Monday, December 3, 2012

Village exec nabbed with explosives, 2 suspected Sayyaf members

From the Philippine Star (Dec 4): Village exec nabbed with explosives, 2 suspected Sayyaf members

Police arrested a village official and two suspected Abu Sayyaf members in a checkpoint after they tried to slip chemical explosives and bomb materials in this city, according to a security official. The village offical was identified as Amad Yusop, chairman of Barangay Busay in Sacol Island off this city, while his two companions, who are alleged Abu Sayyaf members, were identified as Nur Kandun and Solaiman Kuadra. City Police director Senior Superintendent James Mejia said the suspects, on board the city government-issued multicab service vehicle, were intercepted at around 5 p.m. Monday in a checkpoint manned by elements of the Regional Public Safety Battalion near the police regional headquarters in Barangay Mercedes. The policemen spotted the suspicious boxes on board the multicab driven by Yusop. The boxes allegedly contained 25 kilos of banned chemical ammonium nitrate. The police also recovered 25 pieces of blasting caps and 11.5 inches of time fuse.

Mejia said Yusop initially claimed that the explosive materials will be used for fishing. Senior Inspector Arlan Delumpines, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Management (CIDM), said further investigation led them to the discovery that Yusop's companions were alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf group. Delumpines said that during questioning, Yusop retracted his earlier claim and said that his two companions were the real owners of the contraband. Yusop claimed that his two companions asked him a favor to drive them to the city as there was no other available vehicle that would take them from the coastal village of Taluksangay to the city before they were intercepted. The two suspected Abu Sayyaf members have been brought to the police intelligence unit for further tactical interrogation.
City Mayor Celso Lobregat, who was informed by Mejia about the arrest of the village chief, reminded the village official that the government will not tolerate his supposed misconduct. Lobregat also reminded village officials not to use the government-issued vehicles for their own personal use.

HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK | AFP affirms commitment to protect, promote HR

From InterAksyon (Dec 4): HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK | AFP affirms commitment to protect, promote HR

This poster was conceptualized and designed by the AFP's 7th Civil Relations Group (7CRG) led by Lt. Col. Samuel Sagun. PHOTO by JAIME SINAPIT

Amid accusations of human rights violations and the outcry over the naming of a new ISAFP chief linked to a celebrated abduction, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday affirmed its commitment to protect, defend and promote human rights as the Filipino people celebrate National Human Rights Consciousness Week from December 4 to 10. “Anchored on the theme ‘My Voice Counts in Ending Impunity: I work for human rights-based governance,’ the activity enjoins all government agencies including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of National Defense (DND) and AFP to celebrate the week through simple and appropriate activities. This is aimed at making the people aware of their basic human rights,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa said. Earlier, the chief of the AFP Human Rights Office, Brig. General Domingo Tutaan Jr., led over 200 soldiers in pledging an end to torture and cruelty at the CHR headquarters Tuesday. The soldiers recited Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Among those who joined the ceremonial pledge were representatives from the Department of Justice and CHR. As part of the week-long celebration, the AFP through its Human Rights Office (HRO) will conduct activities to heighten the soldiers’ commitment and responsibilities as human rights advocates.

On Tuesday, 50 soldiers led a “Bike Run and Fun Run” that started at the EDSA Monument on White Plains. On December 6, senior officers holding key positions in the AFP will join CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales in a round table discussion at the La Breza Hotel, Quezon City. This will be followed by a Top-Level Dialogue between the two parties.

On December 9, the AFP will join the HR Music Fest at the QC Memorial Circle, with the GHQ Band and GHQ Choral performing together with other Filipino artists. The AFPHRO will also attend the 2nd International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Summit on December 11. “The AFP remains firm and unyielding in its commitment as Human Rights advocates as we draw our strength from the desire and conviction that human rights must be adhered, respected and protected – in order for our country to truly attain a lasting peace and sustainable development,” HRO chief Tutaan Jr. said.

Oath-taking of new ISAFP chief clouds HR horizon

Ironically, the celebration comes amid a stinging rebuke by the family of the late democracy champion Jose Burgos Jr. after the oath-taking Monday at Malacanang Palace of the new chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP, Brigadier General Eduardo Ano. His promotion to general was earlier protested by Burgos’s widow Edita, who had filed a case against Ano and several other officers for the abduction of her son Jonas Burgos five years ago.“Whatever little hope I nurtured that the HR (human rights) situation would improve during this dispensation was demolished by the appointment of [Brig. Gen. Eduardo M.] Ano as ISAFP chief. Lord have mercy on us,” Mrs. Burgos said in a text message to on Monday.

Recently, President Benigno Aquino III signed a directive creating a 9-member inter-agency committee on human rights which included Dellosa as member, in time for the celebration of the National Human Rights Consciousness Month. “With the recent directive on the creation of the inter-agency body on human rights, our country is taking concrete steps in address cases of human rights abuse and violations.” This, added Dellosa, is in line with the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, seeking to achieve “synergy of efforts of all Filipino people in dealing with our country’s security and development concerns.”

Buildup to AFP anniversary

Meanwhile, military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said some of the activities of the HR week will also be highlighted during the 77th AFP Anniversary on December 21. “We’ve a lot of activities until December 21, our anniversary day. Our campaign and advocacy to protect, promote and defend human rights is a personal commitment in the everyday life of every soldier of the AFP,” Burgos said. The recitation of the pledge was held after the Bike Run and Fun Run which started earlier at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. Soldiers from the Army, Air Force, Navy and AFP General Headquarters joined other government agencies, civil society organizations (CSO), and human rights advocates in the event which aims to promote the National Human Rights Consciousness Week from December 4 to 10. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines assures the people that we will continue to defend and protect human dignity in all aspects of our operations. We hope that through active participation with other stakeholders and civil society organizations, our efforts to advocate human rights will continue to bear fruit,” said AFP Chief of Staff Dellosa.

Army offers medical aid to wounded NPAs in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Army offers medical aid to wounded NPAs in North Cotabato

For humanitarian consideration, the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato has offered the New People's Army (NPA) assistance to evacuate its wounded members to hospitals following fierce firefight in Magpet, North Cotabato. The Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion has launched a series of offensives against NPA guerrillas who have been harassing interior villages of Magpet, a town situated at the foot of the country’s highest peak. Citing reports from fleeing civilians, Col. Prudencio Asto, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said more than a dozen guerrillas were wounded when the military launched artillery offensive against about 200 NPAs in the hinterlands of Magpet, Makilala and Kidapawan City.

Col. Ademar Tomaro, Army’s 602nd Brigade commanding officer, which has jurisdiction over Magpet, said wounded NPAs who need medical assistance can coordinate with village officials or with the local government unit so arrangements can be made. “This is for humanitarian reason, no more no less,” Tomaro told the guerrillas in a radio interview.  Joint forces of the 7th, 40th, 57th Infantry Battalions, members of the 6th ID's Reconnaissance Contingent, and the Army’s elite Special Forces are running after guerrillas who fled to the hinterlands of Mt. Apo amid moderate rain spawned by typhoon "Pablo." Tomaro, again citing villagers claim, said the evacuees told Army ground troops of the wounded NPAs carried by fleeing guerrillas.

