Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Soldiers, rebels join fluvial parade

From Tempo (Dec 18): Soldiers, rebels join fluvial parade

PIKIT, North Cotabato – Residents of formerly embattled communities rejoiced over the sight of former fierce enemies – soldiers, on one hand, and fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), on the other – parading and chanting peace slogans in a fluvial caravan around this town on Saturday. “It’sheart-warming. It should be replicated in other conflict-affected parts of Mindanao,” Col. Benjamin Hao, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion based here, said in reference to the rare fluvial parade among erstwhile adversaries. In his report to Maj. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Hao said the parade drew some 500 participants, including troops from the 7th IB and the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion, MNLF former guerillas, and MILF fighters led by Kumander George Kasim alongside civilian sympathizers.

MILF: BDA-BLMI conducts holds 2nd Strategic Thinking Training

From the MILF Website (Dec 20): BDA-BLMI conducts holds 2nd Strategic Thinking Training

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) held a two- day Seminar Workshop on Strategic Thinking on December 14-15, 2012 at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) Training Center at Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. The two day seminar workshop was facilitated by Mr. Windel Diancalan, a BDA Staff and was assisted by Mr. Basser Ayob, BLMI-BDA Project Coordinator. The resource speaker was Atty. Bong Montessa, erstwhile GPH peace panel member during President Arroyo’s administration. The primordial objective of the activity was to provide an in depth approach on the mode and context of strategic thinking with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) as the center of discussions and the workshop that followed. Atty. Montessa presented a situational and presumptuous scenario on varied cases to enable the attendees to establish and come up with contingency approach and strategies as part of precautionary measures against unexpected events and hitches that may take place along the way on the proposed establishment of Bangsamoro new political Identity.

The participants numbered about thirty (30) mostly from the MILF Central Committee Secretariats and its senior top brass officials, BDA Catalysts, and some Staff of BLMI. Dr. Zafrullah Dipatuan, BDA President; Sheikh Mohammad S. Yacob, BDA Executive Director and Sheikh Mahmod Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director graced the occasion in their capacity as officials of said institutions as well as participants too. In his message during the closing program, BLMI Executive Director, Sheikh Mahmod Ahmad gave a word of wisdom and expressed his gratitude to the lecturer, facilitators and participants for spending their valuable time and efforts in the pursuit of common good and objectives of the endeavor, the MILF in general. Likewise Dr. Dipatuan also expressed his warm gratitude to Atty. Montessa for his impressive and clear presentation of the subject matter and in facilitating the two-day forum where the learning tools and infused knowledge elaborated in a most simplified manner that could contribute in the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan. The forum successfully ended at about 3:30 pm. As expected, the participants had internalized the modern strategies mode of thinking which are viewed as essential elements in executing organizational mandate and responsibilities in the service of the Bangsamoro.

DOJ official bats for review of cases vs Abu Sayyaf suspects

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 19): DOJ official bats for review of cases vs Abu Sayyaf suspects

Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III has cited the need to review the cases filed against suspected Abu Sayyaf members linked to various crimes. Baraan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the sidelines of the Human Rights and Legal Assistance forum – which was attended by lawyers and human rights advocates on Tuesday — that he found this out after having been informed about a suspect who had been arrested and released thrice. He said the case showed that government prosecutors have been using the same “old school method in conducting investigation and prosecution.” “Others simply focus on (the aspect of) prosecution by coming up with a resolution without making sure it is fair and just,” he said.

Baraan said a review of the cases would enable the Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine which ones were filed using the “bahala na (‘whatever comes next’ or ‘come what may’)” system. “I see the need to review all the cases of the Abu Sayyaf suspects arrested and in jail. What struck me is that there is even one case, one person arrested thrice and he was released thrice,” he said. Baraan said the sheer number of cases lodged in various courts in Western Mindanao, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and even Metro Manila was overwhelming. “But I have yet to see the databank or profiles of the cases. I am very interested in getting and gathering all the cases and background of all the accused, their names, circumstances and the manner how they were arrested and where these people are now,” he said.

Laisa Alamia of the Commission on Human Rights in the ARMM said he agreed with Baraan and that the case of 39-year old motorcycle driver Hussein Ahadin of Zamboanga City should be enough to set off the alarm on how the government’s anti-terror campaign was being carried out. Ahaddin is the man that Baraan had referred to as the suspect who was thrice arrested, thrice released. “I don’t think a guilty person would think of going back to his home and be a subject of repeated arrest,” Alamia said. Ahaddin was initially charged for the Oct. 2, 2002 explosion in Upper Calarian, Malagutay, where US soldier Sergeant First Class Mark Wayne Jackson was killed; and the Oct. 17, 2002 twin bombings of the Shoppers Department Store in Zamboanga, where more 60 people were hurt.

Ahaddin was detained for a month and was released after his family submitted proof he was arrested on a mistaken identity. But in August 2007, he was again arrested but was released when his human rights workers and his family secured a writ of habeas corpus. On November 30, 2011, Ahaddin was arrested anew for the October 11, 2011 bombings of the Red Palm Inn in Guiwan, Zamboanga City and the San Roque cockpit; and the October 26, 2011 explosion in Sangali District, also in the same city; and the November 27, 2011 explosion at the Atilano Pension House. He was released again after his family questioned the warrant of arrest. Ahaddin said he could not understand why authorities insisted that he was Muksin Ajijul Ahaddin, an alleged notorious Abu Sayyaf bomber. Zamboanga City Prosecutor Ricardo Cabaron said Ahaddin’s arrest was backed by witnesses’ accounts.

