Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Framework Agreement not perfect but ‘best alternative’ – MILF

From MindaNews (Dec 5): Framework Agreement not perfect but ‘best alternative’ – MILF

DAVAO CITY - Although it is not a perfect document, the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) is “the best alternative” for the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to agree that there must be a lasting peace in Mindanao, MILF’s Jun Mantawil said in a forum held here Monday afternoon. Mantawil, who heads the MILF panel secretariat, said everyone must support the FAB, which according to him is a “document of peace.” He cited that among its challenges is the concern on power sharing, “that should be clearly defined” in one of the annexes of the peace pact. “We just hope that we will have a genuine autonomy with the FAB,” Mantawil said, noting that the Bangsamoro should have an economic autonomy. He also mentioned that they don’t want to create a minority or majority in the Bangsamoro, but one nation.

Lawyer Raissa Jajurie, of the MILF peace panel’s board of consultants, also said at the forum that the FAB has yet to be filled with more substances by the Transition Commission (TransCom), which shall be created through an Executive Order. The challenges with the TransCom, she continued, are “who will compose it” and “what will its dynamics be,” wondering if it would still be a negotiation like what the two panels are doing. Jajurie noted that although the basic law that will govern the Bangsamoro by 2016 will be drafted by the TransCom based on the final comprehensive agreement, the exact composition of Congress by the time is yet to be known. She added that if the draft basic law would be submitted to Congress during the May 2013 elections, there may be a different dynamics between the executive and legislative branches of the Philippine government. The FAB states that the basic law shall be certified as an urgent bill by the President and ratified by the qualified voters within its territory. Jajurie said her appeal is for people to “suspend a little disbelief” and put more hope in the peace process, otherwise “it will never take off.”

The forum was initiated by the Bishops-Ulama Conference as a part of the activities for this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace. For the part of the government, lawyer Chito Gascon, undersecretary of the Office of Political Affairs, explained the FAB earlier in the forum. In the morning, Gascon discussed the FAB with the members of the Davao Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in a special meeting here. The RPOC chair, Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, said that Region 11 is committed to support the President on the FAB towards the realization of a lasting peace. “We would like to be helpful to them in trying to be able to espouse the framework here in our region by way of clarifying certain issues with the members of the panel,” he told reporters after the closed door meeting. In the meeting, he said there was an open forum and dialogue with the local government units of the region, together with the military, police, and other members of the RPOC....


Sulu, ARMM throw support behind Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, draft peace talks inputs

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 4): Sulu, ARMM throw support behind Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, draft peace talks inputs

Sulu province on Tuesday ended a two-day Mindanao Leaders' Summit and passed a 15-point resolution supporting the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The resolution elaborated various inputs from the summit attended by some 3,000 people in the town of Patikul. Mayors from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao were also in the summit. A small of group of American soldiers were also spotted in the summit and taking down notes and video of the event. Among those contained in the resolution are proposals on how to effectively run the Bangsamoro region, which would replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan organized the summit which was attended by other ARMM governors - Sadikul Sahali, of Tawi-Tawi; Jum Akbar of Basilan; Esmael Mangudadatu, of Maguindanao and a representative of Mamintal Adiong, of Lanao del Sur. Former Muslim rebel Nur Misuari, of the Moro National Liberation Front, and other government officials headed by Undersecretary Nabil Tan, of the Office of the Executive Secretary; and Edilwasif Baddiri, of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and Jose Lorena, of the government peace panel negotiating with the MILF, also attended the summit. The MILF also sent its representative Toks Ibrahim, and also the Catholic Church which was represented by Bishop Angelito Lampon, of the Vicariate of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; and Sheik Abdulmuin Mujahid, of the Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi Ulama.

The summit tackled the Mindanao peace process and the Framework Agreement signed in October. It paves the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro and that a referendum would also be held in other provinces where there are large Muslim communities to ask whether residents want 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 Manila Times.

Dr Amildasa Annil, of the Movement for Sustainable Good Governance, said: "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." Tan said a similar forum would also be held in Maguindanao by January, and probably in Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Tawi-Tawi provinces to gather inputs and submit them to the government which would then be discussed in the peace talks. 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.

Governors of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – Sakur Tan, of Sulu; Sadikul Sahali, of Tawi-Tawi; Jum Akbar of Basilan; Esmael Mangudadatu, of Maguindanao and a representative of Mamintal Adiong, of Lanao del Sur – show the 15-point resolution signed during the two-day Mindanao Leaders’ Summit held in Sulu province on Dec. 4, 2012. (MindanaoExaminer Photo)

MILF holds forum on Bangsamoro framework accord in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 4): MILF holds forum on Bangsamoro framework accord in Mindanao

Hundreds of Muslims have attended a forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in General Santos City in the southern Philippines. The forum, organized by the Rajah Buayan, (the city’s old name) City Political Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as part of its information campaign. Professor Raby Ankal spoke about the highlights of the agreement which was signed in October between the MILF and the Aquino government. Ankal said the agreement will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro that would replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao comprising of the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao; and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.


