Thursday, November 29, 2012

MILF: MinHRAC, MSU-Gensan hold consultation on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro

Posted to  the MILF Website (Nov 30): MinHRAC, MSU-Gensan hold consultation on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro

Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC) in partnership with Mindanao State University-General Santos held a Consultation on the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro at the University Gymnasium on November 27, 2012. The consultation which was supported by JICA was aimed to educate the students, professors and community members on the framework agreement signed on October 15, 2012. The accord is hoped to put an end to the Bangsamoro struggle which have claimed thousands of lives and caused damaged to properties amounting to hundreds of million peso. Atty. Zainudin Malang, Executive Director of MinHRAC and Datu Antonio Kinok, MILF Peace Panel alternate member, gave the orientation on the FAB. They elaborated the salient points of the framework accord.

The event was attended by students from MSU and Holy Trinity College, faculty, NGO’s, sectoral leaders from communities and Madaris teachers from General Santos City and Sarangani. During the open forum, among the reactions were why the government should sign another agreement considering the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 and the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement was already signed. The panelists said the ARMM which is hoped to bring peace and development in Mindanao but did not prosper and the constituents remain poor. Malang said the sentiments of the Bangsamoro people were not yet addressed accordingly, thus the struggle continues. Kinok mentioned the statement of President Benigno Aquino in his speech last month that “the ARMM is a failed experiment.”.......

Murder raps filed vs 4 in ex-US Marine’s slay

From the Philippine Star (Nov 30): Murder raps filed vs 4 in ex-US Marine’s slay

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed murder charges in court against four men involved in the killing of former United States Marine George Anikow, husband of a US embassy employee, in Makati City last week. The DOJ has found probable cause to indict Juan Alfonso Abastillas, 24; Crispin dela Paz, 28; Osric Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Datu III, 22, for the fatal stabbing of Anikow during a brawl between them. Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, chief of DOJ’s national prosecution service, confirmed that the case was filed before the Makati regional trial court Tuesday and was raffled to the sala of Branch 56 Judge Winlove Dumayas yesterday. The complaint was filed based on the recommendation of Makati City Assistant Prosecutor Gilbert Alcala, who conducted inquest proceedings on the murder charges filed against the suspects by the police.

In a five-page resolution, Alcala cited as basis the testimony of Bel-Air Village security guard Jose Rommel Saavedra, who witnessed the incident and identified the four respondents, as well as closed-circuit television footage showing the respondents attacking the victim. “The fact that all the respondents even chased him, despite the fact that he already sustained a stab wound and ran away, and continued attacking him despite the fact that he already fell to the ground and was unable to defend himself against their assault, are clearly indicative of a common design to proceed to such extremity of killing him,” Alcala said. The prosecutor also cited as qualifying circumstance for the alleged murder “abuse of superior strength.”

Records showed that the incident took place at around 4 a.m. at the Bel-Air Village gate on Nov. 24.
A verbal confrontation ensued between Anikow and suspects after the victim strongly tapped the rear left side of a Volvo sport utility vehicle occupied by the suspects, who wanted to enter the village as a shortcut to nearby Palm Village, where Cabrera lives. The victim allegedly suddenly hit one of the respondents, triggering a fistfight until one of them brought out a knife and stabbed Anikow. The bloodied victim already ran away but the respondents chased him and again took turns in beating him. Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban said the city police has yet to receive the results of a DNA test done on a bloody tactical knife recovered in the suspects’ vehicle. The test could prove who really stabbed Anikow, he said.

Army soldier wounded in clash with rebels in Tapaz, Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Army soldier wounded in clash with rebels in Tapaz, Capiz

An Army soldier was injured in an encounter between government forces and members of the New People's Army (NPA) in a hinterland barangay in Tapaz, Capiz. In an interview over Bombo Radyo Iloilo, 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), Philippine Army spokesperson Maj. Gil Ileto said the encounter happened around 8:30 a.m. in Barangay Acuna, Tapaz town. The 3ID spokesman, however, declined to give further details on how the encounter transpired. Ileto said the name of the wounded soldier is being withheld pending proper notification of his family. Meanwhile, soldiers of the 3ID operating in Tapaz, Capiz immediately conducted hot pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels after the reported exchange of gun fires that ensued between the Army soldiers and the rebels. The 3ID has its headquarters in Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz. The fresh armed skirmish came before the usual holiday truce could be observed between the two warring groups during the Yuletide season.

Kato group blames ‘other forces’ for deadly blast

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 29): Kato group blames ‘other forces’ for deadly blast

The explosion that killed a member of Ameril Umra Kato’s Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and wounded nine others in Maguindanao on Monday was the result of an attack “by other unidentified forces,” the group’s spokesperson said Thursday. Abu Misry Mama told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that there was no truth to a military claim that a group of BIFM fighters, including their chief of staff Mohaiden Animbang, were carrying the explosives and that these detonated prematurely. Earlier, Col. Prudencio Asto, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao, said the military believed the BIFM guerrillas were in possession of explosives fashioned out of 81-millimeter mortar shells when the blast took place in Barangay Lower Salvo in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan. But Mama said the guerrillas were not carrying any explosive at that time, although they had firearms, as they were on their way to a conference. He said the convoy of BIFM forces came under attack. “But we would not yet disclose the identities of the group and individuals involved in the incident until we finish the investigation,” Mama said. He said the BIFM would vigorously pursue the attackers and will mete out the death penalty on them. Mama said they would follow Islamic law in the process, which recognizes death penalty if the crime was committed intentionally. The BIFM broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2010 because of disagreements over peace talks with the Philippine government. The exact number of Kato’s followers, mainly Maguindanaons, is unknown; government estimates vary from 500 to just over a thousand armed men.

