Thursday, January 3, 2013

PNoy appoints 4th Akbayan nominee

Article from the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Jan 4): PNoy appoints 4th Akbayan nominee

Another official of the Akbayan party-list group gets a post in the Aquino government. Tomasito Villarin will be replacing Ibarra Gutierrez, who resigned last year to run for Akbayan party-list representative, as undersecretary for political affairs. Villarin is an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas, where he obtained his economics degree.

President Aquino has appointed several Akbayan officials and members to various government agencies. Among them was its founding chairman, former Akbayan party-list representative Etta Rosales, who was named chairman of the Commission on Human Rights. Rosales enjoys a seven-year fixed term, which ends a year after Aquino steps down.

Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Ronaldo Llamas and National Anti-Poverty Commission’s Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel are also members of Akbayan. Baraquel is also in the senatorial ticket of the administration Liberal Party. At least 10 Akbayan members were also appointed to the Bureau of Customs.

Left-wing party-list groups have called for the delisting of Akbayan, saying they are now “well-entrenched” in government and could not claim to represent a marginalized sector.

Gunmen torch houses in Maguindanao town

From the Philippine Star (Jan 4): Gunmen torch houses in Maguindanao town

Gunmen burned down three houses as they harassed a farming village near the town proper Montawal in Maguindanao province on Thursday night. Local officials are certain the attackers are members of a family locked in a standing “rido” or clan war with Andi Montawal, an older brother of Montawal’s incumbent municipal mayor. Forces of both families have clashed for at least five times, using assault rifles and shoulder-fire grenades from October to December 2012. The hostilities between the two groups erupted when Montawal and his followers killed in a shootout a member of the other clan in an earlier incident in a nearby town in North Cotabato. The two groups have since been fighting each other in encounters, displacing innocent villagers.

Army to give P7M assistance to personnel affected by 'Pablo'

From InterAksyon (Jan 4): Army to give P7M assistance to personnel affected by 'Pablo'

The Philippine Army will donate over P7 million to the families of personnel who lost their lives and to other soldiers affected by typhoon "Pablo." Army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said the 81,000 members of the service arm contributed P90 from their January meal allowance, for a total of P7,294,950, to be given to the 363 soldiers affected by the deadly storm.

The families of the seven soldiers who died and four others who went missing trying to rescue residents of the devastated town of New Bataan, Compostela Valley will be given P50,000 each.
Twenty-two troops who were injured during the rescue attempt and 111 others whose homes incurred at least P100,000 worth of damage will receive P40,000 each. Another 219 personnel whose homes incurred minor damage will receive P6,506.62 each.

“The Philippine Army is doing this as a gesture, to sympathize and to show its support to its soldiers who have given a lot more for this country,” Cabunoc said. A symbolic turnover of the donations will be held at Army headquarters in Compostela Valley, which sustained damage worth P11,382,150.

After conducting search and retrieval operations for at least a month, the Army has shifted to rehabilitation operations in support of the local government and other agencies. The Army has deployed the 525th Engineering Battalion and personnel of the 901st Brigade based in Albay who assisted a team from the province that brought water filtration equipment to affected communities in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces.

More than half a billion released to build roads, foster peace, devt in ARMM

From InterAksyon (Jan 4): More than half a billion released to build roads, foster peace, devt in ARMM

More than half a billion pesos were released to help build roads, dispose firearms, and support peace and development efforts in the Philippines’ poorest and most conflict-ridden region, the government announced on Friday. An additional P745.5 million were released to further strengthen the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program, the budget department said.

These funds will assist families in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gain access to goods and services that were previously compromised by armed conflict, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. "The release complements the progress we’ve so far made at facilitating security and development in the ARMM," he added.

The amount will be used to support development in resettlement sites in the region, the disposition of arms and forces, and the construction of strategic roads and public infrastructure, among others. “The Pamana program is one of the key ways through which we are able to address socio-economic issues that have long plagued the region,” Abad said. “Not only will ARMM communities benefit from the reform and economic successes posted under this administration, they can also make a gradual transition towards enduring peace and stability.”

Troops foil bomb attacks in Maguindanao

From Rappler (Jan 4): Troops foil bomb attacks in Maguindanao

The military said it foiled on Friday, January 4, a terror attack believed orchestrated by suspected members of a breakaway rebel group in Maguindanao. Regional military spokesman Col Prudencio Asto said soldiers have recovered and defused powerful two homemade bombs each fashioned from 81-milimiter mortar shell in front of the main entrance of municipal hall of Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao. Asto said the explosives were attached to a mobile phone as triggering device.

“We suspect their targets were our troops conducting foot patrol in the area,” the military official said, referring to Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, a group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MILF has signed an initial peace agreement with the government that sets the stage for the creation of the Bangsamoro region.

On December 29, at least 15 people were wounded when a bomb went off inside a passenger bus in the town of Isulan in Sultan Kudarat. A day before that attack, two civilians were also wounded in bomb explosion in the city of Tacurong.

NPAs conducts series of abduction in Davao hinterlands

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 4): NPAs conducts series of abduction in Davao hinterlands

Alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) conducted series of abduction involving 14 civilians and two members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGUs) in Barangay Tambobong, Baguio district from Dec. 23 to Dec. 31, the military reported on Friday. Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said 11 residents of Barangay Tambobong were held captive by the armed rebel group led by a certain Ka Bobby on Dec. 23, 2012. Ka Bobby was reported to have sown terror at the barangay during the yuletide season.

Paniza said based on residents accounts, an estimated number of 140 NPAs stayed in the barangay to conduct recruitment, intimidation and kidnapping activities. At around 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2012, two CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) members Artemio Sitoy and Romeo Bulod, both of Sitio Mangas-as were forcibly taken for interrogation and held captive for almost 12 hours. The victims narrated that the NPAs asked them for names of all the CAFGU members and civilian military supporters residing in the barangay. The victims said that they were singled out by the new NPA recruits who were also residents of the barangay.

The group also kidnapped but later released Jun Lopez, Junjun Alonzo and Tata Pandian, all residents of Sitio Luyan on Dec. 31. According to the victims, one of the residents of the same barangay believed to be a supporter of the rebel group told them that they have an issue to be settled with the NPA and they were accounted to answer some questions. Alarmed and terrorized, the victims tried to evade the NPAs but were chanced upon by the bandits while on their way to the neighboring sitio. They were held captive from 5:30 a.m. and were released at around 3:30 p.m. after undergoing rigid interrogation. According to the victims, the group was composed of around 70 armed men and women conducting medical mission-like activity at the sitio.

