Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MILF: MILF political committee conducts advocacy in Isabela City

From the MILF Website (Dec 6): MILF political committee conducts advocacy in Isabela City

The advocacy on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was held in Barrio Militar Barangay Menzi, Isabela City last December 1. The theme was:”Clear and In-depth Understanding on The Bangsamoro Framework Agreement through Advocacy”. The said advocacy was hosted by Lantawan District Chairman Abu Osama Almujahid and Haj Yasher M. Judja his Vice Chairman. More than 100 men and women attended the forum. The guests included YCC Chairman, the Vice Chairman and the CRA Director Atty. Ahmad Alamin who was tasked to elaborate and explain the meaning of the Framework Agreement and the road map. The attendees were mostly from municipal level down to the Barangay officials of the MILF political organs. Alamin explained that the FAB, in contrast to the 1996 Agreement, did not foreclose the Bangsamoro right to self-determination. “The FAB in essence has higher authority and fiscal autonomy given to the Bangsamoro government,” he emphasized.

The participants expressed deep appreciation for the effort to enable them to understand not only the literal meaning of the FAB but also its nuances. They were particularly happy to know the differences between the FAB and the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. MILF political leaders representing Yakan City and Basilan Province took turns to exhort the participants to cooperate with one another to support the ongoing GPH-MILF peace negotiation and the for the full implementation of the FAB. They also expressed gratitude to the leadership of the MILF and its peace panel for their unwavering and exemplary leadership in fighting for the common interest of the Bangsamoro people.....

MILF: BIAF 110th Base Command Holds Military Refresher Course Training and Peace Advocacy

From the MILF Website (Dec 6): BIAF 110th Base Command Holds Military Refresher Course Training and Peace Advocacy

Camp Othman bin Al Affan, Bangsamoro Homeland – The Bangamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) 110th Base Command under Jonar Mustapha successfully conducted a military refresher course for its two hundred seventy five (275) members last November 29, 2012. “The purpose of this training is for issuance of military certificate and name tag”, said one of the training instructors. “This is just a retraining because all have already undergone military trainings as early as 1995”, he continued. More than 2000 individuals mostly relatives of graduating BIAF members witnessed the occasion. BIAF Central Committee delegations headed by Deputy Chief of Staff Sonny Davao, Thoks Ibrahim, Ustadz Gandawali from the General Staff and GS Legal Adviser Atty. Padido Pigkaulan were also present during the culmination of the activity. Peace Advocacy followed after the military drilling and formation had been completed.

During the program a welcome address was given by the barangay captain in the area who preferred to be unnamed. In his message, he thanked BIAF leadership for inviting him. He appealed to the leadership of the BIAF to help in the maintenance of peace and order in their barangay by curving out drug abuses and motorbike carjacking. He then warned his constituents to immediately cease from doing illegal acts. “The Mujahideens according to him can arrest anyone during operations right in their own households once they commit illegal activities.” So please do not wait for that time to come”, the barangay captain further said.

On his message, Base Commander Junar Mustapha urged all Mujahideens (BIAF Members) “to desist from engaging acts prohibited by Islam. As BIAF members you are role models. People are watching you, if anyone of you commits mistake it reflects the whole organization”. The 110th Base Command Military Discipline was emphasized. “The community must feel your services because our legitimate grievances and the entire Bangsamoro were the reasons why we exist” and why we struggle for self-determination and freedom.

Toks Ebrahim who explained the rationale of the assembly said, “The purpose of enlightening the people on the provisions of the Framework Agreement is to provide the people correct information so that they will not be misguided. Other sectors that undertake information disseminations pertaining to the framework agreement misguide the people and create confusions”. He reminded the audience especially the BIAF to be watchful and vigilant because some people are taking advantage of the situation. In the Zamboanga Peninsula there are people disguising as BIAF members who sell bio-data form worth 500.00 each allegedly intended as an instrument for applying as Bangsamoro Police”. “It is false because normalization is being discussed as part of the remaining agenda, he added”. “At this point BIAF members and the Bangsamoro should act properly and disciplined because the whole world is watching after the signing of the Framework Agreement.” “I am appealing to you BIAF members to refrain from wearing your official military uniform and carrying guns in public because it is improper neither advisable, he added”.

In his inspirational message, Deputy Chief of Staff Sonny Davao called upon all Bangsamoro tribes “to be united and rally behind the FAB. This is not solely for the tribes in the core and adjacent territories but for all Bangsamoro that includes the areas not covered by the Bangsamoro Government like Davao Region”. “The signing in Manila of the agreement on October 15, 2012 doesn’t mean that victory has been attained. It is just the beginning of a long journey. A lot of work has still to be done. We just finished the first step onwards to the remaining steps. All Bangsamoro must prepare both physically and mentally”, he stressed.

A discussion on the contents of the FAB content was facilitated by Atty. Padido Pigkaulan. “The Framework Agreement signed in Manila is the most democratic and acceptable approach made by Philippine government in dealing with Moro quest for self-determination. The Transition Commission and the Transition Authority are mechanisms that form part of the agreement to provide smooth transfer of power to future Bangsamoro Government”, he explained. “I urge you to help us explain to your non-Muslims and IP friends that under this agreement their rights would be protected, their religious practices would be respected and their political participation in the government would be assured.” Atty. Pigkaulan ended.

After the advocacy, the Mujahideens again made a formation. Shabs Campong of the GS Training Department handed over to the Mujahideens their certificate of training. The activity ended with a Mubaya’ah, an oath of allegiance while an ustadz (learned Muslim) read Qur’anic verses while the Mujahideens hold their hands together to seek Allah’s guidance for them to continue upholding the teachings of Islam and the principles of the MILF.

Police confirm bomb threats

From the Zamboanga Today (Dec 6): Police confirm bomb threats

Police received bomb threats from an unidentified group to stage bombing in Zamboanga City this December, officer in-charge (OIC) of Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) Sr. Supt. James Mejia confirmed on Monday. Mejia revealed to local media here that based on the information he received there was no specific group or target area where the group will carry out their plan. However, the local police chief said that there was a report over the weekend and oftentimes they received intelligence report on the threat of bombing but usually such information will always be withheld for publication. “Last December 2, we have received intelligence information on the threat,” said Mejia.

Last Monday, the operatives of Regional Public Safety Battalion 9 (RPSB9) collared two alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and a local barangay official in possession of explosive materials in separate operation in Pablo Lorenzo Street and police checkpoint in Mercedes. Mejia said that the explosive materials confiscated from the possession of Busay Barangay Chairman Ahmad Yusop y Kandun, 51, his nephew, Nur Kandun Nashali, of legal age, both of Busay, Sacol Island onboard the government vehicle with plate number SKK 857 still undetermined of the purpose.

The RPSB9, Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) recovered 50 pieces of improvised blasting caps, 11.5 inches commercial time fuse and 25 kilograms of explosive grade Ferrous Frill Ammonium Nitrate. “I just don’t know what was the purpose of acquiring the explosive,” Mejia said, “and if his reason was for blast fishing... as an official, he must know the laws.” Mejia disclosed that they are still determining the purpose of the explosives if there’s any connection with the prevailing threat.

Information showed that the police collard a certain Sulaiman Cuadra along P. Lorenzo Street prior to the arrest of Yusop and his nephew. The suspects were brought to the local police office for detention while a case of illegal possession of explosive materials was forwarded at the city prosecutor’s office against them.

