Monday, December 10, 2012

MILF: NGOs, LGU in Marawi City back FAB

From the MILF Website (Dec 11): NGOs, LGU in Marawi City back FAB

A multi-sectoral groups composed of non-government organizations (NGOs) and the City Government of Marawi rallied behind the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) by conducting a multi-sectoral peace advocacy at Banggolo Plaza, Marawi City from 8AM to 12NN last December 1. An estimated 15,000 attended the rally. Datu Musa Macabangkit, President of SAKSI Islamic Radio Forum and one of the lead convener of the event, disclosed that almost all sectors of the Bangsamoro society were represented in the said occasion, such as religious, political, academic, NGOs, radio forums, traditional leaders, law enforcers, traders, youth and women sector.

According to organizers, the main purpose of the said event is to enlighten all stakeholders about the FAB so that popular support and acceptance among grassroots communities will be ensured. “We in the NGO and civil society sectors are truly thankful to the Philippine government and the MILF for their enduring patience and perseverance in reaching a compromise formula that will hopefully put a stop to the war in Mindanao,” he cheerfully Macabangkit explained.

The 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines stationed at Kampo Ranaw, Marawi City also supported this event. Colonel Balenti, the outfit spokesman, emphasized the assurance of his Commanding General, BGen Daniel Lucero, that he strongly and firmly supports the FAB. He further said: “Do not be misled by merely looking at my military uniform. Look deeply into my heart because I am not an enemy. I am a Muslim, a Meranaw and most importantly a Bangsamoro too.”.......

......Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, Chairman of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), and Dr. Macalinog Saligoin, incumbent Assistant Secretary of DepEd-ARMM enthusiastically presented and explained the FAB. Alim Zainoden Bato, Chairman of the Majlis As-Shoorah of the MILF Central Committee and Datu Said “Abosalman” Sheik, Chairman of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) expounded further on the circumstances surrounding the successful signing of the FAB as well as the current efforts being done on the completion of the annexes of the said agreement. Professor Salipada Tamano, representing the academic sector, emotionally summoned the participants to fully support the Framework Agreement......

Datu Agakhan Binladen Sharief, representing the Association of Higher Education Institutions in the ARMM, acknowledged the presence and active participation of the heads of tertiary schools in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur. He also thanked them for allowing their students to represent the youth sector and participate in this grand peace advocacy......

......Asked when will these information drives end, Dr. Dipatuan said: “This will end when we are confident enough that majority, if not all, of the Bangsamoro people have satisfactorily understood and appreciated the provisions of the Framework Agreement. We have scheduled advocacies until early January 2013 and more requests are coming. We have agreed to hold a peace summit at the Provincial Gymnasium in Marawi City in support of the FAB in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur headed by Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” A. Adiong. The Provincial Governor will summon all local government officials from the provincial level down to the barangay level. The MILF, on the other hand, will also invite its political committees from the provincial level down to the barangay level.”

Rebels attack mining firm in Palawan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 11): Rebels attack mining firm in Palawan

Armed men believed to be communist rebels pounced on a mining company in the southern town of Sofronio Española on Sunday during the intense moments of the fight between Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, burning one of the company’s backhoes. An official of Citinickel Mining Corp., which is engaged in nickel mining in the area, told reporters here that at least six armed men blocked the road in Barangay (village) Punang and stopped the passing backhoe owned by a mining contractor at around 1 p.m. They introduced themselves as New People’s Army (NPA) members, he said. They allowed the civilians, including the backhoe driver, to pass through their checkpoint before setting the heavy equipment on fire, he added. Citinickel, in a report submitted to defense authorities here, claimed that the NPA was trying to exact “revolutionary taxes” from the firm. A Western Defense Command spokesperson, Lt. Anne Abrigo, said the extortion attempt “was mentioned in the statement of the company employees” but was still being verified.

Lt. Col. Efren Rellores, head of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 operating in southern Palawan, told the Inquirer that the military had been closely monitoring a small NPA group operating in the area. The group usually operates in small numbers going around the villages in the towns of Quezon, Rizal and Sofronio Española, he said. Sunday’s attack was the third attack launched by the NPA in 18 months. In June last year, rebels raided a security detachment of another company at Brooke’s Point, a town adjacent to Sofronio Española, and an illegal chromite mining operation on Pali Island, Taytay and disarmed their private security guards.

In Negros Occidental, police intelligence agents arrested a top woman communist leader on a murder charge in Bago City on Friday. Aniceta Rojo was collared in Barangay Poblacion on the strength of a warrant issued by Judge Renato Muñez of the Regional Trial Court in Cadiz City. She was listed in the police order of battle as a member of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros regional finance and education committees. Rojo was accused of taking part in the killing of First Lt. Archie Polenzo, a company commander of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in Cadiz two years ago, according to Supt. William Senoron, Regional Intelligence Unit chief for Western Visayas. She was turned over by her captors to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Cadiz. Her arrest brought to 21 the number of alleged high profile personalities of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, in Negros Occidental since 2007. Sixteen of them, however, have managed to post bail and have returned to the mountains to continue the armed struggle, military records showed.

On Thursday, rebels killed two soldiers and wounded three others in an ambush n Barangay Rubas, Jaro town, in Leyte. The fatalities were identified as Pfc. Ariel Cahanap and Pfc. Jacob Bacolando. The wounded—Pfc. Ron Van Bura-Ay, Pfc. Russel Paderna and Pfc. Gilbert Serdena—were brought to the Ormoc Sugarcane Planters Association-Farmers’ Medical Center in Ormoc City. Capt. Drandreb Canto, spokesperson of the 802nd Infantry Brigade based in the city, said the soldiers were on patrolling Rubas, 15 kilometers from the town center, when they were fired at by 10 rebels at about 8 p.m.  An hour later, another group of 10 rebels attacked soldiers in Barnagay Atipolo in Albuera town, also in Leyte.  Last year, the military declared Leyte an insurgency-free province, which meant that the number of rebels operating there had diminished considerably and could no longer stage ambuscades significantly.

Militant party-lists not getting their pork

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 10): Militant party-lists not getting their pork

Even militant lawmakers belonging to the administration coalition are receiving shabby treatment from Malacañang—just like the family and allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino revealed that he and some of his colleagues from militant party-list groups had not received their P70-million allocations this year from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.

“I confirm we have not received any releases for our projects from the PDAF this year. No word from the DBM (Department of Budget and Management),” said Palatino, adding that they were able to get their share of pork during the first year of the Aquino administration without any hassles.  Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said: “We are still waiting for the releases. We are worried because we have committed these funds to hospitals and all our funds have been used up. What can the poor women access now?”  Ilagan said Gabriela had scholarship grants and water projects that have been affected by the delay in its pork barrel release.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. offered no explanation, however, saying that, “you have to ask them.”  Abad pointed out that at least two of the seven party-list representatives from the Makabayan bloc got their PDAF releases—Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.

Aside from Palatino and Ilagan, their peers who had yet to receive a centavo of their P70 million annual allocation are Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino, Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus and ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio. The zero-pork barrel Makabayan members are now in the same boat as the allies of Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative currently under hospital detention.

Army’s Additional Forces To Boost Peace, Security At Bataan Freeport

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 10): Army’s Additional Forces To Boost Peace, Security At Bataan Freeport

An Army general proposed over the weekend the deployment of additional security personnel near the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) as he reaffirmed the Philippine Army’s commitment to maintaining lasting peace in Central Luzon, a key element of economic progress in the region. Brigadier General Gregorio Pio Catapang, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Palayan City, told Bataan 2nd District Rep. Abet S. Garcia to consider the deployment of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) personnel to augment existing security forces at the FAB.

Catapang said he believes that doing so will ensure that the establishment of an atmosphere of peace in the industrial area will be maintained through the coming years. Garcia, the principal architect of the law that converted the Bataan Economic Zone into the FAB, said he will discuss his proposal with FAB authorities and the local officials in Mariveles, headed by Mayor Jesse Concepcion, site of the freeport.....