Edil Baddiri, a lawyer and a commissioner of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said countless arrests have been made in Mindanao without the police giving the suspects the benefit of the doubt and the constitutional presumption of innocence. Baddiri said this was the same reason human rights forums – such as the one’s the NCMF hosted – have become important. “It is a disgrace for me if we cannot do something about it. It is the NCMF mandate to provide legal assistance and it’s a disgrace for us if we cannot even give attention to all these injustices…,” he said.

Lawyer Galuasch Ballaho, deputy executive director of the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center, said almost three fourths of those arrested on suspicion of being Abu Sayyaf members had turned out to be innocent of the charges. He said those who were innocent could not challenge their arrest because they had nobody to run to. “They don’t have the means (to prove their innocence) and most of them are not educated,” Ballaho said.

Former Lantawan, Basilan mayor Tahira Ismael said the arrests made in the aftermath of the July 2011 mass hostage-taking at the Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay (village) Tairan in Lantawan, were clear examples of human rights violations. “Not all of those arrested and brought to Zamboanga City or Manila were involved. I should know because I knew them from our childhood years,” Ismael said. But Ismael said officials like her could not do anything because arresting officers always had witnesses.  Ismael suspected that most of the witnesses were “manufactured witnesses for the love of bounty.”

Army says NDFP ceasefire declaration pure lie

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Dec 19): Army says NDFP ceasefire declaration pure lie

THE Philippine Army said the declaration of ceasefire by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Mindanao in places hardly hit by Typhoon Pablo is a pure lie and propaganda. This statement came after a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) was allegedly murdered by more or less 10 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in sitio Bagnot, Barangay Lydia, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, Monday afternoon. The victim was identified as CAA Luis G. Dejado, 19, a resident of Km 41, Barangay Binacalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

In an emailed statement, Lieutenant Colonel Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV, 4ID spokesperson, said Dejado could have been alive and may spend Christmas with his family if the NPAs abided with the ceasefire declaration of Ka Oris in areas hit by Typhoon Pablo. “We should never believe Ka Oris,” Osias said, adding that Dejado sacrificed his life in protecting the people. Agusan del Sur in the Caraga region was one of the areas affected by Typhoon Pablo when it battered Mindanao early this month.

Earlier, Ka Oris, spokesperson of the NDFP-Mindanao, declared a ceasefire in areas affected by the typhoon to allow the safe, unhampered and speedy rescue and retrieval of all the victims of the calamity and to facilitate the fast and unimpeded delivery of relief services. He said the ceasefire starts at 12 p.m. of December 5, 2012 and will end at 12 p.m. of January 3, 2013. But Osias said treachery is very evident on the part of the NPA in killing Dejado since they know that he was unarmed. “It is again another proof that the NPA rebels know no rules and will take advantage of the vulnerability of their victims even if they violate the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIL) of which they are signatory,” he said.

Reports said Dejado was shot by the NPAs in different parts of his body, causing his instantaneous death. The rebels are believed to be members of the Sandatahang Platun Pangpropaganda Lamak, Guerilla Front 88, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. Dejado was assigned at the Binicalan Patrol Base and is about to report at the Patrol Base for duty during the incident. The victim’s body was initially brought to the barangay hall of Laminga, San Luis, Agusan del Sur but was later transferred to a funeral home. “In behalf of the whole 4th Infantry Division, I would like to extend our condolences to the family of CAA Dejado. We are really saddened by his death who is unarmed during the murder, especially now that it is Christmas season,” said Major General Nestor A. Añonuevo, commander of the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division. He said he has ordered all unit commanders in the area to be extra vigilant in all their actions and always be mindful of the security of their troops.

US to deploy newest navy ships, weapons to Asia-Pacific

From GMA News (Dec 20): US to deploy newest navy ships, weapons to Asia-Pacific

The United States plans to deploy some of its newest warships and other high-tech weapons to the Asia-Pacific as part of a strategic shift to the region, a US defense official said Wednesday. The Pentagon will send P-8 submarine-hunting aircraft, cruise missiles, Virginia-class submarines, coastal combat ships and F-35 fighter jets to Asian ports and bases in coming years, the senior official told reporters "What you're seeing is part of a bigger effort, the Pacific theatre will get the newest weapons systems first," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon has promoted a tilt to Asia after a decade of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reflecting concern over China's growing military power and its assertive stance in territorial disputes with its neighbors. The United States already plans to deploy more than half of its fleet to the Asia-Pacific and to station four littoral combat ships -- speedy new vessels designed to operate near coastlines -- for rotational deployments in Singapore.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is still in development, could be deployed at the Iwakuni air station in Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture by 2017. Washington also is providing Japan with another powerful X-band radar to bolster its missile defenses, a move announced in September.

Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia are locked in escalating territorial disputes with China and have sought to bolster military ties to Washington to counter Beijing's influence. The senior US defense official, recounting recent talks in Southeast Asian capitals, said governments were watching closely to see how China's new political and military leadership will handle the territorial arguments. "There was palpable concern and deep concern" over Beijing's recent actions on the South China Sea, the official said.

He was referring to tough new maritime rules from China's Hainan province, a controversial map in new Chinese passports and allegations that Chinese fishing boats cut the seismic cables of a Vietnamese geological survey vessel. Hainan province adopted new regulations last month allowing local police to board and expel foreign ships entering waters it considers under Chinese jurisdiction. And Beijing infuriated its neighbors by issuing new passports containing a map showing its claim to nearly the whole of the South China Sea.

