Friday, January 4, 2013

China holds ‘war games’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 5): China holds ‘war games’

Chinese military forces on Wednesday held air and ground defense exercises in the protested Sansha City in the southern province of Hainan, the prefecture established last year to govern the disputed Spratlys islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The exercises were held amid a string of already controversial moves China has made in the contested waters—oil exploration, sea patrols and plans to build infrastructure—despite its reiteration that it will never provoke tension among claimants to the resource-rich islands.

As this developed, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) called on China to stop its provocation in the disputed waters as claimant nations hope to resolve the debate peacefully. “We continue to call on China to act responsibly and refrain from taking further action that will heighten tensions in the region,” said DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez. Citing information from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the South China Morning Post said the drills were held on Jan. 2 at Sansha City in the Paracels, the city of Shenyang in northeast China’s Liaoning province and Jinan, the capital city of the eastern Chinese province of Shandong. The PLA said drills were also held on New Year’s Day in the city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang, also a province in eastern China.

PH claims not covered

The drills do not appear to cover Philippine-claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea, including the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys off Palawan and the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales. Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have partial claims to territories in the West Philippine Sea. The exercises were aimed at “enhancing soldiers’ combat consciousness and capabilities” in the event of a surprise attack, the Hong Kong newspaper said. Drills included “air defense, antiterrorist, emergency muster and fire drills,” according to the Post. The report also revealed that some 1,000 civilians and 6,000 Chinese troops are stationed as “permanent residents” in Sansha City, established in June last year as a Hainan prefecture to exercise administrative powers over all of the Spratlys islands.

Infrastructure investments

China is reported to be planning to infuse a $1.6-billion investment in the city to develop its infrastructure, including air and sea ports. The city sits in the Paracels, also a disputed island chain being claimed by Taipei and Vietnam. While the Philippines has no claim to the islands, the DFA has a standing protest to Sansha’s establishment as its jurisdiction covers Philippine-claimed parts of the Spratlys. Asked for comment, the DFA asserted the Philippines’ sovereign rights over West Philippine Sea territories within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.  “No military activities shall be undertaken by any country within the Philippine maritime and territorial jurisdiction without the consent and authority by the Philippine government,” Hernandez said in a statement.

CPP-NPA Pushing for Achievement of Stalemate Stage 5 Years, or More

Posted to the Negros Daily Bulletin (Jan 5): CPP-NPA Pushing for Achievement of Stalemate Stage 5 Years, or More

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and its alliance organization, the National Democratic Front (NDF), is intent on building its cadres and increasing its army or guerilla force to 25,000 within a five-year period, from 2010 onwards in order to be at par with government armed forces including its police force. Previous readings showed that when fighting a guerilla war, the ratio is denominated at 10-1 or one guerilla for ten of the government’s troops, a stalemate issued by the CPP on the commemoration of its 44th anniversary and reviewed by NNF/NDB as an effort to ensure balanced reporting with each of the sides the CPP and government giving its stalemate on the issue.

The CPP added that it is urging the basic masses and the middle forces to defend and to advance the democratic interest of the Filipino people. The underground mass organizations are united in the intent of the NDF to support local organs of political power, also underground. The main mass underground organization of the CPP and NPA is the New People’s Army (NPA), it continued. These are the main organizations, mostly political, which must be established by the democratic people’s republic, it said.

Since the number one instrument of the revolution is the NPA, it has thousands of high-powered firearms possessed by NPA armed warriors. Its objective is to increase its armed forces up to 25,000 in order to reach the level of stalemate or in short, becoming at par or equal in strength with the government’s armed forces. It moves about and operates in more than 100 guerilla fronts and expects to reach the number of up to 180 guerilla fronts within five years starting 2010, it said. Or it could continue its effort towards stalemate for a few years more, it added.

Regions which still cannot keep up with the requirements of the stalemate stage will be assisted and helped so that it could go hand-in-hand with other regions in the country. Political analysts consider the Southern Mindanao region as the strongest of the already established guerilla fronts. Other regions which are the main targets of attacks by the Philippine government’s armed forces are Samar-Leyte and Negros, which it believes should entail the deployment of eight to as much as 12 battalions while deployed as second priority areas are the Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, and Northeast Luzon where deployed have been six to 10 battalions, the military saying it has to deploy these numbers to match the CPP-NPA’s strength, basing on the experts ratio in a guerilla war.

Under such a program, the CPP-NPA intends to establish an equal number of one guerilla front in each congressional district in the Philippines. The leading committees, commands of the regional level inter-guerilla front level are merged when needed and necessary. This, after enough social investigation. Before a guerilla front is organized, its civilian components including cadres and party political organizations are deployed ahead of the armed guerillas.

The NPA commands are also tasked to protect the leaderships of the CPP and its command and the fighting units will be the NPA guerillas.  After this is done, the CPP and the NPA combined establishes the National Operational Command (NOC), which could then be based in any region in the country.

The CPP has not declared the number of armed strength of the NPA, its guerilla army; but said the government has been trying to bloat the strength of the NPA especially during the end of the Marcos years at 25,000 which is not true because its actual armed strength was four times lower the figure, or merely about 6,000 guerillas.

The NPA, more specifically because it is integrated with the basic masses of farmers and workers in the countrysides and have components elsewhere, cannot be defeated no matter what the government says.  In areas like Mindanao where environmental destruction is rampant, it campaigns against mining and illegal logging. It also ensures that the masses are protected especially in their livelihood, said the CPP.  As part of its united front policy, reactionary elections said the CPP are being involved in all aspects of governance in the country. It coordinates and cooperates with all patriotic forces in the country, it said.

Army still pushing for local ceasefire

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 5): Army still pushing for local ceasefire

Apparently inspired by the violent-free activities of the New People’s Army during the yuletide truce, Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said he is mulling a local ceasefire with communist rebels in Negros. Lactao said he is more than willing to recommend to Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. that a cessation of hostility with the NPA will be observed, in order to lower the level of violence. If both sides ( military and NPA) really want peace, it could be done, he said.

