Thursday, December 6, 2012

Peace agreement will 'cut' support to militants: MILF

From the New Straits Times (Dec 5): Peace agreement will 'cut' support to militants: MILF
JOHOR BAHRU: The historic peace framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government will "cut" the people's support to militant groups operating in Mindanao and other parts of the republic's southern region. MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said southern Philippines' militant groups including Abu Sayyaf existed "because they are riding on the grievances of the Bangsamoro people". "If the people see a bright future and feel that the grievances are being addressed, then the small (militant) groups that are trying to sabotage the peace process can no longer exist because they will not have support from the people. "If there is no more support from the people, they (militant groups) will gradually be isolated," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), here, today.

The three-day WIEF, which is attended by 2,100 delegates from more than 80 countries, was officially opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday. The framework agreement between Manila and the southern Philippines' largest armed group serves as the overarching architecture for the Mindanao peace process and provides the foundation for a just and enduring peace there. The historic agreement which was brokered by Kuala Lumpur, was signed by both sides at Malacanang Palace, Manila on Oct 15 and witnessed by both Najib and President Benigno Aquino III.

Murad said the small armed groups that were currently fighting the Philippine government, survived and existed because they could easily gain the support of the local population. Nevertheless, he said the MILF was not ready to lose hope on the other militant groups joining the peace bandwagon, and was conducting dialogues with them with the ultimate intention for them to embrace peace. "So, we are inviting them to join us in trying to build from the framework agreement that we have now, so that the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people will be properly addressed," he said. Murad pointed out that despite the framework agreement was only inked by the Philippine government with the MILF, he was hopeful that other militant groups could embrace the spirit and bring peace to Mindanao and the southern Philippines. The agreement, said Murad, was not exclusive for the MILF but could be embraced by other smaller armed groups. "So, we will make them (other militant groups) think that what we have achieved is not exclusive for MILF but inclusive for other groups too. "We are optimistic that gradually, the situation on the ground will settle down, InsyaAllah," he said with a smile

Advocacy for multi-ethnic tribes in South Upi, Maguindanao held

From the MILF Website (Dec 7): Advocacy for multi-ethnic tribes in South Upi, Maguindanao held

On the morning of December 1, hundreds of leaders of indigenous tribes, Teduray and Lambangian, and Filipino settlers from Luzon and Visayas were given orientation on the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro at LGU gymnasium Barangay Timanan, South Upi, Maguindanao.  The activity was a joint effort of the MILF and the Local Government Unit of South Upi headed by Mayor Abdullah A. Campong, Al Haj, a Teduray Muslim leader and a descendant of Rajah Mamalu. The orientation was facilitated by members of the MILF peace panel Datu Antonio Kinoc, MILF technical working group (TWG) and the MILF military General Staff (GS) of the BIAF.

Saban Campong, a member of the GS-BIAF and a Teduray Muslim briefed the audience on the history of Bangsamoro struggle, and also revealed that one of the founders of MILF is also a Teduray, Ustadz Abu Halil Yahya Campong. Saban also highlighted the connection between the non-Islamized IPs and the Moro people through the brothers, Mamalu and Tabunaway.

Datu Kinoc, a Blaan leader from South Cotabato, touched on the progress of the GPH-MILF peace process as well as the salient points of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, a member of the MILF technical working group on normalization, enlightened the audience on the content of Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. He also enumerated the oppressive laws in the Philippines which the Bangsamoro and IPs were the victims, which the proposed Basic Law will try to correct.

Mohammad Nassif, also Teduray but a Muslim since birth and currently chairman of the MILF TWG on Normalization, appeal to his brethren Teduray, to understand well the content and objective of the Framework Agreement signed last October 15, 2012n in Malacanang, especially the protection of the IP rights, custom and traditions. He challenged them to stand to be counted in supporting the FAB.
Also gracing the forum were Dr. Tomanda Antok, Toks Ebrahim, Head of the Administration.
Department, GS BIAF MILF, Dr. Maguid Makalingkang, member MILF TWG on Power Sharing, Rasid Ladiasan Head MILF CCCH, and Ustadz Abdukadir Abdullah, head of Islamic Call & Guidance, GS, MILF-BIAF.

3 rebels killed in Army encounter

From the Bicol Mail (Dec 6): 3 rebels killed in Army encounter

VIRAC, Catanduanes —Three suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) here were killed during an encounter on Dec 1, 2012 with the members of the 83rd IB of the Philippine Army in Barangay Calatagan, in this capital town..In a report, allegedly a concerned citizen in the morning of Dec. 1, alerted authorities of the presence of rebels led Jimboy Lucero aka Jason, extorting money and goods from the residents. At around 22:00 p.m. of the same day a troop of 8 Army combatants led by a certain 1Lt. Magamay arrived at the scene and engaged in a firefight more or less 15 fully armed communist rebels. The firefight which lasted for about ten minutes left two lifeless bodies of the rebels which were later identified as Ka Bryan and Ka Ching. Also recovered from the scene were two M16 rifles, one M14, an M653 Baby Armalite, 4 anti-personnel landmines (IEDs) with detonating cords, 40 pcs of blasting caps, subversive documents, and personal belongings.

