Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Zamboanga

From ABS-CBN (Nov 28): Suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Zamboanga

A suspected member of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf was arrested in a joint operation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Zamboanga City on Tuesday. The suspect, identified as Algaber Said alias “Talha,” was arrested inside a mall in Zamboanga. NBI-9 Regional Director Atty. Manuel Almendares said the suspect was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant for kidnapping with serious illegal detention. The suspect has been tagged as being involved in the Lamitan siege and the Dos Palmas kidnapping. Almendares also said a P600,000 reward has been offered for the arrest of Said, who is allegedly one of the supporters of former Abu Sayyaf leader Abdurajak Janjalani. Said was transported to Manila Tuesday night.


Members of 2 PMA classes jockeying for key police posts

From the Business Mirror (Nov 27): Members of 2 PMA classes jockeying for key police posts

AS Director General Nicanor Bartolome is nearing the end of his watch as National Police chief, members of two Philippine Military Academy (PMA) classes are now jockeying for key positions in the controversy-ridden force. Sources at the National Police general headquarters at Camp Crame said members of PMA Class 1981 and PMA Class 1984 are at loggerheads over who should occupy key positions when Deputy Director General Alan Purisima assumes the National Police leadership. Purisima is a member of PMA Class 1981. While Purisima is more inclined to appoint his classmates to key positions, sources doubted if he could prevail upon Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, chairman of the National Police Commission, which administers and controls the National Police. “Besides Roxas being the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] chief and Napolcom chairman, politics will play a big role in the appointments of police officials to key posts because, although Purisima was the personal choice of President, I understand there was an agreement between Roxas and the President Aquino that the interior secretary will be given a free hand in assembling his team,” an official said.
Roxas, president of Mr. Aquino’s Liberal Party, is an adopted member of PMA Class 1984, and sources said they doubt if his “mistahs” will let the men of Purisima control the National Police when their adopted member is in power. “As they say, what are we in power for?” one of the sources said. This early some of the members of PMA Class 1984, are already throwing their weight around and are engaging in “Oplan Pakilala,” sources said. One of them is Senior Supt. Melchor Reyes, the newly appointed operations chief of the National Police Firearms and Explosives Division (FED), whose recent pronouncement on gun regulations not only bypassed Bartolome but treated him as lameduck chief.....

Palace: China version of law of the sea to be expected

From the Manila Times (Nov 28): Palace: China version of law of the sea to be expected

Malacañang yesterday said China ’s different interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was expected even as it stressed that the Philippines ’ approach to the West Philippine Sea ( South China Sea ) dispute is rules-based. The Chinese embassy in Manila has said the Philippines misinterpreted and misapplied the UNCLOS to support its claim over Scarborough shoal based on the exclusive economic zone provision. The embassy cited an analysis of the China National Institute for South China Sea Studies which states that UNCLOS cannot be the basis of the Philippines’ claim over Scarborough shoal because while UNCLOS provides for a 200-nautical mile EEZ, it does not have any provision to change a country’s sovereignty over territorial land, let alone empower any nation to extend its EEZs to include territories of other countries.

Deputy spokeswoman Abigail Valte said China will obviously have a different opinion because “we are on different sides of the fence.” “Everything that we have done has been in line with this rules-based approach with regard to rules that are recognized internationally,” Valte said. Valte said the Department of Foreign Affairs will handle the issue of the new Chinese passports which contained disputed territories with some Asean countries and with India as part of territory. Vietnam has reportedly refused to stamp the new Chinese passports because it depicts the South China Sea as Chinese territory. Valte said a note verbale has already been sent to China . “I understand that there have been some questions on the next course of action in light of placing their maps including all the territory within the nine-dash line on their passports,” she said.....


