Thursday, December 20, 2012

Army brigade wins award

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 21): Army brigade wins award

The 302 nd Infantry Brigade in Negros Oriental has been adjudged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command as the best Army infantry brigade in Visayas for 2012, military records show.  Lt. Christopher Tampos, AFP Central Command spokesman, said the successful intelligence, combat and civil military operations, coupled with personnel administration, resource management and disaster rescue and relief operations were among the main factors, that enabled the 302 nd Infantry Brigade, to win the award.  The AFP Central Command supervises the internal and peace development campaign of the Army infantry divisions, which is composed of six infantry brigades, excluding the Air Force and Navy units. The award was recently conferred on Col. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302 nd Infantry Brigade, by AFP chief of staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa, assisted by Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano and Brig. Gen. Jonas Sumagaysay, at Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City.  Patrimonio attributed the award to the accomplishments of his men and staff, as well to the 11 th and 79 th Infantry Battalions. “Our accomplishments, coupled with excellent leadership are clear manifestations that we can achieve our aspirations to become a professional Army serving the Filipino people,” he added.

NPA rebels exerting effort to win back Leyte province to their influence

From the Leyte Samar Daily Express (Dec 20): NPA rebels exerting effort to win back Leyte province to their influence

Leyte province is a rich source for resources for the New People’s Army, that is why they are doing all it can to once again win the province. This was according to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Regional Director Rolando Rodriguez at the Leyte Provincial Peace and Order Council Meeting. “Their number now is not that big but they are doing all effort to win back the province because you have resources and the logistics.If they win Leyte back, this would mean a rejuvenation of their group,” Rodriguez said.

The intelligence director added that aside from rebel groups that are in Leyte, they had received reports that there are rebel augmentation forces from Samar that are to be sent in to the province.Moreover, Colonel Rafael Valencia of the 802nd Infantry Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division stressed that the recent show of force of the New People’s Army in the province has something to do with the forthcoming elections. This is aside from informing people that they still exist in the province despite Leyte was declared under the status of “NPA-free.”

Col. Valencia said that the conduct of elections is one of the time where rebel groups can generate income by asking candidates for permit to campaign fee in areas known to be under rebel influence.A town mayor was said to already have informed them that some NPA members have met him to ask for permit fee,Valencia said. “They want to gather funds from our candidates this coming elections by asking permit to campaign and this is what we are monitoring right now to stop or prevent them from doing so,” he said. Valencia added that in assuring peaceful elections this coming year, an additional troop from Cebu under the 78th Infantry Battalion was added to the present two military companies stationed in the province.

19th IB commanding officer says he will produce soldiers involved in Co’s killing if there is an order

From the Leyte Samar Daily Express (Dec 20): 19th IB commanding officer says he will produce soldiers involved in Co’s killing if there is an order

The leader of the soldiers who were reportedly involved in the killing of a well-knwon botanist Leonardo Co and his two companions two years ago said that he is willing to produce them as long as there is an order for him to do so. Colonel Joel Nacnac, commanding officer of the 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga town in Leyte, said that they would abide whatever will be the decision of the Department of Justice or the courts. “As long as there is an order coming from the DOJ or the courts for me to produce the soldiers, I will abide that order. What we just want is that a fair deliberations over the case,” Nacnac, said in a phone interview said.

It was learned from Nacnac that the soldiers accused to be responsible in the killing of Co and his two companions, Julius Borromeo and Sofronio Cortez, are still active. He said that they knew already the findings and the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights seeking for criminal and administrative complaints be filed against them. “We will abide any order issued by the court or the DOJ .We will not hide anything,” the Army leader said.

Despite of the recommendation of the CHR, Nacnac said that they still hold on their earlier position that the three were killed during a legitimate operations by the soldiers against the members of the NPA. Co,together with his companions, were killed in the mountains in Kananga town last November 15, 2010. The group of Co was conducting a bioderversity research in the area as commissioned by the Energy Development Corp.(EDC) when the incident happened. The soldiers,led by Lt.Ronald Odchimar, claimed that they were in the area running after members of the rebel group, the New People’s Army. This ensued a firefight between the two groups. At that time of the incident, the 19th IB was headed by Col. Federico Tutaan who is now assigned in Mindanao.

This claim of the military, however, was dismissed by various human rights group saying that there was no encounter and that the three were killed by the soldiers as they were mistaken to be rebels.  Officials of the Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, a human rights group based in the city, found the recommendation of the CHR rather slow considering that the incident happened more than two years. Irma Mepico-Balaba, regional coordinator of the Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, said that initial investigations by various groups have revealed that there was no encounter and that the soldiers of the 19th IB were the ones who shot and killed Leonardo Co and his two companions.

“We are not happy on the part of the Katungod.That is not the kind of justice that we are expecting so long as those responsible are still active in service and not in jail,” Mepico-Balaba said. “We are sad that it took them (CHR) two years to determined the fact that they identified elements of the 19th IB have violated human rights and international humanitarian law,” she said. She said that the group hopes that the case of Co and his two companions would be given justice and not only up to recommendation level. “Filing of charges must follow soon right after it took the CHR two long years of slow-paced progress. Ever since, the evidence had been so strong against the military that they pointed their guns to Prof. Co’s team and strafed them down dead,” Dean Lacandazo, regional secretary-general of Katungod, said in a separate interview.

For lawyer Katrina Castillo, the recommendation of the CHR appears to be “pa consuelo de bobo.” “This is nothing but a pa consuelo de bobo considering of the still many unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings in the country. It took two years of the CHR to come up with its recommendation considering of strong evidence against the military,” Castillo,head of legal service of Katungod-SB, said.

Wounded rebel captured by Army, now in police custody

From the Catanduanes Tribune (Dec 21?): Wounded rebel captured by Army, now in police custody

The Philippine Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion last Sunday turned over to the Virac police station the captured New People’s Army guerrilla who was wounded in the Dec. 1 gun battle in the hinterlands north of the capital town. Orlan“Ka Junie” Nogas, 21, a native of Kawayan, Masbate province, was advised of his rights under the law and temporarily placed in a holding cell pending proper action on his case.

Acting on a tip given at 10 A.M. of Dec. 15 by a civilian informant who claimed that a wounded rebel was hiding in the mountains of Dugui Too, 83rd IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Rodolfo Batang tasked the Bayanihan Team of “B’Company under 2Lt. Monta to conduct combat patrol in the area. Five hours later, troops led by Cpl. Rolando Bengoa captured Nogas at an abaca plantation on high ground above the hut (togod) where he had sought shelter. Nogas was nursing bullet wounds on his right hand and left ankle, making it difficult for him to run or walk quickly.

Bengoa told the Tribune that the area where the wounded rebel was found was about 18 kilometers from Dugui Too proper and was near the Virac-San Miguel boundary. He added that Nogas, who was unarmed when surrounded, was hesitant to surrender as his comrades had told him he would be tortured and killed by Army soldiers once he is captured. The captive NPA was brought to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center for treatment, given medicines by the 83rd IB before being brought back to the headquarters where he was invited join the battalion’s Christmas party, along with about 30 rebel returnees now residing at the Lictin camp.