Challenges beyond peace deal

From the Business World (Dec 5): Challenges beyond peace deal

Several challenges need to be hurdled beyond the signing of a peace plan even as both the government and Moro rebels embark on a crucial meeting this month to iron out differences on the key issues of wealth and power sharing, and the transition process. Addressing corruption, bad governance and security threats remains a huge challenge, said Laissa Alamia, regional director of the Commission on Human Rights in the autonomous Muslim region. She added that family feud, the displacement of war victims, and poverty are still perennial problems in Mindanao.

The call was made following a recent forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro wherein Johaira C. Wahab, the head of the government’s technical team who was involved in drafting the deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), challenged civic groups to take a proactive stand in the peace process. Issues on "transitional healing and reconciliation," trans-border mechanisms to protect the environment, and affirmative action for Muslim Filipinos residing outside of the future Bangsamoro region remain to be tackled in the peace talks. Government and Moro negotiators are expected to meet this month to finalize an agreement on three major points: wealth and power sharing, and normalization that includes the gradual laying down of arms by thousands of MILF fighters.
Long Road Ahead

The agreement, which will give birth to a new Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is expected to take a long process as it will entail the crafting of a basic law for the new region and afterwards to be presented in a plebiscite that will be held among residents in the new region. Ms. Wahab said the framework agreement and its eventual Basic Law will be a radical change from the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front in terms of power sharing. This time, she explained, the framework and the Basic Law will dwell more on principles rather than mere enumeration of rights and duties to make the Bangsamoro autonomy both workable and genuine.

For his part, Claretian priest Angel C. Calvo, president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), said the planned peace agreement could be the starting point as issues related to the Bangsamoro will affect all of Mindanao. The proposed Bangsamoro will group the five provinces of ARMM, namely, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and include other surrounding areas in Cotabato and Lanao del Norte, among others. PAZ, along with the Bishop-Ulama Conference, led the recent Mindanao Week of Peace that was anchored on the theme: "Journeying Towards Sustainable Peace in Mindanao."

PHL among top 10 countries that suffered most from terrorism in last decade

From GMANews (Dec 6): PHL among top 10 countries that suffered most from terrorism in last decade

The Philippines was among the top 10 countries most affected by terrorism over the past decade as global attacks increased markedly over the period, a US-based research firm said in a report. The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace measured direct and relative impact of terrorism in 158 countries in terms of actual incidents, and its effects on lives lost, injuries and property.

The Philippines placed 10th behind Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Thailand and Russia among countries that suffered the most from terrorism over the last decade, or in 2002-2011. Consequently, the same countries were also the top 10 nations where terrorism had the greatest impact last year. The GTI defines terrorism as "the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation."

In the Philippines, the GTI noted that businesses and the government were the likely targets for terrorists, with attacks coming mostly from "nationalist/separatist claims by people living in provinces in southern Philippines." "Terrorist acts are primarily carried out by the New People’s Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group. Although both communist and Islamic groups operate within those regions, their goals overlap significantly with both groups seeking increased autonomy," the report said. The highest number of deaths were recorded in 2003 at 212, while 120 were reportedly killed in 2011 alone. GTI noted that the worst incident was in February 2004 after the Abu Sayyaf group bombed a passenger ferry in Manila Bay an hour after it left the port. The attack killed 116 out of 899 passengers.

When asked whether the government sees an improvement of the situation in the coming years, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda quipped, "Don’t you think so?" Already, officials point to the framework agreement signed with the MILF as key to end the longstanding conflict in Mindanao. The agreement is the last step towards the official signing of a peace pact, that among others, will create a new political entity called Bangsamoro that will address flaws in the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. This optimism was shared globally, with the GTI noting that while attacks increased over the years, the global impact of terrorism has plateaued since 2007. "The overall global trend does give some hope for optimism as the steep increase in terrorist activity experienced from 2003 to 2007 has halted, however, the deteriorating situation in Syria and other future possible conflicts in the Middle East could reverse the situation," the report said.

The global impact of terrorism has increased significantly from 2002 to 2007, before falling to its 2006 levels, the report said. The survey results further noted that attacks are highly concentrated in a few places, with the 10 countries with the most incidents last year accounting 87% of total global incidents. About a third of fatalities within the decade were from terrorist activities in Iraq. The survey states that global incidents, fatalities and injuries are dominated by events in lower middle income countries -- not low income countries -- with 65% of incidents, 69% of fatalities and 73% of all injuries recorded in lower middle income countries. Only 20 countries did not suffer any terrorist activity over the past 20 years.

150 families flee fighting between NPA and Army in North Cotabato

From InterAksyon (Dec 6): 150 families flee fighting between NPA and Army in North Cotabato

More than 150 families have fled their homes in three villages of Magpet town in North Cotabato where government troops have been battling New People's Army guerrillas since Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported. Meanwhile, two NPA fighters were killed and another was wounded in a clash with government troops in the town of Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte province Wednesday.

The fighting in Magpet broke out around 11 a.m. December 3 when the rebels allegedly fired on soldiers and militiamen operating on the boundaries of Barangays Amabel, Noah and Bagumbayan, killing militia member Daniel Mahasan. The firefight caused 154 families to evacuate to their villages’ multi-purpose halls, the NDRRMC said. Local officials have provided relief goods and security to the evacuees.

In earlier press statement, the Army's 6th Infantry Division said the discovery of at least six major NPA camps in Magpet prompted the unit to conduct a series of operations over the past two weeks. Colonel Prudencio Asto, 6th ID spokesman, said the operations were guided by information from "concerned civilians who have been fed up with intimidation and extortion activities of the NPAs in the area." “The NPAs are now on the run following our capture of their major camps in Magpet. Months ago, we also discovered several NPA camps in Makilala and Arakan. The NPAs are rapidly losing popular support from the people,” Lieutenant Colonel Noel dela Cruz, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, claimed.

In Zamboanga del Norte, Captain Alberto Caber of the 1st ID said patrolling troops checking on reports of alleged NPA extortion clashed with 20 rebels in Sitio Napolan. The soldiers seized an M16 rifle. Police have set up checkpoints to intercept the fleeing rebels.

ICG: The Philippines: Breakthrough in Mindanao

From the International Crisis Group (Dec 5): The Philippines: Breakthrough in Mindanao

For a copy of the full report see:

Executive Summary

The pact signed on 15 October 2012 between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government is a breakthrough in many ways but is far from a final peace. As with earlier texts signed over years of negotiations, this one – the “framework agreement” – defers several tough questions and it is unclear how, if ever, they will be resolved. At stake is the creation of a genuinely autonomous region in Muslim-majority Mindanao for the various ethnic groups collectively known as the Bangsa­moro, with more powers, more territory and more control over resources. The framework agreement envisions a new government for the troubled Muslim south that would raise its own revenues and have its own police and judiciary. It maps out a multi-step process to create this new entity by the time President Benigno Aquino III’s term ends in 2016. The obstacles ahead are huge. Politics in Mindanao or Manila could get in the way, and it may be impossible to devolve sufficient power to the Bangsamoro government without running afoul of the constitution. The MILF is unlikely to surrender its arms until the process is complete.

