Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Four rebel returnees get livelihood assistance

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 27): Four rebel returnees get livelihood assistance

Four rebel returnees here were recently given livelihood assistance of P50,000 each through the Comprehensive Local Integration Plan (CLIP) of the province.

According to Eusebia Haddac, CLIP coordinator of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), said fund assistance came from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) as part of the closure agreement between the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) and the OPPAP.

The four recipients will be engaging in rice production activities. Three of them will use their money to buy farm inputs. In addition to the farm inputs, one opted to buy a carabao for his upland rice farming, another intends to buy a pig to raise and the other to use at least P10,000 to start a small sari-sari store with canteen.

One of the beneficiaries will use his money as mortgage for an additional farmland to increase his rice production activity.

Said recipients were part of the 15 beneficiaries being proposed for funding from the OPAPP, Social Integration Program (SIP). The other 11, she said, are still awaiting approval and fund release.

Currently, the province is opting to organize the CLIP Committee under the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of the province, she said. This is part of the localization of the SIP of the national government being implemented by the OPAPP.

“Its integration in the PPOC will mean that future programs will be planned and funded by the council,” she said.

GPH, MILF sign AnnexTransitional Arrangements and Modalities at 36th exploratory talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 28): GPH, MILF sign AnnexTransitional Arrangements and Modalities at 36th exploratory talks

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels signed late night Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur the first of four Annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities (TAM), signed at the end of the 36th round Formal Exploratory Talks, “details the road map towards the creation of the Bangsamoro” region.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said the GPH and MILF also signed the Terms of Reference for the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP) prepared by the Transitional Working Group (TWG) on Normalization.

The ICP will submit recommendations to the peace panels on the appropriate form, structures and relationships of the police force for the Bangsamoro.

Signing for the government was Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, GPH panel chair, while Mohagher Iqbal MILF panel chair, signed for the MILF. Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, the Malaysian facilitator for the talks, witnessed the signing.

The GPH and MILF will continue their discussions on the Annexes on Wealth Sharing and Power Sharing to resolve the remaining issues. In their joint statement, the two parties likewise discussed the composition of the Third Party Monitoring Team, the body that will review, assess, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the FAB and its Annexes.

The Parties welcomed the appointment of all the members of the Transition Commission as envisioned by the FAB and provided for by Executive Order 120. They acknowledged the important role of the Transition Commission and look forward to its success.

The parties expressed their appreciation to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for his unwavering commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao and to Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak for his continued support in the facilitation of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks, and to the members of the MILF Central Committee headed by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim for their untiring commitment to the peaceful resolution of the Bangsamoro Question.

They also extended their gratitude to the members of the International Contact Group (ICG), namely Japan, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Turkey, the United Kingdom, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), Conciliation Resources (CR), Muhammadiyah, and The Asia Foundation (TAF).

The GPH and MILF expressed profound gratitude to CHD’s Mr. David Gorman for his active participation since the inception of the ICG in 2009, and his valuable contributions to the GPH-MILF peace process.

GPH, MILF sign transition annex

From  Rappler (Feb 28): GPH, MILF sign transition annex

DEVELOPMENTS. The respective panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front draft their joint closing statement. Photo from OPAPP's Twitter account

DEVELOPMENTS. The respective panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front draft their joint closing statement. Photo from OPAPP's Twitter account

One down, 3 more to go. The government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities (TAM) Wednesday night, February 27 in a session that ended at 9:49 pm -- the longest since the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Oct 15, 2012.

The annex outlines the transition process and defines the various mechanisms to be employed towards the creation of the Bangsamoro political identity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
According to the signed document, the transition process and its components will be as follows:
1. Creation of the Transition Commission
2. Operation of the Transition Commission
3. The Bangsamoro Basic Law
4. Work on Constitutional Amendments
5. Ratification of Bangsamoro Basic Law
6. Bangsamoro Transition Authority
7. Monitoring
8. Exit Document
Both sides also signed the Terms of Reference for the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP), which will be tasked to submit recommendations to the peace panels on the appropriate form, structures and relationships of the police force for the Bangsamoro.
Meanwhile, discussions on the remaining annexes continued. Discussions on the annexes on wealth-sharing and power-sharing have already been elevated to the respective peace panels. Only the annex on normalization continues to be on the level of the technical working groups.
The talks were held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia amid an ongoing standoff by the followers of the Sultan of Sulu in Sabah in a bid to reignite the Philippines' claim to the area.

Rebel leader denied bail

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 28): Rebel leader denied bail

The arrested New People’s Army leader facing raps for robbery with homicide and physical injuries has been denied bail by the court, Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday.

Joel Danioso, an alleged commander of the Yunit Militia of the NPA Northern Negros Front Committee, was nabbed by a combined team of policemen and Army soldiers last week in Sitio Minatipik, Brgy. Winaswasan, Calatrava. The arrest warrant was issued by San Carlos City Regional Trial Court Judge Kathrine Go.

Lactao said Danioso has been endorsed to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in San Carlos City, for detention.

Danioso was also linked to the summary execution of an Army detachment commander in front of his daughter and the disarming of government militiamen, two years ago.

The rebels shot and killed detachment commander, SSgt. Efraim Bagonoc, in front of his daughter, disarmed the militiamen, and took 23 high-powered firearms from the detachment, military records showed.

Danioso is the younger brother of Rogelio Danioso, commander of the NPA Northern Negros Front, who was arrested in previous years for robbery-in-band charges, but managed to post bail.

Malaysian troops 'visit' sultan's followers

From ABS-CBN (Feb 27): Malaysian troops 'visit' sultan's followers

Malaysian soldiers visited on Wednesday afternoon the brother and supporters of the sultan of Sulu who remain holed up in Sabah, Malaysia.
Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III said 6 heavily-armed soldiers from the Malaysian Army who visited the group were not hostile.

He said the soldiers didn't say anything to his brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, and almost 300 of their supporters who are engaged in standoff with Malaysian forces for almost 2 weeks now.

Kiram remains optimistic that the standoff in Sabah will end peacefully.

Kiram said if given the opportunity, they would agree to being granted Malaysian citizenship if it means they would be allowed to stay in Sabah.

"Of course I would like to live in a Muslim country," he said.

However, he warned that his brother is ready to fight to the end.

"Bago sila umalis, ibinilin na nila sa akin ang mga anak at ari-arian nila. Napaghandaan na nila iyan," he said.

He said they have yet to hear directly from the Palace regarding orders from the President to leave Sabah.

He added that he has sent 3 letters to President Benigno Aquino asking for support for negotiations with the Malaysian government but he has not received a reply.