In intermittent conversations with members of the local media, Nogas said he was recruited in Masbate sometime ago by a certain Ka Pinoy and was ordered to report to the Catanduanes NPA command a year ago, with his unit commander meeting him at San Andres port when he arrived from the mainland. The fourth son of six children in the Nogas family, he said he was with the group of Jimboy “Ka Jayson/Ka Hogan” Lucero, also known as Emerson Capistrano, operating in Virac, San Andres, San Miguel and Bato when they had an initial encounter with government troops in Dugui Too on Nov. 25.

Prior to the second encounter, their group of eight guerillas had hiked to the Cauayan area where they slept the night amidst a bamboo grove. When gunfire erupted in the afternoon of Dec. 1, Nogas said he immediately dove to the ground and then escaped along with five others. Lucero’s wife, Liezel “Ka Ching” Isorena, was killed at the camp along with 16-year old Ronald “Ka Brian”Satairapan, while the body of another rebel, a fellow Masbateño Nogas knew only as Lito, was recovered two days later in an advanced state of decomposition/ Nogas said he was scheduled to return home last Dec. 10 after spending a year in Catanduanes but the Cauayan clash changed his plans.

Meanwhile, 1Lt. Rodel Balatbat told the media that the 83rd IB expects the NPA to increase their visibility at this time in preparation for their campaign to force local candidates to secure Permits to Campaign (PTCs). He said that the Army will continue to conduct security operations and even expects the guerrillas to launch terroristic attacks at any time to avenge their losses in the Dec. 1 clash, even when the Armed Forces of the Philippines has already issued a Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) order to its units in the field.

The Army’s treatment of Nogas is in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARIHL), Balatbat emphasized, and should indicate to other NPA guerrillas who wish to surrender that they would likewise be treated fairly and allowed to return to the fold of society.

Hisham: Ensure family members aren’t swayed by movements that support violence

From the Star Online (Dec 21): Hisham: Ensure family members aren’t swayed by movements that support violence

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysians have been urged to keep a close watch on their families as militants are known to recruit and influence people to join their cause via various methods, including through the Internet, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. The public should take heed of the death of suspected Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar in southern Philippines last week, he said. Mohd Noor Fikrie was gunned down by Davao police in a stand- off after he was suspected to be in possession of an explosive device. “I would like to take this opportunity to advise all Malaysians to be on the alert on the movements of their family members. “This is to prevent our family members from being influenced and easily deceived by any ideologies as well as militant movements that support violence,” Hishammuddin said in a statement yesterday.

Mohd Noor Fikrie, 26, and his Filipina wife, Annabelle Nieva Lee, were checking out of the Sampaguita Hotel when they were cornered by local police. The deceased had tried to flee with a backpack bomb and a mobile detonation device, which he threatened to set off if the police made any move to arrest him. He was shot dead by the police while his wife was arrested and is being interrogated. The bomb, made of 60mm mortar, was later recovered from the backpack and defused.

News reports have claimed that Mohd Noor Fikrie was in close contact with top JI leader and fellow Malaysian Zulkifli Abdul Hir, also known as Marwan, through the use of social media. Retired cop Abd Kahar Sirul, 53, who is Mohd Noor Fikrie's father, said his son spent a lot of time on social media, such as Facebook, after his first marriage ended.

Body of JI member flown home

From the New Straits Times (Dec 21): Body of JI member flown home

THE body of Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member, Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar, who was shot dead by security forces in the Philippines last week, arrived home early yesterday morning. His body was flown in from Davao at 9pm on Thursday, accompanied by his father, Abd Kahar Sirun, 53, and several others. The last rites were carried out at his parents' hometown of Benut, near here. He was buried at the Parit Haji Abdul Rahman Muslim cemetery at 7am after Subuh prayers.

The group arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 1am and reached Benut at 5.30am in a Federal Territories Religious Department (Jawi) van. Police cars escorted the van throughout the journey, while policemen and Rela personnel were seen in and around Masjid Jamek Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, where the prayers were performed. A congregation of about 100, family members and locals joined in the sembahyang jenazah (prayer for the dead). Fikrie, 26, who was the eldest of four children, leaves behind three daughters -- Yani Izzati, 4, Aisyah Nadia, 5, and Aina Sofia, 6 -- from his previous marriage to Siti Sarah Raihana. All of them were present during the burial.

Fikrie was shot dead by Philippine security forces in Davao on Dec 14 after threatening to set off an improvised explosive device (IED) in a public area. A source had indicated that Fikrie was an expert bombmaker after being trained by Johor-born JI member and key terror suspect, Zulkifli Hir. While Zulkifli was killed in a dawn strike at a militant camp on Jolo Island on Feb 2, Fikrie managed to evade arrest. During a raid in July, Fikrie escaped again.

Security forces eventually caught up with him when they received information on his whereabouts in Davao. Fikrie and his Filipina wife, Anabelle Nieva Lee, were confronted by security forces after they checked out of the Sampaguita Hotel at 10.30pm on Dec 14. During a scuffle, Fikrie took out a mobile phone and threatened to detonate an IED inside a backpack carried by Lee. The security forces backed off, allowing the couple to run out of the hotel. At one point, the Malaysian grabbed the backpack from his wife and the couple ran in opposite directions. Fikrie was shot dead after a short chase. The IED was defused by a bomb squad, while Lee was arrested later on.

Kahar thanked the Malaysian authorities for helping to bring his son's body home. "Which father would not be saddened by such an incident? The last I saw him was March 30 before he went off to the Philippines. "It didn't cross my mind that I would never see him alive again," he said.

Video of ex-US Marine’s fatal beating shown in court

From the Philippine Star (Dec 21): Video of ex-US Marine’s fatal beating shown in court

Public prosecutors presented yesterday in court a portion of a video clip, taken by a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, allegedly showing the fatal beating of former United States Marine George Anikow in Makati City on Nov. 24. Lawyers representing four men accused of beating and stabbing Anikow, 41, whose wife is a US diplomat, questioned the credibility of the clip, prompting Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59 Judge Winlove Dumayas to ask the Rockwell Center security that the original CCTV footage be surrendered to the court.

On Wednesday, Juan Alfonzo Abastillas, 24; Crispin dela Paz, 28; Osric Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Datu III, a student of the De La Salle University, pleaded not guilty. Before the clip was shown in court, prosecution lawyers presented Damasino Dosonan, Jr., the detachment commander of the Rockwell Center to authenticate the video clip. Dosonan testified he received a letter from the Makati police asking for a copy of the CCTV footage of the incident. Assistant Chief Prosecutor Hannah Arriola then asked the court if the video clip could then be shown. Dela Paz’s lawyer, Jacinto Ende, questioned the clip’s authenticity. Ende argued that what was about to be shown in court is just a copy of the original CCTV security video.

