Sunday, January 13, 2013

IPs declare all-out support to FAB

From the MILF Website (Jan 14): IPs declare all-out support to FAB

Different Groups of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in proposed areas of Bangsamoro government voiced out their all our support to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) during the Regional Indigenous Peoples Consultative Assembly on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and updates on the peace process held in Upi gymnasium, North Upi, Maguindanao last January 12.

The assembly was organized by the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Upi headed by the mayor Ramon Piang Sr. a GPH panel member, in coordination on the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) and was attended by different leaders of IPs from Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat province, and Western Mindanao provinces.

Chairman of the government peace panel Prof. Mirriam Coronel-Ferrer presented FAB and the latest updates of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation, in which the next round of talks this third week of January in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After the presentation the more than three hundred IPs leaders were group into four groups for the consultation. The first group facilitated by Johaira Wahab of the GPH panel’s legal team, GPH panel member Secretary Senen Bacani for 2nd groups, Undersecretary Bai Yasmin Lao and fourth group by Prof. Mirriam Coronel-Ferrer.

After the group workshop, the messages from the different IPs leaders in which an “all out support” to the FAB was declared. Present also were Acting Regional ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman, RLA Assemblyman Deonato Mokudef, BGen. Roland Amarille chairman of GPH AHJAG, Executive Director, Office of Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC). Hadja Fatima P. Kanakan, ARMM Deputy Governor for Indigenous Peoples Larry Tanzo, Mayor of South Upi Abdullah Campong Al Haj a Teduray by tribe and members of the Sangunian Bayan of Upi and South Upi.

Wife of slain ‘terrorist’ transferred to Army camp

From the Business Mirror (jan 13): Wife of slain ‘terrorist’ transferred to Army camp

Authorities said the wife of the slain Malaysian suspected to be an operative of the terror network Jema’ah Islamiyah, was transferred to a military camp on Friday after the police requested for a more secured facility for the detainee who is described as “high risk.” Senior Supt. Ronald de la Rosa, this city’s police chief, said Anabelle Nieva Lee, 40, was whisked off late Friday morning to Camp Panacan, the headquarters of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Barangay Panacan, 18 kilometers northeast of downtown Davao City.

Lee was earlier arraigned on illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges, to which she pleaded not guilty before the sala of Judge George E. Omello of Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court here. Lee was taken under heavy police guard, including a Special Weapons and Tactics Unit detachment.
De la Rosa said Lee has been detained in a holding cell inside the Davao City police headquarters since December 14, when she and her husband were ejected from a local hotel here and engaged the police in an evening chase after the husband threatened to explode an improvised bomb. Police and intelligence agents cornered and shot dead Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar, Lee’s husband, outside the People’s Park here. De la Rosa said it was Lee who carried the backpack that contained the improvised bomb made from from a rocket-propelled grenade, when the couple left their room at the Sampaguita Inn on Quirino Street here.

China re-draws map; PH digs in

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 13): China re-draws map; PH digs in

Amid its continuing territorial dispute with its neighbors in South East Asia, China has updated its old map by including 130 islands and islets in the South China Sea. Sinomaps Press chief editor Xu Gencai told Xinhua News Agency on Saturday that Beijing decided to come with a new official map to inform Chinese nationals on China’s territory, safeguard China’s marine rights and interests and manifest China’s political diplomatic stance. “The new vertical maps have marked clearly the major South China Sea islands and demonstrated their geographic relations with surrounding island countries as well as surrounding islands and islets,” Xu said.

The new vertical-format maps of China, published by Sinomaps Press, featured more than 130 islands and islets in the South China Sea, including the islands and waters that other countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also claim. The bottom-left corner of the new China map, meanwhile, illustrated the Diaoyu Islands, which the Japanese claims as their own and calls Senkaku. The map showed Diaoyu’s position in relation to other Chinese islets in the mainland and Taiwan. Raul Hernandez, the spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department, however, has yet to issue an official statement on Beijing’s latest move.

China’s National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation (NASMG) said in a statement that the 130 islands and islets in the South China Sea were not featured on old China maps. The old maps were printed horizontally and featured only the three major islands of Xisha (Paracels), Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank) and Nansha (Spratlys). “These (new maps) were illustrated in the bottom-right corner at half the scale used for the Chinese mainland,” the editor of the new maps Zhou Beiyan said. The new maps would be distributed to the public by the end of January, the NASMG said.