Military accuses NPA of violating own truce

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 20): Military accuses NPA of violating own truce

The military on Wednesday accused the New People’s Army of violating its own declared ceasefire for the second straight occasion, as it claimed that the Communist Party of the Philippines’s armed partisans killed a militiaman in Agusan del Sur. Col. Ronald Albano, commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, said it was also the second violation of the NPA since the government implemented a nationwide unilateral Suspension of Military Offensives OR SOMO.

The reported violations occurred even as the National Democratic Front, the political arm of the CPP, and a special panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) led by Akbayan Representative Ronald Llamas met in The Hague led by Akbayan representative met in the Hague for possible resumption of peace talks.

The CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, earlier declared a 27-day ceasefire, following the government’s declaration of a unilateral 18-day ceasefire in deference to the Yuletide season. “They agreed to recommend to their respective principals the holding of a nationwide ceasefire from midnight of 20 December 2012 to midnight of 15 January 2013. The ceasefire additionally gives due consideration to the relief and rehabilitation of the victims and communities devastated by super typhoon Pablo,” Luis Jalandoni, chief peace negotiator of the National Democratic Front-Philippines said. He said the scope of the ceasefire is nationwide, which means the almost a month of ceasefire declared earlier by the NDF-Mindanao in some typhoon-stricken areas in Mindanao would be extended until Jan. 15.

The military has declared a Suspension of Military Operations from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3. Military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said they welcomed the rebels’ ceasefire but all military units in the area were instructed to remain vigilant against NPA attacks. Albano, meanwhile, identified the victim as Luis G. Dejado, 19, a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary or CAA, and resident of Km 41, Barangay Binacalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. “Dejado was unarmed when mercilessly shot by the NPAs in different parts of his body that caused his instantaneous death,” said Albano, who added that Dejado was shot dead by members of the Guerilla Front 88 of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee in Sitio Bagnot, Barangay Lydia, La Paz, Agusan del.

Last week, communist rebels attempted to kill a soldier in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, and on Monday, NPA rebels ambushed a group of soldiers that resulted in the killing of one in Iloilo.
Meanwhile, Jalandoni reportedly met with Ronald Llamas of the pro-administration partylist Akabayan in The Hague on Dec. 17-18 to discuss the possible resumption of peace talks. Llamas is President Benigno Aquino’s political adviser.

Meanwhile, Jalandoni said in a statement that Llamas led a group of “special representatives” of the GPH in a meeting with the NDF that was hosted and facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government. Llamas was accompanied by GPH Negotiating Panel Chairman Alexander Padilla., Efren Moncupa, GPH Panel Member; Undersecretary Chito Gascon and Director Maria Carla Munsayac-Villarta, GPH Panel Secretariat head. With Jalandoni were Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines; Fidel Agcaoili and Coni Ledesma, NDFP Panel Members. They were assisted by Vicente Ladlad, Political Consultant; Edre U. Olalia, Legal Consultant; Ruth de Leon, NDFP Panel Secretariat Head; and Rosario Agcaoili, staff. The Norwegian government was represented by Ambassador Ture Lundh.

The peace talks between the government and the NDF have been stalled since February 2011. Jalandoni said the meeting had reached a starting point for a possible resumption of peace talks. “The Special Representatives agreed to carry on the discussions on national unity and just peace; further upholding national independence, democracy and human rights; committee of national unity, peace and development; agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialization; and truce,” he said.

Cafgu shot dead by 10 NPA fighters in Agusan del Sur

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 20): Cafgu shot dead by 10 NPA fighters in Agusan del Sur

Ten heavily-armed New People’s Army (NPA) fighters are being hunted for the fatal shooting of unarmed Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) member in San Luis, Agusan Del Sur on Monday afternoon. Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, 4th Infantry Division spokesman, who reported the killing to the media only on Wednesday identified the slain Cafgu as Luis Dejado, 19, and a resident of Km 41, Barangay Binacalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Osias said the NPAs were believed to be members of the “Sandatahang Platun Pang-propaganda Lamak,” Guerilla Front 88 of the North Central Mindanao regional committee. Dejado was assigned at the Binicalan Patrol Base.

Osias said that the victim was about to report for duty when gunned down by the rebels at 1 p.m. “In behalf of the whole 4th Infantry Division, I would like to extend our condolences to the family of our Cafgu. We are really saddened by the death of Dejado who is unarmed during the murder, especially now that it is Christmas season,” 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Nestor Añonuevo said. “I have ordered all unit commanders in the area to be extra vigilant in all their actions and always be mindful of the security of their troops,” he added.

Kin of killed activist to rely on NPA for justice

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 20): Kin of killed activist to rely on NPA for justice

Families and supporters of human rights victims from Southern Tagalog region once again picketed in front of President Aquino’s residence in Times Street to condemn the continuing rights abuses in the country. “We wanted to end the year with a protest right in front of Aquino’s house. We wanted to underscore that this year was no different from the previous years where human rights violations brought by military atrocities remain unabated,” Glen Malaban, secretary general of Karapatan in the region declared. Her group said that Aquino’s claim that there are no more rights violations and Karapatan’s statistics of victims are mere leftist’s propaganda is adding more insult to the injury.

The protest in Times Street also called for the immediate arrest of Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan who remains at large after an arrest warrant was issued by Judge Teodora Gonzales of Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in relation to kidnapping and torture case filed against the retired general. Dana, daughter of rights worker Eden Marcellana whose murder was believed to be masterminded by Palparan in 2003, expressed her skepticism that the Aquino administration can bring justice to her mother’s case. “I am now twice my age since my mother was killed, and yet nothing has changed — the killing of those who uphold human rights and the promotion of those who are supposedly accountable,” she said.