Virac police identified Ka Bryan as Ronald Satairapan, 16 years old, single and a resident of Barangay Tuminawog, San Andres town. His body was claimed the next day by his parents Nicanor and Delia Satairapan after submitting pertinent parental papers. Meanwhile, Ka Ching’s body kept at the St. Peter Chapel, remained unclaimed. She was, however, identified as Liezl Isorena of Barangay Porot of Pandan town, allegedly married to NPA leader Lucero.

On Dec. 3, three days after the encounter, one scout platoon of the 83rd IB led by a certain Cpl. Peñafiel while on pursuit operation recovered one dead male body, more or less 23 years old. The body which was found in an advance state of decomposition was believed to be among those who were killed in the encounter. Also recovered in the area were 7 cell phones, live ammos for M16, 3 jungle packs, 6 ponchos, 2 hammocks, 5 blankets, 20 pcs battery, more or less 25 kls of rice, more or less 5 kls of sugar, 6 packs of instant coffee, 3 kls of dried fish, 13 boxes of bath soap, 4 doz shampoo, 5 packs of biscuits, and 3 cooking pots.

Photo: No wind, no rain, not even the wrath of Typhoon Pablo could stop our troops,,,from reaching out to communities in distress

From the Philippine Department of National Defense Facebook page (Dec 5):  Photo of the Day

DND Photo of the Day - 5 December 2012 - No wind, no rain, not even the wrath of Typhoon Pablo could stop our troops from the 20IB of the 8ID, Army based in Northern Samar from reaching out communities in distress. The spirit of “Bayanihan..." knows no boundaries, creed or ideology. Our soldiers in the Army only see the life of Pinoys needing aide and rescue. 

Photo: DND Photo of the Day - 5 December 2012 - No wind, no rain, not even the wrath of Typhoon Pablo could stop our troops from the 20IB of the 8ID, Army based in Northern Samar from reaching out 
communities in distress. The spirit of “Bayanihan” knows no boundaries, creed or ideology.

Our soldiers in the Army only see the life of Pinoys needing aide and rescue. 

Do you have photos and stories that dares to make a real difference? E-mail it to or PM your photos and tell us your story.

If you LIKE this, kindly SHARE it so everyone understands that the Armed Forces is here to serve. Salamat.

CPP: CPP condemns Isabela massacre of elderly couple

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 6): CPP condemns Isabela massacre of elderly couple

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in condemning in the strongest terms possible the fascist troops of the 86th Infantry Battalion for carrying out the heinous murder of elderly couple Vicente and Rosario Valenzuela in Sitio Calatbagin, Barangay San Miguel, Echague, Isabela in the early morning hours of November 23. Operating troops of the 86th IB’s Alpha Company under 2Lt. Bernardino opened fire on the Valenzuelas after accusing Vicente of being an NPA guerrilla fighter just because he was found with a bolo used for harvesting root crops. The Army soldiers ignored the appeal of relatives who were shouting that the Valenzuelas were unarmed civilians. A soldier was also overheard appealing to his officer and fellow soldiers to stop shooting at the couple because they were civilians. Vicente, 60 and Rosario, 51, died immediately after being riddled with bullets from M16 rifles. Their bodies were taken by the 86th IB soldiers and brought to their camp in Soyung, Echague, Isabela. Officers of the 5th ID later circulated in the media the lie that the Valenzuelas were killed by the NPA during an encounter with Philippine Army soldiers in the area. The murdered couple’s relatives, however, also trooped to a radio station to belie the military’s claims.

“The CPP condemns this terrible fascist crime perpetrated by the armed troops of the 86th IB and holds the officers of the 5th ID fully responsible for the killing of the elderly Valenzuela couple,” said the CPP. “The CPP calls on the people of Echague to rise up and demand justice for the Valenzuelas. The CPP further calls on units of the New People’s Army in the area to punish the perpetrators of this heinous war crime.” “The CPP holds the Aquino regime, its commander-in-chief and its military and security officials ultimately responsible for these murders, as well as the wave of massacres, killings, abductions, illegal detention and other grave violations of human rights across the country,” added the CPP. “This latest war crime comes hard on the heels of the massacre by the 27th IB of the Capeon family last October 18 in Davao del Sur and the successive killings by the 2nd IB of civilian Dante Osma and village councilor Ely Oguis last November 1 and 11 in Albay. Oguis was decapitated by the soldiers and his head buried in the mud,” pointed out the CPP. “The armed agents of the Aquino regime are becoming increasingly brutal in carrying out their Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression,” said the CPP. “Claims by Aquino and his military officials of respecting human rights have been proven to be empty rhetoric and serve only as a thin veil to conceal the bloody trail of abuses and terror perpetrated by the AFP and other armed agencies of the reactionary state.”