Abastillas’ lawyer, Miguel Damaso, also argued that while the defense lawyers have the same copy of the video footage, this does not warrant its authenticity. He asked the court if they could be allowed to compare the CCTV footage with the one in their possession. Dumayas then allowed the showing of the video clip on condition that both the defense and prosecution panels later compare it with the original footage, which remains with the Rockwell Center security. Dumayas asked that Rockwell Center surrender the original CCTV footage when the hearing resumes next year.

Gov't forces destroy marijuana plantations in Davao Del Sur

From InterAksyon (Dec 21): Gov't forces destroy marijuana plantations in Davao Del Sur

Operatives from the Philippine Army and the local police have discovered and destroyed three marijuana plantations in a remote village of Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao Del Sur Wednesday morning. Capt. Joel Wayagwag, Task Force KITACO commander, said forces of the 1002nd Brigade and the Philippine National Police (PNP) discovered the plantation based on reports coming from members of the B’laan tribe. He said around 150 marijuana plants were uprooted from three plantations during the operation. Wayagwag said the marijuana plants were immediately turned over as evidence to police authorities who then conducted inventory with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). “We are thankful to the members of the tribal community who support the Armed Forces of the Philippines and PNP in fighting illegal drugs in the area to ensure a drug free environment that is conducive to peace and development,” he said.

MILF: 2 Moro NGOs launched in Maguindanao town

From the MILF Website (Dec 21): 2 Moro NGOs launched in Maguindanao town

The members of the Community Based Child Protection Network (CBCPN) and the Community Welfare Volunteers (CWVs) jointly organized an activity to officially introduce their networks at Barangay Pusao, in the Municipality of Shariff Saydona Mustapha on December 10, 2012. Spearheading the activity was Mr. Abdullatip Zumakil, the Chairperson of both the CBCPN. The activity showcased their commitment to the community especially on upholding the children’s rights and also encourages community support and participation in the protection particularly of the most vulnerable children. The activity was simultaneously programmed through a radio trans-communication “Kabalikat CiviCom” covering the municipalities of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Sharif Saydona Mustapha, Datu Piang, Shariff Aguak, Ampatuan, Sultan sa Barongis, Rajah Buayan, Datu Unsay, Datu Hoffer, Mamasapano and Datu Ali Sangki.

The Battalion Commander of the 118th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) also graced the activity to convey their support to the said undertaking. The establishment of CBCPN and CWVs were materialized with the support of the Bangsamoro Development Agency in the implementation of Child Protection System for Children affected by Armed Conflict funded by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

Fikrie's family regrets terrorist label

From Sin Chew Jit Poh (Dec 20): Fikrie's family regrets terrorist label

The family of Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar, 26, the Malaysian national who was shot dead by Philippine police in Davao, last Friday, regretted that he had been labelled as a terrorist. According to his younger brother, Mohd Noor Hafiz, 24, the whole family deeply regretted the label used whereas the Philippine authorities had only described his elder brother as a suspect. "Although it was only one word, it was enough to tarnish and bring down the image of the whole family," he said, describing the deceased as a brother and father who was good, responsible and liked to smile. Looking sad after the burial of his eldest brother at the Parit Abdul Rahman Muslim Cemetery, here this morning, he hoped that Mohd Noor Fikrie would no longer be labelled as a terrorist. Also present at the burial were Mohd Noor Fikrie's wife Siti Sarah Raihana and their three chirdren Aina Sofia, 6, Aisyah Nadia, 5 and Yati Izati, 4, and his parents.

Malaysian’s wife sued

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 19): Malaysian’s wife sued

The Davao City Police Office formally filed a case Tuesday afternoon against the wife of an alleged terrorist who was gunned down by police last Friday night. Anabelle Nieva Lee, who hails from Sorsogon, was endorsed for inquest procedure before the City Prosecution Office for violating Republic Act 8294 or “Illegal Possession of Explosives.” Lee was arrested after his husband, Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar, a Malaysian national and suspected member of the Jemaah Islamiyah, was killed by operatives after he threatened to trigger the bomb inside his backpack at around 11:30 p.m. of Dec. 14.

The operatives recovered cellphones and a 60mm mortar, that was disarmed through water disruption by the combined explosives and ordnance teams of the DCPO and Davao Regional Police Office. Based on earlier reports, operatives received an intelligence report from an informant that the couple checked in at Sampaguita Inn at around 7 p.m. of Dec. 14. Police were told that the slain suspect had an improvised explosive device in his possession which will be used to sow terror in the city. While at the lobby, Lee was accosted by city police director Sr. Supt. Ronald dela Rosa while her husband was collared by other operatives. That’s when the suspect threatened to blow up everybody. “If you arrest or shoot me I have a bomb, I will explode it,” the suspect told police.

The crowd scampered for safety while suspects rushed out of the hotel, clutching each other while the alleged terror suspect raised one hand to show police that he had his finger on the cell phone button that will arm the bomb. Lee had the backpack with her the whole time. Dela Rosa ordered snipers to neutralize the suspect but they couldn’t get a clear shot because of the thick crowd. Her husband wrested the backpack from her and they both ran toward People’s Park but was cornered near the Apo View Hotel where he was fatally shot by the pursuing members of the SWAT team.

Senate, House pass resolutions supporting EO on Bangsamoro Transition Commission

From the Mindanao Times (Dec 20): Senate, House pass resolutions supporting EO on Bangsamoro Transition Commission

The Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed resolutions supporting the December 17 Executive Order creating the Transition Commission that would pave the way for a new autonomous political entity called “Bangsamoro” by June 30, 2016. EO 120, signed last Monday, provides for the creation of the 15-member all-Bangsamoro Transition Commission (TransCom) that is tasked, among others, to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law of the future “Bangsamoro,” the political entity that would replace the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal welcomed the resolutions.“The Transition Commission will need a lot of goodwill and support from Congress. The resolutions passed a mere two days from the issuance of the EO and before Congress closes shop for the holidays, bring good tidings to all,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) quoted Ferrer as saying.“It’s a good sign of what lies ahead for the peace process. We appreciate the gesture very much,” Iqbal told MindaNews in a text message. President Aquino is expected to name the TransCom members, soon.


The 15-member body is composed of seven representatives from the government and eight from the MILF. It will be chaired by the MILF. House Resolution No. 971 introduced by Mindanawon representatives Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, Tupay Loong of Sulu, Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao and Acmad Tomawis (Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino partylist) expressed “support to the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its implementation, including the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.”

A similarly worded resolution at the Senate – Senate Resolution 922 – was introduced by Mindanawon senator Teofisto Guingona III. Senate Resolution 922 said the signing of the FAB “has inspired optimism and hope that a just framework for peace in the Muslim Mindanao region through a partnership with the Bangsamoro has been achieved” and that this “partnership and mutual recognition among our peoples are crucial in the process of nation building by providing spaces for our diverse cultures and traditions, under one sovereign Philippine Republic.”