Almost three weeks after the yuletide truce took effect on Dec. 16 last year, Lactao said the ceasefire appears to be holding in Negros. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines has re-extended its cease-fire declaration to January 15 as the government announced belatedly its own suspension of military operations. The original suspension of offensive military operations declared by the government was only until January 2.

Lactao, who supervised the internal security operations of two Army battalions in Negros Occidental, said they have not monitored any ceasefire violations from both sides. By holding a local ceasefire, he said the government and the leadership of the local communist movement could discuss and look for solutions on problems presented, rather than resort to killing each other. Lactao admitted that they had monitored rebel movements during the CPP anniversary on Dec. 26. However, he said, they did nothing about it, in compliance with the ceasefire agreement.

Photo: LTC Villaflor performs skydiving stunts during the founding anniversary of First Special Forces Regiment

Posted to the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 5): Photo: LTC Villaflor performs skydiving stunts during the founding anniversary of First Special Forces Regiment


SKYDIVING. Negrense Army Lt. Col. Eliglen Villaflor performs skydiving stunts during the founding anniversary of First Special Forces Regiment  at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. Gilbert Bayoran photos

2 grenades explode near military base in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): 2 grenades explode near military base in Maguindanao

Two 40-mm fragmentation grenades launched from an unknown direction exploded just a few meters away from a military detachment in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao, Friday night. No one was hurt during the explosion, according to Col. Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division. Asto hinted the same armed lawless group was behind the latest attack on the 6th ID but refused to identify it. “We’re certain this group perpetuated these attacks out to sow terror, fear,” he said.

The grenades, he explained, were fired from a purpose-built grenade launcher. Although a 40-mm grenade could inflict damage similar to a hand grenade, but it is launched faster and further. It can be fatal to infantry and could cause serious damage. “Though, no one was hurt during the explosions, residents nearby panicked when they heard the loud blasts,” Asto said.

The Friday explosion came a day after the discovery of two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) placed at the entrance of the compound of the Shariff Aguak municipal town hall. The IEDs were defused later by operatives of the Explosives and Ordnance Disposal team of the Philippine Army.

Lawless group torches 3 houses in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): Lawless group torches 3 houses in Maguindanao

Fear has gripped a village in Datu Montawal, Maguindanao as armed lawless groups torched three shanties, all made of light materials, located just 20 meters away from a police outpost. Datu Abdullah Pandita, one of the residents in Datu Montawal, said they were roused from sleep Thursday night when they saw villagers run for safety as their shanties were being razed to the ground. Though no one was hurt during the burning incident, it sent the residents into panic, Pandita said. The incident came a month after a lull in the armed fighting between warring political clans in Datu Montawal.

Two clans are at odds in the town, according to Pandita. One group is connected to the family of Datu Montawal municipal mayor Datu Uttoh Montawal and the other is connected to the family of Datu Montawal vice-mayor Mohalidin Bao. Both are running for the mayoral post in Datu Montawal.

Pandita, however, believed the armed clashes in his town are ‘beyond politics’. “The fighting is beyond politics. The families whose members were killed by Datu Andy Montawal, younger brother of Montawal Mayor Datu Uttoh Montawal, want to avenge their deaths. They are seeking justice,” said Pandita. Datu Andy, former president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen in Datu Montawal, is facing several cases, including rape and murder.

But Pandita was surprised that despite the presence of Datu Andy in the area, “none among the policemen in our town would want to arrest the suspect.” “Datu Andy, despite the many warrants for his arrest, is seen roaming around the village. In fact, he is leading a group to harass residents of Poblacion and other villages nearby,” said Pandita.

Mayor Montawal earlier denied coddling his younger brother in his residence. He also denied accusations it was his brother's group that led the attack in Poblacion. The sporadic fighting that started in Datu Montawal since October last year has already displaced thousands of villagers, reports said.....

95 families flee homes

From the Mindanao Times (Jan 5): 95 families flee homes

Some 95 families from three hinterland sitios in Baguio district evacuated to Brgy Tambobong reported ly due to fear from the New People’s Army (NPA). Purok leaders from sitios Kibidtud, Kidale, and Balakan, said during an interview close to the headquarters of the 84th ID in Tambobong yesterday.

Sammy Sanadi, purok leader of Sitio Kidale, said that 52 families left their houses and moved to the barangay center when the rebel group allegedly went to the area for a medical mission last Dec. 31. He said that rumors were rife that NPAs will be going to the sitio after their anniversary on Dec 26. He admits that he does not know the intentions of the NPA but “the residence have already doubted them because they were just so many.” There were an estimated 100 NPA rebels present in their area.  According to the purok leader, this prompted him to report to Btgy. Capt. Ezekiel Salandao that there were armed NPA in his place. “I immediately reported the situation so as to erase the doubt that we are accomodating them, when we have asked them to leave,” Sanadi said.

Datu Ismael Gubat, purok leader of Kibidtud, said that 37 families have also left their houses and temporarily reside in Brgy. Tambobong after the rebel group arrived in their area last Jan 1. Sanadi said that the residence fear the presence of the NPAs and have abandoned their source of livelihood.

Meanwhile, Datu Koting Inok, purok leader of Sitio Balakan, said that only about six families have left their homes in their sitio. According to Inok, he only knew about these families leaving their homes just yesterday, adding that they should not be afraid of the NPAs presence. The purok leader denied the report that the rebel group were terrorizing his village. “If they(residents) had been terrorized, I should have received a report about it,” he said.

1st Lt. Bernard Betita, commander of the charlie company of the 84th Infantry Battalion, confirmed the presence of the NPA in Sitio Kibidtud. Betita assured the residence that they will secure their barangay and have already deployed a company, consisting more than 80 soldiers.

2nd Lt. Catherine Hapin, civil military operations officer of the 84th Infantry Battalion, said that two civilians have been abducted by the NPA on Thursday morning. The two captives, identified as Tata Pandian and Junjun Alonzo of Sitio Luyan, were also included during the abduction together with two other residents and three Cafgu Active Auxilliary last Dec. 30. They were, however, freed after two days of interrogation. Hapin also revealed that a certain Boyet Duyan was able to escape from the hands of the rebel group last Thursday morning

Last Dec. 31, 2012, Duyan, together with Joel Espina of Lower Luyan of the same barangay and a certain Junjun Ogao, were held captive by the rebel group. Ogao was reportedly the grandson of the late Datu Causing Ogao who was killed by the NPA last July 2012.