CPP: CPP condoles with victims of Pablo

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 6): CPP condoles with victims of Pablo

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today issued the following statement:
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and all revolutionary forces express their deepest sympathies for the hundreds of thousands of victims of the recent tropical storm Pablo. Among the hardest hit by the strong winds, rains and resulting floods are the poor peasants especially in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, as well as others in Southern, Northcentral and Northeastern Mindanao, and Leyte, Cebu and southern Negros who lost their homes and livelihood.
The CPP expresses profound grief over the death of at least a hundred residents of New Bataan after a wave of mud and water descended from the denuded mountains of Compostela Valley. Tens of thousands of people in several isolated towns of Compostela Valley are in dire need of assistance after being cut off from communication and transportation lines. The reactionary Philippine government should be put to task for its continued failure to address the clamor of the poor peasants and farm workers who suffer grave socio-economic conditions as a result of worsening oppression and exploitation. The acute poverty of tens of millions of toiling people in the Philippines make them vulnerable to ever-worsening calamities brought about by the ruthless plunder of the environment.
Big foreign capitalists and their local business partners have long plundered Compostela Valley of timber and minerals. The Aquino regime continues to allow big mining operations to continue despite the widespread damage these have caused on the environment which subject the people in lowlands to calamities. The CPP urges all revolutionary forces to heed the clamor of the calamity victims for immediate relief. The CPP calls for the mobilization of resources and forces to extend assistance to the victims of the calamity. The CPP likewise appeals to the international community to course their assistance to the various people’s organizations directly engaged in calamity and disaster work to ensure that this reaches the people and is not diverted by corrupt officials.
Because units of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the affected areas work daily with the people, they are among the first to carry out rescue operations and assist the people in confronting the calamity. In light of the urgent humanitarian considerations, the NPA can suspend offensive military operations against the AFP for a period of time. The responsible organs of the Communist Party, the NPA and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will issue more authoritative and detailed orders on this matter.

CPP/NDF: NDF calls for relief, rehabilitation for Pablo victims

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 6): NDF calls for relief, rehabilitation for Pablo victims

Rubi Del Mundo
NDF-Southern Mindanao

The National Democratic Front Southern Mindanao commiserates with the victims of supertyphoon Pablo and calls for the massive rescue, relief and rehabilitation assistance to the more than 160,000 people affected by the December 4 tragedy. The NDF has also urged its allied revolutionary organizations to raise funds, seek donations and contributions for the victims. As the typhoon’s death toll and the casualties near to a thousand two days after the typhoon, no relief operations have arrived in the towns of Boston, Cateel and Bagangga. Search and rescue operations have not extended into far-flung barangays in Monkayo, New Bataan and Compostela towns in Compostela Valley province. Roads have not yet been cleared of felled trees and structures and bridges are still destroyed, preventing precious relief goods from being accessed by the victims. Accessibility to damaged areas have been limited to poblacion areas in Comval and Davao Oriental provinces.

The inaction and incompetence by the GPH in the face of this tragedy, is foreshadowed by the pronouncements of the reactionary environment and disaster officials who have blamed affected residents for their “complacency” and failing to heed the state’s warning and earlier calls for “preventive evacuation.” The reactionary government also point to rampant small-scale mining and logging in the affected areas—areas which were considered already “disaster-prone” in the state’s so-called geo-hazard map. It was an old script taken out the Sendong tragedy: denuded forests plus failure of the people to relocate aggravated the impact of a natural calamity. It was a ready, convenient answer by a government that has failed in putting into place sufficient preparations and responding to the needs of its people.

The ineptness highlights the vast irony: poor disaster-preparedness by a state that looks upon Comval and Davao Oriental as resource-rich localities in the country. Nowhere can we see the hundreds of million of pesos of taxpayers’s money out of Comval’s mining, agribusiness and Davao Oriental’s logging resources working for the victims of this calamity. Local capitalists and foreign large-scale mining salivate over the estimated 189 million metric tons of gold deposits mostly found in Mt. Diwata and nickel deposits of 490.7 million metric tons in Comval and Davao Oriental. And yet, as tragedies strike the resource-laden but poor communities, all the government can do is to deliver piecemeal assistance. Despite the billions of pesos allocated by the US-Aquino regime in AFP modernization, in the implementation of the fascist Oplan Bayanihan, and in disaster-related technological upgrade, the high-tech gadgets have failed to save the lowly peasant families, the families of small-scale miners and the ordinary banana plantation workers.

As the revolutionary forces help in the relief and rehabilitation, the people, including the families of the victims of the calamity should struggle to hold accountable those responsible for the loss of lives and property. The grave losses suffered by the people highlights the need to stop environmental plunder by indiscriminate large-scale mining, expanding large-scale plantations, and logging operations that are being abetted by the US-Aquino regime’s pro-capitalist economic policies.

Philippine rebels offer truce in storm-hit areas

From the Manila Times (Dec 6): Philippine rebels offer truce in storm-hit areas

Philippine communist guerrillas offered to suspend attacks in typhoon-hit areas Thursday, as the military led efforts to look for hundreds of missing from a disaster that claimed nearly 500 lives. "In light of the urgent humanitarian considerations, the (New People's Army) can suspend offensive military operations... for a period of time," the rebel group's parent organisation the Communist Party of the Philippines said. A rebel statement said its forces would "raise funds, seek donations and contributions" for Typhoon Pablo's victims on the southern island of Mindanao, while its armed guerrillas would help in the relief work.

In reaction, military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, said "if they really want peace and stability for our country for unhampered progress and development, they should abandon armed violence". The armed forces are at the forefront of rescue and relief efforts after Tuesday's disaster, which killed 477 people and forced 250,000 others to seek shelter at government evacuation centres after losing everything.