Dana, along with thousand of protesters, joined a 10-day Lakbayan (Southern Tagalog People’s March for Human Rights) last week that culminated on Dec. 10, the 64th year of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Some of the protesters remained in Metro Manila and set-up a Peace Camp in front of the Commission on Human Rights. The group also lambasted Commissioner Etta Rosales for giving false data on human rights violations in the country saying her number were far from truth.

Posting of Noy’s general implicated in Jonas Burgos case deferred

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 20): Posting of Noy’s general implicated in Jonas Burgos case deferred

President Aquino’s promotion to one star-rank general of one of the military officials implicated in the Jonas Burgos case was deferred yesterday by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA). Burgos’ mother and wife of former journalist Jose “Joe” Burgos, Edita, stood as the oppositor before the bicameral confirmatory body in the designation given by Aquino some two weeks ago to Army Col. Eduardo Ano as brigadier general. Ano is alleged to be involved in the disappearance of Burgos, said to be an activist, some five years ago. The deferment of Ano’s promotion, the only one among the 50 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) senior officers led by Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, who already took their oath in Malacañang even prior to subjecting themselves before the CA body, was sought by Senators Joker Arroyo and Sergio Osmeña III.
Osmeña, in a letter to the CA, asked to postpone consideration of Ano’s papers to a later date because he is indisposed. Arroyo, the lone senator during the hearing conducted by the CA national defense committee chaired by Rep. Antonio del Rosario on the case of Ano, adopted Osmeña’s call for deferment.

“I raise my objection on the ground that he (Ano) does not deserve to be a general in the Army. He has violated the human rights of my son, his right to liberty (for God forbid, his right to life). Ano stands accused of the crime committed against Jonas in a case under preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice (DoJ),’’ Mrs. Burgos said. In her submitted signed statement, Mrs. Burgos accused Ano, then said to be the head of the AFP Intelligence Service Group (ISG), when her son was reported to be abducted in April 27, 2007, last seen at the Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City......’s-general-implicated-in-jonas-burgos-case-deferred

Suspects in Anikow slay plead not guilty as US consul watches

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 20): Suspects in Anikow slay plead not guilty as US consul watches

With the US Embassy keeping a close watch, the four suspects in the Nov. 24 killing of George Anikow, a US Marine major and husband of an American diplomat, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges in a Makati City court on Wednesday. The trial appears to be proceeding with remarkable speed less than a month after the killing, with the prosecution expected to present its first witness and its first set of evidence in a bail hearing on Thursday. Suspects Juan Alfonzo Abastillas, Crispin de la Paz, Osric Cabrera and Galicano Datu III—whose attack on Anikow was caught on security camera—entered a plea of not guilty during their arraignment before Judge Winlove Dumayas of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59. Also on Wednesday, the court granted De la Paz’s request to undergo medical examination for his back pain at Philippine Orthopedic Center in Quezon City. Last week, Abastillas’ lawyer asked the court to downgrade the charge to homicide, a bailable offense, arguing that his client could not have possibly used “superior strength” against the victim, a trained military man whose past tours of duty included strife-torn Afghanistan.

Present at Wednesday’s hearing was US Consul General Michael Schimmel, who said his embassy continued to have “a very active interest on the case” and remained in communication with Laura Anikow, the widow who is now in the US. “We are observers of the judicial process. The embassy will continue the representation of the husband of the US diplomat, also an American citizen. We are grateful to the Filipinos for the prompt arrest and prosecution of the suspects. We are confident that justice will be served,” Schimmel told the Inquirer.

Assistant Prosecutor Hannah Arriola said Thursday’s hearing would cover the defense panel’s petition for bail. The prosecution is also presenting Anikow’s medico legal report and death certificate, photos of the knife used in the killing and of the Volvo SUV used by the suspects, and the sworn statements of Dominador Royo and Randy Lecta of Southland Security and Investigative Services. Also expected to take the stand is Jose Romel Saavedra, the security guard manning the checkpoint where Anikow was attacked by the suspects in the early morning of Nov. 24 near the upscale Bel-Air subdivision. The guard earlier told investigators that the suspects were about to pass through the checkpoint in their SUV when he asked them for identification. The American, who appeared to be drunk, later approached and also asked the four to produce IDs.

The suspects reportedly lost their cool when Anikow gave their vehicle a hard tap. They got off the vehicle and ganged up on the American, with one of them stabbing him dead. Jay de Castro, defense counsel for Datu III, said he would focus on Saavedra’s sworn statement, particularly the portions saying that Anikow was unsteady on his feet (pasuray-suray) when he approached the suspects, that it was the American who supposedly threw the punch that started the fight, and that Saavedra did not see who exactly stabbed the victim.

Soldiers face criminal raps for killing of UP botanist

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 20): Soldiers face criminal raps for killing of UP botanist

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has recommended criminal charges against eight soldiers and their commanders for the killing of a respected botanist and his two aides two years ago. The CHR has also called for administrative charges against the soldiers and officers for the killing of Leonardo Co and his two companions in the forest of Kananga town in Leyte on Nov. 15, 2010. The military claimed Co, a botanist of the Universitry of the Philippines and consultant to the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corp. (EDC), company forest guard Sofronio G. Cortez, and Co’s guide Julius Borromeo were caught in the crossfire in a fire fight between troops of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion and members of the communist New People’s Army. Co’s other guide, Policarpio Balute, and Ronio Gibe, a contractual forester with EDC’s corporate responsibility department, survived the shooting. But an investigation by the CHR found that there was no fire fight and that the death of Co and his companions was due to the military’s failure to distinguish civilians from combatants.