7th ID is also beefing up efforts in guarding the ongoing construction of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) and the soon to commence construction of Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX). The 89 kilometer-TPLEX would be linked with the existing North Luzon and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressways to provide seamless travel to and from the Ilocos, Cordillera and Central Luzon regions.

AFP Taking Lead Vs Loggers In Mindanao

From MindaNews (Dec 10): AFP Taking Lead Vs Loggers In Mindanao

The military has stepped forward in support of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s directive to stop logging activities and announced yesterday that, beginning Jan. 1, 2013, it will take the lead in the campaign against illegal loggers in Mindanao. Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, the 4th Infantry Division (4 ID) spokesman, said this is in response to Aquino’s issuance of Executive Order No. 23: “Declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creating the Anti-illegal Logging Task Force.” Osias said it was agreed at the special meeting with the National Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force at Camp Aguinaldo last September that strategies in operating against illegal loggers in Mindanao will be modified in view of the presence insurgents and armed groups in the area. With this, the “Anti-illegal Logging Task Force Resolution No.005 Series of 2012: A resolution converting the Anti-illegal Logging Operations in Mindanao from a civilian to an active military operation” will be implemented, he said. Present in the meeting were the secretaries of the Departments of Defense (DND) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Maj. Gen. Nestor A. Añonuevo, 4ID commander, who is also one of the proponents of the plan when he was still in the AFP General Headquarters, already gave instructions to all units under his command to prepare for the eventual handover of operations against illegal logging to Army units under the 4ID area of responsibility. In Caraga Region, Col. Ronald N. Albano PA, 402nd Infantry Brigade (402IB) commander, conducted a series of meetings with DENR-Region 13 officials on preparations for the anti-illegal logging operations and the strategies that will be employed upon the implementation of the resolution. The 402IB is also a member of the newly created “Multi-sectoral Forest Protection Committee” under the Regional Development Council in Caraga that aims to supplement EO 23 of the President. “We are very pleased on how much the people are putting their trust in the AFP to lead in the anti-illegal logging campaign of the government. This is another challenge for us to do better than what we are already doing in terms of environmental protection,” said Abano. “That is why we are also employing the aid of the DENR and other agencies in providing us with the technical assistance we need to educate our personnel on this new undertaking.” “Rest assured that we, together with the other government agencies, will do our part and we will do it the best way we can,” he added.

COA alarmed at delays in PAF procurements

From Malaya (Dec 10): COA alarmed at delays in PAF procurements

SOME P21.44 million worth of combat clothing and individual equipment (CCIE) purchased by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) three to five years ago from the Procurement Service, an agency under the Department of Budget and Management, has yet to be delivered. A Commission on Audit report noted that P15.6 million undelivered CCIE was already fully paid for while the remaining P5.84 million dated back to five years. Despite PS-DBM’s bad track record, the military service still increased its orders to P74.47 million worth of CCIE in 2011. By the time of the audit, however, only P23.37 million of the 2011 orders had been delivered. PS-DBM was created in 1978 supposedly to promote a “most economic and efficient” purchase and delivery of common-use supplies of the national government and its agencies.

NPA violates truce, holds 2 kids hostage

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 11): NPA violates truce, holds 2 kids hostage

The military yesterday scored the communist New People’s Army (NPA) for violating its self-declared truce amid the disaster brought by typhoon “Pablo” in Region XI by “hostaging” two children of an Army man who was a victim of flash floods in Davao del Norte. Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, the spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID), said that while the NPA declared a supposed truce in typhoon-stricken areas last week, they themselves violated it by initially taking two minor children of Pfc. Lito Masaluon.

Paniza said Masaluon was on a motorcycle with his two children, aged 17 and 12, at around 9:30 a.m. when they were flagged down by seven NPA rebels at Sitio Danao in Barangay Mandalingan, Kapalong town. “They have issued a statement last week (declaring truce) but yesterday (Sunday) they conducted a checkpoint in Kapalong and fired at one of our soldiers,” said Paniza. The rebels reportedly fired at Masaluon and his children but missed. Sensing he was the target of the armed men, Masaluon, Paniza said, tried to divert the attention of the armed men from his children by running to the opposition direction. Paniza said that three NPA rebels continued chasing and firing at Masaluon while the others held the two children. Paniza said Masaluon’s two children were released hours after they were taken as hostages through the efforts of local tribal leaders.

The military spokesman noted that the NPA atrocity happened amid the massive disaster response operations being conducted by government troops in typhoon-stricken areas in Region XI. In fact, Paniza said Masaluon himself was a victim of the calamity after his house was washed away by flash floods.

Leonen recuses from Pamatong suit deliberation

From the Daily Tribune (10): Leonen recuses from Pamatong suit deliberation

Newly appointed Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Marvic Leonen will take no part in deliberations on a petition challenging the validity of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that created a juridical entity in the southern part of the country. Leonen, who was the government’s lead man in negotiations with stakeholders, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), recused himself from handling the case.

In a 24-page petition for certiorari filed before the SC, lawyer Elly Pamatong, president of the International Ministries for Perfect and Party Against Communism and Terrorism Inc. (IMPPACT INC.) asked the tribunal to declare as unconstitutional the signed agreement. Among the petitioners who are also members of IMPPACT are Rev. Mercidita Redoble and Rev. Vicente Libradores Aquino. The case was raffled off to Leonen who informed the court that he will inhibit from the case. The petition shall be raffled off with a new ponente or the one tasked to write the decision to the case.

Pamatong has accused the Government Peace Panel of committing grave abuse of discretion when it formulated the Framework Agreement and said the forging of the pact will dissolve the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which was formed via 1976 Tripoli Agreement. The international treaty, according to the petitioners, was recognized by the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the Organization of Islamic Conference. The government insists that the framework will only complement, not disregard, the existing Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. Leonen had also expressed confidence that both parties would be able to complete the three annexes of the peace pact by the end of the year.

Territorial sea claims top PHL-US dialogue agenda

From Business Mirror (Dec 10): Territorial sea claims top PHL-US dialogue agenda

Amid increasing tensions between Manila and Beijing over their territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Philippines and the United States are to hold a strategic dialogue today in Manila to discuss a range of issues such as the economy, rule of law, diplomatic engagement and defense. Carlos Kim Soreta, assistant secretary for American Affairs, said during a press briefing on Monday that this is the third Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) between the two countries. He added that the Department of National Defense (DND) will tackle defense; the Department of Trade and Industry, the economy; and the Department of Justice, the rule of law.
Also on the agenda are economic linkages, inclusive growth, judicial reform, capacity-building of law enforcement, maritime security, defense cooperation and regional and global issues. Soreta said Adm.Samuel J. Locklear, commander in chief, Pacific Command, will be attending the plenary session, scheduled for Wednesday. The DND and the Department of Foreign Affairs will take the lead for the Philippine government in the forum. Citing the country’s long and lasting relationship with the United States, Soreta said, “We put structure to it, it is important, so that we have a common understanding of concepts and principles that bring us together to do common work,” he added.
Since the tensions in the South China Sea between Manila and Beijing erupted this year over occupation by Chinese fishermen of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), there has been a flurry of visits by American warships to the country. The visits, which were in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement, were preceded by acquisition of naval ships to augment the country’s depleted Navy. The Philippines has been rallying friends and allies to join in its campaign to apply the rule of law in the South China Sea, saying that Manila’s claim to the contested isles and shoal is in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Tuesday’s dialogue will be led by Foreign Undersecretary Linda Basilio and Defense Undersecretary Pilo Lorenzo Batino for the Philippine side and the State Department Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Defense Assistant Secretary Mark Lippert for the US. We expect the third BSD to continue our countries’ high-level consultation and exchance of views on bilateral, regional and global issues which reflect our common values and emerging interests,” Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said. He added that he sees an accelerated deepening of Philippine-US relations beginning with the second BSD in January. “Our partnership with the US is strategically important to us as our country deals with a wide range of emerging challenges, from natural disasters to maritime disputes,” del Rosario said, adding that the third BSD will assess where the country’s maturing relationship with the US is at present and where it should take the Philippines in 2013.