At around 4 p.m. of the same day, another CAFGU member identified as Tony Pandian was also abducted and then freed by the rebel group after being questioned. According to one of the civilian victims, Pandian was told by Ka Bobby to leave the military service or his son would be taken by the NPA to join the armed revolution. Some witnesses said the group went to Pandian’s house twice.

Aside from the abduction incidents in Barangay Tambobong, the rebel group kidnapped seven other residents of Sitio Laputan and were coerced to join them. Four of them were identified as Toto Belarmiya, Adonis Belarmiya, Elmer Amad and Toto Duyan who were all taken before the NPA Anniversary Celebration last Dec. 26.

Last Dec. 31, three more civilians were captured and were forced to join the NPAs. They were identified as Boyet Duyan and Joel Espina of Upper Tambobong and Lower Luyan of the same barangay and a certain Junjun Ogao, not from Barangay Tambobong but identified as the grandson of the late Datu Causing Ogao who was killed by the NPA last July 2012.

Another resident of Barangay Tambobong, Boy Betil was also abducted by the NPAs on Dec. 23, 2012 at Sitio Sayawan, Barangay Salaysay, Marilog District, Davao City. He was suspected as a military informant. Some witnesses said Betil was tortured, immersed in Tuli River and remained to be still in the hands of the rebel group. Until now, no one knows the whereabouts of Boy Betil. The kidnapping incidents and the presence of the New People’s Army in Barangay Tambobong has prevented the observance and celebration of the community of the Yuletide Season and of the New Year. Most of the rebels stayed overnight at the residents’ houses. Some of the residents left their houses and moved at neighboring sitios and barangay because they were frightened of the presence of the NPA at their houses. Several residents opted not to go home to celebrate New Year with their families upon knowing the presence of the rebel group.

Army defuses powerful IED in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 4): Army defuses powerful IED in Maguindanao

Alert soldiers securing the town hall of Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao province prevented what could have been a bloody Friday morning when they safely defused a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) left at the main gate of the town hall, the military said. Colonel Prudencio Asto, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the IED, fashioned from two 81-mm mortars with mobile phone as trigger mechanism, was found at the gate of the town hall in Shariff Aguak proper by elements of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

“Our bomb disposal team has successfully defused the powerful IEDs," Asto said in an interview. Asto said he was convinced the IED was meant for soldiers who regularly patrol and gather at the main gate of the town hall compound after roaming around town. Asto believes the IED could also be intended for political leaders that report for work at the town hall.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attempt but the police and Army are looking at extortion gangs or lawless elements out to disrupt the prevailing peace and order in Shariff Aguak. Mayor Saharan Upam-Ampatuan of Shariff Aguak called on the residents to remain vigilant and report to authorities any suspicious looking persons or bags left unattended in populated areas of Shariff Aguak town.

Asto said soldiers have remained on alert after the holiday season as lawless elements, like the al-Khobar extortion gang, are making noises again. The Al-Khobar gang, composed of former Moro rebels turned bandits, was blamed in the bombing of a Husky Bus in nearby Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that left 15 persons wounded. A unit of the Yellow Bus line was also damaged in the incident. On Dec. 28, an improvised bomb was left at a roadside in Tacurong City which went off at 10:30 p.m. leaving three persons wounded. On Dec. 30, a suspected bomber was arrested while another was killed in a shootout with policemen in Tacurong City after they lobbed two hand grenades at the house of Mayor Emilio Salamanca of President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat.

10,775 Bangsamoro women gathered in Camp Darapanan

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 4): 10,775 Bangsamoro women gathered in Camp Darapanan

Some 10,775 leaders and members of MILF Social Welfare Committee from all over Mindanao have assembled in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last December 24-25 to undertake information drive to explain the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement. The general assembly is an annual activity being conducted to re-affirm and strengthen women’s commitment and participation in political, military and social development together with their brethren from ranks and files of the MILF in pursuit of just, freedom and self-determination of the Bangsamoro.

The Social Welfare Committee, the leading women agency of MILF, is “mandated to deliver basic social and medical services to the Bangsamoro,” Al Haj Murad said. The Chairman also reiterated in his speech during the assembly that “the role of SWC is not only limited to the welfare of the women but to the entire Bangsamoro.”

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Peace Panel Chair, said that SWC is also tasked to expand and strengthen its advocacy works including the popularization of the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro (FAB). The committee has its members down to the barangays all over Mindanao including the islands of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Palawan.

Meanwhile, the MILF is strongly supporting and encouraging women’s empowerment and active participation not only in humanitarian assistance and development services but also in political and governance as evident in Section 6 Basic Rights of Article 1.g of the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro stipulated that, “the right of women in meaningful political participation, and protection from all forms of violence” are directly enforceable both in justice, legislature and executive of the New Bangsamoro Political Entity.

West PH feud tops Asean agenda

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 4): West PH feud tops Asean agenda

The resolution of the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea is on top of the agenda of Brunei, who will host the summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation this year. The Brunei Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that its country is keen in pursuing the code of conduct among claimant countries in the contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The framework of the COC is the ASEAN’s non-binding Declaration on the Code of Conduct which was signed in 2002.
In a report posted on China Daily, Brunei said that the creation of the code of conduct would help reduce the potential armed conflict over oil and gas exploration, fishing and shipping rights in the disputed sea. Brunei officials said that all throughout their chairmanship for 2013, they would closely consult “major powers” and dialogue partners regarding the dispute.Brunei is one of the claimant countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan, in the oil-resource rich waters.
Tension between the Philippines and China escalated late last year after Beijing prevented Manila authority from arresting Chinese fishermen who were caught fishing endangered maritime species in the West Philippine Sea. Based on the Declaration Conduct, a non-binding document, all signatories are directed to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner”.
During Cambodia’s chairmanship of Asean in 2012, the ASEAN countries failed to issue the customary joint communiqué. Cambodia, staunch ally of China, repeatedly rejected the term “South China Sea” dispute in the proposed joint communiqué of the 10-regional bloc. Due to the group’s failure to hammer out a a joint statement, the ASEAN countries, through the initiatives of Indonesia, have instead come up with a six-point-principle.

The ASEAN has agreed to 1)fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or DOC 2) support for the guidelines of the DOC; 3)conclude early a regional code of conduct on the South China Sea; 4) fully respect universally-recognized principle of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; 5) continue exercising self restraint and non-use of force; and 6) the peaceful resolution of conflicts in accordance with universally-recognized principles of international law and including the 1982 UNCLOS. Brunei said, aside from the resolution of the dispute, it will also focus on issues on human rights, through the activities of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

CAFGU member slain in North Cotabato NPA attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 3): CAFGU member slain in North Cotabato NPA attack

A member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was killed in what the police said was a "daring attack" by suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Magpet, North Cotabato, around 1:30 p.m., Thursday. Sr. Insp. Sunny Leoncito, chief of Magpet Philippine National Police (PNP), identified the victim as Dino Lacia, a CAFGU member under the 38th Infantry Battalion and a resident of Barangay Manobisa, Magpet.