Video: Message from Peace Ambassaor Sarah Geronimo Regarding Bayanihan

Posted to Philippine Army Public Affairs Office Facebook Page (Nov 29): Message from Peace Ambassaor Sarah Geronimo Regarding Bayanihan

Video: Sec Voltaire Gazmin at LTGEN Emmanuel Bautista Pinuri si Sarah Geronimo sa AFP Bayanihan Music Video

Posted to Philippine Army Public Affairs Office Facebook Page (Nov 29): Sec Voltaire Gazmin at LTGEN Emmanuel Bautista Pinuri si Sarah Geronimo sa AFP Bayanihan Music Video

[Video with  interviews of SND Voltaire Gazmin and PA Chief LTG Emmanuel Bautista regarding the Army Transformation Program and the Bayanihan Music Video]

Video: AFP Nakatipid ng 10M Piso Kay Sarah Geronimo sa Bayanihan Music Video

From the Philippine Army Public Affairs Office Facebook Page (Nov 28): AFP Nakatipid ng 10M Piso Kay Sarah Geronimo sa Bayanihan Music Video  (AFP Saved 10M Pesos from Sarah Geronimo for Bayanihan Music Video)

[A video about  the Bayanihan Music Video and its release]


FBI agents in PHL to monitor case of slain US Marine

From GMANews (Nov 29): FBI agents in PHL to monitor case of slain US Marine

Agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation are here in Manila to monitor the case involving the killing of an inactive US Marine last week, particularly the alleged delay in bringing the victim to a hospital. The agents met with Philippine police officials to get updates on the killing of George Anikow, the husband of an American diplomat here, according to a report by Jun Veneracion on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali on Thursday. Southern Police District head Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona confirmed the presence of the agents.  “They’re inquiring about itong incident ng stabbing wherein one American national died,” Estipona said. They were shown CCTV footage of the incident on Saturday in Makati, from the initial confrontation of Anikow with four men up to his stabbing, which caused his death. One of the questions the agents asked was why it took almost an hour for an ambulance to bring Anikow to a hospital.  According to police, the rescue unit who took care of Anikow apparently already mistook him as being dead. “Yung first assessment, dahil sa nakitang duguan na talaga--at parang nakadapa yata iyong sabi nila--ang ating biktima, inaakala na kaagad nila na patay na iyong tao kaya hindi na nila kinonsidera na kaagad (i-evacuate),” Makati police chief Senior Superindent Manuel Lukban, Jr. said. The rescue unit of Brgy. Poblacion declined to appear in front of the camera in the television report, but said Anikow did not have a pulse when they arrived......

Fil-Am terror suspect, two others indicted in California

From GMANews (Nov 29): Fil-Am terror suspect, two others indicted in California

Filipino-American Ralph Kenneth De Leon and two other men accused of plotting to join up with al Qaeda and Taliban militants for training in Afghanistan were indicted on Wednesday in California, a move that could allow prosecutors to move to trial more quickly. However, the four-page indictment, returned by a grand jury in Riverside, offered few details beyond those contained in a criminal complaint filed earlier this month against the men, all US citizens or permanent residents. The indictment charged De Leon, 23, Miguel Alejandro Vidriales Santana, 21, and Arifeen David Gojali, 21, with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, the same charge contained in the complaint. The filing of the indictment allows federal prosecutors to skip a preliminary hearing in which they would lay out their case and a judge would determine if there was enough evidence to merit a trial. The men each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The three men had lived in Southern California's Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles, before their arrest on Nov. 16, two days before they had planned to fly to Turkey via Mexico before heading on to Afghanistan, the FBI said at the time. The suspected ringleader, Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, is accused of recruiting the three men, two of whom converted to Islam under his influence......

Gov't troops, MILF fighters dine together

From the Philippine Star (Nov 29): Gov't troops, MILF fighters dine together

A combatant of the Army's elite Special Forces (left) shakes hand with a member of the 106th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a break in a forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao on November 27, 2012. JOHN UNSON

Government soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerillas have been guarding the cross-section peace consultations in Central Mindanao like a tightly knit-family, dining together, sharing each other’s combat experiences and talking about how they want their children to live normal lives and become productive citizens. The latest of these emotion-filled military-rebel interfaces, which local officials call a sort of “healing process” for soldiers and MILF fighters, took place in Maguindanao’s Shariff Aguak town Tuesday, where thousands gathered for a dialogue on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The FAB, signed by the government and the MILF last on October 15, sets the parameters for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)......