The military estimates the NPA's current strength at about 4,000 fighters nationwide, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the 1980s. The communists have been waging a rebellion since 1969, and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government. The government opened peace talks with the CPP but negotiations were suspended in November last year due to continued rebel demands for the release of jailed comrades they claimed were consultants to the negotiations.

Subic contractor violated PH laws, say probers

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 6): Subic contractor violated PH laws, say probers

An independent investigation initiated by the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce has concluded that a US Navy contractor violated Philippine laws when it dumped waste from an American ship outside Subic waters in October. The chamber also said in its Dec. 2 report that the waste dumped by Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of a Singapore-based company, might not have been “toxic” as defined by Philippine laws but contained pollutants that exceeded sanitation and water quality limits. It said the dumping took place “inside the Philippine exclusive economic zone which is still covered by the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9275).” Glenn Defense had admitted that it dumped the waste 17 nautical miles from the nearest shoreline of Subic Bay.

But the chamber investigation concluded that Glenn Defense dumped the waste in an area of Philippine seas which “was 9 nautical miles short of the PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) designated dumping point.” This meant the firm might have violated the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the chamber said. Danny Piano, Subic Chamber president, said in the report that his group pursued the investigation to “make a sound judgment as to whether it would [expel] or … suspend Glenn Defense’s membership in the Subic Chamber, [or whether it would] clear it from wrongdoing, thereby retaining its membership.” The Subic Chamber also issued a set of recommendations that may help end ocean dumping on Philippine waters.

Glenn Defense had been accused of dumping 50,000 gallons of domestic waste from USS Emory Land without the permission of authorities like the Coast Guard. Retired Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga, president of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines, denied the charges and said the company had followed Philippine laws. But when he was asked to react to the chamber’s latest report, through the firm’s public relations consultant, Carolyn Esposo-Espiritu, Mayuga declined to comment.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair Roberto Garcia said the chamber’s report had confirmed SBMA’s own finding that “ordinary sewage water without heavy metals” had been dumped by Glenn Defense. “So that’s good,” he said, without elaborating. Although the SBMA had investigated Glenn Defense for dumping, it had reacted strongly to descriptions that the waste that was dumped was toxic. “There seemed to be no question that Glenn Defense committed violations when they dumped waste without the necessary permits and by not following regulations,” the Subic Chamber report said. It said the Oct. 15 environmental inspection report of the SBMA’sm Ecology Center and the Oct. 16 testimony of Glenn Defense ship captain Edilberto Acedilla, who commands the MT Glenn Guardian, confirmed that Glenn Defense dumped waste on Philippine waters outside Subic Bay. The investigation failed to gather vessel tracking records of Glenn Defense from authorities but accounts and narratives provided by the firm’s captain, Mayuga and other sources led it to “assume that the waste was dumped 17 nautical miles from the nearest shoreline,” the report said. The hauled waste was “definitely not pretreated,” the chamber said.

Maguindanao to host Mindanao-wide dialogue on framework deal

From the Philippine Star (Dec 6): Maguindanao to host Mindanao-wide dialogue on framework deal

Maguindanao is next to host another round of a cross-section, Mindanao-wide consultation on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro following Tuesday’s public dialogue in Sulu province. Leaders of the supposedly rivals Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attended the dialogue in Jolo, capital town of Sulu, which was organized by Hadji Sakur Tan, incumbent governor of the island province. Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, chairman of the provincial peace and order council, said the planned Jan. 12, 2013 gathering of sectoral representatives from across the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in his hometown, Buluan, is a “follow up” to the Dec. 4 consultation in Jolo. “We shall also be inviting representatives of the local religious, political and non-Muslim indigenous communities outside of ARMM,” Mangudadatu said. Mangudadatu said the Maguindanao provincial peace and order council will start organizing next week the Jan. 12 event, along with the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the MILF’s ceasefire committee, ARMM Gov.
Mujiv Hataman and the region’s police director, Chief Supt. Mario Avenido. Hataman and peace activist Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, both said they will jointly support extensively the conduct of another regional dialogue in Buluan, after Tuesday’s successful dialogue in Jolo. Mercado is a convenor of more than 50 peace advocacy groups in Central Mindanao that help push the southern peace process forward. Thousands attended Tuesday’s first regional dialogue at Sulu’s provincial gymnasium, which the founder of the MNLF, Nur Misuari, and Thoks Ebrahim of the MILF, both attended.

Mangudadatu, in an emailed statement, said they are to invite to the Jan. 12 dialogue all members of the MILF’s central committee, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, government peace negotiators, leaders of the Christian and Muslim religious communities in the ARMM and neighboring administrative regions. Mangudadatu said he will request the mayor of Maguindanao’s North Upi town, Ramon Piang, an ethnic Teduray timuay (chieftain) to help organize leaders of indigenous communities in Central Mindanao into big group to attend the dialogue in Buluan.

Mercado, director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance based in Cotabato City, said it is important to ensure the maximum participation of indigenous people to the framework agreement dialogue in Maguindanao. “These communities are very old communities in Mindanao. They have their own sets of customary laws and they also govern their communities by themselves. These groups are also stakeholders to the Mindanao peace process,” said Mercado, whose peace-building projects are being assisted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung of Germany. Mercado said Mangudadatu should also invite leaders of the ARMM’s business communities to the forthcoming FAB dialogue.