The victim, wearing civilian clothes with no gun tucked in his waist, was waiting for his two children at a terminal located at crossing Matas in Poblacion, Magpet, when two suspects, armed with caliber 45 pistols, pumped bullets onto his head, chest, and back. The gunmen did not cover their heads when they carried out the killing, according to Leoncito. After the killing, the suspects rode on a Baja motorcycle parked just a few meters away from a thickly-populated terminal.

Leoncito was certain the NPAs executed the killing. He admitted Lacia was among the many informants they hired to update them of the peace and order situation in the hinterlands. Lacia’s children were shocked to see their father lying dead on the floor. The victim’s son had traveled all the way from Arakan town, also in North Cotabato, and his daughter from Barangay Kamada in Magpet, to be with their father in going home to Barangay Manobisa for a much-awaited family affair.

Malacanang welcomes 're-extension' of SOMO by CPP-NPA-NDF

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 3): Malacanang welcomes 're-extension' of SOMO by CPP-NPA-NDF

Malacanang Thursday said it welcomed the "re-extension" on the suspension of military operation (SOMO) to Jan. 15, saying this will give more time for the government forces and communist rebels to be with their families. "The government welcomes this change of heart from their (Communist rebels) earlier position. This gives our soldiers and members of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) more time with their loved ones, which becomes difficult in times of conflict," said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a statement. "As agreed upon by representatives of both the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines at The Hague, Netherlands, the ceasefire would last from Dec 20, 2012 to Jan 15, 2013," he said.

Reports said the CPP has restored the extended holiday ceasefire it had terminated a day earlier allegedly due to a delay in the government’s formal declaration of a similar truce. "The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines hereby declares to all commands and units of the New People's Army and the people's militias that the end of the ceasefire declared on Dec 20 has been re-extended to 2359H (11:59 p.m.) of Jan 15," a statement released by the rebels said. "Specifics of the December 20 order will remain valid for the duration of this order. This declaration overrides an earlier order by the CPP-CC abbreviating the ceasefire to 2359H of January 2," it added.

Despite unilateral statements to the contrary, Lacierda said, "the government is fully committed to honoring this ceasefire -- a clear indication of our sincerity and determination to maintain peace and stability." "In the months ahead, we look forward to resuming a respectful and fruitful dialogue with the CPP-NPA-NDF, with the vision of fostering a true and lasting peace in the Philippines," he said.

China: Ship checks limited to coast

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 3): China: Ship checks limited to coast

Allaying international concerns over China’s new maritime policing policy in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Chinese Foreign Ministry has clarified that interdiction powers or the possible boarding of ships by Chinese authorities would be limited to “a narrow coast zone.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a recent press briefing that the new rules implemented by Hainan province on Tuesday would be limited to waters extending only 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from its coast, according to a Reuters report.

In a cautious response, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was seeking further clarification of the new policing law as Hainan, the Chinese province closest to the disputed Spratlys island chain, has claimed jurisdiction over contested territories and waters. “Was [China’s foreign minister] referring to the coast of Hainan island or some other coasts over which Hainan province considers it has jurisdiction?,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said, in apparent reference to the contested territories over which China had earlier declared jurisdiction.

In China’s press briefing, Hua said: “What I want to stress is that these local rules were formulated by the Hainan provincial government to strengthen border controls over the coast and maritime management,” Hua said the policing law, announced by Chinese state media in November, was geared strictly toward maintaining peace and order along its coastal waters, an important international trading route.

The Philippines calls part of the surrounding waters the West Philippine Sea to bolster its claims to isles and rock formations within its exclusive economic zone. China, on the other hand, established Sansha City on one of the Spratly islands as a Hainan prefecture last year to administer all of the Spratlys, a move that has drawn international criticism. China also said it was planning to infuse $1.6 billion in the city to build infrastructure, including air and sea ports.

Defusing tensions somewhat, Hua said the new Hainan rule did not expand the scope of a 1999 regulation stipulating limits to the enforcement powers of the local authorities. “Their aim is to tackle crime at sea and maintain peace on the seas. There is no change to the scope of how these rules are used compared to the 1999 rules,” she said. The DFA said it had asked China for official clarification of Hainan’s new policing law soon after it was announced in November, but the foreign office had yet to receive a response.

Only Palawan remains under storm signal 1—Pagasa

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 3): Only Palawan remains under storm signal 1—Pagasa

The state weather bureau lowered all storm signals except for Palawan where tropical depression “Auring” was headed and could make a landfall if it doesn’t change direction. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the first weather disturbance of the year was spotted at 190 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City as of 4 p.m. and packed maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center. It was moving west at 28 kph. “Auring” may gain more strength in the ocean as it traverses Sulu Sea, but will exit the Philippine territory in 24 hours, Manny Mendoza of Pagasa told

Pagasa warned residents living in low-lying and mountainous areas under Signal No.1 against possible flash floods and landslides. It will bring moderate to heavy rains within its 250 km.  Fishing boats and other small sea craft were still advised not to venture out into the eastern seaboards of the country and over the northern and western seaboards of Northern Luzon due to the northeast monsoon and over the western seaboard of Visayas and Mindanao due “Auring.”

Meanwhile, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director Benito Ramos said parts of southern Palawan, including the municipalities of Bataraza, Paborlan, Rizal, Quezon, Narra and Brook’s Point, could get affected by the tropical depression. He said “Auring” could make landfall in Palawan if it will not change direction.

Original video clip of Anikow murder goes to court

From the Manila Times (Jan 3): Original video clip of Anikow murder goes to court

THE prosecution panel is set to present the original closed circuit television (CCTV) footage on the murder of American serviceman George Anikow as the hearing resumes today at the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC). Public Prosecutor Hannah Arriola said that the presentation of the original CCTV footage is necessary to authenticate the copy of the video clips submitted by Rockwell Command Center to the Makati City Police investigators. “This is to make sure that the video presented during the hearing was a faithful reproduction of the original CCTV footage that was turned over to the Makati police investigators the day after the killing occurred,” she told The Manila Times. She said the original CCTV footage together with a video operator from the Rockwell Command Center was already subpoenaed by Makati City RTC Branch 59 Judge Winlove Dumayas.