BLMI, IMAN conduct 3-day training on organizing and leadership

From the MIF Website (Jan 5): BLMI, IMAN conduct 3-day training on organizing and leadership

 BLMI, IMAN conduct 3-day training on organizing and leadership

The Integrated Mindanaoan Association for Natives (IMAN), Inc., in collaboration with the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), conducted 3-day seminar-workshop on Community Organizing and Leadership at the BLMI Training Center in Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao from December 31 to January 2, 2013. The training, which was initiated by Ibno Hassan, an MILF information officer from Basilan, drew in some 35 participants mostly from Basilan and Zamboanga del Norte.

According to Hassan, the training was designed to refresh and strengthen community organizing and advocacy in the light of the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The facilitating team was headed by IMAN Chairman Mike Davao and assisted by Arman Armada, Nash Pulindao, Zamin Unti, and Tahir Sulaiman.

On December 31, the first day of the training opened at 8:30AM that started with the registration of the participants, introduction of the facilitators, and expectation settings.,How to conduct meetings was one of the subjects, as part and parcel of leadership. It was facilitated by Nash Pulindao. It ended at 12 noon. The afternoon session started at 1:30PM and the topic was “community organizing.” It was facilitated by Samin Unti and assisted by Nash Pulindao.

On the second day, community information advocacy was discussed and was handled by Tahir G. Solaiman. He said that community organizing involves communicating your thoughts to the people. Whole day was spent for this subject.

The same subject continued to the third day and this time Nas Acan was the resource speaker. “If a dog bites man, it is not news because it is usual but if a man bites dog, it is news because it is unusual,” Acan said.

In closing program few selected participants were given to express their impression regarding the training. Haji Rashid Baul, from Basilan, said that he had been attending so many seminars in the past especially the government sponsored one, he never jot down notes but this time he confessed that he took notes seriously. “It is very relevant to the struggle of the Bangsamoros today,” he remarked.

Darwin Matindo, a community worker in Zamboanga del Norte, was highly impressed of the presentation. Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI executive director, reminded the participants in his closing statements that lot of people in your places are willing to attend this training but you are the ones who have been chosen. “What does this mean? he asked the audience. “This means,” he answered his own question, “that greater responsibilities have been given to you by your people.

DAP, JICA to implement Mng’t Development Program for the Bangsamoro

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 4): DAP, JICA to implement Mng’t Development Program for the Bangsamoro

The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is implementing the Management Development Program (MDP) for the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA). Under JICA’s program on Capacity Building for Community Development in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (CD-CAAM), DAP will implement MDP to BDA’s Board of Directors, central and regional managers, and key officers of the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI).

Last June 2012, JICA sought the DAP’s assistance for the capacity development of the BDA. This led to a consultation workshop facilitated by DAP in August. And on November 13, 2012, an agreement was signed between JICA and DAP for the implementation of the MDP for BDA.

According to DAP the program includes courses that range from leadership and organization management to governance and development. In a press release, DAP said that the project’s initial implementation started last November 2012 and will run up until March 2013.

The 2001 Tripoli Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front led to the creation of Bangsamoro Development Agency. BDA is mandated to determine, lead and manage the relief, rehabilitation and development projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

Moro fighter dies, 5 survive attack at sea

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jan 5): Moro fighter dies, 5 survive attack at sea

A MEMBER of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) died while five others, including a family of three, were unscathed in a gun attack at sea east of Zamboanga City, the police reported. The Police Station 4 reported that the incident took place around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday off the village of Mercedes, 14 kilometers (km) east of Zamboanga City. The police identified the lone fatality as Akrab Jama, a resident of Tigtabon, which is an island village located 8.5 km east of Zamboanga City.

Those who were unscathed in the attack were the motorized banca owner-operator Abdurajid Jawari, 49; his sons Arsamil, 16; and Alyaser, 25; daughter-in-law, Milfaena, 19; and the couple’s daughter; seven-month-old Yasmir, according to the police.

Investigation showed the victims were aboard a motorized banca operated by the elder Jawari and on the way to Tigtabon Island after buying several containers of drinking water when three unidentified gunmen aboard on another motorized banca attacked in between the Sitios Bilang-Bilang and Mulu-Muluan, the police said. Jama could be the attack’s main target and the motive of the incident could be personal grudge, the police said.

PH eyes infra projects on disputed islands

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 5): PH eyes infra projects on disputed islands

A ranking military official said on Friday that infrastructure development projects would be in place in islands owned by the Philippines which are also being contested by China in the West Philippine Sea. Western Command Commander, Major Gen. Juanito Saban, said that the government planned on putting up structures in the islands as part of its efforts to spur economic development in the area. Included in the projects to be undertaken starting this year, according to Saban, was the rehabilitation of the air strip in Kalayaan Island, which would be turned into a world-class airport that could accommodate larger aircrafts.

Also in the drawing board were plans to improve the ports in Kalayaan and the setting up of piers in other areas situated within the country’s exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles. “The piers would definitely spur economic development to the inhabitants, create livelihood and attract tourists in that area,” Saban said.

As this developed, the Foreign Affairs Department again asked clarification from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying on the scope of the new maritime regulation in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) which Hainan Province said would implement starting this year. Hainan Province administers the newly-built Sansha City, which was given full control over the three major islands (Paracel, Spratlys and Mcclesfield) in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). Hua’s actually based his statement on the announcement made last month by Wu Chicun, the director general of the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan province. Wu had said that Chinese naval forces may board, search and seize vessels entering China’s territory which are engaged in illegal activities and if the ships were within 12 nautical miles of China’s territorial waters.

“We have asked China for further clarification on the statement of the Foreign Ministry spokesperson that the scope of Hainan’s rules is limited to within 12 nautical miles of Hainan’s coast,” said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez. This was the second time that the Philippines had asked China for clarification on the new maritime regulation, after Beijing failed to respond to DFA’s query when Wu made the announcement in December. The DFA also asked for an English translation copy of Hainan’s new maritime rules, but Beijing has yet to comply with the request.

