Monday, December 24, 2012

MILF begins choosing delegation to transition commission

From InterAksyon (Dec 25): MILF begins choosing delegation to transition commission

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has begun selecting members of its delegation to the 15-member transition commission that will draft the basic law of the Bangsamoro government. An article posted on the website Luwaran quoted Muhamman Ameen, chair of the MILF Secretariat, as saying they expect to name one or two candidates within three days from December 24. It said that the selection of the members of the TC is "so strict and meticulous" that each nominee has to get 100 percent concurrence or be automatically disqualified.

Ameen said that most of the nominees were men but included a woman, a representative of the indigenous peoples, an aleem (learned in Islam), and a senior military leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. Each nominee has to meet two qualifications: loyalty and dedication to the Bangsamoro and ability to discharge the assigned task. "The MILF normally decides by selection and by concurrence of the leadership. Secret balloting or raising of hands or division of the house rule to elect someone into any office or to make decision is rarely followed, which is being viewed as divisive, confrontational, and adversarial," the article said.

 The 15-man transition commission will be composed of eight members from the MILF and seven from the government. It was one of the first mechanisms created under Executive Order 120 signed by President Benigno Aquino III after the signing of the historic framework agreement with the MILF last October 15.

'Quinta' now a storm; Signal No. 2 in 5 areas

From Rappler (Dec 25): 'Quinta' now a storm; Signal No. 2 in 5 areas

LAST STORM OF 2012? Tropical depression 'Quinta' approaches northern Mindanao and Visayas. Satellite image at 5.30 am courtesy of PAGASA

Tropical depression "Quinta" was upgraded into a tropical storm as it continues to move towards eastern Visayas, weather bureau PAGASA said on Tuesday, December 25. Storm signal #2 was hoisted over 5 areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

In its 11 am bulletin, PAGASA noted that as of 10 am Quinta was located 260 km East of Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.4°N, 128.3°E), with maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h and gusts of up to 80 km/h. The tropical storm is moving West at 19 km/h and by Wednesday morning will be in the vicinity of Coron, Palawan.

PAGASA raised public storm signal #2 (61-100 km/h winds expected in the next 24 hours) over the following areas:
  • Eastern Samar
  • Leyte
  • Southern Leyte
  • Dinagat
  • Siargao Island
Storm signal #1 (45-60 km/h winds in the next 36 hours) applies to:
  • Northern Samar
  • Western Samar
  • Biliran
  • Bohol
  • Cebu including Camotes Island.
  • Surigao Del Norte
  • Surigao Del Sur
  • Agusan del Norte, del Sur
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Camiguin
VISAYAS BOUND. Tropical storm track as of 8 am. Graphic courtesy of PAGASA

Flash floods, landslides

The estimated rainfall amount within the 350 km diameter of the storm is 10-20 mm/h (heavy-intense). PAGASA advised residents living in low-lying and mountainous areas under storm signals #2 and #1 to watch out for possible flash floods and landslides. Those living in coastal areas under storm signal #2 should brace for big waves or storm surges generated by Quinta.

Fishing boats and other small vessels should not venture into the seaboards of Luzon and over the eastern seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao due to the combined effects of Quinta and the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan.

The weather bureau already warned on Monday that rain would fall over Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental on Tuesday, December 25, a bitter reminder of typhoon Pablo, which killed over 1,000 people weeks before Christmas. Disaster officials said they remain prepared for any eventuality from the storm.

Typhoon Quinta to make landfall in Dinagat Wednesday; 6 provinces under Signal 1

From MindaNews (Dec 25): Typhoon Quinta to make landfall in Dinagat Wednesday; 6 provinces under Signal 1

Six provinces along the northeastern part of Mindanao have been placed under public storm warning signal 1 as the low pressure area spotted east of northern Mindanao on Monday developed into a tropical depression named “Quinta” and is expected to make landfall over the province of Dinagat Islands Wednesday morning, the weather bureau said.

Public storm warning signal number 1 has been hoisted over Leyte and Samar in the Visayas and in Mindanao — the island provinces of Dinagat and Camiguin and the mainland provinces of Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte. Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under Signal 1 gainst possible flashfloods and landslides.

Quinta is the second typhoon to hit Mindanao in three weeks after super typhoon Pablo battered Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and portions of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon on December 4 and the third in 12 months after Typhoon Sendong struck the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City and portions of Bukidnon, Before Sendong, Pablo and now Quinta, Mindanao had been repeatedly referred to as “typhoon-free” but for the northeastern part.....

CPP/Ang Bayan: Military attacks Negros subvillage

From the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan: Military attacks Negros subvillage

Military troops attacked a sitio (sub-village) in Negros Occidental, strafing houses and illegally detaining its residents on December 13. According to the results of a fact-finding mission by KARAPATAN, soldiers from the 11th IB Alpha Coy arrived at 7:30 a.m. in Sitio Mahopaho in Barangay San Agustin, Isabela, Negros Occidental, which is home to 91 families belonging to the Maghat minority group. The soldiers rained bullets on their houses and forcibly entered them. They then herded all the residents and detained them at the tribal hall. The raiding soldiers were led by 1Lt. Ryan Von Gomez.

After hours of being held inside the tribal hall, 19 of the residents were arbitrarily arrested by the military and brought to the Isabela Municipal Police Station because an encounter between the NPA and another group of soldiers occurred near the sub-village. Two soldiers were killed in the clash and four others were wounded, including 1Lt. Shannon Pamitan.The military accused the residents of involvement in the encounter, even if they were detained at the tribal hall when the fighting took place.