Philippine Army claims killing NPA rebels in North Cotabato offensives

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 4): Philippine Army claims killing NPA rebels in North Cotabato offensives

The Philippine Army said it killed a still undetermined number of communist rebels in a series of clashes in recent weeks in the southern province of North Cotabato. It said troops also seized 6 rebel bases of the New People’s Army in the town of Magpet following information provided by civilians. “Government forces are relentlessly pursuing the NPAs to protect civilians from deception and intimidation. The people in Magpet have long been complaining of NPA atrocities from threats, extortion and coercion to support the underground movement,” Lt. Col. Noel dela Cruz, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said in a statement sent Tuesday to the Mindanao Examiner. “These are clear violations on human rights. Nobody should be forced to obey or to give food and money through fear and intimidation. The NPAs are now on the run following our capture of their major camps in Magpet,” he said.

Dela Cruz said the rebels are rapidly losing popular support from the people because of their atrocities. “We have been hitting them hard with the support and cooperation of people who have stood up against NPA atrocities,” he said. He urged the rebels to surrender peacefully and start a new life with their family. “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 of the government and lead normal lives with their families and loved ones,” he said. But Dela Cruz did not say anything about the killing of his soldier by the NPA on Monday. A rebel spokesperson Isabel Santiago said they killed an army soldier and wounded several more in fighting in Magpet that lasted almost an hour.


Commies kill army soldier in North Cotabato clash

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 4): Commies kill army soldier in North Cotabato clash
One government soldier was killed and several others wounded in a clash with communist rebels in the southern Philippines, a New People’s Army spokesperson said on Tuesday. Isabel Santiago said rebel forces clashed with members of the 57th Infantry Battalion in the village called Amabel in North Cotabato’s Magpet town on Monday. “After the hour-long battle, the AFP troops fled and left on the scene their medical supplies; later their casualties were met by four ambulance units in Amabel,” she said in a statement to the Mindanao Examiner.

She said the NPA offensive was in retaliation to the military abuses against civilians in the area. “It was meant to punish the 602nd Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army for its clearing operations that left a trail of abuses against the peasant masses since its operation started last November 15.” “The Army has intensified its already abusive operations to pave the way for the entry of Japanese investors Hitocho Group of Companies who are the new capitalists of the banana company, Dole Philippines,” she said. There was no immediate statement from the military about the NPA accusations. The rebels have been fighting for the establishment of a communist state in the country.


Soldier drowns, 20 others missing in ComVal

From ABS-CBN (Dec 4): Soldier drowns, 20 others missing in ComVal

A soldier drowned while 20 soldiers have gone missing in a flashflood in New Bataan, Compostela Valley on Tuesday, initial reports said. The fatality, identified only as a certain Sgt. Olivarez, died when flashflood struck a military temporary command post under the Charlie Company in New Bataan around 3 p.m. Olivarez and his yet-to-be-identified company commander were washed away by the flood, according to Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Olivarez's lifeless body was later recovered. The company commander was found alive but unconscious. At least 20 soldiers were swept away by the flashflood, report said. Navy Captain Severino Vicente David, deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, confirmed that one soldier died in the Compostela Valley flashflood.  "Isa pa lang po ang confirmed dead, hindi pa po nakakarating doon ang mga tao namin. Naglalakad lang po kasi sila dahil sa masamang panahon," he said.


AFP more disastrous than ‘Pablo’ — Bakwet

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 5): AFP more disastrous than ‘Pablo’ — Bakwet

Close to a thousand bakwet joined the second day of Lakbayan ng Mamamayan Para sa Karapatan (People’s March for Human Rights) spearheaded by the human rights group Karapatan in the Southern Tagalog Region. Bakwet became a popular term in the Philippines for people who leave their communities due to natural calamities, but now, instead of fleeing from the gusts of tropical storm “Pablo,” the bakwet claim their homes have been long before destroyed due to militarization in the countryside. “We no longer have what one can call as physical homes, we have seen with our own eyes the military’s heartless hamletting. It is here, in solidarity with each other, we find our true homes,” Pedro “Tata Pido” Gonzales, the spokesman of the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement (SPBM), said. Families and supporters of victims from the provinces of Cavite, Batangas and Laguna also joined the evacuees.

Tata Pido narrated how the evacuees, mostly from Quezon, brought in the protest march what’s left of their communities, such as baskets, farm tools and even farm animals. “We have long mistrusted the government’s true intentions, who else can we count on but ourselves?” he added. Particularly in South Quezon in Bondoc Peninsula, families have been evacuating since 2001. This is already the third time that they will leave their community due to military intimidation and use of force now perpetuated by eight combat battalions of the Philippines Army and other paramilitary groups. There are 216 victims of human rights violations already documented in the area. Forty of them are women and 26 are children or minors while cases of threats and harassment already numbered about 2,000. The use and encampment of security forces in homes and public places already affected at least 3,000 residents.

Yesterday, the protesters kicked off the Lakbayan in front of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) in Lucena City, where instead of listening to their demands, the military played loud disco music. Glen Malabanan, secretary general of Karapatan — ST expressed similar sentiments with Editha Burgos, mother of desaparecido Jonas, who was dismayed with the appointment of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Ano, a suspect linked to her son’s abduction. “This government is no different from its predecessors, they are not only deaf to the calls of human rights victims, but altogether give more medals to the ones accountable for these abuses,” she stressed.

The militants marked the streets in front of the Solcom with a “bloody trail” depicting the worsening cases of human-rights violations under the Aquino administration that now rose to 114 cases of extrajudicial killings, 12 enforced disappearances, 224 illegal arrests and detention and many others. On its second day today, the Lakbayan is set to take-off from Quezon province and will reach San Pablo and Calamba in Laguna were more supporters are expected to participate.