Ex-army chief goes to bat for officers in Al Barka ambush

From the Manila Times (Nov 28): Ex-army chief goes to bat for officers in Al Barka ambush

FORMER Army chief Lt. Gen. (ret.) Arturo Ortiz yesterday took the witness stand in defense of a senior officer who is being tried by a general court martial in connection with last year’s bungled operation in Al Barka, Basilan, which left 19 soldiers dead. Ortiz, the first witness to be presented by the defense, told the military tribunal that he has given a general directive to operating troops to take the initiative in combat operations, implying that the operation conducted in Basilan by the Special Forces, then headed by Col. Aminkadra Undug, was in line with his guidance. Ortiz, himself a Special Forces officer who is a recipient of the highest military decoration Medal of Valor, said he even offered P1 million in additional funds to Army units in case of a major accomplishment. Undug was one of four officers charged in connection with the bungled operation. The three others were Col. Alexander Macario, then commander of the Special Operations Task Force Basilan; Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin, then commander of Special Forces Training School; and Lt. Col. Leo Pena, then commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion. They were initially charged with violation of Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman), 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline), and 84 (willful or neglect loss, damage or wrongful disposition).

Last October, the court cleared Macario and Edralin of the charges for insufficiency of evidence. It also dismissed all the charges against Undog, except AW 97 which is in relation to his authority to deploy students of the Military Scuba Diving Course for the operation. Col. Feliciano Loy, the court’s law member, said Ortiz was presented by Undug “as part of his testimonial evidence.” “Basically, he (Ortiz) said that he has standing guidance to operating troops to take the initiatives in combat operations,” Loy said. But Ortiz did not discuss Undug’s authority to employ the scuba diving students for the operation.  Interviewed after the proceedings, Ortiz said he offered to defend Undug. He also expressed hope the court would clear Undug, “a very good, competent officer,” and Pena who is also a “good officer.” Ortiz said he felt sorry for the officers as the trial has set back their careers. He said Undug should have been already a one-star or even a two-star general already if not for the incident.

During yesterday’s proceedings, the court denied Pena’s motion for finding of not guilty with respect to the charges of violation of AW 97, AW 84 or willful or neglect loss, damage or wrongful disposition. However, the court granted Pena’s motion to dismiss the charge of violation of AW 96, saying he has not done anything that tended to cause dishonor or disgrace. The court’s ruling said Pena “has a lot of explanation to do with respect to AW 84 and AW 97.” Loy said the military court gave Pena until December 3 to file a motion for reconsideration. Undug, Pena, Macario and Edralin were ordered relieved by the military leadership from their posts for serious operational lapses committed in the conduct of the operations in October 18 last year. The soldiers were serving arrest warrants against a small group of Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front when fighting erupted. As fighting progressed, the enemy strength swelled to about 400, outnumbering the soldiers who were only about a hundred.


China wants to maintain ‘friendly’ ties with PH

From the Manila Times (Nov 28): China wants to maintain ‘friendly’ ties with PH

A Chinese government official on Tuesday said that Beijing does not intend to bring the issue of overlapping sovereignty with the Philippines before the United Nations (UN) because it would like to maintain “friendly relations” with Manila. The Chinese official, who refused to be identified, said that the only way to resolve the territorial disputes between China and the Philippines is through bilateral negotiations. In September, China decided to bring its territorial disputes with Japan before the UN. But the same action, the source said, cannot be done with regard to the Philippines. “We didn’t do that with the Philippines because we want to talk [in a] more friendly way. We wanted to do it bilaterally [with Manila],” the Chinese official said in an interview with reporters. He also pointed out that Tokyo has been “more provocative” in asserting its claim on the Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Chinese government on Monday said that Manila has misinterpreted the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) to strengthen its claims over the resource-rich disputed islands of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). “The Unclos tackles maritime issues and not territorial disputes. The right way is to take it bilaterally. Negotiations must be done between the two disput[ing] countries,” the source said.....


Bid to rid Mindanao of bombs launched

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 27): Bid to rid Mindanao of bombs launched

Soon, workers wearing protective gear would scour at least 21 Mindanao areas for unexploded bombs and land mines in a campaign being launched by a Geneva-based group with the help of the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The campaign, led by the Geneva-based Fondation Suisse de Déminage (FSD), will receive a P29-million funding from the European Union, according to the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PBCL) in a statement. Alfredo Ferrariz-Lubang, the national coordinator of PBCL, said in the statement that the campaign’s main objective is to keep people safe from unexploded bombs or land mines in areas where these weapons had been left behind by past battles between government soldiers and MILF rebels.