In the last hearing of the case, the judge allowed the prosecution panel to present the 10-minuter video clips of the incident which showed that Anikow was mauled and subsequently killed by the accused. The video clip was furnished to the investigators upon the directive of Damasino Dosonan Jr., the detachment commander of the Rockwell Center.

During his testimony, Dosonan said that he ordered Dominador Royo, the duty officer at the Command Center, to burn the CCTV footage of the incident after it was requested by the Makati police. But defense lawyers questioned the authenticity of the CCTV footage and asked the court that the original copy should be presented for comparison purposes. Defense lawyer Miguel Damaso, counsel for accused Juan Alfonso argued that although they have the same copy of the video footage, this does not warranty its authenticity. “How would we know if the video presented was not tampered if we don’t compare it with the original CCTV footage?” he asked. Arriola explained that the CCTV footage is vital in building up the case as this would be the basis of the testimony of the prosecution’s primary witness, security guard Romel Saavedra. “We want to settle first the authenticity of the CCTV footage as this will be the basis of the testimony of our main witness,” she added.

Once the original video presented, the prosecution panel will also present a video enhancer from the National Bureau of Investigation to enhance the CCTV footage to determine who really stabbed Anikow to death.

1 dead, 3 hurt in separate gun attacks in Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Jan 3): 1 dead, 3 hurt in separate gun attacks in Mindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - A village watchman was killed while an elderly couple and a truck driver were wounded in separate gun attacks here and in North Cotabato’s Kabacan town in four days. The slain barangay tanod, Gene Jordan, was riding his motorcycle and was to pull over in front of a pharmacy along a busy street at the municipal proper of Kabacan on Tuesday when one of two men riding a motorcycle together came close and shot him repeatedly with a .45 caliber pistol. The wounded Jordan tried to run away, but eventually fell and succumbed to gunshot wounds in different parts of his body. The Kabacan municipal police is still trying to determine the identities of Jordan’s killers and their motive for the attack.

The murder of Jordan was preceded by an attempt by still unidentified gunmen to kill spouses Udtog and Perla Mama, both in their late 60s, while inside their house in Tamontaka area here. Mama is a retired employee of the Land Transportation Office. Witnesses said gunmen speaking to each other in Maguindanaon dialect intruded into the couple’s yard and shot them both with handguns through an open window. Mama and his wife were both wounded in the shooting frenzy. The suspects hurriedly left after sensing that the shots they fired triggered panic in the neighborhood.

The incident was followed by a near fatal attempt on the life of truck driver Rafael Trojales in another gun attack at Doña Teresa Street in a residential district here. Trojales was alighting from his truck he has just parked along the street when one of two men riding a motorcycle in tandem approached him and shot him twice with a .45 caliber pistol. Trojales, who was hit in the abdomen and jaw, was rushed to a local hospital, where he is now undergoing medication.

MNLF member turned businessman killed in ambush

From the Philippine Star (Jan 3): MNLF member turned businessman killed in ambush

A Moro rebel turned business was killed in an ambush in waters off a coastal village of this city, police said Thursday. Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo, city police director, said the victim Akrab Jama died from several bullet wounds in different parts of his body. Jama, 40, a small-time businessman, was from Tuburan town in Basilan Province. He was also a member of the Moro National Liberation Front.
Investigation disclosed that the victim was on board a boat delivering potable water from Sitio Mulu-muluan in Barangay Mercedes bound for Tigtabon Island when unidentified suspects on board a pumpboat chase him at around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The gunmen fired at Jama killing the victim on the spot. The victim's boat skipper identified as Abduraji Jawari escaped unhurt after jumping from the boat. Police have yet to determine the motive behind the attack.

MILF to help in dismantling private armies in Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Jan 3): MILF to help in dismantling private armies in Mindanao

Local sectors want Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles to forge ahead with government's plan to involve the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in dismantling private armed groups in the South, convinced it will help enhance the rebel group’s capacity to secure the supposed territory of the Bangsamoro region. Under the 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, the GPH and MILF panels are to mutually cooperate in addressing peace and security issues in flashpoint areas in Mindanao to ensure the cordiality of the peace talks and prevent criminals and terrorists from seeking sanctuary in rebel territories covered by the ceasefire pact. “This is something we need to support. If we want good, pro-people politics to reign in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, we need to take out all private armies in the area,” said the ARMM’s acting governor, Mujiv Hataman, referring to the announcement of Deles about a plan to tap the MILF in the government’s effort to curb private armed groups in the South.

The ARMM had an extensive general re-registration of voters in the entire region from July 9-18 as part of the effort to remove multiple, underage and non-existent registrants in the area’s old book of voters- an initial step meant to ensure honest and peaceful May 2013 elections in the region. Past regional political exercises in the ARMM were marred by intimidation of voters by private armed groups identified with political warlords, vote-buying, and other irregularities. “You don’t just talk about the arms of the MILF, but also of everyone else. That is part of normalization. How can you ask the MILF to completely disarm if other groups or some families are armed?” Deles said in an emailed statement. “We are looking for a real partnership among the government, the MILF, and other governance constituencies to look at this matter on how to make life more secure, to trust in the state forces to make them secure, and be engaged in other productive activities,” she said. Deles said both parties would also work in partnership to reduce and control firearms in the region.

A convenor of more than 50 peace advocacy outfits in Mindanao, Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr. said involving the MILF in the government’s campaign against Mindanao-based private armies and armed groups being employed by some clans as “tools” for perpetuating power can also be a good “capacity building exposure” for the rebel group. Mercado, executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said it is also good for the government and the MILF to start working together in maintaining peace and order in many hostile areas while both sides are still trying to iron out a final peace deal based on the objectives of the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, or FAB. Mercado said the government and MILF can cooperate on initiatives, including community-organizing thrusts and settlement of conflicts involving Moro families.

The FAB also aims to decommission guerilla forces and turn them into productive sectors once a final GPH-MILF peace compact is achieved. “As put in the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, decommissioning is phased and calibrated and will start once political commitments are delivered…We agreed that substantial decommissioning happens when the basic law is delivered,” Deles said. She said a joint normalization committee will be formed between the parties toward full decommissioning, and will be overseen by a third-party monitor composed of domestic and international partners of the peace process. “It was understandable that for a movement like the MILF, which had been fighting for so long, its members would have a different perspective on decommissioning,” Deles said.