Trooper killed in Basilan

From Malaya (Dec 4): Trooper killed in Basilan

A SOLDIER was killed Monday in an explosion caused by a cellphone-triggered bomb in Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan, the military said yesterday. The bomb was detonated as troops from the 3rd Scout Ranger Company were conducting foot patrol in Cabangalan village around 7:50 a.m., said Capt Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st infantry Division. Caber said authorities were still ascertaining the identities of the perpetrators. He said the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is a suspect but nothing is definite yet. Sulu is a known bailiwick of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. Caber named the fatality as Cpl. Mark Dandin Gomez.  Another soldier, Pfc. John Garde, was injured in the blast and was airlifted by an Air Force helicopter to a hospital in Camp Navarro, home of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, in Zamboanga City.


Soldiers Join Walk For Peace

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 3): Soldiers Join Walk For Peace

Security forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) participated on Sunday in the “Walk for Peace” as part of the weeklong celebration of the 2012 Mindanao Week of Peace. Army delegations in Butuan City, composed of personnel from 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, and the 15th Regional Community Defense Group – Caraga region, came from four staging areas and then converged for the final stretch of the walk to Guingona Park at the heart of the city. The large delegation of soldiers participating in the Walk for Peace were also joined by a big number of students and faculty members of the Caraga State University in Butuan City.Also showing their support for the activity were members of the Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), the Caraga Conference for Peace and Development (CCPD), the Muslim Communities in Caraga, and the Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities of different tribes in Caraga region.

Col. Ronald N. Albano, commanding officer of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade, gave his message during the program. “This activity wherein we have walked coming from different areas and ultimately met here in this park is very symbolic of the convergence of efforts that we are doing with all the stakeholders to uphold peace here in Mindanao,” he said. He added: “Let this activity be part of our lifestyle by putting its lesson in our hearts. We have seen Muslims, Lumads, and Christians here today united. Let this be a start in becoming One with God, One with Ourselves, and One with Our Brothers and Sisters.”....


Mindanao tribal folk seek justice in Manila

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 4): Mindanao tribal folk seek justice in Manila

Lumad leaders slit the neck of a rooster in a Banwaon ritual which means “to soften the heart,” in Manila Monday in an appeal for justice for extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations and large-scale mining in Mindanao. The Banwaon datu (prince) and bae (princess) were among more than 70 delegates from various Mindanao tribes who traveled to Manila on a 10-day quest for justice called “Manilakbayan ng Mindanao: A Journey in Defense of Land, the Environment and Human Rights.”  They will meet with Mindanao legislators, church and government officials, students and diplomats and hold protest actions to “bring the Mindanao peoples’ voices from the margins to the center.”  Among the Manilakbayan delegates are widows of victims of extrajudicial killings and indigenous peoples displaced by militarization and large-scale mining.

Gingging Anlagan, 29, from Agusan del Norte, told of how her family of three children had to flee their home three times last year because of military and mining operations. “(The relocations) disrupt the education and cultural growth of our children,” she said. In an emotional speech, indigenous leader and antimining activist Erita Capion Dialang said mining company Xstrata-SMI didn’t care about the welfare of the tribal people. Dialang is the sister Daguil Capion, who had declared a pangayaw (tribal war) against the mining company and whose pregnant wife Juvy and two children were killed in October reportedly by soldiers. “We are here because Manila needs to listen to the marginalized peoples of Mindanao,” said Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of Kalumaran, an alliance of indigenous tribes that headed the Manilakbayan together with Panalipdan Mindanao. “It is ironic that Mindanao is considered the food basket, the wellspring of many natural, mineral and aquatic resources, but it is also the most neglected in terms of services, as these resources are plundered by foreign multinational corporations in cahoots with the government,” Ogan said.

People’s organizations and human rights groups met up with the delegates Monday in a salubong at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, which was followed by a Mass at Quiapo Church, tribal dances, the beating of a gong to symbolize unity, the Banwaon ritual and a solidarity boodle lunch. The salubong opened a series of activities that will culminate in a protest rally at Mendiola near Malacañang to mark International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño said he hoped President Aquino would not dismiss the Manilakbayan as “mere propaganda like he did in New Zealand a few weeks back.” Casiño said that of the 32 documented extrajudicial killings in Mindanao since 2010, 24 were of Lumad leaders who were against mining. “The lives of Mindanaoans are being treated as mere collateral damage for gold, plantations, mega dams, coal-fired plants and other extractive industries which the Aquino administration itself is sponsoring,” he said.


Soldiers pledge to end torture

From the Philippine  Star (Dec 4): Soldiers pledge to end torture

Soldiers on Tuesday pledged to end torture, cruelty and other degrading punishment in a parade aimed at promoting awareness about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The event was held at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Quadrangle in Quezon City and coincided with the National Human Rights Consciousness Week, which started Tuesday and will end on Dec. 10. During the parade, soldiers led by Armed Forces Human Rights Office chief Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. recited Article 5 of the UDHR, which bans the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The soldiers from different major services were joined by representatives from the CHR and the Department of Justice.

“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,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa said in a statement. “We hope that through active participation with other stakeholders and civil society organizations, our efforts to advocate human rights will continue to bear fruit,” he added.
The military has been accused by activists of using torture to get confessions from suspected communist rebels. Security officials, however, deny this, saying they always uphold human rights in all their operations. The pledge against torture was held after the bike run and fun run held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. About 2,000 representatives from the military, police, civilian agencies and civil society groups joined the said activities.....