Of the 19 residents detained at the Isabela Police Station, three were minors. Eleven of the detainees were released on December 17 but the others are still in jail. Meanwhile, six residents of Barangay Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya were injured when they blocked bulldozers escorted by policemen on December 12. Several residents were buried waist-deep in soil when they were bulldozed and truncheoned by the police who were conducting clearing operations for the gold-molybdenum project of the Australian-owned FCF Minerals, Inc.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Political detainees go on hunger strike

From the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan: Political detainees go on hunger strike

Political detainees in Metro Manila and other regions staged a hunger strike from December 3 to December 10, International Human Rights Day. In a related development, the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) assailed the growing number of political detainees, the relentless filing of trumped-up charges and the brutal treatment of persons branded as enemies of the state. The hunger strikers demanded the immediate release of Ramon Patriarca or his transfer to a regular civilian detention center. Patriarca continues to be held at a military stockade of the AFP-Central Command in Camp Lapu-Lapu in Lahug, Cebu City despite a court ruling ordering that he be remanded to a civilian facility.

SELDA condemned the AFP’s dirty tactics in identifying targets for arrest and detention. It cited the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard who the military claims is “Benjamin Mendoza,” allegedly a ranking Communist Party official in Southern Tagalog. Just because of a mole on his nape, Panesa was captured, tortured and imprisoned. His captors have collected the P5.6 million reward for “Mendoza’s” capture. Mass leaders and human rights advocates continue to be slapped with trumped-up cases. The latest victims of this dirty tactic are Roy Velez of BAYAN-NCR and Amelita Gamara of KMU-NCR.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Rallyists condemn human rights violations

From the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan: Rallyists condemn human rights violations

An effigy of Benigno Aquino III riding a military tank cum backhoe was burned to ashes on December 10 in Mendiola, Manila by thousands of rallyists who had gathered to commemorate International Human Rights Day. Most of the demonstrators came from Mindanao, Southern Tagalog and the National Capital Region.

KARAPATAN led the rallyists in setting fire to the seven-foot tall effigy that symbolized the twin evils wrought by militarization and large-scale mining on the lives of peasants and national minorities. KARAPATAN blasted Aquino not only for reneging on his promise to give justice to the victims of human rights violations, but for tolerating human rights abuses. The latest example was his promotion of military officers involved in human rights violations.

Aside from Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año (newly appointed ISAFP chief) who was involved in the abduction of Jonas Burgos in 2007, Aquino likewise promoted Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad and Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, who were both responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of the “Morong 43.” Baladad is the new AFP deputy chief of staff for operations and Segovia is the new AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief.

KARAPATAN also cited Executive Order 79 issued by Aquino which served as a go-signal to the Philippine Army, CAFGU and other paramilitary units to suppress people opposed to mining. Aquino has not only given his allout support to large-scale destructive mining, he has turned a blind eye to the extrajudicial killings and evictions of national minorities perpetrated by big mining companies like Toronto Ventures Inc., Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines Inc. and Philco in Mindanao.

Three days before the commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, three more names were added to the list of victims of extrajudicial killings.
At around 12:00 noon of December 7, troops from the 53rd IB shot to death Roland Quijano, a farmer and active member of the Alliance of Farmers in Zamboanga del Sur-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Purok 4, Ocapan, San Miguel town. The 53rd IB has long been maintaining a detachment in the village.

On the same day, at around 6:00 p.m., Cheryl Ananayo and her cousin Randy Nabayay were gunned down in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya. Ananayo was targeted even if she was carrying her baby and had her other child in tow. She was a member of the Didipio Earthsavers Multipurpose Association, which is actively opposed to Oceana Copper-Gold Corporation operations.

Aside from the protest actions launched by human rights advocates and their supporters, political detainees like Ericson Acosta at the Calbayog Subprovincial Jail and the “Batangas 7” held simultaneous poetry reading sessions in their jail cells as a form of protest. Among the other detainees who also read poems in their prison cells were 14 peace talks consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) like Alan Jazmines, Eduardo Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara, Reynante Gamara and Ramon Patriarca. Previously, the country’s more than 400 political detainees also staged a weeklong hunger strike.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA metes punishment on Cojuangco-owned mining firm

From the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan: NPA metes punishment on Cojuangco-owned mining firm

Red fighters under the NPA Armando Catapia Command successfully meted punishment on VIL Mines Corporation and its partner Macro Asia at around 4 p.m. on December 11 in Barangay Sta. Monica, Tagkawayan, Quezon. VIL Mines Corporation is owned by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, one of Benigno Aquino III’s uncles while Macro Asia is owned by Lucio Tan. Cojuangco and Tan are among the country’s biggest comprador bourgeoisie. They are business partners in mining nickel on an 11,126-hectare concession in Cadig mountain.

The guerrillas burned three pieces of earth-moving machinery and destroyed more than P5.1 million worth of company equipment. They also confiscated a pistol and communications equipment. While the punitive action was going on, the Red fighters treated the company workers well. Among them were seven CAFGU elements.

The Armando Catapia Command informed the company of an expulsion order from the People’s Democratic Government, which bans foreign and large-scale mining activities in Cadig mountain. VIL Mines Corporation has a permit from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct exploration activies in Cadig mountain and has allocated P200 million for this purpose.