Even radiomen Sam Sali and Mike Suan, of Catholic station dxMS and the Radio Mindanao Network’s dxMY, both in Cotabato City, were fascinated with how MILF guerillas and soldiers from different Army units interacted with each other as they guarded the venue of the forum from saboteurs. With their scary, deadly experiences covering past MILF-military hostilities in Central Mindanao, Sali and Suan never thought “enemy” military men and Moro guerillas would agree to cooperate on peace missions like a happy family. Sali belongs to the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, which has five “peace” radio stations in Mindanao that are helping educate the public on the importance of peaceful resolution of conflicts and interfaith dialogues in furthering economic and political stability in Muslim and Christian communities......

The dialogue on the FAB in Shariff Aguak town, organized by Mayor Zahara Upam-Ampatuan, the Maguindanao provincial police, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the 1st Mechanized Brigade, and the MILF, was capped with a “kanduli,” or a traditional Moro thanksgiving banquet tendered by the local government unit for some 20,000 participants. Combatants of the Army’s elite Ranger and Special Forces units, regular infantry men and members of the mechanized forces in the second district of Maguindanao even helped distribute food and bottled water to MILF members and supporters present in the meeting......

Col. Edgar Gonzales, commanding officer of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade based in the second district of Maguindanao, said is looking forward to a stronger, more cohesive cooperation between the AFP, the Philippine National Police, and the MILF in maintaining law and order in remote areas. Gonzales said they will continue to resolve peace and security concerns through multi-sectoral dialogues in areas covered by the 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF. Gonzales said there is fragile peace now in areas under his brigade, ushered in by the heightened cordiality and security cooperation among local government units, traditional leaders, the local religious communities, as they forge ahead with the conduct of more FAB dialogues to hasten public understanding of its contents. The MILF’s chief political officer, Ghadzali Jaafar, who attended the FAB consultation and thanksgiving event in Shariff Aguak, said credit has to be given to members of the joint ceasefire committee for ensuring the peaceful movements of government and guerilla forces involved in the talks.......

Soldiers in 'Kiblawan massacre' not yet off the hoo(k)

From the Philippine Star (Nov 29): Soldiers in 'Kiblawan massacre' not yet off the hoo(k)

The Army is looking at the possible liability of a former battalion commander whose subordinates were involved in an operation that left three civilians dead in Davao del Sur. Col. Rhoderick Parayno, chief of the Army Human Rights Office, said Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, the former commander of the 27th battalion, is not yet cleared as they are looking at the command responsibility aspect of the operation. “On our own, we are determining whether the battalion commander was really excluded (in the conduct of the operation). There are no results yet so he (Bravo) is not yet off the hook,” Parayno said. He said the Army cannot exonerate Bravo without proving that he should not be liable for the lapses committed during the operation.

Last month, a mother and his two sons were killed in an operation against armed bandits by members of the 27th battalion. The victims, identified as Juvy Capion, 28, and her sons Jordan, 13 and John Mark, 6, were killed by soldiers in barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan town. The incident was initially reported as an encounter with communist insurgents. An Army officer – 1Lt. Dante Jimenez – and 12 other soldiers are now facing general court martial over the incident. In a report to the Army’s Board of Inquiry, Jimenez admitted he failed to assess whether the individuals in the area of the operation were rebels or civilians. Jimenez was the company commander who figured in the incident. Jimenez and the 12 soldiers will face the military tribunal for violations of the Article of War 76 (Misbehavior before the Enemy), Article of War 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman) and the Article of War 97 (Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline).

China threatens to board ships in disputed waters

From InterAksyon (Nov 29): China threatens to board ships in disputed waters

Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which enter into what China considers its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move which could raise tensions further. The South China Sea is Asia's biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty. New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which "illegally enter" Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported. "Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal," the English-language newspaper said. "If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations," it added.

China's assertion of sovereignty over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts. China occasionally detains fishermen, mostly from Vietnam, who it accuses of operating illegally in Chinese waters, though generally frees them quite quickly. Hainan, which likes to style itself as China's answer to Hawaii or Bali with its resorts and beaches, is the province responsible for administering the country's extensive claims to the myriad islets and atolls in the South China Sea. The newspaper said that the government will also send new maritime surveillance ships to join the fleet responsible for patrolling the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas and straddling shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe and the Middle East. The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a tougher stance against Beijing. China has further angered the Philippines and Vietnam by issuing new passports showing a map depicting China's claims to the disputed waters.

AFP Western Command chief cries foul over China's threat to board foreign ships in disputed waters

From InterAksyon (Nov 29): AFP Western Command chief cries foul over China's threat to board foreign ships in disputed waters

"That is too much." This was the statement of Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, chief of the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as he cried foul over China's announcement that it had granted its border patrol police the right to board and expel foreign ships entering disputed territories in South China Sea. “Sobra na ‘yon. While we are exerting all peaceful means, ‘yon naman ang gagawin nila [That is too much. While we are exerting all peaceful means, that is what they're going to do]," Sabban told reporters on Thursday.

China's move came after Beijing issued new passports that contained a map showing its claim to practically the whole of South China Sea, portions of which are also being claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei. China has practically claimed the whole oil-rich series of small islands and reefs where the municipality of Kalayaan Islands Group (KIG) in Palawan is situated. The KIG, which is under the political leadership of Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon, is composed of seven islets and two reefs. The center of government is on Pagasa Island where less than 400 Filipinos, some of them military personnel, live.