Wu had said that the main purpose of the new maritime regulation was mainly to prevent Vietnamese fishing boats from operating in the waters near Yongxing island in the Paracels, which China calls Xisha. He added that the “outside world should not overreact, or read too much into them (maritime rules) nor should anyone give a one-sided or distorted explanation.”

Wu denied that China was planning to take over the islands by force. He, however, said that the new maritime regulations apply to the hundred of the islands scattered across the disputed sea and their surrounding waters, specifically to the sea around islands of its baselines. A baseline is the low-water line along the coast from which countries measure their territorial waters as provided by the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). “But for islands whose territorial water baselines have not yet been announced, since there is no way to clearly define the width of their territorial sea, the aforementioned problem does not exist,” he said.

Beijing claims ownership of practically the entire China Sea, based on its nine-dash-line map.
Beijing’s aggressive claim has sparked diplomatic spats between the two sides since April last year when Chinese ships prevented the country’s navy from arresting Chinese fishermen who were caught poaching in Scarborough Shoal. The shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc by the Philippines and Huangyan Island by China, is located within 200 nautical miles from the nearest Luzon province of Zambales.

Meanwhile, Saban said plans are also underway for the rehabilitation and upgrade of military barracks and outposts in Kalayaan. Saban said developments in the area could help transform the island into a tourist destination. “While other countries are promoting their islands as tourist destinations, we might as well compete because ours are better than theirs,” Saban said.

No new Sino vessels seen on disputed islands — AFP

From the Daily Tribune (Jan 4): No new Sino vessels seen on disputed islands — AFP

The military’s Western Command (Wescom) yesterday welcomed China’s clarification of its new policy in the disputed West Philippine Sea or South China Sea stating its interdiction powers only covers 12 nautical miles from Hainan’s coastal zones. In a chance interview by Camp Aguinaldo reporters, Wescom chief Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban said that based on latest reconnaissance patrol conducted by Wescom on Thursday, no new Chinese vessels have been monitored in the disputed territory.

Sabban also noted China “retracted” its previous statement to board and search all vessels passing through the West Philippine Sea. “I think this is a good development since their area of concern conforms with international law which is only 12 miles from their coastline,” he said. In a recent statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the new rules implemented by Hainan province on Tuesday would be limited to waters extending only 12 nautical miles from its coast.

Asked how he was taking China’s “retraction,” Sabban replied “well, we have answered that before, we should stick to international law and China should respect our territory and sovereignty.” “As per informationfrom my commanders, we conducted aerial recon (Thursday), we didn’t see any of the new vessels that China said they will deploy to West Philippine Sea,” Sabban said. According to him, there has been no significant development on all islands or reefs being claimed by various countries.

The Wescom, however, called for the improvement of the country’s present facilities on Pagasa Island, one of the islands in the Kalayaan Islands Group (KIGs) occupied by the Philippines, if only to spur economic development in the area. Sabban noted that other countries have started developing their occupied areas into tourist destinations.

He said he does not see any issue if the Philippines will do some repair work on the airstrip on Pagasa Island which has been there for 40 years. “The airstrip is operational, we can land our own planes there, but it needs repairs due to erosion in some portions,” Sabban revealed. “This will spur economic development for inhabitants of those islands, this will create livelihood. This will also attract tourists in that area. While other countries are promoting their own islands to become tourist destinations then we should, we might as well compete with their reefs and shoals which will definitely put us in an advantage because ours are much better than theirs,” he said.—-afp

CPP, AFP swap truce violations charges

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 4): CPP, AFP swap truce violations charges

A militiaman was shot dead by communist rebels in Magpet, North Cotabato, on Thursday, the day the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it was restoring the truce it had earlier recalled until Jan. 15, the police said on Friday. Senior Insp. Sunny Leoncito, Magpet police chief, said Dino Lacia, who was assigned under the 38th Infantry Battalion, was at the town’s public terminal when two men arrived and shot him around 1 p.m.

Leoncito said Lacia, a resident of Barangay Manobisa, was waiting for his two children, who were arriving from nearby Arakan town, at the public utility jeep terminal so they could spend a belated New Year’s reunion when shot from behind by the two men, who used .45 caliber pistols. “Lacia’s children traveled all the way from Arakan, about two hours away from Magpet, to be with their father for a belated New Year’s party when he was shot dead,” he said. Leoncito said Lacia died from multiple bullet wounds in the head, back and chest. “Lacia also served as a police informant on peace and security in Magpet aside from being a militiaman,” Leoncito said. He said this was probably why the militiaman was targeted for execution by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

In Barangay Tambobong in Davao City, the 84th Infantry Battalion said NPA rebels have been violating the CPP’s declared ceasefire, which took effect Dec. 20, by restraining the movement of residents since Dec. 23.


2Lt. Catherine Hapin, 84th IB civil-military operations officer, said at least 11 residents, including militiamen, had been taken hostage by NPA rebels under a certain Ka Bobby and remained under their custody to this day. “Some witnesses said a victim was tortured,” Hapin said in a statement. Hapin said the hostage-taking incident has prompted some civilians to flee to nearby villages. “Several residents opted not to go home for the celebration of New Year with their families upon knowing the presence of the rebel group,” she said.  Hapin said the incident had proven that the NPA do not seriously take the pronouncement of its leaders. “They do not abide by their self-proclaimed ceasefire, they do not stand by the truce that they have with the government,” Hapin said.

The NPA, which was quick to defend itself from past military criticisms, has not sent out any statement on that particular military report as of Friday. But the CPP reported various incidents of military and police violations of the government-declared ceasefire, which it viewed as “fake.” “The AFP’s ceasefire is practically a fake. 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,” the CPP said in a statement released to the media on Friday.

The CPP said the military continues to conduct offensives in the countryside amid the government-declared truce. It reported that soldiers from the 57th and 40th Infantry Battalions 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 since December last year.” The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also deployed soldiers in each barangay of Paquibato District in Davao City, the CPP said.