CPP/fAng Bayan: NPA-SQBP gains platoon-size recruits

From the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan: NPA-SQBP gains platoon-size recruits

Peasants, women and youth enough to comprise a platoon joined the New People’s Army (NPA) in South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula (SQBP) in the last quarter of 2012. They were the first to respond to a call by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA for a minimum of 100 recruits in six months. The platoon-size recruits are among the most advanced members of revolutionary mass organizations in the barrios, communities, town centers, schools and factories.

The report on the vigorous recruitment campaign was one of the news items carried in December by Diklap (spark), the revolutionary mass paper in SQBP. Diklap, which will be published quarterly, will serve as a local complement to Ang Bayan and Kalatas (the revolutionary mass paper in Southern Tagalog) in providing direction and revolutionary news to the people of SQBP.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA-Leyte launches 2 harassment operations

From the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan: NPA-Leyte launches 2 harassment operations

The Mt. Amandewin Command (NPA-Leyte) confirmed conducting two simultaneous harassment operations in Albuera and Jaro towns in Leyte on December 6. The NPA harassed the 78th IB Alpha Coy detachment at around 8 p.m., killing eight soldiers. A civilian was wounded in the foot when the troopers indiscriminately fired their weapons all night even after the NPA had withdrawn. Meanwhile in nearby Barangay Rubas, Jaro town, the NPA ambushed 19th IB troops conducting operations, killing two soldiers and wounding five others.

In Batangas, the NPA Eduardo Dagli Command seized an M16, an M1 carbine and two cal .45 pistols without firing a single shot. The guerrillas raided a chicken and hog farm owned by Barangay Captain Boy Esguerra and his right hand man Teofilo Alonso in Utod village, Nasugbu. The Red fighters disarmed the despotic businessman and his abusive aide because they oppressed the locals. The chicken and hog farm was built even if the people opposed it due to the pollution it would cause. Esguerra and Alonso would also beat up the locals, train their guns at them at file major charges against them for minor infractions. Esguerra and his aide are also active military assets, monitoring the movements of the masses and the NPA in the village.

In Capiz, a soldier was killed and another wounded in a sniping operation by a unit under the NPA Jose Percival Estocada Jr. Command based in central Panay on the 61st IB Peace and Development Team in Barangay Acuña, Tapaz on November 29.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video--December 21 Edition of Ang Bayan

Posted to You Tube: Video for December 21 Edition of Ang Bayan

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and standpoint on current issues. The video highlights key issues discussed in the December 21 edition of Ang Bayan and is also posted to the CPP Website]

MILF: Training on Grave Child Rights Violation held

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 25): Training on Grave Child Rights Violation held

Around 25 Child Rights Advocates coming from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Zamboanga Sibugay were trained on Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) for Grave Child Rights Violation (GCRV) at Jardin la Vina Hotel in Zamboanga City on December 20-22, 2012. The activity was aimed to equip the participants coming from Non-Government Organizations, Social Workers, with the basic knowledge on GCRV, monitoring, reporting and verification mechanisms, responding to GCRV, and information management.

Plan International, an international NGO which champion Child’s Rights, in collaboration with the Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People (IRDT), spearheaded the training with the financial assistance of United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Hermelo Latoja, Head of Provincial Social Welfare and Development-Sarangani Province, and Dr. Marcy Carpizo, Director of Peace Center of Western Mindanao State University, facilitated the training-workshop. In the plan of action made by the participants during the workshop, they consider involving other stakeholders that include community members, LGUs and other organizations, to popularize MRM in their provinces “so that more people will be monitoring any GRV in times of conflict.” Other issue that surfaced during the open forum was the proliferation of illegal drugs in Sulu victimizing the youth.

Elias Salazar, Plan International Program Manager, said women and children are the most vulnerable sectors of society in times of conflict and disaster. He thanked the participants for their commitment to partake in undertaking monitoring and reporting any grave violation of child rights Southern Philippines. “MRM training capacitates the child rights advocate with adequate knowledge and skills in reporting any violation on the rights of Filipino children in times of conflict,” he cited.

The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) is an undertaking of the United Nations facilitated by UNICEF aimed to prevent occurrences and trigger immediate response to GCRV.
The UNICEF reported last year that between 1996 to 2006, over two million children were killed in armed conflict, and a further six million disabled, and an estimated 300,000 child soldiers are actively fighting in 30 countries. MRM was established in 2005 as per UN Security Council Resolution 1612.

The United Nations has also identified the following as grave violations of child’s rights: killing and maiming of children; recruitment and use of children in armed group; attacks on schools and hospitals; rape and grave sexual violence; abduction of children; and denial of humanitarian access.
Violation of Child Rights may be committed by the state armed forces or any armed groups.

With UNICEF, Plan International has been facilitating the implementation of UN-MILF Action Plan to halt the involvement of underage persons in the BIAF. The MILF had agreed with the UN not to allow Moro youth below 18-year old to participate in the military affairs of the organization. The said action plan commenced in 2009 and strictly observed by the MILF. The Front imposes sanction to any officers of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) that will allow recruitment of underage Moro youth in the roster.

Plan International has been involved in implementing the said action plan through monitoring as well as information drive to popularize the said initiative. Report on GCRV in the country gathered by advocates will be verified by Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) led by UNICEF. With other CTFMR members, UNICEF will do necessary response to any GRVs. The report will become part of the UN Secretary General’s Annual Report on Children Associated with Armed Conflict.