Sulu crown prince denies provoking war

From ABS-CBN (Feb 28): Sulu crown prince denies provoking war

The crown prince of the Sultanate of Sulu on Thursday slammed the Philippine government for announcing that he and his followers could be charged with inciting war for bearing arms while going to Sabah, Malaysia.
Datu Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram said there is nothing unlawful with their move to stay in the area since they are the rightful owners of the Malaysian territory. "Hindi iyan totoo. Mali iyan. Actually we come here of our own free will. Even members of the royal security force, I didn't force them to come with me," Kiram told radio dzMM.

"We came here not to provoke trouble, no. We just want to live here because this [land] is owned by us… We are trying to awaken the whole world about our rights."
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday said the Kiram family and their supporters could be charged with violating Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code.
The Philippine government is also looking into the possibility that the sultanate is being backed by other entities.

"By their unlawful and unauthorized acts, these groups are provoking or giving occasion for a war and exposing our citizens to reprisals," de Lima said.
Being found guilty of the charges could mean imprisonment of up to 12 years.

Fight to the death

Kiram also denied that Malaysian security forces have overrun their camp in the town of Lahad Datu after being given warning by the Malaysian government to leave peacefully.

"Nagbabantay kami araw, gabi because there was already a warning for us to surrender. The word 'surrender' is something not good for us. We are not outlaws. We are not bad elements. We are good people. We are law abiding citizens. We came here to live in our place. I think it is not unlawful. It is not a crime," he said.

On Wednesday, at least six Malaysian security forces armed with rifles entered the royal army's camp. The crown prince said this prompted the royal army to fire a warning shot to alert the sultanate's followers of the presence of the Malaysian forces.
Kiram, however, said no confrontation occurred since the Malaysian forces allegedly immediately ran away after the royal army fired a warning shot.

Despite an appeal from no less than President Benigno Aquino III, Kiram said he and his followers will not budge.

He said he and his followers will fight to the death if provoked, believing that they are doing this for Sulu's younger generation.

"Just go home without anything? We will start again from zero. We already have a lot of experience. From [then president] Diosdado Macapagal, nothing had happened," he said.

"The president must do something to help us to negotiate peacefully and return what is ours. Because it is the duty of whoever is the president of the Philippines to protect the right of every individual Filipino citizens. We have the right, we have all the documentations that sabah is owned by the sultan of sulu and constituents
Kiram said the only thing that will make them leave Sabah is an assurance that the Philippine government will help them bring the Sabah issue back to the negotiating table.

"[Is it] not possible [for us to] stay while we do the negotiations with the Malaysian government? We will not do anything that is against [the law]. I told them, and this is already known throughout the Philippines, that we come here just to live in our place," he said.

The sultanate wants a formal agreement with the Malaysian government recognizing their Sabah claim. It wants the Philippine government to broker the negotiations.
Kiram clarified that he is with 275 followers in Sabah. He, however, refused to divulge how many of them are armed.

Sunni Muslims' grand imam urges release of kidnapped Arabiya reporter

From GMANews (Feb 28): Sunni Muslims' grand imam urges release of kidnapped Arabiya reporter

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the top religious authority for Sunni Muslims, on Wednesday urged Islamist militants in the Philippines to free a reporter with Al-Arabiya news channel seized in June.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb called upon kidnappers to "revert to right and religious principles... which stress that kidnapping and terrorism are prohibited," in a statement released by his office in Egypt's capital.

He urged the kidnappers of Bakr Atyani, a Jordanian journalist working for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, to set him free and let him "return safely" to his family.

"This shameful act of kidnapping, terrorism and putting the lives of people at risk for a small sum of money contradicts the principles of Islam," Tayeb said.

"It also violates the freedoms guaranteed in all conventions and international norms," he said.

Atyani and two Filipino crew members went missing last June on the remote Philippine island of Jolo, which is notorious for Islamist militants and kidnappings, and a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf small Islamist movement that has been blamed for most of the country's attacks and kidnappings.

Earlier this month, the militants released the two crew members, who said they were separated from Atyani on the fifth day of their captivity.

Abu Sayyaf group was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang.

US special forces have been rotating in the southern Philippines for more than a decade to train local troops in crushing Abu Sayyaf which is on Washington's list of wanted foreign terrorist organizations.

Army slams NortCot NPAs for setting off landmine near communities

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27): Army slams NortCot NPAs for setting off landmine near communities

The military here has slammed the communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels for using landmines and plant these in far-flung but populated communities in Makilala, North Cotabato.

The rebels on Wednesday set off a landmine at a roadside in the village of Balatukan were the soldiers were about to pass in response to reports that rebels are mulcting civilian communities.

Alarmed by the coming of government forces, the communist prematurely set off the landmine. Lucky enough no civilians were hurt and no soldiers were harmed because the soldiers were about 500 meters away when the landmine went off.

Lt. Nasrullah Sema, speaking for the 57th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers were sent to the village of Bulatukan after they receive reports of an impending plan by the NPA to plant land mine along a route to be taken by soldiers. As the soldiers were coming, the land mine went off.

The soldiers were conducting clearing operations on Tuesday morning when they learned of the plot to set off landmines by the rebels. No soldiers were hurt in the explosion.

Sema said it was the eight landmines that the rebels set off in various areas in Makilala and the rebels’ main targets were government forces since January. Four of the explosion hit soldiers and two others wounded civilians and non combatants.

Sema lambasted the NPAs for using landmines despite the worldwide ban on the use of weapons of mass destruction. Sema said clearing operations continue in communities were the NPAs had been harassing and mulcting farmers.

Sema said guerrillas have been harassing civilian communities who ignore their demand for protection money.

Various groups have been calling for the removal of soldiers but Sema said majority of the villagers of Bulatukan want the soldiers to stay to protect them from harassment by the rebels.

Arrested NPA rebel confirms death of 3 comrades, 3 wounded in Bukidnon encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27): Arrested NPA rebel confirms death of 3 comrades, 3 wounded in Bukidnon encounter

A member of the New People’s Army (NPA) arrested on Tuesday night confessed that three of his comrades were killed while three others wounded in an encounter with pursuing troopers in Bukidnon last Feb. 23.

Police Supt. Ronnie Cariaga, spokesperson of the regional police command here, said police operatives collared Valeriano Anonsaon Jr., a.k.a. "Junior," in the farming village of Sil-ipon in Libona, Bukidnon Tuesday evening.

Anonsaon was among the suspected rebels who stormed the main camp of Del Monte Philippines, Inc. at Camp Phillips in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon on the night of Feb. 19, 2013, Cariaga said.