Attempts at cover-up

The CHR also cited alleged attempts to hide the crime by the soldiers and their battalion commander. “This was a tragedy that should not have happened if the [military] had been more diligent in observing international humanitarian law in protecting the lives and safety of civilians,” the CHR said in a statement. “There was a failure to distinguish civilians from alleged combatants. There was failure to provide prompt medical attention to the wounded victim who died as a result,” the statement said. Borromeo was wounded in the incident, but instead of getting medical assistance he was interrogated by the soldiers, the CHR said. Co and his two assistants were killed while working on a reforestation project in Leyte for EDC.


The CHR said Col. Federico Tutaan, then the 19th IB commander, and 1Lt. Obald Odchimar, then Charlie Company commander, should be charged for failing to submit all the firearms used in the shooting for testing. The CHR findings released on Tuesday, CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales cited gross violations of the human rights law  “Our position is while we can grant there was a legitimate operation, the truth is there was no legitimate encounter because it was one-sided, there was no exchange of fire,” Rosales told the Inquirer in an interview. Rosales said the law prohibited the killing or shooting of people not identified as combatants.

DOJ clears military

She cited the findings of Dr. Racquel Fortun, a forensic expert, that Borromeo would have lived had he been immediately taken to hospital by the military for treatment instead of being interrogated although wounded. The CHR’s recommendations have been sent to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which will determine what charges will be filed against the soldiers and officers. The CHR’s recommendations came as President Aquino attempts to show that his administration is serious about cracking down on rights abuses that have afflicted the country for decades. Mr. Aquino was elected two years ago on a platform against rights abuses, particularly the “culture of impunity” under which powerful men believe they can get away with abuses.

Shots from soldiers

The DOJ and National Bureau of Investigation also investigated the killing of Co. But their fact-finding team absolved the military and blamed the NPA for the deaths of Co and his companions. But Fortun, who autopsied the bodies of Co, Cortez and Borromeo, disagreed with the panel’s findings that NPA guerrillas shot the victims. The DOJ-NBI panel based its findings on the supposed flat trajectory of the bullets that killed Co and his companions. But the CHR found that all the shots had been fired from the soldiers’ position on a rise in the forest. The CHR also found that the bullets recovered from the bodies of Co, Cortez and Borromeo did not match any of the guns submitted by the military for examination.

New Navy chief eyes ‘desired force mix’ to defend territorial waters

From InterAksyon (Dec 20): New Navy chief eyes ‘desired force mix’ to defend territorial waters

President Benigno Aquino III faces the past and the present of the Navy leadership: incoming Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano, and the outgoing chief, Alexander Pama (R), who was at the Navy's helm in one of the most critical periods in the country's maritime history, especially with the Panatag Shoal standoff with China earlier this year. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

Newly-installed Navy flag officer in command Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano wants to retire the country's old and "antiquated" ships and replace them with new ones to better protect the country's territorial waters. Alano, in his speech at the turnover ceremonies on Wednesday, said these old ships were deemed "excess baggage" for the country's naval force and he vowed to "rationalize current operational assets, review the modernization program, taking a deliberate look at the phase-in and phase-out scheme." Alano replaced Vice Admiral Alexander Pama

Alano, who once served as the head of the country's Navy Fleet, said he would recommend equipment that would make the Navy a "relevant" force in defending the country's territory, amid the ongoing dispute with China over islands in the West Philippine Sea. "I come at an opportune time, when we are fleeting up with new capabilities like WHECs (weather high endurance cutters), frigates, naval helicopters, MPACs (multi-purpose attack crafts), AAVs (amphibious assault vehicles), as well as individual Marine and special warfare combat equipment," he said. Alano also vowed to review the country's "active archipelagic defense" strategy with an eye at achieving the Fleet's "desired force mix."

According to an article published on Phil Fleet last April, the Fleet's "desired force mix" consists of six frigates for anti-air warfare, 12 corvettes for anti-submarine warfare, 18 offshore patrol vessels, three submarines, three anti-mine vessels, four sealift vessels, 18 landing craft utility vessels, three logistics ships, 12 coastal interdiction patrol boats, 30 patrol gunboats and 42 multi-purpose assault crafts.

President Benigno Aquino III said the recent signing of the New AFP Modernization Act would give the military P75 million in the next five years to procure much-needed land, air and sea assets. "Dapat lang na maghanda na ang ating Pambansang Tanggulan sa pagdagsa ng ating mga bagong truck, eroplano, mga dekalibreng armas, at iba pang modernong kagamitan para sa buong kasundaluhan (the Armed Forces should be prepared for the arrival of new trucks, airplanes, firearms, and other modern equipment for the entire military)," Aquino said in his speech. Aquino also said that in just over a year, his administration was able to put in P28 billion for the AFP, allowing the military to procure two Hamilton class cutters (BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz) and the arrival of BRP Tagbanua, the first Filipino-made landing craft utility.

AFP to showcase assets in 77th anniversary

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): AFP to showcase assets in 77th anniversary

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will showcase its fighting capabilities as it gradually moves to modernize its land, sea and air assets during its 77th founding anniversary on Friday. Now being looked down as the weakest in the region from a former military powerhouse during 60s, the AFP is mobilizing division-size troops, along with armored and artillery assets, for Friday's event which will also be participated by cadets from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). “A division of troops composed of two brigades, our armored and artillery assets, as well as newly-acquired military ambulances, and mounted troops, will be taking part in the military parade,” AFP spokesman, Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos. Burgos said to add color to the yearly celebration, the event will also be highlighted by a sky-diving exhibition to be participated in by a composite team of skydivers from the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Philippine Army (PA) and the Philippine Navy (PN).