Support for Bangsamoro pact gains ground

From the Philippine Star (Dec 4): Support for Bangsamoro pact gains ground

Various activities meant to push the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) forward are being held in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the support of organizations and communities. Leaders from across the autonomous region, officials of the regional police and the military and incumbent local executives held Tuesday the first ever regional FAB consultation in the restive Sulu province, a stronghold of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). “I’m overwhelmed with the very positive turnout of this activity. Representatives of the local communities came to attend, including those representing our fisherfolks, the business, the religious and agriculture sectors,” Sulu governor Abdusakur M. Tan told reporters in a text message.

Even Nur Misuari, founder of the MNLF, attended the consultation and sat near Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose province is a bastion of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Mangudadatu said he is grateful to Tan for having invited him to grace the event, which was preceded by last week’s series of FAB consultations in different parts of Maguindanao. The MILF’s main stronghold in Southern Philippines, Camp Darapanan, is located in Magundanao’s Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of the province. “It’s nice to see activities of this nature spread in the ARMM like a typhoon or a tsunami, bringing not devastation, but peace and harmony among our people, Muslims and Christians alike,” Mangudadatu said. The dialogue was held at the Sulu provincial gymnasium near downtown Jolo.

The news and information coordinator of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, Sylvia Calderon, said Governors Jum Akbar of Basilan and Sadikul Sahali of Tawi-Tawi; Jolo’s catholic vicar, Bishop Lito Lampon of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) congregation; and the grand mufti (cleric) in the province, Shariff Julasiri Abirin, also joined in the dialogue.


The event was capped with the signing of a covenant by representatives of the five ARMM provinces --- Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan Sulu and Tawi-Tawi --- where signatories stated their support to the FAB and President Aquino’s on-going Mindanao peace efforts. Participants also adopted resolutions calling on the MNLF to extend support to the Mindanao peace process to ensure the sustainability of Malacañang’s effort to foster lasting peace and sustainable in the autonomous region. Another resolution called on Malacañang and the MILF to allow the participation of representatives from the local governments in the provinces of the autonomous region and its two component cities, Lamitan and Marawi, in the transition commission that will oversee ARMM’s replacement with a new political entity, based on the FAB. Tan said the FAB dialogue he organized was also meant to unite LGU officials in Sulu to “a common position” to support the FAB. Calderon said religious leaders from the Zamboanga peninsula and the Davao provinces also attended the consultation. Preceding the event in Sulu was a series of FAB consultations in Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, and Maguindanao, participated extensively by local officials and representatives from local sectors and MILF officials.

Snowball effect

Activities to educate the public and raise their awareness about FAB have snowballed in many areas in Mindanao. The oldest radio outfits in Mindanao that are owned by the OMI’s Notre Dame Broadcasting Corp. have been airing daily appeals for support to the FAB and the on-going GPH-MILF peace talks. Students of Central Mindanao’s biggest Catholic school, the Notre Dame University (NDU) here, which is also owned by the OMI, have started converting into murals the walls encircling their 24-hectare campus, showing images depicting solidarity of Muslims and Christians in addressing domestic security concerns. The NDU pioneered “peace education” in the early 1980s, which is focused on the propagation of Muslim-Christian unity and the values of interfaith dialogues in promoting political stability and socio-economic growth in Southern Philippines.  Even members of various press clubs in Central Mindanao, many of them trained on “peace journalism” by different peace advocacy outfits in the country and abroad, signed last week a manifesto committing help in disseminating the importance of the October 15 framework deal.

EU continues to be concerned with extra-judicial killings in the Philippines

From InterAksyon (Dec 4): EU continues to be concerned with extra-judicial killings in the Philippines

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux (left) says the Philippines' human rights situation has improved but the EU continues to be concerned about extra-judicial killings. (Veronica Uy, InterAksyon.com)

The European Union continued to express concern over extra-judicial killings in the Philippines despite recognizing improvements in the country’s human rights situation. EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux made this assessment at the “Protecting Victims of Human Rights Violations” forum of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines on Tuesday.

During his remarks, the ambassador cited the murder of Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio, who was gunned down while leaving his parish in Arakan, North Cotabato on October 17, 2011. Tentorio, whose murder reverberated worlwide, prompting even Pope Benedict XVI to send his condolences, was believed to have been killed by a local militia group reportedly under military control for his fierce defense of tribal rights and opposition to mining in the area. “Although the murderer has been arrested by the police, to my knowledge, no significant progress has been made regarding the identification of the mastermind of this murder. The issue of extra-judicial killings remains a concern,” he said.

The ambassador said he hopes that the superbody created by President Benigno Aquino III two weeks ago—the Inter-agency Committee on Extra-Judicial Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture, and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty, and Security of Persons—will result in the conviction of the masterminds in past and current EJK cases.....


44 dead in Compostela Valley town

From Rappler (Dec 4): 44 dead in Compostela Valley town

A total of 43 people died and 25 were injured after Typhoon Pablo struck New Bataan, a town in Compostela Valley, an army official said Tuesday night, December 4. Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza confirmed that the tragedy occured in Barangay Andap, where the landfall of the typhoon triggered a landslide. The 44 fatalities include a sargeant previously counted as dead in the same town were 20 people were earlier missing and an army truck carrying 30 soldiers and 20 civilians was swept away by a flashflood this morning.