Peace talks with the 12,000-strong MILF, the country’s largest and best armed insurgent organisation, began in 1997. They have moved glacially ever since and were interrupted three times by serious fighting: in 2000, 2003 and 2008. The collapse in 2008 had damaging political implications because it hardened the positions of all stakeholders on critical elements of a final peace. These include the territory for a new Bangsamoro homeland and its powers vis-à-vis Manila. At the centre of the storm was a sweeping text known as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), whose provisions the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional; it was never formally signed. It was difficult to get the peace process back on track afterwards because the MILF insisted that discussions resume from where they had left off.
President Aquino, who took office in June 2010, had no interest in repeating these mistakes. His government would consult and reassure potential spoilers, and any deal reached would have to be legally, constitutionally and politically water­tight. The government strategy from early on was to find a way to move the MILF away from the terms of the failed 2008 agreement. Aquino, elected on an anti-corruption platform, also did not want a peace pact to run the risk of worsening governance problems in the south. The MILF, proud of its tenacity and consistency in the protracted talks, was initially unwilling to adjust to this new approach.
The negotiations only started to make real progress in mid-2012 when the parties began to draft a text that embodied all points they could agree on, while setting aside everything they did not. With Malaysia, which facilitates the negotiations, and other international third parties to the peace process nudging the MILF and the Aquino government closer together, the text of the framework agreement fell into place. When the hard part came – territory – the MILF was ready to take a leap of faith. It agreed to provisions that are tricky to sell to its supporters in Mindanao but that give all Bangsa­moro a chance to decide whether they accept the terms of a final peace.
For the Aquino government, it was important to bring the peace process back to the Philippines after years of confidential negotiations abroad and to give other voices in Mindanao a chance to be heard. The MILF’s leaders, who claim to represent all Bangsamoro despite the undeniably fractious politics of the region, have agreed to make space for others to sit at the table and help them craft the new law that will create a Bangsamoro government. If all goes well, this will increase the popular legitimacy of the peace process; if it does not, and the Bangsamoro cannot even agree among themselves, it will do serious damage to the idea of regional autonomy. The next hurdle will be passing this new law through Congress. The president’s popularity and considerable political capital will help with stakeholders in Manila, and the depth of his commitment to securing peace in Mindanao will become clear when constitutional issues inevitably rear their head. If the process stalls at any stage, it may be hard for the MILF leadership to control its commanders and retain popular support.
For the Bangsamoro, the framework agreement holds out the possibility of peace, a responsive government and a better, more prosperous future for their children. Nothing has changed yet, but there is real hope that this time will be different. The MILF, the government and their international partners need to work together to ensure those hopes are not dashed.

2 NPA rebs killed, soldier wounded in Zamboanga del Norte clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 6): 2 NPA rebs killed, soldier wounded in Zamboanga del Norte clash

Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed while a soldier was wounded in a clash in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Norte, a military official announced Thursday. Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, III, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the clash took place around 3 p.m. Wednesday in Barangay Tinuyop, Leon Postigo town. Cruz withheld the identity of the wounded soldier except that he is assigned the Army’s 10th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Taharudin Ampatuan. Cruz said the troops were on security patrol when they clashed with at least 20 NPA rebels.

 The conduct of the security patrol was in response to reports from a civilian information that a group of NPA rebels are in Sitio Napolan, Barangay Tinuyop extorting money from the residents, Cruz said. The NPA rebels belong to the extortion unit of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC), he added. The NPA rebels fled to different directions leaving behind their two slain comrades, he said. He lauded the civilian cooperation and the 10th Infantry Battalion troops who instantly responded to the informant’s report. “This is another success of the Filipino people. In the spirit of bayanihan, we can always win in this fight against extortion activities and harassment by the NPA rebels,” Cruz said.

China clarifies maritime policy in disputed sea

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 6): China clarifies maritime policy in disputed sea

Beijing clarified on Wednesday its new maritime rules on the South China Sea (Wes Philippine Sea), saying that Chinese naval forces would “search and repel” foreign vessels only if they were engaged in illegal activities and only if the ships were within the 12 nautical miles zone of the surrounding islands that China claims. The explanation was made by Wu Shicun, the director-general of the Foreign Affairs Office of the province of Hainan in South China, in the wake of protests from China’s neighboring countries and the United States and in response to the letter of the Foreign Affairs Department seeking clarification on the new maritime laws.

Hainan, a province located in South China, administers the newly-built Sansha City in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), which was given direct control over the highly-disputed territories. Wu, a policymaker to matters pertaining to the South China Sea, added that the new regulations do not apply to all of the territories that Beijing claims. The Chinese government has been insisting that it owns virtually the entire South China Sea, a claim that is being contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. He added that the main purpose of coming up with the new maritime laws was to police Vietnamese fishing boats operating in the waters near Yongxing island in the Paracels, which China calls the Xisha islands.

“The outside world should not overreact to the revision of these rules, or read too much into them, nor should anyone give a one-sided or distorted explanation,” said Wu in a statement posted in today online website. “A big worry for neighboring countries and countries outside the region is that China is growing so rapidly, and they see it is possible China taking over the islands by force,” Wu said. “I think China needs to convince neighboring countries that this is not the case,” Wu said adding that neighboring countries must “trust” China that it would not use “force in the sea”.

He added, however, that the new regulations apply to all of the hundreds of islands scattered across the sea, and their surrounding waters – including the disputed islands claimed by other countries including Vietnam and the Philippines. The regulations are set to take effect on January 1 and this would apply to the sea around islands or its “baselines.” A baseline is the low-water line along the coast from which countries measure their territorial waters, as provided by the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea. “But for islands whose territorial water baselines have not yet been announced, since there is no way to clearly define the width of their territorial sea, the aforementioned problem does not exist,” he said. Wu said that the full text of the new regulations would be made available next year. The “baseline” that China was referring, Wu said, was claimed by Vietnam in 1996 – and also by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Foreign Affairs had said earlier that China’s claim was in excess of the provisions of international law. The Philippines, Vietnam, India and the United States had registered their protest right after Beijing announced the new maritime regulations, saying that China’s action was a threat to all countries whose vessels pass by the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). On Wednesday, Manila asked Beijing to clarify the report which first came out in the China Daily, a government-owned news website.

Moro Leader’s 100th Birthday Recognized

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 5): Moro Leader’s 100th Birthday Recognized

Muslim and Christian officials converged at the remote town of Salipada K. Pendatun in Maguindanao Monday to observe the 100th birthday of the country’s first Moro general and senator, after whom the municipality was named. The National Historical Institute (NHI) led the commemoration with prayers for the current generation to take inspiration from the “heroic” deeds of Salipada K. Pendatun in the building of an American-backed “solid” Muslim-Christian resistance during the Japanese occupation of Mindanao. NHI Executive Director Ludovico Badoy alongside relatives and political disciples including now retiring Maguindanao Representative Simeon Datumanong kicked off the commemoration rites Monday morning with the unveiling of a ceremonial marker on the graveyard of the late Senator Pendatun.

In their separate speeches, Badoy and Datumanong recalled the unparalleled feats of Pendatun in social integration, legal parlance, military service, legislation, and traditional leadership. Former North Cotabato Board Member Farida Pendatun, a niece of the Moro leader, said their clan was “deeply elated” over the Aquino administration’s appreciation through the NHI of her uncle’s contribution to society. “We’re deeply elated and honored. Our uncle was indeed a great leader, whose wisdom we’ve tried hardly to emulate but cannot match,” Farida told the Manila Bulletin. The late Pendatun was born on December 3, 1912. He died of natural death on January 27, 1985, at the town named after him.

