Monday, February 25, 2013

Basilan power barge strafed

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 26): Basilan power barge strafed

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a power barge late Monday in Isabela City in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said there was no report of casualties, but the attack which was carried out on the open sea under cover of darkness, cut off power in the Muslim province.

“There is no damage to the power barge and the guards immediately retaliated against the attack,” Colonel Carlito Galvez, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade in the province, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman, who was informed of the attack, said the identities of the gunmen were not immediately known. “We don’t know who were responsible for this strafing, but authorities are investigating the attack,” he said in a separate interview.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the strafing, but it was not the first time the diesel-fed power barge had been attacked. Last year, the barge was also strafed by gunmen on motorboats and authorities said extortion was likely motive of the attack.

Freed Zambo resto owner says no ransom paid for freedom

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 25): Freed Zambo resto owner says no ransom paid for freedom

Freed kidnapped victim Edgar Fabella told reporters in Zamboanga City that no ransom was paid for his safe release from the hands of suspected Abu Sayyaf captors.

Celso Lobregat, the mayor of Zamboanga City, presented the 42-year old restaurant owner at City Hall where Fabella spoke to reporters. He said he was treated well by his captors during his six weeks in captivity in Sulu province.

Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman, said Fabella was released near the Jolo pier over the weekend.

Lobregat, chairman of the local crisis management committee, the release of Fabella was a relief to authorities and the government.

Fabella said he also cooked food for the kidnappers and that he was freed out of pity.

He did not say whether the kidnappers were members of the Abu Sayyaf, but police and military suspected the group was behind the kidnapping and that ransom was probably paid for Fabella’s freedom.

Fabella was kidnapped by gunmen on January 11 from his small roadside restaurant on a coastal village in Zamboanga City and escaped on a motorboat.

Freed kidnapped victim Edgar Fabella with Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat during a news conference in City Hall.Also in the photo are Zamboanga City Police Director Edwin de Ocampo and Western Mindanao Command Deputy Commander Eugenio Clemen. (Zamboanga City Government Photo)

PNoy orders probe of Sulu Sultan for possible violation of Constitution in Sabah incursion

From InterAksyon (Feb 26): PNoy orders probe of Sulu Sultan for possible violation of Constitution in Sabah incursion

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the investigation Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his followers for possible violations of the Constitution in their armed incursion in Sabah.

Aquino said he believes Kiram and his followers may have been financed or helped by other groups, which he said will also be held accountable.

"As President and chief executor of our laws, I have tasked an investigation into possible violations of laws by you, your followers, and collaborators engaged in this foolhardy act. May I remind you as well that as a citizen of the Republic, you are bound by the Constitution and its laws," the President said in a statement aired over state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Tuesday.

"Among your possible violations is Article II Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, the enabling law of which is Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes those who ‘provoke or give occasion for a war...or expose Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property.’ Thus, you are now fully aware of the consequences of your actions," Aquino added.

Close to 180 Filipinos, led by Kiram's brother Agbimuddin, trooped to Sabah on Feb. 12 and have refused to leave the island state.

The Philippine government has already dispatched a naval ship for humanitarian purposes to Sabah but Kiram and his followers have insisted on their right to remain there.

Aquino warned Kiram that he and his followers now "fast approaching that point (of no return)."

"This is the time to demonstrate that you are a true leader both in name and deed. The right thing to do now would be to order your followers to return home as soon as possible," the President said.

"The choices and consequences are yours. If you choose not to cooperate, the full force of the laws of the state will be used to achieve justice for all who have been put in harm’s way," he added.

MILF panel chair Iqbal says task as TransCom chair a 'big challenge'

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 26): MILF panel chair Iqbal says task as TransCom chair a 'big challenge'

Mohaqher Iqbal, appointed chairperson of the Transition Commission (TransCom) on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, said the task given him is ‘a big challenge’ in ensuring peace would be achieved in Southern Philippines.

“It’s a challenge… a big task ahead of us. But both panels are bent on completing the process before March,” said Iqbal in an interview over Oblate-ran radio station in Cotabato City.

Iqbal, also chair of the negotiating panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said among the first tasks the TransCom has to complete are the laying down of the preliminaries, internal rules in particular, and the recruitment of some personnel who would work on it.

On Monday, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed the 15 members of the TransCom with Iqbal as chair, seven of which were nominated by the Philippine government and eight recommended by the MILF. The appointees include Akmad Sakkam, Johaira Wahab, Talib Benito, Asani Tammang, Pedrito Eisma, Froilyn Mendoza and Fatmawati Salapuddin Robert Alonto, Abdulla Camlian, Ibrahim Ali, Raissa Jajurie, Melanio Ulama, Hussein Munoz and Said Shiek.

Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), lauded the balanced appointment of the TransCom members which, she said, reflects the President’s commitment to peace process.