New Bataan was severly hit by "Pablo," and the rescue teams were struggling to reach the town as the road was impassable due to landslides caused by the heavy rain. AFP (Agence France Presse) news agency quoted a province-based reporter of ABS-CBN, Vina Araneta, as saying: "I've counted 43 bodies on the floor." The reporter said the town mayor, Lorenzo Balbin, told her many of the dead had come from a nearby village where flash floods swept away a Philippine Army patrol base. Balbin was not answering his mobile phone when contacted by AFP.

New Bataan has a population of about 45,000, mostly farmers who till banana plantations in the area.
Arturo Uy, the governor of Compostela Valley province, which includes New Bataan, said local officials had told him earlier in the day that there were 34 people dead there. "It's possible they have found more bodies," Uy told ABS-CBN by telephone. Uy said earlier that an army truck in New Bataan had been washed away with soldiers and civilians on board.

The Compostela Valley provincial capitol building in Nabunturan, built only a few years ago, is now almost destroyed after "Pablo" broke its roof and glass windows, and flooded the structure until the 3rd floor. We reported earlier that 3 also died in the town of Compostela, Compostela Valley, on top of the 6 dead reported earlier by rescue officials. This brings to 50 the total number of dead people in the aftermath of "Pablo," the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. "Pablo" has also forced over 56,000 people to flee their houses and affected a total of about 60,000 in the Visayas and Mindanao.


US Embassy to hold Mindanaw Youth 4 Human Rights Camp

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 4): US Embassy to hold Mindanaw Youth 4 Human Rights Camp

The United States Embassy in partnership with the ACCESS Philippine Youth Leadership Program (PYLP) Alumni Association will be holding a three-day Mindanaw Youth 4 Human Rights Camp at Camp Siongco, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. The activity which will start on Thursday will bring together 50 young leaders ages 18-21 from the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao who have shown outstanding involvement in community service and leadership skills.  The camp is aimed at equipping the youth with knowledge on the principles of human rights.

Camp Head Convenor Victoria Bat-og said the participants were chosen through an official nomination from the group or an institution where they belong. Bat-og added that youth leaders who were beneficiaries of any US Embassy-sponsored local internship and exchange program abroad are not qualified. There will be an outreach event where a tree planting activity will be done in Demapatoy watershed area.Further, the camp will not only cater lectures on different issues about human rights but will also conduct a teambuilding activity to test the capabilities and attitudes of the participants as they work as a team. Speakers for the event are from the US embassy and ACCESS PYLP alumni.

ACCESS PYLP is a project of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of the US Department of State which brings to Northern Illinois University, Illinois, U.S.A youth leaders in Mindanao for an intensive four-week exchange program focusing on civic education. leadership, respect for diversity and community engagement. On the other hand, it is expected that through this, youth leaders will learn how to fight and promote human rights in their respective communities. The Mindanaw Youth 4 Human Rights Camp is one of the US Embassy’s initiatives in empowering the youth of Mindanao.


Military officials issue statements on insurgency issues in EV

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 4): Military officials issue statements on insurgency issues in EV

Two top officials of the Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas released statements on the state of the insurgency situation in the region. Col. Rafael Valencia, commanding officer of the 802nd Brigade, PA, said that the provinces of Biliran, Leyte, and southern Leyte are now clear of insurgency while admitting that the military has still to work on making Samar Island, composed of Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar provinces, completely rid of insurgency. The military officer said that the military way of attaining the goal of peace is not through armed warfare with the rebels but involves the help of stakeholders namely the local government units (LGUs), community, and the non-government organizations through dialogues and other effective approaches. He said that explaining the good purpose and programs of government is the most successful and effective approach towards reaching the aim of peace with the rebels.

Meanwhile, Col. Rolando Malinao, commander of the 803rd Infantry Brigade covering Northern Samar province, some parts of Samar and Masbate areas, affirmed the military’s readiness to defend Northern Samar’s Congressman Raul Daza and Governor Paul Daza amid the series of threats the two officials have been getting from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas. The military officer said the Army has a mandate to protect all citizens in their areas of responsibility since it is their constitutional rights to be provided equal protection by the military regardless of status or political leanings.


902rd IB, PA has new Commanding Officer

From the Philippine Information Agency in Tagalog (Dec 4): 903rd IB, PA may bagong Commanding Officer (902rd IB, PA has new Commanding Officer)

[My rusty Tagalog translation follows]

Pormal nang nanungkulan ang bagong Commanding Officer ng 903rd Infantry Brigade (Inf Bgde), 9th Infantry Division (9ID), Philippine Army (PA) matapos ang turn over of command mula sa pamumuno ni Col. Felix Castro Jr. noong Nobyembre 26 sa Brgy. Poblacion, Castilla, Sorsogon.

(A new Commanding Officer of the 903rd Infantry Brigade (Inf Bgde), 9th Infantry Division (9ID), Philippine Army (PA) formally took over from Col. Felix Castro Jr. following the turn over of command held on November 26 in Brgy. Poblacion, Castilla, Sorsogon.)

Si Col. Joselito E. Kakilala, ang bago na ngayong Commanding Officer ng 903rd Inf Bgde na nagsilbing commander ng Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Task Force GenSan na nakabase sa General Santos City bago siya tuluyang nalipat ng Sorsogon. Kasapi siya ng Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Maharlika” Class na nagtapos noong 1984.