She said she is confident that decommissioning would be successful here as in other countries. “As the fighters see this on the ground, peace is real, the land can be cultivated, there is livelihood coming in, children can go to school, health centers will be set up. It will be a matter of not just giving up something, but (they) will also get a better life for (their) children,” she said. She said discussions on the decommissioning process are underway. Deles assured the public that the government is determined to deliver the political commitments embodied in the FAB.

Major Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Central Mindanao, and the ARMM’s police director, Chief Supt. Mario Avenido, both said they do not have any problem working with the MILF, with the guidance of the government’s peace panel and OPAPP, in deactivating private armed groups. Ordoyo said the 6th ID is ready to help in any initiative meant to address the presence of armed partisans in the division’s so called “area of responsibility,” or AOR.

Avenido said one security concern the ARMM police and the MILF can help address together is the settlement of existing “rido,” or clan wars involving political clans in the autonomous region. There are about a hundred standing family feuds involving in the ARMM, mostly precipitated by land conflicts, affronts to clan pride and honor, and politics. Avenido and his subordinate provincial police directors have settled more than 30 clan wars in the past 12 months, according to reports obtained from the ARMM regional police headquarters at Camp S.K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, where residents have a strong tradition of collecting firearms, including military-type assault rifles and shoulder-fire grenade launchers, both as "status symbol" and for protection from rival clans.

Militiaman's wife killed in Albay NPA ambush

From the Philippine Star (Jan 3): Militiaman's wife killed in Albay NPA ambush

A few hours after the Communist Party of the Philippines refused to extend the Christmas cease-fire on Wednesday, the wife of a militiaman was shot dead by armed bandits in Ligao, Albay. The truce between the government and the New People's Army (NPA), which began last December 20 and supposed to end on January 15, had just ended when off-duty militiaman Arnel Yuson and wife Sarah Jane while traveling by motorcycle were ambushed by three heavily-armed men in Barangay Oma-Oma at 7:30 pm. "The bandits rained a hail of bullets at the hapless victims. Arnel was able to escape unhurt but his wife died of her fatal wounds during the ambush, forcing him to leave her behind to report the incident to the authorities," Pasia said in a statement.

Second Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Audrey Pasia said Yuson, who was responsible for the arrest of NPA leader Iglecirio "Ka Choy" Pernia, had long been hunted by the rebel group. Yuson and his two older brothers serving in the Armed Forces had also been involved in successful combat operations against the bandits in Albay, Pasia added.

Pasia, who called NPA's refusal to honor the cease-fire till the last minute unfair, said the incident was proof of the group's "insincerity" in cooperating to attain peace. "Our soldiers and militiamen were allowed to go home to spend time with their family during the mutually agreed truce which ends on Jan. 15. They suddenly called off the ceasefire and commit this act killing the wife of our off-duty militiaman," Pasia said.

He added that the attack was in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law that both the government and the communist army signed. "Killing unarmed military personnel and their family members who are non-combatants, is against the laws of armed conflict and the rule of law," the 2nd Infantry Battalion chief said. Intelligence reports cited by a PNA report indicate that Pernia rejoined the rebel group after he had been released from his detainment in 2012 as part of the peace deal.

Palace: NPA 'broke their word' on truce

From the Philippine Star (Jan 3): Palace: NPA 'broke their word' on truce

"We are not at fault. We have no reason not to honor the cease-fire agreement." Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said answering accusations that Malacañang refused to honor the extended truce with the Community Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army (CPP-NPA) until January 15. The communist rebels, on the other hand, were accused of killing a wife of an Army militiaman in an ambush in Albay province hours after unilaterally lifting the truce on Wednesday.

Lacierda denied that President Benigno Aquino III signed a prolonged cease-fire only after the agreement supposedly expired on Wednesday. "The [cease-fire agreement] never expired first before the president signed it, let me declare. The expiration was until 12:00 am of January 3 (Thursday)," Lacierda said, explaining that the Palace was willing to honor the extended date.

Saying that the communist parties were the ones who prematurely terminated the truce, Lacierda added that Armed Forces of the Philippines was instructed to observe the temporary state of peace until January 15 even without Aquino's renewed directive. "Obviously, (government) was willing to honor the cease-fire till the 15th of January ... (The rebel groups) were the ones who broke their word when they decided to pre-terminate the cease-fire agreement," Lacierda said.

GPH peace panel denies failure to comply with pact on lengthy truce

From InterAksyon (Jan 3): GPH peace panel denies failure to comply with pact on lengthy truce

The government’s peace panel to negotiations with communist rebels denied Thursday that the administration failed to comply with an agreement for a lengthy holiday ceasefire. In a statement posted on the website of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the panel said the press communiqué issued in the wake of a December 17-18 meeting in The Hague between representatives of both parties and the Norwegian government, as well as a subsequent statement issued on December 20 from Secretary Teresita Deles would prove the government affirmed the extended ceasefire from December 20 to January 15, the longest truce between both parties. The original suspension of offensive military operations declared by the government was only until January 2.

On Wednesday, the Communist Party of the Philippines said it was ending the ceasefire it had declared at 11:59 p.m., the same time the military SOMO was scheduled to end, because of the "failure of the GPH (government of the Philippines) to comply with the agreement last December 17-18 to extend its own ceasefire order to January 15." Ironically, just hours after the CPP announcement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced it was extending its SOMO to January 15.

The government panel labeled the rebels’ allegations a "false claim," noting that apart from declaring a ceasefire extension, there were also "procedural processes undertaken by the security forces to officially affirm the extension of the SOMO and SOPO that led to its formal announcement by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police this afternoon, January 2." "It is unfortunate that the CPP/NPA/NDF is interested in looking for excuses to resume violence than it was to seek peace," the government panel said.

"Government stands firm to the nationwide ceasefire agreed upon with the NDF which commenced on December 20, 2012 and will remain effective until January 15, 2013. Our security forces will maintain its unilateral declaration of SOMO and SOPO, despite the CPP’s termination, and will stand ready to defend and protect our people," the statement said.

However, Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the National Democratic Front’s negotiating panel, which recommended the termination of the ceasefire, pointed out that President Benigno Aquino III himself had made no formal declaration to extend the original SOMO to January 15.

InterAksyon has also obtained a copy of a letter from Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to Aquino showing the defense chief endorsed the recommendation of the AFP for an extended ceasefire only on January 1 and that the President had approved on January 2, the day the original SOMO was to end. Wednesday night, Jalandoni said the NDF peace panel had recommended that the CPP again declare the ceasefire active until January 15 following Aquino’s approval of Gazmin’s recommendation.