The CPP also added that soldiers from the Army’s 69th IB and 84th IB had been intimidating residents of Calinan, also Davao City, by forcing them to pinpoint the location of the local NPA unit. “Last Dec. 21, members of the 74th IB arrested five farmers in Mulanay, Quezon, and accused them of being communist guerrillas,” the CPP said.

It added that on Dec. 25, local police forces and members of the Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, arrested Oligario Sebas on suspicion he was Filemon Mendrez, a ranking communist leader; while police authorities in Bagumbayan in Tuguegarao City arrested a certain Rene Esmondo Abiva on Dec. 28 over a similar suspicion. “There has been practically no ceasefire on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines over the past two weeks despite the order of the Aquino government for a suspension of offensive military and police operations from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2,” the CPP said.

Are steaks for US troops exempt from inspection?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 4): Are steaks for US troops exempt from inspection?

Are food products for US troops in the Philippines covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement and should they be exempt from quarantine inspection? “But we will stick with our rules. Like in any other country, they must abide by our regulations,” Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to meet on Jan. 16 with US military officials to sort out this issue and discuss the country’s rules on meat imports, including the possibility of the US buying its meat supplies for its troops from the local markets instead.  The DA earlier held a shipment of meat from the US for not going through complete quarantine procedures. Six container vans of assorted goods, including frozen meat products, remained on hold inside a cold storage in Laguna province after being stopped by DA inspectors last year because of the “absence of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) clearance.”

The arrival of the food shipments from the US without the SPS clearance raised concerns among hog and poultry raisers that these might be contaminated and could pose a danger to local products.


Alcala on Friday told reporters that Commander James Bridges of the US Defense Logistics Agency in the Asia Pacific and the country’s agriculture officials “… will meet (to) flesh out details about certain protocols of the country in terms of shipping imports.”  According to the DA’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), all importers must secure the SPS clearance before they could ship products and use the storage houses in the country. “A third party contractor of the US military had shipped goods without the SPS clearance,” NMIS executive director Minda Manantan said.

US Embassy public affairs officer Luke Meinzen said in an e-mail response to questions from the Inquirer that the Jan. 16 meeting would try to “establish acceptable import protocols and procedure for all future military shipments of food products to resupply US military units in the Philippines and US naval ships in the region.”  Officials from the US Defense Logistics Agency and the US Department of Agriculture are expected to meet with Philippine officials from the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry, National Meat Inspection Service and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

High quality

Meinzen emphasized the high quality of meat and poultry supplies from the United States, saying that American meat and chicken exports shipped to the Philippines have long been known to be safe. Manantan said around 300 kilograms of meat products inside the container vans had been released last week. “We will only release the rest of the products after the matter is settled at the meeting,” she added.  Manantan said that previously, the US military had sent tons of food provisions for its troops through transhipment, or the transfer of goods from one carrier to another.  “Back then, they don’t need a clearance from us because they are doing transhipments,” she said.

Alcala said the recent misunderstanding about import protocols could open the possibility of the US military sourcing its troops’ food supply from the local markets. He said an agriculture official counselor at the US Embassy in Manila told him in a meeting last December that the US government is mulling the idea of getting some of the soldiers’ food provisions from the Philippines.

Search for next Armed Forces chief is on

From InterAksyon (Jan 4): Search for next Armed Forces chief is on

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin is set to meet with President Benigno Aquino III Friday to discuss possible replacements for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Jessie Dellosa, who will retire later this month.

Reports have it that there are two main contenders for the top military post - Army chief Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista and Philippine Air Force commanding general Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz. Bautista is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1981 while dela Cruz is Class '80. But Gazmin said all of the service commanders were being considered for the top post.
In the annual New Year's call held at Camp Aguinaldo Friday, Gazmin urged top military officials to renew their commitment to the military service. "It is the time for us to renew our pledge to strictly follow the chain of command and exercise utmost prudence in the discharge of our security duties and functions. It is the proper moment for us to pursue our fight against all forms of bureaucratic ills and corruption, timely with the approval by the President of our new AFP modernization law we can now implement the upgrading program for the armaments and equipment of our armed forces. It is also the time for us to work relentlessly on the realization of our internal peace and security plan Bayanihan and to strictly abide with the delicate conditions required of our peace process with the MILF," Gazmin said.

4ID commemorates Dr Jose Rizal 116th death anniversary

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 4): 4ID commemorates Dr Jose Rizal 116th death anniversary

The 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division commemorates the 114th death anniversary of our national hero, Dr Jose Protacio Rizal at Kiosko Kagawasan, Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro City. A program started with a prayer offered by Muslim Ustadz Aliasa Alinog, for the Islam, Reverend Ricardo C. Yañez Jr, for the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Reverend Felixberto L. Calang, for the Baptist Church of Christ and Monsignor Tex M. Legitimas, SSJV, PC of Saint Augustine Parish Cathedral Church of Cagayan de Oro City for the Roman Catholic.

City Mayor Vicente Y. Emano, and Major General Nestor A. Añonuevo AFP, Commander, 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division and Police Chief Superintendent Gil Hitosis, Regional Director, Police Regional Office-10 (PRO10), led the flag-raising and wreath laying ceremony that was participated in by different government local officials and representatives from the national agencies.

Dr Jose Rizal was executed via firing squad by the Spanish colonizers on December 30, 1896 for his precipitating of the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonial rule.

Rizal was born on June 19, 1861; he became one of the country’s leading reformists and inspiration of the revolution particularly through his writings and novels “Noli Me Tangere” and El Filibusterismo.” Today his history lives and is being taught in different public and private institutions all over the country in order to educate the students about his nationalism and love of country.

