Thursday, January 10, 2013

China to launch surveys on disputed islands; Japan backs PH in sea row

From InterAksyon: China to launch surveys on disputed islands; Japan backs PH in sea row

As the Philippines on Thursday got Japan's backing in peacefully addressing territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea, China on the same day announced that it would launch this year a national survey on its territorial islands that include areas being claimed by the Philippines. According to Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario, Japan, which also has a dispute with China over Senkakus Islands, was "aware of the magnitude of the challenge" of resolving the conflict. He said that both the Philippines and Japan "understand that the assertions being made by China in terms of their nine-dash line claim... do pose threats to the stability of the region." Del Rosario made the statement during a news briefing in Malacanang on Thursday after the courtesy call of visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on President Benigno Aquino III.

Japan has committed to empower the Philippine Maritime Security in terms of its multi-role response vessels, which will be funded by the Japanese government, according to Del Rosario. "We also discussed this communication system for maritime safety which also would be for the benefit of the (Philippine) Coast Guard," he said. Del Rosario also said that both countries had agreed on the need to ensure the "freedom of navigation" in the region.

According to the DFA chief, this freedom is being threatened by China's claim to practically all territories in the West Philippine Sea. "If you look at the posture of China in the South China Sea, their fixed posture is the foundation of their policy in those sea -- that they have indisputable sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea. Now, this of course is an excessive claim. It’s in violation of international law," Del Rosario said. A report by Xinhua said China's national survey on the resources of its territorial islands would start on the first half of the year and would be completed by 2016.

Quoting a circular from China's national conference on maritime affairs, Xinhua said the survey would determine unspecified base points and baselines of the country's territorial waters around the islands. China will also monitor the geological features of its important islands, including the Xisha (Paracel), Zhongsha, and Nansha islands in the South China Sea, according to the circular.

The distribution, quantity and quality of the islands' resources and the development potentials of such resources, as well as the islands' major environmental and ecological conditions will also be investigated in the survey, the document said. China considers Scarborough or Panatag Shoal (Huangyan Island) as part of Zhongsha Islands. The shoal, located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon Island, is being claimed by the Philippines. Also, the Philippines claims portions of Nansha Islands or the Spratly Islands. China has recently called for a reestablishment of an administrative unit to oversee the entire area, which they consider as the nine-dash. Del Rosario said this is another violation of international laws.

"When you talk about that administrative unit, you’re talking about the Sansha City being in the Paracels and the administrative unit encompasses the Spratlys as well as the (Macclesfield) Bank which also includes Bajo de Masinloc," he explained. "First, they (China) have an excessive claim; then they’re creating an administrative unit over those areas; and then they come up with this new law which provides for enforcement in terms of interdiction of ships in those areas," he noted.

MILF lauds Japan's support to achieving peace in Mindanao

From the MILF Website (Jan 11): MILF lauds Japan's support to achieving peace in Mindanao

Mohagher Iqbal, Chief Negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the peace negotiation with the Government of the Philippines (GPH), cited the commitment of support of Japan to achieving peace in Mindanao. Iqbal, who is also a senior official of the MILF Central Committee, made the citation in response to the statements of His Excellency Minister Fumio Kishida of the Foreign Affairs of Japan during his visit to the Philippines yesterday. "In behalf of the Central Committee of the MILF headed by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, I take this opportunity to convey the gratitude and appreciation of the MILF and the Bangsamoro to the unfaltering commitment of Japan and its people to support the GPH - MILF Peace Process," Iqbal said. "The expression of commitment of the Government of Japan is very meaningful for the ongoing peace process between the government and MILF being facilitated by Malaysia, particularly in relation to the historic GPH - MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed last October 15, 2012 in Malacanang Palace"he stressed. Iqbal also expressed positive notes on the recognition of Japan that peace in Mindanao is indispensable for the stability and prosperity of Southeast Asia.
The MILF Chief Negotiator together with peace panel member Prof Mohagher Iqbal just finished a dialogue with the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines when he made the statements yesterday.

Minister Kishida visit in the Philippines was his first visit abroad since his appointment on December 26, 2012 by His Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In his statement, Kishida said "Japan would like to continue to lend its full support toachieving peace in Mindanao." "I heartily welcome and signing of the Framework Agreement last Octobe 2012, andpay my respects to all the parties concerned.

Recalling that it was in 2006 following election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2006and with His Excellency Taro Aso in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Japan startedits active participation and strong support to the GPH - MILF Peace Process. Presently, Japan is a member of the Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT),International Contact Group (ICG) and spearheads the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives forReconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) for the GPH - MILF Peace Process.

Samar Army unit announces recruitment

From the Leyte Samar Daily Express (Jan 10): Samar Army unit announces recruitment

The Philippine Army unit based in Catbalogon City is now accepting applicants for this year’s new batch of candidate soldiers, according to Samar army public affairs chief Capt. Gene Orense. The Army will start receiving applications on January 14 to 19, at the 8th Infantry Division, Camp Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City.