(Col. Joselito E. Kakilala, now the new 903rd Inf Bde Commanding Officer served as commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Task Force GenSan based in General Santos City before he eventually moved to Sorsogon. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "Maharlika" Class that graduated in 1984.)

Pinalitan ni Col. Kakilala si Col. Castro na kasapi naman ng PMA “Dimalupig” Class 1981 na siya na ngayong Assistant Division Commander ng 9ID ng Philippine Army sa Pili, Camarines Sur kapalit ni Brigadier General Aurelio B. Baladad......

(....Col. Castro is a member of the PMA "Dimalupig" Class of 1981 and is now the Assistant Division Commander  of the 9th ID in Pili, Camarines Sur replacing Brigadier General Aurelio  Baladad.....)


501 IB assures support to LGUs, communities

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 4): 501 IB assures support to LGUs, communities

ABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The military here gave the assurance that it will support the local government units, government agencies and communities. Col. Roger Salvador, Commanding Officer of the 501st Infantry Brigade, said the dual role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) includes non-combative operations. This means helping the whole government deliver public service to all citizens especially the farthest barangays in the province infiltrated by the New Peoples Army (NPA) as contained in the Internal Peace and Security Plan or 'bayanihan" .  “We desire for an end state where governance is felt in all rural barangays; improved delivery of basic services by LGUs and NLAs; projects and programs being supported by stakeholders; and degrade armed threat to the level of local law enforcement,” Salvador said during the recent fellowship with media at their camp in Calanan, this city.

Under the bayanihan, Salvador said they have conducted information drive on livelihood, hygiene, and family planning; fixed or installed potable water source; provided medical and dental treatment; helped teachers and acted as teachers for the adult literacy program, and donated blood. They also support school sports program, assist the barangay council in settling disputes, conduct clean-up drives and tree planting activities; strengthen barangay tanod; assist in monitoring price of prime commodities; support anti-crime and anti-drug campaign; repair and maintain farm-to-market roads; facilitate needs of communities to reach concerned agencies; conduct youth leadership symposium; assist in preparing barangay project proposals and help in disaster preparedness and emergencies.

Salvador said they also 'expose corruption at the expense of our people'; seek solutions on malnutrition and illiteracy and empower people against intimidation from criminal groups. On anti-illegal drugs campaign, the 501st brigade reported it uprooted 30 marijuana plants at sitio Agub, Taggay, Pinukpuk and confiscated around 1,000 board feet of white lawaan and acacia lumber.


AFP reaffirms commitment to Human Rights

From the Philippine Informaton Agency (Dec 4): AFP reaffirms commitment to Human Rights

In observance of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week (December 4-10, 2012), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reaffirmed its commitment to respect human rights. AFP chief General Jessie D. Dellosa in a statement said the Philippine government is taking concrete steps to address cases of human rights abuses and violations. “This affirms with the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan which is aimed for the synergy of efforts of all Filipino people in dealing with our country’s security and development concerns,” Dellosa said.

With this year’s theme “My Voice Counts in Ending Impunity: I work for human rights-based governance,” the Department of National Defense (DND) and AFP through its Human Rights Office (HRO), and in cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) prepared activities in line with the week-long celebration to heighten soldiers’ commitment and responsibilities as Human Rights Advocates.....


Iloilo host dialogue for community-based human rights

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Iloilo host dialogue for community-based human rights

Representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and members of the communities and civil society organizations gathered at the Grand Tower Hotel on Monday to discuss human rights promotion and protection. The two-day "community-based human rights dialogue" aimed to forge cooperative efforts for ongoing and future actions toward human rights promotion and protection. "With all military operations being guided by two equally important aspects, Adherence to Human Rights (HR), International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Rule of Law (ROL), and all stakeholders involved in the pursuit of internal peace and security, our all out support on such dialogues shall continue", said Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, Jr., 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division Commander.

Supported by German Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF) and the Benigno S. Aquino Foundation, the project's implementation was also spearheaded by the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office and the AFP Human Rights Office. Representing HSF was members of the Participatory Research Organization of Communities and Education Towards Struggle for Self-Reliance-Panay (PROCESS-Panay). Mabanta reiterated its call for a dialogue on Indigenous People's rights advocate groups such as BAYAN-Panay, KARAPATAN-Panay, and Cynthia Deduro, executive director of (DAGSAW) Panay-Guimaras Indigenous People’s Network and MIGRANTE International West Visayas.

More than 15 officers and non-commisioned officers from the AFP and PNP joined the dialogue session. Meanwhile, during the same occasion, Col. Thyne Banas, former operations chief of 3ID was awarded a plaque of appreciation for his active participation and collaboration as member of the Region 6 Steering Committee on Community- Based dialogue on the protection and promotion of human rights.


Gov’t soldiers in Bicol renew human rights vow

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Gov’t soldiers in Bicol renew human rights vow

Following the singing of the national anthem for Monday’s flag-raising ceremony, soldiers of the Philippine Army’s (PA) 9th Infantry (Spear) Division (9ID) based here recited en masse the “Panunumpa sa Karapatang Pantao”. The ceremony marked for this military camp and for the entire PA organization in Bicol the opening of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week this year and the renewal of the soldiers’ commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. “We are here today to show our support to the observance of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week in order for our voices to be heard and be counted,” Major General Romeo Calizo, the Division commander told the soldiers during a short program following the ceremony. In this year’s theme: “My voice counts in ending impunity: I work for Human Rights based governance,” Calizo said the Army banks on combined efforts with its partner agencies and organizations in working for freedom of the citizenry to live free from fear and subjugation. “We fight to provide our people freedom to pursue every endeavor within the bounds of existing laws and without trampling on the rights of others,” he said.