Major General Nestor A. Añonuevo, Commander, 4ID said, “I encourage all Filipinos to continue to learn and emulate the examples set by Dr Jose Rizal so that we can achieve the true hope of our country.” “I hope Jose Rizal’s memory will continue to live on our minds and burn bright in the heart of all young generations,” Major General Añonuevo added.
Mayor Emano, gave his message stating that the death of Dr Jose Rizal must be a Filipino’s model for a sense of nationalism and patriotism. He added that Rizal’s heroism kindled the people’s collective desire to be free from the reigns of the Spanish sovereignty. (4CMO/4ID/PA/PIA10)

4ID celebrates a season of giving with RAGCOM X

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 4): 4ID celebrates a season of giving with RAGCOM X

The 4th Infantry Division through 4th Civil-Military Operations (Kasaligan) Battalion (4CMOBn) joins the Regional Association of Government Communicators in Region 10 (RAGCOM-10) during their annual outreach activity for abused children at Malisa Homes (exact address not mentioned for security reasons) at 10 a.m. today.

Among the participants to the affair are information officers and representatives of Philippine Postal Corporation Central Mindanao, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Pag-IBIG Fund, Department of Agriculture (DA), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), National Police Commission (NaPolCom), Philippine Air Force-Tactical Operations Group (PAF-TOG), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Tourism (DOT), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), National Food Authority (NFA) and Philippine Public Safety College-Regional Training School (PPSC-RTS) all of Region 10.

The organizers chose the Malisa Homes which is sponsored by the German Doctors to be its beneficiary. It houses around 20 young girls who were victims of trafficking, prostitution, and who were abused by their most trusted personalities. The current shelter coordinator, Lalae Garcia, shared some of the profiles of these young girls wherein most of them are fighting for their rights in respective criminal courts against their perpetrators for the injustices done against them at such a young age.

The girls presented a dance number for the visitors to showcase their talents and at the same time, as an outlet for the frustrations they feel once they remember what they have gone through. Assorted gifts and food were then distributed to these children after some pep talks of RAGCOM members.

Lieutenant Colonel Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV said, "These young girls went through a lot of challenges at a tender age, all we can do is be their inspirations so that they can move on and reach their dreams. The Philippine Army will always be here to give them the support they need to the best of our abilities. Dream On Girls! Life is a wonderful gift!" (4CMO/4ID/PA/PIA10)

Gazmin says all AFP service chiefs eligible for top military post

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 4): Gazmin says all AFP service chiefs eligible for top military post

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said all service chiefs of the Armed Forces are qualified to assume the post of Gen. Jessie Dellosa, scheduled to retire this coming Jan. 20. "All service commanders (Army, Navy, Air Force) are eligible for the position," he told his audience of military officials from the different services at Camp Aguinaldo. As a result, all three them, Gazmin said, were included in the shortlist submitted to President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The Army is headed by Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, while the Air Force is commanded by Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz and the Navy by Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano. Gazmin urged ranking officials to renew their commitment to the military service during the new year. He said: "It is the time for us to renew our pledge to strictly follow the chain of command and exercise utmost prudence in the discharge of our security duties and functions.

"It is the proper moment for us to pursue our fight against all forms of bureaucratic ills and corruption, timely with the approval by the President of our new AFP modernization law we can now implement the upgrading program for the armaments and equipment of our armed forces. "It is also the time for us to work relentlessly on the realization of our internal peace and security plan Bayanihan and to strictly abide with the delicate conditions required of our peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front."

CPP: There should be mutuality and respect in peace negotiations A rejoinder on the matter of the temporary synchronized ceasefire

Posted to the PRWC Blog (Jan 4): There should be mutuality and respect in peace negotiations A rejoinder on the matter of the temporary synchronized ceasefire

The sequence of events and flurry of evasive statements issued by Aquino's spokespersons and peace negotiators over the past several days on the matter of the temporary synchronized ceasefire point to one glaring fact: that up to late afternoon of January 2, fifteen days after special representatives from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) agreed on a ceasefire from December 20 to January 15, the GPH had not formally declared an extension of its Yuletide ceasefire that was to end on January 2.

When pressed by a Manila Standard reporter on whether the GPH had indeed issued a formal order extending the military and police suspension of offensive operations, Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda failed to provide a direct answer and instead quibbled: "The joint statement where Sec. Ronald Llamas represented our country clearly showed we intend to respect the ceasefire. The AFP was informed of the ceasefire, and so there is no reason for them to allege that in the absence of a presidential directive, that we did not honor the ceasefire".

This came on top of the equally evasive statements issued by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process: "The press communiqué issued in the wake of a December 17 and 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 that the government affirmed the extended ceasefire from December 20 to January 15".

It is clear that at the time both these statements were issued, the GPH had not actually issued any formal order extending its ceasefire to January 15 in a clear failure to comply with the December 17-18 agreement. Neither do these statements imply that the GPH had any intention of issuing such a formal order. It is pure hogwash to claim that the December 18 Press Communique, which Llamas and GPH chief negotiator Alex Padilla did not even sign, is sufficient to show the GPH's commitment to the temporary ceasefire.

It is plain to see that the process of ordering a formal extension of the ceasefire by the GPH began only around noontime of January 2. The timestamp on the letter of recommendation of the Department of National Defense (DND) shows it was sent to Malacañang only at 11:30 am, an hour or so after the order of the CPP Central Committee abbreviating the temporary ceasefire was made public and posted on the internet. The GPH negotiating panel forwarded a copy of the order just before 5pm to Ambassador Ture Lundh of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), who promptly forwarded such to the NDFP International Office.

Upon receipt of the formal order signed by Aquino, NDFP Negotiating Panel Chair Luis Jalandoni immediately communicated with the CPP Central Committee and recommended that a notice for the extension of the ceasefire to January 15 be issued. A declaration for such a reextension was promptly made by the CPP Central Committee on January 3.

The CPP stresses that the momentary abbreviation of its ceasefire order could have been avoided if the GPH had promptly complied with the December 17-18 agreement made at The Hague in the presence of the RNG ambassador. The CPP issued two statements (on December 24 and 27) urging Aquino to immediately reciprocate the December 20 order of the CPP-CC with the aim of ensuring the effectivity of the temporary synchronized ceasefire agreement. Letters were likewise sent by the NDFP representatives to Secretary Llamas and Attorney Padilla directly and through the RNG third-party facilitator.

Is the CPP only making excuses in insisting that the GPH issue a formal order of extension? Aquino's spokesperson, indeed, expressed such a myopic idea, in a vain attempt to cover up Aquino's overly belated compliance with the December 18 agreement. Such an allegation reflects the narrow-minded view that serious negotiations can be conducted without formal compliance and notices by either side.