Civilians had been killed or maimed by unexploded bombs in areas in Mindanao that had become battlegrounds for soldiers and rebels. In April 2009, a farmer was killed in Barira, Maguindanao, when he was plowing his farm and accidentally hit an unexploded bomb. In March 2009, three children died and five others were injured when they hammered a mortar shell that they found in a rice mill in Buldon, Maguindanao. Both towns are near Camp Abubakar, the MILF’s main camp, which came under heavy government bombardment in 2008. In December 2010, a teenage boy was wounded after he accidentally hit an unexploded bomb while cleaning his family’s farm in Barangay Buliok in Pikit, North Cotabato. Buliok is also the site of heavy fighting between government troops and MILF rebels in 2008.

Describing the project as “delivering peace dividends through the reduction of explosive remnants of war,” Lubang said FSD and its volunteers will identify and clear suspected hazardous areas in 21 towns. The task could be enormous as it involves scouring 450,629 hectares with a population of more than 800,000 people, said Lubang. People may have to be moved out of their homes during the campaign and, Lubang said, FSD is also preparing a program to help those who will be displaced. The benefits of the campaign, however, are also huge, said Lubang. He said at the end of the campaign, at least 67,594 ha of land will be freed from unexploded bombs and turned into productive farms again. This would benefit at least 122,000 people, he said, increasing the potential for livelihood of the cleared areas. Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chair, said the Moro group sees the campaign as an important part of the transition to peace under a framework agreement that government and MILF earlier signed.


BIFM clueless on Maguindanao bombings

From the Philippine Star (Nov 28): BIFM clueless on Maguindanao bombings

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement is still gathering information as to who could be behind the bombings in Maguindanao last Monday that killed a BIFM member and wounded eight others. Abu Misry Mama, spokesman for the BIFM, said the bombings caused the suspension of their “Islamic dialogue” in a village in Lower Salbu in Datu Saudi town. “We will conduct an inquiry first. We cannot just point an accusing finger at any group without strong evidence,” Mama said. Mama also allayed fears of possible retaliation by their forces for the death of Kagui Haron. Maguindanao police director Senior Superintendent Jaime Pido said investigators had complained of the reluctance of villagers to identify the injured bandits for fear of reprisals. “Most of these bandits have standing warrants of arrests. That could be one reason why people in the area do not want to cooperate,” Pido said. Commander Karialan, BIFM chief-of-staff, and Mohammad Tambako, BIFM chief political officer, were among the wounded.


IPs seek government help as evacuation continues

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 28): IPs seek government help as evacuation continues

A tribal leader has asked the intervention of Mayor Sara Dutere-Carpio to allay fears of several members of the indigenous peoples who evacuated from their farms in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District after they were allegedly harassed by members of the New People’s Army. Datu Roel Arthur Ali, deputy mayor for the Ata tribe in Paquibato said the number of evacuees rose from 17 to 21 families after more IPs feared for their lives following the encounter of soldiers and rebels in the area. He said many tribal leaders claimed they were being blamed by the rebels for the discovery of their presence by government troops in the mountainous areas of Barangay Malabog. “They were all threatened to be killed for squealing about their presence to the military. The rebels roam around, so the IPs fear for their lives,” Ali said. He said Sitios Alon and Malamon where all the evacuees came from are located in the forested highlands of Paquibato. Ali said most of the evacuees opted to leave their farms to secure themselves and their respective families while waiting for the assistance and clear intervention from the government.

Earlier, Datu Tresio Lumuyok, tribal chieftain of Matigsalog tribe claimed that residents abandoned their houses in Purok 26, Sitio Alon, Brgy. Malabog and sought refuge in Brgy. Marilog since November 6.  He led his people in search for a safe place after a rebel leader threatened and forced them to take part in rallies and demonstrations in protest to the presence of government troops in the area. Lumuyok said the residents were suspected as military informants scouting the whereabouts of the rebel group. He said the rebels are planning to make their village as venue for the 44th year anniversary of the CPP on December 27. Datu Buaya Ansaud welcomed the evacuees in his village in Sitio Malikongkong, Barangay Marilog while the Davao City Social Services and Development Office provided for their needs.