Army’s 9ID is guided by the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” adherence to Human Rights-International Humanitarian Law-Rule of Law (HR-IHL-ROL) as an important strategic imperative, Calizo stressed. This ensures that the multi-stakeholder approach and paradigm shift to a people-centered approach be fully integrated in 9ID’s operations. “We are prepared to continue playing our part in the Philippine government’s goals of safeguarding the ‘life, liberty and property’ of the Bicolanos,” he said adding that the communist-New People’s Army (NPA) remains a threat in Bicol’s peace and order and internal security. In the guise of fighting for a “people-oriented” ideology, the NPA wreaks havoc in the society and violates the people’s rights in the process, Calizo said. The PA Division, according to Col Felix J Castro Jr., the assistant division commander and human rights officer is further developing its ranks as protectors of HR-IHL-ROL to gain the respect of the Bicolanos. 9ID is the center of command of all PA units composed of at least seven battalions comprising three infantry brigades operating in the region.


Malacanang defends Framework Agreement with MILF

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Malacanang defends Framework Agreement with MILF

Malacanang is bullish the Framework Agreement signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will pass constitutional scrutiny. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a press briefing Tuesday, said when the Framework Agreement was about to be signed by the former chair of the government peace panel, now Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, "the Framework Agreement was crafted with the Supreme Court decision on the MOA-AD (memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain) in mind."

Lawyer Elly Pamatong, a nuisance candidate in 2004 presidential polls, has a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the government’s Bangsamoro Framework Agreement with the MILF. Pamatong, however, admitted in his pleadings even before the GPH and the MILF could come up with the annexes of the Framework Agreement and make it final. He said the government peace panel allegedly committed grave abuse of discretion, saying the Constitution only provides for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the creation of a "Bangsamoro" is nowhere cited. Pamatong claimed that the government peace panel, as a result, "has usurped the power of Congress to enact, amend or repeal laws vested on it by the Constitution." He said this is similar to the Bangsamoro juridical entity that was intended to be formed during the Arroyo administration but was struck down by the Supreme Court. By replacing the ARMM with Bangsamoro, Pamatong said, the government peace panel "acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction."

On the other hand, Valte stressed the government peace panel "was very mindful of what had happened in the past, and that every step they took was mindful of the mistakes of the past." "We are confident that it (Framework Agreement) will pass constitutional scrutiny," she said.


CPP/NPA: NPA thwarts fascist Army brigade-wide clearing operation for Japanese banana firm in Magpet

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 4): NPA thwarts fascist Army brigade-wide clearing operation for Japanese banana firm in Magpet

Isabel Santiago
NPA Southern Mindanao (Herminio Alfonso Command (Front 53)

The Guerilla Front 53 Herminio Alfonso Operations Command staved off a platoon of the 57th Infantry Battalion in a counter-defensive ambush that killed one fascist troop and wounded several others, December 3, 11:40 am at Mt. Makaindos, Brgy. Amabel, Magpet, North Cotabato. After the hour-long battle, the AFP troops fled and left on the scene their medical supplies; later their casualties were met by four ambulance units at Brgy. Amabel. It was the second counter-defensive NPA action after its November 26 encounter with members of the 10th Special Forces Company (SFC)-Philippine Army. Three AFP troops were killed and six others wounded in that earlier battle which lasted for about 30 minutes at 9:30 in the morning, contrary to the military’s propaganda of no reported casualties.

The sustained NPA tactical offensives in Magpet was meant to punish the 602nd Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division-Philippine Army for its clearing operations that left a trail of abuses against the peasant masses since its operation started last November 15. The Army has intensified its already abusive operations to pave the way for the entry of Japanese investors Hitocho Group of Companies who are the new capitalists of the banana company, Dole Philippines. The military has waved its baton of terror, as it plays escort to protect the aggressive expansion of banana plantation in the area. Using resources and taxpayers money under the auspices of Oplan Bayanihan, and funds siphoned from Japanese capitalists, the 602nd Brigade-6th ID bares its fascist fangs, displays its deceptive “peace and development” camouflage, and makes hinterland villages virtual garrisons of controlled population.

The NPA is determined to thwart every military attack, punish the butchers and criminals in the 6th ID and defend the masses.The 57th IB and the 10th SFC troops are hated by the masses in North Cotabato. The 57th IB Civil Military Operation Battallion Company victimized the masses, detained and tortured a civilian before he was released; in Brgy. Salingsing, they stole chickens, used up the wood saplings, threw away rice, made peasant leaders to wait under the heat of the sun, and in sitio Lubas, Brgy. Amabel, threatened the peasants by saying the latter would be massacred if the military gets hit by the NPAs. This is the same military unit that has used children as guides for its counter-revolutionary operations. Both the 57th IB and the 10th SFC were the same military units responsible for the brutal killing of civilians Ramon Batoy and Italian missionary Fr. Pops Tentorio in October last year in North Cotabato.