“If you are male, 18-26 years of age, single, physically and mentally fit, at least 5 ft in height, with no pending cases in court, have passed the AFP aptitude test and battery (AFPTAB) examination and have all the needed documents for processing, you are all welcome to apply for the candidate soldier course and join the Philippine Army” said assistant chief of staff for personnel Ltc. Leo Lorenzo Madroñal in a statement to Leyte Samar Daily Express.

Applicants must bring along the following original documents for processing: NSO birth certificate; Form 137/Transcript of record; diploma (high school/college, if graduated); one (1) piece 2×2 ID picture with name tag and valid identification cards. For further information, applicants can contact Cpt. Emerson A. Borja, 8ID Recruitment Officer at 256 – 2199, local 3611 or visit 8ID recruitment at facebook.

Army conducts civil military operations, peace fora

From the Leyte Samar Daily Express (Jan 10): Army conducts civil military operations, peace fora

The military troopers operating in Leyte is conducting civil-military operations in the countryside as part of their campaign against insurgency in the area, the military commander told media here. Colonel Rafael Valencia, 802nd brigade commander, 8th infantry division, Philippine Army, based here, told reporters in an interview that his brigade is also focusing on civil-military operations aside from the usual military operations in solving the insurgency problem in his area of operation.

Valencia said that his brigade is conducting “peace operations” like bayanihan, in the villages wherein the soldiers are doing community projects for the people in the localities. “My brigade is initiating or establishing community projects in the barangays as part of our campaign for peace and to solve insurgency problem in our area of operation.”

Valencia informed reporters that the civil-military operations of his brigade are part of their strategies to win the hearts and minds of the people in the localities and for them to support the government’s efforts for peace. He added that in conducting the peace operations especially in the hinterlands or remote villages, his brigade is also looking forward to win back the rebels and their supporters to the folds of the law.

Valencia informed reporters that one of the battalions under his brigade, the 19th Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Alejandro Nacnac, based in Kananga town, has already conducted 35 insurgency awareness symposia, 17 peace fora, 5 medical missions, 10 feeding programs for the children, 7 tree planting activities, 6 blood letting and 2 youth leaders’ summit in this city and in the municipalities of Villaba, Carigara and Jaro. He added that the peace operations is a continuing program of his brigade and “more towns in Leyte will become the beneficiaries of our community programs for 2013.”

DFA continues probe of US drone

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 10): DFA continues probe of US drone

The Department of Foreign Affairs is conducting a further inquiry into the US drone that was found floating off the coast of Masbate even as it ruled out any sovereignty issues arising from the incident. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday said that retired general Edilberto Adan, executive officer of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (PCVFA), is continuing an investigation into the drone recovery.

The United States Embassy in Manila has explained that the aerial target drone had been deployed from a US Navy destroyer in September last year as part of an all-US naval exercise and was brought to Philippine coastal waters by ocean currents where it was found by fishermen in Masbate last Sunday.

The drone, an unarmed aerial vehicle that the US Embassy said was different from that used for surveillance was found to have barnacles, indicating that it had been in the water for a long time.

“Since it did not fly over Philippine territory, I don’t think in that specific case there are any sovereignty issues,” said Del Rosario told a press briefing Wednesday. “I understand the drone has not flown over Philippine territory and unarmed and used as an aerial target. That’s my knowledge to this moment,” the foreign secretary said.

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), which claims that the US uses drones for surveillance operations in the Philippines and has called on Congress to conduct an inquiry, said the DFA seemed to have accepted the US explanation at face value. “The DFA merely accepted the statement of the US government without even conducting its own probe. The DFA also refuses to address the broader issue, which is the use of drones in Philippine airspace, and whether the US is abusing the VFA to gain unrestricted use of Philippine airspace,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.  Bayan earlier cited a New York Times report that revealed the US military’s use of drones to hunt down an Indonesian terror suspect in Mindanao in 2006. The US military maintains a contingent in southern Philippines to provide technical assistance to the Armed Forces.

Del Rosario pointed out that the DFA was continuing with its investigation.

PH to push upgrade of structures in Spratlys

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 10): PH to push upgrade of structures in Spratlys

The Philippines’ top diplomat on Wednesday said the country would push through with plans to upgrade infrastructure in its claimed parts of the contested Spratly islands in the West Philippine Sea even as it continues to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario also reiterated the Philippines’ standing protest against China’s “bothersome” actions, citing the nine-dash line in China’s territorial map that encompasses the entire Spratly chain of islands and the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. The DFA said China’s claims were “excessive” as it includes almost all territories in the South China Sea, including those within the Philippines’ maritime zone.

Del Rosario said the Philippines has filed roughly 15 official protests to Chinese incursions in the waters, among them sea patrols, the fortification of an administrative unit for the Spratlys, and a new maritime law allowing police interdiction of foreign ships in China’s southern coast.