Operasyon Ayos Atip successful in Lingig town

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 3): Operasyon Ayos Atip successful in Lingig town

Following the typhoon Pablo which devastated Lingig town of this province earlier last month, a number of families in Sitio Hanipaan, Poblacion and Sitio Sayon, Brgy Mahayahay, victims of typhoon Pablo, benefited from “Operasyon Ayos Atip," a collaborative effort of the Philippine Army under Col Romeo Gan of the 401st Brigade with the 75IB, 29IB & 36IB; Tesda; and the provincial government office led by Governor Johnny Pimentel. The activity, conducted on December 27-30, has reportedly repaired at least 22 houses, 75IB CMO Officer Jolito Borces said. Tesda Director Rey Cueva said that some of the victims had requested “nipa (palm)” roofs as replacement, after their roof was destroyed by the typhoon.

Meanwhile, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Officer Mayosito Dano said, out of 124 households living in Sitio Hanipaan, part of Barangay Poblacion, 29 houses were reported to have been totally damaged and the rest were partially damaged. In a related development, services of Smart Communications was just restored on January 1 in Lingig town while Globe was reportedly restored earlier while power lines was not restored yet in most southern part barangays except Poblacion and some nearby barangays, Dano added.

WESCOM’s disaster response team renders humanitarian assistance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 3): WESCOM’s disaster response team renders humanitarian assistance

Western Command (WESCOM) directed its disaster response task units to render humanitarian assistance and disaster response to the victims of Tropical Cyclone Pablo. In a press release, the 6th Civil Relations Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disclosed that the deployment of its team is part of carrying out the AFP’s mandate during disasters and natural calamities. “We know the risk we face not only in defense of our people against security threats, but also in providing life support to victims from nature's wrath,” WESCOM Commander LtGen Juancho M Sabban said.

Chief of the Command Operations Center CDR Rommel Oropesa PN reported that WESCOM has already provided transportation assistance in bringing relief goods to the affected areas in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. M-35 trucks and BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35) were also used to ferry the goods. “Responding to the needs of our people remains a call of duty for each and every one of us that is why our disaster response teams exist to quickly take action to the needs of the victims,” Oropesa stressed. Pablo entered WESCOM area of responsibility, particularly in areas in northern Palawan that affected communities in El Nido, Taytay, Roxas, Culion, Coron, Araceli, and Cagayancillo.

Army scores high against communist rebels in Bicol

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 3): Army scores high against communist rebels in Bicol

The Philippine Army scored high in its counter-insurgency operations in the six-province Bicol region in 2012 under its Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan.” Maj. Gen. Romeo V. Calizo, commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, in his 2012 year-end report to Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista, Philippine Army commander, said there was a continued reduction in the number and capabilities of communist rebels all over the Bicol region.

From January to December last year, there were 46 government-initiated encounters as against 27 encounters initiated by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, armed fighters of the communist movement; that left 23 NPA rebels and 12 government troopers dead.

The Army’s count of the NPA strength was 546 in 2008, declining to 406 in 2010 and increasing to 437 by mid-year of 2011. This figure, however, was reduced to 427 at the end of 2011. By the end of 2012 the NPA strength further declined by 16 percent, with 359 NPA rebels scattered in the four mainland provinces and two island provinces in the Bicol region.

Calizo reported the confiscation of firearms from the NPA rebels. These include 36 high-powered firearms, 31 low-powered firearms, and 33 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) employed as anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines while the Army lost seven high-powered firearms to the NPA rebels.

He cited intelligence information regarding validation of the identities of NPA rebels as to whether they were killed in action, captured, apprehended or surrendered, including reference to captured documents and revelations from former communist rebels. “Based on these validations, there was also a number of new recruits in the rebel organization,” Calizo revealed. But he said the implementation of stricter campaign against insurgency in the countryside led to the surrender of 29 NPA rebels last year.

Calizo reported shaking the organization of the communist rebels in Bicol with the capture or death of eight ranking NPA leaders as a result of Army and Philippine National Police operations. Among the suspected ranking NPA rebels listed slain in encounter were Antonio Perelonia alias Eddie, alleged member of the executive committee of the NPA unit in Albay province; and a certain Rafael Llanto alias Gopi, alleged member of the NPA regional elite force; and another NPA rebel identified as Benjamin Manzera.

The Army in Bicol further reported to have captured officers of the communist movement, including the alleged finance officer of an NPA unit in Albay province identified as Edgardo Sevilla, who was captured in a clash in Iriga City in Camarines Sur on Sept. 5, 2012. Two ranking NPA rebels in the province of Sorsogon were apprehended by the 31st Infantry Battalion and the Sorsogon Public Safety Company on Aug 21, 2012. They were identified as Florence Galos alias Audrey and Alex Gerandio alias Monique. Galos is the alleged logistics and finance officer while Gerandio was supposed to be the squad leader of an NPA rebel unit in Sorsogon.

Top Sorsogon NPA leader Felix Marcaida alias Ka Megs was arrested by joint elements of the Army's 903rd Infantry Brigade and the Albay Provincial Police Office on April 5 last year in Barangay Tagas, Daraga, Albay. “Marcaida’s arrest created a leadership gap in the NPA organization in Sorsogon, resulting in a series of encounters and the capture of major NPA camps by the 31st IB,” according to the report.

Another suspected top NPA leader was caught in Laguna early last year. Identified as Henry Arguenza, the Army tagged him as the top NPA leader in the island province of Catanduanes. Arguenza was arrested together with his companion and another suspected high-ranking NPA leader named Alicia Cenon. According to the Army report, the arrest of Arguenza and Cenon was initiated by the Cabuyao police on March 27, 2012 after the driver of the taxi they had rented complained of grave threats against them. The taxi driver sought assistance from a police center along the national highway. They are now detained at the Sorsogon Provincial Police Office facing murder raps.

Civilian killed in NPA ambush in Albay

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 3): Civilian killed in NPA ambush in Albay

After declaring an end to a Christmas truce at noon on Wednesday, New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed and killed the wife of a militiaman in Barangay Oma-oma, a remote village in Ligao City, a Philippine Army (PA) official said Thursday. Lt. Col. Audrey Pasia, commanding officer of the Army's 2nd Infantry Battalion based in Ligao City, said militiaman Arnel Yuson was traveling on board a motorcycle with his wife when they were blocked by at least three heavily-armed NPA rebels along the road in Barangay Oma-oma in Ligao City at around 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.

Yuson was able to escape unhurt but his wife died during the ambush, forcing him to leave her behind, Pasia said. He said Yuson and his two other brothers had long been wanted by the NPA for their successful operations against the rebel group. Yuson was credited for the arrest of ranking NPA leader leader Iglecirio Pernia a.k.a. Ka Choy, while his two brothers are also serving as militiamen involved in combat operations against the NPA rebels in Albay.