Hataman said he will order his newly appointed local government secretary, lawyer Makmod Mending, Jr., and Bainon Karon, who is the ARMM’s social welfare secretary, to help Mangudadatu organize the dialogue. Mending has ministerial powers over the ARMM’s more than 100 towns, five provinces and two cities. “We have been seeing the outpouring of support for FAB (Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro) from local executives in the ARMM since the agreement was signed by the GPH and MILF panels in Malacañang last month,” Hataman said.

Karon, who is also the ARMM’s regional vice governor, is a senior member of the MNLF, which was still a monolithic revolutionary group when it signed a peace pact with the national government on September 2, 1996, but split into at least three factions while Misuari was governor of ARMM from 1996 to 2001. The MNLF’s largest, most politically active faction, led by Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema, is not opposed to the planned Jan. 12 dialogue. Sema’s group and the MILF have “common strongholds” in many parts of Maguindanao. The MILF’s largest enclave in Southern Philippines, Camp Darapanan, is located in Sultan Kudarat municipality in the first district of Maguindanao. Maguindanao and several towns in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, were badly affected by the MILF-military hostilities in 2000, when President Joseph Estrada declared an “all out war” against the rebel group, and subsequently in 2003 and 2008.

AFP lauds soldiers in 'Pablo' rescue

From the Philippine Star (Dec 6): AFP lauds soldiers in 'Pablo' rescue

The military on Thursday lauded the soldiers who died while evacuating residents in typhoon-hit areas of Compostela Valley and vowed to provide assistance to the families they left behind. “The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) salutes our soldiers who died while performing their duties as typhoon ‘Pablo’ hit Mindanao,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said. “Our prayers and sympathy goes to all the families of the victims and our highest admiration to all rescue workers and volunteers, soldiers and civilians alike in their dedication and commitment in helping our people,” he added.

Members of the Charlie Company of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion were about to implement a forced evacuation of civilians in New Bataan town when they were swept by floods and landslide. As of Thursday afternoon, five soldiers were confirmed dead while six others remain missing. A total of 17 soldiers sustained injuries during the onslaught of the typhoon. Burgos said the families of the soldiers who died in the line of duty would receive financial assistance from the AFP. Among the benefits that may be given to the families of the late soldiers are posthumous separation benefits, unused leave credits, educational benefits, cash assistance from the Alay Kawal Foundation, and pension.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said it may suspend the conduct of military offensives due to the effects of the typhoon. “In light of the urgent humanitarian considerations, the NPA (New People’s Army) can suspend offensive military operations against the AFP for a period of time,” CPP said in a statement. “The responsible organs of the Communist Party, the NPA and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will issue more authoritative and detailed orders on this matter,” it added. The CPP also urged its forces to provide assistance to the calamity victims.

Meanwhile, the Navy has sent a ship to Davao Oriental to provide relief to affected residents. Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said BRP Miguel Malvar had been directed to bring relief supplies to barangay Labahon in Baganga, Davao Oriental. The ship is expected to arrive in Davao Oriental at about 5 a.m. Friday. Among the items loaded in the ship were clothes, food and water from the local governments, civil society groups and private donors.

AFP chief bares 3 contenders for Navy chief post

From the Philippine Star (Dec 6): AFP chief bares 3 contenders for Navy chief post

At least three Navy officers have made it to the shortlist of contenders for the next chief of the Philippine Navy, Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa said. Dellosa said the shortlist may have already been submitted to the Office of the President. “The BOG (Board of Generals) has already made a recommendation. I think it’s (list) already at the Office of the President,” he told reporters in a recent interview. Dellosa declined to identify the officers who were included in the list. He, however, said all individuals in the shortlist are capable of performing the job.“All of them are qualified,” the military chief said.

Among the officers who are qualified to become the next Navy chief are Navy Vice Commander Rear Adm. Edgar Abogado, Philippine Fleet Commander Rear Adm. Orwen Cortez and Armed Forces Central Command chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano.
Abogado is a graduate of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class ’80 while Cortez and Alano are members of PMA class ’79. Abogado served as the Chief of Naval Staff before he was appointed Navy Vice Chief. He was also the Commander of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon and Commander of the Navy Logistics Center. Meanwhile, Cortez has held key military positions including Navy Vice Commander and chief of the Palawan-based Naval Forces West and Naval Forces Western Mindanao Command. Alano was the leader of several important units in the Navy including the Philippine Fleet, Office of the Chief of Naval Staff, Naval Forces Northern Luzon, Service Force Command and Naval Air Group.

The incumbent Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on December 21. The date, however, falls on the celebration of the 77th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Sources said Pama might turnover the leadership of the Navy to his successor a few days earlier than his scheduled retirement.