Daniel Masang, a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), was killed by a rebel sniper while distributing ammunition to soldiers on Monday morning. Reiterating his offer for humanitarian reasons, Col. Tomaro said: “While we are on different sides of the fence, we are all Filipinos. We can help bring them to hospitals and guarantee them safety while undergoing medication.”  The Army launched its offensive due to complaints from villagers about rampant extortions by NPAs, especially now that Christmas is past approaching. An NPA encampment was captured by advancing forces of the 57th IB. The area with running trenches and fox holes was believed to have been used by the NPAs in conducting extortion activities against civilian-farmers.

Army captures 6 NPA camps in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Army captures 6 NPA camps in North Cotabato

Government forces pursuing communist guerillas in the hinterlands of North Cotabato have captured six major camps of the New People's Army. Colonel Prudencio Asto, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said on Tuesday that joint elements of the 57th, 7th, and 6th Scout Ranger Company of the 602nd Infantry Brigade, have been engaging about 200 NPA guerillas at the foot of the country’s highest peak – Mt. Apo. Lieutenant Colonel Noel dela Cruz, 57th Infantry Battalion commander, said the discovery of abandoned NPA camps was made possible with the help of civilians who have been complaining of continuing extortion activities of the NPAs. He said civilians were either threatened or coerced to support the underground movement. “These are clear violations on Human Rights (HR), International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Rule of Law (ROL) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL),” Dela Cruz said. “Nobody should be forced to obey or to give food and money through fear and intimidation,” he said, adding that the NPAs now are on the run following the capture of its major camps in Magpet hinterlands.

Last month, according to dela Cruz,the the Army discovered several NPA camps in Makilala and Arakan, both in North Cotabato. “The NPAs are rapidly losing popular support from the people. We’ve been hitting them hard with the support and cooperation of people who have stood up against NPA atrocities,” Dela Cruz said. “We encourage those in the mountains to go back to the folds of the law. The government is sincere in its efforts of ending this conflict. I advise them to avail of the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government and lead normal lives with their families and loved ones,” the 57th IB chief said.

CAFGU slain in Army-NPA clash in N. Cotabato town

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): CAFGU slain in Army-NPA clash in N. Cotabato town

A member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was killed when government forces clashed anew with communist guerrillas in a remote village in Magpet town in North Cotabato Monday morning. Lt. Nasrullah Sema, chief of the civil military operations of the 57th Infantry Battalion of the Army, identified the slain CAFGU as Daniel Masang. Sema said their soldiers were conducting combat patrol operations at Sitio Malinahon, Barangay Amabel when they chanced upon the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels along the way. The firefight lasted for 30 minutes, he said. Their troops positioned at Barangay Pangao-an, also in Magpet, fired 105mm mortars on suspected rebel hideouts in Barangay Amabel. “Our soldiers in Barangay Amabel needed fire support so we directed our men in Barangay Pangao-an, where we set up temporary base, to fire mortar to drive away the rebels,” said Sema.

Photo: President Benigno S. Aquino III administers the oath to newly-appointed generals and flag officers of the AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): Photo: President Benigno S. Aquino III administers the oath to newly-appointed generals and flag officers of  the AFP

President Benigno S. Aquino III administers the oath to newly-appointed generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the oath-taking of military officials at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang on Monday (Dec. 3, 2012). (Photo by: Rey Baniquet/Malacañang Photo Bureau/PCOO /PNA)

AFP chief to recommend Christmas ceasefire

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): AFP chief to recommend Christmas ceasefire

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa has said he is recommending to higher authorities a "suspension of military offensive" (SOMO) so that the soldiers can have some time with their families during the coming Yuletide season. "But I still would have to refer the matter to Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and President Benigno S. Aquino III," he stressed. Dellosa said that the granting of the SOMO would come from the Chief Executive. He added that the rebels can surrender to the authorities during lull in the fighting and hopefully start new lives anew. He declined to comment on how long the ceasefire will last but stressed that it might be as long as the previous year's. Last year's SOMO started Dec. 16, 2011 and ended Jan. 2, 2012.

MILF: BDA conducts Values Transformation Training in Sarangani Province

From the MILF Website (Dec 4): BDA conducts Values Transformation Training in Sarangani Province

The Bangsamoro Development Agency–Southern Mindanao Region (BDA-SouthMin) conducted Values Transformation Training (VTT) in 9 Barangays of Sarangani Province this November geared to strengthen unity, cooperation and respect among the constituents of target communities. Each VTTs lasts for three days. The trainings were participated by at least 25 Community Volunteers (CVs) in every identified barangay in Sarangani. The activity was also part of the social preparation of the community before the implementation of BDA-facilitated development projects. The identified Barangays which also have history of conflict are Maguling, Ticulab an Mindupok in Maitum town, Lumasal, Daliao and Amsipit in Maasim, and Lun Masla, Libi and Tuyan in Malapatan.

Topics in the training include such as Islamic and Universal Values that Promote Development, Importance of Faith, Self-Purification, Islamic Values in Dealing with non-Muslims, Application of Islamic Values in Development, Pillars of Islam, Articles of Islamic Faith, and Values Enhancement. Mark Anthony Sinsuat, Institutional Development Officer of BDA-SouthMin, said “Giving our CVs VVT is important especially that they will soon be handling development projects.” He added that if the CVs share common values, whatever development activities they will be undertaking will be easily accomplished.

BDA is facilitating development projects to be implemented in conflict affected areas in Southern Philippines under the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Program (MTF-RDP) funded by the World Bank. The CVs are selected from all the Sitios and Puroks of the identified barangays. Series of capacity-building trainings await the CVs. These are aimed to equip them with adequate knowledge in handling projects. The volunteers will be turned into People’s Organization (PO) that will directly receive funds from the sponsor.

The BDA employs the Community Driven Development (CDD) Approach in implementing projects in its target areas. In this mechanism, the community members are given the decision to identify, implement and manage the projects that will help in the economic empowerment and strengthen unity of the community members. “Inculcating values to the hearts of our volunteers is crucial because we want to make it sure that they possess the values of respect, honesty and accountability in the course of project implementation,” Mohalikin Piang, Regional Manager of BDA-SouthMin said.....

MILF: Int’l NGO initiates awareness on MILF-UN Action Plan on “child associated with conflict”

From the MILF Website (Dec 4): Int’l NGO initiates awareness on MILF-UN Action Plan on “child associated with conflict”

Plan International, a worldwide organization that champions in advocating the Rights of a Child around the globe, initiates awareness-raising session on the United Nations (UN)- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Action Plan on Child Associated with Conflict (formerly known as “Child Soldier”) among the local members of MILF in Sarangani Province and General Santos City. The activity was participated by more than 50 local members of the MILF political and military affairs in Sugoda Buayan Province (a province under MILF description that includes Sarangani and Gensan). “This session aims to educate local MILF members that recruiting youth to participate in the armed struggle is a violation of the Child’s Rights,” Ely Salazar, Team Leader of Plan International in Mindanao Operations. The UN says any person below 18 years old is considered a child. Salazar explained that not only allowing the children to participate in military training but using them in the camp as cook, errand boys, in espionage mission or courier are violations of the Child’s Rights since they are exposed to danger with those undertaking.

The MILF had committed to heed to the International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law particularly to the Optional Protocol on the Convention to the Rights of the Child to halt recruitment or use of children in the armed struggle. The UN and MILF inked an “Action Plan Regarding the Issue of Recruitment and Use of Child Soldier in the Armed Conflict in Mindanao” on August 1, 2009 to implement program that will stop recruitment of children in the front’s armed forces and release of persons below 18 that are involved in the training or already on duty. The action plan also includes concrete program that will facilitate the reintegration of the so-called “child soldier” to the society to live a normal life. Under the plan, there will be established Children Protection Unit with in the ranks of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces that will monitor and ensure that children are not involved in military camps.....

Officer tagged in Jonas Burgos case to take oath before PNoy as new ISAFP chief

From InterAksyon (Dec 2): Officer tagged in Jonas Burgos case to take oath before PNoy as new ISAFP chief

The new chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP, who was recently promoted despite a pending case filed by the mother of missing farmer-activist Jonas Burgos against him, will join 52 other officers in a mass oath-taking before President Benigno Aquino III on Monday. Brig. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, whose confirmation is also being opposed by Edita Burgos, joins the newly-promoted generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the Rizal Hall, according to a Philippine News Agency report. The oath-taking is customary following an officer’s promotion to a star rank.
In a series of hearings on her appeal for a writ of amparo at the Court of Appeals, Edita Burgos through lawyer Boyet Fernandez had cited then Colonel Ano as one of those with direct supervision over a military team tagged by witnesses among those who abducted her son as he lunched at a restaurant in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. Despite denials by the military of any role in the abduction, subsequent investigation showed the plate number of the vehicle where Burgos was dragged into belonged to a seized utility vehicle that had been sequestered for illegal logging and had been kept for months inside a military camp. Two civilian witnesses also identified by face two of the abductors.
Mrs. Burgos said last week, on hearing of Ano’s promotion to general, that it seemed the height of irony that an officer accused of engaging in an illegal, unconstitutional act should be rewarded with a promotion---and a prime position as chief of the AFP’s intelligence office. Edita, widow of the late world press freedom icon Jose G. Burgos Jr., has served notice she will oppose his confirmation before the bicameral Commission on Appointments. The oath-taking of the controversial officer comes as preparations for the month-long observance of Human Rights Month are being stepped up.....

LIVE BLOG: Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) (Typhoon 26W / TY 1224)

From Rappler (Dec 4):  LIVE BLOG: Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) (Typhoon 26W / TY 1224)

[Latest news and live updates on typhoon Bopha/Pablo (26W / 1224)]

Witnesses fail to identify Abu Sayyaf suspects

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 4): Witnesses fail to identify Abu Sayyaf suspects

Suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists wrongly arrested for the 2002 abduction of several Jehovah’s Witnesses in Patikul, Sulu, may be released before the end of the month. Twenty-one accused claiming innocence were presented at a hearing on the reinvestigation of the kidnap-for-ransom case conducted by the Department of Justice on Monday, but eight of them were pointed to by two witnesses—one of them a former hostage—as being members of the terror group. It was the third reinvestigation of the Aug. 20, 2002, abduction of four women and two men who were members of the religious group in Patikul. The two men were beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf while the women were rescued by police and the military.

At the start of the hearing, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong said it was the prosecutors themselves who pushed for the reinvestigation. “We noticed, for instance, two persons being arrested under one name and we noticed an injustice there,” said Ong, adding that the Pasig RTC ordered them to conduct the reinvestigation in 60 days. All 21 Abu Sayyaf members who were handcuffed were made to line up for identification in batches to face two of the three witnesses who were brought in, their faces concealed. Of the 21, the eight who were pointed to by two witnesses denied the accusation. One of the eight, Julhassan A. Jaani Ybanez, was identified by the female witness as the one who beheaded her husband. But Ybanez denied this, saying he was an imam (Muslim leader) and an assistant of Col. Akho San Juan, the military chaplain of the Western Mindanao Command. He said he was arrested in 2006.

‘Pablo’ makes landfall in Davao Oriental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 4): ‘Pablo’ makes landfall in Davao Oriental

Typhoon “Pablo” has made landfall over Baganga, Davao Oriental early Tuesday morning, the weather bureau said. At 4:00 a.m. Tuesday, the center of Typhoon Pablo was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 40 kilometers east of the eastern coast of Davao Oriental, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said. Pablo was packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph, Pagasa said. It was forecast to move west northwest at 26 kph, Pagasa added.

Public Storm Warning Signal No. 3 was hoisted over Southern Leyte, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Southern Cebu, Surigao del Norte incl. Siargao, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Province, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Davao del Norte incl. Samal Is.

Signal No. 2 was raised in Iloilo, Guimaras, Capiz, Leyte incl. Biliran, Negros Occidental, rest of Cebu including Camotes Is., Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga Sibugay and Maguindanao.

Meanwhile, Palawan incl. Calamian Grp. Of Islands, Ticao Island, Masbate, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Aklan, Antique, Basilan, Sarangani and South Cotabato were placed under Signal No. 1.

According to Pagasa, Typhoon Pablo was expected to be at 180 km southwest of Roxas City by Wednesday morning. By Thursday morning, it will be at 230 km northwest of Puerto Princesa City and at 780 km west of Metro Manila by Friday morning. Due to the prevailing typhoon, Pagasa warned residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signals against possible flashfloods and landslides.  Likewise, those living in coastal areas under Signal No. 2 and Signal No. 3 are alerted of possible storm surges particulary those living in the coastal areas of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat, Bohol and Leyte provinces where 3-6 meters wave height is expected. The weather bureau advised fishing boats and other sea vessels not to venture out into the eastern seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao.

House wants to review all defense pacts with other nations

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 4): House wants to review all defense pacts with other nations

Even as several lawmakers stepped up calls to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, the House committee on foreign affairs has passed a resolution to widen the coverage of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA to include the country’s defense pacts with other nations. House Joint Resolution No. 37, which now goes to the plenary for debate, would allow the oversight committee to scrutinize the Philippines’ Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) with Australia, which increased military cooperation between the two countries and which was ratified earlier this year. The resolution would also require the Legislative Oversight Committee to oversee and monitor future defense and status of forces agreements with other countries that were concurred in by the Senate. The House foreign affairs committee’s submission of the resolution came after Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello filed a joint resolution seeking to terminate the VFA.

Photo: Captured NPA Weapons and Documents from AFP-NPA Encounter at Virac, Catanduanes on Dec 1

Posted to Faces, Places & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) Blog: Photo: Captured NPA Weapons and Documents from AFP-NPA Encounter at Virac, Catanduanes on Dec 1

[See previous post entitled "2 NPA bandits are killed in Catanduanes clash"]

Roadside bomb kills a Scout Ranger in Basilan

Posted to the Faces, Places, & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) Blog (Dec 3): Roadside bomb kills a Scout Ranger in Basilan

UNGKAYA PUKAN, Basilan--Unidentified lawless elements detonate a roadside bomb as soldiers on security patrol passed by at around 7:50am, killing one and wounding another. A military report from the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion said that SSgt Albert Galvez was leading a team of soldiers to secure the road along Cabangalan village when they were met by a bomb blast. Two soldiers were injured by bomb shrapnels but one died while being transported to a local hospital here. The other wounded soldier was already declared out of danger by attending physicans.  Lt Col Armand Arevalo, the Commanding Officer of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion has conducted investigation in coordination with the local PNP. The identities of the victims are withheld pending the notification of immediate kin.Aside from conducting pursuit operations against lawless elements, soldiers here are deployed to secure the Basilan Circumferential Road (BCR). A small band of lawless armed group are hunted down by Army soldiers for the series of atrocities against civilians in Sumisip town.

169 police officers finish Special Counter-insurgency training in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): 169 police officers finish Special Counter-insurgency training in Negros Oriental

A total of 169 police officers, 28 of whom are female, are graduating Tuesday from the Special Counter-insurgency Unit Training held at Camp Carballo in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental. Sr. Insp. Dexter Calacar, assistant training manager of the Regional Special Training Unit (RSTU) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region ,7 said only one of the original 170 trainees had dropped out due to heat stroke and was returned to his unit during the two-month training. This will be the third batch of PNP SCOUT graduates in Negros Oriental and the sixth batch in Region 7 for this year, Calacar said.

 After graduation, the police officers will be deployed to the PNP’s Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) based in Sibonga, Cebu. The training, which reeled off last Sept. 21, was originally calendared for 45 days however it was extended due to Air to Ground Operations (AGOS) held at Sibonga, Cebu, said Sr. Insp. Calacar. PNP provincial director Sr. Supt. Edward Carranza and Governor Roel Degamo will be the guest speakers during the graduation ceremonies. Earlier, PNP Region 7 Director, Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, was to grace the graduation rites but could not make it due to Typhoon Pablo.

Aquino swears in military officials in Malacanang

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): Aquino swears in military officials in Malacanang

President Benigno S. Aquino III administered the oath of office of military officials in Malacanang ceremonies Monday. The Chief Executive, accompanied by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, swore in Lt. Gen. Noel A. Coballes, a member of the Philippine Military Academy class 1980, as Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff.

 The President also swore in Lt. Gen. Gregorio E. Macapagal, the Deputy Chief of Staff, AFP; Vice Admiral Jose Luis M. Alano, commander of the Central Command; Lt. Gen. Rey C. Ardo, commander of the Western Mindanao Command;  Maj Gen Marlou S. Salazar, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs J9; Rear Admiral Wenefredo B. Banua, Chief of the AFP-Resource Management Office; Maj Gen Alan R. Luga, commander of the Southern Luzon Command; Maj Gen Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army and Maj Gen Raul L. Dimatatac, Vice Chief, Air Force; Maj Gen Gerardo T. Layug as commander of the 8th Infantry Division, PA.

Other military officials who took their oath of office before the President were Maj Gen Nestor A. Añonuevo, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, PA;  Maj Gen Virgilio O Domingo, commandant of the AFP Command and General Staff College; Maj Gen Romeo V. Poquiz, Air Force Inspector General, Philippine Air Force; Rear Admiral Zyril D. Carlos, chairman of the AFP- Bids and Awards Committee;

Maj Gen Ariel B. Bernardo, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, PA; Maj Gen Essel C. Soriano, Vice Commander, PA; Maj Gen Nicanor E. Dolojan, commander of the Light Armor Division, PA; Maj Gen Samuel L. Narbuada, commander of the Intelligence Group, PA;

 Rear Admiral Roberto V. Santos, commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command, Philippine Navy; Maj Gen Wilfredo O. Ona, Chief of Air Staff, Philippine Air Force;  Maj Gen Jeffrey F. Delgado, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, J5 Brig Gen Rene E. Santos, Wing Commander, 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, Philippine Air Force;  Brig Gen Alfredo M. Andres, commander of the AFP Procurement Service;

Brig Gen Domingo J. Tutaan Jr., chief of the AFP Human Rights Office; Brig Gen Gerardo D. Jamorabo, chairman of the PAF-BAC;  Brig Gen Jonas C. Sumagaysay as Deputy Commander, CENTCOM; Brig Gen Danilo H. Peñafiel as Wing Commander, 335th Air Engineering Wing;

Brig Gen Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr., commander of the 7th Infantry Division, PA;  Brig Gen Januario G. Caringal as commander of the Combat Service Support Brigade, Philippine Marine Corps; Brig Gen Romeo L. Gapuz as Assistant Division Commander, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army;  Brig Gen Alexander F. Balutan, commander of the First Marine Brigade, PMC;

Brig Gen Virgilio M. Espineli, 8th Infantry Division, PA; Brig Gen Cesar Dionisio T. Sedillo, 6th Infantry Division, PA; Brig Gen Yerson E. Depayso, 10th Infantry Division, PA;  Brig Gen Eusaquito P. Manalo, Wing Commander, 570th Composite Tactical Wing, PAF; Brig Gen Silvino A. Alcabasa, commander of the 51st Engineer Brigade; Brig Gen John S. Bonafos, commander of the General Headquarters and Headquarters Service Command;  Brig Gen Rolando V. Picar, chief of the AFP Front Committee; Brig Gen Gamaliel S. Cruz, DC, Army Support Command PA;

Brig Gen Roberto D. Domines Jr., ADC, 7th Infantry Division, PA; Brig Gen Lysander A. Suerte, ADC, 3rd Infantry Division, PA; Brig Gen Carlos C. Solomon, commander of the 53EBDE, PA; Brig Gen Eduardo M. Año, Chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces;  Brig Gen Daniel A. Lucero, commander of the 103IBDE, 1st Infantry Division, PA; Brig Gen Rolando M. Aquino, WC, 410th MW, PAF; Commodore Reynaldo Y. Yoma, commander of the Commander of Philippine Fleet Service Force;  Brig Gen Andre P. Tanyag, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations; Brig Gen Isagani P. Silva, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics;

 Brig Gen Rodelio V. Santos, Commander, 603RD IBDE, 6ID, PA; Brig Gen Raul L. del Rosario, Wing Commander, Air Defense Wing; Brig Gen Abraham B. Bagasin, commander of First Scout Ranger Regiment, SOCOM, PA; Brig Gen Florentino P. Manalastas Jr, Dean of Corp of Prof; and Brig Gen Marcelo B. Javier, commander of 15th Infantry Division, Army Reserve Command.

Lawyer wants Bangsamoro framework pact declared illegal

From GMANews (Dec 3): Lawyer wants Bangsamoro framework pact declared illegal

A self proclaimed "international lawyer" who tried to seek the presidency twice has questioned before the Supreme Court the historic Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, which newly appointed Associate Justice Marvic Leonen helped craft. In his petition, lawyer Elly Velez Pamatong asked the high court to invalidate and declare as unconstitutional the agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front because the peace talks between the two were facilitated in Malaysia and with the help of Malaysians, who the petitioner claimed stand to benefit the most from the deal....
Pamatong questioned the role that the Malaysians played in the peace talks, stressing that Malaysia is competing with the Philippines in claiming Sabah island. He said the agreement could well be considered a "deed of sale over Mindanao in favor of Malaysia. It is a treaty of surrender to the... Malaysian invasion of the Philippines."......
Pamatong said the agreement should be declared unconstitutional, stressing that it has been "generated by foreign and local interests." "The framework... concerns paramount governmental and national interests that have not been subjected to open and serious public discussions and mandatorily required by applicable provisions of the fundamental charter," he added. He said since the Mindanao population is made up of around 90 percent Christian Malays, the latter shouldbhave been consulted with. "The preparation of the Framework Agreement was secretly done in the plush hotels of West Malaysia, the capital city of the indubitably enemy country that previously openly seized and annexed two Philippine territories, viz.: North Borneo and a Spratly Island," said Pamatong.
He said Malaysia is the "real enemy" and not the the MILF and that the rebel group was merely as "Malaysian proxy." "Understandably, the "mediator" - which is definitely an enemy of the Republic of the Philippines - provided the Philippine negotiators with all the conveniences and amenities fit for Kings, Queens and other royal personalities and - who knows - billions of dollars that even the most moral and religious perspn could nor resist," he added. He said the agreement revolved around two "vital interests or forces" namely, Malaysia's alleged interest in taking over southern Philippines and the Moros' struggle to have a completely independent Islamic and Koran-based nation called Bangsamoro. Pamatong also claimed that the new Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was "substantially the same" as the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain which was declared unconstitutional by the high court in 2008.

Who is Pamatong

Pamatong is a reverend at the Immortal White Rock Church of Enoch and Elijah, which is headquartered in Davao City. Pamatong was notorious for his pro-US rallies and disrupting traffic in Manila after scattering spikes on the road in 2004. A few months back, he was also seen publicly burning the Malaysian flag. He ran for president in 2004 but was declared a nuisance candidate. In 2007, he ran for governor but lost. He tried to join the 2010 presidential race by was again excluded by the poll body.

Kidnap victims identify Abu Sayyaf captors at DOJ hearing

From GMANews (Dec 3): Kidnap victims identify Abu Sayyaf captors at DOJ hearing

Victims on Monday positively identified eight allegedly Abu Sayyaf members who were part of the group that abducted them in Patikul, Sulu in August 2002. At a hearing by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the two victims identified Jumlie Orie, Jul Ahmad Ahadi Julman, Arabi Muin Ladja, Sonny Boy Barahim, Abdulwahab Hamja, Mujibar Alih Aman, Julhasan Jaani, and Absar Mangkabang Asim as being members of the notorious group's faction under Radullan Sahiron.

One of the witnesses, "Maria," claimed she was among the six members of the Jehovah's Witnesses who were abducted in Patikul, Sulu, on August 20, 2002, while the other witness, "Juan," was abducted in another incident but was made to join Maria's group in captivity. Maria's husband was later beheaded by their captors, along with another captive Lemuel Bantolo. The victims escaped their abductors in April 2003.

The hearing was part of a reinvestigation being conducted by the DOJ after several arrested suspects in the kidnapping protested that they were arbitrarily arrested and that their names were not even in the arrest warrants. The case was already being heard by Judge Torinio Ilao Jr. of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 266 when the respondents started filing several motions to insist their arrest was illegal.

The eight supposed Abu Sayyaf members denied involvement in the abduction. "Maria" claimed Aman even asked her who among his fellow Abu Sayyaf members she wanted to marry. In response, Aman said Maria was not even his "type." The two former captives said the eight were the ones who either guarded and fed them during their captivity, or transported ammunition for the armed group. The one who beheaded one of the victims was also among the eight who were positively identified. The victims also did not point to two individuals earlier arrested by authorities for allegedly both being "Kumander Black Tungkang." Of the more than 130 people accused in the kidnapping, the victims were made to identify from 21 arrested suspects.

The hearing concluded on the same day and the panel said it would resolve the reinvestigation in 60 days. Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, vice chairman of the DOJ Anti-terrorism Task Force, admitted it was "unusual" for the DOJ to take the initiative in conducting a reinveatigation. The members if the DOJ reinvestigating panel were Assistant State Prosecutors Mary Jane Sytat, Josie Christina Dugay, Marmarie Satin-Vivas, and Benito Sales.

CPP slams inclusion of AFP, PNP chiefs in HR superbody

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 3): CPP slams inclusion of AFP, PNP chiefs in HR superbody

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has branded President Aquino’s creation of a “human-rights super body” as a publicity stunt to hide the continued trampling of human rights by government agents with impunity. In a statement, the CPP said that the formation of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) was a desperate attempt to shore up Aquino’s faltering popularity both locally and internationally due to continuing grave abuses of human rights. “As if to insult the victims of human-rights abuses, Aquino appointed the heads of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as members of the IAC,” said the CPP.

Last Thursday, Aquino announced the issuance of Administrative Order 35 which forms the IAC to handle cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of human-rights abuses. The IAC is supposed to prioritize abuses committed under the previous regime. “This single act alone show clearly that this IAC will go nowhere in terms of resolving the outstanding cases of human-rights violations carried out by military and police agents in line with the present and past reactionary regime’s policies of all-out war of suppression,” the CPP said. “Aquino’s brutal Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression has reduced respect for human rights into empty rhetoric,” it added. The CPP noted that for three years now, the Aquino regime has been promising to uphold human rights but has failed to deliver.....

DFA sends circular for implementation of new policy on Chinese e-passports

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 3): DFA sends circular for implementation of new policy on Chinese e-passports

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the country’s foreign posts have been provided with the circulars about the new visa rules regarding the controversial Chinese e-passports bearing the image of a map that includes areas in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a press conference, DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said that the circulars issued applied to all Chinese passports, old and new, so that there would be “no confusion into the implementation.”  “As far as our foreign posts are concerned, they have already received the circular which is effective immediately,” Hernandez said. He noted that the BI had also been doing all preparations for the urgent implementation of the new policy....

Hernandez had earlier said that the new policy on the passports was made “to avoid the Philippines being misconstrued as legitimizing the nine-dash line (claim) every time a Philippine visa is stamped on such Chinese e-passport.” The Philippines has criticized China’s nine-dash claim of sovereignty over nearly the entire sea as “excessive” and inconsistent with international laws. Hernandez explained that under the new policy, Philippine visas would be stamped on a separate visa form to be provided by the DFA’s posts abroad to Chinese nationals.  He added that the entry stamps would be affixed by Philippine Immigration officers on the same document and not on the new Chinese passports.

Group questions gov’t peace pact with MILF

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 3): Group questions gov’t peace pact with MILF

A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court asking that it declare as unconstitutional the signed Bangsamoro Framework Agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In his 24-page petition for certiorari, petitioners said the Government Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion when it bounded the entire government to acts that violate the Constitution. Petitioners include Rev. Vicente Libradores Aquino; Rev. Mercidita Redoble and International Ministries for Perfect and Party Against Communism and Terrorism Inc. (Imppact, Inc.) through its President Atty. Elly Pamatong.

The framework agreement stipulated the creation of a Bangsamoro government in five provinces—Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Cotabato and Isabela and six other municipalities of North Cotabato. “These provinces and cities are all covered by the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. Both the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) are representing the same people and the same territory. Surely, the implementation of the Framework Agreement will nullify the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement,” the petitioners said.

The petitioners pointed out that the existence of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was by virtue of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, an international treaty recognized by the Organization of Islamic Conference and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. “The dissolution of the ARMM will mean the dissolution of the two agreements…Indeed, in 1987, the Philippine government honored its commitment to an international agreement by including in the Constitution the creation of an ARMM…,” petitioner stated.

Petitioners also questioned the venue of the GPH-MILF exploratory talks which is Malaysia. They said it is not a neutral country because of its claims over the disputed Sabah Island, which the Philippines also claims. The peace panel was headed by newly appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. It was signed on Oct. 15, 2012.

8 of 20 suspected Sayyaf members positively identified by witnesses

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 3): 8 of 20 suspected Sayyaf members positively identified by witnesses

The eight suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members are in a huddle with their lawyer and interpreter. They were positively identified by their captive during reinvestigation at the Department of Justice.

Eight out 20 suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members have been positively identified by two of their captives during the reinvestigation conducted Monday at the Department of Justice. Identified were Jumlie Orie, Jul Ahmad Ahadi Julman, Arabi Muin Ladja, Sonny Boy Barahim, Abdulwahab Hamja, Mujibar Alih Aman, Julhasan Jaani and Absar Mangkabang Asim. The two who turned government witnesses were among the six Jehovah’s Witnesses abducted in Patikul, Sulu, on Aug. 20, 2002 by the group of Radulan Sahiron. The husband of one of the captives who turned witness was later beheaded along with Lemuel Bantolo.

The government, through the DOJ moved for a reinvestigation of the case following claims of some of the accused that they had been arbitrarily arrested. The government’s request was granted by Judge Torinio Ilao Jr. of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266. “This is an unusual move for the DOJ but we did it in the interest of justice…There are some people arrested for not committing anything,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, Vice-Chair of the DOJ Anti-Terrorism Task Force, said during Monday’s reinvestigation.

Authorities have arrested three persons, one of them, Ahmadsali A. Badron, 40, who is a member of the Reconciliation and Unification of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and a former Commissioner of the Department of Education. The witnesses failed to identify Badron. Badron was arrested last July 28, 2012.  In the case of accused Kumander Black Tungkang, two people were arrested, the DOJ panel of investigators said. A reward money of P3.3 million was being claimed for the arrest of one of the two.

The panel asked each of the 8 suspects to give their side. Aman, whom the victim said was allegedly in charge of Abu Sayyaf’s budget and told to pick one of the captives for him to marry, denied the allegations. Jaani, on the other hand, whom the victim said as one of those who beheaded her husband, maintained that he has nothing to do with the abduction. “It’s not true. I’m an assistant Imam and (former Western Mindanao Command chief) General (Benjamin) Dolorfino can vouch for that,” Jaani said. One of the eight suspects also said he was just a student when the incident took place and one of his witnesses was then Governor Wahab Akbar.

Ong said they will expedite the issuance of the resolution to release those who are wrongfully arrested. “Some of the explanations are really satisfactory for me. We will issue a resolution as soon as possible [but] this is subject to the approval because this case is already in court,” Ong said.  The DOJ reinvestigating panel is composed of Asst. State Prosecutors (ASP) Mary JaneSytat, Josie Christina Dugay, Marmarie Satin-Vivas, and Benito Sales. There are a total of 135 accused in the kidnapping case.

AFP wlecomes probe on arrested Abu suspects

From the Philippine Star (Dec 3): AFP wlecomes probe on arrested Abu suspects

The military said it is willing to undergo any reinvestigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the alleged arrest of suspected Abu Sayyaf members, who claimed to be “fall guys”. The DOJ called for the reinvestigation, particularly on the cases against the Abu Sayyaf members tagged in the abduction of the six members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in 2002 in Patikul town, Sulu, where two of the victims were beheaded. Branch 266 Judge Toribio Ilao Jr. of the Pasig Regional Trial Court ordered the reinvestigation of the case following the request of some accused who that were presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, AFP public affairs chief, said they are willing to undergo a reinvestigation and will cooperate with other government agencies to look into the allegations.
“Wala naman kaming itinatago,” Burgos added, citing that all those arrested suspects were immediately turned over to the court for proper disposition. The lower court issued the order pending the trial of the suspects, who said they were picked up randomly by members of the intelligence units of the military and tagged them as Abu Sayyaf members. The suspects are currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The arresting military personnel have been summoned to appear in the hearing set Monday by the DOJ investigating panel.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officer-in-charge Governor Mujiv Hataman has earlier written the president over the alleged indiscriminate arrest of his constituents in Basilan province by military intelligence and police operatives merely tagging them through aliases as members of the Abu Sayyaf. Hataman cited the arrest of Romy Sumanpil, cousin of Basilan Association of Barangay Council (ABC) chairman Manan Sumanpil last month. Another victim of arrest was the barangay captian of Lantawan, despite being a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), working with the scout ranger in 2001 and was collared and tagged with an alias of an Abu Sayyaf. The ARMM governor suspected the rush of arrest on suspects might be due to the bounty reward offered by the government.

Army seizes bomb in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Dec 3): Army seizes bomb in Maguindanao

Patrolling soldiers deactivated on Sunday a booby trap fashioned from a live fragmentation grenade laid on a farm trail in a hinterland in Talayan, Maguindanao. Col. Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said it was fortunate that none of the combatants of the 33rd Infantry Battalion patrolling in Barangay Matalam in Talayan stepped on the contraption set to trigger the grenade’s explosion.

Asto said barangay officials have asked soldiers in Talayan to continue searching for more unexploded improvised explosive devices and booby traps in their surroundings, frequented by marauding members of the brigand Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Soldiers have defused in the past three months more than 20 roadside bombs and improvised landmines made up of fragmentation grenades and live mortar rounds in areas where BIFF forces operate.

Clan war involving MILF commander spark anew

From the Philippine Star (Dec 3): Clan war involving MILF commander spark anew

Tension between a big Muslim clan and a marauding group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Pikit, North Cotabato escalated anew on Monday after rebels set on fire a house located in an area controlled by the other camp. The recurring firefights between the Tayuan family and the group of Commander Kuyu of the MILF’s 105th Base Command started in December 30 last year, according to Inspector Elias Dandan, chief of the Pikit municipal police.

The Tayuans and Kuyu’s group are squabbling for control of strategic patches of lands at the border of Barangay Langayen in Pikit and Dungguan area in Aleosan town, also in North Cotabato. The animosity between the two groups escalated last month when Kuyu and his men reportedly killed a barangay official in Langayen, who was related to the Tayuans. The Tayuans belong to the Moro National Liberation Front.

Col. Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said gunmen believed to be followers of Kuyu, raided a village in Barangay Langayen Sunday and burned down a shanty of a farmer named Barotoy Bukah. Bukah is a follower of the Tayuan family. Asto said officials of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, which has jurisdiction over Pikit and surrounding towns, have been trying to convince the feuding groups to reposition away from the disputed areas to enable the joint GPH-MILF ceasefire committee to come in and settle the conflict peacefully.

The government and the MILF, under the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, are to mutually cooperate in addressing peace and security issues besetting potential flashpoint areas in the south. Dandan said tension in villages at the boundary of Barangays Langayen and Dungguan have been high, without any temporary solution in place to stave off the escalation of hostilities between the Tayuans and Kuyu’s group. Three members of a village militia, Kanapia Musa and siblings Eric and Kamir Pasandalan, wounded when Kuyu and his men attacked Barangay Langayen last Thursday. Kuyu and his followers attacked from direction, triggering a 30-minute gunbattle with the combined Tayuans and members of the Langayen community militia that sent dozens of villagers running for their lives.

2 Army rangers hurt in Basilan landmine blast

From the Philippine Star (Dec 3): 2 Army rangers hurt in Basilan landmine blast

Two Army rangers were wounded when an improvised bomb, rigged as landmine by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, exploded Monday in a remote town in Basilan. Wounded in the explosion were identified as Corporal Mark Dandin Gomez and Private First Class John Garde. The victims were immediately provided treatment by US paramedics, who helped conduct the casualty evacuation mission. Gomez was described to be critically injured as both victims were airlifted to the Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH) inside the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) headquarters in this city.

The 104th Army Brigade reported that a platoon of Army rangers under the 13th Scout Ranger Company (SRC) were conducting a route security operation when they hit the improvised bomb at around 7:50 a.m. in Barangay Cabangalan, Ungkaya Pukan town. The military has intensified surgical combat operations to flush out the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Negrense general, 4 others promoted

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 3): Negrense general, 4 others promoted

Five newly-promoted Army generals, will take their oaths before President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang today. They are Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, a Negrense, who heads the AFP Western Command; Brigadier Generals Abraham Bagasin, commander of the Army’s elite Scout Ranger Regiment; Rolando Picar, chief of the AFP Finance Center; Roberto Domines, deputy 7th Infantry Division commander; and Jonas Sumagaysay, deputy commander AFP Central Command.

Ardo is from Barangay Paraiso, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, while Bagasin used to serve as commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion; Picar as former 66th Infantry Battalion commander, Domines as former 78th Infantry Battalion commander, while Sumagaysay served as 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, all in Negros Occidental.

Fifty AFP generals, including Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano, AFP Central Command chief, are attending the oath-taking ceremony, that will be held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang today.

After the oathtaking the newly- promoted generals and flag officers will be given honors at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City, to be followed by the traditional courtesy call on AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club at the military camp.....

NOT JUST VFA | House committee wants to monitor SOFA as well

From InterAksyon (Dec 3): NOT JUST VFA | House committee wants to monitor SOFA as well

The foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives has approved Joint House Resolution No. 37 expanding the scope of the legislative oversight function to cover not just the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US but the Status of Force Agreement with Australia as well. There are several resolutions filed in the House calling for the termination of the VFA on the grounds that the security pact puts the Philippines at a disadvantage.

The VFA allows visits by American forces to conduct joint military exercises and trainings with Philippine forces and is intended to strengthen the bilateral defense partnership under the 1951 RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty. It was concurred by the Philippine Senate on May 27, 1999, giving it the force of a treaty, but is considered a mere executive agreement by the US. The SOFA with Australia, on the other hand, was signed on July 24, 2012 in consonance with a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperative Defense Activities signed August 22, 1995 in Canberra, Australia.

Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano recently filed House Resolution 2888, while Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Maximo Rodriguez jointly authored House Resolution 2892, both seeking a congressional inquiry into the alleged dumping of toxic waste into Subic Bay by the Malaysian shipping firm, Glenn Defense Marine Philippines. HR 2892 has been referred to the committee on foreign affairs, while HR 2888 was referred to the committee on natural resources and ecology.

Government troops deactivate booby trap in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): Government troops deactivate booby trap in Maguindanao

Soldiers belonging to the 6th Infantry Division on Sunday deactivated a booby trap believed to have been planted by lawless elements in Maguindanao intended for government forces. Col. Prudencio Asto, speaking for the 6th ID, said the booby trap was fashioned from a live fragmentation grenade laid on a trail in the mountains of Talayan, Maguindanao. “It was probably intended for our troops who regularly patrol the area to drive away lawless elements belonging to the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFF),” Asto told reporters. No one among the elements of the 33rd Infantry Battalion hit the cable that was set to trigger the explosion.

 Government forces with the help of village officials continue to search for unexploded bombs the villages in Talayan left following fighting between BIFF and government soldiers in four Maguindanao towns. Since August, at least 15 road side bombs have been deactivated by government forces believed to be designed for soldiers. Portions of the Cotabato-Gen. Santos Highway remained passable during day time while commuters were discouraged to travel at night time, Asto said.

2 die, 3 hurt when Moro warring clans clash in Pikit

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): 2 die, 3 hurt when Moro warring clans clash in Pikit

PIKIT, North Cotabato - Two persons were killed and three were wounded when firefight between two Muslim clans erupted in interior villages of this town Sunday, police said. Peaceful efforts are underway to settle the misunderstanding which police described as "rido" (family feud). Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, police chief of Pikit town in North Cotabato, said efforts are underway to settle the dispute peacefully. “It was a long time dispute over political boundaries between families in Langayen and Dungguan, both in Pikit,” Dandan said.

 Col. Prudencio Asto, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division, said involved in the dispute were Commander Kuyo of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 105th Base Command and Tayuan family. He identified the wounded as Kanapia Musa, 42, Eric Pasandalan, 19 and Kamir Pasandalan, 23, all followers of Commander Kuyo. The two fatalities from the side of Tayuan family remained unidentified. Asto said on Sunday dawn, followers of Commander Kuyo harassed the village of Langayen where the Tayuan family resides. The Tayuan family retaliated and engaged the attackers in a two-hour firefight that left two killed on Tayuan side.

Asto said the conflict was triggered by the killing last month of Commander Kuyo’s younger brother whom the MILF field official blamed on the Tayuan family. Dandan and Asto said both sides are claiming ownership of a large patch of lands in the borders of Barangays Dungguan and Langayen. Dandan said the local government of Pikit has set a settlement meeting between warring groups who both expressed willingness to show up to end bloodshed. At least 30 families who are related to the warring groups have fled to safer grounds.

9ID renews commitment to human rights

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): 9ID renews commitment to human rights

The Philippine Army 9th Infantry (Spear) Division joined the Bicolano and the whole nation in the celebration of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week which started on Monday. The Spear Troopers took their oath, "Panunumpa sa Karapatang Pantao," led by Colonel Felix J Castro Jr, the 9ID Assistant Division Commander and Human Rights Officer as they promise to uphold human rights. “We are here to show our support to the National Human Rights Consciousness Week celebration in order for our voices to be heard and be counted,”

Major General Romeo V. Calizo, Commander of the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division said.  With the theme: “My voice counts in ending impunity: I work for Human Rights based governance,” Calizo said the 9ID banks on the combined efforts of its partner agencies and organizations to attain freedom --- free from fear and subjugation; free to pursue every endeavor within the bounds of laws without trampling on the rights of others. "The 9ID is guided by the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” and adhere to the Human Rights-International Humanitarian Law-Rule of Law (HR-IHL-ROL). "We ensure that the multi-stakeholder approach and paradigm shift to a people-centered approach be fully integrated in 9ID’s operations," he explained. “We are prepared to continue playing our part in the Philippine government’s goals of safeguarding the "life, liberty and property" of the Bicolanos,” M/Gen Calizo said.

He said the New People's Army (NPA) remained a threat in Bicol Region. "In the guise of fighting for a “people-oriented” ideology, they wreak havoc in our society and violate the people’s rights in the process," he added. “We are well aware that despite our efforts, some Bicolanos have been misled to believe the worst about the 9ID,” said Col. Felix J. Castro Jr., the 9ID Human Rights officer. In order to recover from all the damages caused by the negative acts of the NPA, the 9ID decided to equalize their violence by developing our ranks as protectors of HR-IHL. “We ensure that our troops refrain from committing violations. We also make sure that any personnel proven beyond doubt to have committed human rights infractions would be dealt with accordingly. We do not tolerate disrespect to human rights,” Castro said.

The 9ID has elevated its Human Rights Office with the designation of the Assistant Division Commander to head the office in order to give it a stronger personality. "Its functions shall include, but shall not be limited, to advocacy on HR-IHL-ROL, monitoring of HR-IHL cases, and advising the Commander on matters pertaining to HR-IHL-ROL," Castro said. "It shall also have supervisory functions over all HR cases being acted upon by concerned subordinate units/offices. It shall also have the power to conduct investigation on HR cases as a fact-finding office," he added. The 9ID’s renewed adherence in the protection and promotion of HR-IHL was relatively seen as the number of HR cases filed against our soldiers significantly dropped from 12 as of 2011 to just one this year.

Among the initiatives to the implementation of the IPSP “Bayanihan” in 2010, was giving more emphasis on HR-IHL-ROL in the curricula of all trainings, seminars of officers and enlisted personnel, and also in its Troop Information and Education (TI&E) sessions at the 9th Division Training Unit. This was also replicated the lower units of the Command. “However, despite our continued efforts, we cannot ultimately fight the abuses against human rights without the help, cooperation and commitment of every one.We reaffirm today our commitment because we believe that Human Rights protection is the responsibility of all,” he said.

Military units in Pablo-affected areas to help in disaster prevention measures -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 3): Military units in Pablo-affected areas to help in disaster prevention measures -- AFP

The Armed Forces Monday said all military units and personnel stationed in regions on the path of Typhoon Pablo will assist local disaster response outfits in their possible rescue and relief missions. "All units in the areas affected by Pablo are ordered to support local disaster management units in possible rescue and relief missions," AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos, Jr. said. He said such moves are standard for the military, considering the AFP has a support role in the government's disaster prevention and response mission......

Signal No. 3 over Surigao Sur, 6 others

From Rappler (Dec 3): Signal No. 3 over Surigao Sur, 6 others

The state weather bureau on Monday morning, December 3, raised Storm Warning Signal No. 3 over 7 areas, including Surigao del Sur, over which Typhoon Pablo is expected to make landfall.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised Signal No. 3 over 7 areas. This means winds of 101 to 185 km/h will batter the following:
  • Surigao del Sur
  • Surigao del Norte
  • Siargao
  • Dinagat
  • Agusan del Norte
  • Agusan del Sur
  • Davao Oriental
Signal No. 2, which indicates 61 to 100 km/h winds, is meanwhile hoisted over the following:
  • Southern Leyte and Bohol
  • Camiguin
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Bukidnon
  • Davao del Norte
  • Compostela Valley
The state weather bureau also raised Signal No. 1 over the following areas, which will likely experience 30 to 60 km/h winds due to Pablo:
  • Cuyo Island
  • Eastern Samar
  • Western Samar
  • Leyte
  • Biliran
  • Aklan
  • Capiz
  • Antique
  • Iloilo
  • Guimaras
  • Negros Occidental
  • Negros Oriental
  • Cebu
  • Siquijor
  • Zamboanga del Norte
  • Zamboanga del Sur
  • Zamboanga Sibugay
  • Lanao del Norte
  • Lanao del Sur
  • Davao del Sur
  • North Cotabato
  • Maguindanao
In its 11 am update, PAGASA said Pablo maintained its strength with maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h and gusts of up to 210 km/h. It was located 510 km southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.

Typhoon 'Pablo': 11 am update:,-5-others

Sulu summit to tackle peace process, framework accord with MILF

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 3): Sulu summit to tackle peace process, framework accord with MILF

Sulu province is hosting the first-ever Mindanao Leaders' Summit and will tackle the Mindanao peace process and the Framework Agreement signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Thousands of Muslims are expected to attend the summit which would be held today in Patikul town. The Framework Agreement, which was signed in October, would pave the way for the creation of Bangsamoro region.

The new political entity would replace the Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao which comprises the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan. A referendum would also be held in other provinces where there are large Muslim communities to ask if residents wanted to be part of the Bangsamoro region. "Sinusuportahan natin ang peace process ng ating Pangulo kaya nga may summit tayo dito sa Sulu upang ipaalam sa publiko ang kahalagahan nitong peace talks at ng Framework Agreement. Sinusuportahan namin mga governors sa ARMM ang kapayapaan," (We are supporting the peace process and that's why we are holding this summit so our people will know more about the government peace talks with the MILF and the importance of the Framework Agreement.)," Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan told the Mindanao Examiner.

The ARMM governors and top government officials, including members of the civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations and peace advocates are expected to attend the summit, according to Dr Amildasa Annil, of the Movement for Sustainable Good Governance. "This summit is important to all of us and we want the people to understand the peace process and the Framework Agreement, and other issues pertaining to peace, our future and Mindanao in whole," he said in a separate interview. Manila and the MILF continue peace talks in Malaysia - which is brokering the negotiations - and are now centered on power and wealth sharing among other issues.

MILF: Murad, Misuari invited to Sulu peace forum

From the MLF Website (Dec 3): Murad, Misuari invited to Sulu peace forum

MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and MNLF chairman Nur Misuari are both invited to peace forum sponsored by the Sulu Provincial Government on December 4. The letter was sent on November 28 and was signed by Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan. In his letter, Governor Tan said the Provincial Government rejoiced to inform both Chairmen regarding the conduct of a regional Forum on the Framework Agreement in Sulu, which will be graced by elected and other Muslim leaders of the core territories of the Bangsamoro including MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.

He stressed that he took the liberty to host the event as a testimony of his tremendous support for the peace process and goodwill in insuring the resounding success of the plans, programs and policies that will flow from the Framework Agreement your Front brokered for our people and our homeland. He expressed appreciation if the two leaders could make confirmation of their presence early and convey the assurances of their willingness to graciously comply with any concern in order to insure the honor of your reassuring presence at the said forum as our distinguish observer and special guest for which we shall forever be thankful to you and the Front.

However, as this developed Murad is still outside of the country and his going to Sulu for the forum is most unlikely. After his attendance in the Conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Djibouti last month, Murad was also invited to the grace the general assembly of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in Kuala Lumpur last November 28. However, a source in the MILF Central Committee, who requested anonymity, told Luwaran that the MILF leader is sending a five-man delegation, composed of high-level personalities in the Front’s political and military organs.

On the other hand, Nur Misuari, who attended the World Peace Forum sponsored by Muhammadiyah last November 23-25, has not yet said he is attending the Sulu peace forum. The MILF also sent a three-man delegation to that peace forum in Bogor, Indonesia.