Burgos, meanwhile, said that the military's search and humanitarian assets will not be participating in the celebrations as they were still deployed in typhoon-ravaged areas in Davao region. For the last two days, troops from major services and PMA cadets have been polishing their military parade skills at the AFP grounds at Camp Aguinaldo for the main military event on Friday. Focusing mainly on internal defense for decades, upon the dictates of past political leadership, the AFP has been fighting communist insurgents, Moro rebels and terrorists reducing the country’s territorial defense to a very disadvantageous position. Racing up to build a minimum territorial defense for the country, the AFP, through the Department of National Defense (DND) modernization program, has started its acquisition and procurement programs for big military tickets to re-equip the navy, air force and the army. These big military items include warships for the Navy, lead-in fighter jets for the Air Force and heavy guns for the Army and other communication and monitoring equipment to include radar systems.

New Navy chief vows safer Phl waters

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): New Navy chief vows safer Phl waters

Newly-installed Flag-Officer-in-Command (FOIC) Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano on Wednesday vowed that he will do what is necessary, including employing methods never attempted before, to make sure that the country’s territorial waters will remain safe. “If we are achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never attempted before,” Alano said in a speech after assuming command of the 23,000-strong navy from outgoing navy chief, Vice Admiral Alexander Pama.

President Aquino, as commander-in-chief, presided over the hand-over of navy’s command from Pama to Alano held at the Philippine Navy (PN) headquarters along Roxas Boulevard in Manila on Wednesday afternoon. Pama and Alano, as well as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa, belong to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1979. Alano is retiring in May 2014. Pama on the other hand, is expected to join the civilian government as announced by the President. Under “exciting times” without mentioning any, Alano said the Navy can make a major contribution to the AFP’s missions and objectives. “We should be a responsible partner in keeping our waters safe and secured by maintaining security stability in the (West Philippine Sea) so that freedom of navigation and international trade may continue to flourish," he said.

To do this, he said the Navy will continue to review its maritime security strategy of active archipelagic defense in such a way that true and accepted scientific and quantitative and qualitative processes are prioritized. “The course has been plotted, sea details have been set and the command to cast off all lines has been given. Our personnel are our most major concern. What we need are not warm bodies but able-bodied sailors and marines who are motivated, disciplined and professionals," Alano declared. He added: “It is but up for us (the Navy) to seize this golden opportunity since the presiding officer has taken helm as the President and our Commander in Chief,” Alano said. With the country’s problem on insurgency on the downturn, Alano said strategic situation and the security environment now requires the defense department to be more active in the region in ensuring maritime security in Southeast Asia by being a responsible partner of keeping the country’s territorial waters safe.

As a maritime nation, the Navy, amid its aging fleet of warships, has an enormous task of guarding the country’s waters, including those in hotly-contested West Philippine Sea. At present, the Navy has only four warships considered as real sea combat capable, to include the decommissioned Hamilton Class United States Coast Guard cutter, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar,the country has acquired from the US and commissioned as a frigate. Del Pilar now serves as the Navy flagship. Another US Coast Guard cutter, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, is due to arrive in April next year as it is still undergoing major repairs and refurbishment back in the US.

6 military doctors hurt in Davao road mishap

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): 6 military doctors hurt in Davao road mishap

A six-man medical team deployed to assist thousands of evacuees in Davao region were seriously injured a road mishap along the storm-ravaged Baganga highway in Davao Oriental provinces on Tuesday afternoon, the military said. Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division, said the government doctors sustained major head and body injuries after their Mitsibushi Pajero slammed into a roadside tree in Barangay Lucud at about 4:15 p.m. the other day. Paniza identified the victims as doctors Nic Cantiro, Almatin Dimaucom, Nor-ayin Salic, Junnah Mangacy, Grace Espinosa, Taher Salaik, and the driver of ill-fated vehicle, Tuy Pangilan. The seven were initially evacuated to the Cateel District Hospital but were transferred Wednesday to the Southern Philipines Medical Center Center in Mawab, Compostela Valley for further medical treatment.

The group just came from the incident command post (ICP) in Barangay Lucod in Baganga, where they attended to the medical needs of the evacuees displaced by typhoon Pablo that hit ravaged the area last December 4. Initial investigation showed that Pangilan tried to avoid hitting an incoming motorcycle, hitting a tree at the side of the highway. “While Dr. Salik is now stable, the rest are still in critical condition,” Paniza said.

AFP fetes individuals, groups for supporting peace, dev't programs

From the Philippine Star (Dec 19): AFP fetes individuals, groups for supporting peace, dev't programs

Three provincial governors, a singer actress and 16 others have been feted by the military for supporting its peace and development programs. The 20 individuals and groups were conferred with the Bayanihan award in a simple ceremony held Tuesday night in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. The awarding ceremony is one of the events leading to the celebration of the AFP’s 77th anniversary on Dec. 21.

The awardees were led by Governors Eustaquio Bersamin of Abra, Alfonso Umali of Oriental Mindoro and Paul Daza of Northern Samar. Bersamin was lauded for supporting the construction of schools and hygiene facilities in his province while Umali was cited for his nutrition and environmental projects in far-flung areas. Meanwhile, Daza was credited for enacting ordinances that provided rewards to those who wish to abandon the armed rebellion.

Two entertainment personalities were also awarded for sharing their talents to promote the military’s development and security efforts. Singer Sarah Geronimo was cited for waiving her P10 million talent fee when she sang the theme song of the military’s security plan. The military has also tapped Geronimo as ambassadress of its peace and development efforts and regards her as a role model of the youth.  Actor and recording artist Carlos Agassi, meanwhile, was feted for creating awareness about the role of Filipino society and the spirit of unity through music. A song in one of Agassi’s albums tackled about the people’s aspirations to achieve lasting peace. Also awarded was Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, country manager of Asia America Initiative, a group that advocates understanding between Christians and Muslims.