The Wikipedia Web site described him as a “great lawyer, military officer, legislator, and national leader of many firsts.” “Stocky and solidly built, he was the first and only Muslim to lead a combined Muslim Christian-American guerilla army, the first Filipino Muslim to be conferred the rank of Brigadier General, the first Muslim elected senator, the first to hold three Senate Committee Chairmanships at the same time, the first Muslim delegate to the United Nations, and the first Muslim to become Speaker Pro-Tempore of the House Representatives,” a Wikipedia Web site posting said.

New Book (Victory at Bessang Pass)

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 5): New Book (Victory at Bessang Pass)

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur — A book that will remind the heroics of Filipino and American soldiers in capturing the Bessang Pass in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur during the last stage of World War II in the Philippines was launched today in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Metro Manila, according to Ilocos Sur’s Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) in – charge Vicky Antiporda.
Antiporda said on Wednesday that PVAO embarked on research and publication of the book titled, “Victory at Bessang Pass,” due to the agency’s desire for the Filipino youth to have a sense of national pride and imbibe love of country. The book was authored by veteran defense journalist, Ben Cal.

It was learned that Former President Fidel V. Ramos graced the event as a special guest while Vice Governor Deogracias Victor “DV” B. Savellano of the province Ilocos Sur where Bessang Pass is located, was the guest of honor. The book, “Victory at Bessang Pass,” tells about the gallantry of the United States Army Forces in the Philippines — Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) guerrillas.

Philippine Army Press Clippings (Dec 1-5)

Posted to the Faces, Places & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) blog: Philippine Army Press Clippings (Dec 1-5)

December 1:

December 2:

December 3:

December 4:

December 5:

Army designates new Command Sergeant Major

Posted to the Faces, Places & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) blog (Dec 5): Army designates new Command Sergeant Major

Chief Master Sergeant Guillermo P Francisco, outgoing Army Sergeant Major (ASM) hands over the Office Symbol to Army Chief of Staff Maj Gen Maximo G Caro as incoming ASM Chief Master Sergeant Wilfredo L Javillonar looks on. (Photo by Pfc Cesar Lopez)

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig CityThe Philippine Army has designated its new Sergeant Major in a Change of Chief of Office Ceremony here on Wednesday, December 5. Army Chief of Staff Maj Gen Maximo G Caro presided the ceremony which was attended by senior officers of the Army Headquarters. Major Harold M Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson, said that Chief Master Sergeant Wilfredo L Javillonar, enlisted personnel for 31 years, replaced Chief Master Sergeant Guillermo P Francisco who was elevated to Armed Forces of the Philippines Sergeant Major in October.

An Ilocano who started out as Rifleman, Javillonar is a seasoned warrior and leader. Prior to being Army Sergeant Major (ASM), he has served as Sergeant Major of 6 Regional Community Defense Group, Task Group Southwest-Negros, 3ID and later on of the 3rd Infantry Division. He also has long years of experience as Chief Clerk in various units of the Army. Javillonar is also one of the most decorated personnel among his rank having received various Military Merit Medals, Military Commendation Medals, Long Service Medals, Military Civic Actions Medals and AFP Conduct Medal among others.

Francisco, on the other hand, was enlisted in 1981 and was assigned to 2nd Special Operations Company, SOG, ASWBde as its Communication Chief, Operations NCO and as a Team and a Section Leader in the provinces of Samar. After which, he has rendered long years of service in different sub-units of the First Scout Ranger Regiment since its reactivation in 1983. He has also become an instructor of various infantry and intelligence courses and later became the Sergeant Major of the Scout Ranger Training School.

In December 2007 Francisco was designated as the Regiment Sergeant Major until his reassignment to Southern Command (SOCOM) as its Command Sergeant Major in 2009. A year later, he was designated as the Philippine Army Sergeant Major. As Army Sergeant Major, one is responsible for maintaining the high standard of morale and discipline and is expected to give counsel and provide guidance to all enlisted personnel.

ANAD: Seasons Greetings Card

Posted to the anti-communist Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) Facebook page (Dec 5): ANAD Seasons Greetings Card!/photo.php?fbid=10151350700072792&set=a.10151350699922792.527254.355986542791&type=1&theater

Photo: Explosive materials confiscated from village leader and two suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists

Posted to the Sun Star (Dec 5):  Photo: Explosive materials confiscated from village leader and two suspected Abu Sayyaf terrorists

ZAMBOANGA. The explosive materials the police intercepted on Monday afternoon aboard a government vehicle driven by a village chief in Zamboanga City. (Bong Garcia)

ZAMBOANGA. The explosive materials the police intercepted on Monday afternoon aboard a government vehicle driven by a village chief in Zamboanga City. (Bong Garcia)

Village chief, 2 Abu Sayyafs face raps

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Dec 5): Village chief, 2 Abu Sayyafs face raps

THE local police filed on Wednesday a case for illegal possession of explosive materials before the City Prosecutor’s Office against a village chief and two suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits in Zamboanga City. This was announced by Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) Director James Mejia, who said they have thwarted a possible bomb attack in the city with the arrest of the suspects and confiscation of the explosive materials. Charged before the Zamboanga City Prosecutor’s Office were suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits Sulayman Cuadra and Nur Kandum and Ahmad Yusop, the village chief of Busay. Busay, located 29 kilometers east of Zamboanga City, is one of the four villages in Sacol Island. The village sits on the eastern side of the island.

Mejia said the suspects were arrested few days after they received reports about a plan by the lawless elements to carry out a bomb attack in Zamboanga City. The suspects, who were already under surveillance, were separately arrested Monday by policemen from the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB), he said. Caudra was first arrested along Don Pablo Lorenzo Street downtown on Monday, Mejia said, adding that the arrest led also to the apprehension of Yusop and Kandum, who was intercepted aboard a government-owned vehicle at the RPSB checkpoint around 5:40 p.m. Monday in the village of Mercedes. The police said Cuadra was involved in the abduction of 15 workers at the Golden Harvest Plantation in Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan. Kandum was involved in the 2006 abduction in Tumahubong, Sumisip, also in Basilan, Mejia disclosed.

New TF Davao commander willing to take on challenge

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 5): New TF Davao commander willing to take on challenge

The new commander of Task Force Davao has big shoes to fill after Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio gave high marks to his predecessor. Col. Casiano C. Monilla has already set his mind on meeting the mayor’s expectation when he replaced former TF Davao commander, Col. Marcos Norman S. Flores Jr., who was transferred to the 1002nd Infantry Brigade.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio gave a 9 out of 10 rating to Col. Flores during his nine-month stay as TF commander. “He (Flores) did very well,” Duterte-Carpio said. Duterte-Carpio said that nine months was a short time but Flores already proved his leadership and worth as TF Davao’s commander. “The usual expectations that we have as Davaoeños with regards to our TF commanders that they keep Davao City terror-free,” said the Mayor. Adding that, they would keep the trust and confidence of citizens on TF Davao.

Monilla said that he is willing to take up the challenge on the full support of his troops. He revealed that they are still looking for ways to improve the service of TF Davao, using the same mechanisms established by the former commander.

Philippine Army soldiers kill 2 commies in Zamboanga

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 5): Philippine Army soldiers kill 2 commies in Zamboanga

Government troops killed two communist rebels in a clash Wednesday in the town of Leon Postigo in Zamboanga del Norte province in the southern Philippines, army officials told the Mindanao Examiner. Capt. Alberto Caber, of the 1st Infantry Division, said a New People’s Army rebel and a soldier were wounded in the hour-long fighting that broke out in the village of Tinuyop. He said the soldiers were sent to the area following reports that rebels were extorting money and harassing civilians.