Govt’s nameless Red list hit

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 25): Govt’s nameless Red list hit

LEFTIST organizations and activist congressmen assailed on Monday the joint order of the Departments of Interior and Local Governments and National Defense on the capture of 235 unnamed people although the government had offered ­bounties amounting to P466.88 million. The human rights group Kapatan and the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno both questioned why the joint order signed by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was not made public and the names of the people in the list were also withheld.

Congressmen belonging to the so-called “Makabayan bloc” also hit the joint order as moot and unlawful especially since President Aquino signed the Desaparecidos Law only last week. They also hit the President, Roxas, Gazmin and the military for their supposed “hypocrisy” in refusing to publish the names of the people on the list even as the military denied knowledge of the list and claimed it to be non-existent. “This list should be scrapped or at the very least there should be a full disclosure of such a listing, which in military terms is basically an order of battle,” said Bayan Muna Rep Neri Javier Colmenares.“Members of legal organizations and party list groups might have been included on the said list as the government continues to file and pursue fabricated charges and violate due process rights of activists,” Colmenares added.“One very frightening consequence of this list is that certain military officials might resort to surveilling, arresting or killing fall guys, activists and anyone or producing fake surrenderees in order to get the reward money,” the congressman said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, for his part, said the government should disclose the names of those in the list so that the public will know if these list contained names that have pending warrants for their arrest. Gabriela Reps. Luz Ilagan said it worries her that the Aquino administration was posturing to talk peace with the communists when it has also ordered the arrest of the personalities involved in the peace talks. “How will we have a proper dialogue if this is what will happen?” Ilagan asked. “The government should scrap this list so as to facilitate the talks or at the very least publicly disclose the whole list to be examined. As things stand, this list can be used by death squads to assassinate anyone who is supposed to be there,” Colmenares said.

“It seems that acts of denial are usual responses of the Aquino government and the AFP, when confronted with questions on their accountability for human rights violations. Mga denial kings ang mga nasa Malacanang at AFP! The lies that they have sown through their counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan are now being exposed,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

Aquino hopeful of extending truce with Reds

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 25): Aquino hopeful of extending truce with Reds

THE Aquino administration has expressed optimism that an indefinite ceasefire will soon be forged with the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front and New Peoples’ Army. Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said there was “so much to be thankful and hopeful for” after both sides agreed on a 27-day Christmas ceasefire, the longest holiday truce so far that began on Dec. 20 and will end on Jan. 15. “Both sides have agreed to continue discussions that will hopefully lead to an extended, indefinite truce,” Deles said. The peace panels of the government and the communists met under a special track of the negotiations facilitated by Norway on Dec. 17 and 18. Government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said both sides agreed to start talks on the forging of a Common Declaration of National Unity and Just Peace, which upon signing would trigger the immediate implementation of an indefinite truce.

The two panels will meet again early next year to exchange comments on their respective drafts of the common declaration. The issue of prisoner releases, however, was not discussed during the two-day special track. Padilla said that was to avoid any snags in the talks as the issue had caused the negotiations to bog down in the past two years.

Earlier, government peace panel member Jurgette Honculada, in a paper entitled The Emotional Calculus of Conflict, said at least two people died daily in the past three decades as a result of the clashes between government troops and the communist rebels. Honculada said that, from 1978 to 2010, the statistics from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police showed the fatalities had reached 29,553, and of those 13,412 were communist rebels, 8,264 were soldiers and policemen, and 7,877 were civilians. “This translates to two to three deaths daily for the period,” Honculada said.

Revisit Past Agreements, Gov’t Asked

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 24): Revisit Past Agreements, Gov’t Asked

JOLO, Sulu — A former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) core leader turned legislator in this province called on Malacañang yesterday to revisit and conduct assessment and evaluation on the Tripoli Agreement it signed in 1976 and the final Peace Agreement it also signed with the MNLF in 1996. Rep. Habib Tupay Loong (1st district, Sulu) said the two agreements are very vital in the formulation of the annexes on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement (BFA) which the government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are now working on. According to Loong, the national government could hardly achieve peace if the two agreements it signed have not yet been fully implemented.

In a privilege speech he delivered before the Lower House last Thursday, Loong told members of Congress that the Bangsamoro people believe that the Philippine government has to revisit the Final Peace Agreement it signed with the MNLF in 1996 and to fast track the implementation of all its unimplemented provisions in the agreement. This, he said, will put an end to the claims of the MNLF of the non-implementation on some of the key provisions of the peace accord which the government signed in 1996. Also, putting an end to all claims of the MNLF will also allow the MILF to view much clearer, their position in their up coming peace deal with the government.

Blast hits Iligan City lodging house

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 25): Blast hits Iligan City lodging house

A powerful explosion late Monday ripped through a lodging house in the southern Philippine city of Iligan, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, officials said. Officials said the blast occurred in Room 1 of Negra Lodging House and investigations are still going on. “We still don’t know the cause of the explosion. No casualty was reported and no explosive fragments were found,” Army Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, told the Mindanao Examiner newspaper. No other details were made available by the military, but Lucero said the room was empty when the explosion occurred.  Just in May, three people were killed and over two dozens injured in a bomb explosion in Iligan City. Authorities did not say who were behind the attack.

Spending Christmas day in prison

From the Bicol Today (Dec 24): Spending Christmas day in prison

The sectoral group COURAGE, whose members work in the government sector lamented a very bleak Christmas for its members despite the government’s repeated announcement for its “continuing pursuit of lasting peace and respect for human rights. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The sectoral group COURAGE, whose members work in the government sector lamented a very bleak Christmas for its members despite the government’s repeated announcement for its “continuing pursuit of lasting peace and respect for human rights.” Two (2) of its officers will spend this Christmas in jail on alleged trumped-up charges. Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, national staff organizers of COURAGE will spend their Christmas behind bars in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Daet, Camarines Norte. They were falsely charged of having participated in the April 29, 2012, ambush of soldiers of the 49th IB AFP who had occupied the civilian Maot Baranggay Hall in Labo Camarines Norte.