Political, Muslim leaders seeking seats in transition commission

From Business World (Dec 10): Political, Muslim leaders seeking seats in transition commission

Governors and Muslim leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are seeking participation in the transition commission that will be formed to draft the basic law on the planned Bangsamoro region and recommend possible amendments in the Constitution. In a four-page resolution passed during the forum of the Framework of the Bangsamoro in the island-province of Sulu last week, governors in the five-province ARMM said there is a need for the commission to be inclusive since the future of their areas are at stake. They also sought representation from the ulama (Muslim spiritual leaders) and women sector.

The transition commission -- which has yet to be created in an executive order -- will be composed of 15 members, with seven members to be appointed by the government and eight members, including the chairman, to be selected by the MILF. The commission’s objective is to have a Bangsamoro basic law before the Aquino administration steps down in 2016. The law will need to undergo a plebiscite in the Bangsamoro areas that were identified in the framework agreement, which will replace ARMM.

The MILF has earlier agreed to trim down the transition period from six to three years to align with the term of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III. Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice-chairman for political affairs, has earlier said that representatives of key sectors of society should be included in the commission.

For her part, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Q. Deles said the government also wants the commission’s composition as inclusive as possible. "We are committed to such for an inclusive a table as possible in the crafting of the new law on the Bangsamoro," she has said. "We are pushing for ethnic, gender and generational balance. As we have previously stated, we are committed to ensure MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) representation in the transition commission. The same goes for the indigenous people." Ms. Deles said the government has no "short list yet," but it is open to receiving "applications and nominations for the commission."

The governors said they are also asking for the government and MILF to reconsider their request for them to be "members of the domestic groups of the third-party monitoring team" in overseeing the ceasefire agreement.

The government and the MILF are expected to conclude talks on three annexes of the framework deal, namely: power sharing; wealth sharing; and normalization, including the schedule of decommissioning of the MILF. The two sides will resume the talks sometime this month in Kuala Lumpur.,-Muslim-leaders-seeking-seats-in-transition-commission&id=62736

Manila, Jakarta boost military ties

From Business World (Dec 10): Manila, Jakarta boost military ties

The Philippines and Indonesia have boosted efforts against terrorism and transnational crimes with the inking of a new cooperation document that reinforces a three-decade-old joint border agreement. Admiral Agus Suhartono, commander in chief of the Indonesian National Defense Force, and Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff said after the signing ceremony that the agreement will strengthen cooperation on sharing intelligence information, joint border patrol, operations and exercises, training and education, as well as service-to-service activities.

Mr. Dellosa particularly cited the need to strengthen the sharing of information on anti-terrorism efforts, with both sides set to review protocols and address weak points. Also present at the event, Indonesian Consul General Eko Hartono said the cooperation deal is key to running after transnational criminals who take advantage of so-called porous borders. Manila and Jakarta have a cooperation agreement that goes way back to 1975 when the joint border committee was formed.

Mr. Hartono said the new accord, called Philippine-Indonesia Military Cooperation, has both sides committing to come up with new mechanisms on joint initiatives, including the allocation of "as much resources as possible" to solve crimes that involve their nationals in each other’s areas. The military units will also intensify "coordinated patrols" against terror groups, the Indonesia official said.

The Philippine military has identified the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) as a terrorist group helping the Abu Sayyaf, which has wreaked havoc on security in some parts of the country, particularly in western Mindanao. The Philippine military has even arrested in Mindanao several Indonesians who were tagged as leaders of the JI who trained members of the Abu Sayyaf, particularly in making explosive devices. There were even reports linking the Indonesia-based extremist group into what was earlier referred to as a special operations unit of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Experts on terrorism claimed that JI was behind the two bombs that exploded in 2003 at the Davao airport and wharf that killed 38 people and injured 200 others.

Meanwhile, Mr. Suhartono also turned over relief goods worth $1 million to the Department of Social Welfare and Development as assistance to the victims of typhoon Pablo (international code name: Bopha) for the Davao Region.,-Jakarta-boost-military-ties&id=62739

Citing terror threat, UK renews advice vs travel to parts of Mindanao

From ABS-CBN (Dec 10): Citing terror threat, UK renews advice vs travel to parts of Mindanao

The United Kingdom on Monday (Manila time) advised its nationals anew against traveling to parts of Mindanao due to the threat of terrorism there. In its Dec. 9 travel advice, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all travel to southwest Mindanao, and non-essential travel to specific areas in Mindanao. "There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Such places could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, places of worship etc.," it said.  The UK particularly advised against "all travel" in:
  • Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (includes Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi);
  • Sarangani;
  • North and South Cotabato;
  • Sultan Kudarat;
  • Lanao del Norte;
  • Zamboanga del Sur; and
  • Zamboanga Sibugay.
It advised against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao "because of ongoing terrorist activity," citing a number of attacks against civilian targets. "Since November 2011 there have been at least ten bombing incidents in North Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sulu, Sultan Kudarat, and Zamboanga killing a total of eight people and leaving 66 others wounded," it noted. Also, the UK cited ongoing terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.

Meanwhile, the UK cited a threat from kidnapping in the Philippines, particularly in the south. "Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and dive boats and sites in the Sulu Sea," it said. Some 104,000 British tourists visited the Philippines in 2011, the UK FCO noted, citing figures from the Philippine Department of Tourism.

New People's Army halts armed offensives in 'Pablo'-stricken areas

From GMA News (Dec 10): New People's Army halts armed offensives in 'Pablo'-stricken areas

The communist New People's Army (NPA) on Monday announced a suspension of armed offensives in two southern Philippine provinces devastated by Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) last week. The typhoon left nearly 650 people dead and caused at least P7 billion in damage to crops, property, and infrastructure. The Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA's parent organization, said on its website that “[i]n light of the urgent humanitarian considerations, the NPA can suspend offensive military operations against the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] 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,” it added.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) noted that Pablo has affected more than five million people in 30 provinces. At least 1,482 people were injured and 780 remain missing, while 100 fishermen are feared lost between Mindanao and Indonesia's Sulawesi island.

Army division commander Major-General Ariel Bernardo told Reuters he believes that many NPA rebels, which are actively operating in the hardest hit provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, were also affected by Pablo. "We heard the rebels had declared an informal ceasefire, we welcome that because we can all concentrate on helping typhoon victims," Bernardo told Reuters. "I believe many of these rebels were also affected and could be in the shelter areas." As of Monday morning, the death toll from Pablo was pegged at 647, and the damage to infrastructure and agriculture at P7.116 billion.

No to the 'truce'

In a text message to GMA News Online, however, AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos said the military will continue conducting security operations “which is a fulfillment of our constitutional mandate." “Negative on the truce [with NPA]. On their declaration of suspension of offensives – if they really want peace and stability for our country for unhampered progress and development, they should completely abandon the armed violence which continue to harm our peace loving citizens,” he added. “Their continued extortion activities, use of improvised explosive device and ambush of government soldiers/public servants are causing destruction to infrastructures, facilities and loss of innocent lives. “Instead of being part of the problem, they should become part of the solution by embracing peace."

The CPP has asked international donors to send their assistance to the various people’s organizations engaged in calamity and disaster work, to ensure that aid reaches the victims directly. It blamed the Aquino administration for allowing big mining operations in the affected areas to continue “despite the widespread damage these have caused on the environment which subject the people in lowlands to calamities.” NPA guerrillas have been battling government forces in various parts of the Philippines for decades.