The TransCom is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be certified urgent by the President and submitted to Congress for passage. It will undergo a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory. Once ratified, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is deemed abolished and the new Bangsamoro region will be formally established.

“The appointment of these individuals who represent vital Bangsamoro constituencies and have proven their commitment to pursuing amity and goodwill in Muslim Mindanao is a key step on the roadmap to the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Political Entity,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.

Deles said that with the appointment of TransCom members, the “mechanism to move forward on the roadmap set by the FAB is firmly in place.” “Many challenges and obstacles lie ahead as the 15-member Commission organizes itself and embarks on a collaborative endeavour to draw out stakeholders’ sentiments in shaping inclusive, participatory and empowering social and political institutions in the future Bangsamoro region,” she added.

Army deepens community immersion in Abra town

From the  Philippine Information Agency (Feb 25): Army deepens community immersion in Abra town

The 41st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Sitio Baquero, Nalbuan, Licuan-Baay co-sponsored the mass wedding and christening here conducted by the Parish of St. Lourdes on February 17, 2013 as part of its communiy immersion.

Father Louie Tungpalan, parish priest of the local community, solemnized the mass wedding of six couples and the baptism of 29 including six adults.

The officers and men of the Bravo Company under the command of 1Lt. Dionizer Mark Delos Santos facilitated the conduct of the said event in partnership with the Saint Lourdes Parish Church and support of generous people of the municipality to make the Valentine’s Day celebration memorable.

Some of the sponsors were the officers and men of the 41st Infantry “Partner for Peace” Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. Danilo R Domingo; Police Senior Inspector Benjamin de Leon, the chief of police of Licuan-Bay; Sangguniang Bayan Members Godfrey Panabang and Tabilin; former barangay captain Romulo Turalva; and Rafael Tejero, head teacher of the Baquero Primary School.

They hosted the lunch for the couples and the visitors who graced the occasion in the same venue.

The newlyweds, as well as those baptized, expressed their grateful appreciation of the efforts and initiatives and support of the organizers and sponsors in the said mass wedding and christening as they said, the sacraments made them feel closer to Christ.

'NPA rebels' torch copra truck in Agusan del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 25): 'NPA rebels' torch copra truck in Agusan del Norte

Suspected New People's Army rebels on Saturday burned a truck used in hauling copra when its owner allegedly refused to give in to their demand to pay "revolutionary tax" to them.

Reports from the Agusan del Norte Police Provincial Office said a Canter truck (MDE-392), owned by copra buyer Socorro Honculada and driven by a certain Samson Flores, was torched by the armed group who introduced themselves as members of the CPP-NPA. The incident happened 4 p.m. last Saturday in Sitio Tabon, Brgy. Aclan, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.

Police said town policemen received a call from a concerned citizen regarding the incident an hour later. A team augmented by Agusan del Norte Public Safety Company led by Insp. Legayada was immediately dispatched to the area. Investigation showed Flores and his companions were loading sacks of copra when armed men numbering about eight approached them and introduced themselves as rebels.

One of the rebels eventually handed Flores a cellular phone number and instructed him to contact Honculada. Witnesses in the area claimed that minutes after Flores and his companions left the area, the armed men set the truck on fire.

More armed men were said to have arrived at the scene and secured the place while the truck is being burned. It was also gathered that a representative of the rebels who talked with Honculada tried to extort money from his copra business which the trader rejected.

Nasipit police investigators are now conducting a follow-up investigation on the incident.

Army settles Moro clan wars in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 25): Army settles Moro clan wars in North Cotabato

Two warring Moro leaders in North Cotabato have signed a peace covenant ending their family feud the flared up Thursday last week and left two persons dead.

Capt. Antonio Bulao, speaking for the military's 602nd Infantry Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said Commander Embang of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and village chairman Teng Kilangan of Barangay Kilangan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao, who were engaged in a "rido" or clan war several years ago, signed the peace covenant.

Bulao said the signing came after the military mediated in the long standing family feud between Commander Embang and Chairman Kilangan over large track of land.

The peace covenant signing was witnessed by local leaders and followers of the warring clans and officials of the 602nd brigade, the GPH-MILF coordinating committee on the cessation of hostilities and military officials.

On Thursday last week, Bulao said the warring groups traded bullets the left one fatality from each side. Seven others from both sides were wounded.

Bulao said both Commander Embang and Chairman Kilangan were claiming ownership of a five-hectare farm planted with rice and other fruit bearing trees in the village of Kibines, Carmen, North Cotabato.

The peace covenant clearly said that both sides should not resort to violence and prevent their followers from engaging in armed conflict. Both sides also vowed to bring the dispute before concerned government agencies for peaceful settlement.

The military learned that the warring groups are actually related by blood and by affinity.

