Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Kidnap gang leader nabbed

From the Philippine Star (Dec 26): Kidnap gang leader nabbed

Combined operatives of the Philippine National Police and the elite Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 arrested on Christmas Day a kidnap gang leader implicated in the abduction of several traders in Central Mindanao in recent years. The suspect, Guiaman Esmael Manda, also known as “Boy Timako,” was also tagged as behind more than a dozen killings here which he allegedly perpetrated for a fee. Manda was nabbed, along with his son, Jing Kamdan Manda, also wanted for heinous offenses, in a raid at their hideout in Barangay Bulibod in nearby Sultan Kudarat. Manda tried to resist arrest, but was immediately subdued by the raiding team, comprised of operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, members of the MBLT-1 and the police’s 15th Regional Intelligence Unit, which has jurisdiction over ARMM. Manda and his son has standing criminal cases in local courts. Manda’s cohorts managed to escape when they sensed that CIDG agents and combat-ready Marines, on board rubber boats, have started approaching their riverside hideout.


2 killed, 6 hurt in ambush on Cotabato City village chief

From InterAksyon (Dec 26): 2 killed, 6 hurt in ambush on Cotabato City village chief

Two persons were killed and six others, including a child, were wounded when still unidentified gunmen ambushed a van carrying a village barangay captain and his relatives in Cotabato City Wednesday morning, police said.  Superintendent Marlou Martinez, Cotabato City police spokesman, said the attackers fired on the vehicle of Barangay Rosario Heights 5 chairman Amil Sula happened on Don Rabago Street around 7:15 a.m. Martinez said Sula’s nephew, Sherasmine Salik Abdullah, 18, and van driver Paik Sultan, 21, died at the hospital to which the victims were rushed. The village chief, his wife Jenna, and their seven-year old child were wounded, the latter in critical condition. Also wounded were Muslima Mita Salik, 19, Baikan Salik Abdullah and Taya Macalnas. Martinez said scene of the crime operatives recovered “many” spent shells from various high-powered firearms. Police have yet to determine the motive for the attack.


CPP: 44 years of guerrilla warfare

From Rappler (Dec 26): CPP: 44 years of guerrilla warfare

Asia's longest running insurgency is 44 years old today, December 26, still far away from its aim of reaching armed parity with the Philippine government. In 2008, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) boldly declared that it was aiming for a strategic stalemate -- by 2013 -- in its guerrilla war with the Philippine government. The underground party's Maoist-inspired warfare has 3 strategic stages: strategic defensive, strategic stalemate and strategic offensive. Forty four years after it was born, the CPP is still in the strategic defensive stage.

In a statement to observe its 44th founding anniversary on Wednesday, December 26, the guerrillas however said they were "making substantial progress" in carrying out their objective of a "strategic stalemate." The CPP anniversary comes a day after police and military units captured a key NPA leader in Negros Oriental, Filemon Mendrez, the 6th most wanted man in the country with a P5.25-M bounty on his head. A team composed of military and police forces nabbed Filemon Mendrez -- the 6th most wanted man in the country with a P5.25M bounty on his head -- at 10:30 am Tuesday, December 25, in BarangayTubod, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental. Mendrez, a key New People's Army rebel leader, will be held without bail and is due to stand trial, an army statement said, but details on the criminal cases against him were not disclosed.

Both sides have also declared the longest Christmas truce in recent history. The NPA declared a Christmas ceasefire from Dec. 20 to Jan. 15, 2013. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, on the other hand, declared a ceasefire from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2, 2013. They held peace negotiations in The Hague last Dec 17 and 18 -- a process that has dragged for more than two decades.

The CPP boasted that it now operates in more than 100 guerrilla fronts and intends to increase this to 180 "within the next five years since 2010 or for a longer period if need be." For the first time also, the underground party also admitted that in the 1980s -- which was considered the peak of the insurgency -- it only had 6,100 rifles. The admission was meant to dispute military claims that the armed regulars of the NPA have been reduced to 4,000 today from a high of 25,000 fully armed rebels in the 1980s. “The Aquino regime and its retinue of military officers keep on boasting that most areas of the Philippines have become insurgency-free…(the) fact is, that NPA armed strength in 1986 was only 6,100 rifles,” the CPP central committee said.

Mindanao forces

Rebel spokesman Jorge Madlos, a.k.a Ka Oris, said in an e-mailed statement that despite massive military operations in rebel strongholds in the island, they were able to increase the number of guerilla fronts from 39 in 2008 to 44 this year. Ka Oris said 40% of its 44 guerrilla fronts now have company size formations in addition to its 5 main regional guerilla units (sentro de grabidad). He said the NPAs have been growing at the rate of 10% every year over the last 3 years, a claim disputed by military figures that show their numbers are dwindling.

The CPP in Mindanao is also now building regional and sub-regional operational commands for the NPA, something that it used to have in the 1980s but decided to disband following ideological debate which led to the decimation of rebel ranks nationwide in the 1990s. Rebel forces in the Davao and Caraga regions are again capable of launching undersized battalion formations for tactical offensives as they did in raiding Taganito Mines more than a year ago. Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, commanding general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command, however said rebel forces in Mindanao could not be more than 1,500 fully armed regulars.


MILF on decommissioning: Set up Bangsamoro first

From Rappler (Dec 26): MILF on decommissioning: Set up Bangsamoro first

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) wants the Bangsamoro regional government to be in place before it starts decommissioning its forces. In an interview with Malaysian news agency Bername that was published in The Star of Malaysia on Wednesday, December 26, MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said the rebels will only start dropping their guns once the appropriate political conditions for it are established. Murad, who was interviewed while attending the recently-concluded 8th World Islamic Economic Forum in Malaysia, said the MILF also expects the government to do its part in the decommissioning process, noting that government militias should also be asked to give up their arms. The issue of decommissioning is one of the most contentious in the peace process between the MILF and the government. An MILF company commander, Abdul Sharif, earlier admitted that members are divided over the idea of laying down firearms.

The government and the MILF are in the crucial second phase of the peace talks. Both parties are still threshing out the details of the annexes that will complete the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. They have yet to finalize the timetable of the decommissioning process under the Normalization annex, which also includes agreements on policing. There is no specific deadline to complete the annexes yet, government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a recent dinner with reporters, but she said a peace agreement by the 1st quarter of the year is "doable."

'Decommissioning will be gradual'

The decommissioning process will be "gradual and phased," Ferrer said in a separate interview published by the Philippine News Agency. Although full decommissioning "will not happen at once," Ferrer said both sides are expected to "take steps that will aid in securing the peace and stability on the ground and to continue to build confidence in each other’s sincerity to deliver what has been agreed upon." “As agreed, the decommissioning process will be gradual and phased. The panels through their technical working groups are still working on an indicative timetable that will match every political milestone with corresponding socio-economic and security measures,” she said.
Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on October 15, the MILF and the government agreed to undertake the following steps in relation to the issue of decommissioning towards normalization:
  • The MILF shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use.
  • The Joint Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) as well as the Ad hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) with the participation of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) shall continue to monitor the ceasefire agreement until the full decommissioning of the MILF forces. These existing coordinating mechanisms shall be the basis for the creation of a Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) to ensure the coordination between the Government and remaining MILF forces, and through which MILF shall assist in maintaining peace and order in the area of the Bangsamoro until decommissioning shall have been fully completed.
  • Both parties commit to work in partnership for the reduction and control of firearms in the area and the disbandment of private armies and other armed groups.
Murad said the MILF also expects the government to reduce the number of soldiers in Mindanao and evenly distribute forces across the country.

What are the next steps?

Despite the "technical impasse" in the negotiations over the issue on whether or not the MILF should lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, Ferrer stressed that there is "no deal breaker." On December 17, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 120 creating the 15-member Transition Commission that will craft the Basic Law that will serve as the basis for the Bangsamoro government. The Basic Law will be submitted to Congress and must pass through its scrutiny. Once the Basic Law is ratified, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be established. It will be replaced in 2016 upon the election of the members that will comprise the Bangsamoro government.