Maj. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, the regional army commander, said civilians tipped off the military about the presence of rebels in the village. “This is another success of the people - in the spirit of Bayanihan – because we can always win in this fight against extortion activities and harassments by the NPA,” he said. The rebels have been fighting for decades to topple the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the country.

NDF admits NPA behind ambush that killed soldier

From the Leyte Samar Express (Dec 5): NDF admits NPA behind ambush that killed soldier

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Eastern Visayas admitted Tuesday that a local unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) was behind the deadly ambush of soldiers last Dec. 1. Rebel priest and NDF-Eastern Visayas spokesperson Santiago Salas said the local unit Mt. Amendewin command was behind the attack on 78th Infantry Battalion troops in sitio Calingatnan, Barangay San Pedro in Albuera, Leyte. “The ambush is a symbolic victory showing the revolution continues and disproves the 8th Infantry Division’s [of the Philippine Army] announcement that the NPA is finished in Leyte,” Fr. Salas said in a statement released yesterday.

One soldier was killed and two others were wounded in an ambush staged by the communist rebels. The soldiers were on their way back to base after a community outreach program when they were fired upon by about 15 NPA rebels. “The NPA ambush was a punishment for the 78th IB’s human rights violations. The people have long demanded the punishment of the military for committing human rights violation in its area of responsibility,” Salas said.  Salas claimed the soldiers have been terrorising civilian communities in the hinterlands of Burauen and Albuera towns. “The soldiers also violate international humanitarian law by staying in the houses of civilians and in using barangay halls, schools, chapels and other civilian structures,” Salas added.

As this developed, the military has deployed additional troops in Leyte after the rebel attack. Capt. Gene Orense, 8th ID spokesman said the Philippine Army condemned the ambush and vowed to bring its perpetrators to justice. Orense added the ambush does not mean the NPA had regained its strength in Leyte. “The ambush is just an isolated case. Leyte has already been declared a year ago as manageable conflict-affected area and ready for development,” Orense said. The NPA has been launching successive attacks in the past few weeks that resulted in casualties on the military side.

Rebs ambush 2 gov’t workers

From the Leyte Samar Express (Dec 5): Rebs ambush 2 gov’t workers

Members of the New People’s Army ambushed two government workers in a remote village of San Jose de Buan, Samar last Monday morning. And one of them, identified as Harvey John Abelido was wounded on his left chin, Captain Gene Orense, chief of the public affairs office of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, said in a text message. The companion of Abelido, Renato Dacaymat, was unhurt during the ambush incident in Barangay Babaclayon, eight kms away from the town proper of San Jose de Buan, considered one of the towns in Samar where presence of NPA rebels remain visible.

Orense said that the two government workers were on their way to the barangay proper of Babaclayon last Monday at around 10:55 am on board a single motorcycle. While the two victims were at sitio Manobo, part of Babaclayon, around 15 NPA members fired upon them, resulting to the injury of Abelido at his left chin. He was brought to a medical facility at the town poblacion for treatment. Dacaymat was unhurt. The two victims were workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s KALAHI-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service),a program of the government which aims to improve the poor living conditions of the people in the countryside.

In a press statement, Major General Gerardo Layug, commander general of the 8th ID, condemned the act of the rebels, involving the civilian workers. “It is unfortunate that the NPA is targeting civilians doing community development works which is a clear disregard to Human Rights and violation of International Human Rights and Rule of Law” Layug said.

AFP defends appointment of new ISAFP chief amid abduction claims

From GMANews (Dec 5): AFP defends appointment of new ISAFP chief amid abduction claims

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday defended the appointment of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año as head of its intelligence service. Año is one of the respondents in the alleged abduction of activist Jonas Burgos, AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos said the appointment and promotion of Año underwent a tedious vetting process based on merits, professionalism and service reputation, among other criteria. “It was deliberated on by the Board of Generals and endorsed by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense and was duly approved by the President and Commander-in Chief of the AFP,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online. Año took his oath before President Benigno Aquino III last Monday.

On Tuesday, Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas, said the swearing in of Año in Malacañang as the new ISAFP chief “has annihilated whatever small hope I held on to, that in time, during this dispensation, the human rights situation in the Philippines would improve and the surfacing of my son, Jonas, would follow soon.” “Lord have mercy on Jonas and other human rights victims,” she added.

Malacañang, for its part, said Mrs. Burgos should not lose hope as President Benigno Aquino is serious about protecting human rights in the country. “It is not a secret kung ano rin po ‘yung pinagdaanan ng pamilya ng Pangulo at alam po niya ‘yung pakiramdam and that is where the need to help others comes from,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said during Tuesday's press briefing.

In 2011, Mrs. Burgos filed arbitrary detention charges (/news/story/222968/news/nation/raps-filed-vs-army-officers-linked-to-jonas-burgos-abduction) against active and retired military officers, including Año, who were allegedly behind her son's abduction five years ago. Jonas, son of the late journalist and staunch anti-dictatorship activist Jose Burgos, was abducted April 28, 2007 allegedly by military personnel while he was having lunch at a restaurant inside the Ever Gotesco Mall in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. Año was the head of the operating arm of the intelligence group of the Philippine Army when the abduction happened.

The AFP spokesperson said Año has responded well to the allegation hurled against him officially with the Department of Justice. “The AFP, consistent with the principles of the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, abides by the Rule of Law with strict adherence to the protection and promotion of Human Rights in all its undertakings. The AFP firmly believes in our justice system which everyone is equal and entitled to due process,” Burgos added.

PH ready to protect oil interest in disputed territories – DFA

From the Manila Times (Dec 5): PH ready to protect oil interest in disputed territories – DFA

The Philippines on Tuesday said that it is prepared to protect its oil interest in the West Philippine Sea (WPS or South China Sea) amid reports that China is poised to explore economic resources in the region to meet the rising demands of its people. Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said that the Philippines is capable of securing its national territory and protect its maritime resources. “Our Constitution mandates the state to secure the integrity of our national territory and protect the nation’s resources in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone,” Hernandez said. “We have been upgrading our capabilities and endeavoring to build a minimum credible defense position,” he added.

The Philippines acquired last year a Hamilton-class cutter from the United States Coast Guard.
Called the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, it is the country’s largest warship. A second warship will be arriving in the country by February or March next year. The ships were acquired under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty signed between the Philippines and the United States.

Hernandez’s statement came following reports that China aims to produce 15 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from the contested waters by 2015. The WPS, a resource-rich region, is being claimed in whole by China and in part by the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. The National Energy Administration said that in its 2011-2015 five-year plan that the WSP would “form the main part” of the country’s offshore gas exploration plans.....

200 families flee from fighting between Army, NPA rebels in North Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 5): 200 families flee from fighting between Army, NPA rebels in North Cotabato

Residents of at least four villages in Magpet, North Cotabato, have fled their homes to safety as the military has been pounding on the positions of New People’s Army rebels since Monday, a non-government organization said Wednesday. Norma Capuyan, chair of the Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghi-usa sa Cotabato (ASLPC), told a radio station here that at least 200 families – mostly from the Manobo community – left their homes in the villages of Doles, Amabel, Noa and Bantac following the clashes between soldiers and NPA rebels in Barangay Amabel. A member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), identified as Daniel Masang, was killed in the clashes.