‘Chopper dropped flyers urging Kiram followers to leave Sabah’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 25): ‘Chopper dropped flyers urging Kiram followers to leave Sabah’

A helicopter hovered over the village in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Sunday night and dropped flyers urging the followers of Sultan Sulu Jamalul Kiram III to leave the place and return to Tawi-Tawi, said the leader of the Sulu sultan’s so-called “royal forces.”

Raja Muda Agmibuddin Kiram said he was told that the helicopter arrived in Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town at about 10 p.m. and dropped the flyers.

“The message was written in Tausug. It was discouraging the Tausugs who are here with us,” Raja Muda told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a mobile phone interview.

“But we will not leave this place. We are ready to defend what is rightfully ours,” he added.

However, he said he himself did not see the helicopter nor heard the sound of it hovering over the area.

Raja Muda denied that there were children who went with them when they occupied the village on Feb 9. But he said eight women were with them to join their husbands.

TransCom members named; MILF peace panel chair Iqbal is TransCom chair

From MindaNews (Feb 25): TransCom members named; MILF peace panel chair Iqbal is TransCom chair

Malacanng announced Monday noon the appointment of 15 members of the Transition Commission of the Philippine government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the body that would prepare the groundwork for the setting up of the new autonomous political entity called “Bangsamoro” by June 30, 2016.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced the names – eight from the MILF and seven from the GPH — . in a press conference in Malacanang.

He said the TransCom will be chaired by Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF peace panel chair. Iqbal will now be holding three concurrent positions: as information chief and peace panel chair of the MILF and as chair of the GPH-MILF TransCom.

Named members of the TransCom for the government are: Akmad A. Sakkam, Johaira C. Wahab,. Talib A. Benito, Asani S. Tammang, Pedrito A. Eisma. Froilyn T. Mendoza and Fatmawati T. Salapuddin.

The MILF on the other hand selected eight members: Iqbal, Maulana Alonto, Abdullah Camlian, Ibrahim D. Ali, Raissa H. Jajurie, Melanio U. Ulama, Hussein P. Munoz and Said M. Shiek.

According to Lacierda, the seven appointees of the GPH panel “underwent thorough screening and evaluation” by a TransCom Selection Body composed of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, and Mehol Sadain, Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

Lacierda said the GPH Selection Body agreed that appointees be “a Bangsamoro, a track record in support of the peace process, and established probity, untainted by any charge or suspicion of corruption or abuse of power, among others.”

Women and IPs

The eight names selected by the MILF are all members of the MILF peace panel. Iqbal is MILF peace panel chair. Alonto and Camlian are members of the MILF peace panel; Jajurie, Ulama and Sheik are members of the MILF peace panel’s Technical Working Groups while Munoz, more popularly known by his commander’s name, Sonny Davao; and Ali, an aleem, are consultants.

Jajurie is a lawyer while Sheik is head of the MILF’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

Iqbal acknowledged that individually, taking on the task on a concurrent capacity is “mahirap pero mas mahirapan kami kung maghanap pa ng bago” (difficult but it will be more difficult if we look for new ones).

He told MindaNews in a telephone interview that “organizationally, mas madali (it will be easier) because of trust and confidence.

On the GPH side, only one from the GPH peace panel was named to the TransCom: lawyer Wahab, chief of the legal panel.

Wahab, who hails from Maguindanao, and who topped the Foreign Service Officer examination given out by the Department of Foreign Affairs last year, is the youngest member of TransCom. She is turning 28 on March 25.

Iqbal, the TransCom chair, is turning 65 this year.

The other GPH members to the TransCom are lawyer and former ambassador Sakkam from Indanan, Sulu Prof. Benito, Dean of the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City; lawyer Tammang, a former congressman from Panamao, Sulu; former Isabela City councilor Eisma of Basilan; Mendoza, aTeduray who co-founded the Téduray Lambangian Women’s Organization, Inc. (TLWOI) while Salapuddin was director of the Sulu-based Lupah Sug Bangsamoro Women’s Association and is at present the Director of the Bureau of Peace & Conflict Resolution of the NCMF.

Of the 15 members, four are women (Wahab, Mendoza and Salapuddin from the GPH and Jajurie from the MILF) while two are from the Lumads (Indigenous peoples): Mendoza from the GPH and Ulama from the Organization of Teduray and Lambiangan Conference, from the MILF.

Tausugs dominate the TransCom membership: Sakkam, Tammang, Salapuddin and Jajurie, Camlian describes himself as “Tausug/Sama/Banguingi from Zamboanga City and Basilan.”

The Maranaos have three members in the TransCom: Benito, Alonto and Shiek; the Kagans have Munoz and for the Iranuns, Ali.

The MILF base is in Maguindanao but there are only two Maguindanaons in the TransCom: Iqbal and Wahab.

The indigenous peoples are represented by Tedurays Mendoza and Ulama.

Eisma, according to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, is a “Christian representative to the TransCom.” A source from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said Eisma “has lived in Basilan for a very long time and will be qualified to vote on the plebiscite.”