4ID displays pre-Christmas offering

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 26): 4ID displays pre-Christmas offering

The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division in partnership with a local establishment conducted a static display at Las Ramblas Parking Area, SM, this city, Dec. 21. The static display was to celebrate the 77th Founding Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with the theme, “Bayanihan at Kahandaan: Tuwid na Daan Tungo sa Kapayapaan.” Along with the static display, 4ID also showcased the infantry rifle squad which demonstrated the squad attack and the squad capability which was highlighted with the simulated explosion of a grenade and firing of M16 rifle, every hour from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. There was also a free concert provided for the public by the 4ID Diamond Band who entertained the mall goers with their musical rendition every after the squad demonstration and continues until 9:00 p.m. People who went to the parking area to see the static display posed with the different equipment displayed. (4CMO/4ID/PA/PIA10)


Soldiers promote Christmas 'Bayanihan'

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 26): Soldiers promote Christmas 'Bayanihan'

The soldiers of 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division conducted a film showing at Gaston Park, this city, few hours before Christmas Eve. During the activity, the audio visual presentation dubbed “Bayanihan” was shown to the people waiting for the Christmas Eve mass at Saint Augustine Church in order for them to see that we can be a better country if Filipinos are working together and helping each other. The soldiers also distributed pocket calendars to churchgoers who stayed at the park and viewed the AVP. This same activity was also done in the province of Bukidnon and Caraga Region.

Major General Nestor A Añonuevo AFP, Commander, 4ID said this is the simple way of making the Army’s presence felt and to make people feel the security and protection as they celebrate Christmas. "Your soldiers are ready to give their most precious time, effort, and their lives for the service of our country and people all year round," he said. (4ID/4CMO/PIA10)


Soldiers, Youth Santa bring gifts, joy to kids in Northern Mindanao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 26): Soldiers, Youth Santa bring gifts, joy to kids in Northern Mindanao

The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division, in partnership with a youth organization named Pointy or Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through our Youth Inc. gave gifts in selected barangays within 4ID area. The activity was conducted by the Pointy members together with the soldiers to make the children in remote barangays experience the Christmas spirit. This is also a way of inspiring these children that there is more in life and that their dreams should not be hampered by their environment.

The gift giving areas were in barangays Bang-bang in Medina, Misamis Oriental and Dalwangan in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Similar event is also conducted at Odiong in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, Magluyong in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, and Bangayan in Kitcharao, Surigao del Norte. Major General Nestor A Añonuevo AFP, commander, 4ID said the spirit of Christmas can best be seen on the faces of children and it has been their practice to bring them cheer through gift giving.(4CMO/4ID/PIA10)


Super body on extrajudicial slays, rights violations meets Jan 8

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 26): Super body on extrajudicial slays, rights violations meets Jan 8

The super body created to deal with extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and violations of human rights is set to convene next month. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, complying with the directive of President Benigno S. Aquino III, said the first meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-judicial Killings and Human Rights Violations will be on Jan. 8, 2013.

Based on Administrative Order No. 35 issued by President Aquino, included in the said committee are the DOJ, Dept. of the Interior and Local Government, Dept. of National Defense, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Office of the Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs, Presidential Human Rights Committee, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation. The NBI is the Philippines' premier investigating body and is an attached agency of the DOJ.

De Lima said they will conduct an inventory of the cases in their list to determine which cases will be given priority. De Lima added that they also have created a Technical Working Group to expedite the processing of the cases. Among others, those who will attend the said meeting are Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loreta Rosales.


61 SCAA members pass army training in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 26): 61 SCAA members pass army training in Davao City

A total of 61 members of the Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary (SCAA) successfully completed their basic military training recently conducted by Task Force Davao. Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, TF Davao spokesperson, said the new graduates have completed their 45-day or about six weeks of training which started last Nov. 6. The job of this unit is to protect the human rights of the people. And will also complement the manpower requirement of TF Davao when it comes to the anti-terrorism campaign in the city, he said.

Besana said the team was given practical exercises and immediate action drills, which include theories on military professionalism and the things needed to be soldiers. “Out of the 61, 56 are from the city while five are from the Island Garden City of Samal, which will be part of the Task Group Samal,” he said. “Their first task is to serve Davaoeños and protect the city, they know that very well,” he added. Besana said initially, there were almost 200 applicants prior to the start of the training. The number dwindled to 130 recruits after the first screening and only 61 passed the training.

Meanwhile, Col. Casiano C. Monilla, commander of TF Davao, said the SCAAs are mandated to undergo basic military training to develop their skills and knowledge on security operations specifically on anti or counter terrorism. He said the newly graduates of SCAA are trained to adhere protection of human rights and to focus on the welfare of the people. “The local government of Davao City, under Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and the Task Force Davao, has set a high standard of training for SCAAs to effectively protect the people from terrorist attack as well as to secure the entire city,” he said.


MILF: Maguindanao town holds huge advocacy on Framework Agreement

From the MILF Website (Dec 26): Maguindanao town holds huge advocacy on Framework Agreement

Nearly 15,000 people, mostly Moros, from the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon attended what organizers called “Centralized Advocacy on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” at Pagulangan, Maguindanao last December 24, 2012. Pagalungan where MILF Camp Rajahmuda is situated, was the native place of Bangsamoro revolutionary leaders like Datu Udtog Matalam who founded the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM), the late Salipada Pendatun, one of the founding members of the Bangsamoro Liberation Organization (BMLO), and Salamat Hashim, the late MILF Chairman. It was the provincial capital of the former Cotabato Empire province from 1967 - 1973.

Hon. Mayor Datu Norodin Matalam together with his council, in coordination with BIAF and MILF political committee in the area, spearheaded the information activity. Eastern Mindanao Front Commander Jack Abas explained the rationale of the program: “This advocacy aims to provide correct reading, proper understanding and providing clear direction to the 40 year-old MILF led Bangsamoro struggle. No other than the FAB crafter is invited to provide clear and firsthand information.” “I am repeating to you, BIAF members, the follow-up order from our Chief-of-Staff Sammy Al-Mansour to refrain from public displaying of your guns and fatigue uniforms because it is disrespect to the organization”, he ended.

International Monitoring Team (IMT) Deputy Head of Mission Gen. Dato Mohd Zulkafli thanked the participants whom he observed remained very happy and optimistic since the signing of the FAB. He reiterated that IMT’s mission since its inception in 2004 is for people to live peacefully without conflict. “2012 is the most significant year for the Bangsamoro people because FAB is signed. Now BM people could live in prosperity and live in a peaceful life”, he explained. “With the FAB signed IMT will stay until 2016. Be patient, follow the instructions from the Central Committee because you’re almost there… have faith in them… that is what the Central Committee wants now… Don’t waste the situation… Don’t take matters to your hand”, the General appealed.

Von Al Haqq MILF CCCH Chairman and BIAF spokesperson said, “FAB signing doesn’t mean that MILF CCCH work would cease to exist. Nay, ceasefire mechanisms would still be strengthened because in this situation the whole world is looking at MILF especially international communities, so that they would be able to witness that MILF particularly BIAF is very strict in adhering to policies. Ceasefire is a policy... Ceasefire is still holding and very effective in the ground”, he pointed out.

Welcomed by chanting of Allahu Akbar (God is great), MILF Central Committee on Information and Chairman of its negotiating panel since 2003, Mohagher Iqbal, explained the Bangsamoro gains in this signed FAB. “My part is a very difficult task because I need to balance transparency and confidentiality in order to be understood properly”, Iqbal told the crowd. “Since MILF started negotiating with the Philippine government in 1997, both parties already signed more than 90 documents, and marred by bloody wars the biggest of them were on 2000, 2003 and 2008. Negotiation is useful because GPH and MILF are in common belief that no parties can win the war in the battlefield. In this case, negotiation becomes the practical way and win-win approach in solving the problem”, he explained.”

Among the gains in the FAB, Iqbal highlighted, are acceptance of Bangsamoro identity, political empowerment of the Bangsamoro people, economic empowerment, as well as social and cultural empowerment. “To assure that we are in the right track and the negotiation ends successfully, we have instituted safeguards: both panel will still exist to the last item of the talks; meaning, they would not be abolished; no unilateral implementation of the agreement; there would be third party monitoring; there shall be an organized joint normalization commission,” Iqbal explained.He told the people that he believed President Benigno Aquino III is sincere in resolving the peace in Mindanao.

Sultan Kudarat Mayor Hon. Datu Ahmed Tucao Mastura said, “This activity symbolizes that peace is taking legitimacy in Mindanao”. He then appealed to others who are not authorized to speak FAB in the public to stop doing it because they would mislead people. “I challenge you Bangsamoro especially the datus (traditional leaders) living in the core territories to help the government and the MILF in campaigning for FAB’ acceptance in the areas of Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, portion of Bukidnon as far as Palawan so that they would be able to know that FAB is for all”, he ended.

Former Maguindanao Congressman Datu Jimmy Matalam, urged Bangsamoro to support FAB because it was a product of hard negotiation and it is good agreement. “I studied it very well and I found it to be good for our people,” he told the audience. Ustadz Rahib Pantog, MILF Shariah head of its Ligawasan province, gave the closing prayer.