Air Force deploys plane, choppers for relief efforts

From the Philippine Star (Dec 6): Air Force deploys plane, choppers for relief efforts

As the national government is racing against time to reach and assist thousands of hungry individuals in the typhoon Pablo devastated villages in Davao region, the Philippine Air Force has deployed its lone C-130 cargo plane and six helicopters to ferry and deliver food and non-food items to the needy residents. Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz said that since Wednesday, tons of relief goods have been flown by its C-130 plane to Davao while its Sokol and UH-IH helicopters have been transporting in foods and clothing to the hungry and homeless residents in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. “We have already deployed our C-130 cargo plane which we recently acquired from the United States (US) in the ongoing disaster and relief operations in Davao,” Dela Cruz said. Dela Cruz added six air force helicopters, have been flying foodstuffs to marooned areas in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental in support of the ongoing search and rescue as well as relief operations of the ground troops and other government and private agencies......

Soldier found dead in Camp Aguinaldo

From Rappler (Dec 6): Soldier found dead in Camp Aguinaldo

An Air Force soldier apparently shot himself in the head Wednesday night, December 5, in a military barracks in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, the main headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Airman First Class Jayson Reforsado, who was assigned to a unit in charge of camp security, was brought to a military hospital in Quezon City but was declared dead on arrival, according to military spokesman Col Arnulfo Burgos. Reforsado was 26. Burgos said that when fellow soldiers went to Reforsado's room after hearing a shot Wednesday night, they found him bloodied in his bed. Also found in the bed was the victim's service firearm, a .45-cal pistol. Burgos said the police and the military are doing separate probes on the incident. He said they have yet to establish if Reforsado indeed committed suicide.;postID=3415082275631737937

Framework Agreement forum in Sulu generates massive support

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 6): Framework Agreement forum in Sulu generates massive support

The continuous information and education campaign through symposia on the Framework Agreement in various areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for better understanding and appreciation of the provisions of the agreement is gaining ground. On Dec. 4, this year, an estimated 500 participants that included political leaders, civil society groups, religious community, local officials and other stakeholders from Maguindanao, Basilan, Davao, Zamboanga del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, and Lanao del Sur converged at the Sulu provincial gym for the multi-sectoral Framework Agreement forum hosted by Gov. Sakur Tan. Also present during the event were MNLF founder Nur Misuari and Toks Ibrahim of the MILF. USEC. Nabil Tan of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Sulu 1st district Rep. Habib Tupay Loong and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos chair Atty Adilwasif Baddiri.

With the theme “Towards a Common Stand of Regional Leaders on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement,” organizers and participants agreed to conduct the forum in the local dialect with Atty. Jose Lorena of OPAPP as one of resource speakers. “This is the first time that discussion and dialogue is in the local dialect for well-informed constituents and generate wider participation since our objective is to elicit opinions, views, comments and reactions,” Tan said. Tan said he is elated with the success of the activity attributing unity, cooperation and solidarity among the leaders and participants in pushing for the Framework Agreement to ensure success of the peace initiatives in Mindanao. The signing by the five provincial governors of a covenant to work together in order to ensure massive support to the peace initiatives embodied in the Framework Agreement for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity and the passage/adoption of several resolutions attest to the efforts to advance the peace process.

Several resolutions urged the GPH and MILF to consider the participation, representation and inclusion of the core LGUs, Ulamas and women sector as members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA); for the joint CCCH, Ad Hoc Joint Action Group(|ADHJAG), IMT(International Monitoring Team and the Joint Normalization Committee to define the scope of assistance of the MILF forces in the maintenance of peace and order; calling for the MNLF and MILF to unite and intensify their cooperation and coordination to address the problems of the Bangsamoro; calling on the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) to intensify its valuable role in working for the solidarity of the MNLF and MILF; calling on the GPH to work for the unification of the MNLF and MILF to achieve solidarity and teamwork for just and comprehensive peace of the Bangsamoro people; and resolution urging the GPH, MILF, traditional leaders, civil society organizations and other stakeholders in the proposed Bangsamoro entity to support through symposia on the Framework Agreement and its sensibilities.  The said forum highlighted the regional celebration of 2012 Mindanao Week of Peace that seeks to build a unified stand of stakeholders on the Framework Agreement.

8IB, LGU Valencia city conducts Bayanihan Rescue Operations for TC Pablo survivors

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 6): 8IB, LGU Valencia city conducts Bayanihan Rescue Operations for TC Pablo survivors

The local government of Valencia City headed by Mayor Leandro Jose H. Catarata and the 8th Infantry (Dependable) Battalion headed by Lieutenant Colonel Jose Maria R. Cuerpo II, conducted rescue and operation to more than 2,809 flashflood-affected families brought about by typhoon Pablo in barangays Poblacion, Catumbalon, Vintar, Dagat Kidavao, Laligan, Maapag, Pinatilan, San Isidro, Sinabuagan, San Carlos, Lumbayao, and Batangan, this city on.  The flash flood destroyed houses, infrastructure, and agricultural crops when the water reached as high as six feet in barangays Batangan, San Isidro, Nabag-o, and in Pulangi Riverside of Poblacion. Unfortunately, one casualty was reported on the said incident - six-year-old Roniel B. Brandares, resident of Barangay San Isdro, Valencia City.

The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) of Valencia together with the Army and other concerned stakeholders who conducted rescue operations during the flash flood, recorded an estimated of 2,809 affected families..... The Philippine Army is always ready to respond in times of calamities. Ltc. Cuerpo urges the public to prepare and cooperate in mitigating the effects of this hazard. He encourages the conduct of disaster response and rescue training to the local residents especially in flood-prone barangays.