Lt. Colonel Edgar Nigos, commanding officer of the 84th Infantry Battalion said the evacuation only manifests the danger created by the presence of the rebels in the area. “The incident is a wake-up call for everybody to denounce the presence of rebels in the area,” Nigos said.  He maintained that it is the mandate of the soldiers to protect the people and not to harm them.


142 new privates add to 3ID strength

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 27): 142 new privates add to 3ID strength

Graduation and induction ceremonies officially completing the 19-week training on the Candidate Soldier Course (CSC) of 142 new privates were held last Nov. 23 at the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army based at Camp Macario Peralta, Jr. in Jamindan town. The graduates also received their service M-16 armalite rifle in a ceremonial entrustment of firearms which was highlighted by the participation of invited civilian guests during the graduation activity. “Your oath comes with great sacrifice, you will sacrifice your freedom to ensure the sovereignty of the land, your treasure so that others may enjoy an environment of peace and security and your lives so that others may live,” 3ID commander Major Gen. Jose Z. Mabanta, Jr. told them. “Today you will set out as advocates of peace and protectors of the people and the state,” he added. The new privates were among the 833 applicants for Class 295-12 who underwent a 12-week rigid training on basic military course and seven weeks of jungle warfare operations course. Privates refers to the lowest rank in the military organization. During the ceremony, outstanding graduates were given certificates and proficiency awards based on their mental and physical performance in the course duration. For his part, Binggawan, Iloilo mayor Mattt P. Palabrica who was the graduation guest speaker underscored the importance of local government units (LGUs) support and assistance in any peace effort as he pledged to help any peace initiative as long as it is within the bounds of law. “Your profession may cost your life, so please take care of your body and soul” Palabrica reminded the new soldiers. Qualified for the CSC are bona fide Filipino citizen, single, 18 – 26 years old, at least high school graduate with skills; must be single; physically and mentally fit, no pending cases in court, and passed the aptitude test among others.


DND chief visits wounded soldiers, gives aid to slain soldiers’ families

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 28): DND chief visits wounded soldiers, gives aid to slain soldiers’ families

CAMP MELCHOR DELA CRUZ, GAMU, Isabela – The Department of National Defense (DND) chief visited the eight wounded soldiers at the camp’s hospital on Friday (Nov 23) and handed financial aid to the slain soldiers’ families. DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin together with army chief Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista on Friday personally went to the camp and visited all the wounded soldiers and handed financial assistance to them. The wounded soldiers are the companions of the seven soldiers killed in an encounter with the New Peoples Army on November 17, 2012 at Mabbayad, Echague, Isabela. Gazmin advised the soldiers of the 5th Infantry Division to take precautionary measures to avert the lost of lives of soldiers just like what happened to the seven soldiers of the division. The soldiers were also told to remain apolitical during elections as the election period will again be held next year. The seven slain soldiers including those wounded are conducting security operations at barangay Mabbayad,Echague, Isabela when unknown number of New Peoples Army engaged in a gun fight resulting to the death of the soldiers and wounding the other. Gazmin is hopeful that no such similar incidents will soon happen to the soldiers of 5ID and advised to intensify intelligence operations to prevent deaths caused by encounters with the rebels. Meanwhile, the provincial government also personally handed financial assistance to the slain and wounded soldiers through Secretary Gazmin. Slain soldiers’ families were given P20 thousand while the wounded soldiers are given P5 thousand by the provincial government.


OIC steps in to patch up MILF-MNLF differences

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 27): OIC steps in to patch up MILF-MNLF differences

The influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has intervened to patch up the kinks hindering efforts to unify the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for Bangsamoro empowerment. During the 39th Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa on November 15-17, the OIC urged the MNLF to waste no time in formalizing a coordinative mechanism with the MILF “to achieve peace and development for the people of Bangsamoro.” ....
.... Under the auspices of the OIC, the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) was proposed to be created to serve as a regular platform for both groups to dialogue on issues and unite efforts to advance the Moro struggle for self-governance. This unity effort was formally started in May 2010 in the sidelines of the 37th OIC-CFM meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu then brought MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari and MILF chief Murad Ebrahim to meet and agree to coordinate efforts. Ihsanoglu had stressed that “coordination between the two fronts has become of utmost necessity” because their respective peace processes with the Philippine government “revolve around the same problem and the same territory.” The MILF broke away from the MNLF in 1978. In October this year, after almost 15 years of negotiations, it signed an initial pact with the government, which it said is an improvement of the concessions gained by the MNLF through the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. The creation of the BCF cropped up during the December 2011 meeting between the two groups in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In a resolution, the OIC-CFM “commends (the) MILF’s acceptance of the proposal and urges (the) MNLF to accept the proposal as soon as possible to enable institutional and orderly coordination between them.”
Murad and Misuari headed their respective delegations to the Djibouti meeting. Both talked to each other in a meeting hosted by Ihsanoglu and witnessed by Djibouti Foreign Affairs Minister Mahmoud Ali Yussof.  “(We) welcome the meeting between the MNLF and the MILF on the sidelines of this session…,” read the Djibouti Declaration, which was issued by the diplomats of 57 OIC member-states at the conclusion of the CFM meeting, a copy of which was posted on the OIC website. “(We) call upon the two fronts to unify efforts and coordinate positions for the benefit of the Bangsmoro people,” it said.

MILF: We can learn much from Umno

From AsiaOne News (Nov 27): MILF: We can learn much from Umno

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim has paid tribute to Umno, describing it as a Malay-based political party that the Southern Philippine Bangsamoro people can learn a lot from. "The story of Umno and its founding has much to be shared with the Bangsamoro as lessons to be learnt in the political life of the Malay people," Murad said at an international forum held in conjunction with the Umno general assembly. "In Malaysia's struggle against colonialism, how Umno engaged in conciliation and conflict resolution is exemplary, and your country's citizens have reasons to be grateful for your experience in governance," he added. Murad thanked the Malaysian Government and its leaders, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for their longstanding support to the peace process in the conflict-torn region. He said organising the forum ahead of the annual meeting of Malaysia's largest political party projected Umno as a party whose interest went beyond domestic politics to include a desire to be united with the larger Muslim ummah and international community. The soft-spoken Murad related Malaysia's contributions to the southern Philippine peace process, which led to the signing of a framework peace agreement last month between the MILF and the Philippine Government. Murad said the current round of peace talks began when the Philippine Government under then President Gloria Arroyo sought help from Dr Mahathir in 2000 to facilitate a negotiated political solution to the conflict. Murad said the MILF was also thankful to senior Umno leaders in the Cabinet whom he said had helped the peace process with their strong support.


PN: US Marine Commander Visits Philippine Navy

From the Philippine Navy Website (nov 23): US Marine Commander Visits Philippine Navy

The Commander of United States Marine Corps (USMC) Forces Pacific, Lieutenant General Terry G Robling, visited Headquarters Philippine Navy (HPN) and paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Naval Staff, Commodore Jesus C Millan last November 19, 2012. He was accompanied by Sergeant Major William T Stables, Command Sergeant Major of Marine Forces Pacific and Master Chief Christopher Aldis, Command Master Chief of Marine Forces Pacific. The visit aims to underscore the defence relations and military cooperation between the two parties.,Prior his visit to HPN, Lieutenant General Robling visited the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) Headquarters and called on Major General Rustico O Guerrero, the PMC Commandant. Lieutenant General Robling took command of the USMC Forces Pacific on August 2012. Prior to his present position he was the Deputy Commandant for Aviation.




PN: French Ambassador Visits Philippine Navy

From the Philippine Navy Website (Nov 24): French Ambassador Visits Philippine Navy

His Excellency Gilles Garachon, the French Ambassador to the Philippines together with Lieutenant Colonel Yann Dirou, the Non-Resident Defence Attache of France to the Philippines visited Headquarters Philippine Navy (HPN) and paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Naval Staff, Commodore Jesus C Millan last November 22, 2012. The visit aims to discuss some matters concerning the procurement of armaments and defence cooperation between the two parties.




PN: Navy-Air Force Exercise (DAGIT 2012) Concludes

From the Philippine Navy Website (Nov 27): Navy-Air Force Exercise (DAGIT 2012) Concludes

The annual interoperability exercise participated by the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) officially concluded last November 17, 2012. The closing ceremony was held at PAF Third Air Division Multi-Purpose Hall in Zamboanga City. This joint unilateral exercise dubbed as “IOX DAGIT 2012” started last 12 November 2012 and was conducted in Western Mindanao Area of Responsibility (AOR) particularly in Zamboanga City and its environs. This joint unilateral exercise was composed of various interoperability exercise (IOX) activities between the PN and the PAF.