Bomb explodes in Iligan City inn; no one hurt

From  MindaNews (Dec 25): Bomb explodes in Iligan City inn; no one hurt

An improvised bomb exploded in a lodging house near the office of the National Bureau of Investigation in Palao at around 7:15 p.m. on December 24 but no one was killed or injured. The blast occurred inside a rented room at the second floor of the Nigra Lodging House, destroying the rooms and sliding door and fixtures on the ground flood. But NBI Iligan chief Alex Cabornay said the explosion was not intended to kill people. The 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion dispatched troops and set up security measures in crowded areas while the Philippine National Police established checkpoints in all entry points to Iligan City.


Wife of suspected Malaysian terrorist still at police holding cell

From the Business Mirror (Dec 25): Wife of suspected Malaysian terrorist still at police holding cell

The wife of the slain Malaysian, who was suspected to be an operative of the terror network Jema’ah Islamiya, has been charged by the city prosecutor but remained detained at the holding cell of the Davao City police. Senior Supt. Ronald de la Rosa, city police chief, said that Anabelle Nieva Lee, 40, has been charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Prosecutor Carlos Castaños Jr. filed the charge after finding probable cause because the evidence submitted by government agents indicating that Lee “conspired” with her husband Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar. Police shot dead the Malaysian on December 14 after he threatened to blow up a bomb improvised from a rocket-propelled grenade shell.
De la Rosa said the wife carried the backpack when the couple was persuaded to leave their room at the Sampaguita Hotel here, before police and government agents pounced on them. Lee grew up in Sorsogon and converted to Islam. De la Rosa said that Lee remained in the holding cell of the Davao City police, while the police were awaiting the commitment order from the court to transfer her to the Davao City Jail in Maa District. She shared the cell with another woman inmate charged with illegal drug trafficking.

Army starts camp rebuilding in typhoon areas

From the Business Mirror (Dec 25): Army starts camp rebuilding in typhoon areas

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) began rebuilding its camps after being battered by Typhoon Pablo, even as government forces also position themselves anew after the truce with the New People’s Army [NPA] guerrillas expires next month. Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the AFP has released close to P2 million to repair and reconstruct three battalion headquarters in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. He said P650,000 was allocated to the 67th IB in Barrio Salingkumot here, where camp facilities and bunkers of soldiers were flattened.
A bigger budget of P800,000 went to the 66th IB in Maragusan town, Compostela Valley, and the 25th IB in Monkayo town, got P500,000. Bernardo said soldiers in these battalions would also get new combat boots, military clothing, tent and fuel for their vehicles. Police and military camps have not been spared the devastation wrought by the typhoon, as soldiers also narrated tales of applying survival tactics such as crawling to avoid getting carried by the strong wind. A captain in the 67th IB said civilians in Barangay Salingkumot were hidden inside personnel tanks while soldiers crawled underneath.
Bernardo said the NPAs sustained losses due to the typhoon also “but they have sidestepped many of their men to safety, days before the typhoon, to some areas like Pantukan [in southern Compostela Valley.” 

China’s 9-dash line ‘weakens’ land claims

From the Business Mirror (Dec 25): China’s 9-dash line ‘weakens’ land claims

The Great Wall was erected by Chinese emperors to keep the “barbarians” out, meaning everybody but them. That mind-set of being a unique race had remained with their political leaders, sketching the 9-dash line, the 21st century equivalent of the wall, to encompass the whole of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). But unlike the Great Wall of China that measures 8,850 kilometers (5,500 miles), the 9-dash line was drawn apparently on a whim, without any reference points or coordinates.
That, according to experts, is one of the weakest links in the Chinese claim to territories in the South China Sea and would not pass muster before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). The convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for commerce, the environment and the management of marine natural resources.
The Chinese know their 9-dash line rests on shaky grounds. They vehemently reject the Philippine challenge to bring their claim before an international body like the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). They would like a unilateral approach, talking individually to claimants to the islands in the South China Sea, knowing the weaknesses of each individual state.
The South China Sea is defined as “a marginal sea” that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 sq km (1,400,000 sq mi, according to Wikipedia. The area’s importance largely results from one-third of the world’s shipping transiting through its waters, and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed. It is south of mainland China and the island of Taiwan, west of the Philippines, northwest of Sabah (Malaysia), Sarawak (Malaysia) and Brunei, north of Indonesia, north east of the Malay peninsula (Malaysia) and Singapore, and east of Vietnam.
China claims practically the whole South China Sea, while six other countries—the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Taiwan and Malaysia—claiming parts of the sea, including islands, atolls, shoals and reefs. The disputes stretch to the maritime boundary in the Gulf of Tonkin as well as maritime boundaries off the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines. There is a further dispute in the waters near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. Additionally, there are disputes among the various island chains of the South China Sea basin, including the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands. The various claimants wanted a piece of the action, such as fishing rights and access to marine resource, potential exploitation of suspected hydrocarbons under the seabed and strategic control of crucial shipping lanes.
In a recent commentary, the “Australian” said that officials in Beijing and state media justify China’s claim to the territories in the South China Sea by pointing to “ample historical facts and evidence” about the area, while remaining ambiguous on what these are. The article said the claim was formulated in 1947 by the then-Nationalist government in a map with a nine-section, U-shaped demarcation encompassing the Paracel Islands east of Vietnam, the Spratly Islands west of the Philippines and other uninhabited features, such as the Scarborough Shoal. It is believed to be the first time that the “nine-dash line” was printed on an official Chinese map.
Ten academics in China and Taiwan were asked to provide “a legal explanation of the U-shape line” within a year, Beijing’s state media have reported. China hopes that ancient maps and historical records would set the record straight, but their attempts to convince its six rivals through academic research may prove fruitless, according to experts. “China’s claims are very dubious because you can make old maps say what you want them to say,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the department of Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. He was quoted by foreign news agencies as having said China’s only control of any of the islands came via maritime skirmishes over the past 40 years. In 1974 during a naval battle with Vietnam, China took over the Paracels and in 1988 some of the Spratlys after the Johnson South Reef Skirmish, which resulted in 70 Vietnamese deaths.
Beijing also gained control of the Mischief Reef in the Spratlys in mid-1994, when it built structures on the island that it claimed were for its fishermen. Despite vehement protest, Manila backed down over the Mischief Reef (Philippine maps name it Panganiban Reef), but was more assertive earlier this year when the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard had an extended standoff with Chinese patrol vessels at Scarborough Shoal, which Philippine maps have shown as either Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal. This shoal is well within the Philippines’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Zhang Haiwen, deputy director of the China Institute for Marine Affairs, recently told the state media that distance has “absolutely no basis in international law and judicial practice”—using Britain’s Channel Islands, less than 12 nautical miles from the French coast, as an example. Jia Qingguo, professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies, said China was merely following an example set by the West. “The United States has Guam in Asia, which is very far away from the US, and the French have islands in the South Pacific, so it is nothing new,” adding, “the geographical location of the island does not necessarily indicate to which country it belongs.”
Qingguo is way behind the time. What he pointed out occured during the time of colonization, when the mighty and highly technologically advanced countries took advantage of the weak, when “might is right” governed most policies. Today, we have the United Nations to settle disputes. And China is a prominent member of the UN. And the reality of the present was expressed by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who told the future military top brass at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City to “stand up to protect what is ours.” He said the country includes parts of the Spratly island chain in the South China Sea [of which the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone was renamed West Philippine Sea], as well as the Scarborough Shoal. “We have a clear mandate from [President Aquino]. What is ours is ours, and we should stand up to protect what is ours,” said del Rosario. “Live up to your living commitment of courage, integrity and loyalty. By doing so, rather than being forced to accept that might is right, we will instead demonstrate that right is might,” he added.
Meanwhile, Edward N. Luttwak’s book, The Rise of China vs The Logic of Strategy, says Chinese policies in Asia risk economic retaliation by other countries. Luttwak, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies disputed claims that given US policies, China can accomplish the “peaceful rise” its leaders promised. He said that since the 2008 recession, Beijing’s international policies have hardened because it sees the US as in decline. Examples of what he called “premature assertiveness” are everywhere, from China’s trade policies to its bullying of Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines over disputed islands. He said Beijing’s claim to the entire South China Sea was “an outrageous power grab.”
Luttwak added that this rapid economic and military growth and global influence are incompatible because they are bound to provoke resistance. Already China’s neighbors are seeking new forms of collective security designed to contain her. Vietnam and the Philippines have begun developing closer ties with the US. He also called China’s move “autistic” for Beijing’s insensitivity and overbearing style. Luttwak said while other countries can suffer from the same disease, China’s position as the world’s most populous nation and isolated historical development make her especially prone to the illness. He added that he does not see war as solution, saying that a China that grows at anything like current rates would not have to be aggressive to impose its will. Luttwak, however, warned the US against over-reliance on military countermeasures, which could further stimulate China’s growth and defense spending.
China’s supposed mistake is that its unilateral moves had provoked its greatest rival, the United States, which considers the China Sea as an extension of the Pacific Ocean, to respond to a potential threat. Lately, it was announced that the latest warships and other high-tech weapons are being deployed to the Asia Pacific as part of Washington’s strategic shift to the region. “The Pentagon will send P-8 submarine-hunting aircraft, cruise missiles, Virginia-class submarines, coastal combat ships and F-35 fighter jets to Asian ports and bases in coming years, an unnamed senior official told reporters, saying that the Pacific theater will get the newest weapons systems first. This Asian “pivot” by the Pentagon came after decades of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reflecting concern over China’s growing military power and its assertive stance in territorial disputes with its neighbors. “The United States already plans to deploy more than half of its fleet to the Asia Pacific and to station four littoral combat ships—speedy new vessels designed to operate near coastlines—for rotational deployments in Singapore,” newspaper reports said.
The reports added that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed that the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is still in development, could be deployed to the Iwakuni air station in Japan’s Yamaguchi prefecture by 2017, while also providing Japan with another powerful X-band radar to bolster its missile defenses, a move announced in September. America’s military was triggered by deep concern over Beijing’s recent actions in the South China Sea, referring to tough new maritime rules from China’s Hainan province, a controversial map in new Chinese passports and allegations that Chinese fishing boats cut the seismic cables of a Vietnamese geological survey vessel, other news reports said. Recently, Hainan province adopted new policy, allowing local police to board and expel foreign ships entering waters it considers under Chinese jurisdiction. Beijing infuriated its neighbors by issuing new passports incorporating the 9-dash line map. Two countries, Vietnam and the Philippines, countered by not honoring the passports, stamping immigration records on a separate piece of paper instead.