China plans

Earlier, China announced similar plans to beef up infrastructure and tourism facilities in the islands off Hainan, a southern Chinese province that it is assigned to exercise administrative authority over the disputed islands.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Del Rosario said Philippine infrastructure in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), the Pag-asa Island in particular, was due for rehabilitation, backing earlier statements on military plans to enhance the runway on the territory. “We should fix it. I think we should refurbish it, enhance it,” said Del Rosario in response to a question on KIG’s development.

Kalayaan, Philippine authorities assert, is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and is a municipality of Palawan province. Within this island group is the Pag-asa Island, the seat of Kalayaan town and home to a modest Filipino civilian and military population.

Tourism area

Del Rosario also bared plans to turn the Philippine-claimed parts of the Spratlys into a tourism area. “I think there are moves to convert some areas over which we have sovereignty into tourist areas, and I think that’s being looked into. I don’t know whether we have the budget for it , but I understand that that is being considered,” Del Rosario told reporters at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

Court martial finds soldier in Al Barka bloodbath guilty

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 10): Court martial finds soldier in Al Barka bloodbath guilty

One of the officers tagged in the Al Barka bloodbath in October 2011 which led to the death of 19 of Army’s Special Forces soldiers was found guilty by the general court martial. Colonel Jose Feliciano Loy Jr., a law member of the court martial, said that then Special Forces Regiment Airborne Commander Colonel Almikandra Undog was convicted “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” during a deliberation on January 8.

Undog, as a regiment commander, committed “imprudence without inappropriate clearance from higher headquarters and violation of chain of command by allowing the Military Scuba Diving Course students in actual operations on October 18, 2011 in Al- Barka, Basilan,” Loy told in a phone interview.

Undog was earlier cleared of other charges against him, including three specifications from Articles of War 96 (Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer and a Gentleman) and two specifications from AW 97 (Disorders and Neglects to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline).

As a result of a closed-door session and secret balloting with all the seven members of the court present, Undog will face admonition, reduced in ranking of 50 files below from his present seniority and listing, and suspension from command and duty for six months effective January 8, Loy said.

Meanwhile, the commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Pena, is still presenting his pieces of evidence and will be on a hearing on January 26. In October last year, the military tribunal has already cleared two officers –former Commandant of Special Forces School Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Edralin and former Commander of Special Operations Task Force Basilan Colonel Alexander Macario– for “insufficiency of evidence” for their involvement over the bungled military operations. The series of hearings started May last year.

Nineteen elite soldiers were killed after they clashed with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members in Al Barka town, Basilan on Oct. 18, 2011. The soldiers were on their way to arrest Abu Sayyaf leaders Furuji Indama and Long Malat and MILF subcommander Dan Laksaw Asnawi, when they were ambushed by the rebels and turned into a day-long fight.

NGO says arrested member is not a 'rebel'

From the Philippine Star (Jan 10): NGO says arrested member is not a 'rebel'

The alleged rebel who was arrested and charged in court for the bloody April 2012 ambush in Tinoc town, Ifugao where 13 government forces were killed, is a member of the left-leaning partylist group Piston. Saying Virgilio Corpuz is not a rebel, non-government and civil society groups in Northern Luzon are urging the government to stop “vilification campaigns” against so-called anti-government individuals and groups. Corpuz is now being tried by the Regional Trial Court branch 14 in Lagawe, Ifugao.

Corpuz, the Baguio-based NGO Rural Development Council-Kaduami (RDC-Kaduami) said, was arrested in Santiago City, Isabela on January 4, then transferred to Ifugao the next day, is their member who help them assist marginalized communities threatened by land grabbing, food insecurity and disenfranchisement. He also reportedly contributes articles on various issues, including the local struggles in Cagayan Valley to regional newspapers.

Recently, Corpuz wrote about the bio-ethanol project of a foreign company in Isabela that has allegedly converted an agricultural area into an energy consortium, adversely affecting food security and land ownership of residents in the area. Corpuz, who has posted bail, was elected to be the Region 2 coordinator of the Piston Partylist. RDC-Kauami condemned Corpuz's arrest as "unjust", saying he was not included in the warrant of arrest issued by the court.

“Not An Isolated Case”

Corpuz’s arrest, Kaduami said “is not isolated", adding that “the pattern of imputing false charges and vilifying development workers is part of the counter-insurgency program that seeks to isolate people working for development, change, peace and justice, and attempts to brand them as enemies of the state.” His arrest, the group added, comes in the wake of harassments and threats to life and security of development workers in Cagayan Valley.

Earlier, Isabelo Adviento, another regional development worker of RDC-NL in Cagayan was reportedly arrested on charges of usurpation of authority for allegedly impersonating a police officer.
Agnes Mesina, a coordinator for Religious Missionaries of the Philippines was also arrested last year on supposed trumped up charges of frustrated murder in Tuguegarao, Cagayan in the presence of ACT Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, who just finished a talk with public school teachers.