After being secretly accosted in Metro-Manila on December 3, 2012, handcuffed and blindfolded by unknown armed persons, they were interrogated under duress and without counsel in Camp Bagong Diwa. They were then brought to Camarines Norte Provincial Jail in Daet on Dec. 4 and transferred to the BJMP last Dec. 11. learned that both were charged with five counts of murder, one count of theft and one count of frustrated murder at the Regional Trial Court Branch 64 in Labo, Camarines Norte. Moreover, included in the warrant of arrest were 30 others including activists Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara of KMU NCR and Defend Jobs Philippines, respectively, who remained at large.

Ferdinand Gaite, COURAGE National President, was back in Daet two-weeks after leading a fact-finding mission upon discovering their whereabouts. They were held incommunicado for two days after being mentally tortured by their abductors who turned out to be members of the PNP and ISAFP. Gaite said that Christmas should be a time for reunions with families and friends, yet the policies of the US-Aquino regime prevent activists such as Randy and Raul and hundreds of other political detainees from truly enjoying the yuletide season.

“Under the US/CIA-dictated Oplan Bayanihan of P-NoyAquino, fabricated cases have been continually filed versus legal personalities for supposed participation in rebel offensives or activities. Former Representatives Teddy Casiño, Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, the late Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, the Morong 43, the Southern Tagalog 72 are just some who were incarcerated after facing trumped-up charges. Many of them had their cases dismissed but only after suffering months or years of imprisonment. Hundreds of others still languish in various jails in the Philippines,” said COURAGE in a statement sent to the press.

Erwynne Lanuza, KASAMA KA Quezon City President who arrived to celebrate Christmas with the COURAGE 2, expressed fears of continuing human rights violations and heightening militarization especially in Bicol region. “The desperation of the Aquino regime to defend its violations of human rights and defending the AFP instead of the people who he avowed to be his “bosses” are becoming more glaring. The “Butcher” Jovito Palparan still eludes (or is allowed to elude?) authorities. Aquino’s promotion of Eduardo Año from colonel to brigadier general in the AFP, one of the accused as those for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, is a slap to his mother Editha Burgos and all who are seeking justice from involuntary disappearances,” COURAGE said in the statement.

The 129 extra-judicial killings of workers, peasants, youth, urban poor, indigenous peoples, anti-mining activists and others under the Aquino administration portray the impunity that reverberates all over the country. ‘The recent commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last December 10 holds no promise for the Filipino people,’ Lanuza lamented.

Together with COURAGE and Courage Government Employees Party-list members, the family and friends of the COURAGE 2 picketed the DOJ in Manila on Dec. 21 before proceeding to Daet. Raul’s wife, Marissa Camposano, Raul’s wife and Theresa Sesaldo Randy’s commonlaw wife accompanied the tream. They attempted to hold a simple Christmas celebration at the BJMP on Dec. 22 but were disallowed by the guards due to a supposed policy limiting the total number of visitors to 4 at a time.

COURAGE is preparing for the “Free Randy and Raul: The COURAGE 2” campaign which will include more protests and other legal actions to defend their organizer’s innocence with the assistance of Karapatan Camarines Norte through their coordinator Maricel Delen, whose husband Jayson Delen was also an extra-judicial killing victim in 2006. The campaign has been coordinated with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and KARAPATAN National, and other allied organizations. Other than a dialogue with DOJ officials to clarify the current government’s policy on illegal arrests, COURAGE plans to file charges of human rights violations with the Commission on Human Rights.

'DENIAL KINGS' | Rights group scoffs at AFP disavowal of Order of Battle

From InterAksyon (Dec 24): 'DENIAL KINGS' | Rights group scoffs at AFP disavowal of Order of Battle