Security forces alerted against rebel assaults

From the Manila Times (Dec 26): Security forces alerted against rebel assaults

GOVERNMENT security forces in southern Luzon have been alerted against possible attacks from New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Tuesday. Director General Alan Purisima, Philippine National Police chief, said that possible rebel attacks on police outposts and stations in Southern Tagalog region was passed on to them by the Armed Forces (AFP). “We received reports from the AFP about the arrest of NPA members and we were informed about the plan to conduct attacks in police stations in Southern Luzon areas,” Purisima said.

The police chief said that he had already informed and instructed police regional commanders in southern Luzon area to maintain a high state of vigilance against leftist rebel activities in their areas. “I have directed the police regional directors of areas where NPA’s are known to be operating to exercise highest form of vigilance and intensify intelligence gathering,” Purisima said.

The police chief said that he also ordered that security in all police stations in southern Luzon be intensified against the possible launching of rebel attacks to mark the CPP’s 44th founding anniversary. “We are also in constant coordination with the AFP in so far as augmentation of forces in police stations is concerned,” said Purisima who earlier raised the alert status of the National Police as part of security for the Holiday Season.

Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesman, said that police units throughout the country have been told to remain vigilant despite of the government’s declaration of ceasefire with communist rebels during the yuletide season. “We have the recent case of [NPA attack] in Palawan . . . the directive to our police is to continue their high level of vigilance and alertness especially those in the remote areas,” Cerbo said.

The CPP is the main political organization of the rebels, which have been waging more than four decades of protracted war in the countryside. The Communist Party has recently offered a power sharing term with the Philippine government to end decades-old strife as a prelude for resumption of peace-talks, but was quickly rejected by top government officials.

Gov’t, MILF peacemakers optimistic despite deadlock

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 26): Gov’t, MILF peacemakers optimistic despite deadlock

Despite the deadlock in their peace negotiations, both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) say they remain hopeful that they will be able to resolve the contentious issues, allowing the talks to “move forward” until they can reach a final peace agreement. “While we move toward the final stretch of the peace negotiations, we remain steadfast, bolstered by lessons well-learned from the past, and committed to find just and sustainable solutions to the many aspects of the armed conflict that has crippled our country for many decades,” government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in her Christmas message. The official MILF website, Luwaran.com, said in an editorial titled “Grand Gestures” that while the talks are deadlocked, the two parties “will be able to settle this in due time” owing to their “goodwill and determination.”

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, signed by the two sides in October, indicates a desire by both the government and the MILF to conclude a comprehensive peace agreement before the end of the year. Before breaking off for the holidays, the Senate and the House passed resolutions in support of the framework agreement and the creation of a transition commission that would draft a basic law for the proposed autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Transition body

President Aquino signed an executive order creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission on Dec. 17. The commission’s work, the draft basic law, will be submitted to Congress for approval. Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, sponsor of the Senate resolution that all the senators signed as coauthors, said the framework agreement was crucial to the attainment of lasting peace and economic development in Muslim Mindanao. In addition to expressing support for the framework agreement, the House resolution acknowledges the work of the government and the MILF toward the establishment of an autonomous region for the Bangsamoro people.

The government and the MILF made strides in the power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization annexes to the framework agreement, but failed to resolve the annex on arrangements and modalities. The annex indicates the steps for the completion of the Mindanao peace process, with the establishment of a transition authority as the ultimate step that the MILF views as “the real premium" in the peace negotiations, now in their 16th year. The MILF wants to use its name in the billing for the leaderhip of the transition authority, but the government wants the lead to go to the Bangsamoro people.

Aquino thinking

“We do not believe President Aquino has this kind of thinking in relation to who will lead [the] Transition Authority,” the MILF said on its website. “Even common sense would tell us that the accolade or reward must belong and go to those who invested ‘sweat, tears [and blood’ and not especially to those who rocked the boat when the sailing [was] rough. Otherwise, the whole idea is not really to solve the Moro Question with the MILF.” The MILF met over the weekend to start choosing from its nominees to the 15-man transition commission.

NPA says military violated truce

From the Philippine Star (Dec 25): NPA says military violated truce

Communist rebels on Tuesday accused the military of violating the holiday truce for allegedly arresting and torturing five civilians in San Francisco, Quezon. Armine de Guia, spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA) Apolonio Mendoza Command, said members of the 74th battalion nabbed the civilians while on board a vehicle last Dec. 21. The holiday truce between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the NPA started last Dec. 20 and will end on Jan. 15.

The military, however, denied that it violated the ceasefire, saying the arrest was a law enforcement activity. AFP Southern Luzon Command spokesman Col. Generoso Bolina said the suspects were arrested for illegal possession of firearms. “The ceasefire does not cover law enforcement activities. We have to ensure the safety of the public,” he said.

Three of the five arrested persons, Bolina said, are NPA members, not just ordinary civilians. The two others were released since they were only hired to drive the motorcycle carrying the suspects. Bolina said the three – identified as Dennis Quidor alias Anghel and Jabar, Rodrigo Guevarra, and Eliseo Lopez – were planning to stage attacks in the towns of San Francisco, Mulanay and San Narciso.He said soldiers had recovered three bags, a landmine, a cal. 22, a hand grenade, two M16 rifles, a cal. 45 with ammunition, seven pieces of blasting caps, and subversive documents from the suspects.

The NPA said the civilians were subjected to interrogation and torture by soldiers who arrested them. De Guia claimed the five had wounds and bruises when they were presented to the Mulanay municipal police station. “The action proves that the ceasefire declared by AFP is deceptive, not serious and untruthful,” the rebel spokesperson said. “The three should be released and the military should stop torturing them,” de Guia added.

Bolina denied the suspects were tortured or harassed by security forces. “Every time we arrest rebels, they (NPA) would discredit the operation by accusing us of torture or by claiming that the suspects are civilians,” he said.


CPP: NPA needs to hike membership to 25k

From the Philippine Star (Dec 25): CPP: NPA needs to hike membership to 25k

New People's Army guerillas around the country must hike its number to 25,000 in the coming years, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said ahead of its 44th year anniversary on Dec. 26. In the CPP Central Committee anniversary message titled: “Seize the initiative in all forms of struggle and intensify the offensive against the enemy”, the unchanged situation in the country is perfect breeding ground for the growth of the NPA, even as the government claims success in its ‘Oplan Bayanihan’ lowering down their number to only 5,000. According to official organs, the CPP “absolutely controls and leads” the NPA.