In the Cordillera, health workers of Community Health Education Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore) and the Consortium of Development Programs in the Cordillera are reportedly facing alleged similar harassments and red-tagging. The groups added that this pattern is happening all over the country and arrests and harassment are happening especially against indigenous community leaders.

Gov't forces kill 1, arrest another in Sultan Kudarat operation

From the Philippine Star (Jan 10): Gov't forces kill 1, arrest another in Sultan Kudarat operation

Government operatives gunned down an extortion gang leader and arrested an alleged member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Wednesday in a dragnet against extortionists attempting to mulct P1 million “protection money” from the Husky Bus Co. whose units ply the Cotabato-Gen. Santos route daily.

Investigators identified the slain suspect as Saddam Sulaiman, who was killed in a shootout which started when he and his cohorts opened fire at police and Army intelligence agents tasked to arrest them during a supposed “payoff” in a roadside restaurant, Mang Gorio, at the town proper of Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat.

One of Sulaiman’s accomplices, Yasser Subho, yielded peacefully after sensing that policemen, led by Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, director of the Sultan Kudarat provincial police, and members of the 16th Military Intelligence Company, were to shoot him too while attempting to set off a grenade to prevent government forces from closing in.

Subho yielded fragmentation grenades and an MILF identification card. He confessed to his being member of the MILF’s Task Force Ittihad, which is helping the joint ceasefire committee maintain law and order in flashpoint areas in Central Mindanao. Balquin and his men recovered from the slain Sulaiman a caliber .45 pistol and several rounds of live ammunition. A policeman, PO2 Adrian Ong, was wounded in the encounter. He was rushed to a hospital. The Star tried, but failed to reach for comment Von Al-Haq, spokesman of the MILF’s military wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

The Sultan Kudarat provincial police set the entrapment with the help of the management of Husky Bus Co., the Isulan municipal police office and informants from the local Islamic religious community.

Seven people were injured on the eve of New Year’s Day when a powerful explosion ripped through an air-conditioned unit of the Husky Bus while entering the town proper of Isulan, after the management of the transportation firm ignored letters from extortionists demanding “protection money.” The explosion also damaged a unit of the Yellow Bus Co. trailing behind, wounding its driver and conductor.

Investigators are still trying to exact information from Subho to determine if he and Sulaiman have links to the notorious Al-Khobar Extortion ring. The Al-Khobar, comprised of rouge Moro rebels, has been blamed for bombing a number of buses and business establishments in Central Mindanao since 2005.

Defense laywers in Anikow killing ask gag order on CCTV footage in YouTube

From the Philippine Star (Jan10): Defense laywers in Anikow killing ask gag order on CCTV footage in YouTube

Lawyers representing the four men accused of beating and stabbing 41-year old Marine George Anikow in Makati City last November on Thursday asked Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59 Judge Winlove Dumayas to issue an order to stop the circulation in the Internet of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the fatal mauling. “The unrestrained uploading of the video on Youtube would violate the rights of the accused. The undue publicity may mold public opinion against what the court may later decide,” said Teodoro Jumamil, lawyer for accused Crispin dela Paz, 28.

Defense lawyers said what is being circulated over the Internet is not the full video of the mauling but portions of the CCTV footage that have been picked to show Anikow being helplessly attacked by the accused. “There are so many aspects of the incident that were not shown in the uploaded video,” Jumamil said.

Judge Dumayas meanwhile assured the defense lawyers that he will later base his decision of the case on evidence and will not be swayed by public opinion. “I have never made popular decisions. I evaluate the case based on evidence. We try to make correct decisions, not popular decisions,” said Dumayas.

Meanwhile, defense lawyers cross-examined Leo Puri, the security officer and CCTV operator at the Rockwell Center who made a copy of the CCTV mauling footage for the Makati Police. Puri, under questioning from lawyer Miguel Damaso, who represented accused Juan Alfonso Abastillas, 24, admitted that the mauling incident footage as recorded by Rockwell Center’s perimeter CCTV camera had a gap of two seconds. Under questioning by Damaso, Puri also testified that the CCTV camera system did not record the mauling incident continuously as it was not the system’s format.
“Kusang pinuputol ng system ang footages. Hindi siya nag rerecord continuously at ang system na ang kusang pumuputol,” Puri said. Puri also admitted under questioning by Jumamil that a CCTV footage could be tampered with or even destroyed.

Jumamil then asked Puri if would be possible that a copy of the mauling incident footage he had copied from the CCTV computer hard drive at the Rockwell security office to a blank disk could also be tampered with. Puri replied that he would not be aware whether the copy he had made of the footage had been tampered with as he only copied what was contained inside the hard drive.
Puri said it took him almost 40 minutes to burn a copy of the footage on the blank disc. He then told the court that he handed the copy to his superior, Damasino Dosohan who then affixed his signature on the disk.

Assistant City Prosecutor Hannah Arriola had earlier said the copy of the footage made by Puri is a “faithful copy” of the footage stored in the CCTV server at the security office of the Rockwell Center. Arriola said the CCTV footage is vital to the prosecution and would prove that the accused Abastillas, Dela Paz, Osric Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Datu III, 22; have conspired to murder Anikow, 41, a US Marine and husband of an American diplomat stationed in Manila.