House Resolution 971 provides for the “empowerment of the Bangsamoro people by creating the space for their meaningful participation in the process of enacting the Bangsamoro Basic law through the creation of the Transition Commission.” The FAB provides that the TransCom shall be created “through an Executive Order and supported by Congressional Resolutions.”

Unfinished annexes

The FAB was signed in Malacañang on October 15. The two panels were expected to have finished all four Annexes – on power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization and Transitional Arrangements and Modalities –before the end of the year. But the panels ended their four-day negotiations evening of December 15 without signing a Joint Statement on what transpired during the talks and without setting the date for the next meeting.But panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer of the GPH and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF said significant progress has been made in all four annexes.

The Annex on Transition, according to MindaNews sources, is 99% complete but for the leadership of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which will govern the area in the transition between the ARMM and the Bangsamoro by June 30, 2016. The MNLF maintains the BTA should be MILF-led while the government is proposing that the BTA be Bangsamoro-led. Under the FAB, the President is supposed to certify as urgent bill the Bangsamoro Basic Law drafted by the TransCom. The Bangsamoro Basic Law will also provide for the creation of the BTA and as soon as it is promulgated and ratified, the ARMM will be “deemed abolished” and “all devolved authorities shall be vested in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority during the interim period” “The ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence once the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is in place,” the FAB states.

Inherit peace

Ferrer told MindaNews that even as the Annexes have not been completed, the TransCom can already begin work because it “will need to put up its office and staff, convene, come up with work plans and agree on procedures.” Iqbal told MindaNews that the TransCom “can now start even without annexes.” He said there are “preliminary steps” that the Commission can do. “

In a press release, the OPAPP quoted Rep. Sacdalan, former North Cotabato governor and chair of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, as saying, “it has been 40 years… we are tired of waiting so we want peace. We are supportive of peace, because this is what our next generation will inherit. They will no longer wake up to violence. No more IDPs (internally displaced people), they will be delivered with basic services, they will be empowered to sustain their livelihood, so we are very hopeful and optimistic until we reach the final peace agreement.” “The forming of a transition commission is one of the important steps for peace in our land to be possible,” he said.

The OPAPP also quoted Guingona, chair of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, as saying the FAB “is crucial in the country’s attainment of normalized conditions in Mindanao.” He said the FAB would “stabilize our relationships and our activities” and “pave the way for greater progress, especially in Mindanao” But Guingona also appealed that “as we support the process towards peace, we must remain vigilant that the products of the process will truly bring about peace.”

Solons decry arrest of child rebels

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 21): Solons decry arrest of child rebels

Lawmakers have called for a congressional inquiry into the reported arrest of children accused of being rebels by the military. Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan, both of Gabriela Women’s Party, filed House Resolution 2936 urging the House committee on human rights to investigate various cases of arrest of children who were falsely branded as child soldiers. De Jesus cited the case of Elmer Desuyo, 20, Reynaldo de los Santos, 17, and Rey Rodrigo, 16, all residents of Sitio Tagbakan Barangay Pansoy, San Andres, Quezon who were arrested by the military on March 22. “The armed men introduced themselves as members of the 74th Infantry Battalion based in Sitio Malamig, Sto. Niño, San Andres, Quezon Province,” she said. De Jesus said the three boys were taken to be interrogated in a battalion detachment in the town of San Andres.

“The military kept insisting that they were caught in an encounter between them and the New People’s Army (NPA). Moreover, Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, commanding officer of the 74th IB issued a statement that the boys are NPAs extorting money from the residents,” she said. De Jesus said two of the boys are still detained at the Quezon Provincial Jail on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and frustrated murder, while De los Santos was transferred to the National Training School for boys in Tanay, Rizal without the knowledge of his parents.

Citing a report of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights or Karapatan, she said eight other children who were arrested and branded by the military as rebels are still in jail. “Human rights violations committed by the government armed forces against these children clearly go against strongly etched tenets of democracy and smacks of fascism,” De Jesus said. She said that under Section 6 of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, children above 15 years but below 18 years of age are exempt from criminal liability and are subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has acted with discernment, in which case, he/she shall be subjected to the appropriate proceedings under the law.

De Jesus said Article III Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution declares the inviolability of the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose. She also cited Article 40 of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child which urges State Parties to recognize “the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth.”

Philippine rebels call for Aquino 'alliance'

From the Manila Times (Dec 20): Philippine rebels call for Aquino 'alliance'

Communist rebels said Thursday they have called for an "alliance" with Philippine President Benigno Aquino to undertake programmes aimed at ending a long insurgency that has killed tens of thousands. There was no immediate official reaction to the reported offer, which chief rebel negotiator Luis Jalandoni said was made during "special track" talks in the Dutch city of The Hague on Monday and Tuesday. "The 'special track' means the offer of alliance and truce offered by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to the government of the Philippines," the exiled rebel told reporters in a statement. Both sides would form a "Committee of National Unity, Peace and Development" to implement agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialisation, he added. "On the basis of the above-mentioned points, a truce would be declared and implemented," Jalandoni said. The National Democratic Front is a communist-led rebel coalition.

Teresita Deles, who advises Aquino on peace talks, told AFP she could not immediately comment on the supposed offer. Chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla was unavailable for comment. Padilla had told AFP last year that the Philippine government had rejected the rebels' offer in 2005 of a "coalition" government. Last year Manila also denied local press reports it was considering offering cabinet posts to rebel leaders including their exiled founder, Jose Maria Sison. Jalandoni and Sison met Padilla in The Hague this week and agreed to a 26-day nationwide truce from December 21 and another meeting early next year, said a statement by Norway, which mediated the meeting. Both the military and the communist party's guerrilla arm, the New People's Army, have declared a separate shorter ceasefire over Christmas. The communists have been waging a rebellion since 1969 and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government.

Longest truce between gov't and leftist rebels takes effect

From the Philippine Star (Dec 20): Longest truce between gov't and leftist rebels takes effect

The government and the leftist National Democratic Front (NDF) have declared a 27-day joint nationwide ceasefire, which started today. The truce, which will end on January 15, 2013, is the "longest ceasefire" between the two parties, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said. The government and the NDF, which met on December 17-18 at The Hague under a special track, agreed to continue discussions on several issues including a possible truce. The meeting was facilitated by Ambassador Ture Lundh of the Royal Norwegian Government. The NDF is the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army, which has been waging war against the government for over four decades.

'Displaced' NPAs also line up for goods in typhoon-hit Compostela

From the Philippine Star (Dec 20): 'Displaced' NPAs also line up for goods in typhoon-hit Compostela

MANILA, Philippines - Suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) are allegedly taking advantage of the government-declared 18-day Christmas and New Year truce as some of them are spotted lining up for food rations in areas hit by typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley.