Pasia said Ka Choy was released from a provincial jail here as part of the government's peace deal with the communist rebels. Intelligence sources said Ka Choy had rejoined the armed rebels and resumed his atrocities against the military and civilians.

Pasia said the NPA had used its own ceasefire declaration to take undue advantage and commit atrocities against the soldiers. Soldiers and militiamen were allowed to go home to spend time with their family during the mutually agreed truce which ends on January 15. “This treacherous attack is a clear indication of their insincerity in pushing through a lasting peace and a gross violation of human rights," Pasia said.

He said killing of unarmed military personnel and their family members who are non-combatants is against the laws of armed conflict and the rule of law. "This is also a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL) that both parties signed," the military official said. It can be recalled that NPA bandits also beheaded village councilman Ely Oguis of Guinobatan town in November last year. Oguis was sentenced to die for refusing to pay extortion money demanded by the bandits.

9 provinces in PHL under storm warning signal 1 –PAGASA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 3): 9 provinces in PHL under storm warning signal 1 –PAGASA

At least nine provinces are under public storm warning signal no. 1 as the low pressure area (LPA) over Northern Mindanao has developed into a tropical depression and was locally named "Auring", the state weather bureau said on Thursday. Auring is the first tropical cyclone to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) for the year 2013.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) forecaster Joey Figuracion said that the provinces under storm signal no. 1 are Palawan in Luzon; Southern part of Negros provinces and Siquijor Island in Visayas; while in Mindanao are Lanao Del Norte, Lanao Del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Figuracion said the LPA has developed into tropical depression on Thursday morning and as of 10 a.m. Auring was located at 50 km West of Dipolog City (8.5°N, 122.9°E) with maximum winds of 55 kph near the center. He added that Auring is expected to make landfall over southern tip of Palawan early Friday morning.

Based on models, Auring has a slim chance to intensify into storm due to strong northeast monsoon but since the tropical depression is in the ocean, PAGASA will continue to monitor, he said. PAGASA said that Auring is forecast to move west at 28 kph and is expected to be 180 km Southwest of Puerto Princesa City by Friday morning, and 460 km West of Puerto Princesa City or outside PAR by Friday evening.

Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal 1 are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Owners of fishing boats and other small seacrafts are also advised not to venture out into the eastern seaboards of the country and over the northern and western seaboards of Northern Luzon due to the Northeast Monsoon and over the western seaboard of Visayas and Mindanao due to tropical depression Auring.

Soon-to-be acquired naval choppers to be deployed in PN frigates

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 3): Soon-to-be acquired naval choppers to be deployed in PN frigates

The three AW-109 helicopters, whose contract of agreement was finalized Dec. 20, will be deployed aboard Philippine Navy frigates, a ranking Defense official said Thursday. DND Undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations, and materiel Fernando Manalo said the AW-109 is ideal for shipboard work due to its multi-role functions. "It (AW-109) can do search-and-rescue work, patrol and surveillance and even act as a utility aircraft aboard the frigates," he added.

The PN at present operates two frigates, the World War II era BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) and the converted Hamilton-class cutter, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), equipped with a telescoping hangar. Another, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) is expected to sail in and be in commission by March. With the helicopters on board, the monitoring and patrolling capabilities of these ships will be greatly enhanced.

The three rotary wing aircraft has a net price of P1,337,176,584. It is expected to be delivered by 2014. The contract was signed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and supplier AugustaWestland S.P.A. The acquisition project was done under negotiated procurement through Section 53.2 (Emergency Procurement) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9184. “The acquisition of these naval helicopters is one concrete step towards the fulfillment of our goal to modernize the Philippine Navy, and our Armed Forces in general,” DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

On Nov. 28, AugustaWestland was declared by the Naval Helicopter Acquisition Project Negotiating Committee as the single calculated and responsive proponent after going through the process of a negotiated procurement. The Italian Ministerio Della Difesa reviewed AugustaWestland’s proposal for the procurement of AW 109 Power Helicopter, including related logistic support and found out that the price per helicopter “seems to have been progressively reduced”, meaning they were sold cheaper.

The AW-109 is a twin-engine, eight-seat multipurpose chopper. First flown as the Agusta A109 in 1971, the craft has proven itself in light transport, medevac, search-and-rescue, and military roles. It has a crew of one or two pilots and is capable of carrying seven to eight passengers and length of 42 feet 9 inches (13.04 meters). The AW-109 has a rotor diameter 36 feet 2 inches (11.00 meters). It has height of 11 feet 6 inches (3.50 meters). The AW-109's powerplant consist of two Pratt & Whitney Canada 206C or Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 turboshafts, 567 hp or 571 hp (423 kW or 426 kW) each. It has a maximum speed: 177 miles per hour (154 knots, 285 kms/hour). It has ferry range: 599 miles (521 nautical miles, 964 kms) and a service ceiling: 19,600 feet (6,000 meters). The AW-109 also has a rate of climb: 1,930 feet per minute (9.8 meter per second).

Upon the recommendation of the DND Bids and Awards Committee, the Secretary of National Defense issued a notice of award last Dec. 4. “With the other projects in the pipeline and our planned acquisition, we are now louder and clearer in our intent to upgrade the capability of our AFP to address its constitutional duty to 'secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory’,” Gazmin concluded.

PRWC/NDFP: NDFP Negotiating Panel recommends CPP extension of ceasefire until 15 January 2013

Posted to the PRWC Blog (Jan 2): NDFP Negotiating Panel recommends CPP extension of ceasefire until 15 January 2013
Luis G. Jalandoni
NDFP Negotiating Panel

Despite the very belated GPH decision to extend its Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) until 15 January 2013, the NDFP Negotiating Panel is recommending to the Communist Party of the Philippines Central Committee (CPP CC) that it extend its ceasefire declaration to 15 January 2013 so that both will be in sync.

On 27 December 2012, one week after the CPP CC had issued its declaration of ceasefire for the period of 20 December 2012 until 15 January 2013, the CPP CC had issued a warning that the GPH must issue promptly its declaration of the extension of its SOMO. This warning was however disregarded by the GPH.

Upon receipt today from Royal Norwegian Ambassador Ture Lundh a copy of the letter of endorsement of DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to GPH President Aquino dated 01 January 2013 and approved by GPH President Aquino on 02 January 2013, the NDFP Negotiating Panel has written to the CPP CC recommending that the CPP-NPA ceasefire be extended to 15 January 2013.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel has informed Royal Norwegian Ambassador Ture Lundh regarding this recommendation to extend the ceasefire order of the CPP to 15 January 2013.