“Since the beginning of last year, we have scored victories in further building the Party, the New People's Army, the National Democratic Front, the organs of political power and mass organizations; as well as in carrying out the strategic plan to advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate in our people's war,” the CPP central committee said.

Making parallelisms with the past administration, the CPP said, “(they) have effectively combated and frustrated the enemy campaigns of military suppression and deception under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan and we have gained strength in the process.”The CPP denied claims that its 25,000-strong armed men dwindled to 4,000 in the mid-1980s.“The people's democratic revolution through people's war is advancing,” the CPP central committee said, adding, “It is making substantial progress in carrying out the strategic plan to advance the people's war from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate. Being the “(CPP’s) main mass organization,” the New People's Army, has thousands of high-powered rifles in the hands of its fighters and aims to increase this to the level of 25,000 in order to reach the threshold of the strategic stalemate in the next few years.

The CPP said the NPA “is currently operat(ing) in more than 100 guerrilla fronts and is striving to increase these to 180 within the next five years since 2010 or for a longer period if need be.” In certain regions, especially in Mindanao, the NPA claims to have “carried out significant offensives against mining, logging and plantation enterprises.” Nationwide, these offensives are meant to stop and discourage landgrabbing, the plunder of natural resources for export and the destruction of the environment and agriculture; and to make more land available for land reform, to conserve the natural resources and use them wisely for national industrialization, the CPP said.

Although mainly encouraging “armed confrontations”, the CPP said it believes in “engaging in peace negotiations (as) relevant to the united front.” It said “it involves propagating the program of people's democratic revolution and exposing to the public how the reactionary government reacts to demands for basic reforms and offers of truce and alliance or cooperation against imperialism and the worst forms of local reaction.”

The group added that it is "tolerating the electoral process of the reactionary government on whatever scale” as relevant to the united front, “because it involves developing cooperation with patriotic and progressive candidates and groups and encouraging them to fight the worst reactionaries in the reactionary government and do what they can to help disintegrate the reactionary ruling system.” The CPP, the central committee further claims, “is now present in nearly all provinces of the country”, as “it runs ahead of the building of the New People's Army.”

NPA red fighters and other revolutionary forces can move freely in more than 90 percent of Philippine territory, the CPP further said, while it claims, “(the government) has only enough armed force to concentrate on a few guerrilla fronts at every given time.”


Moro leaders' kin happy over support for TransCom

From the Philippine Star (Dec 26): Moro leaders' kin happy over support for TransCom

Relatives of three renowned ethnic Maguindanaons whose revolutionary ideals helped set aflame the Moro uprising that started in the late 1960s were elated with the separate resolutions last week by the Senate and House of Representatives expressing support to the newly created Transition Commission (TransCom). The TransCom, which President Benigno Aquino III created last week through Executive Order 120, and to be comprised of representatives from the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, will oversee the setting up of a new autonomous political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Relatives, mostly second and third generation descendants of the Moro chieftain Datu Udtog Matalam, former Senator Salipada Kuder Pendatun and MILF’s founder, Imam Salamat Hashim, converged Sunday in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao, and unanimously committed support to the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, or FAB, and the TransCom. Matalam and Pendatun both fought the Japanese in World War II through the renowned “Bolo Battalion,” a ragtag band of Moro fighters, mostly armed only with bladed weapons, bows and arrows, and spears, that killed hundreds in clandestine attacks on garrisons and convoys of superior soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army in what are now chartered Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces.

Pagalungan town, which is in the second district of Maguindanao, is the birthplace of the Mindanao Independence Movement, whose activation was inspired by the ideals of Matalam and Pendatun, who are also both related to Hashim. Hashim, born in Barangay Cudal in Pagalungan, was to become an Egyptian-trained cleric and founder of the MILF.

Sunday’s public consultation in Pagalungan on the intricacies of the TransCom and FAB, which was crafted by the government and MILF panels on October 15, 2012 in Malacañang, was organized by local officials led by Mayor Datu Norodin Matalam. The gathering was attended by representatives of the Army’s infantry and elite Special Forces units in Pagalungan and surrounding towns led by Lt. Col. Benjie Hao and representatives of the 602nd Brigade. Hao, commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Battalion, said participants to the dialogue listened attentively to speakers as they explained the implications and benefits of the FAB and the TransCom to the efforts of President Aquino and the MILF in finding durable solutions to the Mindanao Moro issue.

Among the observers to the forum were representatives of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, which has been helping oversee since 2003 the enforcement of the government-MILF ceasefire accord, lawyer Kirby Matalam Abdullah, who is legal adviser to the mayor of Pagalungan, and local officials and traditional Moro leaders from Pikit town in North Cotabato. “We in the military are grateful to the local officials, especially Mayor Matalam, the influential datus, and the MILF for embarking on such dialogue,” Hao said. The mayor was himself a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the early 1970s. The mayor’s late patriarch, Datu Udtog, was governor of the Empire Cotabato Province, after World war II, for about three decades, a post that wielded political and administrative powers over an area that then spanned from what are now provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and Gen. Santos City.

Some of the participants to the dialogue were senior members of the MILF from the 220,000 Liguasan Marsh, who are mostly related by blood to Hashim, who finished an Islamic theology degree at the Al-Azzar University in Cairo, Egypt, prior to his joining the MNLF as revolutionary ally of Nur Misuari. Hashim bolted from the MNLF in 1979 and established the MILF two years later. Hashim’s relatives welcomed as “positive development” the assurance of support to the TransCom by the House of Representatives and the Senate through separate resolutions last week.

The peace dialogue in Pagalungan was also attended by Hadji Tucao Mastura, mayor of Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of Maguindanao, who is also provincial chairman of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. Mastura is younger brother of lawyer Michael Mastura, who is a senior member of the MILF’s peace panel. Mastura’s entourage was comprised of his political supporters, among them leaders of the Midtimbang clan in the second district of Maguindanao.

The commander of the 602nd Brigade, Col. Ademar Tomaro, said he has ordered all Army units in Maguindanao’s adjoining Montawal and Pagalungan towns, and nearby areas in North Cotabato to maximize the involvement of the Matalams, the Hashims and the Pendatuns in the resolution of domestic security issues. “We need to continue with various confidence-building projects on the ground to maintain law and order, while the government and MILF panels are striving hard to put a successful conclusion to the peace talks,” Tomaro said.


NPA leader with P5.2-M bounty falls in Negros

From the Philippine Star (Dec 26): NPA leader with P5.2-M bounty falls in Negros

A New People’s Army (NPA) leader – the sixth most wanted in the country with a bounty of P5.2 million – was captured in Negros Oriental yesterday amid the 27-day holiday ceasefire between the insurgents and government security forces.This occurred as the NPA and the military yesterday swapped charges of truce violations in Quezon and Agusan del Sur. Army reports said Filemon Mendrez, head of NPA forces in Negros Oriental, was nabbed in Manjuyod town as he faces pending robbery and rebellion cases.

Communist rebels yesterday accused the military of violating the holiday truce for allegedly arresting and torturing five civilians in San Francisco, Quezon. Armine de Guia, spokesperson of the NPA’s Apolonio Mendoza Command, accused soldiers of seizing five civilians in San Francisco, Quezon and torturing them last Dec. 21. The holiday truce started last Dec. 20 and will end on Jan. 15.

Col. Generoso Bolina, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Southern Command, said the arrest was a law enforcement activity, as the five were collared for illegal possession of firearms. Three of them were tagged as NPA rebels, and the two others were later released.

In Agusan del Sur, the military accused the NPA of violating the truce by killing an unarmed militiaman in an ambush in La Paz town.


PCG not expecting new ships in 2013

From the Philippine Star (Dec 26): PCG not expecting new ships in 2013

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said yesterday it is not expecting to receive additional ships in 2013, but the Aquino administration is purchasing at least 10 new vessels that are scheduled to arrive at least by 2014. “Since all of the ships to be purchased by the Coast Guard are brand new, it would take some months to construct. So hopefully, by 2014 they would start arriving,” PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said. When he took over as PCG chief last Dec. 14, Isorena said one of his priorities is to improve the agency’s capabilities. He said Malacañang has given its approval to procure 10 40-meter search and rescue vessels from Japan that will be delivered within three years, from 2014 until 2017. There are also plans to procure an 82-meter ship and four 24-meter vessels from France, but Isorena said these are not yet final.