Sabban said he would not allow Chinese authorities to board Filipinos ships that pass through the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.  “Hindi puwede ‘yon, hindi puwede ‘yon (boarding) [It is prohibited]. It’s a violation of international passage,” he said. The general said the military had beefed up the deployment of naval vessels and air assets security and sovereignty patrols in the West Philippine Sea. “May regular patrols naman tayo [We have regular patrols]. The Navy is always there and also our Coast Guard,” Sabban said.

China’s bullying time and again against its small neighbors over the disputed territories has caught the attention of the United States. This year alone, the Philippines has turned into a virtual docking area of naval and air assets of the US Pacific Command (USPaCom) for “goodwill visits” and port call replenishment of supplies and rest and recreation of personnel. The Philippines' defense and military departments have also drawn plans for more frequent joint military exercises not only with the US but also with other countries such as Australia.

China has continued to violate its own promise to pull its ships out of Panatag Shoal, an area located within Masinloc, Zambales, this after Manila pulled out its ships to ease down the tension. Six months after the June 4 talks between China and the Philippines to withdraw from the area, at least three Chinese ships have maintained their presence in Panatag, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Panatag Shoal issue broke out after the BRP Gregorio del Pilar apprehended Chinese poachers in the area last March but the patrol ship was blocked by a government ship of China that led to a standoff.

Defense chief to Palparan: 'Stop smearing the military's image and come out of hiding'

From InterAksyon (Nov 29): Defense chief to Palparan: 'Stop smearing the military's image and come out of hiding'

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin challenged retired general Jovito Palparan to come out of hiding and face the charges against him instead of smearing the name of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by remaining a fugitive. "Do not smear your organization. Come out, prove yourself to be innocent … he's a fugitive and he's destroying the name of the armed forces, not only the army," Gazmin told reporters. Palparan, who is wanted on charges related to the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, has continued to evade arrest despite a P2-million bounty. This has roused suspicions of human rights activists that he is being coddled by the military. Gazmin said the AFP continues to strive to be a professional organization and Palparan's continued hiding is not helping improve the military’s image.

Philippines: Chinese ships must leave Scarborough Shoal

From Rappler (Nov 29): Philippines: Chinese ships must leave Scarborough Shoal

The Philippines is still asking China to withdraw three ships from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea almost six months after it promised to pull out, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Thursday, November 29. Del Rosario said that while the Philippines withdrew its own ships from Scarborough Shoal on June 4, as agreed by both countries, China's three government ships remained in the area. "They have three ships in the vicinity right now. They have never really left. We are continuing to ask them to honor our sovereignty and... we are asking them to pull out their ships as agreed upon," he said.

Government vessels from the Philippines and China began facing off over the shoal in April as both countries pressed their conflicting claims over the islets. Del Rosario told ABS-CBN News that in an effort to ease tensions, both countries agreed on June 4 to pull out their ships. But while the Philippines kept its commitment, China did not, he said. He said that in June a Chinese embassy official initially said the weather was too rough for their ships to move but did not say when they would leave. Chinese embassy spokesmen could not be contacted for comment.

China and the Philippines, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, which includes major shipping lanes and is believed to be rich in mineral and oil resources. The Philippines has become increasingly vocal in opposing China's claims, raising the issue in international meetings despite Chinese efforts to play down the matter. Del Rosario said China did not want to "internationalize" the issue by having the Philippines discuss it with other claimants, other countries or even with the press. "Obviously that is not our position. Our diplomatic tools are very limited and internationalization must remain a viable tool for us," he said.

Gov't spreads 'bayanihan' concept via music video

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Gov't spreads 'bayanihan' concept via music video

Government is using art - traditional and new media - to communicate the "bayanihan" concept for peace. Bayanihan is the act of realizing peace through multi-sector involvement, approaches, and participation of stakeholders. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in partnership with various government agencies like the Philippine Communications and Operations Office (PCOO), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Optical Media Board (OMB), the Media and Television Review and Classification Board ( MTRCB), and a partner from the private sector, Viva Entertainment, Inc., launched yesterday the music video titled "Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan" sang by the country's Pop Princess Sarah Geronimo. Geronimo, after personally reading the lyrics and hearing the melody, volunteered to sing the piece for free as her way of supporting the government’s peace efforts said Lesley Jeanne Cordero, PCOO Undersecretary. The AFP sees the need to spread to the entire nation the effort of the military of reaching out to individuals and various interest groups in winning the peace. AFP Public Affairs Officer Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said the song will best deliver the message of peace to the Filipinos.

The women sector in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) found the video timely and relevant as the country moves up in its peace negotiation after signing the Bangsamoro Framework. "We recognize that the army has a critical role in informing and educating the public about peace. This bayanihan effort will make the army felt in the community not just as a combatant but as a main actor in our peace efforts.", said sectoral representative of women in ARMM Samira A. Gutoc-Tomawis.

Under AFP's Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP), it highlights their operations of winning peace and not just defeating the enemy through Whole-of-Nation Approach and People-Centered Security Approach. The PCOO urged the public to watch the video and spread it through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social networking sites. Cordero urged cinema, theater owners, and cable operators to help in the dissemination. For it to reach even in areas where there is no internet and television, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) will use radio networks to play the audio for this to be heard by the people. OMB chairperson Ronnie Ricketts committed to have this video shown in schools to educate schoolchildren on the importance of peace. The song awakens the spirit of Bayanihan in every Filipino and invites each one to help realize a shared dream: a peaceful, developed and progressive Philippines.