The other awardees were the director of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Calabarzon Roberto Licup, Sr., Adelina Banavento Villena of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Liza Quirog of Bohol’s provincial governor’s office, Marawi peace advocate Saripada Tamano, Davao Budget De0partment Director Achilles Bravo, Viva Communications’ Vic Del Rosario and Batangas 4th district Board Member Mabelle Virtusio. The organizations who were cited for their peace and development initiatives were R.K. Shimizu (Nagasaki) Foundation, Inc, Ten Moves Foundation, Social Welfare Department - Davao, Lanao del Sur People’s Council, Kaya Natin Movement, Bantay Bayanihan and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

“Your advocacies and endeavors have cascaded into positive changes in your communities. This only bespeaks of your firm principles and integrity that are truly worthy of recognition and emulation of the Filipino people,” AFP chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa said. Dellosa also instructed the soldiers to strengthen their partnerships with civilian stakeholders in their area. “Do not be daunted by the immense tasks, for this does not demand that we should go beyond our limits. Through our respective fields and our own talents, we can help this nation win the peace and move forward to progress and development,” he said. The military and their civilian partners are conducting development programs in far-flung areas to discourage the residents from joining insurgents and other armed groups.

Military records second cease-fire violation by NPA-Mindanao

From InterAksyon (Dec 19): Military records second cease-fire violation by NPA-Mindanao

The military on Wednesday accused communist rebels in Mindanao of violating, for the second time, their own declared cease-fire with the killing of a militiaman in Agusan del Sur. It was also the second alleged violation of the New People’s Army (NPA) since the government implemented its nationwide unilateral Suspension of Military Offensives (SOMO).

Col. Ronald Albano, commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, identified the victim as Luis G. Dejado, 19, a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary or CAA, a resident of Km 41, Barangay Binacalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. “Dejado was unarmed when mercilessly shot by the NPAs [in] different parts of his body that caused his instantaneous death,” Albano said. He said Dejado was shot dead on December 17 by members of Guerilla Front 88 of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee in Sitio Bagnot, Barangay Lydia, La Paz, Agusan del. “The victim was caught in a checkpoint of 10 fully armed NPAs under an unidentified leader and was shot to death using an M14 rifle after knowing that he is a CAA of Philippine Army,” Albano said.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao had earlier declared a 29-day unilateral cease-fire with the government in typhoon-stricken areas that started on December 5. Last week, however, communist rebels tried but failed to kill a soldier in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. On December 15, the military declared a unilateral SOMO against the NPA. But on Monday, alleged rebels ambushed a group of soldiers that resulted in the killing of one in Iloilo.

Gov't, communist rebels resume talks

From Rappler (Dec 19): Gov't, communist rebels resume talks

Communist guerrillas have resumed high-level peace talks with the government after a 13-month impasse, it was announced Wednesday, December 19. Meeting in the Netherlands capital The Hague on Monday and Tuesday the two sides also agreed to a 26-day nationwide ceasefire from December 20, according to a statement issued by Norway, which has been mediating the talks. "As earlier agreed upon, they confirmed the nationwide ceasefire from December 20, 2012 to January 15, 2013. They agreed to meet again early next year," said the statement issued by Ture Lundh, a special envoy of the Norwegian government.

Chief Philippine government negotiator Alexander Padilla and two senior aides of President Benigno Aquino attended the meeting in the Dutch city, it said. Jose Maria Sison, the exiled founder of the communist insurgent movement, and its chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, led the other side, it added. They also agreed to further talks on peace, human rights, land reform, and national industrialization, the statement said.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) pulled out of peace talks in November 2011 after Manila rejected rebel demands to free jailed comrades they claimed were consultants to the negotiations. The two sides resumed low-level "backroom" negotiations in June, but the CPP continued to demand that the prisoners be freed and the government continued to refuse. The statement made no reference to this earlier dispute.

Both the military and the CPP's guerrilla arm, the New People's Army, have declared separate, shorter ceasefires over Christmas, but the military says the rebels have already violated this by attacking government targets. The communists have been waging an armed rebellion since 1969, and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government. The military estimates the NPA's current strength at about 4,000 fighters, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the late 1980s, when the rebels also engaged in failed peace talks with Manila. Though a nationwide movement, the military says most rebel activity in recent years has been limited to poor rural pockets to the southeast of Manila, the central island of Samar, and the eastern section of Mindanao island.,-communist-rebels-resume-talks

DA launches USAID Bicol Agri-Water Project

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 19): DA launches USAID Bicol Agri-Water Project

The Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office in Bicol and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have launched the Bicol Agri-Water Project recently to address the problem of flooding and drought of the three most vulnerable municipalities in the adjoining provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur. The Project, "Water Security Under Climate Risks: A Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Agriculture Sector" or "Bicol Agri-Water Project" will be implemented for within five years in the three flood and drought- prone municipalities of Nabua, Buhi in Camarines Sur and Polangui in Albay.

In a statement, Dr. Agnes C. Rola, project director and concurrently dean of the UPLB College of Public Affairs said the objectives of the project was to introduce climate risk management techniques, to improve water security and enhance climate resilience in agriculture at farm level, among others. The UPLB Foundation, Inc. represented by Dr. Rola, the Project Director, was the NGO grantee of the USAID which shall supervise the project implementation. DA regional director Jose V. Dayao also said the project was within the framework of and complements the two other foreign assisted projects on climate risk management and disaster preparedness and enhancing capacities for Disaster Risk Reduction currently being implemented in the region.