Bernardo said he had ordered troops to shift from combat to relief operations, and to help deliver food and rebuild communities. Government soldiers have also restored links to isolated communities so that food and other supplies can reach the victims.....

Progressives critical of administration's human rights record

From GMANews (Dec 11): Progressives critical of administration's human rights record

Several progressive groups commemorated International Human Rights Day on Monday with protest actions against the Aquino administration, which they found wanting as far as protecting human rights are concerned. “Both (President Benigno) Aquino III and the CHR (Commission on Human Rights) need to get their priorities straight. Instead of going after the culprits, they punish the victims,” Kabataan Partylist national president, lawyer Terry Ridon said. Kabataan staged a protest action in front of the CHR compound in Quezon City where government agencies had gathered to celebrate the occasion.

Ridon said CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales has been ineffective and was a poster girl for Aquino’s human rights charade as evidenced by the arrest last December 3 of Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano of COURAGE, a progressive federation of government employees. The two were accused of participating in an ambush staged by the New Peoples Army (NPA) in Camarines Norte. He also slammed the promotion of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año, one of the respondents in the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos, as head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The group also cited the cases of activists Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, both of whom remain missing. The principal suspect in their disappearance was retired AFP chief Jovito Palparan, who remained at large. “We condemn these human rights violations and the impunity [with which they are] perpetrated by the administration. The youth will not stand by and watch their country, future and civil liberties be torn into shreds by programs like Oplan Bayanihan,” said Ridon.

Mendiola protests

Later in the day, Kabataan joined the protests at Mendiola along with Anakbayan; Karapatan; Panalipdan! Mindanao; Kalumaran, an organization of Lumad or indigenous peoples from Mindanao; and Bayan-Southern Tagalog. During the protest, Anakbayan called for a ban on military personnel in all schools and at all levels across the nation, as they alleged a resurgence in various forms of “campus militarization.” “In the more remote areas, the AFP has been violating international laws and agreements by using schools for their camps, deliberately putting children and teachers in harm’s way as their ‘human shields’,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan. “In urban areas, especially in colleges and universities, the military presence takes on a more insidious form: through their so-called forums where they threaten and harass youth activists, and through the re-activation of the ‘Student Intelligence Network',” he added.

Meanwhile, Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said among the 129 victims of extrajudicial killings that they have documented, 69 were farmers and 25 were indigenous peoples. Most of those killed in Mindanao were anti-mining activists and Lumad leaders who defended their land and the environment against the intrusion of big foreign mining corporations. Karapatan also believed abuses by the military continue because of Oplan Bayanihan, the government's anti-insurgency program.

Militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said that Rolando Quijano, a farmer and active member of the Alliance of Farmers Union in Zamboanga Del Sur (AFUZS-KMP), was allegedly shot to death last Friday in San Miguel Town by elements of the Philippine Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion. KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said Quijano’s relatives and colleagues believe his death was due to his active opposition to large-scale mining and illegal logging in Zamboanga Del Sur. “The extrajudicial killing of Quijano by suspected state security forces clearly shows that the culture of impunity prevails under the Aquino administration,” said Flores.....

CHR admits torture, killings happen under PNoy

From ABS-CBN (Dec 10): CHR admits torture, killings happen under PNoy

Torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are still happening now under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, according to human rights chief Loretta Rosales. “Sa Aquino administration, meron pang extra judicial killings, meron pang enforced disappearance, meron pa ring torture pero nabawasan na,” the head of the Commission on Human Rights said in an interview on International Day of Human Rights. President Aquino recently signed Administrative Order No. 35, creating the Inter-agency committee on extra-legal killing, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life and security of persons.

Rosales said the commission has submitted a report to the military detailing 96 atrocities allegedly committed by state security forces. She said the military then presented the report to infantry divisions deployed all over the country.  She said that out of the 96 reported cases, 42 were clearly human rights violations. Another 35-45 cases were acts committed by individual soldiers against their spouses or children, which are also clear abuses of human rights, she said.

Col. Roderick Parayno, chief of the Army's Human Rights Office, said there are 80 more alleged violations reported by the media and Congress that are being investigated by the military.  One case that has led to a court martial is the murders of anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and her two sons, Jordan and Mark Jordan, allegedly at the hands of elements of the Philippine Army’s 27th Infantry Batallion.

Rosales said human rights abuses by state security forces blossomed under martial law after President Ferdinand Marcos used the military, police and the entire government to perpetuate himself in power.
She told rights group Karapatan that human rights abuses can only be solved by getting to the root of the complaints. She said the CHR is set to sign a declaration with top military and police chiefs about the investigation of these human rights violations. 

“Kailangan we engage them directly and we tell them kailangan ma engage niyo ang human rights at baguhin niyo yung inyong behaviour. That is the way I go about it,” she said.  “Hindi pwedeng nakahiwalay ka lang at banat ka lang nang banat sa kanila. Kailangan tulungan natin sila na lutasin ang sarili nilang problema at yung mga charged ay pumasok sa investigation, charge and judgment,” she added.

US plane delivers goods to Pablo-ravaged provinces in Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Dec 10): US plane delivers goods to Pablo-ravaged provinces in Mindanao

The United States military has brought at least 270,000 pounds of emergency supplies to provinces ravaged by typhoon "Pablo," the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Monday. The AFP said that the goods were delivered by the American C-130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft on Sunday and Monday. Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos Jr., AFP spokesperson, said that the aircraft unloaded its cargo at the Davao City airport, where the Air Force has an existing facility. Burgos said that the supplies would be forwarded to the typhoon-battered areas, either by helicopters or trucks. Burgos said that 76,000 pounds of the supplies came from the World Food Program and the rest came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The AFP spokesperson also said that the United States paid for the fuel and maintenance and flying costs of the C-130 while Filipino military only secured the American aircraft.

Indonesia gives AFP US$1M, relief goods for 'Pablo' victims

From InterAksyon (Dec 10): Indonesia gives AFP US$1M, relief goods for 'Pablo' victims

The Indonesian government has given US$1 million and four tons of relief goods to help victims of typhoon "Pablo" in Mindanao, coursing the assistance through the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The donation was handed to AFP chief of staff General Jessie Dellosa at the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City by Admiral Agus Suhartono, chief of the Indonesian National Defense Force. The donation includes 1,000 military blankets, 3,000 packs of ready-to-eat meals, and boxes of instant noodles.

The financial aid and the relief packs were then turned over by the AFP to Director Liza Mazo of the Office of Civil Defense in Region 11.“We express our sincerest gratitude to the Indonesian Government for their donation that manifests the strong, vibrant, and deepening relationship between our two countries and our two armed forces. This contribution will surely be a big help to our people who currently need aid and assistance due to the devastation brought by typhoon Pablo,” Dellosa said in a statement.

Admiral Suhartono arrived in Davao Sunday for a three-day visit to the Philippines. He visited the base camp of International Monitoring Team Site 5 in Davao City before meeting with Eastmincom chief, Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia. Aside from the donation to the typhoon victims, the Indonesian military also signed the Terms of Reference of the Joint Understanding of Philippines-Indonesia Military Cooperation, which aims to strengthen bilateral military relationships between the two countries. Last week, Malaysian military chief General Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Zulkifeli Bin Mohd Zin also visited the country, receiving the Philippine Legion of Honor.

U.S. senior diplomat to visit Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): U.S. senior diplomat to visit Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand

A senior U.S. diplomat in charge of Asian affairs will visit the Philippines, Malaysia and New Zealand, the State Department announced in a statement on Monday. The statement said that the visit by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell extends from this Monday to next Monday. On Wednesday, Campbell will join U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert in Manila, Philippines for the third annual U.S.-Philippines bilateral strategic dialogue, according to the statement. He will also meet with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and other senior Philippine officials.