“They (NPAs) are also benefitting from the ongoing food and non-food distribution. We know them but in the spirit of Christmas and in observance of the truce, our troops do not discriminate in the ongoing relief operations,” an Army field officer based in the province said. Compostela Valley is among the areas in Mindanao where there are a large number of suspected communist rebels. It is also the same province that suffered the most from the typhoon, which killed and displaced hundreds.

Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, 10th Infantry Division commander based in Mawab also in the province, confirmed reports from field operatives that some rebels and their families may be benefitting from the relief operations in Compostela Valley. Bernardo stressed that soldiers deployed in disaster and relief operations do not discriminate in the distribution of food and clothing and other non-food donations to the storm-affected evacuees. An Army junior officer whose unit is in the forefront of the government internal security operations in Compostela Valley said "Pablo" also devastated NPA strongholds in the province. “Their strongholds were also washed out, just like the rest. They’re also heavily affected by the storm but at this time, we do not see them as enemies of the state, but fellow Filipinos who are in need of help,” he said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), in an updated report, said that a total of 711,682 families or 6,243,998 persons, mostly from Davao region, have been displaced by Pablo. Of this number, 4,522 families or 19,972 persons are still staying in the government-run evacuation centers, while 223,516 families or 959,536 individuals, who already staying outside of the evacuation centers, are still heavily dependent for their daily needs from government and outside help. The total number of reported casualties, also mostly from Davao Region (Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley) has been recorded to have reached 1,047 while 841 others are still missing.

Marines return from humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations in Philippines

From the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (Dec 18): Marines return from humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations in Philippines

Marines return from humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations in Philippines

Philippine airmen pose for a photo with U.S. Marines prior to the Marines’ departure Dec. 17 from Villamor Air Base, Manila, Republic of the Philippines. Philippine service members worked with Marines for eight days to palletize deliver and off-load more than 750,000 pounds of relief supplies to heavily-affected parts of the southern Philippines following Typhoon Bopha. The airmen are with the Philippine Air Force and the Marines are with various III Marine Expeditionary Force units. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew Manning/Released)

As the propellers of two KC-130J Hercules aircraft started up, Philippine service members and U.S. Marines exchanged words of thanks and goodbyes Dec. 17 at Villamor Air Base, Manila, Republic of the Philippines. Marines with various III Marine Expeditionary Force units supported Philippine-led disaster relief operations Dec. 9-16, working side by side with Armed Forces of the Philippines service members to provide assistance at the request of the Philippine Government following Typhoon Bopha, which made landfall in the Philippines Dec. 4. “At that time, we were in the middle of finishing up our Exercise Balikatan final planning conference and we watched the typhoon come in,” said Col. Mark J. Menotti, the assistant chief of staff, G-4, supply and logistics, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III MEF, who served as the officer in charge of the III MEF Forward Command Element in the Philippines.

Menotti and other members of the 3rd MEB staff established the III MEF FCE and bilateral coordination center, which coordinated efforts with the Philippine government and AFP, U.S. Embassy in Manila and U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and provided command and control for U.S. Marine Corps support to Philippine-led relief operations. “We immediately started working with our AFP counterparts to see what assistance they might need and through that, we were able to at least put the MEF in Okinawa on standby so they could begin to formulate their plan,” said Menotti. “Within seven hours of being directed by U.S. Pacific Command to provide support, we had two KC-130J Hercules aircraft from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 on the ground in Manila, and they began transporting relief supplies the next day.”

VMGR-152's aircraft and personnel transported relief supplies daily from Villamor Air Base in Manila to Davao International Airport in Mindanao, one the most heavily-affected areas in the southern Philippines. Upon landing at Davao, Philippine service members worked hard alongside U.S. Marines, U.S. military personnel assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines and USAID representatives to unload supplies as quickly as possible onto awaiting trucks. The supplies were then distributed by Philippine government and nongovernmental organizations to displaced families affected by the typhoon.

Along with deploying the aircraft, III MEF also sent a team of logistics Marines to streamline relief operations by working with Philippine service members to efficiently palletize and load relief supplies onto the KC-130Js at Villamor Air Base.  “Our team consisted of four landing support specialists and two embarkation specialists,” said Cpl. David J. Mugg, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “With our logistics background and experience from a recent deployment to Afghanistan, we understand the importance of getting supplies out where they need to go as quickly as possible, which is critical during a humanitarian mission.”

As even the best laid plans are not perfect, the operation was not without its challenges, according to Cpl. Daniel C. Tozer, a fixed-wing aircraft crew chief with VMGR-152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF.  “We had trucks constantly arriving and little time between flights, so we had to build the pallets as fast as we could to be able to stick to our flight schedule,” said Tozer. “We didn’t have a forklift where the supplies were being flown, so we had to off-load all the supplies by hand with our counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We also were battling the weather and trying to keep the food and clothing dry in the rain, but despite all the challenges, we were still able to adapt and overcome to complete our mission together.”

The ability to expediently respond to a crisis and deliver results showcased III MEF’s key role in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Menotti. "This relief effort highlighted the range of military operations that III MEF can conduct in a short amount of time with the flexibility of our operational task force,” said Menotti. “In eight days, we were able to move 750,000 pounds of relief supplies and conduct 22 sorties. (We) made a big punch in a short amount of time that really helped those affected out.”  

Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Philippine service members is always an enjoyable experience, though unfortunate in this instance because of the tragic events which took place, according to Tozer. “There were some people who lost everything in this typhoon, so for me, it was a huge reward to have the chance to be a part of a team that ensured tents, clothing, food and water was delivered to them during their time of need,” said Tozer. “We are constantly training to respond to crises. What I enjoy most out of my job is being able to actually help those in need, and I am happy to have been a part of this operation.”

P2-M savings from 'simplified' AFP celebration to be donated to typhoon Pablo victims

From InterAksyon (Dec 20): P2-M savings from 'simplified' AFP celebration to be donated to typhoon Pablo victims

MPs of the Armed Forces rehearse their anniversary parade at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday. KRISKEN JONES, INTERAKSYON.COM

The "simplified" 77th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday is expected to yield some P2 million in savings, which would later be used for relief and rehabilitation in areas ravaged by typhoon Pablo. The event will commemorate "the collective efforts of our soldiers, as well as our partners in civilian organizations and government agencies, in maintaining peace and development and in building a sustainable and secure environment for our country’s future," AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa said. Earlier, the AFP cancelled its Christmas parties, saving P3 million for the typhoon victims in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

Based on the latest date of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the number of recovered fatalities was already less than 1,050 with more than 800 more missing.  Some fatalities, including those who remained missing, were soldiers who first responded to save lives but they became victims themselves of flashfloods and landslides. “The AFP will not forget the heroism and sacrifices of our soldiers who protected and supported our people in its 77 years of existence. In fact, this anniversary celebration is also dedicated to the hard work and perseverance of our troops who are all-out in their disaster response and humanitarian efforts in Mindanao,” Dellosa said. Hundreds of soldiers are still working 24 hours conducting relief and retrieval operations in the typhoon-stricken areas.