Makati Police earlier said Anikow, a resident of the Bel-Air Village, was being checked by security guards at the gate when the four suspects arrived aboard a gray Volvo sports utility vehicle (TOJ-886) around 3:55 a.m. on Nov. 24. Police said the suspects intended to enter the village as a short cut to Palm Village, where Cabrera lives. Police said Abastillas, who was driving the SUV, rolled down his window and talked to the security guard when Anikow, reportedly interrupted them and said: “You need to present your ID, the guard is checking you.”

Police said Abastillas initially ignored Anikow but before the SUV could move away, Anikow allegedly strongly tapped the driver side portion and rear passenger side of the vehicle. This caused the suspects to alight and confront Anikow. Police said village security guards tried to mediate but the argument soon turned into a brawl. During the brawl, Anikow ran away from the suspects who then chased him. When the four caught up with Anikow, police said they continued to beat him up until he fell to the ground. It was later learned that Anikow was also stabbed in the neck during the fight. Police later recovered a tactical knife inside the SUV.

Army officials mum on Duterte’s tirade

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jan 9): Army officials mum on Duterte’s tirade

TWO military generals refused to comment on the statement of Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that a military officer is behind the allegations that he handed a revolutionary tax to the New People’s Army (NPA). Lieutenant General Jorge V. Segovia, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said in a phone interview that it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the “rumors” he is not aware of. "In fact, ngayon ko lang nalaman ang balitang yan… which I only knew through reading the newspapers. I could not comment on that especially if it is only a rumor -- well, you cannot comment on rumors," Segovia said. Segovia added that as far as their command is concern, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) always encourage their troops to support local levels in their entire endeavor, especially when it comes to peace talks.

Brigadier General Ariel B. Bernardo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said he will also not comment on the statement of the vice mayor. "Let’s just respect the statement of the vice mayor (Duterte)," Bernardo said.

On the other hand, Major Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the 10th Infantry Division’s Civil Military Operation Battalion (CMOBN), said that as far as the 10th Infantry Division is concerned, their troops have always been supportive of the local peace initiatives of Duterte on various occasions. Obligado added they are not privy to whatever actions the vice mayor is up to; that he could not think of a military official is behind of the allegation towards him. "We have high respect to whatever reasons are behind the action of vice mayor Duterte," Obligado said, as he denied knowing about the reports Duterte was referring to. Duterte earlier brushed off the report that he is giving a revolutionary tax to the NPAs during his visit on December 26.

Military adding malice, says Duterte

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jan 9): Military adding malice, says Duterte

VICE Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday that some members of the military are adding malice to his position to serve as a link between the government and the communist group. "The most important thing that the military should realize is that we, in government, should serve as a channel, a window where we can communicate," Duterte said in a hastily-called press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Duterte said he chose to be a compromise political leader for as long as it does not harm the people of Davao City. "So you do not kill all your enemies. Di natin pwede patayin si Misuari, hindi pwede patayin si Jalandoni, kasi pagpinatay mo yan, wala na tayong kausap," he said. “Pwede ko pagbabarilin yan but it leaves you with nothing. This is not really a group of men, these are an army," he added.

On the other hand, Lieutenant General Jorge V. Segovia, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, refused to comment on vice mayor's statement that some military members put malice on his position to serve as a link between the government and the communist rebels. Duterte cleared his name out on the accusation that he gave a revolutionary tax to the New People’s Army during a visit to their camp on December 26. “I just want to let the people of Davao City know that nothing really mysterious there. I am pointing out to you the source. Pero bilib talaga ako nito (philanthropist), this is not the first time,” he said.

Duterte admitted turning over P500,000, but said the money was not from government but from a lady philanthropist and was intended for Typhoon Pablo victims. He said part of the amount was also given through the military. This lady philanthropist, the vice mayor said, also gave P1 million check for the cancer patients at the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

He said a military officer could be behind the allegations that he gave money to the New People's Army rebels last December.  Duterte said this military officer, although he refused to identify, is now a general and used to be his friend.  Duterte added that this military officer had wanted to shake his hand once but he parried his hand away which, he said, angered the officer and could have forced him to make up stories against him.

Army debunks claims of ‘mistaken identity’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 10): Army debunks claims of ‘mistaken identity’

Army Col. Francisco Patrimonio yesterday maintained it was Felimon Mendrez, commander of the Regional Strike Force-Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros, who was arrested by the police and military last month in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, contrary to the claims of the Communist Party of the Philippines and rebel priest Frank Fernandez that it was another case of “mistaken identity”. The CPP, citing reports by human rights groups in Negros, claimed in a statement that the 302nd Infantry Brigade, commanded by Patrimonio, arrested and detained Oligario Sebas, a resident of Manjuyod town, who is being claimed by the military to be Mendrez.