PH navy activates disaster response units for Quinta

From Rappler (Dec 25): PH navy activates disaster response units for Quinta

The Philippine Navy is on stand-by for possible disaster response operations as Typhoon Quinta (international codename: Wukong) approaches Visayas and Mindanao. Col Omar Tonsay, Navy Public Affairs officer, said Tuesday, December 25, that the Navy Headquarters in Manila instructed naval forces and their disaster response task units (DRTUs) to be on alert as early as 6 p.m. Sunday, December 23, when Quinta was spotted as a low pressure area.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, 5 areas in Visayas and Mindanao have been placed under storm signal #2: Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Dinagat and Siargao Island.  DRTUs in various locations are coordinating with their respective regional disaster risk reduction management councils and other government agencies, Tonsay said.
The Philippine Navy has the following naval forces and DRTUs, including ships, in Visayas and Mindanao ready for disaster response:
  1. Naval Forces Central (NFC) Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu: 5 DRTUa & 9 ships.
  2. Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) in Panacan, Davao City: 3 DRTUs & 8 ships
  3. Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) Lower Calarian,Zamboanga: 2 DRTUs & 5 ships
Naval units in other areas are also ready for deployment:
  1. Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NFSL) Legaspi, Albay: 2 DRTUs & 4 ships
  2. Naval Forces Northern Luzon (NFNL) San Fernando, La Union: 2 DRTUs & 3 ships
  3. Naval Forces West(NFW) Puerto Princesa, Palawan: 7 DRTUs & 10 ships
  4. Fleet Marine Ready Force (FMRF) Sangley Point Cavite: 12 DRTUs
The central team of the Navy DRTU is composed of about 12 members equipped with one 6x6 truck and one or two rubber boats, as well as other rescue gears and equipment. Naval stations and navy personnel will continue to be on stand-by for Quinta, especially for possible search and rescue operations, even during the holidays, according to Tonsay. "Mananatiling nakatalaga at naka alerto sa mga naval stations ang naka-duty na tauhan ng navy para sa posibleng paglunsad ng navy disaster response operations, partikular sa search and rescue phase nito, maging sa harap ng kapaskuhan," Tonsay said.
(The navy is on standby and ready for national disaster response operations, particularly for search and rescue phase, even if it is Christmas.)

Quinta makes landfall; Signal No. 2 in 9 areas

From Rappler (Dec 25): Quinta makes landfall; Signal No. 2 in 9 areas

Tropical Storm Quinta (Wukong) has made landfall twice as of Wednesday morning, December 26, as the state weather bureau placed 9 areas under Storm Signal No. 2.  On Tuesday, Quinta made landfall between 7 and 8 pm in Homonhon, Eastern Samar, said state weather forecaster Ricky Fabregas in a phone interview with Rappler. Then at around midnight on Wednesday, Quinta made landfall in Abuyog, Leyte, according to forecaster Nelson Dianela in a separate interview. Based on its latest bulletin issued at 11 pm, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised Signal No. 2 (61-100 km/h winds expected in the next 24 hours) over the following areas:
  • Northern Samar
  • Eastern Samar
  • Western Samar
  • Leyte
  • Southern Leyte
  • Biliran
  • Northern Cebu
  • Camotes Island
  • Dinagat Island
Signal No. 1 (45-60 km/h winds in the next 36 hours) applies to the following:
  • Sorsogon
  • Catanduanes
  • Albay
  • Masbate
  • Ticao
  • Burias Island
  • Romblon
  • Aklan
  • Capiz
  • Antique
  • Iloilo
  • Guimaras
  • Negros Provinces
  • Bohol
  • Siquijor
  • Rest of Cebu
  • Siargao
  • Surigao del Norte
  • Camiguin

PAGASA said that as of 10 pm, Quinta is at 25 km east of MacArthur, Leyte.  Quinta packs maximum sustained winds of 75 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 90 km/h. Quinta is moving west at 24 km/h. It is forecast to be at 30 km south of Coron, Palawan by Wednesday evening, December 26.  It is expected to be outside the Philippine area of responsibility, at 560 km west northwest of Coron, Palawan, by Thursday evening, December 27.


Ranking NPA leader arrested

From InterAksyon (Dec 25): Ranking NPA leader arrested

NPA leader Filemon Mendrez file photo

A ranking leader of the New People's Army (NPA) and one of the most wanted persons in the country was arrested by joint police and military operatives in Negros Oriental on Christmas Day, Tuesday, a Philippine Army spokesman said. Major Harold Cabunoc said Filemon Mendrez with aliases Tatay and Edon was arrested in Barangay Tubod, Manjuyod town at 10:30 a.m. Cabunoc said Mendrez was the alleged leader of the NPA's regional strike force in Negros and the deputy secretary of the Central Visayas Regional Party Committee.

Col. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the Army's 302nd Brigade, said Mendrez has standing arrest warrants robbery-in-band and rebellion with no bail recommended. He is reportedly the sixth most wanted person in the country. "(Mendrez) led the successful violent attacks both in the Central Visayas and Negros province..He currently heads the armed group of the NPA in Negros," Cabunoc said. Mendrez has a reward of P5.25 million based on the joint DILG-DND rewards list dated November 29.

Major General Jose Mabanta Jr., 3rd Infantry Division commander, said law enforcement operations will continue despite of the ceasefire with the rebels. "This is part of your security forces' of protecting communities, government and private establishments," he said. Mendrez is currently under police custody.


Centcom sees more, better equipment with AFP modernization

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Centcom sees more, better equipment with AFP modernization

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (CenCom) based in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Lahug, Cebu City welcomed the signing of AFP’s new modernization law last Tuesday. Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, deputy operations officer of CentCom, said they were elated because the program will allow them to acquire more equipment that could help in their operations. ”We are thankful for the President for his support to the military in upgrading our program,” he said adding that this would enable them to purchase equipment that would help them better guard their fellowmen and territory. The AFP modernization law, Republic Act 10349, was extended up to 15 years. The Congress has earmarked P75 billion for the project.

As CentCom is now geared towards humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation, Tampus said purchase of helicopters will be beneficial to disaster-stricken areas. ”The insurgency problem in Visayas is weakening so we are now focusing on other areas,” he said. The new law exempts certain major defense purchases such as aircraft, vessels, tanks, armored vehicles, communications equipment and high-powered firearms from public bidding. It also exempts from value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties the sale and importation of weapons, equipment and ammunition to the AFP which are directly and exclusively used of its projects, undertaking, activities and programs. The RA 10349 also institutionalized the defense system of management, which incorporates a collegial and collaborative planning and decision-making process by senior defense and military leaders.


Decommissioning of firearms begins when Bangsamoro gov't in place -- MILF chairman

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Decommissioning of firearms begins when Bangsamoro gov't in place -- MILF chairman

The decommissioning of firearms for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters will only begin once the Bangsamoro government is in place and operational in Mindanao, southern Philippines. MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim said at this point the issue of decommisioning of firearms by the MILF fighters was still under discussion with the Philippine government. He disclosed this to Bernama when approached while attending the just-concluded 8th World Islamic Economic Forum here. Murad reminded that the relevant parties needed to create the proper situation on the ground first, before kick starting the process of decommissioning of firearms by his fighters. He said the issue of decommissioning of firearms should not concern the MILF fighters only, but also involved the government militias called the Civilian Volunteers. "They should also be subjected to decommissioning (of firearms)," according to him.

The MILF and the Philippine government successfully inked a framework agreement, ending the long-running conflict between both parties which claimed thousands of lives and left the resource-rich Mindanao region impoverished. The framework agreement between MILF and Manila was brokered by Malaysia and signed at the Malacanang Palace Oct 15. The historic event was witnessed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Benigno Aquino III.

The rebel leader opined that the people in Mindanao would not have any need to carry firearms if there was prevailing peace and security on the ground. He also expected the government forces to evenly distribute their soldiers throughout the country as provided by the framework agreement and reduce the number of personnel stationed in Mindanao.


Gov't security forces nabbed ranking NPA in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): Gov't security forces nabbed ranking NPA in Negros Oriental

Operatives from the 302nd Infantry Brigade and the Philippine National Police arrested one of the most wanted persons in Negros Oriental, a member of the New Peoples Army, in a law enforcement operations Tuesday. Arrested was Filemon Mendrez, the country's 6th most wanted. He was nabbed at Barangay Tubod, Manjuyod town, Negros Oriental around 10 a.m. by virtue of an warrant of arrest for the crime of robbery in band under Criminal Case Numbers 2116, 898, and 00-662 for rebellion with no bail recommended. Mendrez is under the new joint Dept. of Interior and Local Government-Dept. of National Defense reward list where his arrest has a reward of P5.25 million.