Lt. Nasrullah Sema, chief of the civil-military operation of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers have conducting a clearing operation and they have been firing mortar shells to drive the rebels farther away. Capuyan, meanwhile, said some evacuees have been suspected of being NPA supporters. Several have been harassed and abused, such as a Manobo man who was allegedly tied up by the soldiers who accused him of being an NPA, said Capuyan. “Ten men were also made to line up under the heat of the sun for several hours as they were questioned about being NPA supporters,” Capuyan said. Sema denied Capuyan’s claims but he said the military was encouraging those who might have been abused by soldiers to come forward and file charges. “Sanctions will be implemented if they (the soldiers) really committed human rights violations,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

Capuyan also claimed the evacuees had not received any assistance from the Magpet government. Mayor Efren Piñol has denied Capuyan’s claim. Piñol told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that when they got information of the mass evacuation, he immediately instructed the municipal social welfare office help to the affected residents. “In fact and in truth, my executive assistant personally led the giving of food to the affected families,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NPA said the clashes were the result of the rebels’ tactical offensive plan in Magpet as cases of rampant abuses by soldiers were rising. “The Army has intensified its already abusive operations to pave the way for the entry of Japanese investors Hitocho Group of Companies. The military has waved its baton of terror, as it plays escort to protect the aggressive expansion of banana plantations in the area,” Isabel Santiago, a rebel spokesperson, said in email statement. The military said it would relentlessly pursue the rebels. Col. Prudencio Asto, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao, said that since the operation began a dew days ago, the military has already captured six major camps in Magpet and nearby areas. Asto said the military believed that the bombardment of NPA enclaves resulted in fatalities on the rebels’ side but figures were difficult to ascertain. “But civilians who fled the encounter sites told ground troops of NPA casualties,” he said.

'No rosy Philippine human rights picture'

From the Philippine Star (Dec 5): 'No rosy Philippine human rights picture'

The country’s human rights picture is not at all rosy, the human rights alliance Karapatan reports in its year-end documentation ahead of the International Human Rights Day on December 10. “While the Aquino government plays deaf on the call to release political prisoners, it offered bounty for so-called communist leaders and got pop stars to endorse Oplan Bayanihan, that has caused lives of 114 people,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said. She added that President Aquino’s offer for bounty for Communist Party of the Philippines leaders “could mean more arbitrary arrests and detention and, further abuses and rights violations.”

From July 2010 to September 2012, Karapatan, Palabay said, documented almost 447 victims of illegal arrests under the Aquino government, including the arrests of farmers and indigenous peoples soldiers meet in the fields and forests during military operations and presenting them as NPA members or supporters.Karapatan claims there are 401 political prisoners in the country, with 123 persons arrested and detained under the Aquino government. “Peace does not mean keeping mum to abuses and injustices committed against the people; that arrests and detention, torture and death could not silence the people and surrender their basic rights to land, to decent wages, to housing, livelihood opportunities, to education and health services,” Palabay said.

According to Karapatan, the Aquino government continues to act tough against “releasing political prisoners, especially the 14 consultants to the peace process” of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) with the government. The call for the release of political prisoners, Palabay said, has been treated by the government as an obstacle in the peace talks with the NDFP, instead of a measure to hasten the talks and tackle the agenda of social and economic reforms. Palabay insists that NDFP peace consultants are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed in 1995 by both parties.

Karapatan claims that “2012 saw the intensification of military operations and heavy deployment of troops in areas believed to be strongholds of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA),” that resulted in the alleged forced evacuation and displacement of thousands of indigenous peoples and farmers from their lands, and scores of cases of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, torture and arbitrary detention and military occupation of schools, chapels, barangay halls and clinics in the community. “Killings are again becoming gruesome as in martial law years,” the human rights group said. They cited the cases of Genesis Ambason, a tribal leader in Agusan del Sur, who was allegedly shot and tortured to death, his head had shrunk due to heavy beatings; and Ely Oguis, a village council member in Albay who was shot and beheaded.

“Attacks against the people are marked with contemptuous boldness as in the case of the massacre of the Capion family where witnesses heard the AFP ground commander order his men to finish off the two children who survived the shooting, so there will be no witnesses left.” “Oplan Bayanihan’s second year is marked with 45 extrajudicial killings, to bring the death toll to 129 (as of October 30) under Aquino,” Palabay said. Several attacks were directed at indigenous peoples who took a stand against the entry of large and destructive mining in their ancestral domain, she added.

Children suffer hardships during evacuations and demolitions, when they are driven from their homes, Palabay also said. “This year, 12 children were victims of extrajudicial killings, and at least three of frustrated killings – due to indiscriminate firing by soldiers, slay try on an adult companion, or at a violent demolition.” Several children were also arrested during violent demolitions or accosted during military operations. At least four children and youths were tagged as “NPA child rebels,” while one was charged with violation of the Human Security Act or the Anti-Terror Law.

Though government maintains that human rights violations under Aquino are simply “aberrations”, the Aquino government, Palabay said, intends to get the unreleased $13 million of US military assistance to the Philippines, which was blocked since 2008 when Philippine solidarity groups lobbied against its release because of the unabated extrajudicial killings.....

US offers help to victims of typhoon Pablo

From the Philippine Star (Dec 5): US offers help to victims of typhoon Pablo

The United States (US) government offered its air assets to the Philippine government to help fast track the transport of food and non-food items to help displaced residents in the typhoon-ravaged communities in Mindanao. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Benito Ramos welcomed the US offer to use its transport aircraft in distributing goods to the displaced residents, saying that any assistance at this time is highly appreciated. “We welcome any assistance coming from anywhere,” Ramos said but added the NDRRMC is also exhausting its own resources to help and assist the affected residents.

During major calamities in the country, the US government has been providing the needed airlift capabilities to transport relief goods to Calamity-stricken areas. “They volunteered to assist us, so we just have to comply with the prevailing protocol by writing a letter-request,” Ramos said. In 2010, the US deployed four C-130 transport planes and six helicopters to assist in the massive airlift operations during the onslaught of super typhoons in the country. During typhoon Ondoy in 2009, the US military also assisted in the relief distribution to the affected areas using its heavy lift helicopters to transport food and medicines. At present, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is heavily dependent on two C-130 cargo planes in transporting goods and other supplies to the disaster-stricken areas in Mindanao.

U.S. Embassy extends condolences to Filipinos affected by Typhoon Pablo

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 5): U.S. Embassy extends condolences to Filipinos affected by Typhoon Pablo

The U.S. Embassy today expressed its sympathies to the victims of Typhoon Pablo which battered southern Mindanao Tuesday. Chargé d’affaires Brian L. Goldbeck in a statement said, “On behalf of the United States government, we extend our deepest condolences for the devastation and loss of life caused by Typhoon Pablo in the southern Philippines.” He further said they “applaud the efforts of local communities, local authorities and the NDRRMC to evacuate citizens, prepare for the storm, and minimize loss of life before and during the storm.” He added that the “U.S. government stands ready to assist the Philippine authorities as they respond to this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.” (US Embassy)

Military casualties due to Typhoon Pablo confirmed

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 5): Military casualties due to Typhoon Pablo confirmed

The military confirmed losing several personnel in a flash flood which washed away a temporary detachment in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley as Typhoon Pablo swept through the province Tuesday morning. Brig. General Yerson Depayso, deputy commander of the 10th Infantry Division in his briefing to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas at the Police Regional Office XI prior the visit to disaster-stricken areas, said the soldiers were deployed a night before for disaster rescue operation. He said that as of the time of his report, one soldier was confirmed dead while nine others were unaccounted for. Depayso said the military is checking on the report that twenty soldiers drowned in the flash flood. “There are still many victims who are unaccounted for in New Bataan, because as we speak, we haven’t crossed yet the Barangay Andap River which is still swelling,” he said. Depayso said more soldiers under the 10th ID are sent to the area to augment the number of troops earlier deployed to conduct search and rescue operations. He said members of the Charlie Company aside from the missing nine others are all accounted for. Depayso said the 66th Infantry Battalion headquarters located in New Bataan Proper was a total wreck but no one was reported injured.