Patrimonio, however, said the identity of Mendrez was confirmed by numerous sources, before the police, assisted by military personnel, served the arrest warrant on him in Brgy. Tubod, Manjuyod on Dec. 25 last year. Mendrez, who was alleged by the military to be the deputy secretary of the Central Visayas Regional Party Committee, has pending arrest warrants for rebellion and robbery-in-band charges. He was also denied bail by the court, police and military records show. Fernandez, who is alleged by the military to be the secretary of Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros, claimed in another statement that the arrest of “Mendrez”, an “innocent civilian,” was a “desperate” attempt of the military to recover from their tactical setback, when they suffered casualties in Isabela encounters.


Mendrez has a P5.25 million bounty for his arrest, stipulated in the Joint Order 14-2012 issued by the departments of Interior and Local Government, and National Defense. The CPP, in its statement, added that “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.” Patrimonio said the P5.25 million reward will go to the civilian informants, and not to military personnel, in appreciation for the support extended to them. He said the arrest of Mendrez, who is involved in the planning and execution of NPA tactical offensives in Negros, will reduce the capability of the revolutionary movement to conduct atrocities.


With the arrest of Mendrez and several other rebel leaders in Negros island, the CPP-NPA is now facing a shortage in terms of seasoned and experienced cadres. Patrimonio also stressed that the observance of the ceasefire does not mean suspension also of the enforcement of laws. “Never in our history has the enforcement of laws been suspended because of SOMO,” he added. As commander of the KR-Negros Regional Strike Force, Mendrez allegedly led various violent NPA actions in Negros island and in other areas of Central Visayas, the most significant of which was the raid on the Polopangyan detachment in Brgy. Bug-ang. Toboso, on Aug. 28, 2010.

WV Army chief supports lobby for local ceasefire

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 10): WV Army chief supports lobby for local ceasefire

The Philippine Army in Western Visayas yesterday expressed its support to the move of Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, to recommend to Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. a local ceasefire with the New People’s Army in Negros. Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said he has been pushing for localized ceasefires, because, “We feel that (peace) talks on the national level are very slow, as a lot of issues need to be addressed”.

Not a single violent activity by the New People’s Army has been monitored by the 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigades in Negros island, since the yuletide truce started Dec. 16. It will end on Jan. 15 as agreed on by both the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front. Since January last year, Mabanta said, the NPA in the region has not initiated major attacks against government forces and they are happy for it. On the contrary, he said, they have recorded an influx of rebel surrenderees, including the surrender of 74 rebels in Negros island, that was the result of their Oplan Bayanihan campaign.

Mabanta also said they may declare southern Negros “insurgency-free” within a year or two, citing the absence of any major violent activity of the NPA in the area for almost two years now. Lactao said the cessation of hostility with the NPA will further lower the level of violence in Negros Occidental, for development to seep in, especially in the countryside, where the delivery of basic social services is badly needed.

Mabanta yesterday installed Lt. Col. Enriqueto Deocadez Jr. as the new commanding officer of the 47th Infantry Battalion. The change of command ceremony was attended by local chief executives of southern Negros, among them, Rep. Mercedes Alvarez and her brother, Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez, Kabankalan Mayor Isidro Zayco, Sipalay Vice Mayor Gina Montilla-Lizares, Candoni Mayor Jechonias Manzano, Cauayan Mayor John Rey Tabujara and his father, Vice-Mayor Jerry Tabujara, and Hinobaan Mayor Teresa Bilbao.

Deocadez, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1993, replaced Lt. Col. Rodrigo Sosmena, who was conferred a Military Merit Medal, in recognition of exemplary services rendered to the Negrenses in two years and two months. Sosmena thanked Rep. Alvarez and the six mayors of southern Negros, among others, for their support.

Army Special Forces involved in Quezon 'shootout'

From ABS-CBN (Jan 9): Army Special Forces involved in Quezon 'shootout'

Soldiers from the military's 1st Special Forces Battalion were involved in the alleged shootout in Quezon province that left 13 people dead, an Armed Forces official said Wednesday. Southern Luzon Command spokesman Col. Generoso Bolina said a platoon, or about 25 personnel from the battallion under the command of Lt. Col. Monico Abang joined the police team that killed the 13 people. Bolina said Solcom commander Maj. Gen. Alan Luga has ordered a fact-finding investigation to determine the extent of the involvement of the soldiers in the incident.

The Special Forces troops, however, won't be relieved from their posts pending the results of the probe, he said. "He (Luga) gave instructions to coordinate with the Philippine Army for the conduct of the fact-finding investigation. It is to determine the extent of their participation. (It will help us) decide actions to take," Bolina said.  He said the Special Forces troops' presence in the police checkpoint was "legitimate."  "What we saw is that their participation was is a legitimate [one]. Their participation was requested by the PNP…What we saw is that their participation was within the legal bounds, through the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center," Bolina said.

Extortionist slain, 2 hurt in shootout in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 10): Extortionist slain, 2 hurt in shootout in Sultan Kudarat

A suspected member of an extortion group operating in Central Mindanao was killed in a shootout with police and Army intelligence operatives in a restaurant in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat province, around Wednesday noon. Sr. Supt. Rolen Balquin, provincial director of the Sultan Kudarat Police, identified the slain suspected extortionist as Saddam Sulaiman.

Arrested after the shootout was a certain Yasser Subho, member of the Task Force Ittihad of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Task Force Ittihad is a peacekeeping force of the MILF whose mandate is to resolve "rido" or blood feuds among members and supporters of the Front. Balquin said they have taken from Subho’s possession an ID which states his affiliation with the MILF and the task force.

 Balquin said that around 11:50 a.m., on Wednesday, his men, including Army and other police intelligence operatives in Central Mindanao, conducted an entrapment operation against an extortion group that was set to meet with representatives from the Husky Bus Line at Mang Gorio Restaurant in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. The extortionists, he said, were asking P1 million from the bus company. During the course of negotiations, a shootout between the operatives and extortion group occurred that led to the killing of Sulaiman and the wounding of Subho.

An intelligence operative of the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Police Office, PO2 Adrian Ong was also injured during the shootout. Authorities recovered from the crime scene a caliber .45 pistol, which they believed was owned by Sulaiman, and two fragmentation grenades. Both the injured were rushed to a hospital in Sultan Kudarat for treatment. Subho, according to Balquin, was placed under tight security. Appropriate charges are being readied against the extortion group, he said.

The entrapment operation was conducted jointly by intelligence operatives and Special Operation Group of the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Police Office, Isulan municipal police station, Military Intelligence Company, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

On Dec. 29, a Husky Bus Line unit was damaged when a roadside bomb exploded along the rotunda in Isulan town where five persons, three of them bus passengers, were seriously injured. The Yellow Bus Line that was behind the Husky Bus was also hit during the explosion. Authorities hinted extortion as behind the recent bombings in Sultan Kudarat and nearby provinces.

PHL, Japan agree to pursue peaceful resolution on West Philippine Sea issues

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 10): PHL, Japan agree to pursue peaceful resolution on West Philippine Sea issues

Tokyo and Manila agreed to pursue peaceful resolution in addressing the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issues. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was speaking before a news briefing in Malacanang after the courtesy call of visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday. "I think they were all aware of the magnitude of the challenge. We all understand that the assertions being made by China in terms of their nine-dash line claim, for example, they do pose threats to the stability of the region," he said.

Del Rosario also noted that both countries agreed that there's a need to address that the "freedom of navigation" in the region should be ensured. "If you look at the posture of China in the South China Sea, their fixed posture is the foundation of their policy in those sea -- that they have indisputable sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea. Now, this of course is an excessive claim. It’s in violation of international law," he said.

Another violation, Del Rosario said, is that China has called for a reestablishment of an administrative unit to oversee the entire area which they consider as the nine-dash. "When you talk about that administrative unit, you’re talking about the Sansha City being in the Paracels and the administrative unit encompasses the Spratlys as well as the (Macclesfield) Bank which also includes Bajo de Masinloc," he explained. "First, they (China) have an excessive claim; then they’re creating an administrative unit over those areas; and then they come up with this new law which provides for enforcement in terms of interdiction of ships in those areas," he noted.

China is also coming up with all kinds of infrastructure and releasing figures on budgets that they intend to use to be able to establish their presence there. "So I think these are all very threatening and we have been protesting these moves by China," the DFA chief said.

Del Rosario said Japan has committed to empower the Philippine Maritime Security in terms of its multi-role response vessels which will be funded by the Japanese government. "We also discussed this communication system for maritime safety which also would be for the benefit of the (Philippine) Coast Guard," he said. "The Japanese government has been assisting the Philippines in strengthening the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard through human resource development and augmentation of much needed communications system equipment for maritime safety. There is also regular exchange of views and dialogue between officials of the two countries on maritime and ocean affairs," he added.

CPP/Ang Bayan: The future of the peace talks in the remainder of Aquino's term

Ang Bayan editorial posted to the CPP Website (Jan 10): The future of the peace talks in the remainder of Aquino's term

Deceitful. A predator waiting to pounce. This is what the Government of the Philippines (GPH) has really been like in entering into a ceasefire agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) until January 15. The NDFP and the GPH agreed to a ceasefire on December 18 in an effort to push forward the peace negotiations. But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have been trampling on the ceasefire by its forward deployment of forces and its relentless conduct of operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) and the revolutionary people. The GPH’s scoundrelism and exploitativeness become very evident when one recounts the events since December 17-18.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a ceasefire on December 20 in support of efforts to jumpstart the long-stalled peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GPH. In accordance with an agreement arrived at by special representatives of the GPH and the NDFP in a meeting at the embassy of the Royal Norwegian Government at The Hague, The Netherlands on December 17-18, both parties were to declare reciprocal ceasefires from December 20 to January 15 and undertake a new round of talks in the first days of 2013. The Party immediately relayed the order for a ceasefire to the NPA.

The GPH had likewise declared its own ceasefire, but only from December 16 to January 2. It therefore needed to issue a formal order to all AFP and PNP units and commands to extend the ceasefire to January 15. But the Aquino regime stubbornly refused up to the last minute to issue its own ceasefire extension order. This, despite the CPP and NDFP’s reminders through statements and letters to extend the ceasefire, as agreed upon. The Aquino regime’s disregard for the agreement compelled the CPP to rescind its earlier ceasefire order and cut it short to January 2, likewise in accordance with the NDFP’s recommendation. This was to avoid putting the NPA at an undue disadvantage. Benigno Aquino III belatedly issued an order extending the GPH ceasefire only on the afternoon of January 2, fifteen days after this was agreed upon. The NDFP therefore recommended anew to the CPP to reextend the ceasefire to January 15, which the Party responded to forthwith.
The CPP’s immediate response to the NDFP’s ceasefire recommendations shows the Party and all the entire revolutionary movement’s interest in moving the peace talks forward.

The NDFP and the CPP also showed in no uncertain terms to the GPH that in the serious conduct of negotiations, both parties must show themselves capable of complying with agreements, respecting their counterparts and undertaking reciprocal actions. Aquino still has a lot to do to prove that he is indeed serious in conducting peace negotiations. He must stop using the peace talks merely for the purpose of hoodwinking the revolutionary forces into entering a ceasefire of indefinite duration. He must realize that the CPP and NDFP cannot enter into such a ceasefire that would suppress and weaken the NPA. Doing so would render the peace talks meaningless, transform it into a framework for surrender and preserve and even worsen the basic issues that lie at the roots of the civil war.

He must rectify past violations of signed agreements. He must release the 14 detained NDFP consultants out of respect for the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). He must also release the more than 400 political detainees, because their continued incarceration violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Those who ordered the forced disappearance of NDFP consultants like Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid and Rogelio Calubad, among others, must be punished.

Aquino must show seriousness in addressing the basic issues of land reform and national industrialization, whose absence is behind the people’s poverty and the country’s backwardness and the root of the raging civil war in the Philippines.

Aquino must show readiness to unite with the Filipino people in defending Philippine national sovereignty instead of catering to US imperialism’s every whim.

In the face of the rabidly reactionary, antipeople and fascist character and servility to the US of Aquino and all other presidents of the puppet republic, it is truly unimaginable for them to unite with the revolutionary forces on a program that advocates the people’s national and democratic interests. For the past two years, Aquino has paralyzed the peace talks because he has trampled and reneged on the agreements that have been reached.

The revolutionary movement wants to rectify the path being taken by the peace negotiations. But the revolutionary forces also know that this can only happen along with the intensification of armed struggle and the invigoration of the democratic mass movement, both of which banner the people’s national-democratic aspirations and mobilize the people in their millions.

MILF: MNLF lawyer told: If you cannot help, don’t obstruct

From the MILF Website (Jan 10): MNLF lawyer told: If you cannot help, don’t obstruct

A junior member of the MILF central leadership, who has been quite for some months, asked MNLF lawyer Eli Pamatong that if he cannot help in the smooth implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, at least he should not obstruct it. Khaled Musa, deputy chair of the MILF committee on information, told Luwaran that Pamatong arrogates unto himself the role as lawyer of the MNLF and its chairperson Nur Misuari. “It is time for Misuari to associate or dissociate himself with his self-styled lawyer,” he said, adding that this man is not doing service to the Bangsamoro and peace-making in Mindanao.

Pamatong also claimed to be an international lawyer, in addition to passing the US Bar Examinations with a rating of 92%. He also claimed to be a graduate of the University of the Philippines and Silliman University, and boasted of his credential as an undefeated debater in his college years. Despite using a Moro cap all the time, but his not a Muslim.

Musa’s call came in the heel of reports that the Supreme Court is due to render its decision on Pamatong’s petition whether to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or declare it altogether as unconstitutional.

In his petition, Pamatong, president of the International Ministries for Perfect and Party against Communism and Terrorism Inc. (IMPACT), was joined by Rev. Vicente Libradores Aquino and Rev. Mercidita Redoble.). They urged the tribunal to stop the implementation of the agreement, arguing that the government peace panel (GPP) committed grave abuse of discretion. They pointed out that while the Constitution provides for an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the creation of a “Bangsamoro” is not cited and that the GPP, as a result, “has usurped the power of Congress to enact, amend or repeal laws vested on it by the Constitution.” They also insisted that the agreement is similar to the Bangsamoro juridical entity formed during the Arroyo administration but was struck down by the high court. The petitioners also assailed the description of the Bangsamoro government in the agreement as that of a ministerial form.

The Framework Agreement stipulated the creation of a Bangsamoro government in five provinces — Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Cotabato and Isabela and six other municipalities of Lanao del Norte, scores of villages in North Cotabato.