clearance from the Philippine government to dispose of ship waste in the sea and no equipment to determine whether the waste it was landing was harmful to marine life. In a joint hearing of the Senate committees on foreign relations and environment and natural resources, Sen. Loren Legarda said Glenn Defense clearly broke Philippine laws on proper waste disposal regardless of claims by the company’s CEO, retired Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga, that a Philippine Daily Inquirer report on the dumping of toxic waste into Subic Bay was “inaccurate or false.”  Mayuga told a news conference in Manila recently that waste removed by Glenn Defense from US Navy ships docked at Subic was pretreated and disposed of in waters outside Philippine territory. But the US Navy, which is investigating Glenn Defense, denied Mayuga’s statement, saying it had no waste treatment equipment aboard its ships. That meant the wastewater Glenn Defense’s tanker MT Glenn Guardian removed from a US Navy vessel and dumped into waters 37 kilometers off Subic on Oct. 15 was hazardous.

Police readying charges vs NPA rebels in Isabela ambush

From the Philippine Star (Nov 22): Police readying charges vs NPA rebels in Isabela ambush

Police are readying multiple murder and frustrated murder charges against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels for the death of seven soldiers and wounding of nine others during an ambush in Barangay Mabbayad, Echague, Isabela last Sunday. Senior Superintendent Franklin Mabanag, Isabela police director, said among those to be charged are a certain Ka MJ, spokesman of the NPA’s Benito Tesorio Command, which owned up to the ambush, and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison. Mabanag told The STAR they are also looking for evidence to link officials of the Mabuwaya Foundation, a crocodile conservation foundation based in the Sierra Madre mountain range. The group allegedly harbored foreigners seen with the guerrillas before the ambush. Marites Gatan-Balabas, deputy director of the Mabuwaya Foundation, however, said they have nothing to do with the foreigners seen with insurgents. She said they have foreigners doing crocodile research but not in the area where the encounter occurred. The Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division (ID) confirmed the presence of three female foreigners along with some 30 NPA guerrillas, who were involved in the five-hour clash with soldiers. “There are photographs showing them with the lawless armed group,” said Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of the 5th ID’s civilian-military operations battalion. Magundayao said details about the foreigners’ identity, group and activities remain unavailable. “We are still investigating why they were there,” he said. “We will also be filing charges against (these foreigners) if they are proven to have participated in the firefight,” he added.

Pamana checks to be used for infra projects in Samar provinces

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 21): Pamana checks to be used for infra projects in Samar provinces

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director Pedro Noval will turn over checks to the three governors of Samar. This will be one of the highlights of the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting Thursday, November 22. Northern Samar Governor Paul Daza is chairman of the Council. In a text message, Emy Bonifacio, Samar Pamana area manager said that the governors of Samar will be implementers of the Pamana road projects in the three provinces to start 2012. Samar will get P15 million for the San Jose de Buan road project, Northern Samar will get P15 million for Silvino Lobos road project. The province of Eastern Samar will get P10 million for the Jipapad road and another P10 million for Maslog road. Meanwhile, on November 27, the Pamana technical group will be convened with all the Municipal Planning and Development Councils (MPDCs) in attendance. DILG will discuss the Pamana implementation, particularly the different processes as in transparency and accountability mechanisms and elements of peace and social cohesion.  Samar has been chosen as Pamana area, because of the conflict areas. Bonifacio said that more projects will be channeled to Samar after the infra structure are laid.  “I hope that the LGUs will implement the projects before the year ends,” Bonifacio said.

PH military still using schools as camps - study

From ABS-CBN (Nov 21): PH military still using schools as camps - study

The Philippines is among conflict-ridden countries where the military continues to use schools as camps, New York-based Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack said. In a study entitled, "Lessons In War: Military Use of Schools and Other Education Institutions during Conflict", the coalition said the Philippines is one of 24 countries where military use of schools and institutions were observed from January 2005 until October 2012. Aside from being used as camps, the coalition said schools are also being converted into barracks, logistics bases, operational headquarters, weapons and ammunition caches, detention and interrogation centers, firing and observation positions, and recruitment grounds. Nonetheless, it noted that the Philippines has set up policies in preventing such..... The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) is an alliance of United Nations agencies and organizations from the fields of education in emergencies, higher education, international human rights, and international humanitarian law, dedicated to addressing the problem of attacks on students, teachers, schools, and universities during armed conflict.