 On Thursday, Campbell will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for meetings with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other senior government officials and representatives from civil society, said the statement. Campbell will be in New Zealand, the last stop of his tour, from Friday to Sunday, to participate in the U.S-New Zealand strategic dialogue and meet with senior officials, the statement added.

US gives $3M more for Pablo victims

From the Philippine Star (Dec 10): US gives $3M more for Pablo victims

The United States government provided an additional $3-million dollars to address the humanitarian needs of the typhoon Pablo victims amid threat of disease spreading with the death toll climbing up to 647 and hundreds more missing in Davao province, its embassy said Monday. The US embassy said the additional fund that its government is providing will include the support for emergency shelters, logistics, water sanitation, hygiene and provisions for emergency relief commodities.
The funds, which the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided, is on top of the P100,000 dollars it initially poured in after seeing the widespread destruction of the typhoon in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and parts of Negros Oriental. US Charge d’ Affaires Brian Goldbeck said his government has been in coordination with the different humanitarian groups and Philippine government to monitor the impact of the storm that hit the country last week.
The US Pacific Command had also redirected its military personnel on conference for the Balikatan 13 in the country to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation. The US military also provided transport and other lift assistance in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the U.S. Department of Defense Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid program.
The US Marine Forces Pacom has sent personnel and supplies to transport loads of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies via C-130 planes. Two US C-130 aircraft arrived in Manila from Okinawa,Japan on Saturday and loaded some 5,800 food packs that were transported to Davao Sunday. The US Department of Defense will continue the mission through the week. Water purification systems will also be established in the area as there were reports of water contamination due to the massive death.
The US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, which has been conducting training and relief operations in the country, has been deployed also in the devastated areas in Mindanao to assist their Filipino military counterpart, the embassy added.

Leftist rebel killed in Davao

From the Philippine Star (Dec 10): Leftist rebel killed in Davao

A member of the leftist New People's Army (NPA) was killed and a soldier injured following a gun battle over a truck filled with relief supplies in Davao del Norte, the military said today. Col. Leopoldo Galon, spokesman of the Philippine military's Eastern Mindanao Command, said leftist rebels tried to stop a truck carrying relief goods for the victims of typhoon Pablo in Gupitan village, Kapalong town in Davao del Norte. Galon identified the injured soldier as Pfc Lito Macaloon who was on board the truck. Macaloon engaged the leftist rebels in a firefight, killing the unidentified NPA. Meanwhile, the Philippine military said operations continue to locate and rescue two children allegedly kidnapped by the NPAs. One of the kidnap victims is Macaloon's 17-year-old daughter. The 4,000-strong NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting a 43-year leftist insurgency in 60 Philippine provinces.

Army overruns 11 NPA camps

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 10): Army overruns 11 NPA camps

The Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade has seized 11 camps of the New People’s Army in the hinterlands of Tulunan and Magpet towns in North Cotabato within 24 days, after brigade-sized operations were started about a month ago, its commander, Negrense Col. Ademar Tomaro, said yesterday. Tomaro said they also recovered several improvised explosive devices, including landmines, planted by rebels along their withdrawal routes, and 2 M16 and AK 47 assault rifles, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, in four encounters, that led to the seizure of 11 rebel camps. The 602nd Infantry Brigade is pursuing more than 100 armed NPA guerillas, who compose three NPA guerilla fronts.

Tomaro commended the troops of 7th, 40th, 57 Infantry Battalions, the 6th Scout Ranger and the 10th Special Forces companies, for their collaborative efforts with civilians and local government units in accomplishing their missions, but said it would not have been realized if not for the support of community leaders and the civilian sector. He also offered his assistance to rebels injured in the series of encounters, and who may now want to live normal lives with their families.

The Magpet municipal council and Association of Barangay Captains, and Mayor Efren Pinol, recently rallied behind the 602nd Infantry Brigade, that had been accused of “militarizing” North Catabato, ILt. Antonio Bulao, 602nd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer, said. Bulao said “militarization” is when there is a strong influence of a military government and the government policy is invested in the military. This is not what is happening in North Cotabato, he added.

Major General Caezar Ronnie Ordoyo, 6th Infantry Division commander, also expressed satisfaction with the 602nd Infantry Brigade troopers for making a headway in addressing threat groups, in a statement he issued.

PH eyes greater US military presence

From Rappler (Dec 10): PH eyes greater US military presence

JOINT TRAINING. US soldiers train a member of the Philippine Coast Guard during one of their joint exercises in Mindanao. (Photo from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines)

JOINT TRAINING. US soldiers train a member of the Philippine Coast Guard during one of their joint exercises in Mindanao. (Photo from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines)
US and Philippine officials will meet this week to discuss expanding American presence in the Asian nation, a senior diplomat said, amid tensions with China over its claims to vast waters in the region.The meetings in Manila on Tuesday, December 11, and Wednesday, December 12, will have a special focus on defence and regional matters, Philippine Assistant Secretary for US affairs Carlos Sorreta told reporters.
"Foremost in the agenda is the increased rotational presence" of US forces in the Philippines, he said Monday, December 10. This refers to US troops and ships passing through the country for training or exercises, circumventing a constitutional ban on foreign bases in the Philippines. He said the meetings with US assistant secretaries for defence and state was not about the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea. But he said "as public officials answerable to their people and their security, its very difficult not to discuss the West Philippine Sea," using Manila's term for the South China Sea.

The two countries' officials will discuss boosting the number of visits of American troops, ships and aircraft while increasing US defence aid to the poorly-equipped Philippine military, Sorreta said.
The discussions will also look at more training for Filipino troops and increased help in humanitarian and disaster relief. A rotating force of 600 US Special Forces has been stationed in Mindanao since 2002 to help train local troops in how to combat Islamic militants.

The Philippines has sought to boost its ties with the United States in recent years following increasing aggressiveness by China in claiming virtually the entire South China Sea, even up to the coasts of its neighbours. In October, a Philippine official said a former US naval base in this country, facing the South China Sea could play a key role as a hub for American ships as Washington moves to strengthen its presence in the Asia-Pacific.

Tensions with China have increased since April following a standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships over South China Sea shoal which both claim as their territory.Sorreta said China should not be alarmed by the effort to improve Philippine-US ties. But, he stressed, "with our without the Americans, we will take our stand".

Soldiers, BDO partner to help typhoon survivors

From  the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 10): Soldiers, BDO partner to help typhoon survivors

The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division in partnership with Banco de Oro Foundation incorporated conducted relief operation at Barangay Consolacion, this city, Dec. 8. Five hundred families benefited from the relief operation receiving a pack of assorted canned goods and noodles that will help them supplement their daily meal as they continue repairing and cleaning their houses.

Soldiers with BDO headed by managers June Bañados and Mafel Gatchalian of Carmen and Cogon Branches respectively, led the distribution of the relief goods to the victims of the Typhoon “Pablo.” To give back to the people for patronizing Banco de Oro, the foundation carried out this relief distribution which is also part of their corporate social responsibility.

Other organizations and groups in partnership with 4ID expressed their intention to sponsor relief operations to other parts of the City severely affected by the typhoon. “This endeavor will continue despite your soldiers’ busy schedule in performing their traditional task as combatants. Your soldier will continue to reach all other areas to help more survivors positively cater this kind of undertaking which aims to help the people,” Major General Nestor A. Añonuevo AFP, Commander, 4ID said. We will be your partner and will assist the City and the Province as a whole in the relief and rehabilitation operation they will be conducting to help their constituents, Major General Añonuevo added. (4CMO/4ID/PIA10)

Former rebel group now a member of the Cordillera peace council

From  the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 10): Former rebel group now a member of the Cordillera peace council

A former armed group in the region that pioneered the campaign for Cordillera regional autonomy in now part of the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC). The Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA), now known as the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development (CFPD), has been accepted as council member during the fourth quarter RPOC meeting here.