EO 120

The appointment of the members came two months and eight days after President Aquino signed on December 17 Executive Order 120 creating the TransCom and four months and 10 days after the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

EO 120 provides an initial funding of P100 million for the TransCom from the contingency fund of the Office of the President. Budget for the succeeding years shall be incorporated in budget proposal under the Office of the President.

The roadmap to the creation of the Bangsamoro, prepared and published by the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, lists 15 steps from the signing of the FAB on October 15.

The second step is supposed to be the adoption of the Annexes followed by the issuance of the EO creating the TransCom, Congressional resolutions supporting the EO and the fifth step which is the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The GPH and MILF peace panels resumed their negotiations on the four annexes on Power-sharing, Wealth-sharing, Normalization and Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, to complete their comprehensive peace pact.

The House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions supporting the EO and the FAB before they went on Christmas break.


The EO provides the following tasks of the TransCom, in accordance with the FAB: “draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro; whenever necessary, to recommend to Congress or the people, proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution; and whenever necessary, to assist in identifying and coordinating development programs in the proposed Bangsamoro in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the Bagnsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI)” and for this purpose, “may likewise coordinate with such other relevant government agencies and/or non-government organizations.”

It also adds these tasks: “coordinate and conduct dialogues and consultations with the National Government and various stakeholders in furtherance of its functions; and perform such other relevant functions as the President may hereinafter direct.”

The TransCom, according to the FAB, will be independent from the ARMM (which will hold its last elections in May 2013) and other government agencies” but all agencies of government are mandated to “support the Transition Commission in the performance of its tasks and responsibilities” until it ceases to exist “upon the enactment by Congress of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

The EO provides that the TransCom “may directly coordinate with legislative bodies in order to accomplish its functions” and shall organize its Secretariat headed by an Executive Director as may be designated by the chair. It can also create technical committees and engage the assistance of experts and professional advisors.

‘Operation Pacific Angel 2013’ Set

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 24): ‘Operation Pacific Angel 2013’ Set

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will join hands anew with their American counterparts to bring care and help improve the lives of thousands of people, this time in the Visayas, through "Operation Pacific Angel 2013."

Officially in its 6th year, Operation Pacific Angel is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercise led by Pacific Air Forces. The operation supports US Pacific Command (US Pacom) capacity-building efforts to partner with other governments in the region in providing medical, dental, optometry, veterinary and engineering assistance to their citizens.

For this year, the Operation Pacific Angel will kick off March 4 in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental Province.

The AFP and its US counterparts are finalizing plans to conduct the humanitarian assistance mission.

Approximately 80 US military members, AFP personnel, and a number of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are taking part in the mission.

Aside from medical, dental, optometry, and engineering programs, Operation Pacific Angel includes the conduct of various subject-matter expert exchanges.

Doctors and engineers from the AFP will work alongside US counterparts to provide medical, dental, optometry, and engineering assistance to citizens of the Philippines.

PNP Discounts Terrorism in Baguio Blast That Wounded 3

Fromthe Manila Bulletin (Feb 24): PNP Discounts Terrorism in Baguio Blast That Wounded 3

The explosion that wounded three people in Burnham Park on Sunday morning was not a terrorist attack but “a case of personal feud,” a ranking police official in Baguio City said.

“More likely, it was an ordinary case of feud between people,” said Inspector Virgilio Hidalgo, chief of the Tourist Police Unit of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO). “In due time, we will arrest the suspect soon as they are indentified. We assure the family of the victims that we will bring the perpetrator to the bars of justice,” he added.
Probers said an unidentified man threw an MK2 fragmentation grenade inside the Baguio City Volunteers Against Crime (BCVAC) office around 6:45 a.m.

The explosion wounded Jenard Palomique, Joseph Espadz, and security guard Gilbert Salvador.

Hidalgo explained the explosion was not aimed at disrupting the festivities of the Panagbenga Festival.

“What happened does not affect the Panagbenga festival because it did not dampen or cause fears to visitors,” he said.

He said the incident was a grenade attack on a specific target and was not a threat to the security of the general public and the visitors coming to Baguio for the Panagbenga’s Grand Floral Parade. Panagbenga Festival Chairman Freddie Alquiroz said the explosion that happened before the parade was an isolated case and he assured the public that the remaining days of the festival wasl be fully secured.

Meanwhile, City Mayor Mauricio Domogan issued a notice that he will put a P250,000 cash reward for the arrest of the suspect.

At least three persons were reported injured in the blast.

Sultan Kiram’s Cousin Arrested in Sabah – Report

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 25): Sultan Kiram’s Cousin Arrested in Sabah – Report

Malaysian security forces arrested on Monday a cousin of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia, where Filipinos from the Sultanate of Sulu – some of them armed – have been holed up for more than a week.

Abraham J. Idjirani, the sultan’s official spokesman, said the arrested member of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo was Salip Asaral-Asmad, a first cousin of Kiram III in his mother’s side.

Idjirani described Asaral-Asmad as a long-time resident of Sabah and a Malaysian citizen.

The report on his arrest broke out while Kiram III was holding his second press conference for the day at past 4 p.m.

Idjirani received a call from Datu Amer Bahar Kiram, another descendant of the sultanate’s ruler, reporting the arrest of Asaral-Asmad on Monday morning.
Datu Kiram said Asaral-Asmad’s son told him that his father was being detained at the Lahad Datu police headquarters.

The arrest came a day after Vice President Jejomar Binay met with Kiram III at his residence in Taguig City.

In that 35-minute meeting on Sunday night, Binay was quoted as saying: “Sabah is ours, because Malaysia is paying us rent.”

Idjirani said Binay shared the belief in the legitimacy of the sultan’s claim as he spoke before some members of the news media at the sultan’s home.

But the Vice President clarified to the sultanate’s leader that he was speaking as lawyer and not as the second highest elected official of the Philippines.

The Vice President’s office has not confirmed whether or not Binay had made that declaration.

Northern Samar Army Recovers Landmines

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 24): Northern Samar Army Recovers Landmines

Philippine Army (PA) troops foiled another terrorist act by rebel insurgents against government forces when troops belonging to the PA’s 20th Infantry Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division (ID) recovered two landmines and other explosive devices in an abandoned camp at Brgy. Happy Valley, San Isidro, Northern Samar recently while conducting security operations in the area.

“The recovery of landmines is a clear and direct manifestation of the New Peoples Army (NPA)’s wanton disregard for human life and shows that the NPA rebels are in continuous violation of human rights and the International Humanitarian Law,” Lt. Col. Noel Vestuir, Commander of the 20th Infantry Battalion, 8ID, PA, said.

“The use of landmines is also a blatant violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and is already banned internationally since landmines cause unmitigated damages to life and property,” stressed Vestuir.

Meanwhile, Capt. Gene Orense, 8ID spokesperson lauded the leadership of the 20th IB troops headed by Vestuir for foiling another possible terrorist attack through the recovery of said landmines.

Orense also disclosed that just recently, NPA insurgents fired upon Army troops and para-military forces in Barangay Guindaulan, Rosario, Northern Samar while conducting a dialogue with the locals. A civilian populace, two military troops and one Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) were wounded in the said incident.

AFP awaits word on release of NPA peace panel consultants

From Malaya (Feb 25): AFP awaits word on release of NPA peace panel consultants

THE Armed Forces yesterday said it will respect whatever decision government will make on detained consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Over the weekend, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said it is looking into the release of NDF consultants. The NDF peace panel, headed by Luis Jalandoni, has been demanding the release so that formal peace negotiations can resume.

Among the consultants are Tirso Alcantara and Allan Jazmines, both New People’s Army leaders who were arrested by the military for pending charges in court, including murder.

“This is being undertaken by an office higher than the AFP…We are implementing directives and policies handed down to us. We just follow orders,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said.

Military probes possible lapses in Bukidnon NPA attacks

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 25): Military probes possible lapses in Bukidnon NPA attacks

The military commander in Bukidnon has been relieved of his post following the simultaneous attacks launched by around 100 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in four towns in the province last Tuesday as a board of inquiry (BoI) was created to determine whether there were lapses that led to the atrocities.

This, as government troops last Saturday caught up with the communist rebels who attacked Del Monte Philippines’ compound in Manolo Fortich town last Wednesday, resulting in the killing of two communists while a soldier was wounded.

Col. James Jacob, erstwhile commander of the Army’s 403rd Brigade based in Malaybalay, was ordered relieved last Friday following the creation of the BoI as ordered by Maj. Gen. Nestor Anonuevo, commanding general of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID). Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesman of the 4th ID, said that 4th ID Inspector General Col. Quidilla was tapped to lead the inquiry.

“There will be an inquiry to determine what really transpired…and to establish command responsibility,” Osias said.

He explained that the relief of Jacob was meant to make him available anytime the BoI requires his presence.

He added the BoI would also make recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Relatedly, Osias said pursuing government troops last Saturday caught up with the NPA band that attacked Del Monte compound, sparking an intense firefight along Barangay Licoan in Sumilao town which is adjacent to the municipality of Manolo Fortich where the rebels burned down three heavy equipment last Tuesday.

“We expect more encounters after catching up with these rebels, through the help of civilians,” said Osias.

The encounter erupted at around 12 noon Saturday and intermittent firefight went on up to night time.

Osias said initial reports showed that two NPA rebels were killed during the clash while a soldier was slightly wounded.

Fascist propaganda keeps sowing disinformation in the media

Posted to the CPP Website (Feb 24): Fascist propaganda keeps sowing disinformation in the media

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter

There is no such thing as “permit to campaign/permit to win fees” and it is extremely malicious for a newspaper in the region to headline that NDF-Eastern Visayas“admits” there is such a demand on candidates seeking electoral access in revolutionary territories. Where else did this come from except from parroting the counterrevolutionary propaganda by the Aquino regime and its 8th Infantry Division? They campaign against the exercise of state power by the People’s Democratic Government which imposes guidelines on candidates in the conduct of election campaigns in revolutionary territories. Such state power is widely recognized and respected and all candidates without exception must abide by the guidelines on election campaigns.

Furthermore, the Aquino regime and 8th ID seek to divert attention away from the fact that the reactionary elections are undemocratic and are used along with state violence to keep the oppressive and exploitative system. The leading reactionary politicians in the region are all representatives of landlords and big business who oppress and exploit the people, and sell out national sovereignty and national patrimony to foreign interests. The worst of them have been big bureaucrats for long and turn their positions into political dynasties.

There are the Petilla and Romualdez dynasties in Leyte who have been squabbling over the spoils of power since the Marcos dictatorship. There is the Tan dynasty in Western Samar whose matriarch and her four children are making it a family business to run the province. There is the Daza dynasty in Northern Samar which has been plundering billions in public works projects.

These dynasties are also close collaborators with the military in wielding state authority and state violence to subjugate the people. They are oblivious to the military’s human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan. They support the 8th ID’s surrender campaigns against the New People’s Army. They legitimize the military’s psywar campaigns and even share lucrative public works contracts. They connive with the military and police in running private armies and criminal syndicates.

Thus the guidelines on the conduct of election campaigns are there precisely because of the people’s demands against the tyrants who commit violence and bribery to get themselves elected. The People’s Democratic Government ensures that the rights and interests of the people are protected and that elections are peaceful, orderly and beneficial. To do these, the People’s Democratic Government has both the NPA and the instruments of political power as a rising revolutionary state coexisting with and confronting the reactionary ruling state.

The people in the revolutionary territories are empowered in fighting for a genuine democratic system of governance to prevail, which even the reactionary politicians recognize and respect. Those who disparage the revolutionary movement and believe the ruling system is “democratic” and empowers the people are either exceedingly ignorant or hopelessly reactionary.

NDF-Negros condemns the worsening war crimes and human rights violations committed by the AFP and PNP

Posted to the CPP Website (Feb 25): NDF-Negros condemns the worsening war crimes and human rights violations committed by the AFP and PNP

Frank Fernandez
NDFP Negros Island Chapter

NDF- Negros condemns the escalating war crimes and human rights violations committed by the AFP and PNP against the people as a result of the US-Aquino counter-revolutionary war Oplan Bayanihan.

However the truth is being systematically covered by President Aquino and other high officials of the government and the AFP/PNP on the bloody and brutal US sponsored Oplan Bayanihan. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the AFP and the Office of the Communications Group of Malacanang coordinate with each other and orchestrate in manipulating public opinion thru a heavy dosage of psywar propaganda materials in order to demonize the CPP-NPA and the NDF while deodorizing the image of the regime’s human rights record that they feed on the channels of the mainstream mass media, social networking, PR relation and social survey firms, anti-communist front organizations in order to conceal the rampage of state terrorism of extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, tortures, enforced disappearance, force evacuations, recruitment of minors as war combatants, forced occupation of public institutions and other atrocities. On the other hand, the reactionary regime protects the criminals in the military from being jailed, promote the others, and indifferent in punishing the Ampatuans.

The ambitious Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino regime aims to wipe out the armed revolution of the people in three years (2011-2013) with the full support of US imperialism, this together with the intensification of the military operation in the cities and the countrysides, attacks on the revolutionary forces, military and legal offensives against progressive forces. Their policy framework of “whole of the nation approach” involves the mobilization of “all the stakeholders for peace” that in essence is the direct involvement of all the agencies of government, AFP/PNP initiated-sectoral organizations and alliances, reactionary, reformist and anti-communist organizations, NGOs and institutions for combat, intelligence, CMO operations of the AFP/PNP. Oplan Bayanihan has enflamed the civil war in the country on a higher degree of escalation of fascist terrorism and human rights violations against the people.

The encounter between a unit of the NPA and the armed PNP and BPAT last January 27, 2013, in Brgy Puso, La Castellana, Negros Occidental is a clear case that shows the systematic application of the CIA-AFP and Office of the Communications Group psywar plan that was implemented by the officials of the AFP/PNP and the CMO Battalion 3ID, Phil Army in Western Visayas that was supported by Governor Alfredo Maranon. They sensationalized the military-police version of the incident as an “ambush” and “massacre” and they overglossed the issue on the two civilians that were killed and others that were wounded to influence public perception that will turn negative against the revolutionary movement. Along with this is their objective to cover the truth behind the very basic character of the PNP and the BPAT as part of the fascist instrument of the reactionary state in suppressing the revolutionary movement and in protecting the interests of the big comprador bourgeoisie, landlords and foreign capitalists.

Let us remember the words of Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz last October 2012, regional police director of Western Visayas on the additional deployment of 450 police officers for the police stations of Negros and Panay and the 6th RPSB will be getting 480 policemen and women. He said that he will “maximize the deployment of PNP personnel for anti-criminality and insurgency campaign” to include the mobilization of “Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams, tanods and volunteers for intelligence monitoring, crime prevention and control…” and to target the revolutionary forces.

Based on the initial investigation of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, the BPAT groups in the towns of La Castellana and Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental and the towns of Pamplona and Siaton, Negros Oriental and other towns, are armed with high and low caliber weapons, they are being mobilized by the PNP and the Phil Army for combat, intelligence and psywar operations. Some active BPAT members and ex-RPAs are also hired by landlords, corrupt Department of Agriculture (DAR) officials in dividing and creating trouble and threatening the peasants, landgrabbing of the lots of CARP farmer beneficiaries. The arming of the BPAT and mobilizing them for counter-insurgency operations, and anti-people activities will make them legitimate targets by the military and police operations of the NPA. In order to maintain their civilian status, the AFP and PNP should stop arming and utilizing them in anti-people and anti-revolutionary activities.

Despite the anti-revolutionary and anti-people record of BPAT, it is not the intention of the NPA unit in Central Negros to punish o ambush the PNP and BPAT aboard the canter truck. The NPA guerrilla unit employed the tactic of surprise-checkpoint in order to stop the canter truck of the barangay in order to dis-arm the police and the armed BPAT members in fatigue uniform. However the NPA on standby were forced to fire when they were fired upon by members of the PNP and the BPAT.

NDF-Negros laments that civilians were involved in the incident last January 27 encounter. In order to avoid the repeat of such incident and minimize civilian casualties, we are reminding the public on the reality that the civil war in the country between the bourgeoisie compradors –landlords and the oppressed and exploited people is escalating. The people should avoid and resist to be used as human shields by the AFP and PNP against the NPA, by intended ride-on aboard with armed soldiers-policemen on military and police vehicles or government and private vehicles, occupation and stay in health clinic centers, day care centers, schools and houses of the masses, and the establishment of their military and police detachments in the populated centers of the barrio.

We also call on the officials of the reactionary government units and individuals not to allow the use of their vehicles in the transport of AFP and PNP and their military equipments.

The long history of the world revolutionary movement show that just wars cannot avoid errors in the process of struggle for the fundamental interests of the people against the exploiting and oppressive foreign occupiers-aggressors and local reactionaries. The CPP-NPA and other allied organizations of NDF-Negros do not deny that it has committed mistakes, do self-criticism and are determined to rectify their mistakes just like in the Second Great Rectification Movement of the 1990s against the grave errors of the 1980s and in admitting them, do self-criticism and rectification from 1990-2012. However what cannot be denied is the fact that the revolutionary forces of the CPP-NPA and the NDF represent the advance force of the people in order to carry forward their historical and fundamental interests in launching their revolutionary struggle until the victory of the national democratic fight against US imperialism, local feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

No matter how strong is the psywar machinery of the Aquino regime and the AFP/PNP in deodorizing their image, it is impossible to erase their very nature as instruments of reaction and fascist terror against the exploited people and that they only serve the interests of the foreign capitalists and the local big comprador bourgiesie and landlords. And in the face of the worsening crisis of the economy that is being shouldered by the people and the strengthening of the peoples’ struggle, the reactionary government , the AFP and the PNP becomes more desperate and commits more war crimes, errors and violations of human rights against the people. And even the naked truth has manifested the war crimes of the US-Aquino regime, it’s AFP/PNP will always insist the“policy of denial” in their murder of Benjamen Bayles of Himamaylan City and the massacre of the Fableo family of Canlaon City.

Military operations ‘forcing’ folk into approving Mountain Province projects

From the Business Mirror (Feb 24): Military operations ‘forcing’ folk into approving Mountain Province projects

THE Leonardo Pacsi Command of the New People’s Army (NPA-LPC) in Mountain Province said the massive military operations in the western towns of the province were launched to terrorize the people into approving two energy projects.
“The Leonardo Pacsi Command of the NPA-Mountain Province strongly condemns the widespread military operations in the western towns of the province and supports the opposition of the people against plunderous and anti-development renewable-energy projects under the guise of being ‘environmental friendly and pro-people,” the provincial command said.
From January 30 up to the second week of February, elements of the 54th Infantry Battalion were deployed in several barrios and mountains of Sagada, Besao, Tadian, Bauko and Bontoc.
They also encamped in public places such as the barangay clinic of Suyo, Sagada and even forcibly took over and stayed at people’s houses in Balili, Bontoc.
Residents also complained that military vehicles parked and trespassed on the school grounds of the elementary school in Kin-iway, Besao, while soldiers occupied the workplaces of gardeners in Lake Danum at the boundary of Sagada and Besao and set up encampments all over the said agricultural area. 
“The people of Sagada and Besao, including those in other places in Mountain Province have complained that the mere presence of these soldiers in such public places and production areas are instilling fear and disturbing the peace and order and agricultural production of farmers and gardeners.
“As broadcast live over Radyo Sagada on February 6, the military arrogantly and in a sneering tone announced that 300 of their troops occupied Lake Danum, which prompted local executives and personalities to ask them to vacate the area because of the complaints of gardeners and the people of Sagada and Besao. 
“The military, in token response, simply shifted to nearby areas only to return after a few days. Their maneuvers to enter and occupy positions inside the barrios were done under the cover of darkness to dissimulate troop movements. This further terrorized the people who were shocked to wake up to swarming troops and military vehicles in their barrio,” NPA-LPC said.
“These wanton actions of the military are gross violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (signed by the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. The said agreement prohibits armed troops from occupying public places and using these as barracks, depot and other military purposes. The same is stated by the Unicef to protect children who are the victims when the military use schools and other public places. 
“The military’s overbearing behavior shows that they do not obey laws, these be the international law on the conduct of war and the protection of children, the ordinances of the local government or the traditional customs and regulations of indigenous peoples,” NPA-LPC added.

CPP-NPA leader with P2.5-M bounty arrested in Benguet

From the Business Mirror (Feb 24): CPP-NPA leader with P2.5-M bounty arrested in Benguet

A SUSPECTED leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) with a P2.5-million bounty for his capture was arrested on Saturday by government security forces in Abatan, Benguet, Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said on Sunday.
Cerbo identified the arrested rebel leader as Kennedy Bangibang. “[Bangibang is the] secretary-general of the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya-Baggao,” Cerbo said. He was referring to a town (Baggao) in Cagayan province, one of the traditional NPA mass bases of the CPP-NPA in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley).
Cerbo said Bangibang was arrested at around 2 p.m. at Bangao Proper Junction along Halsema Highway. “He [Bangibang] was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Marcelino Wakas based in Bulanao, Tabuk, Kalinga for a crime of murder with CC 58-2011,” he said.
Meanwhile, Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara said the capture of Bangibang is a “big blow” to the NPA organization in Cagayan.
“Bangibang’s arrest by the PNP which was supported by our soldiers could not have been successful without the cooperation of some civilians who tipped off his whereabouts. It could also be possible that he is tired already in the rebel movement so he exposed himself to public. This led to his arrest,” Alcantara said.
He credited the arrest of Bangibang to the military’s intensified information-dissemination to the people about the objective of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan which enjoins all sector to unite against the culture of violence.
“We should be all promoting a culture of peace and not a culture of violence. Magbayanihan lamang tayo para sa tunay na kapayapaan,” Alcantara said.
Since Jan. 16, after the suspension of military operations (Somo) of both the military and NPA was lifted, the NPA intensified its tactical operations against government forces and even against private companies who refused to pay the so-called revolutionary tax.
The ambush in January in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, killed eight civilians and a policeman. It also wounded six other civilians and two cops.
President Aquino ordered the regional police to file a complaint against the NPA before an international body for violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
Just last week, the NPA conducted simultaneous raids against Del Monte Philippines in Bukidnon killing a security guard and wounding three people.
The police and military estimated millions of pesos worth of property was lost in the NPA attack as a warehouse, offices, heavy equipment and vehicles were burned and destroyed. Authorities said the rebels also looted office computers and personal valuables of the employees, including some high-powered firearms and pistols.
In October 2011, a similar attack was conducted against three foreign mining giants in Claver, Surigao del Norte. Authorities said the NPA destroyed property worth up to P3 billion.
Peace talks between the Aquino administration and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the negotiating arm of the CPP-NPA, was stalled since February 2011 because of disagreement on the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees.
The NDF withdrew from the negotiating table because of the series of arrests of its “consultants” in the peace talks.
Meanwhile, Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes has sacked the commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade pending investigation for possible security lapses over the latest major attack of communist rebels against Del Monte Philippines in Bukidnon.
Relieved for command responsibility was Col. James Jacob, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Maharlika” Class 1984. He was replaced by Col. Francisco Pabayo, chief of staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7) of the Philippine Army. Pabay is a member of PMA “Sandiwa” Class 1985.
The relief of Jacob was confirmed by Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division, the mother unit of the Jacob’s command.
Osias said 4th ID commander Maj. Gen. Nestor Añonuevo implemented on Friday the relief order of Jacob (sentence/article incomplete)....