He said the suspect has a pending warrant of arrest with attempted homicide issued by the Municipal Trial Court of Bukidnon.

Police traced Anonsaon’s whereabouts on a tip from an informant where he was reportedly hiding in a relative’s house.

During the initial investigation, the suspect disclosed that their group figured in an encounter with pursuing government troopers last Feb. 23, killing three of his comrades and wounding three others, Cariaga said.

He said the management of Del Monte started to coordinate with the local police in Manolo Fortich for filing of an arson case against Anonsaon.

Some 150 NPA rebels stormed DMPI’s main pineapple camp last Feb. 19, while another group simultaneously attacked a satellite camp in Sumilao and Impasug-ong where the Dole Phil. (Stanfilco) has a banana plantation.

The rebels burned DMPI’s heavy equipment at the main camp, ransacked the administration building, killed a company guard and wounded three others, torched the warehouse in Sumilao and banana plantations in Impasug-Ong, Bukidnon.

Cariaga said Anonsaon was the third rebel suspect to fall as law enforcers continue to pursue the NPAs accused of various atrocities in Bukidnon.

He said police already filed charges against two other suspects caught fleeing in Barangay Kihare, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon the night the rebels stormed the pineapple and banana companies in the province.

Cops nab suspect in banana plantation attacks in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Star (Feb 27): Cops nab suspect in banana plantation attacks in Bukidnon

Police have arrested a suspected communist rebel who was allegedly involved in attacks on pineapple plantations in Bukinon province last week.

Elements of the Libona Municipal police and the Regional Public Safety Battalion nabbed Valeriano Anonsaon Jr. in Barangay Sil-ipon, Libona, Bukidnon at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Authorities said Anonsaon has a pending arrest warrant for attempted homicide issued by Judge Lourdes Eltanal-Ignacio of the 1st Municipal Trial Court of Bukidnon which covers the jurisdictions of Talakag, Baungon and Malitbog.

Police believe that Anonsaon was among the NPA rebels who attacked Del Monte and Dole plantations in Bukidnon last February 19.

Two suspected rebels were arrested during the follow-up operation in Barangay Kihare, Manolo Fortich town.

Reports said the Libona police received information from an informant that Valeriano was last spotted in Barangay Sil-ipo, where he stayed with his wife’s uncle.

He was reportedly recuperating from the injuries which he got during an encounter with soldiers last February 23.

Anonsaon said that three more rebels were wounded and three others were killed in the same reported encounter.

The management of Del Monte is now coordinating with the local police in the filing of Arson cases against the arrested rebel suspect.

Police have identified other suspects based on the description of witnesses.

Moro leaders locked in land dispute sign peace pact

From the Philippine Star (Feb 27): Moro leaders locked in land dispute sign peace pact

Leaders of two armed Moro factions locked in a bloody land dispute reconciled Monday and signed a peace pact detailing their commitment to start anew as brothers under one religion.

Capt. Antonio Bulao, speaking for Army’s 602nd Brigade based in North Cotabato’s Carmen town, said Commander Embang of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Teng Kilangan of Pagalungan, Maguindanao, signed the peace covenant in the presence of local officials and representatives of the police and the military.

Kilangan is an incumbent chairman of an interior village in Pagalungan.

The two factions fought for control of patches of arable lands at the border of Carmen and Pagalungan towns for almost two decades.

It took several months for the commanding officer of the 602nd Brigade, Col. Ademar Tomaro, and the joint government-MILF ceasefire committee to convince Embang and Kilangan, whose followers are armed with assault rifles, machineguns and shoulder-fire rockets, to reconcile and sign the covenant meant to restore normalcy in the areas affected by their clan war, called “rido” in the vernacular.

The two groups last figured in a firefight Thursday, which extracted a fatality each from both sides.

Seven other combatants have been wounded in the ensuing encounter, which waned only when representatives of the police, the 602nd Brigade, and the joint ceasefire committee intervened.

The two groups agreed to let government agencies help resolve the land dispute involving them.

NPAs 'collect' firearms from NCotabato village

From the Philippine Star (Feb 27): NPAs 'collect' firearms from NCotabato village

Communist rebels disguised as Army soldiers enforcing the election gun ban divested Moro villagers of firearms in a daring raid on Monday in a remote district in Makilala, North Cotabato.

Lt. Manuel Gatus, a company commander in the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, said the 60 or so New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas arrived at Barangay Lacobe and pretended that they were ordered to inspect the firearms of local residents for documentation purposes.

Some Moro farmers in Barangay Lacobe are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, while there are also some who belong to a village militia helping the police and military maintain law and order in the area.

“They made the villagers believe they were merely implementing the election gun ban being enforced by the Commission on Elections,” Gatus said.

Gatus said the rebels left with dozens of firearms from the unsuspecting villagers.
Soldiers have been deployed around the barangay to provide security to its residents.

MNLF official denies troops on alert amid Sabah standoff

From the Philippine  Star (Feb 27): MNLF official denies troops on alert amid Sabah standoff

A senior official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Wednesday denied reports that its members were preparing to invade Sabah to support the members of the Sulu Sultanate who have been locked in a standoff with Malaysian security forces in Lahad Datu.

Habib Mujahab Hashim, senior member to the MNLF central committee and chairman of Islamic Command Council (ICC), said the MNLF members were not also placed on alert.

Hashim issued the denial following the statement made by a certain MNLF political officer Hadji Gapul Hadjirul about the alleged movement of the MNLF fighters.

“The MNLF took exception to the statement of a certain Hajirul regarding the Sabah stand off. Brother Nur (Misuari) said he has not instructed of any alert of its members," Hashim said.

Hashim made it clear that they support Sultan Jamalul Kiram in the peaceful resolution through negotiations to end the standoff in Lahad Datu.

“Other than that and for the MNLF members to go to Sabah that is definitely not true. Going there will only court further trouble,” Hashim said.

Alleged top NPA leader in Kalinga falls

From the Philippine Star (Feb 27): Alleged top NPA leader in Kalinga falls

Kalinga’s top rebel leader Kennedy Bangibang, famously known as “Ka Akhbar,” has been arrested by authorities at a checkpoint in Bangao, Buguias town, Benguet.

Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera regional police director, said that the elusive Bangibang, who carries a P2.5 million reward on his head, was on his way to a communist movement “plenum” in Sagada town, Mt. Province when held by policemen and military intelligence agents.

Magalong said Bangibang was alone when he was arrested last Saturday.

Bangibang is the alleged secretary of the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (Guerilla Front) codenamed “Baggas” operating in Kalinga and some parts of Apayao province. “He has various cases to face in Kalinga,” Magalong said.