He explained that three adjacent municipalities were chosen because these areas are most prone to flooding . The waters from Lake Buhi and from Polangui would overflow and settle to Nabua which serves as the catch -basin. To lend support to the project are the following: Columbia University, Central Bicol State University, Bicol University, College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF), PAGASA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) NAPOCOR; the provincial government of Albay and Camarines Sur and the LGUs of Nabua, Buhi and Polangui.

Army urges rebels to respect SOMO

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 19): Army urges rebels to respect SOMO

The 3rd Infantry Spearhead Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army (PA) has urged the New People's Army rebels (NPA)to respect the "Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO)" which is already placed in motion. Army spokesman Major Gil Ileto made the appeal to defuse the tension as men and women of the 3ID in Jamindan, Capiz were grieving over the death of a soldier at the hands of suspected NPA rebels. Killed in action was Pfc. Ricky Gardose while on patrol together with fellow soldiers in a remote village of the town of Miag-ao, Southern Iloilo recently. No casualties were reported from the rebels' side. The slain government trooper's family is guaranteed to receive all the incentives and benefits in accordance with the law, Ileto assured. Ileto has reiterated the Army's appeal to the NPA leadership which is to honor the military-declared ceasefire and make way for peace, however brief it may seem for everybody's benefit.

CPP/NDF: ST workers call for Baldoz’s ouster

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 16): ST workers call for Baldoz’s ouster

Fortunato Magtanggol
Southern Tagalog Chapter (RCTU)

Workers from Southern Tagalog claimed DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz accountable for the “continuing and intensifying trade union repression” under. This December 10, workers called for the ouster the labor secretary. The police remained helpless when militant workers from Southern Tagalog forced their way through their ranks and barricades to hold a program and air their demands in front of the labor office in Intramuros, Manila in the morning of December 10, International Human Rights Day.

According to Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU or Soldarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog-May First Movement), “The Southern Tagalog region is continuously held as a laboratory of anti-people and anti-workers policies by the previous regimes and current Aquino administration. The region right now is a laboratory for the implementation of Sec. Baldoz’s Department Order No. 18-A which expands the enforcement of the illegal contractualization, Wage Order No. IV-A-15 unleashing the two-tiered wage scheme, and the combined attacks of government agencies, AFP, PNP, and yellow unions in the Trapartite Industrial Peace Council Manifestos of Commitment (TIPC MOC).”

As a symbolic action on the blood debts of DOLE to the thousands of displaced workers, as well as those workers victims of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, the protesters threw red paints to the office façade of DOLE. “There is no reason for a capitalist lackey like Baldoz to stay as DOLE secretary. We are sure many workers will join in to oust her from office,” concluded PAMANTIK-KMU. This activity held in DOLE is part of the Lakbayan ng Mamamayan ng Timog Katagalugan para sa Karapatang Tao (Southern Tagalog People’s March for Human Rights), which took off on December 3.

CPP/NDF:Typhoon Pablo, a far more disastrous repeat of typhoon Sendong

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 17):  Typhoon Pablo, a far more disastrous repeat of typhoon Sendong

Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)

It has already been a year since typhoon Sendong struck and brutally lashed against Northern Mindanao, especially against the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan where about two thousand died due to flashfloods and landslides. The pain and the effects of the devastation wrought by one of the worst storms last year, however, continue to linger, because the victims continue to wallow in dire conditions despite the reactionary government’s promise of both housing and livelihood. Still, many of the families and individuals who survived Sendong’s wrath have neither decent homes nor livelihood that can sustain them.

Even after Sendong’s tragic aftermath, the reactionary government has not taken decisive steps to curb the devastating environmental impact of imperialist mining and plantations. With the recent onslaught of typhoon Pablo, the reactionary government has not learned from the painful lessons of Sendong. It continues to play blind to the real reasons of the disaster, blaming the small miners and farmers but allowing the unhampered operation of multinational large-scale mining and plantations that continue to destroy the environment. The wanton plunder of the environment by imperialist industries exacerbates climate change, and hastens the degradation of the earth.

As it has shown during Sendong’s wake last year, disaster preparedness and response on the part of the reactionary government are still visibly inept and inadequate. The victims in areas hardest hit by typhoon Pablo, such as those in New Bataan, Compostela Valley and in Cateel, Boston and Baganga, Davao Oriental, have cried out in anger and protest because of the delay and utter lack of food, medical aid, shelter and the retrieval of missing family members.

Recent reports have it that typhoon Pablo’s casualties have reached over 800, and close to a thousand are reported still missing, possibly exceeding that of Sendong’s bloody record. Making matters worse, foreign financial aid for relief and rehabilitation has found its way into the pockets of some bureaucrats. Similar to what been done to the victims of Sendong , certain politicians have taken advantage of the situation to use typhoon Pablo’s victims as a showcase to advance their political interests for next year’s elections. The situation is also being used to create clean image for the AFP doing “humanitarian relief work” for Oplan Bayanihan (OPB).

Thus, the NDFP-Mindanao calls upon the victims of typhoon Sendong, Pablo and other calamities to organize themselves to demand what is due them from the national government. They must also challenge the Aquino government to immediately repudiate and scrap state policies that allow the operation of destructive mining and plantation, which clearly aggravate climate change. For its part, the NDFP-Mindanao shall continue to oppose and punish all destructive mining and agribusiness companies specially those that flagrantly violates the NDFP policies on environment, Lumad, workers and peasants; continue its education information campaign regarding climate change and attendant issues in order to protect our natural resources and the environment; and, help, in any way possible, in the overall relief and rehabilitation campaign in all its base areas affected by the typhoon.