Mr. Aquino and his representatives should understand that for the NDFP-GPH peace negotiations to prosper, both parties should manifest mutual respect and reciprocity in exercising their respective political authorities and in complying with formal agreements.

The GPH cannot expect the revolutionary forces of the NDFP to do what the MILF did in having forged a prolonged and indefinite ceasefire agreement which eventually restrained the MILF while allowing the AFP to build-up its forces in the Bangsamoro areas to encircle, overwhelm and push the MILF to submit to the GPH.

The GPH cannot expect the NDFP to do what the MILF did in signing the Framework Agreement which saw the MILF subsume its political authority and independence to that of the Manila government. In the case of the MILF, the Aquino government has even attempted to further subject it to the GPH's authority by trying to renege on one of the key points in the Framework Agreement in insisting on appointing the chair of the yet-to-be-formed Transition Commission.

The revolutionary forces are determined to achieve a just and lasting peace. Complementary to waging people's war and democratic mass struggles, the revolutionary forces engage in peace negotiations with the GPH in order to seek an alliance that would address and resolve the fundamental socio-economic and political issues that lie at the root of the raging armed conflict.

The CPP and other revolutionary organizations allied with the NDFP are profoundly interested in peace negotiations in order to put to the fore the basic issues of land reform, national industrialization, national liberation and social justice, tackle such outstanding issues as human rights and international humanitarian law and ventilate the pressing demands of the Filipino people for employment, wage increases and expansion of public services and against price increases, incursion of mining companies and the like.

The revolutionary forces, however, will negotiate only with a government that truly understands and practices, the principles of mutual respect and reciprocity. It is quite unfortunate that the GPH has only belatedly realized that it could not get away with the non-issuance of a formal reciprocal order for a temporary synchronized ceasefire and acted only after the NDFP showed that it was determined to conduct peace negotiations on an equal footing.

CPP/NDF: Rising through the storm: 3,000 attend CPP 44th anniversary celebration in Northern Samar

Posted to the PRWC Blog (Jan 4): Rising through the storm: 3,000 attend CPP 44th anniversary celebration in Northern Samar

Fr. Santiago "Sanny" Salas
NDFP-Eastern Visayas

Not even Typhoon Quinta could stop about 3,000 people from attending the 44th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines last Dec. 26 in a remote location in Northern Samar. Some of those of who attended walked for as long as two days, climbing mountains and crossing flood-swollen rivers just to reach the celebration in time. Program organizers had to put up additional tents to accommodate throngs of guests who kept on arriving from nearby barrios and even from towns further away as the celebration went on amidst intermittent heavy rains from the afternoon of Dec. 26 to the early morning of Dec. 27. The Rodante Urtal Command of the New People's Army-Northern Samar assured all that apart from the company of the New People's Army serving as the honor guard, security was being ensured by more Red fighters, units of the people's militia and an extensive intelligence network. Any enemy offensive from the military and police would have been monitored and stopped several kilometers away.

NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Santiago graced the occasion to talk on the theme on the event, “Overcome the obstacles and fulfill the requirements for advancing to the strategic stalemate.” He expressed his confidence and trust in the CPP, based on “44 years of continuing, sustained and determined advancement of the people's war, and the sterling victories we have earned and enjoy today.”

Fr. Salas hailed the revolutionary forces and masses in Northern Samar for leading the advance in Eastern Visayas. He noted that the revolutionary leadership in the region is now working for a comprehensive advance and has made strides since 2010 in the armed struggle, building the Party and agrarian revolution. Antifeudal struggles are being waged in three subregions, where one of which has brought the struggle to the to the municipal level. Party membership also grew by 2.3%, according to the Fr. Salas. Since 2010, there are now some fronts capable of achieving company-size of Red fighters while others have added more platoons to their guerrilla formations. Fulltime guerrilla units also grew by 13%, while tactical offensives ensure that new recruits are armed with high-powered rifles. Incomplete data show that in 2012, there were 24 tactical offensives carried out, with 17 firearms seized, and 71 killed in action and 31 wounded in action on the enemy side.

The NDF-EV spokesperson said however that much remains to be done to catch up with the Party's call to advance to the strategic stalemate by 2015 or soon after. He noted that more tactical offensives have to be carried out, the agrarian and other mass movements must arouse, organize and mobilize increasing numbers of the people, and the Party must be strengthened and consolidated. But Fr. Salas expressed confidence that the rising national democratic movement will prevail over the moribund semifeudal and semicolonial system presently led by the US-Aquino regime. “We must be vigilant and steel our determination to fight to the last drop of our blood...defend the sovereignty and patrimony of the Filipino people and advance to victory.”

After Fr. Salas's speech, more expressions of support to the CPP as well as cultural presentations continued and lasted until the early morning of Dec. 27. On the stage with a revolutionary mural in the background, as well as on the vast open space ringed by makeshift bleachers, Red fighters performed the “ismayling” (a duel of words sung by two or more), dramas, songs, dances, poetry reading and other cultural performanes. Red fighters and supporters also lit 44 candles in memory of the martyrs of the revolution. To the end, the majority of the thousands of guests stayed on and joined the festivities amidst frequent downpours. #

NDF-EV Media Office
Connect also to NDF-EV through Facebook:

CPP/NPA: AFP's ceasefire violations in Davao reveal massive rights abuses

From the PRWC Blog (Jan 4): AFP's ceasefire violations in Davao reveal massive rights abuses

Simon Santiago
Political Director, NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command

In a flagrant violation to the temporary ceasefire declared by the National Democratic Front and the GPH, the 84th IB-10th Infantry Division-AFP instigated a full-blown military operation in Brgy. Tambobong, Baguio district, Davao city, forced the evacuation and hamletting of civilians and conducted food blockade. Worse, it also spread the notorious lie that the New People's Army abducted civilians and the militia, and terrorized the masses.