This year's celebration will do without the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) fly-by as well as the high-speed opener. The traditional AFP Ball and Dinner in honor of former Chiefs of Staff and other dignitaries was also shelved to save money for relief operations. "But the parade of motorized, mounted, and marching troops will proceed without the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response manpower and equipment that are currently deployed in Mindanao," Dellosa said. The celebration will feature a sky-diving exhibition, PAF Synchronized Arnis Exhibition, PAF Band Exhibition, and Philippine Marine Corps Band Exhibition in the pre-program activities. The program proper will highlight the presentation of Command and Honors by the Guest of Honor and Speaker President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The celebration will also launch "Kwentong Bayanihan," a collection of short stories written by members of the military and civilian sectors to illustrate the finest practices of Bayanihan to the President and AFP Commander in Chief, military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., said.  Along with the book, the AFP will also present a DVD copy of twenty short films under “Kwentong Bayan,” produced and directed by the Filipino Pictures, Inc. Kuwentong Bayan is part of FilPix’s contribution to the AFP’s campaign in spreading the message of Bayanihan to win the peace. It is also envisioned to effectively show a different perspective on addressing the root causes of insurgency and social issues in the country," Burogs said.

The awarding will be followed by the Inspection of Troops, Pass-in-Review, and the Motorized Contingent featuring some of AFP’s newly acquired and refurbished equipment. The motorized contingent will be composed of the Special Operations Command mounted on three KM450 vehicles; 710th Special Operations Wing on one Humvee Combat Vehicle, two KM450 trucks, and one Explosive, Ordnance and Disposal Van. They will be followed by the armored assets of the Philippine Army including two V150 Commando and three Simba Fighting Vehicles; Armored Assets of the Philippine Marine Corps including one Humvee Combat Vehicle; two V300 and one V150 combat vehicles; Army artillery assets including six Tubes Howitzers; newly-acquired field ambulance units; and four new tonner trucks.

NPA rebels, kin hit by 'Pablo' should get relief goods, too - military commander

From InterAksyon (Dec 20): NPA rebels, kin hit by 'Pablo' should get relief goods, too - military commander

New People's Army (NPA) rebels and their families affected by Typhoon "Pablo" (Bopha) should also get assistance even though the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP) armed wing wants to overthrow the government via armed revolution. This is according to Major General Ariel Bernardo, commander of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry based in the typhoon-stricken Mawab, Compostela Valley. Bernardo said he saw nothing wrong if NPA rebels and their kin were seen queuing for relief goods that were being distributed by government agencies. “Wala naman tayong problema doon. We know for a fact that some families of the rebels ay nasalanta rin, tinamaan din ‘yan ng matinding kalamidad [We have no problem with that. We know for a fact that some families of the rebels were also hit by the calamity],” Bernardo told reporters on Thursday.

Bernardo, a former peace adviser, issued the statement following reports that some rebels and their families in Compostela Valley were among the typhoon victims who lined up for relief goods. Kung nandoon lang sila (rebels) sa taas ng bundok sa Compostela Valley o sa mga bundok doon sa boundary ng Davao Oriental, talagang tatamaan sila kahit na anong tibay ng kampo nila," said Bernardo. [If they are up in the mountains of Compostela Valley or in the mountains within the boundary of Davao Oriental, they would really be hit no matter how durable their camp is.]
"‘Yong mga kampo nila doon eh gawa lang naman sa makeshift. Siguro tinamaan sila kaya mga biktima din sila and they will [seek] refuge doon sa mga evacuation centers natin,” Bernardo added.
[Their camps there are only makeshifts. Perhaps they were hit and that's why they are victims, too and they will refuge in our evacuation centers.]

Compostela Valley is considered a stronghold of the NPA where majority of the population engages in small-scale mining as their main source of livelihood. Mining and illegal logging have largely been blamed for the perennial problems of landslides and flashfloods in the province that often claim lives of people especially during onset of typhoons. Bernarado said the calamity that struck NPA camps could be an opportunity for the communist rebels to go down the mountains and reintegrate into society.  "We just would like tell, challenge, and appeal to them (rebels) that this is an opportunity na bumababa na sila [for them to go down]. The rehabilitation that our government is doing is for all," said the military officer. "In fact, I just talked with the secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, who said that all those insurgency-affected areas na tinamaan ng bagyo ay bubuhusan ng rehabilitation fund [that were hard hit by typhoon would be poured with rehabilitation fund],” Bernardo added.

The peace panels of the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the negotiating arm of the CPP-NPA, have just met in The Hague for the possible resumption of peace talks next year. The peace negotiations have since been stalled in February 2011 after the NDF withdrew from the negotiating table because of the continuous arrest of their peace consultants, which it said was a violation of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees for the staffers, employees, and negotiators of both sides.

Digital imaging to expose killer of U.S. Marine in Makati

From Rappler (Dec 20): Digital imaging to expose killer of U.S. Marine in Makati

ARRESTED. From left to right and top to bottom: Abastillas, Cabrera, Datu and De la Paz. Collage from case file photos by Jessica Lazaro

An expert in digital image recognition will be brought in to determine which of the 4 suspects of the murder of a US Marine in Makati is seen in the CCTV footage from the incident stabbing the victim. "We have asked for the testimony of a video expert who will enhance the video frame by frame in an effort to identify as much as possible the actions of each of the accused and who inflicted the fatal wound," Makati City assistant prosecutor Hannah Arriola told Rappler on Thursday, December 20. But prior to this witness appearing in court, the company providing security for the Rockwell residential area will have to hand over the original CCTV footage, after the defense suggested the copy submitted to the police may have been tampered with.

The prosecution gave merit to this claim and subpoenaed the tape from Southland Security and Investigative Services, which also employs the security guard who witnessed the crime in the wee hours of the morning on November 24. A representative from the company said in a hearing on Thursday, December 20, that he will hand over the original footage so it can be scrutinized during the trial.

Suspects arraigned

Arriola confirmed that the defendants -- Juan Alfonso Abastillas, Osric Cabrera, Crispin de la Paz and Galiciano Datu III -- appeared in court on Wednesday, December 19, for the first time since their arrest. The 4 were arraigned for murder. The 4 pleaded not guilty in front of Judge Winlove Dumayas of the Makati Regional Trial Court branch 59. Among those who attended the hearing was US Consul General Michael Schimmel, a former colleague of the victim's wife. Schimmel told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the embassy has “a very active interest in the case” and will continue to observe the judicial process. "We are grateful to the Filipinos for the prompt arrest and prosecution of the suspects. We are confident that justice will be served,” he said.