N. Cotabato town highlights Framework Agreement in celebration Mindanao Week of Peace celebration

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): N. Cotabato town highlights Framework Agreement in celebration Mindanao Week of Peace celebration

The Local Government Unit of Kabacan in the province of North Cotabato featured the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in the town’s celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace which started on Monday. Professor Raby Angkal of the MILF Central Committee who graced the event as speaker gave emphasis on the true meaning of the word “Bangsamoro”. He explained that the word is tantamount to the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao who should be given their own territory as part of their long grievances on issues regarding the Moros in the island. The official also noted some of the places which will be part of the Bangsamoro territory. “Maguindanao Province, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-tawi, Sulu and Basilan will be part of the Bangsamoro jurisdiction. Moreover, the cities of Marawi, Cotabato and Isabela are included,” Angkal said. He also specified that six municipalities from Lanao del Norte which voted “yes” during the 2001 plebiscite for the expansion of the ARMM territory will make up the new entity. Also included in the territory are the 36 barangays in the six towns of North Cotabato. Angkal clarified though that there will be another plebiscite to finalize which places will be included as part of the Bangsamoro.

Aside from this, provisions of the framework agreement were tackled such as its creation, basic law, power sharing revenue generation and wealth sharing, territory, basic rights of its people, transition commission, normalization and miscellaneous. Meanwhile, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza as well as the officials of the local government of Kabacan gave their support on the framework agreement. Angkal said that to further understand the peace pact, officials, must make the first move of letting their fellowmen understand its content. On the other hand, the opening of the Mindanao Week of Peace was attended by students and professors of the different academic institutions of the town, officials of Kabacan LGU as well as officials from the provincial government of North Cotabato. The K5 or the “Kilusan tungo sa Kapayapaan, Kalinisan at Kaunlaran ng Kabacan”, an organization which is aimed at promoting a progressive community will be holding peace activities in the town in line with the celebration. This year’s Mindanao Week of Peace is anchored with the theme, “Love of God, Love of Neighbor, challenge for Mindanao”.

Army holds Gender and Development Awareness Orientation Seminar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Army holds Gender and Development Awareness Orientation Seminar

The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division conducted Gender Awareness and Development Orientation Seminar at the Division’s Clubhouse on November 27. The purpose of Gender and Development Awareness Orientation Seminar is to raise awareness on equality and promote adherence to uphold human rights. Every soldier and civilian employee must undergo this to be gender-sensitive and have a common understanding of what gender and development is all about.  Colonel Victor A. Gealan, 4ID assistant chief of staff for personnel, welcomed the participants and told them to take advantage of the opportunity to learn or enhance their learning on gender and development.

The activity was participated by the personnel officers, sergeant majors, and personnel NCOs from the brigades, battalions, posts, tenants, and operational-controlled units. Lieutenant Colonel Alvin M. Caga, acting chief of staff, said this seminar enhances the respect to individuals regardless of the sex and status. There were also lectures on the use of non-sexist language in our formal communication, magna-carta for women, and gender sensitivity (men and women more alike than different).

Major General Nestor A. AƱonuevo AFP, commander, “With the development of our society, it is high time that we give our soldiers this kind of seminar, they will be aware of the social norms that may hinder or may promote the development of their potential as a human being.” “As soldiers, we are committed to uphold equality anchored on the principle of the basic human rights of everyone. It is an opportunity for every Diamond soldier to be aware of the foregoing laws, statutes and directives of our government and organization to uphold equality and recognition of men and women as partners in nation building,” Major General AƱonuevo said.

Fifty eight former rebels receive cash assistance from OPAPP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Fifty eight former rebels receive cash assistance from OPAPP

Fifty eight former rebels received cash assistance of P2.9 million from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) during the recent provincial government’s formal assembly at the Kaamulan Theater. Magss Barrios, Regional Coordinator, OPAPP 10, said each qualified former rebel (FR) beneficiary received P50,000 from OPAPP’s Social Integration Program (SIP). “SIP involves the management of forces, arms, and ammunition of former rebels as well as their transition into civilian life,” Barrios said. The 58 FR beneficiaries are part of the 276 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered several years ago. They are residents of Malaybalay City, Talakag, Manolo Fortich, and Cabanglasan towns.

The army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade in Bukidnon has increased cooperation since it acknowledged the contribution of each government agency, civil society organization, and even local community, as evidenced by some 276 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered in Bukidnon since July 2010. While lauding the army’s achievement, Governor Alex P. Calingasan has shelled P3.4 million for the reintegration of the former rebels, with the latest, the surrender of 45 persons reported to be NPA members formally turned over to the provincial government. The governor also said former rebels have been enrolled in the Provincial Livelihood Program. The SIP aims to benefit former rebels and their dependents who wish to reenter or reintegrate into mainstream society. “The program further reconciles former rebels with their respective families and communities, as well as creates opportunities for change so that they become productive citizens in society,” Barrios said.