The denial by the military and the government of the existence of an “Order of Battle” with names of alleged enemies of the state has come under fire from rights groups, who described the denial as a disservice in the wake of the passage of Asia’s first measure outlawing enforced disappearances. The long series of enforced disappearances precisely stemmed from the existence of such a list, as the “OB” has been taken as license by some men in uniform to seize persons on the list in order to neutralize the insurgency, Karapatan said. “It seems that acts of denial are usual responses of the Aquino government and the AFP, when confronted with questions on their accountability for human rights violations. Mga denial kings ang mga nasa Malacanang at AFP! The lies that they have sown through their counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan are now being exposed,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
Karapatan noted the practice of the Aquino government in “continuing” such policy through the reported Joint Order 14-2012 of the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government, which contains an alleged list of leaders of the communist movement whose bounties for arrests amount to P466million. “Such order, which was not even made public, is a dangerous and malicious perpetuation of the OB list as it becomes a hit list opersonalities/individuals who may be persecuted, filed with trumped-up charges or killed,” commented Palabay.
Among the most notable names alleged to have been on the AFP’s Order of Battle just before he was seized in a Quezon City restaurant by six people, believed to be military operatives, is Jonas Burgos, whose April 28, 2007 abduction has been a poster boy for the “desap” [rights group’s slang for the involuntarily disappeared] here and abroad.
Palabay cited the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard who was illegally arrested, tortured and currently detained. He is being accused of the military as a certain Benjamin Mendoza, alleged to be a top-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines leader with a bounty of P5.6 million for his arrest. Panesa was arrested in October 2012 based on this theory of the AFP, and faces what Karapatan calls trumped up charges.
Karapatan cited another example of similar lists that exist, such as the target list of the 86th Infantry Battalion and 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army which bears the names of 28 individuals as targets of military operations in Tinooc, Ifugao. The list includes the names of Jude Baggo, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance(CHRA)-Karapatan secretary general, and farmers who are vocal against militarization of the communities in the Cordilleras.
“The Aquino government should stop its hypocrisy – its perpetuation of human rights violations on the ground while making it appear that it is compliant with human rights standards by enacting laws and establishing human rights offices. The human rights situation on the ground bears witness to the fact that despite the laws against torture and disappearances, the government continues its conduct of human rights violations and political repression through Oplan Bayanihan; and human rights violators in the military and police are left free from arrests and are even promoted to higher ranks,” Palabay said.
Karapatan attributed last week’s enactment of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law mainly to the “painstaking, persevering, militant and unwavering efforts for justice of the relatives of the desaparecidos, human rights groups and lawyers, and people’s organizations.” The group has documented 12 victims of enforced disappearances under Aquino’s watch.
“With the law, we challenge the Aquino government to file charges against all perpetrators of enforced disappearances, from General Palparan to Brig. General Eduardo Ano, to hold them accountable for the disappearances of Karen Empeno, Sherlyn Cadapan, Jonas Burgos and many others. We likewise put to task President Noynoy Aquino to end enforced disappearances and all human rights violations by scrapping Oplan Bayanihan, for even as the law is enacted, the policy and practice of this form of violation remains an instrument of political repression under the said counter-insurgency program,” Palabay said.

CPP/NPA: 74th IBPA violated its own declaration of SOMO in Quezon

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 24): 74th IBPA, nilabag ang sariling deklarasyon ng SOMO sa Quezon (74th IBPA violated its own declaration of SOMO in Quezon)

Armine De Guia
NPA Quezon (Apolonio Mendoza Command)

Lima katao, inaresto ng mga ito at tinortyur sa Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon!
Kaagad na palayain ang 5 inaresto!
Panagutin ang mga opisyal at kawal ng 74th IBPA!

(Five people, arrested and tortured in Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon!
Immediately release the five arrested!
Bind the officers and soldiers of the 74th IBPA!)

Muli na namang ipinakita ng mersenaryong Armed Forces of the Philippines ang kawalang katotohanan sa mga pahayag at unilateral na deklarasyon nito kaugnay sa diumano’y suspension of military operation (SOMO) mula Disyembre 16, 2012 hanggang Enero 6, 2013.

(Once again the mercenary Armed Forces of the Philippines has demonstrated the infamous truth behind their statements and unilateral declaration in relation to the alleged suspension of military operations (SOMO) from 16 December 2012 until 6 January 2013.)

Gabi ng ika-21 ng Disyembre, inaresto nito ang lima kataong sakay ng isang sasakyan na sina Erwin Quedor ng Vista Hermosa, Macalelon, Grego Guevara ng Bgy Camplora, San Andres, Eleceo Lopez ng DJV, San Francisco at ang dalawa pang walang pangalan na pawang taga-San Francisco, Quezon. Matapos ang mga itong arestuhin, isinailalim sa imbestigasyon gamit ang kumbinasyon ng pisikal at mental na tortyur sa kanilang nahuli. Ngayong umaga, inilitaw ang mga ito sa PNP-Municipal Station sa bayan ng Mulanay na may mga sugat sa ulo, puno ng pasa ang katawan at mga tulala. Sa proseso ng pagigiit ng pamilya, napalaya ang dalawang walang pangalan habang ang tatlo ay nakapiit sa PNP-Municipal Station ng Mulanay.

(On the night of  21 December, five people were arrested onboard a vehicle, namely Erwin Quedor of Vista Hermosa, Macalelon; Grego Guevara of the village Camplora, San Andres; Eleceo Lopez of  DJV, San Francisco; and two other unnamed individuals (who were coming from) San Francisco, Quezon. After this arrest, they were subjected to investigation using the combination of physical and mental torture. This morning, they were discovered at the PNP Municipal Station, the town of Mulanay, with wounds to the head (and ) body full of bruises. The two unnamed individuals were freed while the three others were detained at the PNP Municipal Station in Mulanay.).......

[Best I can do given my rusty language skills. LOL]

CPP/NDF: Statement of PKM-NDF Southern Tagalog concerning the AFP breach of the SOMO

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 24): Pahayag ng PKM-NDF Timog Katagalugan kaugnay sa paglabag ng AFP sa SOMO (Statement of PKM-NDF Southern Tagalog concerning the AFP breach of the SOMO)

Eduardo Labrador
Southern Tagalog Regonal Chapter (PKM)

Sinasaluduhan ng Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (PKM-TK) ang magiting na pagtatanggol ng ating mga Pulang kumander at mandirigma sa rebolusyonaryong masa sa bayan ng Tagkawayan, Quezon laban sa operasyong paniktik ng AFP. Habang ipinamamalita ni Lt. Col.Dennis Perez, tagapagsalita ng 74th IBPA sa South Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula na “ampaw na propaganda” ng NDF ang pagdami ng NPA dito, aligaga naman ang may walong batalyong pwersa ng AFP/PNP/CAA dahil sa dalawang operasyong pamarusa na bumulabog ng kanilang makinaryang paniktik sa erya. Nabawasan ang tainga at mata ng mga pasista kaya walang tamang ulat na nakakarating kay Lt. Col.