“Ka Akhbar” is the highest NPA leader cornered this year after Grayson Naogsan, son of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) spokesperson Simon Naogsan.

Naogsan, who had a P3.2 million reward on his head, was arrested by policemen inside a mall in Baguio City in November last year.

The Kalinga rebel leader is also an alleged member of the executive committee of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA because of his rank in Kalinga province.

Police and military intelligence operatives are now hunting down Bangibang's colleagues.

2 NPAs killed in Cagayan clash

From the Philippine Star (Feb 27): 2 NPAs killed in Cagayan clash

Two suspected communist rebels were killed during an encounter with government troops in Cagayan, police said on Wednesday.

Police Inspector Ceasar Orlanes, information officer of the Cagayan Provincial Police Office, said the firefight between soldiers and members of the New People's Army took place on Tuesday at around 1:30 p.m. in Barangay Lakambini, Tuao.
Ornales said authorities have yet to identify the casualties.

He said policemen were dispatched to the village after they received information on the presence of at least eight heavily-armed men in the area.

The firefight lasted for almost an hour after which the rebels retreated from the area.
Authorities recovered from the site an M-14 carbine rifle, an M-16 assault rifle and a caliber 45 pistol.

NPA vows more attacks vs. big firms destroying environment

From  MindaNews (Feb 27): NPA vows more attacks vs. big firms destroying environment

The New People’s Army (NPA) will stage more attacks against big companies that contributed to environmental destruction, an official of the National Democratic Front (NDF) said.

Randall Echanis, of the NDF’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reform, aired the warning in a peace forum Monday in Davao City organized by the Sowing the Seeds of Peace and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform.

Echanis’ warning came six days after the NPA raided the compound of Del Monte Philippines in Manolo Fortich town Bukidnon resulting in the death of a company security guard and the wounding of two others.

“These companies have been occupying thousands of hectares of lands for so long, they benefited a lot from exploiting the land, the farmers and farm workers in the midst of landlessness apart from environmental destruction, use of aerial spraying and massive land use conversion,” he said.

The NDF official alleged that the presence of these companies worsened the impact of typhoon Sendong in December 2011.

Calling the attack a “legitimate exercise of the NDF’s political authority, Echanis said they had warned big logging, mining and agribusiness companies not to engage in land-grabbing and environmental destruction.”

At the forum, Echanis presented the NDF’s draft on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reform (Caser).

Caser is the second agenda in the peace talks between the NDF and the Government of the Philippines. The first accord signed by both parties was the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl).

In an interview, Echanis said discussing the Caser was needed to address the situation of victims of calamities like storms Sendong and Pablo.

He cited that the NDF’s draft Caser contains clear provisions on the conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the environment.

“The NDF well understood that big companies of mining, logging and plantations are responsible in damaging our lands and denuding our forests which resulted to flood especially here in Mindanao,” he added.

“We will not allow these destructive big companies that destroy both the environment and the livelihood of the people.”

Echanis said the NDF’s draft Caser also provides for “genuine land reform” that will abolish big landholdings and plantation.”

He said government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has failed to address landlessness.

He blamed the delays in the discussion of the Caser since 1998 on government’s “lack of seriousness” to pursue the peace talks and alleged violations of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees which was approved in 1995.

Echanis cited the arrest and detention of 14 so-called NDF consultants as among the obstacles to the resumption of the talks.

The NDF and the Philippine government have engaged in peace talks since 1986. Aside from the Carhrihl and the unfinished Caser, the two parties agreed in 1992 to also tackle political and electoral reforms and disposition of forces.

MILF: Gov’t, MILF hailed for TC formation

From the MIF Website (Feb 26): Gov’t, MILF hailed for TC formation

In an official press statement, the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) has hailed both the Government of the Philippines (GPH) led by no less than President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in promptly accomplishing their task of selecting the members of the Transition Commission (TC) for the Bangsamoro.

Calling the formation of the TC as “History at Hand”, the MPW, speaking through its spokesman, Hydee Prieto, further asserted the TC is tasked with drafting the historic Bangsamoro Basic Law that gives the 15-member TC the singular opportunity to spell out a definitive roadmap of the nascent Bangsamoro.

MPW also expressed strong support for the united efforts of the TC in establishing a framework of true peace and development for the Bangsamoro.

“We applaud both sets of the TransCom members and congratulate each and every one of them on their selection and endorsement by their communities, leaders and peers. We know that they each have the support and backing of the sectors they represent,” the statement added.

“We pray that their shared vision for the Bangsamoro will prove to be the bond that unites them in their efforts. We enjoin the TransCom to shoulder their tasks with gusto, for they have the support of the MPW and numerous other peace advocates everywhere. We encourage everyone to lend support to the TransCom in their challenging role,” it further stressed.

“And as a country and the rest of the world look on, we salute you and the history you begin defining today, the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Press Secretary of the Office of the Philippine President had released the names of the 15-man TC to wit:

The seven that compose the Government of the Philippines (GPH) panel are:

1. Hon. Akmad A. Sakkam
2. Hon. Johaira C. Wahab
3. Hon. Talib A. Benito
4. Hon. Asani S. Tammang
5. Hon. Pedrito A. Eisma
6. Hon. Froilyn T. Mendoza
7. Hon. Fatmawati T. Salapuddin

Those selected by the MILF are:

1. Chairman - Hon. Mohagher Iqbal
2. Hon. Robert M. Alonto
3. Hon. Abdulla U. Camlian
4. Hon. Ibrahim D. Ali
5. Hon. Raissa H. Jajurie
6. Hon. Melanio U. Ulama
7. Hon. Hussein P. Munoz
8. Hon. Said M. Shiek

It said that the seven appointees of the GPH panel underwent thorough screening and evaluation by a TransCom Selection Body composed of Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, and the Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Mehol K. Sadain.

The Selection Body agreed on the following qualification requirements for each appointee: 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.

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. This is a manifestation of the seriousness of both the Philippine Government and the MILF to uphold the historic Framework Agreement and move forward in the peace process.

MILF: Information drive on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in the grass root communities of Sarangani continues

From the MILF Website (Feb 26): Information drive on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in the grass root communities of Sarangani continues

The Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) of Sarangani continues its information dissemination on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) reaching out the grass root communities in able to increase the public awareness on the prospects of the initial peace agreement and gain their support.

The information drive has been carried out by Kalinaw Sarangani, a unit under the Office of the Governor which implements the Provincial Peace and Development Program, since November last year.

Jocelyn Lambac-Kanda, the Program Manager of Kalinaw Sarangani and the Provincial Peace Program Officer, disclosed in an interview that they have already conducted orientation on the FAB to 22 barangays of the province.