Mendrez or alias Tatay and Edon in the underground movement was the former head of Front Committee 2 in Central Visayas and later became the Deputy head of the Central Visayas Revolutionary Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He currently heads the armed group of the NPA in Negros.

"Law enforcement operations shall continue even as we observe a Suspension of Offensive Military Operations and ceasefire. This is part of your security forces' of protecting communities, government and private establishments," 3rd Infantry Division Maj Gen. Jose Mabanta, Jr. said. The 3rd Infantry Division is the mother unit of the 302nd Infantry Brigade. "The arrest will certainly give a better opportunity for us in Central Visayas to celebrate the holidays more peacefully," he added.


GPH chair says decommissioning of MILF weapons will be gradual

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 25): GPH chair says decommissioning of MILF weapons will be gradual

Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, chair of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Tuesday said the decommissioning of weapons for MILF rebels will be gradual. Ferrer made the statement in a text message to this reporter when asked about a news report from Bernama, the Malaysian news agency, quoting MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim as saying that the decommissioning will only start once the Bangsamoro government is in place and operational. Murad was interviewed by Bernama while attending the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum in Johor, Baharu, the second most populous city in Malaysia.

Ferrer said that “while full decommissioning will not happen at once and in one instance, both parties are expected to take steps that will aid in securing the peace and stability on the ground and to continue to build confidence in each other’s sincerity to deliver what has been agreed upon.” “As agreed, the decommissioning process will be gradual and phased. The panels through their technical working groups are still working on an indicative timetable that will match every political milestone with corresponding socio-economic and security measures,” Ferrer said.

In October this year, the Philippine government and the MILF signed the historic Framework Agreement that will be the roadmap to find a just and lasting solution to the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao. Last week, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 120 creating a Transition Commission (TC) that will draft the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law provided for in the Framework Agreement signed by the GPH and MILF. This affirms the President's resolve to move forward the peace process for the Bangsamoro as a strategic initiative for political stability and economic development, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said.

The EO also provides a mechanism for authentic democratic collaboration in the crafting of a proposed law where the affected people themselves are actively involved. There are 15 members that will compose the TC to be appointed by the President. The government and MILF will come up with a list of candidates from among the Bangsamoro and other residents in the prospective core area of the new political entity. It is also provided that the TC may put up an office and coordinate with other government agencies and Congress to get its work done. It has an initial budget allocation of P100 million. The TC may also recommend to Congress and the people, when necessary, proposed amendments to the Constitution.

"The aim is to install the Bangsamoro through a new organic act as soon as possible in order to have an elected Bangsamoro government by 2016,” Ferrer said, saying that “this does not prevent the TC or its members from examining the constitution and recommending constitutional reforms.

“However, the President has made clear that constitutional change is not his priority during his term," Ferrer said. The Transition Commission shall also assist in identifying development programs together with the Bangsamoro Development Authority and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute-- two institutions affiliated with the MILF. "Government is committed to the reconstruction of conflict-affected areas and to fast track socio-economic development in the region.“This will be accomplished by empowering the Bangsamoro themselves through their participation in transforming their own communities,” she said.


CPP/NDF: A victorious decade of People's War in Mindanao

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 26): A victorious decade of People's War in Mindanao

Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)

Together with all revolutionaries and the the people of Mindanao and the entire nation, the NDFP-Mindanao wishes to express its warmest congratulations and highest tribute to the Communist Party of the Philippines (MLM) on the 44th anniversary of its re-eastablishment. Through the Party’s leadership, the National Democratic Revolution has advanced to its current phase despite the relentless counterrevolutionary attacks of US imperialism and the local ruling class. We also proudly salute all our revolutionary martyrs who have heroically offered their lives for the revolution.

As we celebrate this auspicious day, our deepest sympathies and concern go out to the families and friends of the victims of typhoons Sendong and Pablo. In line with this, we call upon all revolutionary forces in the island to be modest and simple yet meaningful and militant in their celebrations of the Party’s 44th anniversary. To help facilitate relief and retrieval operations, NDFP-Mindanao has declared a 29 day ceasefire in all areas affected by Typhoon Pablo. We also call on the people to unite and join in the collective and long term rehabilitation of the people’s livelihood and continue to help preserve and protect the environment.

Offensive Posture

In the face of brutal and relentless attacks by the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) and Oplan Bayanihan (OPB) of the local ruling class and its imperialist master, the revolutionary struggle of the people of Mindanao has boldly and heroically advanced in the last decade because of the determined and correct leadership of the Communist Pary and the wide and strong support and participation of the people.

Never daunted nor defeated, we have daringly crossed difficulties and sacrifices. From a trying first decade of launching the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM), the peole’s war has rapidly accelarated over the last ten years (2002-2012). The Party’s correct leadership of the people’s war has been decisive in frustrating OBL 1 and 2, and initially thwarting OPB. We continue to take the initiative, despite the NPA being the priority focus of the AFP, amid the declining Moro armed resistance.

The offensive posture in both the military and political arena has been instilled among our forces. We have concretely shown this in our determination and daringness to frustrate the brutal OBL and OPB of the reactionary regime, so the people’s war may advance. Overall, we have overcome the lingering conservative tendencies among our ranks, as we continued with our offensive posture especially in our tactical offensives.

Establishing revolutionary bases and the revolutionary mass movement

We have rapidly expanded and strengthened our guerilla bases in the entire island. More municipalities have been covered from the more than 200 towns originally listed the previous year. Hundreds of barrios have also been added to the 2000 barrios of the same period. Twenty-five percent (25%) of these have been consolidated from the level of barrio Organizing Committee (OC) to the level of Balangay. A good number of organs of political power (OPP) at the barrio, section and town levels have also been established. The hundreds of thousands organized under the revolutionary mass organizations continue to expand. They have undergone political education and they carry the national democratic political line with a socialist perspective. There are regions, however, that need to march in step in expanding and strengthening their guerilla bases, while the more advanced regions must consolidate their bases further as they complete the process of covering their area of responsibility.

Agrarian revolution (agrev), which is the main content of the people’s democratic revolution as well as the key link to our mass work in the countryside, has been waged repeatedly in numerous barrios of the island. Hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families have benefitted from the different forms and levels of anti-feudal struggles and other mass campaigns.

Through agrev, we have successfully decreased rent on land, farm animals and farm implements in many areas. We have also raised the wages of agri-workers from P250-P300. A relatively good number of areas have also benefitted from an increase in the price of their farm produce, while there is a gradual reduction of the various forms of exploitative practices by traders and usurers. We have also reduced the prices of basic commodities inside our base areas. Our mass campaigns directly blocking the expansion of the giant imperialist plantations of Dole-Stanfilco, Del Monte, Sumifru and others have gain ground.

Cooperativization such as labor exchange, communal farms, consumers and marketing cooperatives continue to be developed and practiced in the peasant associations. We are developing self-reliant war economies in our relatively strong guerrilla bases. We have also established basic social services like education, health, culture and many more in our base areas.

All of these are slowly but surely building up the peasants’ economic and political power on one hand while weakening the power of the landlords, bourgeois compradors and the imperialists on the other hand. But on the whole, there is still a need to wage agrarian revolution on a deeper, wider scale and thus advance the people’s protracted war.

In general, we have firmly grasped the correct coordination between the armed struggle as the main form and the parliamentary struggle, as the secondary form. We have correctly combined the legal and illegal forms of struggle. This has greatly helped in exposing and fighting enemy attacks against our agrarian revolution and the anti-imperialist mass movement. While we advocate and struggle for the legitimate demands of the people, it is imperative that we sharpen our political line, especially in establishing the links and interrelationships between the anti-imperialist, anti-fascist and anti-feudal lines. The correct combination of the legal/open with the illegal/underground forms have helped in widening and strengthening our bases, and in sustaining our cultural movement and social services. We have strengthened the antifascist and anti-imperialist mass movement. In numerous instances, abuses perpetrated by the operating troops in the countryside have been openly protested and condemned. More and more people have stood up and marched on the streets to denounce and condemn the long list of human rights violations committed by the regime’s armed forces such as the extra juficial killing of Fr. Pops Tentorio, Jimmy Liguyon, Rudy and Roderick Dejos, Eliezer Boy Billanes, Jenesis Ambason, Margarito Cabal, the massacre of the Cafeon family and many other bloody incidents. We have also waged a series of multisectoral protests against the direct intervention of US troops in Mindanao and in the entire country.

The movement against imperialist-owned mines and plantations has gained ground. These imperialist industries have caused irreparable damage to the environment, displaced and exploited the Lumads, peasants and workers. Thus, the NPA has conducted punitive measures against these highly destructive imperialist mining and agri-business companies.