The victim, George Anikow, was a 41-year-old US Marine and husband of a US diplomat based in Manila. He had advanced combat training and was deployed to hotspots such as Afghanistan, which is being used by the defense to claim that the suspects did not have "superior force" over him in spite of being 4 against 1. Anikow died from a fatal stabbing wound in the neck, as has been confirmed by a medical report yet to be presented in court.

Trial moving along swiftly

The prosecution is so far satisfied with the speed with which the defendants have been charged and arraigned less than a month after the incident, despite the fact that one of them, Cabrera, has hired as legal counsel Redemberto Villanueva. Villanueva is a controversial lawyer who used to defend Zaldy Ampatuan and successfully managed to delay the arraignment of the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor in the Maguindanao massacre for 3 years.

Arriola explained that no matter what happens with the identification of actions in the CCTV footage, the prosecution plans to stick to the original murder charges. "The act of one is the act of all," she said. The prosecution is arguing that all the defendants engaged the victim and continued to kick and punch him even after he fell to the ground upon being stabbed. Makati police chief Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban agrees and previously told Rappler that there was "cruelty" on their part that justified the murder charge.

Bail hearings to continue next month

After initially pondering filing a motion for judicial reconsideration of probable charge to downgrade the charge to homicide.  The defense moved last week to accept murder but asked the judge to grant bail on a non-bailable offense as there is "insufficient evidence" against the 4. Judge Dumayas plans to continue the bail hearings in January after the Christmas break, and the suspects will probably show up again in court on January 10, when security guard Jose Romel Saavedra is expected to take the witness stand. Saavedra, rumored to have been threatened not to show up, is expected to identify the defendants as the same people he saw inside the silver Volvo SUV that was stopped by the guard at the checkpoint to enter Rockwell from Kalayaan Ave in Makati.

Anikow was walking home from a night out drinking when he first approached the checkpoint to harass Saavedra and ended up provoking the suspects to alight their vehicle and engage him in a fistfight.  The American bled to death on the side of the road. Since then Rockwell has deployed additional security at this entrance and instructed its personnel to call for backup at any hint of unruly behavior.

PH rebels offer to form 'committee of unity' with gov't

From Rappler (Dec 20): PH rebels offer to form 'committee of unity' with gov't

Communist rebels said Thursday they have called for an "alliance" with Philippine President Benigno Aquino to undertake programmes aimed at ending a long insurgency that has killed tens of thousands. There was no immediate official reaction to the reported offer, which chief rebel negotiator Luis Jalandoni said was made during "special track" talks in the Dutch city of The Hague on Monday and Tuesday. "The 'special track' means the offer of alliance and truce offered by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to the government of the Philippines," the exiled rebel told reporters in a statement. Both sides would form a "Committee of National Unity, Peace and Development" to implement agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialisation, he added. "On the basis of the above-mentioned points, a truce would be declared and implemented," Jalandoni said. The National Democratic Front is a communist-led rebel coalition.

Teresita Deles, who advises Aquino on peace talks, told AFP she could not immediately comment on the supposed offer. Chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla was unavailable for comment. Padilla had told AFP last year that the Philippine government had rejected the rebels' offer in 2005 of a "coalition" government. Last year Manila also denied local press reports it was considering offering cabinet posts to rebel leaders including their exiled founder, Jose Maria Sison. Jalandoni and Sison met Padilla in The Hague this week and agreed to a 26-day nationwide truce from December 21 and another meeting early next year, said a statement by Norway, which mediated the meeting. Both the military and the communist party's guerrilla arm, the New People's Army, have declared a separate shorter ceasefire over Christmas. The communists have been waging a rebellion since 1969 and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government.

30IB, Phil. Red Cross hold bloodletting activity

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 20): 30IB, Phil. Red Cross hold bloodletting activity

The 30th Infantry "Python" Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army in partnership with the Philippine National Red Cross, has conducted a bloodletting activity at the 30IB Headquarters, Sta. Cruz, Placer, Surigao del Norte. The bloodletting activity is in line with this year’s celebration of the 77th Founding Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on December 21, 2012 with the theme, “Bayanihan at kahandaan: Tuwid na daan tungo sa kapayapaan.”A total of 12,600 cc of different blood type have collective from 28 blood donors. Personnel of the 1503rd Community Defense Center, 15RCDG, Phil. Army 23rd Infantry Batallion and CAFGUs participated in the event. (SDR/Capt. Steve L. Mangabat, CMO-30IB,PIA-Surigao del Norte)

Army holds dialogue with local leaders in Marawi City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 20): Army holds dialogue with local leaders in Marawi City

The 65th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army conducted a pulong-pulong with the councilors, barangay officials and other stakeholders from Marawi City, last week. The dialogue, held at the Battalion’s Headquarters here, was aimed to inform the local leaders about the present peace and order situation and other security issues and concerns the entire province is currently facing. Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Seigred J. Espina said during the dialogue that the role of the army, particularly his troops, is to promote peace and order. He said the army is also mandated to protect the lives of the people from those engaging in criminal practices that impedes peace and progress in the province. Espina also reiterated that there are many things each and every community member can do to eradicate criminality. These include encouraging the residents to feed information to local authorities and telling others to venture into new legal endeavours, he added. (65th IB/PIA-10)

Ten former rebels get livelihood assistance from OPAPP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 20): Ten former rebels get livelihood assistance from OPAPP

Life is a lot better now that they have returned to the folds of the law. Thus said a former rebel (FR) who had to make a difficult but firm decision to leave the underground movement in order to build a new life under a legitimate government. Being a young mother, “Lolita” whose family roots originated at barangay Pagbabangnan of San Julian town, said, she has big and thousands reasons to return home and be at peace with her family. With the P50,000 livelihood assistance, she said, she can plant peanuts and pineapple. A male FR, also a recipient of the same amount said he will engage in coconut copra buy and sell endeavor. His house, being close to the Army Camp in Oras town, adds to his strong drive to do small scale business and just leave his involvement in the revolutionary movement to history. A young man and FR had some realizations and even shared some of his learnings from his life in the hills, to the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), with a punch line saying: Dire man ngay-an maraot it goberno. [After all, government is not bad at all]. Governor Conrado Nicart Jr. told the FRs that the livelihood projects will be monitored in three-year time, that is why, they should not be surprised when a spot visitation will be done to them.  As required, the FRs pass through a series of screening before they are declared qualified to avail of government’s livelihood assistance from OPAPP’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan(PAMANA).

7ID condemns burning of construction equipment in Carranglan

From the Philippine  Information Agency (Dec 20): 7ID condemns burning of construction equipment in Carranglan

The Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division (7ID) has condemned the burning of two heavy duty construction equipment by elements of the New Peoples Army (NPA) in Barangay Putlan, Carranglan town in Nueva Ecija last Saturday evening. “These are criminals who extort money from contractors. They resort to burning equipment when their extortion demands were denied” said 7ID Commander Brigadier General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. “We will ensure that developmental projects by the government in Central Luzon will push through and we encourage the support of all stakeholders to help in securing and protecting this projects by providing information to the whereabouts of these perpetrators so that cases will be filed and justice may be served” Catapang added.