8th ID CG Layug : NPA losing influence in Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): 8th ID CG Layug : NPA losing influence in Samar

Government troops are moving closer to rebel territory, an official of the Philippine Army in Catbalogan City said. Major Gen Gerardo T Layug, commanding general of the 8th ID Infantry Division, cited recent developments in the anti-insurgency campaign of the military. He said another NPA camp situated in the hinterlands of Brgy Buenaswerte, Victoria, Northern Samar was discovered yesterday by the Charlie Company, 20th Infantry Battalion, 8th ID.

Earlier on November 2, members of the Charlie Company, 63rd Infantry Battalion discovered an abandoned NPA camp in Samar. And on November 5, 8th ID troops discovered two NPA camps situated in Barangay Del Rosario, Matuguinao, Samar and Barangay Sumoroy, Lope De Vega, Northern Samar. Again on November 14, the 34th IB troops discovered an abandoned NPA camp in Barangay Catoto-ogan, Las Navas, Northern, Samar. Still on November 19, 2012, 87th IB troops under Cpt Tuguinay L Agoy discovered an abandoned NPA camp at the boundary of Barangay Canlobo, Pinabacdao and Barangay Antol, Calbiga, Samar. Likewise, the 81st Division Reconnaissance Company under 2LT Louie Torda while conducting security operations discovered an NPA camp on November 23 at the vicinity of Barangay Cuenco, Las Navas, Northern Samar. For the continuing operations, government troops from Bravo Company of the 34th IB under 1Lt Eduardo D Mendoza discovered an abandoned NPA camp on November 23, 2012 in the hinterlands of Barangay Victory, Las Navas, Northern Samar. A day after, on November 24, 2012, 34th IB troops under 1Lt Harold Bryan Llandado discovered another abandoned NPA camp at Barangay Henogawa, Gamay, Northern, Samar. The NPA camp had 30 makeshift bunkers, two comfort rooms, with kitchens and can accommodate 50 NPAs.

“We would like to commend the local populace and the peace-loving communities in the Provinces of Samar and Northern Samar for their untiring support to attain peace and sustain development in their areas. Their information were material to the discovery of these NPA camps,” For the month of November alone this year, a total of nine NPA camps were discovered by military troops in Samar and Northern Samar Provinces. “The discovery of NPA camps is a clear manifestation that the NPA in Samar Provinces is losing grounds literally and losing their influence over the people which eventually will lead to their downfall and collapse,” Layug added.

Kalinga celebrates peace week through service, songs, dances

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Kalinga celebrates peace week through service, songs, dances

Kalinga province will celebrate national Peace Week on December 4-10 with several activities to drum-up public support to the government’s peace initiatives. Governor Jocel Baac issued memorandum order 207 today urging all government heads of offices and their employees, academe, Tabuk City local government unit, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the private sector to participate in the week-long affair.

The activities include education and environment for peace, health for peace, tourism for peace, youth for peace, arts and music for peace which will be all carried through delivery of public service, messages, songs and dances. On first day of celebration on, December 4, there will be a peace motorcade from Dagupan to Bulanao then to Capitol for the program. The 501st brigade, Philippine Army will have a photo display of their accomplishments simultaneous with the launching of the jobs fair and wellness program of the provincial government. A basketball game participated by 40-55 years old heads of offices, military and law enforcers will be held in the afternoon. Lights and songs for peace will be held at the Kalinga sports center in the evening.

On December 5, a symposium on environmental protection by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and provincial environment office will be held at Agbannawag National High School this city. A medical/dental check-up and bloodletting at Kinama National High School in Rizal, gift giving and provision of ornamental trees by the 501st brigade and provincial LGU, and continuation of jobs fair at Capitol will be conducted on December 6.

On December 7, tourism for peace will be highlighted with activities such as scenic drive, bird watching at Talama view point, trekking to Guilom falls, and tourism awareness hour.  On December 8, youth for peace will be featured to be participated by college students 18-21 years old to be held at the Talama youth heritage camp with cultural presentations and conduct of rapel on Day 6, December 9, at the Talama slope facing the Chico river. Another medical/dental outreach will be conducted at Macutay in Rizal.

The culmination program will be held on December 9 with a parade and program at Capitol, reaffirmation of peace covenant, awarding of certificates to participants, poster making contest, and fireworks display in the evening.

10 vintage bombs found in N Cotabato town

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): 10 vintage bombs found in N Cotabato town

Ten vintage bombs were recovered buried six meters deep in a farmer’s lot in Barangay Kisante in the hinterlands of Makilala, North Cotabato on Wednesday morning, police officer said Thursday. Inspector Rizal Alolod, Makilala police station’s officer-in-charge, said the unexploded ordnance were 76-MD projectiles. The bombs, however, no longer have fuse and explosive fillers so they won’t explode, he said. The bombs were discovered while digging for the grave of the late barangay councilor identified only as "Ebol", also the owner of the farm lot were the explosives were found, said village chair Danilo Dante. Around 10:30 a.m. also on the same day, operatives from North Cotabato’s Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team and 63rd EOD team from the Army arrived at Ebol’s farm and immediately cordoned off the area. Dante, citing the testimonies of the wife of the late Ebol, said the place used to be a garrison during World War II. “The father of the late Ebol could have kept the projectiles and buried them in his area after the war,” said Dante. The police and EOD operatives suspect there are still projectiles buried in Ebol’s place and other areas in Barangay Kisante.