To cover up the combat and intelligence operations in Baguio district, the 10th ID concocted the outrageous lie that the NPA abducted, detained and later released Cafgu paramilitary forces. In truth, while the NPA was celebrating the CPP anniversary, the Red fighters talked with seven Cafgu forces in the area; they even refrained from disarming one of the Cafgus, Romeo Bulod, who had a 9-mm pistol. It was merely a dialog between the NPAs and the Cafgus regarding their economic situation and livelihood, not an abduction, detention or interrogation.
To punish the masses for accommodating the NPAs during the CPP anniversary celebration last December 26, the 84th IB ordered the village barangay captain and tribal leaders to evacuate the residents. It arrived full force January 1 at 3am, comprising of a platoon; on January 3 at 3pm, the forces were augmented with other troops aboard two military trucks and APC.

The 84th IB's military operations resulted in the forced evacuation of some 125 families in sitio Paglaum, Kidali,Luyan, Likuyan, Sumani and Lamod, in Brgy. Tambobong. Banana plantation workers of Sumifru were also forced to stop from going to work. The military also checked the entry and exit of food supplies like rice.

Lt. Col. Edgar Nigos, 84th IB Commanding Officer justified the military's hamletting and food blockade by saying that the move was meant to provide security to the masses. It was a brazen deception similar to 10th ID spokesperson's Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza twisted definition of ceasefire: that it excludes the continued operation of Special Operations Team or what it calls peace and development teams.
Indeed, the US-Aquino regime and the AFP trumpet that they are for peace negotiations when it made a show of belated extension of ceasefire to January 15. In reality, the Oplan Bayanihan fascist troops have not truly ceased from conducting offensive military operations against the masses and revolutionary forces in Davao city and elsewhere in the region.

In the midst of the fascist AFP's callousness and underhanded tactics, the masses are suffering, much in the same way as the masses who were affected with Typhoon Pablo are suffering. Clearly, genuine peace and genuine development are far from the AFP's agenda.

(Sgd.) Simon Santiago
Political Director
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command

NPA captives?

From the Mindanao Times (Jan 4): NPA captives?

Nine residents in Barangay Tambobong, Baguio District are being held captive allegedly by communist rebels since Jan. 1, a delayed army report revealed. Lt. Col. Edgar P. Nigos, commander of the 84th Infantry Battalion, said in a telephone interview that the residents came from different sitios in the district who were reported missing by their relatives after New Year’s Day.

Four other civilians and three members of the government militia were also abducted last Dec. 30 but were released 12 hours later. The members of the Cafgu Active Auxilliary were identified as Artemio Sitoy, Romeo Bulod and Tony Pandian. The freed civilians were identified as a certain Jun Lopez, Junjun Alonzo and Tata Pandian, residents of Sitio Luyan, who were all abducted last Dec. 31. “The seven reported captives were released a little less than two days,” Nigos said. The captives were identified as Toto Belarmiya, Adonis Belarmiya, Elmer Amad and Toto Duyan who were all taken before the NPA anniversary last Dec. 26, 2012. All of them were residents of Sitio Laputan of said barangay, said the army statement.

Last Dec. 31, 2012, three more civilians were captured identified as Boyet Duyan and Joel Espina of Upper Tambobong and Lower Luyan of the same barangay and a certain Junjun Ogao, reportedly the grandson of the late Datu Causing Ogao who was killed by the NPA last July 2012.

“Another resident of Barangay Tambobong named Boy Betil was also abducted by the NPAs last Dec. 23, 2012 at Sitio Sayawan, Brgy. Salaysay, Marilog District, Davao City for suspicion of being a military informant,” 2Lt. Catherine Hapin, CMO officer of the 84th Infantry Battalion, said in a statement. Nigos then revealed that they have already put up a company-sized group in the area to provide security to residents. ,He then clarified that no offensive actions will take place since they will try to avoid confrontation, following the suspension of offensive military operation (Somo) that started last Dec. 16 and will end on Jan. 16. He added that the troops will continue to to conduct peace and development outreach programs in the area.

But the Communist Party of the Philippines gave out the order for its armed guerilla units to resume the offensives against soldiers and government installations after ending its ceasefire two weeks before the initial timeline. Nigos revealed that they are tapping local civilian leaders, particularly Datus in the area, to reach to the rebel group and locate the missing residents. “They are taking advantage of the Somo which should not be done. We are at risk of being attacked, though, we cannot violate our directives,” Nigos said.

The commander confirmed the presence of the NPA in Tambobong which to his estimate reach about 140 rebels. He said that three guerilla fronts are believed to be operating in the area, composed for 30-50 members. Reports reveal that the rebel group is led by a certain Ka Bobby, who continues to sow terror in in the said district.

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

From the Zamboanga Today (Jan 4): More conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to have access to livelihood, basic services—World Bank

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

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

The World Bank and other international development partners established the MTF in 2006 as a mechanism for pooling funds and coordinating support for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. So far, the MTF has completed 240 reconstruction and development projects, including classrooms, health stations, access roads, water supply systems, core shelters and community centers in 154 conflict-affected communities in 75 municipalities across Mindanao. Under the program, residents of these communities choose and implement their own projects that enable them to recover from the conflict and improve their living conditions. Besides funding projects identified by communities, part of the grant will be channeled through the International Labour Organization to support livelihood activities. It will also provide skills training to help people secure steady employment.

World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said the additional financing comes at a critical juncture in the country’s history. The recently signed Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, he said, underscores the importance of intensifying socio-economic assistanceto communities that have suffered from decades-old conflict. “This additional funding means that while the Government and the MILF flesh out the details of the Framework Agreement on the negotiating table, the program will continue to deliver much needed services to conflict-affected communities,” Mr. Konishi said.

The World Bank is joined by several development partners which support the MTF, including the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, the Australian Agency for International Development, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Canadian International Development Agency.

The MTF works through the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose mandate is to determine, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. “The MTF serves an important confidence-building role in bringing the government and the MILF together on development issues affecting the Bangsamoro,” said Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, Chairman, Bangsamoro Development Agency. “The additional financing will boost our efforts to build the capacity of the BDA so that the MILF will have a core of technical experts in development on whom to draw following a peace agreement with the government.” The BDA is supported by Community and Family Services International, the Mindanao Land Foundation and the International Labor Organization.