(The National Confederation of Peasants in Southern Tagalog (PKM-TK) salutes the heroic defense by our Red commanders and fighters of the revolutionary masses in the town of Tagkawayan, Quezon against the intelligence operations of the AFP. While Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, spokesman of the 74th IBPA in South Mumbai, Bondoc Peninsula issued "hollow propaganda" about the NDF regarding the NPA mounting  two punitive operations against the eight battalions of the AFP/PNP/CAA that routed their intelligence apparatus in the area.  This reduced the ears and eyes of the fascists contrary to the reports of the Lt. Col.)........

[Close enough given my rusty language skills. LOL]

CPP: Revolutionary forces are all set to mark CPP's 44th anniversary

From the CPP Website (Dec 24): Revolutionary forces are all set to mark CPP's 44th anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said revolutionary forces across the Philippines are all set to mark the 44th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on December 26. As before, there will be hundreds of big and small mass assemblies in more than 110 guerrilla fronts nationwide, as well as gatherings and study meetings in schools, urban poor communities, offices, parks, homes and other places in order to consolidate the ranks of the CPP and mass activists by taking stock of the current situation and the tasks of the revolutionary movement.

“The anniversary activities of the CPP this year will serve as an occasion to express solidarity with the millions of poor and middle peasants, fisherfolk and ordinary people in Southern, Northcentral and Northern Mindanao, as well as in several Visayas provinces, who suffered gravely from massive flooding and widespread destruction brough about by the strong typhoon earler this month.” “Amidst large-scale calamities and social crises, the CPP will mark its anniversary with celebrations of the significant victories over the past year, as well as the accumulated victories of the past several years in all fields of struggle.”

The anniversary activites of the CPP will also serve to mark the 20th anniversary of the Second Great Rectification Movement of 1992-1998. The rectification movement was carried out by the CPP to criticize and overcome the major errors and shortcomings. “The accumulated victories of the past several years could not have been achieved without the Second Great Rectification Movement.”

The CPP denounced the AFP for stepping up efforts to setup checkpoints and other roadblocks in areas it anticipates people will converge to, in order to restrict the people’s movements, intimidate and prevent them from joining the assemblies. The CPP calls on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to abide by the agreement to observe a ceasefire and respect the people’s rights to join the anniversary activities of the CPP.

Barangay, community leaders attend Bangsamoro forum

From the Philippine Star (Dec 24): Barangay, community leaders attend Bangsamoro forum

Sunday's public consultation on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro in Parang, Maguindanao educated participants (inset) about the contents of the deal. The dialogue ended with the turn over of two tractors by the Maguindanao provincial government to Moro farmers in Iranun-dominated towns in the first district of Maguindanao, whose leaders participated in the activity. - John Unson

More than 2,000 barangay leaders and representatives of different civil society organizations (CSOs) attended Sunday’s public forum on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) in Parang town in Maguindanao, a display of support to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The forum, attended by a member of the government’s peace panel, Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi, Maguindanao and Ustadz Rabbie Anggal of the MILF, was jointly organized by the provincial government, local officials of Parang and the Iranun Development Council, or IDC, a socio-economic planning body comprising the municipal governments of Iranun-dominated towns in the first district of the province.

Piang, who explained the content of the FAB and its significance to forum participants, said there were no serious misunderstandings between the GPH and MILF panels despite the failure of the parties to hold a traditional closing rite for the December 13-15 formal talks in Malaysia and issue a joint communiqué on the outcome of the three-day negotiations. “Personally, If I am asked to say something about it, there was only a disagreement on `language’ that was to be used for a certain issue that both sides tried to iron out. Negotiations are like that. There is no truth to speculations that the talks might again collapse. The negotiations remain very cordial, in good pitch, full of hope,” he said. Piang, the mayor of Parang, Ibrahim Ibay, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, and the acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mujiv Hataman, took turns calling on people present in the forum, mostly Iranun Muslims, and dozens of Christian barangay leaders and local Non-Muslim CSOs, to support the FAB and the newly-created Transition Commission tasked to oversee the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will pave the way for the ARMM’s replacement with a new autonomous political entity.

The TransCom, which President Benigno Aquino III established last week through Executive Order 120, shall be comprised of 15 members, eight of them from the MILF.Hataman said he is optimistic Moro sectors in the autonomous region will be sufficiently represented in the TransCom.“We have waited for so long for the government and the MILF to achieve major breakthroughs in the peace talks. Now these breakthroughs are here, let’s maintain the momentum. Support the peace process,” Hataman said.

Mayors of IDC-member municipalities, including Ibay, also assured Mangudadatu and Hataman of their support to the FAB and the TransCcom. It was the IDC, created after the fall in 2000 of the MILF bastion Camp Abubakar, that introduced various community interventions that helped in the recovery of the Muslim communities in the surroundings of the 22,000-hectare guerilla enclave from the devastations wrought by the all out war policy against the MILF by then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The IDC is chaired by Ibay, also an ethnic Iranun and who had served as member of the ARMM's Regional Legislative Assembly for nine years or three consecutive terms prior to his election as mayor of Parang.