As this developed, the country’s defense experts said Manila planned to develop its military bases and other facilities to support the deployment of its naval forces and the establishment of air assets in the West Philippine Sea. The military said these plans should contribute to enhancing the defense of islets and reefs within the country’s territory against possible intrusion by foreign forces. They added that the plans to develop military bases were needed deter aggressive posturing by foreign military elements in the West Philippine Sea, in relation to the growing importance of maritime trade, energy deposits as well as fishery and marine resources inside the country’s 200 exclusive economic zone. Western Command Chief Lt. Gen. Juancho Saban recently said that the structures that will be put up in Kalayaan Island and in the highly-disputed Panatag Shoal would help underscore the country’s territorial claims.

Saban said the Defense Department has plans to beef up its military capability by procuring naval and air assets worth P75 billion in the next five years as part of the military’s modernization efforts.
Also, the military has earmarked P1.2 billion to procure a Hamilton Class Navy ship from United States as part of its objectives to strengthen the Philippine Navy’s presence in the West Philippine Sea. The government had said that maritime security was a major concern by defense and the military to address non-traditional issues such as maritime terrorism, smuggling, piracy, human and drug trafficking.

These developments were meant to also safeguard the country’s maritime territories, as China continues to press its claim over virtually the entire West Philippine Sea, including the coastal waters of neighboring countries, citing “historical inheritance” and the nine-dash line that was contained on ancient Chinese maps. The Philippines had said that China’s claim was excessive and was contrary to the provisions in the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos. The Philippines has insisted that its sovereignty and ownership extends to its 200 nautical mile EEC.

Meanwhile, China is reportedly speeding up the drafting of a new maritime regulation, in the wake of Vietnam’s creation of its own sea law, which states that parts of the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea falls under Hanoi’s jurisdiction. The new maritime law, according to National Oceanic watchdog chief Liu Cigui, would China settle conflicts over disputes in the South China Sea. “Our oceanic rights are being challenged. It is of great urgency to protect our territory and settle boundary disputes with surrounding countries,” Ministry Foreign Affairs on boundary and ocean affairs director Deng Zhonghua said. Deng added that the peaceful environment in international waters, the Cshinese’ rights in polar regions, and disputes over Huangyan Island and the Diaoyu islands poses serious challenges to China’s territorial integrity. Recently, Chinese lawmakers proposed during the National People’s Congress to immediately start legislation on maritime affairs.

Admiral to head Central Command

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 13): Admiral to head Central Command

The Armed Forces announced on Saturday the designation of Rear Admiral Edgar L. Abogado as the new commander of the AFP Central Command. Abogado, the current vice commander of the Philippine Navy, will assume headship of the Cebu-based command in a turnover ceremony Monday. He will replace Major Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., who has led the Centcom in an acting capacity since Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano vacated the post in December. Alano is the current flag-officer-in-command of the PN while Mabanta is the incumbent commander of the 3rd Infantry Division.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Mapitagan Class of 1980, Abogado held important command positions in the Navy before his appointment as its vice commander. He also served as the PN’s chief of naval staff, deputy commander of the Philippine Fleet, and head of Assault Craft Force. He commanded the following PN vessels: BRP Gen. Mariano Alvarez (PS-38), BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36), BRP Bagong Silang (PG-104), BRP Bagong Lakas (PG-102), BRP Liberato Picar (PG-377), and BRP Filipino Flojo (PG-386).

He is also a recipient of various awards and decorations among which are four Distinguished Service Stars, Gold Cross Medal, Distinguished Navy Cross, Outstanding Achievement Medal, 15 Military Merit Medals, three Military Commendation Medals, Senior Command at Sea Badge, GSC Distinguished Graduate Award, Silver Wing Medal, Command at Sea Plaque, and Logistics and Comptroller Eligibility.

MILF: Public speaking training held at MILF training center

From the MILF Website (Jan 13): Public speaking training held at MILF training center

A two-day seminar-workshop on communication and public speaking was held at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) Training Center at Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last January 9-10. Twenty participants attended the training, many of whom came from the support groups of the MILF military organs. A few were active military officers of the MILF. Among the aims of the training was to enhance the skills and competence of the trainees on the art of correspondence as well as imparting proper and modern methods of communication style, writing and public speaking skills.

The Activity was facilitated by Mr. Nash Acan, a community worker, and Mr. Mando Makakua, also an active community worker and organizer. They were ably supported by BLMI staff members.
Since its inception in 2004, the BLMI had untold trials to be able to start operating practically from scratch to fulfill its mandate as a research agency and center of learning or knowledge, It is a product of the on-going peace negotiation between the MILF and the Philippine government specifically during its 10th exploratory talks at Port Dickson, Malaysia in 2006. The BLMI is a duly registered Bangsamoro institution in Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2007.

The BLMI is one of the busiest agencies of the MILF fully committed to the general interest of the Bangsamoro people with an earnest and burning passion inscribed on its undying vision & mission to enable the Bangsamoro people competitive, productive and letting them stand on equal footing through gradualism in any secular affairs in this fast changing world.

4 killed in Maguindanao firefight despite gun ban

From MindaNews (Jan 13): 4 killed in Maguindanao firefight despite gun ban

Tension remains high in the town of Datu Piang, Maguindanao as dozens of families were forced to leave their homes after warring clans engaged in an intense gun battle that left four people killed. The incident happened during the implementation of gun ban. Military reports said the group of Commander Benaw and Commander Duma, who have links to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), attacked their long time adversary Commander Quiapo, a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander, in the village of Damabalas Saturday morning. The source said there has been a long feud among the warring parties. The motive is reportedly to avenge the death of the relatives of Benaw and Duma, who were killed by Quiapo in Datu Piang last year. Police officials in the area remain mum on the incident by not responding to calls and text messages. The firefight that started around 5:30 a.m. lasted for several minutes, reports said. A civilian who was caught in crossfire was reportedly brought to the Cotabato City hospital.

Gov’t troops clash with BIFF in SouthCot’s coal-rich town

From MindaNews (Jan 13): Gov’t troops clash with BIFF in SouthCot’s coal-rich town

Government troops clashed with around 40 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the remote coal-rich village of Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, leaving a militiaman dead, the military said Sunday. 1Lt. Betheul N. Barber, public affairs officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said the firefight ensued after government troops responded to report from civilians that armed men have been sighted in the area. The government troops have been deployed in the area two days before the firefight that occurred around 5:50 a.m. Saturday, he said.

Barber identified the slain militiaman as Rene Amar Pernal. His body was recovered around 8:40 p.m., or around 15 hours after the encounter began, and later brought to the military patrol base in Barangay Ned, about four kilometers from the encounter site, the military official said. Pernal was a member of the 7th CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) Active Auxiliary of South Cotabato. Barber said the military has still no information if the armed group also suffered fatalities.

2Lt. Angelo Peralta, team leader of the troops that traded fire with the armed men, said the clash occurred in Ned’s Sitio Kumilat. Peralta said they were conducting active defense patrol when the armed men fired on them. He said the armed men are headed by a certain Udtog and a certain Mod, both from Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

Barber said that additional troops were deployed on Saturday aboard a helicopter due to the remote location of the area. Another team was deployed on Sunday also through a helicopter ride to help in the clearing operation in the area, Barber said. Barber said the armed men could have been in the area for quite sometime already, noting that Barangay Ned “has been the highway of armed men going towards Maitum in Sarangani.”

Last year, military officials in South Cotabato said that the New People’s Army was trying to establish a presence in Barangay Ned. San Miguel Energy Corp., a unit of San Miguel Corp., has set up a base camp in Barangay Ned in a bid to extract massive coal deposits in the area. Studies showed that the Daguma Mountain Range, which straddles Ned, contains coal resources of 426 million metric tons. Initial exploration and drilling has blocked 55 million metric tons of minable reserves in 526 hectares of the mountain range. San Miguel had announced plans to build a coal-fired power plant with Ned as the source of raw material.

Police: Lee safer under military custody

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jan 12): Police: Lee safer under military custody

DAVAO CITY Police Office (DCPO) Director Ronald M. dela Rosa said the wife of a Malaysian national, believed to be a member of international terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, is safer under the custody of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom). Annabelle Nieva Lee, who hails from Sorsogon in Bicol Region, was turned over on Friday to Naval Intelligence and Security Group (NISG) after Judge George Omelio, of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 14 granted the petition for her transfer from DCPO. Dela Rosa said it would be "great" for the accused to stay under the custody of the military for her security. "Mas safe jud nuon sya (Lee) didto (NISG) kay mas daghan ug sundalo sa palibot, knowing it is a military camp - for sure their command as soldiers is different from the policemen. So we hope for the best," dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa said keeping the accused safe is part of the authorities' standard operating procedure especially when it comes to a high risk detainee although there has been no reported threat from the accused or her husband's comrades. "But we cannot discount the possibility that their comrades will look for her -- either they'll come to rescue Lee or what, because for them, she is a high value asset to the group. And for us, she is a high risk detainee and we need to be on full alert," dela Rosa said.
Lee was arrested on December 14, 2012 after his husband, Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar, was shot dead by authorities along Camus St., in Davao City.

In a separate interview, lawyer Ben Joseph Tesiorna, legal counsel for the accused, heaved a sigh of relief after the court granted the petition of the DCPO to transfer the custody of his client to NISG.
"Dili man sa wala koy salig sa police, I agree with the DCPO director that my client (Lee) is better to stay in the naval intelligence. Isa pa, babae man gud akong kleyente and knowing her religion, she even needs a little more space," Tesiorna said. Lee, on the other hand, also agreed to be in the custody of the NISG for security reasons. The prosecution found probable cause to charge Lee based on the evidences presented by the authorities. On January 11, 2013, the accused pleaded not guilty during her arraignment before the RTC Branch 14 Judge George E. Omelio. The court scheduled the pre–trial on February 14, 2013.

PRWC/NDF: NDF hits AFP for successive ceasefire abuses

From the PRWC Blog (Jan 13): NDF hits AFP for successive ceasefire abuses
Rubi del Mundo
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Southern Mindanao

In both ends of the Southern Mindanao NPA regional territory, the AFP was on active, combat offensive military posture signifying a serious breach of the self-declared ceasefire of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) -- an act that could only imperil the GPH-National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace initiatives.

What constituted as a bald-faced ceasefire violation was the incongruity-in-terms "defensive security patrol" by the 10th Special Forces which raided a platoon of the Guerilla Front 53 Herminio Alfonso Command January 10 at 5pm in Upper Tiwayan, Brgy. Badyangun, Arakan, North Cotabato.
The Red fighters were preparing for a mass meeting to discuss the land problem and tactical plans for agrarian revolution campaign, when the fascist AFP troops along with Cafgu paramilitary forces pounced upon them. Strictly abiding the CPP's extended ceasefire declaration last January 3, the NPA platoon prevailed over the AFP, defended itself from the raid, evaded safely, but left an M14 and personal belongings. The Red fighters were not preparing for an attack as wrongly peddled by the elite 10th SF-SOCOM-AFP in an effort to justify its military offensive. The Special Forces in North Cotabato -- previously 5th SF -- are notorious human rights violators, responsible for the spate of abusive operations against the peasants, who conspired in the killing of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto "Pops" Tentorio and the civilian, Ramon Batoy in 2011.

Also, on January 9, the 67th Infantry Batallion-10th ID arrested, detained and released after 8 hours of tactical interrogation civilian Pablito Gubaton a Purok chairman of Bangas, Brgy. Mainit, Cateel town. The military accused Gubaton of receiving relief packs from the NPA -- a malicious lie to sow intrigue against legal organizations and to prevent these well-meaning groups from giving genuine assistance to the masses. As with its stance against Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the military is intolerant of any organization or individual who wish to assist Pablo-affected victims in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental; it is also prejudiced against the masses that avail of such precious assistance.

The AFP is desperate to turn the Pablo catastrophe suited to its own anti-people and counterrevolutionary machination. It continues to violate human rights of the masses; it treats the masses as fair game to its dirty tactics, its torture and intimidation even if the peasants and workers in the hinterlands are already suffering from Pablo. Its conduct of offensive military operation stays in areas not hit by Pablo, wasting people's money while its relief and rehabilitation in Pablo-affected areas are sparse and wanting.

Indeed, what the enemy failed to achieve in the counterrevolutionary operations against the People's Army they desperately try to attain by attacking the fundamental human rights of the people. The AFP-US-Aquino regime is certainly under the illusion that it can sway the people with Oplan Bayanihan as its main anti-poverty, relief and rehabilitation, and peace program in the countryside. If it is unfair and discriminatory against its own public officials, if it is vicious against the masses, if it disparages its self-declared ceasefire agreement and imperils the resumption of peace negotiations, then it should be thoroughly opposed and ousted.

No amount of AFP special operations and treachery can stem the advance of the revolutionary movement. It could only succeed in alienating the AFP, in increasing the ranks of revolutionaries, and in further galvanizing the people's resolve to struggle against the fascist Aquino regime.

Military to augment checkpoints in election hotspots

From ABS-CBN (Jan 13): Military to augment checkpoints in election hotspots

The military will help augment checkpoints, especially in election hotspots across the country, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said. The National Firearms Control Program started on Sunday ahead of the 2013 polls. "As mandated protectors of the people, it is our responsibility to act as exemplars by serving as agents of peace and security especially in this political exercise. Let us continue our active support to the Philippine National Police and other mandated civilian government agencies to ensure safe and peaceful conduct of 2013 elections," AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa said in a statement.

The AFP, via the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Centers program with the Philippine National Police, will also help in the dismantling of private armed groups and organized crime groups. The AFP also promised that soldiers and members of the paramilitary will strictly follow the firearm control program. Based on rules, regular members of the AFP, CAFGU Active Auxiliaries, and Special CAFGU Active Auxiliaries are authorized to bear firearms given that they strictly adhere to the following provisions:

1. Wearing AFP-prescribed uniforms with visible names and rank;
2. Going to and from or in actual performance of official duty; and
3. The firearm is governed with appropriate documents.

PH orders embassy in Beijing to verify new China map that highlights disputed islands

From InterAksyon (Jan 13): PH orders embassy in Beijing to verify new China map that highlights disputed islands

The government has ordered the Philippine embassy in Beijing to verify reports that China has already published new maps that include disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea that are also being claimed by Manila. We are aware of the reports released by Chinese media which is why the Department of Foreign Affairs will be asking our embassy in Beijing to verify that particular report before we make any further comment," deputy presodential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Sunday. 

According to Xinhua, China's official press agency, the maps also featured islands in East China Sea being claimed by Japan. Quoting information from China's National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, Xinhua said the country had included in its new vertical-format maps over 130 islands and islets in the South China, "most fo which have not been featured on previous maps of China."

Also, the report said that a "zoomed illustration" of the Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands being claimed by Japan had been included in the bottom-left corner of the maps "displaying their positional relations and those of their affiliated islets with the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. In the old horizontal maps, only bigger islands such as the Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha islands were featured.

168 ex-CPLA combatants to become part of military

From InterAksyon (Jan 13): 168 ex-CPLA combatants to become part of military

Members of the former rebel group Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) are set to formally start their integration into the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday, January 14, at the 5th Infantry Division's Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Barangay Upi, Isabela.  The CPLA is now known as the Cordillera Forum on Peace and Development (CFPD). "We have been preparing for this moment. We have our list of candidates. We have our documents," said CFPD chairman Arsenio Humiding. Humiding said 168 former combatants would undergo the integration process.

Administrative Order No 18, signed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2011, set out the first wave of integration of CPLA members into the military. The former rebels will undergo a two-month candidate soldier course and a 45-day specialization training. They will then be deployed to areas under the watch of the 5th ID before being incorporated into the tactical units of the military. “This acceptance to the regular force of the AFP shows government's sincerity and decisiveness in concluding the memorandum of agreement with the CPLA, said Humiding. A separate recruitment of former combatants into the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit is also in the pipeline.

PHL eyes South Korean jets as PAF's next generation fighter planes

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 12): PHL eyes South Korean jets as PAF's next generation fighter planes

As the Philippines is now making headway in its efforts to modernize its Armed Forces, Department of National Defense (DND)Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin said that fighter jets manufactured by South Korea is one of the interceptor aircraft being evaluated as the possible replacement for the Northrop F-5 "Tiger". The "Tiger" was retired in September 2005 due to airframe aging and lack of spare parts. "We're looking at several countries (to supply our fighter aircraft needs) and number one is South Korea's TA-50 'Golden Eagle' jet aircraft," he added. The DND is planning to acquire 12 such aircraft to boost the PAF fleet.

The TA-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities such as the use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons. Korean Air Industry's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the T-50. The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots. The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service. There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings. An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks. T-50 trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.[43]

The T-50 "Golden Eagle" uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korea Aerospace Industries. The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner. The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.4-1.5. Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner. If acquired, the TA-50 will be the first fighter jets acquired by the Philippines straight from the manufacturers. Gazmin also took this opportunity to thank President Benigno S. Aquino III for his support in making the modernization of the Armed Forces a reality. He also assured the public that the P75 billion allotted for the military's modernization will be carefully used.