The series of activities were carried out through three (3) phases. The Phase 1 or the Preparation Phase composed of coordinating conferences, schedule of events development, logistics fill-up, and administrative preparations. The Phase 2 or the Exercise Phase included the Opening Ceremony, Subject Matter Expertise Exchanges (SMEE’s) and practicals, Air-Ground Operations Seminar, Close Air Support, Heliborne Operations, Aerial Spotting, Communications Exercise, Maritime Surveillance Exercise, Search and Rescue Exercise, Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercise, and Casualty Evacuation Exercise. The final phase or the Termination Phase involved the conduct of sporting events, hotwash, and the Closing Ceremony.

This extensive and comprehensive training activity envisions enhancing competencies and capabilities of participating PN and PAF personnel on Joint Air-Surface Operations and Senior Leader’s Forum. It also aims to test and assess the response mechanism of PN and PAF units for the Coast Watch System (CWS) and in Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in general. It also hopes to test and assess the tactical level communications between PAF and PN assets, as well as to strengthen mutual relationship and camaraderie between the participants.




Philippine Army News Clippings (Nov 18-27)

Posted to the Faces, Places, & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) Blog: Philippine Army News Clippings (Nov 18-27)

November 18: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114316003/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 19: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114316224/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 20: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114316391/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 21: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114317676/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 22: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114317717/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 23: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114317817/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 24: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114317898/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 25: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114317958/Philippine-Army-News-Clippings#page=1

November 26: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114574718/26-Nov-12#page=1

November 27: http://www.scribd.com/doc/114576453/27-Nov-2012-Newsclippings#page=1


AFP contingent to Golan Heights recognized in rites

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 27): AFP contingent to Golan Heights recognized in rites

The 346-strong 5th Philippine contingent to Golan Heights, which came home recently from a nine-month mission, was given recognition by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in rites held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Tuesday. Vice Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Noel Coballes awarded the United Nations Service Medal to the members of the contingent for successfully accomplishing all the tasks assigned to them in fulfilment of their UN mandate. The contingent, led by Colonel Ramon Estella, left the country in two batches in February. They served in UN peacekeeping operations including manning and patrolling the border areas of Israel and Syria, and keeping close contact with the host nations. The contingent also ensured the safety of the local inhabitants. “Deployment of the Filipino troops in the Golan Heights amid the events last year, generally referred to as the 2011 Arab Spring, presents a challenge to the courage and fortitude of our men and women, but I am proud to say that our contingents have maintained the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in taking on the tasks and responsibility in this important area,” Coballes said.

Vice Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Noel Coballes awards the United Nations Service Medal to the members of the contingent represented by its leader Colonel Ramon Estella. PHOTO COURTESY OF AFP PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE

AFP welcomes creation of human rights ‘super body’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 27): AFP welcomes creation of human rights ‘super body’

The military on Tuesday said the creation of a super body that will investigate old and new cases of human rights violations is a “positive development” to its commitment to implement human rights in its operations. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomes the inclusion of the Chief of Staff AFP along with the presidential human rights committee together with other line government agencies in an inter-agency body on human rights,” the military said in a statement.  “This is a positive development in our commitment to further enhance the incorporation of International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights, and Rule of Law in our operations and daily dealings with the people as our soldiers fulfil their mandate of serving and protecting our citizens,” it added.  It noted that the AFP even elevated the leadership of the Human Rights Office into a star-rank position. The established AFP Human Rights Office was in pursuit of “effectively and efficiently” address the human rights violation cases reported to the AFP. “Since then, the AFP HR Office has been consistent in its campaign programs pertaining to human rights, international humanitarian law and the Rule of Law,” the AFP said. The President signed Administrative Order No. 35 on November 22,which will form a nine-member Inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of persons.”


2 soldiers hurt in Samar clash

From the Philippine Star (Nov 27): 2 soldiers hurt in Samar clash

Two soldiers were wounded in a recent clash between Army troops and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Gamay, Northern Samar, the military said Tuesday. Cpt. Gene Orense, spokesman of the Army’s 8th division, said the clash happened last Sunday at around 5:15 a.m. in Barangay Henogawe in Gamay town. Two members of the 34th battalion Charlie Company namely Pfc. Nelson Rosete and Pvt. Oliver Duenas were hurt during the 15-minute firefight. Soldiers recovered an improvised explosive device with one switch/detonator, a radio, a mobile phone, a magazine for cal. 45 pistol and 25 meters electrical wire from the encounter site. Maj. Gen. Gerardo Layug, chief of the 8th Infantry Division, said his troops would continue to promote peace and development in the area despite the incident. Meanwhile, the Alpha Company of the 34th battalion has recovered five improvised explosive devices, a hand grenade, a rifle grenade and a long magazine of AK-47 in a separate clash with rebels in Palapag town. Layug said the recovery of the explosive devices manifests the NPA’s “blatant disregard” of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. He noted that the law prohibits, among other actions, the use of any explosive device that can cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians. “I call on everyone to condemn this unnecessary and senseless act of violence perpetrated by the NPA against your soldiers conducting peace and development activities in the community and our people,” Layug said. The military estimates that there are about 4,000 communist rebels in the country.

Alert up for armed groups in polls

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 27): Alert up for armed groups in polls

The armed group behind the ambush of Pulupandan Mayor Magdaleno Peña and the New People’s Army rebels who claimed responsibility for the numerous killings in Escalante City in previous elections, will be monitored in next year’s election, Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director, said. Police records show that majority of the killings of supporters of a politician in Escalante during the 2007 and 2010 elections were claimed by the NPA Jean Pelle Command. Peña survived the ambush in 2010 and his son, Miguel, is now running unopposed for mayor of Pulupandan next year. Lirazan said they are also validating the list of barangays in Negros Occidental, with reported sightings of armed rebels, in preparation for the May 2013 elections.


Soldiers finish training course

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 27): Soldiers finish training course

One-hundred forty soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division based in Camp Macario Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz successfully hurdled a grueling six months course in Basic Army Training (BAT). In a simple graduation rites at Camp Peralta over the weekend, Army Major Gen. Jose Mabanta, Jr., 3rd Infantry Division Commander exhorted his troops to always live up to the ideals and discipline of a courageous man in uniform and encouraged them to be at their best while in the performance of their duties as defenders of the people and country. Mabanta said the graduates will augment the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the keeping peace during the 2013 election.


Military backing for Dazas smacks of impunity enjoyed by the Ampatuans

Posted to the CPP Website (Nov 26): Military backing for Dazas smacks of impunity enjoyed by the Ampatuans

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDF-Eastern Visayas

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today warned that the 8th Infantry Division’s expression of support for the Daza political dynasty in Northern Samar is similar to the impunity enjoyed by the Ampatuans. “The media and the people should beware of the 8th ID’s expression of support for the Dazas, because political dynasties and impunity go together, as shown by the third commemoration last Nov. 23 of the Maguindanao massacre linked to the Ampatuans,” said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas. “The continuing human rights violations under the military’s Oplan Bayanihan and the Dazas’ capacity for political violence have combined to create a climate of impunity in Northern Samar.”

Fr. Salas added that the Dazas much like the Ampatuans show how political dynasties and the evils they do remain firmly entrenched in the ruling system. “For one, the Dazas comprise another political dynasty who like the Ampatuans are suspected of massive corruption but enjoy the patronage of the national government. Moreover, the Dazas just like the Ampatuans are cozy with the military and are using so-called “force multipliers” such as the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPATs) meant for “counterinsurgency” as their own private army.”.....

..... The NDF-EV spokesperson also called on the media and the people to be vigilant against the 8th ID’s seeking to intensify militarization in Northern Samar on the pretext of providing “security” for the Dazas. “Let us learn from the bitter lessons of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, especially that political dynasties and their backing by the military will surely lead to impunity. Let us be enlightened by the revolutionary declaration that the Dazas are “enemies of the people” and examine the grim realities of massive corruption, gangsterism and human rights violations in Northern Samar. Let us strive for genuine change against the ruling system and hold the Dazas, the military and their overlord the US-Aquino regime accountable.