The CFPD has been requesting to become a member of the RPOC after the CPLA-Cordillera Bodong ADministration signed a memrandum of agreement with the Philippine Government last year towards the group's final disposition of arms and forces and its transformation into a potent socio-economic force.  CFPD chairman Arsenio Humiding has been presenting the RPOC the different documents including the registration to the Securities and Exchange Commission of their group proving that they have been transformed into a socio-economic group pursuant to the provisions of the MOA.

RPOC chairman and Ifugao Governor Eugene Balitang said the application of the CFPD to be a member of the RPOC was put on hold in previous meetings as the group was still in the process of transforming into an unarmed force. The Philippine Army battalions based in the Cordillera namely the 501st, 502nd and 503rd Infantry Brigades are reportedly supportive of the move of the former rebel group to join the RPOC and help in the peace and order efforts in the region.

In the past months, the CFPD has already been conducting the profiling of its members in the different provinces in the Cordillera. At present, more than 1000 members have been profiled. Through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Police Regional Office – Cordillera also conducted inventory and valuation of firearms and explosives of the CFPD members. The turnover was conducted in the six provinces in the region but the police is still waiting for the final turnover of firearms and explosives after only 386 were valuated out of the more than 600 which were previously reported by the CPLA.

AusAid grant for KALAHI-CIDSS to include Antique, Guimaras, Aklan

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): AusAid grant for KALAHI-CIDSS to include Antique, Guimaras, Aklan

The provinces of Antique, Guimaras and Aklan are beneficiaries of the Australian grant of US $ 10 million for the implementation of the Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) in 2013. Leo Quintilla, Deputy Regional Project Manager of Kalahi-CIDSS in Western Visayas, said they recently received a memorandum order for the inclusion of the three provinces in the list of beneficiaries.

 The initial identified beneficiaries are Iloilo, Capiz and Negros Occidental provinces which have already funded projects under the Kalahi-CIDSS program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).  Quintilla said they expect the 89 total sub-projects composed of 34 Day Care Centers and 55 elementary school buildings to be increased once the three additional provinces could submit their project list for funding.

The US $ 10 million is part of the entire $ 50 million AusAid grant that has been given to the Philippine government for the KALAHI-CIDSS that was coursed through the World Bank. He said the grant could be availed of by the local government units (LGUs) upon their submission of requirements for the Kalahi-CIDSS.

Under KALAHI-CIDSS, the construction of a Day Center is allocated P150,000 to P200,000 while the elementary school between P200,000 to P300,000 each. The LGUs are also required to have a counterpart of 30 percent -- 15 percent in cash and the other 15 percent for the labor requirement.

P213M Kalahi projects implemented in WV

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): P213M Kalahi projects implemented in WV

More than P213 million worth of Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) projects have been implemented in Western Visayas in 2012. Leo Quintilla, Deputy Regional Project Manager of the Kalahi-CIDSS in Western Visayas, said these projects, funded by the World Bank in the amount of P213.67 million, were in the towns of Barotac Viejo, Bingawan, Calinog, Carles, Lambunao, and Lemery in Iloilo.

 In Capiz, projects were undertaken in the towns of Maayon and Tapaz while Don Salvador and Hinobaan in Negros Occidental. The projects were mostly in the form of post-harvest facilities, farm-to-market roads, and construction of Day Care Centers and water system. Quintilla said that the 197 total sub-projects benefitted 44,371 households in Western Visayas.

P150-M PAMANA road projects completed in Camarines Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): P150-M PAMANA road projects completed in Camarines Norte

Four of the five farm-to-market road (FMR) projects in Camarines Norte implemented through the funds provided this year under the Payapa at Masagamang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) have already been completed. Paul Escober, OPPAP area manager for Bicol, on Monday said the four completed projects were the concreting of the Sta. Rosa Sur-San Rafael road section in Jose Panganiban town worth P20 million; concreting of Malibago-Maligaya in Labo town worth P40 million; concreting of Bakiad-Sta. Cruz-Fundado also in Labo town worth P10 million; and the concreting of Pambuhan to Lanot Road in Mercedes town worth P20 million.

The remaining project, the concreting and graveling of the Exciban farm-to-market road in Labo town worth P50 million is 80.72 percent complete as works being initiated by the Camarines Norte Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) are still on-going. Escober said the five projects were allocated this year a total of P140 million from the stimulus fund of President Benigno S. Aquino III that was channeled through the OPAPP for its PAMANA program.

 PAMANA is a priority government program being undertaken by the OPAPP towards the attainment of economic progress in conflict affected areas (CAAs) in line with the Aquino administration’s peace agenda geared at ending internal armed conflicts. Camarines Norte is among the three Bicol provinces placed under its coverage. The others are Masbate, which was given P50 million; and Sorsogon, P39 million; for various community development and peace building projects. Masbate is Bicol’s poorest province based on the assessment of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Camarines Norte is second poorest and Sorsogon is the most insurgency-troubled according to the military.

 Escober said the PAMANA program will help attain economic progress for these provinces as its objectives are based on initiating reforms and development projects in conflict affected areas in line with the national government’s peace agenda and ending internal armed conflicts. The projects communicate among communities the initiatives of government in building the culture of peace and development in the countryside to make them resilient against the anti-government whims of the insurgency being carried out by the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Following the completion of these FMR roads in Camarines Norte, Escober said another set of PAMANA projects for funding this year had already been identified to include the water system in Labo worth P9 million, farm-to-market roads in Jose Panganiban worth P7 million and environmental projects in Capalonga worth P4 million for a total of P20 million. The amount will be provided by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and release of the funds are just awaiting the completion of necessary documents.

For funding next year are more projects worth a total of P105.5 million to be implemented in the towns of Basud, Capalonga, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sta. Elena, and Mercedes, all in Camarines Norte. The projects include water system, construction of bridges, farm-to-market roads, corn and pineapple production and construction of new and improvement of existing irrigation systems. Funds for these will come from the DILG and the Department of Agriculture (DA), Alcober said.

Philippine Marines conducts recruitment in Dumaguete

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): Philippine Marines conducts recruitment in Dumaguete

The Philippine Marines is in Dumaguete City to conduct recruitment activities. In an interview, T/Sgt Josefino Dionson of the headquarters unit of the Philippine Marines stressed the drive now of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Marines is to balance their strength by region, aside from giving employment opportunities to Negrenses.

 Pre-screening of applicants is conducted at the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) main campus, and the exams will be in February next year for pre-screened applicants. Quota for Negros Oriental is 60 to 90, preferably highly-skilled applicants such as mechanics, with knowledge in electronics, information technology and the like. T/Sgt Dionson said the Philippine Marines also need highly-skilled individuals not just pure combatants.

The Marines are also conducting recruitment activities in Ilo-ilo, Bacolod, Negros Occidental and Palawan. Applicants who pass the exams in February next year will undergo the training at the Philippines Marines base in Ternate, Cavite.

Qualified to apply are applicants aging 18-23 years old, single, at least 5’4” in height, highly-skilled are preferred, with at least 72 units in college. However, high school graduates may apply provided they bring along with them TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) certifications.

TSgt. Dionson was accompanied by MSgt Imbudo of the NORSU naval training unit in paying courtesy calls to Governor Roel Degamo and Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria.

Army troops overrun at least 15 NPA camps in North Cotabato, offers reconciliation

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): Army troops overrun at least 15 NPA camps in North Cotabato, offers reconciliation

Government forces have overran at least 15 major and minor camps of the communist guerillas in the hinterlands of Magpet, North Cotabato since last month, a regional military official said Monday. Some of these camps have overhead bunkers, fortifications and running trenches. Elements of the 57th, 40th and 7th Infantry Battalions with forces from Army Special Forces and paramilitary troops have been pursuing New People's Army (NPA) guerillas who were mulcting from farmers in Magpet's upland villages.