Kanda said the initiative is the provincial government’s way of helping the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process succeed.

Kalinaw Sarangani taps the local MILF Political Committee to help explain the FAB and answer queries from the participants during the open forum. Photocopies of the FAB are also distributed.

The program manager said their team has been oriented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the MILF on the FAB.
The audiences during the orientation in the barangays include the barangay officials, purok officials, elders, youth, women, farmers, fishermen, teachers, barangay health workers, religious leaders, traditional leaders, Moro National Liberation Front and ordinary citizens.

Aside from the barangay orientations, Kalinaw Sarangani also facilitated separate orientations to Madrasa teachers, Indigenous Peoples Leaders and Association of Barangay Chairmen in the towns of the province.

The GPH-MILF International Monitoring Team and its local counterpart, the Local Monitoring Team-Sarangani also join the orientation to inform the people of their mandates in support to the peace process.

On February 19, in collaboration with the Socsargen Peace Network, Mindanao State University, Notre Dame of Dadiangas University and other peace advocates spearheaded the Multi-Stakeholders Forum on the FAB at the NDDU auditorium attended by more than five hundred participants from Socsargen.

GPH Peace Panel Chief Negotiator Professor Meriam C. Ferrer and Special Assistant on Peace Advocacy from the Office of the MILF First Vice-Chairman Dr. Tumanda Antok discussed the FAB and answered questions from the audience.

Kalinaw Sarangani spearheads peace advocacy in the province through conducting Culture of Peace Training in the barangays and schools.

It also support the operation of Madaris education and facilitates project implementation of development partners like the Growth with Equity in Mindanao and United Nations Development Program.

Sarangani Province is located at the southernmost tip of Mindanao. Its constituents are comprised of Moro tribes, Indigenous Peoples and Christian settlers.

The province has 140 barangays and seven municipalities namely Glan, Malapatan, Malungon, Maasim, Kiamba, Maitum and its capital town Alabel.

MILF: BDA Southern Mindanao Region conducts Values Transformation Training to Social Welfare Committee

From the MILF Website (Feb 27): BDA Southern Mindanao Region conducts Values Transformation Training to Social Welfare Committee

The Bangsamoro Development Agency-Southern Mindanao Region (BDA SouthMin) conducted a 3-day Values Transformation Training (VTT) at Sitio Bayang, Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Province on February 16-18, 2013.
Fifty seven (57) participants comprised of the Officers and Members of the Committee on Health and Sanitation of the Social Welfare Committee coming from the towns of Palimbang, Maitum, Kiamba, and Maasim wherein Biwang Province had participated in the said training.

BDA Regional Manager Mohalikin D. Piang said that the VTT aims to inculcate to the minds and hearts of the delegates the essence of brotherhood, understanding, unity, good relationship, love among others and fear to the Almighty in the Islamic perspective.

He added that those important values are useful in the course of giving services to their respective Muslim communities and to the daily undertakings of every Muslim both men and women. He explained further that BDA is guided by its core values on which it attributes its success in implementing programs that benefits the conflict affected areas in Mindanao.

Piang also briefed the participants about the present programs of the BDA in the 7 Regions throughout Mindanao. He also introduced the current BDA Structure from the higher up down to key staff, with Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Mohammad S. Yacob as the Executive Director.

The training was facilitated by Ustadz Jamil Udda, Community Organizer of BDA SouthMin. He was joined by Noraya Abdulkarim, Sandra Abdulkarim both BDA Volunteers in SouthMin as the secretariat.

Udda completely discussed the VTT modules and dwelt deeper on the importance of Islamic values.

The activity was themed: Promoting good health and sanitation through family education.

Biwang Province Political Chairman Kingboy Bayang gave an inspirational message while Hadji Salem Abu, member of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and presently Provincial Chair of the Committee on Information in Biwang Province updated the delegates with the progress of the GPH-MILF Peace Process.

The VTT was successfully conducted through the joint effort of the BDA SouthMin and the SWC Biwang Province with the support of community members.

MILF: NPA drives away Moros in North Cotabato village

From the MILF Website (Feb 27): NPA drives away Moros in North Cotabato village

While the Moro residents of Sitio Lacobe, Barangay Malabuan, Makilala, North Cotabato Province, were taking rest in their respective houses at around 2:00 p. m. last February 23, at least 60 fully armed men wearing fatigue uniforms with patches of the 38th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army entered their village.

The armed men led the residents toward an interior part of the village. When the residents – about 35 persons including women and children – were all gathered, the armed men introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) of the Mt. Alip Command, Front 72 – Far South Mindanao Region.

The NPA rebels told the Moros to vacate the land that they occupied. “The movement cannot allow that this land will be owned by only a few,” Muhammad Mamangkas, one of the residents, quoted the rebels as saying.

“We do not recognize the intervention done by the government (in the distribution of the land) as we find it unfair,” the members of the NPA said.

Just as a group among the rebels talked to the residents, another group searched the houses in the village and carted away the firearms that they found.

Some of the Moros in the village possessed firearms that they registered with the government for self-defense.

Datu Jainudin ‘Toks’ Baclid, the leader of the Baclid Clan that is native to the village, said the NPA rebels took away an M-79 grenade launcher, eight home-made Uzi pistols, five home-made Ingram pistols, two 38 caliber revolvers, and five 12-gauge shotguns.

Together with some other Moro Maguindanaons, the grandfather of Toks Baclid settled in Lacobe in the late ‘40s. It was in 1969 when the government gave them certificate of titles for the land that they occupied.

When the war broke out between the Black Shirts and the Ilaga terror gang in 1970, the members of the Baclid Clan were forced to leave Lacobe. Then, Christian settlers occupied the village.

All the attempts of the Baclid Clan to return to their village were met with strong opposition by the Christian settlers.

The members of the Baclid Clan, however, were able to settle again in Lacobe in the ‘90s. The Moro and the Christian settlers became beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government.

“But in 2001, members of the NPA attacked the Moros in Lacobe. They burned our houses and destroyed our means of livelihood,” Toks Baclid said.

In 2007, the Baclids decided to settle again in Lacobe.

“And on September 15, 2007, the NPAs ambushed us. Two of my brothers were killed,” Baclid added.

The ambush on their family members by the NPAs, according to Baclid, was repeated on September 17, 2011, four years and two days after the first one. Teding Baclid and PFC Nas Matiagal, a member of the Philippine Army and a close relative, were wounded, then.