Based on initial investigation, five fully armed men with one amazon pretending to be locals asking for solicitations gained entry in the compound of Northern Builders Corporation and immediately detained the security guard. Responding forces of 3rd Infantry Battalion immediately rushed to the scene and found out that all of the workers were detained in one room. They were immediately freed by the troops. Initial investigation also reveals that the same NPA group is responsible for the five similar burning incidents in Central Luzon in the last four months.

Military to adopt Bohol's model in peace and development

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 20): Military to adopt Bohol's model in peace and development

Military units have been ordered to replicate Bohol's “Development for Peace” program to their areas of responsibility. This was according to Col. Rafael Valencia, the new commander of the 802nd Brigade, who recently paid a courtesy call to Gov. Edgar Chatto and the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC). Valencia assured that his new leadership will continue the support what his predecessor had extended to Bohol as the military fully supports the effort to sustain peace in the province and neighboring areas. Valencia said during the command conference last week at the Central Command in Cebu, they were ordered to “look at Bohol as model and try to replicate Bohol's experience in other areas in Visayas to achieve peace and development." The 802nd Brigade of the Philippine Army covers Biliran in Leyte, Southern Leyte, some areas in Cebu, and Bohol.

Col. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the Cebu-Bohol Task Group said the military hierarchy also embraced the provincial government’s purok movement:community development on which Liza Quirog, head of the technical working group, gave a presentation during the meeting on Wednesday last week. During the recent PPOC meeting, Dolina reported that in the second week of November, young men aged 15-20 were monitored in Barangays San Isidro and Candavid, in Maribojoc during night time. They brought sacks and back packs with unknown contents. They were believed to be organizing and contacting their former mass members in the area at the same time.  On November 30 at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, some 50 members of KABATAAN-PLG aged 15-19 commemorated Bonifacio Day by conducting a rally in front of City Square, waving placards with markings: “Taasan ang sahod ng mga teachers” and “Junk anti-cyber crime law” and dispersed peacefully at about two hours later.

Dolina said that the legal fronts of the rebels continue intensifying mass work and alliance building to recover/rebuild at least one front committee early next year. “They magnify current controversial issues against the government as part of its political agenda to remain relevant in the province of Bohol,” according to Dolina.  To brace, the military continue current “Winning the Peace” efforts putting emphasis on: improving the implementation of PROTEAMs Operations, actively participate in Inter-Agency Alliances and Collaboration utilizing the established flatforms. and intensifying pro-active patrols /checkpoints. Dolina also assured strict adherence to human rights by the men in uniform, citing the report of Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales that human rights violations involving men in uniform had reduced. On the other hand, the visit of Chatto as PPOC and RPOC-7 chair to military detachments in the province raised the morale of the military, he added.

Warring clans clash in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 20): Warring clans clash in Maguindanao

Two warring Muslim clans in Datu Piang, Maguindanao clashed Wednesday by trading bullets that alarmed residents, the military here said. Colonel Prudencio Asto, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said followers of Commander Quiapo and Guiapal Abubakar clashed at about 5 a.m. in Sitio Tanguapo, Barangay Dumablas, Datu Piang, Maguindanao. He said the family feud stemmed from land dispute involving vast track of agricultural land. Asto said the followers of Commander Quiapo of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement allegedly shot dead Kagi Yasser last December 17. Abubakar would like avenged the death of Yasser, one of his followers, and attacked the location of Commander Quiapo in Barangay Tanguapo. Asto said an unidentified civilian was wounded during the 10-minute exchange of gunfire. "Nobody among the residents have evacuated because the military and the police immediately came into the picture to prevent the conflict from escalating," Asto told reporters.

Acting Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), meanwhile, reported that seven warring clans in Northern Maguindanao, also known as Iranon municipalities have come to an agreement with the help of the military and the local government unit. Hataman said the reconciliation of warring families was realized with the intervention of the Regional Reconciliation Commission of the ARMM. He also cited the help contributed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). "I expect more settled family dispute in Maguindanao and in the ARMM before next year's election to help prevent violence during the balloting," Hataman said.  "Rido" or family feud is a prevalent problem affecting peace and security in the region. "We believe in dialogue as a means to resolve conflict and misunderstanding," Hataman said, adding that he has proposed an increased budget for the Regional Reconciliation Commission so it can effectively settle dispute.

CPP: Declaration of Ceasefire from 20 December 2012 to 15 January 2013

From the CPP Website (Dec 20): Declaration of Ceasefire from 20 December 2012 to 15 January 2013

Upon the recommendation of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines hereby declares to all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the people’s militias a ceasefire order that will take effect from 00:00H of 20 December 2012 to 23:59 of 15 January 2013. This ceasefire order is being issued in sync with a similar ceasefire order to be issued by the officials of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) as agreed upon in a special meeting between the NDFP’s special representatives and their counterparts in the GPH last 17-18 December in The Hague, Netherlands, hosted and facilitated by the Royal Norweigian Government. This ceasefire order is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays. This will also enable the revolutionary forces to carry out mass assemblies and public demonstrations to mark the 44th anniversary of the CPP and celebrate revolutionary victories of the past year.

This ceasefire order extends the earlier ceasefire declaration issued by the National Democratic Front-Mindanao for NPA units operating in areas devastated by typhoon Pablo covering the period December 5, 2012 to January 3, 2013. By extending the ceasefire, NPA units in the devastated areas can continue with rehabilitation work and assist the disaster victims in resuming their livelihood. This ceasefire order is also being issued in support of efforts to jumpstart the NDFP-GPH peace negotiations. The NDFP-GPH talks have been stalled over the past two years as a result of the adamant refusal of the GPH to comply with previous agreements. The revolutionary forces anticipate that the synchronized issuance of a ceasefire order by the NDFP and GPH forces will propel the GPH to release consultants of the NDFP as well as political prisoners who were arrested and continue to be detained in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).

During the ceasefire period, all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the armed units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. Personnel of the AFP and PNP who have no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units shall not be subjected to arrest or punitive actions. They may be allowed individually to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends.

While all units of the NPA and the people’s militias shall be on defensive mode at both the strategic and tactical levels, they shall nonetheless maintain a high degree of militancy and vigilance against any hostile actions or movements of the enemy armed forces including encroachment on the territory of the people’s democratic government, surveillance and other offensive operations including so-called “peace and development”, “civil-military” or “peace and order” operations. Active-defense operations shall be undertaken only in the face of clear and imminent danger and actual armed attack by the enemy forces.

All branches and committees of the CPP, units of the NPA and people’s militias and revolutionary mass organizations should closely monitor any hostile actions being carried out by the enemy armed forces. Such information should be reported to the concerned commands of the New People’s Army and leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines.