Saturday, December 29, 2012

Extortion eyed in Philippines bus bombing

From the Philippine Daily  Inquirer (Dec 30): Extortion eyed in Philippines bus bombing

Police and military authorities said extortion was the likely motive behind the bombing of a passenger bus in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Saturday night that left six persons wounded. Col. Prudencio Asto, spokesperson of the military's 6th Infantry Division, said the Husky Bus which is plying the Cotabato City-Gen. Santos City route had been receiving demand letters from extortion gangs. The police in Sultan Kudarat also said that bandits had been asking "protection money" from the management of Husky Bus. The demand was repeatedly ignored.

As the Husky bus was in transit near the Isulan welcome rotonda, a power explosion ripped through its rear portion. A Yellow Bus unit immediately following the Husky bus was also hit by shrapnel and shattered its windshield. Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Sultan Kudarat police chief, said after the blast the Husky bus was on fire, which was quickly put off by responding firemen.

Asto identified the wounded as Hapinat Hilmor Bornales, 36; Delfin Jonathan Salmoren, 23; Dolfo Kevin Venus, 19; Catequista Rachel Mayornejo, 27; Yellow bus driver Salutan Robenson Matias; and his conductor Sangki Emil Fantilaga. Asto said the six sustained minor injuries.

An Army post-blast investigation showed that the IED was made of Ammonium Nitrate Fuel and Oil (ANFO) with cut nails as shrapnel. Despite the bomb attack, Husky Bus firm continues plying the route as commuters rushing home for the New Year's revelry.

Six hurt in two bus bombings

From InterAksyon (Dec 30): Six hurt in two bus bombings

Six people were injured when two buses were bombed on a highway between Cotabato and Tacurong, police and the military said Sunday. Improvised explosives set the vehicles ablaze one after the other as they were being driven near the town of Isulan on Saturday, said the provincial police chief, Senior Superintendent Rolen Balquin. Four passengers and the driver and conductor of one of the vehicles were slightly injured as firemen were called out to put out the blazes, said regional military spokesman Colonel Prudencio Asto.

"Initial findings of the explosives and ordnance team revealed that the explosions were caused by an improvised explosive device made out of ammonium nitrate, fuel and oil with common nails," Asto told reporters.Balquin said they had no immediate suspects, and it was unclear if the buses which were on regular runs between the cities of Cotabato and Tacurong, were carrying the explosive devices before they went off.

The blasts occurred in a section of the southern island of Mindanao that had been troubled by a decades-old Muslim insurgency and high crime, in which transport firms are often targeted for extortion. Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in October signed a preliminary peace deal with the government that committed both sides to create a Muslim self-rule area for the Islamic minority of the Catholic nation. The rebels have been observing a ceasefire since then.

MILF: MILF TC members named, but not for disclosure yet

From the MIL Website (Dec 30): MILF TC members named, but not for disclosure yet

The eight members to the Transition Commission (TC) to be named by the MILF are already chosen but their identities are still under wraps following procedure that they must be transmitted first to Malaysian facilitator, who will officially communicate them to the Philippine government through the government peace panel. Muhammad Ameen, chairperson of the MILF Secretariat, told Luwaran that the selection process was deliberated by the MILF central committee on two separate plenary sessions before the list was completed. He said the most contentious was the slot allotted for Western Mindanao where no consensus had been arrived at after several attempts. It was only settled after the MILF central committee decided to settle it by drawing the lucky name from two nominees, the last to survive from a larger list.

The original stance was to make the decision was by consensus, but this proved to be not enough to settle the last slot. Division of the house was never considered an option to break the deadlock, which was being viewed as divisive. In choosing the nominees, the MILF has set three stringent pre-qualifications: sincerity to the Bangsamoro cause, capability to discharge the task, and geographical or sectoral consideration. Ameen, however, disclosed that included in the nominees were one woman, one member of the indigenous peoples (IP), one senior military commander of the MILF, and one aleem (learned in Islam).

As this developed, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu has recommended three noted Maguindanaoans to form part of the 15-man Transition Commission (TC) that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law. In an interview, Mangudadatu said he had asked the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to include Maguindanaoan lawyers Didagen Dilangalen, Suharto Ambolodto, and Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Simeon Datumanong to the 15 man TC President Aquino is set to appoint. Dilangalen was former congressional representative of the first district of Maguindanao while Ambolodto was active as leader of non-government organizations helping push for the peace process between the government and the MILF.

President Aquino issued Executive Order 120 creating the Transition Commission that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will serve as basis for the creation of new autonomous political entity and replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Navy to Assist in Pablo Victims Rehabilitation

From the Philippine Navy Website (Dec 29): Navy to Assist in Pablo Victims Rehabilitation

A Philippine Navy assessment team to ongoing relief and rehabilitation phases of its disaster response operations (DRO) in the coastal towns of Davao Oriental made on Christmas Day a DRO assessment of its relief and rehabilitation operations there to determine basic needs of most importance for the victims of Typhoon Pablo.

Headed by Philippine Navy (PN) Flag Officer In Command, Vice Admiral Jose Luis M Alano, the assessment team made its way through the three coastal towns of Cateel, Boston and Banganga to determine what the victims needed most. Following the assessment made on December 25, 2012, the teams together with the provincial government of Davao Oriental under Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, identified shelter as the basic need of most importance especially during the transfer from relief phase to rehabilitation phase of the DRO.

Currently, the PN Command Team in Manila has organized a Multi-Purpose Hall construction project in the said area with funds generated from donations and funds from cancelled Navy holiday celebrations to procure building materials for the project while construction services will come from the Naval Construction Brigade. Naval Forces eastern Mindanao in coordination with the DSWD and Davao Oriental Provincial Government has yet to identify the area among the 3 coastal towns which is initially in most need of the multi-purpose hall. Other multi-purpose hall are planned for construction in other areas depending on the need of other areas and on funds from Navy-wide donations from concerned private and public donors.

On the other hand, Navy relief operations continue in coordination with other agencies and organizations while the rehab project will be completed by the setup of 423 shelter boxes recently donated by Shelter Box Philippines and brought to Davao via Navy transport ship BRP Laguna. The 3 coastal towns became the main areas of focus of the PN being the areas that are most accessible by Navy floating assets.




Indian Naval Ship Sudarshini Commanding Officer Visited Navy Headquarters

From the Philippine Navy Website (Dec 27): Indian Naval Ship Sudarshini Commanding Officer Visited Navy Headquarters

For the purpose of strengthening the navy-to-navy ties between India and countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sudarshini is taking a historic ASEAN voyage from September 2012 to March 2013. In line with this, The Commanding Officer of INS Sudarshini, Commander N Shyamsunder and his party visited Headquarters Philippine Navy (HPN) and paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Naval Staff, Commodore Jesus C Millan last December 24, 2012. INS Sudarshini, a 54-meter long naval vessel arrived in Manila last December 10, 2012 and stayed in-port for two weeks.



Photos: Former CPLA Rebels Join the Army

Posted to the Philippine Army Public Affairs Office Facebook Page (Dec 29): Photos: Former CPLA Rebels Join the Army

Former members of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) officially took their oath as candidate soldiers of the Philippine Army. Alongside the opening of the Candidate Soldier Course at the 5th ID headquarters in Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Upi, Gamu, Isabela is the presentation of the CPLA's surrendered firearms to the government. (Photo by: Pfc Cesar Lopez)

Philippine Army News Clippings (Dec 20-28)

Posted to the Faces, Places & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) Blog: Philippine Army News Clippings (Dec 20-28)

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Video: Christmas Greetings from Typhoon Pablo heroes

Posted to the Faces, Places, & Voices (Ranger Cabunzky) Blog (Dec 28): Video: Christmas Greetings from Typhoon Pablo heroes

They were swept away by flood waters during typhoon 'Pablo' but their fighting spirit remains the same. They promised to stand again and come back to help rebuild New Bataan, their second home in Compostela Valley.

A Moro-Christian wedding

From the Philippine Star (Dec 28): A Moro-Christian wedding

Four days before Christmas (Dec. 22) I flew to Cotabato City to stand as sponsor in a Muslim wedding. It was an interesting experience. Until then I hadn’t witnessed such a wedding, much less participated in the simple rites. And until I got to the wedding venue, a modest garden-restaurant, I didn’t know what to expect. It was only then that I was handed the invitation card. I found my name atop the list of 14 sponsors, a mix of men and women with Muslim and Christian names a number of whom I know.

On Nov. 28, I had received a text-invitation from the bride. She mentioned the date but not where the wedding would take place. She didn’t even name the groom! When she texted again on Dec. 14, she provided these details: wedding rites at Raff’s Garden at 4 p.m., sponsors shall be in barong, and the groom’s name is Ismael (who I assumed was a Muslim). Essentially it was a Muslim-Christian wedding, though the religious rites were purely Islamic.

Bai Ali Indayla, the bride, is a Maguindanao Muslim as her parents are. Although his name is Islamic and he can speak Tausog, Ismael Mallen, the groom, belongs to a Christian family in Zamboanga Sibugay. For the wedding to happen and for the sake of his beloved (in Asia, Muslim women cannot marry outside their faith), Ismael converted to Islam. The bride proudly refers to her husband as a “Balik-Islam.” The latter’s father, a municipal councilor, told me that his family respects Ismael’s decision.

I found the wedding a give-and-take affair. While Ismael turned Muslim to enable the wedding to take place, during the rites Bai Ali’s father officially transferred to the groom his responsibility over his daughter. The rite also signified, I was informed later, that in effect the bride became part of her husband’s Christian family.

Moreover, the newlyweds, both progressive youth activists and human rights defenders, prefer to call their marriage a Moro-Christian union. This is in accord with the Bangsamoro (Moro people) identity, adopted by both the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Bai Ali, student council president in her college days, is the secretary general of Kawagib, the Moro human rights organization. Ismael is a youth organizer who has gravitated to human rights advocacy........

Army soldiers play Santa for patients in Philippine hospital

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 29): Army soldiers play Santa for patients in Philippine hospital

Dozens of patients at a hospital in Cotabato City were moved to tears after soldiers led by a mascot visited and sang Christmas carols and danced before handing out goodies to them. Dubbed as the “Singing Bee,” members of the 7th Infantry Battalion headed by Col. Benjamin Hao, serenaded the patients who were overwhelmed by the surprise visit of the soldiers at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.

Shirley Salik, medical social worker, and Mark Navales, bureau chief of the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner, helped coordinate the visit of Hao, whose group is recently named as Best Battalion by the 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao province.“It was very moving and many were in tears as the soldiers sang for them. Col. Hao and the soldiers were likewise moved and elated by the warm reception of everybody at the hospital and all these for the spirit of the yuletide holidays,” Navales said.

Members of the 7th Infantry Battalion headed by Col. Benjamin Hao visit the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City where they sing and dance, bringing cheers to patients. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Mark Navales)

AFP zips lips on fate of Abu Sayyaf captives

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 30): AFP zips lips on fate of Abu Sayyaf captives

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had imposed a news blackout on the developments of negotiations for the release of three kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in different areas in Mindanao nor verify the identity of an Australian captive who appeared on the Internet. AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos declined to give any comment regarding any government strategy in rescuing the kidnap victims, saying he is on official leave. “I’m on-leave and don’t have the details. Please ask the Philippine National Police that is taking the lead on this,” Burgos told The Daily Tribune via text. The longest “prisoner” of the ASG is an Australian who has been on the hands of the bandit group for 55 weeks now.

When The Tribune requested Colonel Burgos to give the cellphone number and name of the PNP official in-charge about the kidnapping issue as well as the video seen at YouTube where the victim was telling about his ordeals is real, he didn’t reply to numerous text inquiries. The alleged victim, Warren Richard Rodwell, a retired soldier, appeared in an online video last Christmas. He said he is alive. Some of the masked men beside him are presumed to be ASG members.

“My name is Warren Richard Rodwell from Australia. Today is Sunday, December 16, 2012. This newspaper is Saturday, December 15, 2012. I’m being held prisoner, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim terrorist group, for over one year, actually 54 weeks, today,” Rodwell was quoted as saying.
The recording was also viewed at YouTube but it was presumed to have been recorded Dec. 16, 2012. However, at the end of the video the captive said: “I do not trust Abu Sayyaf. I do not trust the Australian government. I just don’t trust anyone. Personally, I don’t care.”

Unconfirmed reports said Rodwel was seized by six heavily armed men in front of his house in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. No other reports can be obtained about the Australian captive. Aside from the Australian, two others are presumed captive of the ASG but the AFP is not confirming—an alleged Jordanian reporter of al-Jazeera and a Japanese engineer.

In Malacañang, even deputy presidential spokesman Atty. Abigail Valte is tightlipped regarding the developments in the rescue effort of the three kidnap victims. Valte said any detail regarding rescue efforts is kept within the military as disclosing it might jeopardize the operations.

The AFP last Thursday said it was verifying whether it was Rodwell who appeared in the Youtube video. Rodwell claimed he will not be released anytime soon by his captors. “The AFP is currently verifying and taking initial steps to confirm if the video posted on Youtube is really that of a certain personality as claimed. Rest assured that the AFP will take measures in support to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its law enforcement functions to fully ascertain the identity and if possible, the whereabouts of the individual if he is (indeed the) kidnap victim,” AFP public affairs deputy chief Major Emmanuel Garcia said. Garcia added the military is asking the help of people who may know the whereabouts of any kidnapped personality or any information that might lead to the rescue of such individuals so that they may be reunited with their loved ones.“The AFP, PNP, concerned government agencies and the civilian populace must always work together mutually supporting each other in keeping the peace, maintaining order and enforcing the law for the safety and security of everyone,” Garcia stressed.

Rodwell, who was kidnapped by the ASG bandits in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay on Dec. 5, 2011, said that he does not expect to be released anytime soon. “I do not expect to be released before the year 2013 at the earliest. I personally hold no hope at all for being released. I do not trust Abu Sayyaf,” the Australian said in his Youtube video. The nearly two-minute video was posted last Dec. 25.

PAF to acquire 3 surveillance radars for P2.3B

From the Business Mirror (Dec 29): PAF to acquire 3 surveillance radars for P2.3B

In linewith its efforts to protect the country from aerial intruders, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has announced that it will be acquiring three brand-new surveillance radars as part of its modernization program. Major Gen. Raul Dimatatac, PAF vice commander, said that this project will cost around P2.3 billion. He added that the surveillance radars will be placed in three strategic locations in the country in order to give maximum coverage. Dimatatac said this acquisition project is aside from the PAF’s light lift, fighter and long-range patrol aircraft programs.
Earlier, the PAF vice commander expressed his pleasure at the activation of three C-130 Lockheed “Hercules” cargo planes in their country’s inventory. “This is definitely a big improvement to the PAF’s airlift capability considering that for the past years, we only have one C-130 aircraft in service,” he said. Dimatatac added that the three C-130 cargo planes will allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines to support the government in its various development and relief mission.

Aside from improving the PAF’s cargo-lift capability, Dimatatac said the three aircraft have definitely boosted the morale of their aircrew as they now know that they have a sufficient number of planes to perform their missions. He added that the last time the PAF has three C-130s in commission was in 1989. Dimatatac also stressed that the C-130 has no life span or shelf life to speak off as long as it meets or complies with its maintenance checks.

Muslims, Christians Join Peace Summit

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 28): Muslims, Christians Join Peace Summit

More than 2,000 barangay (village) leaders and representatives of various civil society organizations (CSOs) attended a public forum on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) that was held recently in Parang, Maguindanao – displaying their support to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The forum was organized by the Maguindanao provincial government, local officials of Parang, and the Iranun Development Council (IDC), a socio-economic planning body comprising the municipal governments of Iranun-dominated towns in the 1st District of the province.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) caretaker-Governor Mujiv Hataman called on the participants to the forum to support the FAB and the newly-created Transition Commission (TC) 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 forum was attended by Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi, Maguindanao, Ustadz Rabbie Anggal of the MILF, Iranun Muslims and Christian village leaders, and local non-Muslim CSOs. Piang explained the contents of the FAB and its ramifications to the forum participants as he clarified that there were no serious misunderstandings between the GPH and MILF panels, where both sides failed to hold a traditional closing rites for the December 13 to 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, Ibrahim Ibay, Mangudadatu, and Hataman took turns on calling on the people present in the forum 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.

5 hurt in bus blast in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 29): 5 hurt in bus blast in Sultan Kudarat

At least five persons were hurt when an improvised explosive device planted at the baggage compartment of a passenger bus went off at 6 p.m. in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, on Saturday, authorities said. Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Sultan Kudarat police provincial director, said the blast occurred around 6 p.m. during the holiday rush near Isulan’s Welcome Rotonda. Balquin said the Husky bus, loaded with holiday vacationers, was heading toward General Santos City from Cotabato City. The identities of the victims were not available as of posting time.

Analiza Servando, a resident of Koronadal City and passenger of Husky bus, said the blast shook the bus. “It was deafening and broken window glass flew all over,” Servando, who escaped unhurt, told the Inquirer by phone. Mayor Diosdado Pallasigue of Isulan, said another bus of Yellow Bus Co., which was behind the Husky bus, was also damaged. “We suspect it was an improvised bomb,” Balquin said. Pallasigue said the blast was so powerful that it destroyed almost one-fourth of the Husky bus.

Two of the wounded passengers were from Husky bus while the three others from Yellow bus, which was also heading toward General Santos City from Isulan. No one has claimed responsibility but police believed it was the handiwork of extortion gangs, which have been mulcting bus firms. Many commuters were rushing home for the New Year’s celebration Tuesday.

The attack came despite tightened security due to twin bomb and grenade attacks in nearby Tacurong City. On Wednesday night, three persons were hurt when an improvised bomb left at a roadside went off about 10 p.m. It was followed by grenade attack into the Tacurong City house of Mayor Emilio Salamanca of President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat.

PNoy, AFP assailed for December arrest, detention of activists, IPs

From InterAksyon (Dec 29): PNoy, AFP assailed for December arrest, detention of activists, IPs

Human rights group Karapatan on Saturday deplored this month's spate of "illegal arrests" of 23 indigenous peoples, government employees, and other individuals. Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said those who were arrested are activists who are being accused by the military as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA). “It seems that the Aquino government and the military are scrambling to show off their supposed ‘achievements’ in meeting their target of eliminating the CPP-NPA through their Oplan Bayanihan, which resulted [in] grave, arbitrary and spurious arrests and charges of activists and individuals whom they easily branded as communists," said Palabay in a statement.  "These arrests also show how mad they are in claiming their ‘Christmas presents’ through the bounties they have offered for the arrests of those in their list,” added Palabay. The number of political prisoners under the Aquino administration has continued "to swell," according to Karapatan.

The group has documented the cases of 198 political prisoners since November 30, 2012. Karapatan said at least 123 of the prisoners were arrested under the current administration and remain in detention.  “Aquino has not only remained callous in heeding the demands of the people in releasing political prisoners, he has also continued the policy and practice of heaping criminal offenses on activists and ordinary citizens whom his administration deems as ‘enemies of the state’,” Palabay said.

Karapatan identified the persons arrested this month as follows:

1) Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, both long-time union organizers and staffers of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees. Karapatan said Vegas and Camposano were arrested on December 3 for "fabricated" charges of murder, theft, and frustrated murder filed at the Regional Trial Court Branch 64 in Labo, Camarines Norte. Vegas and Camposano were implicated in the said cases because of their alleged participation in an ambush of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by the NPA in Camarines Norte in April 29, 2012.

2) Nineteen members, including three minors, of the Tribu Bukidnon Indigenous Peoples organization in Barangay San Agustin, Isabela, Negros Occidental arrested on December 13, after elements of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army barged in their village and accused the farmers of keeping members of the NPA. "The farmers suffered from various forms of involuntary servitude, when they were threatened and ordered by the military to go with them to another village where they were hauled off to the Isabela Philippine National Police station," said Karapatan. Eleven of them were released on December 15, while eight farmers were charged with murder and multiple frustrated murder, and are currently detained at the Isabela Police Station in Negros Occidental.

3) Olegario Sevas, 65, arrested on December 25 in Negros Oriental by elements of the AFP and PNP. Initial reports indicate that Sevas was tagged as “Filemon Mendrez,” an alleged leader of the NPA who had a P5.25-million bounty for his arrest. "The military said ‘Filemon Mendrez’ was charged with rebellion and robbery in band, while the warrant of arrest against Sevas does not bear his name," said Karapatan. Sevas is detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Bayawan Ciy, Negros Oriental.

4) Rene Boy Abiva, a 23-year old employee of the Department of Social Work and Development in Cagayan province and an organizer of the ACT Teachers Partylist, arrested on December 28 for charges of murder. Karapatan said Abiva was arrested by units led by a certain Col. Julius Balana of the Regional Intelligence Division of the PNP. He is detained at the Sto. Domingo PNP station in Tuguegarao City. "Upon inquiry of his wife on the supposed charges against him, his arresting officers said that he is being arrested for his supposed involvement in the April 2012 NPA ambush of at least 12 soldiers under the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army," said Karapatan. "The said unit has been reportedly carrying out rights violations in the course of their military operations in the communities in Tinooc, Ifugao," the group added.

Bayanihan yields 4ID’s modest accomplishment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 29): Bayanihan yields 4ID’s modest accomplishment

The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division’s military operation through the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” yielded good result for the year 2012. In a statement, Major General Nestor A Añonuevo, Commander, 4ID detailed the accomplishment of the unit.

It said that the unit welcomed the surrender of 101 rebels coming from the different provinces in the Division’s area of responsibility. It also was able to destroy a total of 56 assorted firearms, some captured during encounters, while, most were surrendered by different personalities.

Organic units of 4ID initiated the conduct of coordination with other organizations in order to enhance the standard of living of the local populace in their respective AORs. Among them is the 52nd Engineering Brigade’s coordination with ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya Foundation which facilitated the construction of 14 additional school buildings with around two or three classrooms each at different depressed areas within the AOR.

The 401st Infantry “Unity” Brigade also coordinated with the local government unity of St Christine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur for their Gawad Aral sa Nayon advocacy wherein the St Christine Day Care Center was the first beneficiary receiving quality books for their library.

Through 4th Civil-Military Operation Battalion, this command was able to facilitate the completion of seven youth leadership seminar (YLS) in all the provinces within 4ID AOR with 630 youths successfully completed the seminar. Subsequently, out of the YLS conducted, a youth organization was formally registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) named Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through the Youth Inc (POINTY) and its officers were able to attend the National YLS held at Davao City.

During the period, the Command has continuously and actively supported various stakeholders in the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Typhoon Sendong by providing necessary assistance in terms of manpower, security and transportation.

When Typhoon Pablo devastated Mindanao, the Command organized Task Group Diamond Response for the evacuation of affected barangays.

After Cagayan de Oro was declared “zero-casualty,” this division started coordinating and supporting programs and NGOs for the relief and rehabilitation of devastated nearby provinces as a result of typhoon Pablo.

Añonuevo, said all of these accomplishments are the result of `Bayanihan,’ a Filipino tradition of cooperation and volunteerism for the attainment of one goal. Every success that this Division achieved is from the collective efforts of all Filipinos of Northern Mindanao and the whole country, he said. (4CMO/4ID/PA/PIA10)

PAF unveils first locally maintained aircrafts, trucks

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 29): PAF unveils first locally maintained aircrafts, trucks

The Philippine Air Force on Friday unveiled its first ever locally maintained aircrafts and ground assets at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City as part of the P579.4 million PAF maintenance program. During the event, high-ranking officials, led by PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz, simultaneously poured champagne at the re-conditioned aircrafts, which include a C-130B military transport plane, LC-210 Cessna plane and UH-1H Huey helicopter. Likewise, the officials presented to the public, 12 units of M-35 military trucks, which according to them, will improve the military's overall ground mobility, especially during disaster response. The maintenance program, which is done within either a three-year or five-year interval, consists of a comprehensive battery of inspection and preventive maintenance actions to ensure the aircrafts' air worthiness. Currently, PAF has at least three C130s in its inventory.

Cordillera rebels give up guns to Army chief, join military

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 29): Cordillera rebels give up guns to Army chief, join military

At least 58 Cordillera People's Liberation Army rebels gave up their guns and their guerrilla group and finally joined the Army contingent in the last batch of integration program embodied under Administrative Order No. 18. Welcoming them into the Army fold was Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Army chief, who visited the camp Saturday despite heavy rains. The turnover of the 58 guns and the acceptance of the Army integrees came on the day of Fr. Conrado Balweg's 13th year death anniversary.

Bautista said they finally "put a closure" to the different components of the program by allocating 58 slots for integration of the CPLA rebels into the Army Force. On Sept 13, 1986, a peace agreement between the CPLA and the government was inked in Mt. Data, Bako, Mountain Province. Subsequent talks were later undertaken that resulted in the promulgation of Executive Order No. 220 providing for the creation of the Cordillera Administrative Region with a concern to restore and maintain peace and order in the region. On Aug 31, 2001, the AO 18 was signed for the integration of 1,200 CPLA members with three program components--integration process for regular force, CAFGU and livelihood.

The administrative order earlier called for integration of at least 1,200 CPLA members, the last 58 were presented to Bautista Saturday. President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 49 on July 19, 2011, mandating a closure agreement with the CPLA for final disposition of firearms in favor of the government and final integration for Army. In the early 80s, Balweg bolted the CPP-NPA and formed the CPLA.

5 hurt in bus bombing in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 29): 5 hurt in bus bombing in Sultan Kudarat

A powerful improvised explosive device went off inside a traveling bus here that left five persons wounded, authorities said Saturday. Authorities believe the bomb attack was carried out by extortion gangs preying on bus firms during the Christmas holidays. Sr. Supt. Rolen Balquin, Sultan Kudarat police provincial director, said the blast happened at 6 p.m. during the Holiday rush near Isulan’s welcome rotunda. Balquin said the Husky bus, loaded with holiday vacationers, was heading toward Gen. Santos City from Cotabato City. Balquin said the identities of the victims were not not immediately available. Mayor Diosdado Pallasigue of Isulan said another bus of Yellow Bus Company which was immediately following the Husky bus was also damaged.

U.S. Senate approves bill to extend overseas surveillance programs

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 29): U.S. Senate approves bill to extend overseas surveillance programs

The U.S Senate on Friday approved a bill to reauthorize the U.S. government to conduct surveillance of suspected terrorists overseas without first obtaining a court order. In a 73-23 vote, the Senate approved the bill renewing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which is due to expire by the yearend. The bill will extend for five more years the ability of U.S. intelligence authorities to conduct its foreign surveillance programs.

With the legislation already approved by the House, the Senate vote will send the bill to President Barack Obama's desk. The president is also expected to sign the bill. Opponents at the Capitol Hill argued the bill should have been amended to protect the rights of Americans who might be surveilled by intelligence agencies' foreign surveillance programs.

Before final passage, the Senate voted against an amendment from Senator Ron Wyden, which would have required the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress on whether any U.S.- based email and phone communications have been picked up in the process of conducting overseas surveillance.

CPP: Increased risk of nuke accident in Subic with frequent US sub dockings--CPP

From the CPP Website (Dec 29): Increased risk of nuke accident in Subic with frequent US sub dockings--CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced the docking of the USS Bremerton (USS-698) at Subic Bay as an affront against Philippine sovereignty and raised concerns on the risk of a nuclear accident with the increasingly frequent dockings of US nuclear-powered and -capable warships in Subic and other parts of the Philippines. The CPP cited a secret memorandum issued by the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011 which pointed out that nuclear-powered submarines are highly vulnerable to a core-meltdown similar to the Fukushima meltdown.

The CPP said not a few US naval warships and submarines have met with accidents while on port, including the recent fire of a US nuclear-powered naval ship in Japan. The CPP pointed out that there have been at least 80 dockings over the past year before the scheduled docking of the USS Bremerton today. Virtually everyday there are American ships either docked in Philippine ports or patrolling Philippine seas.

The CPP moreover denounced the docking of the USS Bremerton as “an affront on Philippine sovereignty as it is part of the US imperialists’ overall design to use the Philippines as a depot for its prepositioned weapons of mass of destruction that could be used against any country posing a challenge to US hegemonism in the Asia-Pacific region,” said the CPP. “The Filipino people demand an end to the Aquino regime’s policy of giving the US all-out freedom to enter Philippine territory and use the country as a large American military base for its operations,” said the CPP."

CPP/NDF: Eastmincom-AFP ceasefire violations further expose AFP's rabid fascism, fake 'Bayanihan' for Pablo victims

From the CPP Website (Dec 29): Eastmincom-AFP ceasefire violations further expose AFP's rabid fascism, fake 'Bayanihan' for Pablo victims

Rubi Del Mundo
NDF-Southern Mindanao

As the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao upholds the CPP declaration of a 27-day long nationwide ceasefire effective last December 20, the Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP is grossly violating its own suspension of military/police offensive operations in the light of the continuing numerous AFP combat and psychological warfare operations in the region. The National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao condemns these patent ceasefire violations that mock the spirit by which the ceasefire declarations were made: to pave the way for the resumption of GPH-NDFP peace negotiations and to give time for the relief and rehabilitation of Typhoon Pablo devastated provinces. Because of the devastation of the Typhoon Pablo in the region, the NPA heeded the call of the NDF-Mindanao, extended the ceasefire to areas not affected by Pablo, and now extended the date from January 5 (NDF-Mindanao ceasefire) to January 15 (CPP nationwide ceasefire as proposed by the NDFP Negotiating Peace Panel).

Initial reports from the field reveal that units under the 6th ID and 10th ID which were unencumbered with rescue efforts in Pablo-devastated areas, have continued the offensive military operations in poor, peasant villages of North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, and Davao City.

The 6th Infantry Division-Eastmincom-AFP has focused its sight at the NPA, stepped up its operations in the provinces of North Cotabato and Davao del Sur since October after the GPH and the MILF signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The AFP unleashed offensive military operations in the territories of Guerilla Front 51 Magtanggol Roque Command and Guerilla Front 72 in Far South Mindanao since the start of the truce. Fascist troops belonging to the 57th Infantry Battallion and 40th IB scoured the villages of old Bulatukan, New Israel and Biangan, all villages of Makilala town, North Cotabato. The military put up 2 batteries of 105 howitzer cannon. As the 6th ID continues with the troop build-up, its fascist elements also put up checkpoints and subjected motorists to body searches.

In Paquibato district, Davao City, the 10th ID-AFP continued with their operations by deploying on December 27, three sections each in Brgy Mapula to Barko-barko village, Brgy. Lumiad to Riverside, and in Brgy. Pandaitan. Two army trucks arrived from the 69th IB command post. On December 28, another section from the 69th IB arrived in Malabog, and covered their operations up to Km 24. Another section of the 69th IB was also seen covering Purok Ktc to Brgy. Malabog.

Between December 25 to December 27, the fascist troops also conducted checkpoints on the roads going to Paquibato, purportedly to deter visitors and the masses from attending CPP anniversary celebrations.

The 69th IB and 84th IB troops were also intimidating residents in Purok Isled, Brgy. Damilag in Calinan; the psychological warfare was meant to force peasants to report the whereabouts of NPA guerillas in the area.

The EastMinCom-AFP only shows its utter contempt to the GPH-NDFP peace talks as it tries to sabotage the ceasefire in its desperate bid to gain an upper hand against the people’s army. Over the last one year, the 10th ID has sustained its Special Operations Team operations under the Oplan Bayanihan, in the guise of the sham peace and development, occupied schools, village halls and houses of peasant villagers, bombed communities, subjected the masses to massive psychological warfare, while doubling, tripling its troops in Southern Mindanao guerilla territories.

At the onset of the NDF-Mindanao’s own unilateral ceasefire, the AFP uttered the preposterous claim that NPA violated the ceasefire with its ambuscades. The AFP claims were all lies meant to cover up its own violations and sweeten its bankrupt, rotten and fascist image.

These ceasefire violations have only shown the EastMinCOm-AFP’s treachery and its innate character to violate war protocols and human rights and subvert the people’s will by sabotaging the peace negotiations. It also exposes itself as peddlers of fake Bayanihan—deceptively expending token assistance to Pablo victims while going berserk and hurting the masses in other peasant villages in the region.

The NPA, on the other hand, is showing keen political sense and standing on high moral ground as it does not only conscientiously uphold the CPP’s ceasefire declaration, it is also temporarily shifting from its military targets and focusing its efforts to serve the people and persevere in restoring the homes, farms and jobs for the poor peasants, Lumads women, children and farm workers.

MILF: BLMI, MINHRAC to conduct speakers’ pool training on FAB

From the MILF Website (Dec 29): BLMI, MINHRAC to conduct speakers’ pool training on FAB

The Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC), in conjunction with the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), is holding a three-day training for advocates of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The training will kick off today at the BLMI training center at Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and will end on December 31. The number of trainees, who came from all over Mindanao, is set at 25 with members of the MILF peace panel led by its chair Mohagher Iqbal, acting as the main resource persons.

Atty. Michael Mastura and Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, both MILF panel members, will be the other resource speakers. Lawyer Zainuddin Malang, chairperson of the MinHRAC, will facilitate the whole training, while Sheik Mahmod Ahmad, executive director of the BLMI, will be present to assist the MinHRAC.

According to MinHRAC spokesman, the resource speaker will give the trainees a standardized nuanced understanding of the provisions of the FAB. The resource speaker will give the trainees specific tips on how to handle difficult questions from the audience. Examples of these difficult questions will be identified and discussed together with the suggested specific response.

The spokesman also told Luwaran that it is crucial to hear the trainees' current understanding of the FAB so that the organizers would know what they are working with, in order to be able to know how to plug the gaps in their understanding. “It is more participatory, rather spoon-feeding approach,” the same added.

The trainees will be divided into five groups and each will be given a homework assignment. Then, each of these five groups will present their understanding of the different major components of the FAB - Asset/Wealth Sharing, Territory, Transitional Arrangements, Normalization, and Preliminary/Miscellaneous provisions. In addition, each group is allotted 15-minute presentation to demonstrate their grasp of the FAB. If there is any gap, then effort will be made by organizers to cure the infirmities.