What ensued were series of dialogues and signing of peace covenants between the Baclid Clan and that of the farmer-beneficiaries in Lacobe. These were facilitated by the North Cotabato Provincial Government, the Municipal Local Government of Makilala and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

On February 9, 2012, a mediation conference between the Baclid Clan and the Farmer-Beneficiaries’ Group at the AJ Hi-Time Hotel in Kidapawan City.

Present in the conference were Toks Baclid, representing the Baclid Clan; Jose Danny Llup, representing the Farmer-Beneficiaries; Edris P. Gandalibo, North Cotabato Deputy Governor for Muslim Affairs and Alex Lalaguna, barangay captain of Malabuan, among others.

In the said conference, the Parties agreed that, “All areas not occupied by the Farmers’ Group belongs (sic) to the Baclid; all areas occupied by the Baclids belong to the Baclids” subject to some stipulations such as, “For the affected areas, the farmers will be resettled to another vacant area.”

The document that the Parties came up with and signed contained provisions on how the different lots were distributed either to the Baclids or to the farmers’ group.

The Parties again met at the AJ Hi-Time Hotel on July 5, 2012. They came up with Joint Agreement with provisions like, “We fully observe the Agreements made between the group of Sitio Lacobe ARBs (Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries) and the Baclid Family on February 9, 2012 at the AJ Hi-Time Hotel, Kidapawan City” and “We agree that any clarification, requests, complaint arising from the implementation of the Agreement, everything will be directed at the Project Management Team tasked to implement the February 9, 2012 Agreement.”

On March 12, 2012, members of the Baclid Clan and that of the farmer-beneficiaries gathered in the municipal hall of Makilala where their respective representatives signed a peace agreement that provided, among other things, that the Baclids agreed to give away some of their owned land and the farmer-beneficiaries accepted the relocation area allotted to them.

The signing of the peace covenant was witnessed by North Cotabato Provincial Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliňo-Mendoza, Makilala Municipal Mayor Rudy Caoagdan and representatives from the DAR.

On January 31, 2013, the residents of Barangays Malabuan, Villaflores and Bato converged in Sitio Lacobe in the gathering dubbed as “Kanduli” for Peace and Development.

The main highlight of the gathering was the signing of the final Peace Covenant between the Baclid Clan and the Lacobe Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.

The signing was witnessed by DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, Governor Taliňo-Mendoza and Vice Governor Gregorio Ipong of North Cotabato, and other officials.
The purpose of said gathering was to end the already 6-decade land conflict.

Salvage crews break up US Navy ship in Philippines

From the Manila Times (Feb 27): Salvage crews break up US Navy ship in Philippines

Salvage teams have begun cutting up a US Navy ship stranded on a UN World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines in a process that could take almost month, the coastguard said on Wednesday.

The smokestack, or funnel, of the minesweeper USS Guardian was lifted off on Tuesday while the mast was removed on Wednesday, marking a major step in the operation, said coastguard spokeswoman Lieutenant Greanata Jude.

The 68-metre (223-foot) vessel ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in a remote part of the Sulu Sea on January 17 and strong winds and heavy seas have hampered the operation to dismantle it.

The United States has repeatedly apologised for the incident, which it has blamed on faulty maps, but the incident has fuelled anger in the Philippines, a former American colony and important US ally in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Most of the equipment on top of the deck has already been transferred to a barge but they have yet to remove the large equipment inside the ship," Jude told AFP.

The dismantling of the ship has been repeatedly delayed by bad weather, but clear skies are now forecast to last over the next few days, she added.

The US Navy had originally targeted March 23 for the full removal of the vessel but the recent bad weather could now change the timeframe, Jude said without giving details.

Jude said the team has also removed a winch used to operate the vessel's sonar equipment, and are preparing to take apart the second level of the ship, located beneath the deck.

Sensitive equipment will be recycled but most of the ship will have to be scrapped after its fibreglass-reinforced wooden hull was breached when it ran aground, she said.

Portable equipment as well as toxic substances have already been removed from the ship, she added.

When it ran aground, the ship damaged a section of reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its rich marine life. President Benigno Aquino has said the US Navy will have to pay penalties for the damage.

The vessel, estimated to cost about $277 million, was too badly damaged to be towed away, the US Navy said earlier.

Vessels sailing into the Tubbataha marine park need permission but Philippine authorities said the crew of the Guardian had made no request to enter and had even ignored radio messages that it was about to hit the reef.

Lawmakers want military pact ended

From the Manila Standard Today (Feb 26): Lawmakers want military pact ended

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives on Monday again called for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines to avoid future intrusion of American vessels in the country’s protected areas.

In House Resolution 3018, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, said the damage created by USS Guardian on Tubbataha National Reef Park last Jan 17 will jeopardize fish production and livelihood at least 100,000 fisher-folks and fish workers in commercial vessels in the West Palawan Sea and the Sulu-Celebes Sea and adjacent waters in Visayas and Mindanao.

The resolution said Tubbataha network of corals helped fish generation and production extending to major fishing grounds in Panay and Guimaras Islands, Negros Islands, Cebu and Bohol Islands and the rest of the Visayan Sea.

“The government should adopt a measure to address the issue on the livelihood of the affected fisher-folks and the possible way on how to prevent similar incidents in the future,” Mariano said.

He said it would take one year for a millimeter of mostly hard corals in the Tubbataha’s South section to go back to its sound condition and 250 years for a meter of coral to mature.

Task Force Tubbataha sets Mar. 23 deadline

From the Manila Standard Today (Feb 27): Task Force Tubbataha sets Mar. 23 deadline

The Philippines and the United States have jointly set a March 23 deadline for the completion of the salvaging operation of the USS Guardian that ran aground last month in the Tubbataha Reef, an area declared by the World Heritage site.

Cdr. Armand Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard chief information officer, said the Malaysian ship-borne crane Jascon-25 has begun dismantling the minesweeper on Monday with the help of other salvage ships.

“We received information from the Task Force Tubbataha that they have started lifting some parts of the USS Guardian. The operation will continue because right now, there is a good weather condition in the area,” he said.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Coast Guard Palawan district commander, said the salvaging operations is on-going for the clearing of equipment below the ship’s weather deck as well as the removal of sonar winch at the bow while the team is already done with lifting of the funnel section.

Other than Jascon-25, the vessels present along the salvaging site includes the Singapore-based Smit Borneo crane barge, USNS Salvor, USNS Safeguard, USNS Wally Schirra, M/Tug Archon Tide, M/Tug Intrepid, M/Tug Trabajador-1 and Barge S-7000 of the Malayan Towage and Coast Guard ship BRP-Pampanga.

Evangelista assured the public that the salvaging team continues the clearing of loose materials in the USS Guardian to prevent it from further damaging the reef.

The US government commissioned Jascon-25, an 800-ton Malaysian ship, to cut into pieces the US minesweeper with the use of power tools. The USS Guardian will be cut into ten sections such as mast, funnel, first and second deck, stack, pulley, fan tail, engine and hull before it will be transferred to a barge.

Standoff nearing point of no return

From the Manila Standard Today (Feb 27): Standoff nearing point of no return

PNoy warns Kiram: Recall men or face full force of the law

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday warned Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his followers that they were “fast approaching that point of no return” and would face the full force of the law if they refused to leave Sabah.

“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,” the President said addressing the sultan, whose followers – about 180 in all – remained holed up in the coastal town of Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia, demanding that they be allowed to remain.

The sultan claims historic ownership of the island state that is now part of Malaysia.
Kiram’s cousin, Salip Asaral Asmad, a resident of Sabah, was arrested by Malaysian security forces on Monday, raising fears that forced deportation would soon begin.

“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,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President said among Kiram’s possible violations is Article II Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy.

Mr. Aquino said the enabling law of the Constitutional provision 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,” Mr. Aquino said.

The President said certain groups may have financed the Filipinos – led by Kiram’s brother Agbimuddin — who crossed to Sabah aboard outrigger boats on Feb. 12 and occupied the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu.

Their arrival and refusal to leave the island state resulted in a standoff with Malaysian authorities.

“We were given reports that they [Kirams] are not in very good financial condition. And we are also told that there was quite a large amount of money involved in ferrying people on launches from Tawi-Tawi to Sabah. Hence, the first logical question would be: Where did the funding come from? And who is funding them? So it seems clear at this point but we are still collating evidence that this was not an action just on their part,” the President said.

He said any collaborators would also be made to answer for their actions.
The Philippine government deployed a ship to fetch Kiram’s followers on Sunday but no one has taken the offer to be brought back to Mindanao.

“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.

“It must be clear to you that this small group of people will not succeed in addressing your grievances, and that there is no way that force can achieve your aims,” Mr. Aquino added.

The President, however, admitted that Kiram’s letter in 2010 seeking consultations on the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was “lost in the bureaucratic maze.”

But Mr. Aquino said this does not justify an armed incursion.

“Let me say to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III: I have just been made aware that a letter to me, from you, was sent through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the very first weeks of my term, when we were organizing the government. Unfortunately, this letter was lost in the bureaucratic maze,” he said.

“Let me make clear that there was no intention to ignore your letter. Knowing this now, will you let your mistaken belief dictate your course of action?” the President added.

Mr. Aquino appealed to Kiram to open a dialog with the government so that their grievances can be addressed.

“The avenue of peaceful and open dialogue is still available to us. And so this is my appeal to you: These are your people, and it behooves you to recall them,” Mr. Aquino said.

“Once (they have left Sabah), let us ease the tensions within a week or two weeks later, then we can sit down with Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and precisely map out their grievances and see the way forward after that.”

The President revealed that part of the extensive study that he ordered on the country’s Sabah claim was to determine who really represents the Sultanate of Sulu.

Mr. Aquino said based on initial studies on the lineage of the rulers of Sulu, Sultan Jamalul Kiram II’s reign ended in 1936, and that he did not have any direct heirs.

“Based on the research that was handed to me, Sultan Mawalil Wasit was the next designated Sultan, but he unfortunately died before he got crowned. So you have all of these branches as to who should be the direct heir or who should be rulers. And they have at least five people who are claiming to be the sultan of Sulu,” he said.

“So that is one of my first problems, who actually represents the Sultanate of Sulu? So, it’s still a process that is ongoing,” the President said.

Abu Sayyaf attacks power barge in Basilan

From Malaya (Feb 26): Abu Sayyaf attacks power barge in Basilan

SUSPECTED members of the Abu Sayyaf group attacked a power barge of the National Power Corporation off Isabela City in Basilan on Monday night.

“The damage (on the power barge) is negligible,” Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army’s 104th Brigade, said yesterday.

He also said Napocor authorities shut down power during the fighting as a precaution but restored it after a technical inspection.

Galvez said at least eight suspected Abu Sayyaf men aboard two boats strafed the barge anchored about 20 meters off Tabuc strait at around 10 p.m. Security personnel, including government militiamen aboard the barge, engaged the gunmen in a brief firefight, after which the suspects fled.

He said soldiers from the Army’s Special Forces Regiment who are stationed about 50 meters away also responded.

Galvez said two bullets penetrated the ventilation plant of the barge, and a fuse that was dislodged as a result of the attack was promptly put back.

Asked who the gunmen are, Galvez said, “Most probably, these are ASGs.”
As to their motive, he said, “Most probably extortion or possibly this is just a diversion. We don’t know.”

Galvez said the military is checking if the suspects fled to Tipo-tipo, Lamitan or Lantawan, all towns in Basilan.

“We have ongoing operations against whose details we cannot divulge,” he said.
Maj. Edgardo Amores, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said checkpoints were established and waterborne patrols were conducted “to prevent further eventualities in the area and possible apprehension of the perpetrators.

Amores said the power barge, which has a capacity of 7.2 megawatts, supplies power to the entire Basilan province, a known bailiwick area of the Abu Sayyaf.

Ranking NPA commander nabbed by AFP-PNO operatives

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 26): Ranking NPA commander nabbed by AFP-PNO operatives

A ranking New People’s Army (NPA) commander was captured by combined military and police operatives during an operation over the weekend in Negros Occidental province, belated reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said yesterday.

Joel Danioso, who uses the aliases Ewen and Ewel, commanding officer of the Yunit Milisya in Calatrava, Negros Occidental under the communist’s North Negros Front, was arrested in Sitio Minatipik, Barangay Winaswasan in Calatrava town at around 5:30 a.m.

Danioso, 34, was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant for robbery with homicide and physical injuries.

The NPA commander was subsequently brought to the Tobos Municipal Police Station for detention.

The military tagged Danioso as the leader of the NPA band that raided Polopangyan detachment in Barangay Bug-ang, Tobos, Negros Occidental on Aug. 28, 2010.

“This is a continuous law enforcement operation as part of your Army’s commitment in protecting the communities, government and private establishments so that the people will live in a more secure and peaceful environment,” said Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., commanding general of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Col. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Army’s 303rd Brigade, said that Danioso’s arrest only proves that no one can evade the long arms of the law forever.

“The arrest of Danioso shows that the long arm of the law will eventually catch lawless elements of our society. Our government is gaining grounds in our peace and security efforts and the Army in Negros together with the police will continue to protect our people,” said Lactao.

Cops arrest NPA rebel in Bukidnon attack

From the Business Mirror (Feb 27): Cops arrest NPA rebel in Bukidnon attack

POLICEMEN arrested a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel who participated in the attacks in Bukidnon on February 19.
Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriguez Jr., Northern Mindanao police commander, identified the suspect as Valeriano Anonsaon Jr. alias Junior. Anonsaon was arrested by a team from the Libona Municipal Police Station and the Regional Public Safety Battalion at around 10 p.m. on February 26 in Barangay Sil-ipon, Libona, Bukidnon.
Police records indicate that Anonsaon is the subject of a pending arrest warrant for attempted homicide issued by Judge Lourdes Eltanal-Ignacio of the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Bukidnon covering the towns of Talakag, Baungon and Malitbog.
“His arrest was a result of the continuous manhunt operations conducted jointly by members of the [police] and the [military] after NPA rebels harassed Del Monte and Dole plantations in Bukidnon last February 19, 2013. Two rebel suspects were arrested on this date immediately after a joint [Police]-Army follow-up operation in Barangay Kihare, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon,” Rodriguez said.
Before the arrest of Anonsaon, Rodriguez said the Libona police received information that he was last spotted in Barangay Sil-ipon where he stayed with his wife’s uncle and was recuperating from the injuries he suffered in an encounter with Army troops on February 23.
“He revealed that three more rebels were injured and three others were killed in the same reported encounter. The management of Del Monte is now coordinating with the local police in the filing of arson cases against the arrested rebel suspect,” Rodriguez said.

Malaysian police enter Sabah standoff village after 'last warning'

From InterAksyon (Feb 27): Malaysian police enter Sabah standoff village after 'last warning'

A text message sent by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram from Sabah relaying the Tausug 'last warning' written on leaflets dropped on him and his followers in Sabah by a Malaysian military aircraft. (photo by Bernard Testa,

Malaysian security forces briefly entered the village in Lahad Datu town where followers of the Sulu sultanate have been holding out for the last two weeks but were driven off, the leader of the group said Wednesday.

Raja Muda (crown prince) Agbimuddin Kiram, said in a radio interview that he was in a meeting when six Malaysian soldiers entered the village of Tanduo.
However, Agbimuddin said, the soldiers retreated when his followers went to meet them.

The incident happened soon after a Malaysian aircraft dropped leaflets on Lahad Datu's Tanduao village containing a “last warning” for Agbimuddin, brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, and his followers to “surrender now.”

The crown prince led close to 200 of the sultanate’s followers to Sabah.

"Anim nagpunta sa area namin (Six of them went to our area) while we were conducting (a) meeting in the house where I'm staying … tapos nakapunta diyan ‘yung kasama namin nag-inform sa’min. ‘Yung mga kawal namin immediately ran. Sabi nila raw anim ang Malaysian soldiers armed with Armalite. ‘Nung nakita sila ay tumakbo (then one of our companions informed us. Our warriors immediately ran. They said there were six Malaysian soldiers armed with Armalite rifles. When they saw our men they ran away)," Agbimuddin said.

The leaflet drop happened around 2 p.m.

Datu Abdil Nasser Kiram, second to the youngest brother of Kiram III, translated excerpts from the message, written in Tausug that Agbimuddin relayed to him.
"This is our last warning to you or you will regret what will happen to you," the leaflets said. "Think of the loved ones you have left behind in the Philippines."
The message also said the leaflets would serve as a safe conduct pass for those who want to leave Sabah.

The leaflets were dropped after Malaysian authorities said they were “set to end” the standoff with the Sulu sultan’s followers, possibly within the next 24 hours, as reported by Malaysian news site The Star.

The possibility came after the sultan calls on Tuesday, including one from President Benigno Aquino III, for him to order his followers home.

In his other text messages to his family in the Philippines, Agbimuddin said he and his group were leaving everything to Allah, do or die, make or break.”

Also, Agbimuddin said the Malaysian soldiers who wento to Tanduao were “either provoking them or testing their strength or capability.”

Malaysia had also given the sultan’s followers three deadlines the last of which expired Tuesday night, to leave.

Asked by The Star if a move against the Sulu sultan’s followers would be made within the next 24 hours, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar replied: “Maybe. We are set to end the standoff.”

The Star also managed to interview the sultan’s brother by phone and quoted him as saying they expected to be attacked but were “ready to defend ourselves, we are not afraid.”

“We are not afraid because we know we are right. This is our land,” he told the Malaysian news outfit.

He also said he would take orders only from his brother the sultan.

The Star reported that Malaysian security forces had deployed “at several strategic locations in and outside the surrounding Feld plantations” on Tuesday and that “government and army medical teams are on standby should the green light be given to deport the Sulu group.”

China navy gets new stealth frigate, to boost maritime defense

From InterAksyon (Feb 26): China navy gets new stealth frigate, to boost maritime defense


Photo shows Type 056 of the Chinese stealth frigate newly acquired to boost China's maritime defense amid its continuing row with several neighbors. Photo from

China's navy has taken delivery of a new type of stealth frigate that is expected to bolster the country's maritime defenses amid territorial disputes, state media reported Tuesday.

The ship, identified by the official Xinhua news agency as a "Type 056 stealth frigate", was delivered to the navy Monday afternoon in a ceremony in Shanghai.

Navy commander Wu Shengli emphasized the importance of mastering its equipment and capabilities amid ongoing maritime disputes, according to a front-page article Tuesday in the PLA Daily newspaper, published by the People's Liberation Army.

Wu, also a member of the Communist Party's powerful Central Military Commission, called for continuous improvement and growth of an elite naval force capable of fighting and winning so as to reassure Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other members of the commission.

In January state media reported that the armed forces were instructed to raise their fighting ability in 2013 and "focus closely on the objective of being able to fight and win battle".

President Hu Jintao, set to step down next month and be replaced by Xi, said in November at a Communist Party congress that China should become a "maritime power".

Tuesday's report did not specify the ship's size, but said it possesses "good stealth performance and electromagnetic compatibility" and needed just one-third the number of crew members as its predecessor, the Type 053.

The report said the new ship symbolizes the start of a transformation in China's naval defense strength and more of the ships are in production.

The vessels will mainly be used for escort missions and anti-submarine operations, it added.

China is involved in a sovereignty dispute with Japan over Japanese-administered uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions have risen in recent months, with both sides scrambling jets to ward off moves by the other, and fishing boats and government patrol ships playing cat-and-mouse in the vicinity of the islands.

Japan alleged earlier this month that a Chinese frigate locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in what it characterized as a dangerous escalation. Beijing denied the charge.

Beijing is also at odds with several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, over islands in the South China Sea.