2 rebels killed in clash with gov’t troop

From the Philippinie Information Agency (Dec 6): 2 rebels killed in clash with gov’t troop

VIRAC, Catanduanes -- Two alleged New People's Army (NPA) rebels were killed in an encounter with operatives of 83rd Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army in Brgy Calatagan, Virac, Catanduanes. According to Lt. Col. Rodolfo Batang, commanding officer of 83IB, the army troops composed of eight enlisted personnel and one officer under 1LT Magamay encountered the group of suspected rebels engaging them into a firefight.

On December 01, 2012 a concerned citizen divulged that a group of local communist terrorist led by certain Jimboy Lucero aka Jason is conducting extortion activity in vicinity of Brgy Calatagan, Virac, Catanduanes. Right away, 83IB directed 91st DRC which is operational control to 83IB to conduct combat operation immediately. Firefight lasted for about 10 minutes which resulted to the recovery of one (1) rifle 5.56mm m653 (Defaced SN), two (2) M16 rifles 5.56mm with SN 140004 and 066788, one (1) M14 rifle 7.62mm with SN 873438, Three (3) Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) with detonating cord, Forty (40) pcs blasting caps personal belongings. The bodies of the two rebels were turned-over to Virac PNP. Meanwhile, no casualty or injury was recorded on the government side.

Army, Kalinga media strengthen ties for the sake of development

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 6): Army, Kalinga media strengthen ties for the sake of development

The 501st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army and the Kalinga Media Club (KMC) gathered recently at the former’s headquarters here for a fellowship aimed at amplifying their working relationship especially on information service which is vital in pursuing peace and security plans. Col. Roger Salvador, 501st brigade commanding officer hosted a meeting and fellowship with 15 media practitioners from print, broadcast, and social media attending. The occasion also apprised the media on the internal peace and security plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which was presented in power-point.

Salvador asked the help of the media to highlight also in their news releases the accomplishment of the AFP particularly their non-combative operations like assisting communities in various capacities that contribute to the healing of wounds inflicted by the military to civilians in the past. On the other hand, Regino Wacas, president of KMC gave his group’s impression telling the host brigade that the media in Kalinga are for development. “We assure our friends in the uniformed service that the Kalinga Media Club is one with the AFP in pursuing peace efforts in the province,” Wacas said.

PVAO launches book on Filipino guerillas' victory at Bessang Pass authored by ex-PNAer

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 6): PVAO launches book on Filipino guerillas' victory at Bessang Pass authored by ex-PNAer

A book on World War II victory at Bessang Pass in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur was successfully launched at Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, Manila on Wednesday. Vicky Antiporda, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Vetarans Affairs Office (PVAO) in Ilocos Sur, announced here that the book was written by veteran journalist Ben Cal, former acting executive editor of the Philippines News Agency. Wanting the Filipino youth to have a sense of national pride and imbibe love of country, PVAO embarked on research and publication of this book entitled "Victory at Bessang Pass". Antiporda said the launching ceremony was attended by former President Fidel V. Ramos, who graced the event as a special guest; Ilocos Sur Vice Governor Deogracias Victor Savellano, who was the guest of honor; and Cervantes town Mayor Benjamin Maggay.

It was noted that Bessang Pass is a strategic gap with an altitude of 5,250 feet above sea level. Located in Barangay Malaya, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, it serves as a gateway to the Cordillera mountains and the city of Baguio and is the site where the last and most ferocious battle between the Filipino guerrillas and the Japanese forces was fought during the World War II. The book, “Victory at Bessang Pass,” tells about the gallantry of the United States Army Forces in the Philippines – Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) guerrillas, who, for over three years, never gave up their dream of retaking the Bessang Pass from the formidable enemy well entrenched in the mountain fortress,” Antiporda revealed.  "Unknown to many, the triumph of our forces at Bessang Pass was the most dramatic victory scored by Filipino guerrillas against the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II that forced Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the “Tiger of Malaya,” to surrender later in Kiangan, Ifugao, liberating Northern Luzon from the Japanese invaders and eventually ending Japanese occupation in the Philippines and concluding the war in the Pacific,” PVAO Administrator Ernesto G. Carolina said in a press statement received here.

Carolina, however, said that the victory at Bessang Pass is not being commemorated as a national historic event with the same fervor and intensity as that of April 9 every year - the day when Bataan fell to the hands of the Japanese in 1942. "The defeats in Bataan and Corregidor had been long redeemed by the victory at Bessang Pass, and the many other successful campaigns waged and won by our troops in various parts of the country. We are documenting these for our citizens to know and have something to be proud of,” Carolina added.

The book authored by Cal features 12 brave Filipino guerillas of the 11th, 14th, 15th, 66th and 121st Infantry Regiments of the USAFIP-NL who were among those who fought the non-stop, six-month military campaign. These include retired generals Fortunato U. Abat, Emilio M. Narcise, and Arnulfo D. Bañez; retired officers Gregorio Hufano and Jesus Martinez, lawyer Ricardo Miranda; and veterans Raymundo Gadgad, Belino Alumno, Jose Tadifa, Alejandro Puguon and Ricardo Madayag; and the late Ilocos Norte congressman Simeon M. Valdez.