Two years ago, Dante said they also recovered just few meters away from a school in their village two vintage bombs, which were a lot bigger in size and length from the recent find. The village official said he will meet his constituents on Thursday to discuss the matters. They believed more bombs were kept or buried in their village considering the area was once a military garrison of the Japanese Army. The recovered bombs were kept in custody of the EOD team in Kidapawan City for public safety, police said.

Army battalion moves to NPA-infested Davao village

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Army battalion moves to NPA-infested Davao village

The chief of the 69th Infantry Battalion confirmed on Thursday that their headquarters was already transferred to Paquibato district here. “Yes, we already transferred in Paquibato (as our new headquarters),” said Lt. Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, chief of the 69th Infantry Battalion. Pasaporte said the transfer from San Roque, Panabo City to Paquibato district was a good move of the Army hierarchy to protect civilians from the New People’s Army (NPA) especially from the group of Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago, leader of the NPA's Pulang Bagani Command.

Last week, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza announced this development but failed to give the exact date of the transfer. “The 69th Infantry Battalion will not leave Paquibato. In fact, the unit has already identified a strategic area where its battalion headquarters will be transferred in due time,” Paniza was quoted as saying. He said the move was a result of a consensus among the Army leadership to pave way for more focused peace and security operations so that the implementation of their Peace and Development Outreach Program in partnership with the local government of Davao City and other stakeholders will prosper. Paniza explained that troops are not there to wage war but to assist the local government unit in its efforts to deliver basic services for the people that are often held back due to the danger posed by the NPA. “Our mandate is to secure the people. As long as there are rebels in the area who are raising threats to civilian communities, pressures or nuisance will not wane our efforts to protect the people to attain genuine peace in any of our AOR (area of responsibility),” he said. Paniza also clarified that soldiers have already left the convergence areas and relocated its temporary patrol bases away from the communities even before the passage of the city council resolution.

In its special session on November 9, the Sangguniang Panglunsod passed a resolution calling for the pullout of military detachments from civilian communities in the city and its outlying villages, aimed at reportedly preventing civilians from being caught in the crossfire between government troops and the NPA.

Task Force Davao commander relieved, assumes higher post

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Task Force Davao commander relieved, assumes higher post

Task Force Davao (TFD) commander Col. Marcos Norman Flores Jr. was relieved of his post after only nine months but was given a higher assignment. Flores was replaced by Col. Casiano Monilla in a simple turnover of command ceremony Thursday noon at the task force headquarters here. He assumed post on Wednesday as the new commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade vacated by Col. Glorioso Miranda, who was assigned as assistant commandant of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Command and General Staff College in Fort Bonifacio. Major Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division, explained that Flores was allowed only a short stint as task force commander so that he could be given a higher position “as a result of his exemplary performance and good leadership.” Bernardo said he was more than satisfied with the way Flores led the elite Army group in making Davao City terror-free.

It can be recalled that the Task Force Davao was created sometime in 2003 as an offshoot of the twin bombings in the old Davao International Airport in Sasa and the Sasa Wharf that killed more than 50 people and injured many others. Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who also witnessed the event, gave Flores a rating of 9 in a scale of 10 because “he did very well in his job even in a short period of time.” For his part, Flores said he was very thankful for the all-out support of the city government under Mayor Carpio, Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and the city council, private sectors and non-government organizations, civic-oriented groups and the media. Monilla, on the other hand, said he is accepting the challenge of not just replicating the accomplishments of his predecessor but surpassing them. “I would like to continue the physical security in our city and to help the Davao City Police Office in the campaign against all forms of criminality,” he said.

DND's Gazmin urges Palparan to come out of hiding

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): DND's Gazmin urges Palparan to come out of hiding

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has urged retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, wanted for multiple counts of homicide and human right abuses, to come out and clear his name if he is really innocent. "If you are innocent, please come out as being a fugitive is tarring the institution you have served," he stressed in Filipino. Gazmin added that should Palparan give himself up to the authorities, he will in a way be helping transform the military into a more professional and human organization. Palparan is also wanted for the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

PHL to implement new policy on controversial Chinese ePassports next week

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): PHL to implement new policy on controversial Chinese ePassports next week

The Philippine government will implement its new visa regulation sometime next week for Chinese nationals who will use passports displaying a map that includes an area in the West Philippine Sea, where Beijing is asserting ownership. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez on Thursday said all concerned agencies such as Philippine diplomatic missions and the Bureau of Immigration will “simultaneously” carry out the new policy aimed at denigrating China's latest attempt to bolster its territorial claim. Hernandez said visa and immigration stamps will be placed on a separate sheet of document given to Chinese visitors entering the Philippines. Manila’s action reinforces its protest against what it calls China’s excessive claim over almost the entire potentially oil-rich South China Sea including areas in the the West Philippine Sea. “This action is being undertaken to avoid the Philippines being misconstrued as legitimizing the 9-dash line every time a Philippine visa is stamped on such Chinese e-passport,” Hernandez said, referring to China’s U-shaped nine-dotted line claim that covers most of the sea and overlaps with Manila's territories.The Philippines move came after Vietnam implemented a similar policy on the new Chinese passports, which Manila called “unacceptable.” Chinese visitors need to apply for a visa to enter the Philippines. Under the new scheme, Philippine visas will be stamped on a visa form to be provided by the DFA’s embassies or consulates abroad to Chinese nationals, Hernandez explained. Immigration officers at Philippine airports, on the other hand, will affix entry stamps on the same document and not on the new Chinese passports, Hernandez said......

Western Command chief says he won't allow Chinese to board vessels passing in disputed territory

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 29): Western Command chief says he won't allow Chinese to board vessels passing in disputed territory

Western Command chief Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban Thursday said he will not permit Chinese authorities to board Filipino ships passing through disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. "It's a violation of international passage if they did that," he emphasized. Sabban stressed the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard will be deployed to prevent such an occurrence. "We have regular patrols that hopefully will prevent that," the Western Command chief stressed. He also slammed the move as the Philippine has been consistently making an effort to resolve the maritime territory dispute peacefully. China earlier granted its border patrol police the right to board and expel foreign ships entering disputed waters in the South China Sea, state media reported Thursday. The move comes after Beijing issued new passports containing a map showing its claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea.

CPP: Intensify the people's war and celebrate great victories on the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio

From the CPP Website (Nov 29): Intensify the people's war and celebrate great victories on the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in marking the 149th birth anniversary of working class hero Andres Bonifacio on November 30. Let us usher in celebrations of his 150th year on November 30, 2013 with great revolutionary victories. In the course of the next year, the CPP and the revolutionary forces look forward to further intensifying the people’s war nationwide and raising higher the red banner of the national democratic cultural revolution. The significance of Andres Bonifacio’s revolutionary lifestory is not lost on the Filipino people. The oppression and exploitation of the Filipino working class by foreign big companies, their local big business partners and big landlords are not essentially different from the grave socio-economic and political conditions under Spanish colonial rule. Such conditions then and now rouse the Filipino people’s fervor for revolutionary change and spur armed resistance and democratic mass struggles.

Driven by patriotism, Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan carried rallied the Filipino people around the banner of national freedom to wage a revolutionary war of resistance against three centuries of colonial rule. The Katipunan-led armed uprisings of 1896-1898 succeeded in defeating the Spanish colonial forces and establishing the first independent revolutionary government, before being usurped by the bigger, more modern and extremely brutal US colonialists. The history of the Filipino people is a continuum of revolutionary armed resistance against colonial and neocolonial subjugation. For the past four centuries, they have been launched innumerable armed uprisings and waged guerrilla warfare to resist the brutal suppression of their democratic rights and achieve national and social liberation.

The extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA) forms part of the Filipino people’s uninterrupted history of armed resistance. For more than four decades now, the NPA, under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has been achieving unprecedented victories in armed revolution and is bound to achieve even bigger victories in the next few years.....

MILF: MILF Vice Chair: “Let us entrench Bangsamoro Government”

From the MILF Website (Nov 29): MILF Vice Chair: “Let us entrench Bangsamoro Government”

Ghazali Jaafar, First Vice Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), made a strong call to the Bangsamoro people to rally behind the MILF in establishing and entrenching a Bangsamoro Government. Vice Chairman Jaafar made this appeal during the Grand Kanduli and Advocacy on the GPH – MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro held at Shariff Aguak Municipal Gymnasium and sponsored by Mayor Zahra Ampatuan. “I appeal to all to support the Framework Agreement because we are optimistic that when this agreement is fully realized then it will usher in our long-sought entrenchment of a Bangsamoro Government,” Jaafar emphasized. He pointed out the MILF vision for a Bangsamoro Government with a system characterized by good governance, transparency, of real democracy anchored on Islamic principles, rule of law, and guarantee of equal of rights and responsibilities. That system of governance is not new and impossible to achieve for the Bangsamoro, Jaafar said. “The Bangsamoro had lived up to that grandeur of governance during the regimes of the Moro Sultanates,” he said.

The ultimate end state of the GPH – MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed in Malacanang Palace last October 15, 2012 is the establishment of a Bangsamoro Government by 2016 following a Bangsamoro Transition Authority by 2015. This Bangsamoro Government shall replaced the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which the Bangsamoro people and President Benigno Aquino III had concluded as failed experiment in addressing the legitimate aspiration of the Bangsamoro for right to self-determination through self-governance.

Jaffar also clarified that the intention of the Bangsamoro Government is not to weed out the traditional politics and politicians capitulated by political dynasties. “What we will build and restore is Bangsamoro Government that is strong, popular and responsible. A government that is honest and accountable. A government that will really care and will not exploit its people,” he stressed. Jaafar also stressed that the Bangsamoro Government will respect and protect the rights and general welfare of the non-Bangsamoro such as the Christians and indigenous peoples. “I could not remember in the history of the Bangsamoro and find a government in the world that the rights of the non-Muslims were not respected and protected,” he said.

Vice Chairman Ghazali called on the MNLF brethren to accept and support the Framework Accord, even as he recalled the good old days when he shared a room with MNLF Chairman Prof Nur Misuari for more than a year. “I had and will never have doubt that our brothers with the MNLF will support us because I still clearly recall our fraternal vows under Islam for all of us to rally behind chances and opportunities that would lead us in the realization of the Bangsamoro aspiration for freedom and self-determination,” he said.