 Colonel Ademar Tomaro, commander of the 602nd Brigade, lauded the cooperation extended by village officials in identifying the location of NPA hideouts. "The rebels have been forcibly collecting taxes from hapless farmers who are harvesting crops since last month," Tomaro said in a statement. At least three villages of Magpet had been infiltrated by communist rebels who came from the borders of North Cotabato and Davao City. Magpet is situated at the western side of the country’s highest peak – Mt. Apo. Although no body count was established, the military believed the NPAs suffered heavy casualties based on statements from villagers who claimed they saw wounded fighters carried by the rebels as they fled from mortar shelling.

Major Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over 602nd brigade, has repeated his earlier appeals for communist guerillas to avail of the reconciliation program of the government. “These operations were launched in response to mounting complaints by local residents on the abuses by the NPAs,” Ordoyo said, adding that the military is recognizing ideological differences among all sectors provided its expression would be done peacefully. Ordoyo said the military is also reiterating its earlier offer for wounded rebels to avail of military medical facilities and fighters to avail of the government’s reconciliation program if they decide to return to the fold of law.

Suspected NPA members set fire on backhoe of mining company in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): Suspected NPA members set fire on backhoe of mining company in Palawan

Military authorities in Palawan launched Monday an operation against six unidentified armed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), who were suspected responsible for torching a backhoe reportedly owned by Citi Nickel Mining Development Company (CNMDC) in its mine site in Sofronio Española. The backhoe was set on fire early Sunday afternoon by members of the leftist movement allegedly because the CNMDC failed to pay “revolutionary taxes.”

 The military operation in surrounding areas in southern Palawan, particularly in Barangays Punang and Sofronio Española, was led by troops belonging to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 12 under Lt. Col. Efren Rellores.

In interviews with the local media, officials of the CNMDC claimed that shortly before the backhoe was burned, the armed rebels prevented one of the company vehicles from passing through a bogus road block they set up in Punang. Civilian vehicles were allowed to pass before the armed leftist’s burned the backhoe.

Meanwhile, Lt. Ann Adele Caluya, spokesperson of the Western Command (WESCOM), said extortion attempts by the CPP-NPA are now being investigated in southern Palawan.

Aquino administration has implemented various initiatives to uphold human rights in the country -- Malacanang

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 10): Aquino administration has implemented various initiatives to uphold human rights in the country -- Malacanang

The Aquino administration has implemented various initiatives to uphold the human rights of every individual, a Palace official said on Monday. In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda laid out these initiatives since President Benigno S. Aquino III assumed office on June 30, 2010.

 The Armed Forces of the Philippines launched its Human Rights/International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Handbook as part of the government’s effort to institutionalize human rights concepts in August, 2010. The handbook serves as a soldiers’ guide during the conduct of operations. The freeing of the so-called Morong 43 in December, 2010 was another significant development that occurred during the tenure of President Aquino. The Morong 43 is a group of 43 health workers in the Philippines accused of cooperating with the New People's Army in efforts to destabilize the government.

"The President ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to withdraw the information filed before the court, which, in effect and subject to court approval, freed the 43, as they who have no other standing warrants in other courts," Lacierda said. Lacierda quoted President Aquino as saying that “human rights has to be universal, has to be for everyone. When one’s rights are violated, you set the groundwork for violating everybody’s rights—so all includes our security forces, our peasantry, those below the poverty line, and those who have more in this life."

In December, 2010, the AFP has established the Human Rights Office which serves as the main platform for addressing all human rights and international humanitarian law issues involving the Armed Forces. The recent designation of General Domingo Tutaan as head of the office has further strengthened its capabilities, Lacierda said.

The Philippine National Police has also crafted a Human Rights Desk Operations Manual in December 2010. The manual provides information and operational procedures to police personnel manning the PNP Human Rights Desks. "Handbooks have also been prepared for regional police offices and media organizations as guides in light of the risks they face in the conduct of their duties," he added.

On December 10, 2010, the DOJ created a Special Task Force on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances the Special Task Force is mandated to review all reported and unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and recommend measures for and cause the effective and expeditious investigation and prosecution of the cases. The task force is also mandated to speed up the prosecution and resolution of cases with sufficient evidence and cause the reopening of investigations of “cold file” cases.

"In the U.S. State Department's 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Philippines has been upgraded to Tier 2 ," Lacierda said, adding that the upgrade can be attributed to the initiatives of the Philippine government in addressing human trafficking. "The DOJ has achieved a total of 74 convictions (cases) of Illegal Recruitment involving 89 persons since 2003, with 45 convictions (61 percent of all convictions secured) recorded during the Aquino Administration," Lacierda stressed.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assisted all 2,082 victims of trafficking who sought help from the government from January 2010 to March 2012. The department provided 1,067 victims with community-based services including rescue, counseling, financial assistance, skills training, auxiliary services, temporary shelter, and legal assistance through the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons. The DSWD likewise assisted the other 1,015 victims through residential care centers/institutions such as the Haven for Women and Children.

In June, 2012, the PNP-Task Force USIG has recorded 41 validated cases of slain media practitioners and 125 validated cases of slain activists since 2001. "Of these cases, 103 have been filed in court, 62 are under investigation, and one case has been dropped due to the demise of the suspect," he said.

In November 2012, President Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 35, creating the Inter-agency committee on extra-legal killing, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life and security of persons. The inter-agency committee is tasked to conduct an inventory of all human rights violations perpetrated by state and non-state forces and to prioritize the unsolved cases for action, and assign special investigation teams to conduct further investigation on these cases for the possible identification of the perpetrators. The committee is also mandated to monitor and report cases under investigation, preliminary investigation and trial and investigate and prosecute new cases. "Every six months, the Committee shall submit a report to the President detailing its progress, accomplishment, as well as their recommendations," Lacierda said.

CPP: Defend the people's rights, punish the perpetrators of fascist crimes--CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Defend the people's rights, punish the perpetrators of fascist crimes--CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today called on all revolutionary forces to defend the Filipino people’s civil and political rights and punish the perpetrators of fascist crimes perpetrated by the state armed forces and police organization in the course of implementing Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression. “The CPP joins the Filipino people in marking International Human Rights Day today by putting into the spotlight the continued deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines marked by the increasing brutality and impunity of the state’s armed forces and state-attached armed groups in suppressing the people’s democratic rights,” said the CPP. “The abuses perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are made worse by the stepped-up human rights rhetoric of the Aquino regime and its military and security officials that seeks to conceal the relentless attacks by state armed forces,” added the CPP.

“The superficiality of Aquino’s endless human rights and peace rhetoric is underscored by the fact that not a single military or security official has been held accountable for the thousands of cases of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, illegal arrest and detention, beatings, strafings and other abuses perpetrated by military and police forces,” pointed out the CPP. “Gen. Jovito Palparan, whom the AFP has considered a hero and model for his decade-long campaign of brutality under the Arroyo regime and who directly masterminded abductions and oversaw the torture of activists and those he suspected of involvement in democratic resistance, remains free and under the protection of his military peers,” said the CPP. “Not once have we heard Aquino denounce his fascist crimes. His legacy of brutality continues to the present.”

Extrajudicial killings continue to be carried out by death squads attached to the AFP. The campaign to silence opposition against mining operations in Mindanao and elsewhere has been particularly brutal,” said the CPP. “Widespread abuses are committed especially by so-called Peace and Development Teams deployed by the military in peasant communities active in democratic mass struggles such as land reform and campaigns against the entry of foreign mining companies.”

“The human rights situation under the Aquino regime has been further punctuated by such cases as the massacre of botanist Leonardo Co and members of his research team in Kananga, Leyte in 2010, the killing of anti-mining advocate Fr. Pops Tentorio in 2011, Dutch missionary Willem Geertman in July, the Laguna massacre of young peasant hunters, the massacre of the Mancera family in Camarines Norte, the recent massacre of the Capeon family in Davao Oriental, the beheading of village official Ely Oguis last October in Albay and the killing of the elderly Valenzuela couple in Isabela last November.”