“Written from the perspective of heroes, who survived the battle, the book aims to make the readers appreciate the real-life experiences and heroic exploits of those who did the supreme sacrifice of defending our nation from its enemy and to share their glorious triumph to their fellow Filipinos as a perpetual source of national pride. It also underscores the triumph of all freedom-loving Filipinos – including the civilians, who never stopped believing in the guerrillas’ cause but rather took the risk to help them in all ways possible. "These bespeak of selflessness, unity and patriotism - the character of our people that prevailed during the darkest days of oppression and adversity,” Cal said in a press statement. Copies of this book are now available for sale at Fully Booked Book Store at Fort Bonifacio, Global City in Taguig City, Metro Manila.

PA in Iloilo to hold human rights forum on Friday

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 6): PA in Iloilo to hold human rights forum on Friday

A human rights forum facilitated by members of the 301st Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) based at Camp Hernandez in Dingle, Iloilo will be held Friday as part of the activities in line with the National Human Rights Consciousness Week celebration. Leo Satana, one of the resource speakers of the forum, said the activity is part of the information and education drive to really impress human rights laws among men in uniform. Through the awareness drive, soldiers would be able to determine actions that are abusive. Data from the CHR showed a drop in number of complaint cases involving Army members from three cases in 2011 to only two cases for the three quarters of the year. A similar forum will be held Dec. 11 at the University of San Agustin (USA) in partnership with the Ateneo Human Rights Center.

Petronas welcome to Mindanao -- MILF's Murad

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 6): Petronas welcome to Mindanao -- MILF's Murad

 The Malaysian national oil firm, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is welcome to return to explore oil and gas deposits in Mindanao, once the issue of natural resources ownership, under negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government, is completed. MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said Petronas is one of the oil and gas companies the MILF is looking at, once Mindanao is ready to exploit its hydrocarbon resources. "Once we are ready to open for (oil and gas) exploration, then Petronas can be one of the companies that we are looking to," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview here. There was no immediate reaction from the Philippine government.

 He said Petronas had established its presence in the Mindanao region a few years ago, carrying out early stage exploration works. Petronas had partnered with the Philippines National Oil Company to search for oil and gas deposits in several potential blocks in the country, without achieving much success. Murad, the head of southern Philippines' largest armed rebel groups, was in Johor Baharu to attend the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum at the Persada Johor International Convention Center. The MILF and the Philippine government recently entered a historic Framework of Agreement on the Bangsamoro, ending years of conflict between the two parties. The framework agreement, brokered by Malaysia, was signed at the Malacanang Palace in Manila and witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.

Murad said oil and gas was one of the natural resources it wanted to exploit for economic purposes, as a means to uplift the economic status of the Bangsamoro people. He cited an area in central Mindanao called the "Liguasan Marsh", claimed to contain huge hydrocarbon reserves.  The MILF chief said before any oil and gas exploration could begin, the group and the Manila government would have to iron out details concerning the issue of natural resources ownership. "On the government side, it seems that they are agreeable for the ownership of the natural resources to be given to the Bangsamoro, but then they wanted to exclude oil and natural gas. So it is still subject to further negotiations," he said. Nevertheless, Murad expects the Bangsamoro people to have significant control over the natural resources in the area. Besides oil and gas deposits, the Mindanao region is also blessed with huge untapped amount of highly-valued minerals such as gold, copper, iron, chromite ore and nickel.

USAID to provide $ 100,000 for 'Pablo' relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 6): USAID to provide $ 100,000 for 'Pablo' relief efforts

As part of its efforts to aid the Philippine government in recovering from the death and destruction caused by typhoon "Pablo," the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has announced that it will be providing US$ 100,000 to the Catholic Relief Services to support disaster relief efforts in affected areas. U.S. Embassy Manila Chargé d’Affaires Brian L. Goldbeck, after consulting with the government of the Philippines on Dec. 5, offered to provide immediate relief assistance following reports of widespread destruction due to the storm in various areas of the Philippines.

 Teams from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and USAID/Philippines will conduct humanitarian assessments in typhoon-affected areas, including Davao and Cagayan De Oro cities in Mindanao, Negros Oriental province in the Visayas, and Palawan in Southern Luzon in the coming days to determine where this assistance is most needed. “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. We 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected,” Goldbeck stressed.

The United States has been a key partner of the Philippines in providing immediate humanitarian response during natural calamities. The American government is helping the Philippines cope with the effects of calamities by improving mechanisms to effectively adapt and respond to natural disasters. With this initial US$ 100,000, USAID will have provided approximately US$ 11.7 million in disaster response assistance over the past five years. This includes responses to tropical storm Ketsana (Ondoy) in 2009, typhoon Megi (Juan) in 2010, and tropical storm Washi (Sendong) in 2011. Beyond donations for immediate disaster relief, the U.S. government also supports efforts by local governments and communities to prevent and reduce the impact of typhoons and other natural disasters. In 2012, USAID/OFDA provided over US$ 4.1 million for disaster risk reduction activities in the Philippines.