CPP: CPP reextends ceasefire to January 15 after belated GPH announcement

From the CPP Website (Jan 3): CPP reextends ceasefire to January 15 after belated GPH announcement

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today reextended its ceasefire declaration to January 15 after the Aquino regime belatedly announced yesterday its own suspension of military operations.

The CPP-CC issued the following declaration:

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines hereby declares to all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the people’s militias that the end of the ceasefire declared on December 20 has been reextended to 2359H of January 15. Specifics of the December 20 order will remain valid for the duration of this order. This declaration overrides an earlier order by the CPP-CC abbreviating the ceasefire to 2359H of January 2.
This declaration is being issued upon recommendation of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) after being belatedly informed of the formal order by the president of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) Benigno Aquino III extending the suspension of offensive military and police operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
According to the CPP, the Aquino government did not promptly order the extension of its earlier suspension of offensive military and police operations. As shown by the fascimile of Aquino’s order, the recommendation by the Secretary of National Defense was forwarded only yesterday noon, two weeks after the agreement was forged and a few hours after the CPP order abbreviating the ceasefire was made public.

Over the past two weeks, the GPH representatives refused to answer several communications seeking compliance with the December 20 to January 15 synchronized temporary ceasefire. The correspondences were sent by the NDFP Negotiating Panel directly and through the Royal Norwegian Government third-party facilitator.

“The CPP hopes that the reextension of the ceasefire order will help push forward peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP. The GPH, however, still has a lot of work to do in terms of compliance and rectification of violations of previous agreements, including the release of detained peace consultants in accordance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the release of more than 400 political prisoners in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.”

At the same time, the CPP denounced the continued military operations of the AFP despite Aquino’s ceasefire order. “Aquino’s ceasefire order has been reduced to a meaningless piece of paper due to the AFP’s continued offensive military operations against the people and their revolutionary forces in various parts of the country,” said the CPP.

CPP: CPP cautions NPA, people amid AFP fake ceasefire

From the CPP Website (Jan 3): CPP cautions NPA, people amid AFP fake ceasefire

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today called on all units of the New People’s Army (NPA), people’s militias and revolutionary organizations to remain vigilant and on high alert while on defensive mode in the face of the heightened military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Mindanao and other parts of the country.

“In compliance with the order of the CPP Central Committee to re-extend the earlier ceasefire order to January 15, all revolutionary forces should cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations, but at the same time, raise their vigilance, and heighten their political struggle against human rights abuses being committed by the AFP in its stepped-up campaign of suppression.” The CPP said “there has been practically no ceasefire on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over the past two weeks despite the order of the Aquino government for a suspension of offensive military and police operations from December 16 to January 2.” Aquino’s order was extended yesterday to January 15, in belated compliance with an agreement forged two weeks ago in a meeting between special representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“The AFP’s ceasefire is practically a fake,” said the CPP. “The GPH peace panel members are lying through their teeth in claiming that there are no violations by the military of the GPH SOMO/SOPO.” “Aquino’s ceasefire order has been reduced to a meaningless piece of paper due to the AFP’s continued offensive military operations against the people and their revolutionary forces in various parts of the country,” said the CPP. “In spite of its own SOMO/SOPO, the AFP refused to withdraw its armed squads stationed in communities, erected checkpoints to restrict people’s movements and carried out pursuit operations against units of the New People’s Army.”
It cited the following reports:
  • Since December, elements of the 57th and 40th IB have been scouring the villages of Old Bulatukan, New Israel and Biangan, all in Makilala, North Cotabato and put up two batteries of 105 howitzer canons against NPA Guerrilla Fronts 51 and 72.
  • The 10th ID deployed three sections of soldiers in every barangay between Mapula to Barko-barko, Lumiad to Riverside and in Pandaitan, all in Paquibato district, Davao City.
  • The 10th ID set up checkpoints along roads leading to Paquibato district to deter visitors from attending the mass assembly scheduled to mark the CPP anniversary last December 26.
  • Elements of the 69th IB and 84th IB continue to intimidate residents of Purok Isled, Barangay Damilag in Calinan, Davao City in order to force them to report the whereabouts of the local NPA units.
  • Elements of the 74th IB arrested last December 21 five local peasants in Mulanay, Quezon and accused them of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
  • Elements of the 302nd Brigade and local police forces arrested last December 25 in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, Oligario Sebas, whom the military claims to be Filemon Mendrez, allegedly a ranking revolutionary leader.
  • Elements of the Cagayan Valley Regional PNP arrested last December 28 in Bagumbayan, Tuguegarao City Rene Esmondo Abiva whom the military also alleges to be a revolutionary leader.

CPP: CPP cites second case of "mistaken identity" over DND/DILG secret list

From the CPP Website (Jan 3): CPP cites second case of "mistaken identity" over DND/DILG secret list

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said that the Joint Order 14-2012 issued by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) last year has already resulted in the second case of “mistaken identity” and subjected innocent civilians to human rights abuses.

Citing reports by human rights groups in Negros, the CPP said the 302nd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) arrested and detained Oligario Sebas, a local resident of Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, and claimed that he was “Filemon Mendrez,” whom the AFP alleges is one of the leaders of the revolutionary movement in Negros. According to the AFP, Mendrez is included in the DND/DILG list which has offered a P5.2 million bounty for his arrest.

Joint Order 14-2012, a secret list issued and maintained by the DND and DILG supposedly contains the names of 235 alleged leaders of the revolutionary movement and offers reward money totaling P467 million for their arrest. “It is a virtual Order of Battle of the AFP made sweeter for its generals and officers because of the increased bounty money,” pointed out the CPP.

The CPP cited a similar case of “mistaken identity” in the arrest last October of Rolly Panesa, a security guard whom the AFP claimed to be “Benjamin Mendoza,” allegedly a ranking leader of the revolutionary movement in Southern Tagalog. The military offered a a P5 million reward for Mendoza’s arrest. Panesa was severely tortured upon his arrest, and is still under detention.
AFP generals and officials are pocketing millions of pesos over these fake arrests that are victimizing innocent civilians and subjecting them to human rights abuses,” said the CPP.

“Aquino insists on keeping the contents of Joint Order 14-2012 secret despite demands for disclosure by lawyers, political parties and progressive organizations that fear that the list includes the names of legal activists critical of the Aquino government,” said the CPP. “In doing so, Aquino has given the go-signal to government security forces to make indiscriminate arrests and other human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings which can simply be justified as compliance with Joint Order 14-2012.”