Two hurt in blast near police camp in Cagayan de Oro City

From GMANews (Nov 21): Two hurt in blast near police camp in Cagayan de Oro City

At least two people were reported injured in an explosion near a police camp in Cagayan de Oro City early Wednesday. Philippine National Police Region 10 spokesman Superintendent Francis Cariaga cited initial reports indicating the explosion occurred at about 8:20 a.m. "Isang explosive, sumabog. Posibleng granada or IED (It was an explosive, likely a grenade or an improvised explosive device)," Cariaga said in an interview on dzBB radio. He cited initial reports indicating the injured included a security guard and a motorcycle rider. Cariaga said the explosion occurred at a hilly portion of a highway near the PNP's Camp Vicente Alagar in Cagayan de Oro City. He said their initial information indicated the explosion was near a finance company, but said there is no basis at this time to link the finance company to recent pyramid scams, over which authorities had warned of possible reprisal from victims. "Ongoing pa ang investigation," he added. A separate report on dzRH radio said the explosive was a grenade without a pin, jammed into the accordion door of the Golden Sun Finance Corp. near the PNP camp. The dzRH report added the security guard was in critical condition since the grenade exploded as he opened the door. The dzRH report added five others were hurt but are stable. On October 11, three people were reported killed in an explosion near a hotel, also in the city.

Wastes dumped in Subic Bay exceed allowable limit

From the  Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 21): Wastes dumped in Subic Bay exceed allowable limit

Laboratory tests showed that the wastes dumped in Subic Bay by a US Navy contractor in October were hundreds of times beyond the permissible limits and would definitely cause damage to the aquatic ecology. Senator Loren Legarda presided over the Senate inquiry Wednesday over the 440,000 liters of sewage allegedly dumped around 17 nautical miles off Subic Bay Freeport last October 15 by the MV Glenn Guardian. Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga, chairman of Glenn Defense Marine Asia the US Navy contractor, however questioned the laboratory results saying the collection of samples was not properly conducted. Angel Bagaloyos, manager of the Subic Bay Ecology Center, who conducted the tests, said that the samples from the MV Glenn Guardian were found to be “in excess of permitted effluent standards” The Biological Oxygen Demand, a measure of how much bacteria are in the water that consumes oxygen, was found to be 750 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The acceptable limit is at 30 mg/L, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The Chemical Oxygen Demand, a measure of how much oxygen in the water is needed to break down organic matter, was found to be 1,485 mg/L. The standard is only 60 mg/L. Oil and grease that come from kitchens was found to be 30 mg/L, beyond the allowed limit of 5 mg/L. Total suspended solids in the water were found to be 252 mg/L, exceeding the standard of 50mg/L. Bagaloyos, when asked by Legarda on the impact of these wastes on the marine ecology, he said that fish would definitely die. Mayuga maintained that they dumped the wastes beyond the standard distance of 12 nautical miles for untreated wastes required by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). Legarda however pointed out that though these were not technically hazardous wastes, they still contained high levels of toxicity that were dangerous to aquatic life and were still within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The Glenn Guardian had also not secured a dumping permit from the PCG, a standard requirement for all ships whether local or foreign. “It is very clear that there are violations committed by Glenn Defense Marine Asia,” Legarda said. She said she might recommend to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to suspend the license of MV Glenn Guardian.

8 injured in Cagayan de Oro City grenade blast

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 21): 8 injured in Cagayan de Oro City grenade blast

Eight persons were wounded when a hand grenade whose pin was tied to an accordion-type door of a finance firm in Cagayan de Oro City went off as the establishment opened for business around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, police said. Senior Superintendent Gerardo Rosales, Cagayan de Oro City police director, identified the wounded as retired Senior Police Officer 2 Rodolfo Cabutad, SPO2 Ronelio Mendiola of police station 8, Danny Ragcab (an employee of the Mantangale Alibuag Dive Shop next door), Barceliza Salamanca, Fritzie Piyos, Roderick Cadebit, Fernando Biyernes, and security guard RJ Palma. Rosales said the door was obviously booby-trapped. He said an MK2 fragmentation grenade tied to the door of the Golden Sun Finance Corp. located at Barangay (village) Lapasan, exploded as wounded employees Salamanca and Piyos and security guard Palma were opening the door. Palma was seriously injured. The two wounded policemen were traveling on a motorcyle toward Camp Alagar when the blast happened. Senior Inspector Lemuel Gonda, chief of the Agora Police Station, said two passengers of a passing jeepney—Cadebit and Biyernes—were also wounded. Chief Supt. Gil Hitosis, police chief for Northern Mindanao, said police were investigating the lending firm to determine if its business transactions had anything to do with the explosion. Golden Sun Finance Corp. declined to issue any statement pending police investigation. According to Rosales, investigators have yet to gather witnesses to the blast, adding that a security camera in a nearby establishment may have recorded the perpetrators. Meanwhile, a radio report quoted Rosales as saying that investigators are looking into the possibility that persons holding a grudge against the finance firm might be responsible for the attack.

Military officer in Al-Barka incident fails bid to clear name

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 21): Military officer in Al-Barka incident fails bid to clear name

The general court martial has denied a motion for reconsideration of the military officer involved in the Al-Barka incident in 2011 which led to the killing of 19 Army Special Forces by Muslim rebels. Colonel Feliciano Loy, a law member of the court martial, said former Commander of the Special Forces Regiment Airborne Colonel Almikandra Undog failed to present new pieces of evidence..“The court deliberated in close session and with seven members presented…voted to deny the motion for reconsideration because there are no new matters or defense by Undog, the arguments are based on the old ones,” Loy told reporters. He said Undog will present his next evidence on the next hearing on November 27.  Undog is charged with violations of Articles of War 96 (Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer and a Gentleman) and 97 (Disorders and Neglects to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline). Meanwhile, the court will issue a ruling also in the next hearing for another officer on trial, former Commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Pena’s motion to dismiss the case, according to Loy. Peña has been charged with violations of Articles of War 96, 97 84 (Willful or Negligent Loss, Damage or Wrongful Disposition). Last month, the court martial cleared two officers –former Commandant of Special Forces School Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Edralin and former Commander of Special Operations Task Force Basilan Colonel Alexander Macario– for “insufficiency of evidence” for their involvement over the bungled military operations.

Philippines to host 3 other South China Sea claimants in discussion of dispute

From InterAksyon (Nov 21): Philippines to host 3 other South China Sea claimants in discussion of dispute

After ASEAN failed to reach a consensus “not to internationalize” the South China Sea disputes, the Philippines will host a discussion on the issue among the four claimants that are also members of the regional bloc on December 12. At a press conference Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said that the talks between Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam will be at the vice-ministerial level. Although the items on the agenda of the meeting have not yet been identified, he said: “A good scenario would be a multilateral discussion on the issues that confront the four claimants.” He said a list of limitations to the solutions on disputes involving each other would be “a good result” of those discussions. Asked if this meeting might displease China, which has requested that the territorial dispute not be internationalized, del Rosario said: “This would demonstrate that we can endeavor to discuss the issue and are willing to come out with constructive and practical ways in trying to settle the issue.” The proposal for a discussion among the ASEAN members that have varying claims to islands and other rock formations in the South China Sea was a Philippine recommendation to the ASEAN last year.

Aquino asks China to pull out ships from Scarborough - DFA chief

From InterAksyon (Nov 21): Aquino asks China to pull out ships from Scarborough - DFA chief

President Benigno Aquino III has asked China to pull out its three ships from Scarborough Shoal, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters Wednesday. Asked if the President explicitly asked this of China, Del Rosario said: “In accordance with UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea), the President called on all parties to respect the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) and the continental shelf of all coastal states irrespective of their size or naval power. “That said, the President called on our northern neighbor to respect our EEZ and withdraw their vessels which remain in Bajo de Masinloc.” Earlier, the DFA chief said three Chinese government vessels remained in the rock formations that form part of the territory of Masinloc town in Zambales. Diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines have soured since April this year when Chinese fishing boats were spotted harvesting endangered maritime species inside the lagoon of the shoal. The Philippines tried to apprehend the fishermen for violating Philippine fisheries and environmental laws but was prevented by Chinese maritime ships, resulting in a standoff. The Philippine ships - initially its first warship and later a Coast Guard and fisheries vessels – eventually pulled out of the shoal. But the Chinese ships stayed.

MILF: OIC to invite MILF as ‘guest’ in future meetings

From the MILF Website (Nov 21): OIC to invite MILF as ‘guest’ in future meetings

The 39th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti, from November 15-17 (1 to 3 Muharram 1434H) had extended to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the chance to attend future OIC’s meetings as “guest”. This gesture was contained in the OIC’s Resolution on the Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines, which requested the Secretary General to invite the representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to participate in ministerial conferences as guest, in coordination with the hosting state, in order to facilitate coordination between the two fronts. In this Djibouti conference, the MILF has sent a four-man team led by no less than Chairman Murad Ebrahim and with Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Roberto “Maulana” Alonto, and Muhajirin Ali, as members. Chairman Nur Misuari led the MNLF delegation, with three others including Commander Narra Abduljabbar of Lanao del Sur. It can be recalled that all past invitations to the MILF to attend OIC’s conferences had been part of the MNLF delegation, which has been grated “observer status” in the OIC. However, with this new status, the MILF can be invited separately from the MNLF.....

....However, a source from the MILF Central Committee told Luwaran that they expressed “strong reservation” on Resolution number 10 which runs thus: “Calls upon the Secretary General to hold another session of the tripartite meeting at the earliest to contain any impacts that may result from the Framework Agreement between GPH and MILF, save the 1996 Agreement and link it to the Framework Agreement, and develop a mechanism between MNLF, MILF and GPH to oversee the implementation of these two agreements i.e. the agreement with the MILF and the agreements with the MNLF. The source, who requested anonymity for lack of formal authority to speak on the matter, described the formation of the triumvirate of the MNLF, MILF, and GPH, which in essence takes the nature of an oversight committee, as unnecessary mechanism that will only complicate the gains of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. He explained that while the MILF welcomes the inputs coming from the MNLF but this should be done through the “Bangsamoro Coordination Forum,” which the OIC also sponsors. The MILF fully agreed to the creation of this forum but the MNLF until today has not approved of it yet.