CPP/NPA: On the 10th ID-Phil Army's Alsa Lumad Campaign

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 3): On the 10th ID-Phil Army's Alsa Lumad Campaign

Simon Santiago
Political Director
NPA Southern Mindanao (Merardo Arce Command)

The 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command AFP has instigated Matigsalog tribal chieftains Datu Balaw Esdang and Datu Trecio in a blatant attempt to resurrect the notorious paramilitary Alsa Lumad in Paquibato and Marilog districts, Davao City. Both Datus peddled the outrageous lie that they were harassed, threatened to be killed by Ka Parago and the New People’s Army’s 1st Pulang Bagani Company, thus forcing them to flee from sitio Alon and Km 23 in Brgy. Malabog in Paquibato district. There is no truth, not an iota of reality in these ridiculous pronouncements. The Matigsalog tribe in Malabog are fully aware of the 10th ID’s fascist military operations and the reactionary government’s apparent neglect in the face of extreme poverty, oppression and hunger. The tribe has also not forgotten how its members suffered when they were coerced to rise up against the NPA during the time of Task Force Davao chief B/Gen. Eduardo Del Rosario and opportunist Lumad leader Datu Ruben Labawan. Today, Matigsalog Lumads in Malabog are victims of discrimination and deprivation of the essential means for livelihood. They were deprived of precious help when their farms were hit with rat infestation; they are now prevented from going to their farms as soldiers have encamped in their villages. In times when soldiers consent to their movement, Lumads are told to return home by 3 pm. The datus in Alon,Malabog were also victims of food blockade, as their foodstuffs are held and confiscated at the military’s checkpoint. Even Datu Balaw Esdang himself was a victim of this food blockade when his one sack of rice that was intended for the sitio foundation day was confiscated by the military.

The 69th IB soldiers have forcibly recruited Lumads to become Alamara or Blackfighter bandits; to refuse the military would automatically make them enemies or supporters of the New People’s Army. The notorious Lumad bandit Nonoy Dagsil thrice went to Datu Balaw Esdang and Datu Trecio to force them to rise up against the NPA. This, even though Datu Balaw Esdang himself and his family was a victim of the military’s atrocity. His brother Ramirez Esdang, a hemp farmer but suspected as an NPA, was mercilessly shot to death by the 69th IB soldiers. The Esdang family was only able to get Ramirez’ decomposing body three days after the cold-blooded murder, through the help of the NPA. The Matigsalog tribe in km 23 and Alon is aware of how the NPA fairly treats them, knows the NPA’s sincerity in defending the ancestral domain and in fighting against landgrabbing of big mining companies. Ka Parago and the NPA have given conditional pardon towards leaders of Alsa Lumad who were forcibly recruited to Alamara by Gen. del Rosario. The NPA has also led various social services in the area to provide immediate relief to the hunger and poverty of the people. Ka Parago and 1st Pulang Bagani Company of the NPA have ensured that Red fighters are not encamped among the communities so as not to imperil the lives of civilians.

Contrary to the manufactured script of the 10th ID AFP that the NPA is driving away Lumads in Malabog, Ka Parago and the NPA serve the people sincerely. The false notions peddled by the 10th ID are meant to conceal the banditry and abusive counter-revolutionary operations of the military. The 10th ID is using the treacherous, bandit and fugitive criminal Nonoy Dagsil, a notorious Alamara warrior who had no qualms in killing members of his own tribe in the name of counter-revolution. He was responsible for the massacre of Bughaw family in brgy Lumiad, Paquibato and in Brgy Mapula in the 1980s; massacre of Filemon family and that of Trining Quirante in 2005, the murder of one Pecio Beron in Brgy. Mapula, and that of other crimes involving Lumads. Thus, the warmongering among Lumads can only come from the warmongers themselves, the military and with the use of able Lumad agents like Nonoy Dagsil. It is apparent that the wrong and deceitful accusations against Ka Parago and the NPA, ultimately serves the objective of the 10th ID, and that it is to justify its intensive military operations, and warrant its continued encampment and the stay of its detachments in civilian villages despite widespread people’s opposition. The military operation is part of the Investment Defense Force of the AFP, an apparatus that protects the entry of mining firms like MRC Allied which plans to operate gold and copper extraction in some 8,475 hectares in Paquibato and Marilog districts.

Davao city mayor and 22nd Ready Reserve Infantry Division 1st battallion commander Lt. Col. Sara Duterte is a staunch champion of military detachments among civilian communities, an indication of her militarist character. When the Matigsalog tribe went to the city to ask for assistance after they were badly hit by rat infestation, the mayor dismissed them because they were allegedly not affected by the calamity. When the Lumads deplored their economic difficulties, the mayor told them to go to the 10th ID-Phil. Army. Sara Duterte’s support to military detachments cover-up the blatant neglect of the local reactionary government towards the Lumad Matigsalogs. Just like the 10th ID, Sara Duterte has coddled fascists and kept under her payroll in the bureaucracy the likes of Ruben Labawan, an organizer of armed paramilitary Lumads in the Bahani Long Range Platoon and Lumad special operations group that were responsible for the spate of human rights abuses. The Lumad Matigsalogs are suffering from extreme penury, hunger, lack of basic services like doctors for their hospital and farm to market roads. The Lumads are certainly not suffering from the presence of NPAs in their area. Schoolchildren can barely finish their daily studies because of hunger; they had to help in alleviating their family’s dire condition. Thus, the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command refutes the false accusations against Ka Parago and the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Company because it is serious and committed in serving the people and defending the ancestral lands of the Matigsalog tribe in Malabog, Paquibato district, Davao City.