Lt. Colonel Lyndon Paniza identified the lone fatality as Staff Sergeant Olivares of the Charlie Company, 66th IB.  He said that as of 10am Wednesday, four out of the nine missing soldiers are all accounted for with five still being the subject of the search and rescue effort. Paniza said many of the soldiers sustained minor injuries. “An Army truck was also washed away in the debris of mud,” he said. He said the towns of Boston, Cateel and Baganga are isolated only from Mati City in Davao Oriental via Caraga, but accessible by passing Monkayo, Compostela Valley and Lingig, Surigao del Sur. Paniza said Army units in the affected provinces shifted to tactical radio communications when the services of telecommunication companies bogged down amid the storm.....

AFP'S Eastern Mindanao Command on disaster response mode

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 5): AFP'S Eastern Mindanao Command on disaster response mode

A top military officer has placed all units in Eastern Mindanao in “disaster response mode,” even if typhoon Pablo has left Mindanao. Lt. General Jorge Segovia, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command said the soldiers expect an increase in search, rescue, relief and retrieval operations in the next hours. He said preparations are also being done for the collection of relief goods with the arrival of assistance and donations for the affected residents. “We will pursue search and rescue and relief operations as the storm drifts away,” Segovia said.

Military units under the 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions reported 12,000 families displaced and sought refuge in evacuation centers in Regions 10 and 13, respectively, while 2,000 families were accounted to have evacuated in Davao Region. Segovia said the number of evacuees is still subject to validation as transmission of field reports are also affected by intermittent communication signals. He said as of 2:00 pm Tuesday, his command received report of an estimated 20 civilian casualties due to flash flood in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province. The report said one member of the 66th Infantry Battalion was reported to have died from the flashflood while an officer was seriously injured.

Segovia said the 10th ID already dispatched additional military trucks to transport rescue teams sent by Regional Risk Reduction and Management Council XI to the affected areas in ComVal Province. He said some areas are now experiencing power outages and communication interruptions because of fallen electrical posts and cut lines. Segovia said that Region 12 and Central Mindanao remain normal while these areas experience heavy rainfall.

Soldiers conduct medical, dental mission in Kinoguitan

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 5): Soldiers conduct medical, dental mission in Kinoguitan

Soldiers and the local government unit of Poblacion, Kinoguitan delivered an early Christmas gift to the populace, last Thursday. The 58th Infantry (Dimalulupig) Battalion headed by Lieutenant Colonel George L. Banzon INF (GSC) Philippine Army and Civil Military Operations (CMO) Task Unit 3 headed by 1Lt. Joseph S. Sabas (INF) PA initiated the activity. The activity also participated in with the LGU of Kinoguitan headed by municipal mayor Danilo A. Lagbas Jr, all barangay captains and Municipal Health Office (MHO). The mission was also participated in by Congressman Peter “Sr San Pedro” Unabia of 1st district Misamis Oriental, Vice Governor of Misamis Oriental Norris B. Babiera and provincial board members.

The activity is part of the Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) program of the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division under the concept of Internal Peace and Security (IPSP) Bayanihan of Philippine Army. Under the IPSP, the government gives more emphasis on development in rebel-affected areas. The goal is winning the peace rather than simply defeating the enemy, said Lt. Col. Banzon. In suppot to Bayanihan, the Army has adopted the non-traditional approach in ending the country’s decades-old insurgency, recognizing that insurgency cannot be solved through military action alone, but more importantly through peace and development initiatives in partnership with other stakeholders of society. (5IB/4ID/PA/PIA10)

Multi-sec groups join Mindanao week of peace celebration

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 5): Multi-sec groups join Mindanao week of peace celebration

An estimated 2,000 people converged on Thursday at Plaza Luz to join the Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) celebration.  The celebration which carries the theme: “ Love of God and Love of Neighbor, A challenge for Mindanao,’’ kicked off with a motorcade dubbed “ride for peace” which started from Pagadian to Labangan and ended at Plaza Luz with an opening program. Multi-stake holders from the Interfaith Forum for Solidarity and Peace (IFSP), Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, national government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, academe actively supported the activity.

IFPS Catholic convenor Rev. Father Felix Tigoy in his message said we are celebrating week of peace because peace is still elusive.  “We did not yet fully experienced true peace in us,” Tigoy declared. Tigoy said we need to establish peace and continue to strive attaining true and lasting peace. “We need to work for it daily and we make sure that our efforts are anchored on the social order imposed by God” saying that real peace is something to do with harmony, integrity, wholeness, and wellness. “Peace is built daily in pursuit of God’s order. It is not merely the absence of war and cessation of hospitalities but the presence of justice,” Tigoy added.

Meanwhile, Civil Military Operations officer Lt. Col. Cornelio Arboleda, who represented Tabak commander MajGen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III said the 1st infantry (TABAK) division is strongly supporting the “week of peace” celebration.  “AFP’s peace advocacy which was embodied in the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) dubbed “Bayanihan” campaign is true and sincere manifestation of our support to the government’s peace initiatives,” Arboleda announced.

Various activities were also lined up in the week-long (Nov.29-Dec.5) celebration to include press conference, ride for peace and tri-people women’s rights forum, to name a few. The celebration is pursuant to Proclamation Order 127 issued on November 26, 2001 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declaring the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December of every year thereafter as Mindanao Week of Peace.

Joint PH-US Armed Forces inaugurates new school building

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 5): Joint PH-US Armed Forces inaugurates new school building

The Armed Forces of the Philippines through Western Command (WESCOM) and the United States Navy through US Naval Construction Battalion - 74 turned over a school building to the school administrators of Mangingisda West Elementary School in Palawan during the Dedication Ceremony held last Nov. 28, 2012. In a press statement, WESCOM Commander LtGen Juancho M. Sabban AFP said he considered the ceremony as another milestone in the alliance between the Philippines and the United States of America in the promotion of education among the youth who represent the nation’s aspirations. “The spirit of collaboration in protecting the right to education is very much alive. While we take seriously our role as protectors of our peace and our seas, we also take earnestly our duty to the young individuals, who we dedicate, our efforts toward a promising future. The best hope for tomorrow lies with the young people, who we educate today,” Sabban said. According to him, the military’s first investment priority is the school, which plays a crucial part in security and economic prosperity.  “With the completion of this building, we are eliminating the barrier that denies students’ access to better learning. It will not only provide them the opportunity to enjoy a decent facility, but it will also pave the way for their development,” he stressed.

In the same report, Head Teacher Neil G. Bundac expressed gratitude to the military’s development efforts, particularly in addressing the shortage of classrooms. “We are very grateful to the concern of WESCOM and the US Government represented by the US Naval Construction Battalion. This additional classroom is a monumental gift, which we will cherish for life. We hope another unit will be coming someday to address the growing population of our school,” he said. US Navy Team Leader LT Chris Willich looked forward to continued partnership with the Philippine military in the implementation of engineering construction projects meant to benefit the people of Palawan. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was spearheaded by Head Teacher Mr. Bundac, WESCOM Commander LtGen Sabban and US Navy Team Leader Lt Willich.