“The CPP calls on the Filipino people to heighten their defense of human rights. They can raise their level of vigilance and resist all sorts of abuses commited by the military, especially in the course of the Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression that aims to put entire communities under military control said the CPP. “They must vigorously oppose the military’s effort to embed themselves within communities, propagate anti-social vices, abuse women, traumatize children, steal farm animals, trample on crops, beat up residents, violate their homes, use schools, daycare centers and other public infratructure as barracks, impose martial law, control food supplies and commerce and impose other forms of abuses in the course of militarizing communities.”

“In the face of the continued and increasingly brutal attacks of the Aquino regime against the people, the CPP has directed the New People’s Army (NPA) to further step up its tactical offensives against the AFP, the PNP and other AFP-attached armed organizations. The perpetrators of military and police brutalities and abuses should be held accountable for their crimes against the people. The Filipino people demand justice,” said the CPP.

CPP/NDF-EV: Militarization behind sugar-coated promises of “peace and development”

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Militarization behind sugar-coated promises of “peace and development”

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDF-Eastern Visayas

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas joined the people today in observing International Human Rights Day and said militarization remains rampant in the region amidst the Aquino regime’s lip service to human rights and the sugar-coated promises of “peace and development.” “The military still holds sway with its impunity for human rights violations through Oplan Bayanihan,” said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas. “In fact, the worst is yet to come because the Aquino regime is unleashing state brutality against the people in lieu of peace talks to discuss the root causes of the armed conflict. The people must stand up for their rights because the regime is bound to become more vicious and desperate as the last half of Aquino’s term of office shapes up.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson explained that the human rights stance of President Benigno Aquino III makes it impossible to punish violators as well as further emboldens the impunity of the military. “Aquino has recently made two much-ballyhooed pitches for human rights: the creation of an Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) to investigate human rights violations, and his signing of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. But the IAC is not an independent body because the chiefs of the military and police are part of it, making the whitewashing of human rights violations a virtual certainty. “Moreover, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is much more inferior than the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the basic rights of all individuals. The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration demotes human rights to “regional and national contexts” as well as political, economic, social, and other particularities. Human rights are also put at the mercy of other requisites such as national security, order, health, safety and public morality. In other words, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration gives license to the repressive governments in this region of the world.”

Fr. Salas noted that the Aquino regime’s lip service to human rights justifies the militarization in the region jointly committed by state security forces, civilian bureaucrats and big business and foreign interests. “The situation of Northern Samar under the Daza dynasty exemplifies the bitter reality of militarization behind the sugar-coating of “peace and development.” Throughout this year, the military has committed state brutality against the people, such as the bombing of civilian communities, extrajudicial killings and harassment of alleged supporters of the New People’s Army, and the occupation of schools and other civilian structures. Meanwhile, the provincial government led by the Dazas participates in militarization through the Local Social Integration Program’s forced and fake surrenders of alleged NPA members, and in pushing for the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams to support “counterinurgency.” The Daza-led provincial government also received PhP225 million for the so-called Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan, a government program to cover up militarization with public works projects and other cosmetic changes. Militarization is leading to continuing impunity while rewarding the corrupt Dazas, who are also heavily involved in plundering the HCAAP infrastructure project.”

Fr. Salas said the people must still prepare for the worst by standing up for their human rights and struggling for a better future. “The Aquino regime cannot keep up the pretense of “peace and development” under Oplan Bayanihan when the people suffer under militarization and socio-economic hardships. The people are roused to fight for their rights in the face of continuing human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan. If the Aquino regime pursues state brutality through Oplan Bayanihan in lieu of peace talks, it is prompting the people more and more to intensify their armed and unarmed struggles. As there can be no end to impunity without respect for human rights, no peace without social justice, the people must struggle for the full range of their human rights.”

NDF-EV Media Office
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CPP/Ang Bayan: The brutality behind the gimmickry

Propganda statement/editorial from the December 7 edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website: The brutality behind the gimmickry

Two weeks before marking International Human Rights Day, Benigno Aquino III unleashed a new round of gimmickry when he formed on November 27 an inter-agency committee (IAC) that would allegedly look into cases of extrajudicial killings, abductions, torture and other forms of human rights violations, particularly those committed by the previous regime. The formation of this superbody is a desperate attempt by the Aquino regime to cover up its accountability for worsening violations of human rights throughout the country. Aquino is using it to shore up his credibility with regard to human rights in the face of widespread abuses and brutalities perpetrated by armed state agents. Because the IAC includes the AFP and PNP chiefs, it will come to no other conclusion than the exoneration of military and police officials involved in human rights violations. It is no different from the Arroyo regime’s Task Force on Political Violations that was formed in 2007, at the height of human rights abuses.

Days before this, Aquino also boasted of having signed the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration during a meeting of the region’s leaders in Cambodia last November. This document is a means by which its repressive signatories could portray themselves as human rights advocates.
Contrary to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, however, this ASEAN document places human rights at a lower rung compared to “national security” and other governmental considerations. It is this same justification that has always been invoked by both the current and previous regimes for committing human rights violations.

Hidden behind Aquino’s gimmickry, attacks on the people by his armed agents have continuously worsened and become increasingly brutal. Not a single perpetrator of human rights violations has been convicted under the Aquino regime. In fact, it has failed to capture and imprison Gen. Jovito Palparan, the butcher general responsible for grave human rights violations under the Arroyo regime. The list of human rights abuses grows even longer as armed agents of the state defend the interests of foreign corporations and their local comprador bourgeois and landlord partners. The Aquino regime’s brutal fascist campaign against the people is further intensifying as the deadline of the counterrevolutionary Oplan Bayanihan (OPB) nears. OPB is slated to end next year, but it is clearly far from achieving its objective of defeating the armed and democratic struggles of the masses.

The highlights of Aquino’s third year in office include the killing of mass leaders like Genesis Ambason and Ely Oguis, who were both subjected to severe torture. Oguis’ case is particularly heinous, as he was decapitated. Another thing to be underscored is the use of the AFP by the state and its big foreign corporate co-conspirators to quell the people’s resistance. Stark examples include the killing of Lumad leaders opposed to foreign mining and the merciless massacre by AFP forces of the Capion family in October.

Aquino’s recent appointment of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año as chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP has been met with widespread protest. Año is one of 45 respondents in the preliminary investigation of the forced disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007. He was also responsible for the illegal arrest of Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara in 2011 and the grave human rights violations in South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula this year.

According to KARAPATAN’s records, there were 129 victims of extrajudicial killing and 12 victims of forced disappearance from July 2010 to October 2012. In Mindanao, there were 37 victims of extrajudicial killing, among them 24 Lumad leaders opposed to large-scale mining and logging. Fifteen mothers and girl-children were killed by the regime under Oplan Bayanihan, 12 of them this year. Up to 467 were illegally arrested, most of them peasants and minorities accosted by military forces operating in upland and forested areas. Those captured were branded as members or supporters of the New People’s Army. (See table for complete list) There are 401 political prisoners throughout the country, with 123 of them arrested and incarcerated under the Aquino regime.

Human rights violations have also been rampant with Aquino’s drive to implement his economic program. Violent demolitions of urban poor communities have been undertaken to clear valuable real estate for Public-Private Partnership projects funded by foreign big companies. Workers’ right to form unions and to strike are brazenly suppressed. Aquino has also threatened press freedom by pushing the Cybercrime Act. The regime has been rampantly violating agreements signed by the state and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, especially with regard to guaranteeing the human rights and security of NDFP negotiators and consultants. This has made it difficult for the peace negotiations to continue.