Mangudadatu after the forum, turned over two brand new farm tractors to the IDC, which his office procured, for the council’s agricultural thrusts around the former Camp Abubakar, now Camp Iranun, the headquarters of the Army’s 603rd Brigade, whose officers also attended the consultation, held at the Parang municipal gymnasium. Mangudadatu said the tractors will improve the productivity of ethnic Iranun farmers, mostly members of the MILF, in the areas being served by the IDC.

Mangudadatu said the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, which he chairs, will also hold a region-wide public dialogue about the FAB and the TransCom on January 12-13 in Buluan town in the second district of Maguindanao. “We have invited the leaders of the MILF, the business and religious communities to that forum we are now organizing,” Mangudadatu said during Sunday’s FAB public dialogue. He said they will also invite to the grand FAB consultation in Buluan prominent leaders of the Catholic and other Christian sects, among them Archbishop Orlando Quevedo and Msgr. Jose Collin Bagaforo, the archbishop and auxiliary bishops of Cotabato, respectively.

Kidnapped public school teacher freed in Jolo

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 24): Kidnapped public school teacher freed in Jolo

A public school head teacher abducted five weeks ago had her greatest gift this Christmas – being reunited with her family – after her captors freed her Monday morning in Sulu, authorities said. Flordeliza Ongchua was left by her captors in Barangay Sto Nino, Jolo, Sulu at about 5 a.m., according to Radio Station DXMM. DXMM, an affiliate of DXMS Radyo Bida here, said Ongchua was found by police authorities wandering in the town’s public market at about 9 a.m. She told police that she was left by her captors nearby and decided to walk toward the police station since she does not know the place.

Ongchua, head teacher of Labuan Elementary School, was seized by gunmen on Nov. 13 inside her home in the coastal Barangay Labuan. According to retired Police Director Felizardo Serapio Jr, executive director of Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC), Ongchua is now safe and with her family. Serapio would not say whether a ransom was paid or not but insisted police maintained the government’s no ransom policy. Serapio also said Ongchua was rescued by special task force in Jolo. Regional Army spokesperson Major Franco Alano based in Zamboanga City confirmed Ongchua is now with her family. Family members refused to talk to media, asking privacy.

Alano said the kidnappers believed to be members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group were looking for Labuan village chair Ronald Maravilla. But Miravilla was not home when the abductors arrived. They moved to the next house and found Ongchua who was forced into a waiting motorboat and sped away. Police and military authorities said the family negotiated for her release. Following Ongchua’s kidnapping, then PNP Director Gen. Nicanor Bartolome relieved the entire police force of Labuan, led by Chief Insp. Roberto Marcos.

According to Serapio, Ongchua was rescued by combined forces from the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC), Naval Intelligence Security Group-Western Mindanao, and the Philippine National Police's Anti-Kidnapping Group and Special Action Force-Seaborne. Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. chairs both the PAOCC and PCTC with Serapio as its executive director.

Serapio, quoting report from police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the Ongchua’s abductors were headed by a certain Abdul Susukan of the Moro National Liberation Front. Following Ongchua’s release, the anti-kidnapping task forces have intensified its manhunt against the suspects and implement measures to prevent similar incident in the future.

Philippines: More conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to have access to livelihood, basic services—World Bank

From the OPPAP Website (Dec 24): Philippines: More conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to have access to livelihood, basic services—World Bank

An additional sixty-five (65) villages in 21 conflict-affected towns of Mindanao will have access to funds for livelihood and small-scale infrastructure to help speed up reconstruction and create small businesses and jobs in these war-torn communities. The assistance is made possible with the recent approval of a US$5.251 million additional grant for the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) that is designed to help improve social and economic recovery in these parts of Southern Philippines.

Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said that the additional financing for the MTF will help the country’s efforts to heal, rehabilitate and develop conflict-affected areas. It will also strengthen the constituency for peace and citizen's participation on the ground, she said. “We welcome the additional support that adds to the government’s efforts to empower conflict-vulnerable communities in their quest for a peaceful and progressive life. We hope that this mechanism will continue to bridge goodwill and trust not just between the parties on the peace table, but also with the communities on the ground that we serve,"added Secretary Deles.

The World Bank and other international development partners established the MTF in 2006 as a mechanism for pooling funds and coordinating support for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. So far, the MTF has completed 240 reconstruction and development projects, including classrooms, health stations, access roads, water supply systems, core shelters and community centers in 154 conflict-affected communities in 75 municipalities across Mindanao.  Under the program, residents of these communities choose and implement their own projects that enable them to recover from the conflict and improve their living conditions.

Besides funding projects identified by communities, part of the grant will be channeled through the International Labour Organization to support livelihood activities. It will also provide skills training to help people secure steady employment. World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said the additional financing comes at a critical juncture in the country’s history. The recently signed Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, he said, underscores the importance of intensifying socio-economic assistance to communities that have suffered from decades-old conflict. “This additional funding means that while the Government and the MILF flesh out the details of the Framework Agreement on the negotiating table, the program will continue to deliver much needed services to conflict-affected communities,” Mr. Konishi said.

The World Bank is joined by several development partners which support the MTF, including the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, the Australian Agency for International Development, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Canadian International Development Agency. The MTF works through the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose mandate is to determine, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

“The MTF serves an important confidence-building role in bringing the government and the MILF together on development issues affecting the Bangsamoro,” said Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, Chairman, Bangsamoro Development Agency. “The additional financing will boost our efforts to build the capacity of the BDA so that the MILF will have a core of technical experts in development on whom to draw following a peace agreement with the government.” The BDA is supported by Community and Family Services International, the Mindanao Land Foundation and the International Labor Organization.