KALAHI-CIDSS worker hurt in an ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): KALAHI-CIDSS worker hurt in an ambush

Two facilitators of the DSWD program Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (KALAHI) Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS) were fired upon in Barangay Babaclayon, San Jose de Buan at 10:55 a.m., December 3. Renato Dacaymat and Harvey John Abelido, KALAHI-CIDSS facilitators were on their way to Barangay Babaclayon on board a motorcycle when met with volley of fire by 15 armed men believed to be NPAs according to a Philippine Army statement. Abelido suffered a slight wound on his chin, victim was immediately rushed to Poblacion San Jose De Buan for medical treatment. “The NPA has been harassing KALAHI personnel who have been very effective in their community development works in impoverished areas,” Lt Col Cerilo Balaoro Jr., Battalion Commander, 87th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army said.

Major Gen Gerardo T Layug, Commander, 8th ID said, “The NPAs in Samar province are losing their influence over communities as a result of the effective convergence efforts made by the Philippine Army, Local Government Units, KALAHI-CIDSS/DSWD and other agencies of the Government.” “It is unfortunate that the NPA is targeting civilians doing community development works which is a clear disregard to human rights and a violation of the International Human Rights and Rule of Law,” added Layug. The army said that the harassment of the KALAHI personnel in San Jose De Buan, Samar is the 2nd time this year. On August 7, 2012, a KALAHI member was also abducted by NPAs at Brgy Hagbay, San Jose De Buan, Samar.

House passes bill further strengthening anti-money laundering act on third reading

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): House passes bill further strengthening anti-money laundering act on third reading
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed on third and final reading a measure that would further strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Law, amending Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001. HB 6565, principally authored by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II (Lone District, Madaluyong City) and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez (3rd District, Quezon), was passed with a vote of 141 lawmakers approving, seven against and one abstention. President Benigno S. Aquino III had earlier certified the bill as urgent, paving the way for its speedy approval. Belmonte said that the bill would strengthen further the anti-money laundering law by making it compliant with updated and revised international anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing standards.
 The proposed amendatory statute, the authors said, revises the definition of money laundering to include conversion, transfer, disposition, movement, acquisition, possession, use, concealment or disguise of the proceeds of any unlawful activity. While expanding the list of financial institutions covered, the bill provides for the inclusion of designated non-financial businesses and professions as reporting institution — casinos, real estate agents, dealers in precious metals, dealers in precious stones, and trust company service providers. The proposed statute also provides for additional unlawful activities to money laundering – terrorism and terrorist financing, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of children, corruption and bribery, forgery and environmental crimes.  Another vital provision added is granting the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) the authority to file a civil forfeiture case upon determination of probable cause. Likewise, the bill allows AMLC to retain 25 percent of net proceeds of forfeited assets, and granting AMLC the authority to impose administrative sanctions. The bill also addresses the noted deficiencies in the country's legal framework with regard to anti-money laundering, by making the Philippines fully compliant with the international standards set forth by the FATF and by directives laid down under the 1988 UN Convention Against Elicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the Vienna Convention), the 2001 UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention), the 2003 UN Convention Against Corruption (the Merida Convention), and other international standards in combating money laundering.....

CPP: Aquino's "economic growth" stats are nothing but spasms of a moribund economic system

From the CPP Website (Nov 5): Aquino's "economic growth" stats are nothing but spasms of a moribund economic system

The current chief executive officer of the moribund Philippine semicolonial and semifeudal system, Benigno Aquino III, is thumping his chest, proud of the 7.1% third quarter growth in the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) reported by his technocrats last November 28. Amid the worsening socio-economic conditions of the people, Aquino is working hard to make the people believe that his promise of so-called “inclusive growth” is just around the corner in hopes of placating the people’s anger and staving off their resistance. Aquino’s growth statistics, however, fall flat in raising the people’s enthusiasm. There is zero indication of an economic u-turn.

As before, Aquino’s economic policy is directed towards attracting foreign investments by pulling down wages and providing the physical and financial infrastructure for foreign big capitalists. Aquino continues to hinder domestic economic progress and stifle the demand for social justice by blocking land reform and national industrialization. Local production, both in agriculture and manufacturing, continues to be geared principally towards the slumping export market.

Aquino’s GDP growth statistics are nothing but the death throes of a moribund economic system. Aquino is steering the economy in exactly the same disastrous path taken under Arroyo, Estrada, Ramos and all other previous regimes. In line with imperialist economic dictates, Aquino and his technocrats are veering away from genuine industrial progress and agricultural modernization....

MILF: Gensan Muslims oriented on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement

From the MILF Website (Dec 5): Gensan Muslims oriented on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement

More than 450 Muslim constituents of General Santos City were oriented on the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro at the Barangay Gymnasium of Brgy. Fatima, General Santos City on December 3, 2012. The activity, organized by the Rajah Buayan (former name of Gensan) City Political Committee of the MILF, was geared to inform the Moros in town on the details and prospects of the accord that was signed in Malacanang Palace last October 15. The document is hoped to put an end to the decades of conflict in Mindanao.

The orientation was participated by Asatidz (Madrasa teachers), women, youth, elders, traditional leaders, professionals, and farmers coming from ten Muslim communities of the city. Prof. Raby Ankal gave the audience the highlights of the framework agreement. He expounded the provisions stated in the said document. Ankal, which was tapped by the Office of the Vice Chairman for Political Affairs of the MILF, said the agreement will pave way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government that will be ministerial in form. The current ARMM area will constitute the Bangsamoro territory.....

MILF: MILF Peace panel ‘invades’ UAE, Qatar

From the MILF Website (Nov 5): MILF Peace panel ‘invades’ UAE, Qatar

The MILF Peace Panel headed by Mohagher Iqbal invaded the UAE and the State of Qatar, not by military intrusion or of bad faith but purely to conduct advocacy on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in the two countries. The advocacy forum was organized by the Bangsamoro societies in the two countries in order to let the Bangsamoro overseas workers therein understand the content and nuances of the FAB from the members of the MILF peace panel directly.

The MILF Peace Panel was warmly welcomed by many Bangsamoro of all tribes in the UAE and in the State of Qatar respectively. The Bangsamoros in the two countries were overwhelmed by the emphasis of the MILF Peace Panel on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro which was officially signed at the Office of the Philippine President in Malacañang Palace on 15th October 2012 witnessed by Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Najib Abdukrazaq, MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim Al-Hajj, OIC Secretary General Professor Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and government officials, foreign dignitaries and accredited member of the diplomatic corps as well as hundreds of top MILF military officers and MILF political leaders.

The Moros in the two countries were also excited to see and meet the MILF Peace Panel as they only read and see the names and pictures of these MILF Peace Panel in many newspapers and TV shows, according to Walid Qa’id Al-Hajj on his welcome address in the gatherings in the UAE on 23rd November 2012.  The recently concluded advocacy forum was attended by nearly 400 Bangsamoro people in the UAE alone and more than one hundred Bangsamoro people in the State of Qatar, which was considered a historic gatherings, since it is no least than the MILF Peace Panel Chief Mohagher Iqbal and his strong delegation who patiently emphasized the importance of the FAB as the fruit of their great struggle and steadfastness for almost two decades of their negotiations with the Government of the Philippines and facilitated by the good government of Malaysia.....