As a result of a wider and more dynamic mass movement in the urban areas and a resurgence of the youth & student movement, many young activists have decided to join the NPA. Apart from the relatively marginal increase in numbers, greater strides must be taken to widen and strengthen our forces in the white area, particularly among the ranks of the workers and the student youth in order to jumpstart an upsurge in the open democratic mass movement.

Our Guerilla Warfare in the island

Guerilla warfare has become stronger and more widespread based on an ever widening and deepening mass base in the entire island and within the regions; this in effect has thwarted the enemy’s scheme to focus its operations in only a few areas. In 2007, for instance, the Eastmincom was forced to shift its attack from Northeast Mindanao to Southern Mindanao because of the bigger, more frequent tactical offensives in the said region. The North Central, FarSouth and West Mindanao Regions also launched tactical offensives, so that the enemy’s troops were not limited to SMR and NEMR alone. Within SMR and NEMR, tactical offensives were also launched on a wider, more frequent scale and range. While enemy forces concentrated on two or three regions, the other regions in Mindanao were given the latitude to regain the strength of their forces and reinvigorate their tactical offensives and mass movement.

The enemy’s offensive campaigns and operations, which include their Re-engineered Special Operations Team (RSOT) now renamed Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), were met with our active defense, enabling us to launch annihilative actions amid widespread and daring attritive actions, as well as sustaining our counter-offensives against unremitting enemy campaigns and operations. Our active defense was able to sustain heavy damage on enemy troops, and on highly destructive imperialist companies which continue to plunder our patrimony, destroy the environment and exploit and oppress our people.

Many joined ranks with the NPA, and because of this, the Red fighters grew by 10% each year, and a great number of platoons were formed due to the ever widening and deepening mass base alongside widespread agrarian revolution. Milisyang Bayan (MB) and Yunit Depensa sa Baryo (YDB) now number by the thousands, both of which serve as direct support and reserved force for the NPA full-time guerillas. In order to expand and strengthen the people’s war, we must rapidly establish platoon-sized MB units in every baryo and squad-sized YDB units per sityo or purok, train and arm them according to our capacity to do so.

Spread across the five regions of Mindanao are the NPA’s 44 guerilla fronts, more than 40% of which are company-sized. Nearly 20% of NPA guerrilla forces are SDG or sentro-de-grabedad forces of either the region or sub-region. We must complete all guerrilla front formations in all regions. Two-thirds of all guerrilla fronts must have company-sized formations, 30% of which must operate as SDGs and the rest as SYP platoons in order to complete the rational deployment of our forces, and allow the guerrilla warfare to become more widespread and more intense, in conjunction with the advancement of people’s war in the entire country.

On the basis of our ever widening and deepening mass base, we have launched 400 tactical offensives in the entire island in 2012, which means more than one tactical offensive per day. Nearly 100 of these were annihilative tactical offensives where we were able to confiscate at least 150 high powered rifles. More than 70% of the 400 were attritive actions, including sniping, harassment and punitive actions. In these military actions, including 40 defensive actions where enemy forces had the initiative to attack the Red army, around a battalion of enemy troops has been killed, not including the numerous who were wounded. Clearly this is a significant advance compared with previous years. However, the frequency and intensity of our tactical offensives are still much lower than its actual potential capability, considering the number and size of our guerrilla units. A large number of our plantoons have yet to launch the requisite 2-3 basic tactical offensives and attritive actions in a single year.

We have elevated the capability level of the NPA in terms of tactics and technique, coordination and formation, and operating with complicated targets. This has been manifested in the number of big-scale military actions that we have launched during OBL and OPB.

We successfully participated and contributed to the nationally-coordinated TO in 2005 and 2006, while we had our own coordinated TOs in the regions. We have launched inter-regional TOs, such as the raid at Earthsaver Security Agency in Butuan City, OMC Mining in Rosario, Agusan Sur, PICOP, Bislig City, and the PNP station in Talacogon, Agusan Sur. We have also launched multiple target operations using company-sized and undersized battalion formations, such as the raid in Taganito Mines (TMC), San Roque Minerals Inc. (SRMI), raid in Siargao Island, the raid in PNP station and ambush in Lingig, Surigao del Sur and others. We have also conducted special operations like the rescue of a detained comrade in transit along Bukidnon-Davao National Highway, the isparo operation in Tagum City and others. We have raided PNP headquarters in many municipalities, including lately the raid on PNP station in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur. We succeeded in attacking several detachments such as those in Mlang and Luna Sur in North Cotabato, in Binicalan, Agusan Sur, in Maputi, Davao Oriental, Ginabsan ambush in Buenavista, Agusan Norte, and the raid on the COPD in Tandag city, among others. We successfully raided the Davao Penal Colony which garnered for us at least a hundred high powered rifles.

We have strengthened the organization of the People’s Army. There now stands a teritorial Regional Command of the NPA (ROC) separate and distinct from the Regional Party Committee, however we still need to fortify and train this. There are still many Sub-Regions without distinct NPA territorial commands (SROC); and, after which, we must focus on strengthening the command at the guerrilla front. There is an immediate need to train all military cadres and political guides in our units.

Apart from the other general guidelines from the Party’s Central Committee, the national call in 2002 to establish the platoon in every municipality as basic formation serving as horizontal force and the SDG as the vertical force of the region, sub-region and front, has significantly and strategically helped all the regions in Mindanao. But, in general, we must still take great strides in taking to task the further development of the four different levels of NPA forces, which are the SDG, SYP Platoon , partisan units and the Milisyang Bayan and Yunit Depensa sa Baryo.

The national call to launch coordinated tactical offensives in 2005 and 2006 accelerated the pace for more TOs in Mindanao. However, after the nationally coordinated T.O. some regions reduced in intensity because of an erroneous concept with regard to the combination between attritive and annihilative tactical offensives, a lingering conservative tendency among military cadres and other pressing reasons. It is imperative that we learn, understand and firmly grasp the theories of People’s War.


Anchored on the basic alliance of workers and peasants and in carrying forward the armed political struggle in the entire island, our alliances have become broader and stronger. This is concretized in the political and material support given by the religious, teachers and other professionals, including business people. United by common issues against the US-Aquino regime, many from the local government units and politicians have reached out to the revolutionary movement,. But, compared to what we have achieved in the 80s, we still have to recover a lot more in our united front work. We have maintained our linkage with the MILF. Despite the Framework Agreement it has signed with the Aquino government, we have continued to urge the MILF to be cautious so as not to fall into the trap of the reactionary US-Aquino regime. We have also linked with other legitimate Moro groups that continue to genuinely fight for their right to self-determiantion of the Bangsamoro.

Party growth and Party leadership

From the first Party branch organized in 1971, the Communist Party of the Philippines is now widely and deeply rooted among the workers, peasants, Lumad, youth, women and the middle forces in the 5 regions in almost all provinces in Mindanao. This year alone, Party membership increased by almost 50%. While this is clearly a victory in establishing the Party in the whole island, we still need to widen and strengthen the Party organization many times over in order for us to effectively lead more demanding and complicated tasks of the coming years.

In general, the Party has decisively led the entire revolutionary forces in the people’s war despite relentless enemy attacks. Recently, we have further strengthened the Regional Party Committees to even more effectively direct the war. The regional committees has made a thoroughgoing study on the balance of forces, the enemy situation particularly the nature of OBL and OPB, and how to wield initiative and flexibility in the ever-changing developments of the war. We have also firmed our priorities, rallied all our forces and coordinated the armed and legal struggles and other major components of the peoples war.

The theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has been widely and deeply rooted like no other in the entire history of the Party in Mindanao. Almost all fulltime Party members have completed the basic course, most committee sections have undergone the intermediate course. As some regional level cadres have finished the advance course, we have programmed a study on this for all members of regional and sub-regional committees.

This year, there has been a marked increase in the number of local Party branches who have completed the Basic Party Course (BPC). We should persevere in launching the mass movement in studying BPC in order for Marxism, Leninism and Maoism to be firmly rooted among the widest section of the masses and for this to be the material force in waging the people’s war. There is also a need for us to further enrich the Intermediate Party Course with the more advanced practices that we have gained these past few years.

Based on the objective condition, and on the call of the national leadership, taken into consideration our short comings and weakneses, we shall inevitably advance to the next higher stage of the people’s war in the coming years, conscious and firm conviction that we would complete the last sub-stage of the strategic defensive in the next few years. These are our urgent tasks, these are our main contributions to forward the people’s war in the entire archipelago.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines!