Monday, March 18, 2013

MILF: Mindanao Business Council invites MILF peace Panel to forum on Framework Agreement

From the MILF Website (Mar 19): Mindanao Business Council invites MILF peace Panel to forum on Framework Agreement

The Mindanao Business Council had extended an invitation to a member of the MILF peace panel, as guest resource person during its General Membership Assembly and Information and Education Campaign on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on March 21, 2013, 11:00 AM at N Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City and on March 22, 2013, 6:00 PM at Celadon Pension House, Iligan City.

Invited was Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, who is also chair of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) based in Cotabato City.

In their letter, the MBC explained that for the past years it has advocated for the government to consider the business sector’s perspective on the peace process. This gesture is an offer to proactively participate in the quest for peace, and on the same note, for business to be consistently appraised on the peace path and potential scenarios in Mindanao.

MBC further stressed that it had also initiated involvement in the peace process by participating in peace briefings and dialogues that it hoped can help sustain and expand to the larger business constituency.

It also disclosed that in this advocacy, MBC has partnered with The Asia Foundation with the technical guidance of the International Alert – Philippines in implementing the initiative “Business Mapping: Sustaining the Engagement of Mindanao Business Sector in the Peace Process”. The project attempts to assess the level of engagement of the Mindanao business sector on the peace process.

However, Abhoud told Luwaran that his attendance would not be possible, saying that by the time the forum is taking place he would be in Japan upon the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Ministry for a study tour on how the Japanese government and systems operate.

Fourteen others from the MILF including Chairman Mohagher Iqbal were also invited to the trip to Japan.

Japan is a member of both the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the International Contact Group (ICG) of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation. The invitation letter was signed by MBC President Vicente T. Lao.

MILF: BIAF Capability Building Training Held

From the MILF Website (Mar 18): BIAF Capability Building Training Held

The 116th Base Command of the MILF BIAF Central Mindanao Front, conducted capability Building Training last March 15-16, 2013 at JMIF Hall Annex Building Quezon Avenue , Marawi City.

The training was attended by about 150 selected officers from Base Command, down to the level of Department Heads, Brigade Commanders and Staff under the BIAF Central Mindanao Front. It is a part of a series of human capability programs for the 116h Base Command that was directed to conduct at least 1 training annually in its respected area of operations (AOR).

The invited speakers were Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, member of the BLMI’s Steering Committee and Deputy Director on Training, Mr. Zamin K. Unti, BLMI’s Administrative Officer; and Mr.Yusoph A. Abdullah, Computer Specialist; and BLMI’s Training Coordinator.

The training started with a recital of some verses of the Holy Qur’an, followed by short remarks by Nor Hasan Panolong, 116th Acting Base Commander. Gordon Saifullah Khan, Commander of the BIAF Central Mindanao Front gave briefings and updates on GPH- MILF Peace Process.

Front Commander Saifullah Khan, urged his men to support the GPH-MILF Peace process through advocacies on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

He stressed the need for every individual member of BIAF particularly those under his Command to do their part in order to achieve the MILF’s peaceful approach on the Mindanao question but on the other hand, be prepared for any acts that may impair or derail the search for comprehensive solution to the centuries-old Mindanao problem.

Brother Unti was the first speaker. He described a Ministerial Form of Government including its vital aspects that may become the form of government for the proposed Bangsamoro Government,

For his part, Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, lectured on leadership but he first explained the objectives of the training. He said that, “in training like this, the best way to change our negative outlook about leadership; is to develop positive concept in KASH- Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits’. “Proper understanding of this concept may help us in leading our people towards growth and progress in their respective communities,” Prof. Abdula further said.

On the second day, March 16, Prof. Abdula continued his lecture until in noon He asked the participants to engage in a workshop, and asked them the most cited skills of effective leaders. He described the importance of Communications Skills for leaders, either verbal or non-verbal, as it play vital roles in leadership, particularly in dealing with subordinates; co-workers and the grassroots.

He stressed that” communication is the life blood of any organization” “Perhaps, we are aware on how capable our leaders in the MILF in terms of communication most especially in the negotiation table; or facing foreign diplomats and visitors” in any given time. At this point in time, Prof. Abdula said, “we need to communicate the messages of peace by conveying the letter and intent of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro to the people in the core territory and in areas mainly populated by Bangsamoro outside of the proposed Bangsamoro Region”.

Brother Yusoph A. Abdula, lectured about planning using the SMART Planning Strategies.

The training ended with every participant satisfied and asked for more training in the near future. This was expressed by majority of them during the closing program.

Photo: MNLF 45th anniversary

Posted to the Facebook page of Nur Misuari (Mar 18): Photo: MNLF 45th anniversary

 Photo: MNLF 45th anniversary.

Photo: MNLF Commander Ustaj Khabir Malik

From the Facebook page of Nur  Misuari (Mar 18): Photo: MNLF Commander Ustaj Khabir Malik

Photo: Commander Ustaj Khabir Malik of the MNLF speaking before a large MNLF forces and supporters during the MNLF 45th anniversary today...

Commander Ustaj Khabir Malik of the MNLF speaking before a large MNLF forces and supporters during the MNLF 45th anniversary today...!/photo.php?fbid=10200419378582894&set=p.10200419378582894&type=1&theater

Photo: MNLF Lupa Sug State Regional Committee Chairman Major General Khaid Ajibun

From the Facebook of Nur Misuari (Mar 18): Photo: Lupa Sug State Regional Committee Chairman Major General Khaid Ajibun

Photo: Chairman Major General Khaid Ajibun(LSSRC), speaking in the MNLF meeting in Marangkabaw, Talipao, Sulu, as part of the celebration of the MNLF 45th anniversary Mar 18, 2013.

photo credits: Eiryneon Wave

Chairman Major General Khaid Ajibun(LSSRC), speaking in the MNLF meeting in Marangkabaw, Talipao, Sulu, as part of the celebration of the MNLF 45th anniversary Mar 18, 2013. photo credits: Eiryneon Wave!/photo.php?fbid=534189626624789&set=a.188564007854021.41920.185093644867724&type=1&theater

In the Know: Jabidah Massacre

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 19): In the Know: Jabidah Massacre

Out of the roughly 27 Muslim youth allegedly summarily executed in 1968 in what is known as the Jabidah Massacre, only Jibin Arula survived to tell the tragedy.

Arula recounted the alleged massacre in interviews with the Inquirer in March 2008 and March 2009.

In his account, Arula said he was among those who were brought to Corregidor island on Jan. 3, 1968, to train on guerrilla tactics in preparation for “Operation Merdeka,” an alleged top-secret plan of the Marcos administration to invade Sabah in Malaysia.

Named after a beautiful woman in Muslim lore, Jabidah was the commando group that was to carry out the operation.

“Malaysia was the target of our mission. We were to invade Sabah. If Malaysia would file a formal complaint in the United Nations, the government was to deny us. It (the government) would claim that we were members of the private army of Sultan Kiram (of the sultanate of Sulu),” Arula said.

“We were promised P50 allowance per month but we received not a centavo. We were fed dried fish, and for coffee, we would use rice leftovers. The commanders were living in luxury while we were living with almost nothing at all,” Arula added.

To air their grievances, the trainees wrote a secret petition to President Ferdinand Marcos. But the letter most likely was intercepted by their training officers, which led to the tragedy, he said.

Before dawn on March 18, 1968, the training officers fired at them on Corregidor’s airstrip, Arula said.

Arula, who was wounded by a bullet in his left knee, swam for his life on Manila Bay, only to be fished out of the waters off Cavite province the next morning.

On March 28, 1968, opposition Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. delivered an exposé speech titled “Jabidah: Special Forces of Evil?” in which he alleged that aside from the recruitment of Muslims to infiltrate North Borneo, former convicts and former members of the Hukbalahap had also been enlisted to wipe out the opposition in 1969, an election year.

Aquino said: “I charge President Marcos with building a secret strike force under his personal command, to form the shock troops of his cherished garrison state.”

Marcos dismissed the accusations as an opposition plot to discredit the administration.

The Jabidah Massacre inspired Nur Misuari, then a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, to establish the Moro National Liberation Front, which fought for a separate Moro homeland in Mindanao.

Arula died in a vehicular accident in 2010. Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives; Official Gazette of the Philippines; Kasaysayan The Story of the Filipino People

PNP, Navy focus patrols in Mindanao to thwart Sabah-bound Kiram supporters

From GMA News (Mar 19): PNP, Navy focus patrols in Mindanao to thwart Sabah-bound Kiram supporters

The Philippine National Police and Philippine Navy are focusing their patrols in four areas in Mindanao to prevent supporters of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III from sneaking into Sabah.

Units from the PNP Maritime Group and the Navy are coordinating patrols in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, and the Zamboanga Peninsula, radio dzBB's Manny Vargas reported.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said that they did not want new groups of Kiram supporters to add to the clashes in Sabah.

Cerbo added they would thoroughly inspect vessels going to and from those areas. They would especially be on the lookout for firearms and weapons.

Since March 5, Malaysian security forces have been conducting offensive operations in Lahad Datu in Sabah to flush out Kiram's followers, following deadly clashes last March 1 and 2.

Malaysia has rejected Sultan Kiram's offer of a unilateral ceasefire and instead demanded the unconditional surrender of Kiram's followers.

Meanwhile, the clashes in Sabah had prompted many Filipinos living there to flee to Mindanao.

PHL, Malaysia discuss claiming of bodies; 2 clashes reported in Sabah

From GMA News (Mar 19): PHL, Malaysia discuss claiming of bodies; 2 clashes reported in Sabah

Even as two clashes in Sabah were recorded Monday, Philippine and Malaysian officials have started discussing the repatriation of the bodies of 28 followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who were killed following encounters with Malaysian security forces since March 5.

A report on Malaysia's state-run Bernama news agency late Monday quoted Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib as saying two clashes occurred Monday morning, at 8:05 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.
The Bernama report made no mention of casualties.

Hamza also said they believed there are less than 50 Kiram followers left in Kampung Tanjung Batu, even as he brushed off Sultan Kiram's claim his followers will resort to guerrilla warfare.

"Jamalul Kiram can say anything he wants. We are all out to flush them out," he said.

Meanwhile, Army First Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Datuk Ahmad Zaki Mokhtar said 12 armored vehicles with chain wheels are to arrive in Felda Sahabat Tuesday.

They will bolster security forces hunting down Kiram's followers.

Reclaiming bodies

The Bernama report also said Malaysia and the Philippines "were discussing" a request to claim the bodies of the 28 Kiram followers killed in mopping-up operations.

Last Friday, a separate Bernama report had quoted Hamza as saying the Philippines had three days to respond to its official communication to claim the bodies.

"If there is no response in three days, we will go ahead and bury the dead," he said at the time.

The report did not immediately give further details about the discussions.

On Monday, Raul Fernandez, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a text message to GMA News Online: "We are coordinating with the Malaysians on the possible repatriation of remains of Filipinos killed in Sabah."
Meanwhile, Malaysian police have tightened border security and surveillance efforts at Sabah and Sarawak to prevent the escape of followers of Kiram.

The Philippine National Police and Philippine Navy, on the other hand, are focusing their patrols in four areas in Mindanao to prevent Kiram's supporters from sneaking into Sabah.
These areas are Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, and the Zamboanga Peninsula, a dzBB report said.

CPP/NPA: Struck by command-detonated explosives, AFP resorts to desperate measures

From the PRWC (CPP) Blog (Mar 18): Struck by command-detonated explosives, AFP resorts to desperate measures

Rigoberto F. Sanchez
NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
March 18, 2013

People's militia stealthily operated command-detonated explosives March 15 in Elizalde, Maco town, Compostela Valley killing four fascist troops belonging to the 71st Infantry Battalion, and wounding several others. Today (March 18), Red fighters belonging to the Guerilla Front 27 Operations Command ambushed troops from the 66th Infantry Battallion 9:30am in Brgy. Cabidianan, Nabunturan town.
These were the seventh and eighth tactical offensive by the New People's Army using command detonated explosives this year that is directed against the Army's 60th IB, 66th IB, 57th IB, Division Reconnaissance Company, 28th IB and 71st IB -- all butchers and private armies of environmentally destructive large-scale mining and logging companies in the region. The NPA deploys explosives for its annihilative and attritive actions to inflict damage to the enemy and sink its morale.

The Guerilla Front 27 Red fighters earlier today at 6:00 am also arrested two police officers at a checkpoint in Brgy. Mainit, Nabunturan. The NPA checkpoint was part of its regular operations against undesirable elements in the area and the abusive Special Operations Teams under Oplan Bayanihan.

Arrested and presently held as prisoner of war is Police Officer 3 Ruben Magno Nojapa, Jr., 50, who is assigned at the Nabunturan Police station. Briefly held but was able to escape from NPA clutches was PNP SPO2 Randy Masambo. Red fighters confiscated Masambo’s service firearm, a 9mm handgun.

On March 15, a team from the 1st Pulang Bagani Company-NPA also shot and wounded the commanding officer of the AFP's Special Operations Team in Paquibato district.

Indeed, the 10th Infantry Division-AFP is staggering from the series of command-detonated explosions and special operations of the New People's Army. The morale of AFP troops is sinking, so much so that it has turned its fangs against the civilians. At the same time, its propaganda machinery demonstrates hypocrisy at every turn by calling the explosives illegitimate weapon of use in warfare.

The AFP's desperate measures are pathetic, cowardly and duplicitous. Blind and oblivious to the blows of the people's army who are ready anywhere, anytime in the revolutionary territories of the People's Democratic Government, the 10th ID has resorted to unleashing its wrath towards the peasant masses. Thirty minutes after the NPA exploded the command-detonated mines earlier today, two military mg520 choppers dropped off bombs in Brgy. Cabidianan.

In Baguio district, the 84th IB has ordered the evacuation of Lumads following the NPA's ambush against the Army-PNP composite forces March 8 yielding 11 casualties in the battlefield. It has resurrected the Blackfighters and ordered the wily, opportunist Lumad leader Joel Unad and one pastor Cesar Malinaw to sow terror in the district. Using as pretext the NPA's killing of military spy Paulino "Jun" Landim March 2, the 84th IB and Lumad opportunists commanded civilians from the villages of Laputan, Kisagaay, Likuyan, and Kahayagan to evacuate starting on March 16. The fascist Army trains its guns against hungry and impoverished peasants and Lumads in brgy. Tambobong and Brgy. Carmen who were already victimized by landslides and recent calamities and neglected by inept social welfare authorities.

Extra-judicial killing of civilian activists like Cristina Jose in Baganga, Davao Oriental is also the handiwork of the 10th ID-- a tactic meant to diffuse the impact of Typhoon Pablo and mounting people's struggle against the corrupt and insensitive US-Aquino regime. As human rights abuses fall flat in the face of the deceitful AFP, it hypocritically accuses the NPA of using banned weapons like the command-detonated explosives. The accusation is not only unfounded but also hollow in the face of the AFP's prohibited use of civilian structures like daycares, barangay halls, and schools as headquarters for its Special Operations Teams and combat troops.

The NPA reiterates that the use of command detonated explosives are clearly within the bounds of international humanitarian law. Unlike "pressure-detonated" or "victim-detonated" mines, the command-detonated explosives used by the NPA against the AFP/PNP/paramilitary forces only explode when switched by the detonating officer of an NPA unit or a people's militia upon the order of the NPA's commanding officer.

Again, the AFP demonstrates its hypocrisy when its very own SOT operations--its so-called peace and development team operations-- do not discriminate civilians from armed targets, and when its use of bomb-carrying helicopters and MG15 choppers do not recognize civilians and considers civilian villages as enemy lairs and counter-revolutionary targets.

As environmental destruction and loss of people's livelihood intensifies with the continued large-scale mining, logging and plantation businesses in the region, more and more AFP troops and paramilitary forces that serve as its security guards become easy targets and sources of arms of the NPA and the people's militia. The people's army will continue to deliver lethal blows to the enemy, unstoppable in the face of the massive concentration of AFP troops in the region and increasing number of weak points in the enemy.

Army condemns killing of militiaman in Toboso

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 18): Army condemns killing of militiaman in Toboso

The Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion yesterday condemned the brutal killing of militiaman Eduardo Laguna in Toboso, Negros Occidental, recently.

Lt. Col. Efren Morados, 62nd IB commander, said Laguna, a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, was shot twice in the head by two assailants to ensure his death.

Morados said Laguna, 41, was riding in a motorcycle with SSgt. Alexander Robles, when he was shot in the back, in Brgy. Gen. Luna, Toboso, last week, by two suspected rebel assassins.

Morados identified one of the suspects as a certain Ka Tirso. He said the incident was witnessed by bus passengers, and market-goers.

Four empty shells of .45 caliber and 9mm pistols, and a slug, were recovered at the crime scene.

Morados said Robles tried to chase the two gunmen, but he was advised by some witnesses not to continue, as he might be ambushed by the companions of the suspects.

Rebel leader meted 40 years for murder

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 18): Rebel leader meted 40 years for murder

A former New People’s Army leader was sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or 40 years imprisonment, by Negros Oriental Regional Trial Court Branch 32 Judge Roderick Maxino, for the murder of a civilian in Siaton town three years ago.

Army 1Lt. Lito Orbita, chief of the 79th Infantry Battalion Civil Military Operations based in Brgy. 4, Siaton, Negros Oriental, said Maxino found Calixto Vistal, alias Cocoy, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of killing Basilio Casido on May 7, 2009 in Brgy. Tayak, Siaton, Negros Oriental.

A military press release said Casido was summarily executed by Vistal and his companions while a barangay session was being held.

Judge Maxino ordered Vistal to pay the heirs of the victim P100,000 in civil indemnity and moral damages.

Orbita said members of the Casido family, who attended the case promulgation Friday, broke down and cried when as they heard the decision of the judge, and said justice was finally served to them.

Orbita said the conviction of Vistal was an enormous blow to the already depleted strength of the NPA in southern Negros Oriental.

Military records show that Vistal led the NPA in several violent actions in Bohol, the raid of a police outpost, and an encounter with the Army’s elite Special Forces troopers, that resulted in the death of 2Lt. Socrates Que and some of his men in 2000.

When Bohol was declared insurgency-free by the military, Vistal was tasked to command an NPA unit in southeastern Negros, and his wife, Jimmyliza Badayos, served as head of the regional party technical head, the military said.

Vistal and his wife were arrested October last year in Mandaue City, Cebu, it added.

Rebels in Antique rendered useless

From the Manila Times (Mar 18): Rebels in Antique rendered useless

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines has declared Antique as insurgency-free, bringing to 25 the number of provinces that it claimed were completely freed from the influence of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

“The CNN [CPP-NPA-NDF] here in Antique is already insignificant,” Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, Third Infantry Division commander, said after he and Gov. Exequiel Javier of Antique signed a joint declaration proclaiming Antique as “manageable conflict-affected and development-ready.”

“The joint declaration of Antique as manageable conflict-affected and development-ready means that the province is an insurgency-free province and at this time, we were able to overcome the so called fear of communist affectation. We are now moving out of that and ready to accept investment,” he added.

According to Mabanta, the issuance of a joint declaration was also a manifestation that the rebel group has been rendered incapable of expanding its forces and waging isolated armed conflict.

He pointed out that since January 2012, there has been no incident of encounter between government force and the Maoist rebels in the province.

But despite the victory, he said that the military is not putting its guard down and will continue in its efforts, in coordination with local government units and other stakeholders, to end the insurgency.

“This is another milestone in the implementation of the IPSP [Internal Peace and Security Plan]-Bayanihan, which has been very effective and has made significant progress in our thrust to end the insurgency like what we did in the province of Aklan,” Mabanta added.

In December 8, 2011, Aklan was also declared as insurgency-free. Since then there has also been no NPA-related incident of violence.

Mabanta attributed their success to the government’s new anti-insurgency program, the IPSP-Bayanihan, which, he claimed has identified the main issues in our society that are now being addressed by the government.

He also appealed anew to the local communist leaders to sit down with local and military officials for the sake of peace and development.

Earlier declared as rebels-free were the provinces of Aklan, Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Biliran, Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, La Union, Panga-sinan, Tarlac, Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon, Guimaras, Siquijor and northern and southern Leyte.

According to the military, the rebel group’s strength has dwindled to 4,043 from its peak of 24,430 in the 1980s.

But the militant group maintained that the NPA’s revolutionary forces were steadily growing in strength and poised for a big leap in the coming years.

It said that the Army report was pure “hogwash,” adding that IPSP-Bayanihan is also “hogwash” and a complete failure in terms of its objective of decimating the Maoist rebels.

MILF: Ex-gov’t peace negotiator tags MILF peace negotiation ‘casualty’ in Sabah stand-off

Posted  to the MILF Website (Mar 18): Ex-gov’t peace negotiator tags MILF peace negotiation ‘casualty’ in Sabah stand-off

Former government peace negotiator, Jesus Dureza, described the government-MILF peace negotiation as a casualty as a consequence of the Sabah fighting between Malaysian security forces and the so-called Royal Army of the Sulu sultanate.

Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc.

This claim was contained in his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW, published last March 10.

Entitled “Sabah fallout on MILF peace talks, here are his words: “Here are a few items or thoughts I have picked up along the way. Aside from the deaths and the violence suffered by Filipinos there, one of major casualties of the Sabah incident is the MILF peace negotiations. Evidently, events have overtaken the MILF peace talks. Even MILF’s claim for a Bangsamoro ancestral domain and right to self-determination, without factoring in the Sabah claim, will not fly anymore. Malaysian participation as a neutral “facilitator” is now blown to pieces due to their violent operations against the Filipino Muslims in Lahad Datu. With the arrival of hundreds of Filipinos fleeing Sabah, more alleged atrocities committed against Filipinos are starting to surface.”

Commenting on this, Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF peace panel secretariat, told Luwaran that he was disgusted over the unexpected odd comments of former government peace negotiator, saying it is uncharacteristic of a man like his stature to say so negatively and so easily in what it is to be considered a very sensitive issue.

“I see in his comments as like someone who has not been through hard politics that he can easily see an instant magic formula of unity of MILF, MNLF, the sultanates, the tribes, and the traditional political sector,” Mantawil said in almost disbelief.

“What is the basis of the instant unity by invading Sabah?” he asked.

Mantawil added that there is no need for the call to unity, saying we are not fighting each other.

However, Mantawil paid tribute to Dureza’s other statement strongly urging the government to take into account the peace process in crafting its policies on the Sabah crisis.

10 royal houses joining Kirams

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 19): 10 royal houses joining Kirams

Common goal: To avenge kin’s death in Sabah

The Sabah crisis will grow worse as other royal houses join forces with the Kirams to avenge the death of their relatives Lahad Datu, a group of Muslim scholars warned Monday, as the Sulu sultanate called off a unilateral ceasefire and ordered its followers to carry out a guerrilla war against the Malaysians.

“The crisis in Sabah is far from over. On the contrary it is escalating ,” said Firdausi Abbas, founding chairman of the United Filipino Movement.

Abbas said Lahad Datu in Sabah has been home to the Tausugs for centuries, and that the killing of Filipinos there would spark action from the royal houses in Sulu.

A spokesman for Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Abraham Idjirani, said the sultanate has not received word about the other royal houses’ plans, but the struggle to assert the sultanate’s claim on Sabah would continue.

“The (unilateral) ceasefire has been cancelled and our forces in Sabah are directed to carry out guerrilla warfare,” Idjirani said, adding that they understand the sentiments of the relatives of the slain members of the Royal Security Force.

“We don’t know about it yet but given what is happening in Sabah, we cannot blame our Muslim brothers,” Idjirani said, noting that the sultanate has been receiving offers of support and encouragement from various sectors in its quest to retake Sabah.

He reiterated that Kiram did not intend to turn the Sabah issue into a full-scale war and the “royal army” only went to Sabah to find a place to live peacefully and not to wage war.

“[But] this is now a guerilla warfare,” Idjirani said.

On Monday, more clashes took place in Tanjung Batu, Lahad Datu as security forces conducting mopping operations encountered more Sulu gunmen, Malaysia’s Star Online said, quoting Inspector General of Police Sri Ismail Omar.

At least 62 suspected followers of Raja Muda Agbimudding Kiram have been killed and nearly 500 have been illegally detained and beaten by Malaysian police after fighting broke out on March 1, Abbas said.

Idjirani said they were willing to send representatives to Sabah to claim the bodies of those killed in clashes with Malaysian security forces, but only if the government gave them a security escort.

The Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported that the three-day deadline set by the government to claim the bodies of slain members of the Royal Security Force of the sultanate lapsed on Sunday.

“If there is no response in three days, we will go ahead and bury the dead,” Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib was quoted as saying.

Malaysian officials said they had already completed post-mortem exams on 22 of the 28 slain Filipinos by Sunday night.

By the Malaysian government’s count, 62 armed followers of the sultan have been killed since the military offensive aimed at flushing them out of the disputed territory began on March 5.

A total of 104 alleged sympathizers of the royal army have also been detained under the Security Offenses Act 2012, including relatives of the sultan, the Bernama news agency said Monday, quoting Hamza Taib.

“We are also investigating others who have links with the terrorists,” Army Field Commander Lt. Gen. Datuk Seri Zulkiple was quoted as saying.

The same news agency also reported that the mop-up operations in Sabah will continue against the 50 men of Kiram who remain in hiding.

“We will finish [the operations] as soon as possible,” said Hamza Taib.

Idjirani said the sultanate was worried that Malaysia might harm its representatives once they set foot on Sabah to claim the bodies, noting the rampant human rights violations allegedly committed by security forces against Filipino residents there.

Also on Monday, the sultanate sought the help of the Foreign Affairs Department through the Public Attorney’s Office to obtain legal assistance for its men who were detained in Malaysia.

A spokesman for the department, Raul Hernandez, said the Kiram family’s request was being considered, noting that part of its mandate was to provide legal assistance to distressed Filipinos abroad.

Abbas, citing information from Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, said several relatives of elite fighters who figured in the Mindanao rebellion 1970 were contemplating moves to reinforce the sultan’s beleaguered followers in Lahad Datu and to exact vengeance for the death of their relatives.

Aside from the Kirams, there are at least 10 royal houses, notably the Aberin, Al Rashid, Umara , Israel, and Sakirullah, Nassarud Din, Muizzud Din, Sharapud Din, and Aliyud Din.

“They are terribly angry at the atrocities the Malaysian authorities have committed against Filipinos in Lahad Datu,” Abbas said.

On Sunday, President Aquino said the Sabah crisis could be resolved peacefully and not in haste or with force.

But Abbas scored what he described as Mr. Aquino’s complacent and unabashed position on the Sabah issue.

“It is too late because so much blood has been shed,” he said.

“The President fails to understand that the claim on Sabah is another issue separate from the plight of Filipinos in Sabah who are victims of Malaysia’s atrocities, which demanded action and a protest from the Philippine government, especially from the President,” Abbas said.

He said Filipinos detained in Lahad Datu are subjected to cruelty and demeaning treatment by Malaysian authorities, which is in violation of international protocols.

Abbas added that the President could have defused the crisis weeks ago by instructing Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to talk to the Malaysians about the Sabah situation.

Instead, he said, President Aquino issued strong statements and belittled the sultan.

Philippine General Sees Increase In Bombing Incidents — US Army Website

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 19): Philippine General Sees Increase In Bombing Incidents — US Army Website

An article posted on a US Army website quoted a Philippine Army official as saying that the election period could see politicians being the target of improvised bombs.

The US Army Website identified the general as Philippine Army chief, Lt. General Noel Coballes who visited the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) forces in Hawaii last month as guest of Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, the USARPAC commanding general.

The USARPAC website report said: “Coballes said every election cycle sees a spike in IED (improvised explosive devices) activity and this year will be no different.”

The PA chief was also quoted as saying, “We have a mandate to protect all Filipinos. We might see an increase in IED explosions — it could be targeting our own soldiers, but in my opinion they will be targeting politicians.”

But when sought for confirmation, Coballes said: “Wala akong sinasabing ganun.”

During the visit, Coballes learned the capabilities and reach of the Asia Pacific Counter IED Fusion Center (APCFC) following a brief and demonstration from the center’s director and staff.

The APCFC is the executive agent for U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) for all counter IED intelligence gathering and training. Its primary mission is to prepare US forces for overseas contingency operations.

The center has already trained more than 2,000 soldiers from 11 partner nations, including the Philippines.

Col. Geoffrey Stevens, the director of the APCFC, briefed Coballes of the center’s capabilities.

The PA chief was taken on an observation lane where instructors showed him how the US Army trains its forces to look for indicators of potentials IED emplacements.

During the demonstration, the PA chief who walked right over an inert device planted in the road setting off buzzer, told members of the USARPAC: “We’ve been doing this, but not as detailed as you have here... We teach some of this in our schools, but not a center dedicated to IED awareness.”

USS Guardian salvage team confident deadline to be met

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 18): USS Guardian salvage team confident deadline to be met

Salvage teams are now preparing to cut the hull of grounded warship USS Guardian at the Tubbataha Reef as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) yesterday maintained that extrication could still be completed within the March 23 timeframe should weather conditions continued to be favorable to the ongoing operations.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, PCG Palawan District commander and head of Task Force Tubbataha, said that salvage teams need at least six days of good weather condition to complete the cutting of the hull which is the last stages of the extrication efforts.

“Most of the work is done below deck. The focus of the salvage team is the preparation of the hull for cutting and lifting,” Evangelista said.

Evangelista said that the salvage teams could still make the March 23 timeframe if the good weather conditions in Tubbataha continue in the next days.

“They are timing (the efforts) with the good weather, they need six days of continuous good weather…because if they start cutting, they need to lift the hull…so when the cutting of the hull starts, that will be continuous,” he added.

“Hopefully, the weather will be favorable so that this will be finished,” said Evangelista.

Part of the preparations for the cutting of hull is the removal of all the piping, pumps and other equipment.

“What they are doing now is all preparations for the cutting of the the next coming days maybe (they can start with the cutting),” said Evangelista.

USS Guardian ran aground the World Heritage Site-listed Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 6 due to supposed faulty digital map. However, park rangers reported that the warship ignored warnings that it is entering a protected marine sanctuary.

"We need six days of very good weather in order to begin cutting and lifting of the hull," he added.

Evangelista also stressed that so far, weather conditions have proven very favorable for salvage crews working to extricate the grounded minesweeper.

The PCG official also stated that much caution is being observed especially when removing piping fittings as this could contain oil that may pollute the waters if improperly dismantled.

As of Sunday, weather conditions off Tubbataha are favorable to the ongoing salvage works as the wind is only blowing between 11 to 16 knots with wave height reaching only 1.5 meters.

Evangelista said that vessels in the area include the USS Safeguard, USS Wally Shirra, Jascon 25, SMIT Borneo, Barge S-700 (Seabridge), Tug Archon Tide, Tug Intrepid, Vos Hercules and Malayan Towage salvage vessel Trabajador-1.

Salvage crews on Sunday also have established strong points of hull for rigging.

Top level reshuffle of AFP senior officers

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 19): Top level reshuffle of AFP senior officers

A top level reshuffle of senior officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be effected next month with the scheduled retirement of three three-star generals.

Leading those retiring is AFP-Western Command (Wescom) chief Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1978, who is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on April 1.

The two others are Lt. Generals Jorge Segovia, commanding general of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and a member of PMA Class of 1980, and PMA superintendent Lt. Gen. Ireneo Espino, of PMA Class of 1979.

Segovia is retiring April 13 while Espino is turning 56 on April 16.

The AFP’s Board of Generals is expected to submit its recommendations to President Aquino, through Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Military insiders said that Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, a member of the ruling PMA Class of 1981, is being groomed to succeed Sabban, his fellow Marine officer.

“General Guerrero is ripe to be promoted as three-star general. Having served as Marine commandant for more than two years, he is qualified to any three-star position like commanding general of the Western Command,” a Marine officer said.

On the other hand, Brig. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo, of PMA Class of 1983, is among the top contenders for the Marine top post.

“Tanalgo is being groomed to replace General Guerrero. Being one of the senior officers in the corps, he is very much qualified,” the source said.

There have been no names coming out as probable replacements of Segovia and Espino.

Solon wants VFA junked

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 19): Solon wants VFA junked

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares yesterday reiterated his call for the junking of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in time for arrival in Subic Bay of a USS Emory Land which the solon claims brings shivers that toxic wastes might again be dumped in the country’s waters.

“Palace should be vigilant in upholding the State policy in protecting and preserving a healthful and balanced ecology. Last year’s Senate probe on the dumping of highly toxic wastes in Subic, which were hauled from USS Emory Land, should have been an alarm for President Aquino that these US vessels are dangerous because of the materials they bring along,” Colmenares said.

The solon recalled that the Senate investigation revealed that the dumping of highly toxic waste materials in our waters have been going for quite some time and without the knowledge of the government. He also said that the presence of US Navy ships in our waters are now notorious in damaging our environment.

The Tubbataha incident has now wreaked indescribable damage to one of the most remarkable coral reefs in the planet.

He said these incidents are only consequences of the VFA. US military presence in the country has been made permanent in the country because of the VFA,” said Colmenares.

“Their ships have been in and out and around our country and has not only caused damage to our ecology and to our women when they take “rest and recreation” activities, but also endangers our nation’s security and our people’s lives when we are drawn into the wars of aggression which the US have been launching for the past decades. I hope that a disaster more serious than what we are witnessing right now would not precede the abrogation of the VFA. It should be junked right now before it is too late,” the Bayan Muna solon added.

Colmenares also raised the question as to why the Aquino government continues to allow US forces into the country.

“What benefit do we gain because of these military exercises? The government has never answered this question for years now. The rape of Nicole in Subic, the shooting by a US soldier of Boyong Boyong Isnejal by Sgt. Reggie Lane, the bombings and strafings in Mindanao, the threats of nuclear accident and recentlty the dumping of toxic waste in Subic, all these resulting from the entry of soldiers under the VFA,” Colmenares enumerated.

The government, the solon said, cannot cite one benefit under the VFA and use it to justify the treaty.

“The VFA has to go,” said Colmenares. “The incoming senators are challenged to immediately abrogate the VFA once they are in office by withdrawing the concurence to the same.”

Noynoy insists Jabidah massacre true, wants it in history books

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 19): Noynoy insists Jabidah massacre true, wants it in history books

President Aquino insisted yesterday that the Jabidah massacre, which involved a made for movies story of an elite Muslim commando unit formed to destabilize Sabah and who were all massacred after turning mutinous, was real as revealed by his father, the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino Jr. in a privilege speech in 1968.

The massacre supposedly led to the forming of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the start of the bloody secessionist war in Mindanao.

Aquino led the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the infamous Jabidah Massacre in Corregidor, the first time that a President acknowledges the massacre as having taken place.

Aquino cemented what others refer to as a myth, portraying this as a reality even if it was based mainly on a privilege speech of his father without any hard proof and President Aquino even wanted the episode to be recounted in the nation’s history books.

“It has been four and a half decades since the bloody events here in Corregidor.
Members of the Jabidah unit were slain, and on top of that, their ordeal has almost been forgotten. To this day, government has yet to officially recognize it; the incident is taught in class or inserted into books as if it were mere gossip; no measures have been taken to record it in history,” Aquino said.

He said that while he did not want to raise false hopes on bringing the perpetrators of the heinous deed to justice as “two generations have passed since this incident took place.”

The prescriptive period for murder only lasts 20 years; after this, no cases can be filed against the so-called perpetrators of this operation. A court martial has also acquitted the accused.

“But the fact that so much time has gone by does not preclude us from seeking true justice. How can a wound heal, if we cannot bring ourselves to even look at it? How can these wrongs be righted, if we cannot bring ourselves to face the truth?,” Aquino said.

Aquino said “the issue of the ownership of Sabah is connected to the Jabidah Incident that he has ordered the both departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice and his executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa, to craft the direction of writing history.

“We will begin to resolve this issue not through speculation or mere opinion, but by identifying irrefutable truths. I have a responsibility to dissect history in search of these truths, and from there, to lay down the direction that our country will take with regard to Sabah — a direction that I guarantee you will not involve the use of violence. I have already directed the DFA, DoJ, and our Executive Secretary to conduct the research, and to recommend a roadmap that will lead us to the peaceful resolution of the Sabah issue,” Aquino said.

Aquino said that “today, we are opening the eyes of the Filipino people to the Jabidah Massacre.

“This happened. And it is our responsibility to recognize this event as part of our national narrative. Today, we are in Corregidor, an island whose ground was watered by the blood of so many Filipinos and stood as refuge for the Voice of Freedom during the last world war, to etch in our collective consciousness the grim truth of what happened to the Jabidah unit — and to ensure that this will not happen again. Because, if the eyes of Filipinos are kept blind to the events that took place in Corregidor on March 18, 1968, then we might as well have discarded the lessons we learned then,” Aquino said.

Aquino also “directed the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to designate the Mindanao Garden of Peace on this island as a historical landmark.”
“Some details have also been made available to the public on our Official Gazette, in coordination with the NHCP: the history of the events surrounding the Jabidah unit, the timeline of the peace process between the national government and the MNLF and MILF, and other information that can be useful to the public and raise the level of discourse,” Aquino said.

Aquino said that “in March of 1968, my father exposed the Jabidah Massacre, while holding firm to the basic principle that the life of each Filipino is invaluable.”
“In his speech, he said: “The life of a Filipino, no matter how lowly he is… is as important as the life of a high official, as important as the life of a President.”

But taking from the copy of the Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., there was no showing how concrete that there was a massacre took place except from the account of what was claimed to be a survivor in the name of Jibin Arula.

By historical account, there were no records that a single family from what was to be massacred came out or even investigated by any government agency in 1968.

What was there was the “Operation Merdeka” as it was considered a State secret of the Marcos administration.

The Merdeka issue was floated when during a deliberation for the confirmation of then AFP chief of staff Fabian Ver and then Philipine Constabulary chief Fidel Ramos in the Commission on Appointments, then Sen. Aquino raised the question addressed to Ramos about the Operation Merdeka.

Then Senate President Gil Puyat immediately struck the gavel and called for the suspension of the Senate session.

A few days thereafter of the Senate incident, the issue of Jabidah came in.
Veteran journalist Rigoberto Tiglao in his Monday column said that the Jabidah story could be “one of the most successful propaganda coups in our history.”

Kiram’s Tausugs expected to launch ‘pockets of resistance’

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 19): Kiram’s Tausugs expected to launch ‘pockets of resistance’

Fighting between followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu and Malaysian security forces may drag on as the Tausug fighters are expected to launch “pockets of resistance” against Malaysia, while families of those killed during the conflict will surely avenge the loss of their loved ones.

A ranking security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, theorized that Malaysia would be facing “pockets of resistance” against the followers of Kiram, led by his brother, crown prince Raja Muda Agbimmudin Kiram, who are still in Sabah. Aside from the resistance from Raja Muda’s group, Malaysian security forces would also be ready for the action of the families of those slain during intensified police and military operations in various parts of Sabah during the past weeks.

“It (fighting) will drag on but not as intensely as before…maybe pockets of resistance,” said the official.

As of yesterday, Malaysian authorities reported the killing of 62 followers of the Kirams while 104 have been detained since “Operasi Daulat”, the intensified police and military operations plan launched against members of the Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu, last March 1.

“My (assessment) is that it would become a sort of resistance movement especially from the families of the fighters killed…they will surely take revenge against the Malaysian police,” he added.

The official expressed fears that the resistance may lead to the use of improvised explosive device (IED) in the future.

The source said that Malaysian forces would have difficulty dealing with the Tausug clansmen who reinforced the group of Raja Muda. He said that those who were with Raja Muda when he sailed to Sabah last Feb. 9 were not actually prepared for an armed conflict with Malaysia.

“They (companions of Raja Muda) did not expect that there will be fighting like this but the Tausugs who went there...Malaysia will have difficulty because for sure they (Tausug clansmen) were better prepared psychologically,” the official said.

Raja Muda led more than 200 followers in their “homecoming” in Sabah last Feb. 9. Three days later, they occupied a compound in Tanduao village that led to a standoff with Malaysian forces.

On March 1, Malaysian forces attacked the group of Raja Muda sparking the two-week long armed conflict.

The Kirams said that the group of Raja Muda went to Sabah to settle in their “homeland” peacefully. Sultan Jamalul remained firm that he will not order his brother to return to the Philippines.

The official also said that there are no indications that Raja Muda has returned to the country to evade Sabah assault as claimed by Malaysian authorities.

“We still don’t have indicators that he (Raja Muda) is here, only the Malaysians are saying that but there are no indications or report that he is here in the Philippines or sighted in the Philippines,” the source said.

“I don’t (think) he is going back to the Philippines…the order to him by Jamalul Kiram is to stay there. He cannot disobey the order of his brother. He will only come back if Jamalul orders him to return,” he added.

Despite assertions by Malaysian authorities claiming Raja Muda had fled already and abandoned his group in Sabah, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman confirmed yesterday that Raja Muda could not be found in either the southern Philippines or in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

“First, as of now, we have not seen him in the Philippines. But the Malaysian government had its declaration that there are no more Royal Security Forces in Lahad Datu. And, in fact, in the case of our humanitarian mission, as of three days ago, I talked to the head of CMC Ambassador Ed Malaya that they had already access in the area where the Royal Forces positioned,” Hataman said.

“At that time, he wanted be pulled out. But I will say from March 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, as well with Governor Sadikul, and Sultan Esmail (Kiram) talked directly to Agbimuddin at that time asking for a rescue,” Hataman said.

He added that the conversation went through when Agbimuddin had made a call to Esmail.

Hataman said he really was uncertain of the whereabouts of Agbimuddin.

From the very start the directive of the President is to have a peaceful resolution. So it should be, whether Muslim or whoever may ask, don’t add to the heat but objectively address the problem about Sabah, Hataman said.

Hataman said that the conflict in the past four decades had been ignited by the issue of Sabah claim which was being backed-up by individuals to promote conflict naming former President Ferdinand Marcos.

“Imagine, 45 years ago it was also ignited by Sabah. Second, today again is Sabah. But if will look at it, this is not what the Moro people want. There is a backing of somebody. In 1968, who was at the back of it? It was Marcos. Now, we are sure there is one backing this, but let the authorities identify who are these individuals,” Hataman said.

Hataman said the crisis in Sabah is over. “Actually, there in Sabah, the crisis is over. There was a declaration that the crisis is over.

Meanwhile, the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno described yesterday President Aquino’s call for talks over the Sabah crisis as a poor attempt at saving face, saying the chief executive wants to appear like he’s standing up for peace and the country’s sovereignty after allowing Malaysian authorities to kill Filipinos in Sabah and violate their human rights in a prepared statement.

Aquino’s call, made last Sunday at the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City, came after 62 Filipinos and 10 Malaysian police and military forces were already killed and after allegations of abuses of Filipinos’ human rights surfaced in the course of the Malaysian government’s armed offensive in the disputed territory.

“Aquino cheered when the Malaysian government was launching a massacre of Filipinos in Sabah and was violating Filipinos’ human rights. Now, he wants to project himself as a peace advocate and a patriot. What a hypocrite,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“What will he say when he faces Malaysia? He hasn’t issued a clear stand on the country’s territorial claim to Sabah. He will most likely formally surrender the country’s long-standing claim to the disputed territory,” he said.

“Aquino will most likely talk about clean-up operations with Malaysia, about how to punish Filipinos who are suspected of being part of the Sulu Sultanate’s forces. That’s not standing up for peace or for the country’s sovereignty,” he added.’s-tausugs-expected-to-launch-‘pockets-of-resistance’.html

NPA rebels capture cop; attack troops in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Mar 18): NPA rebels capture cop; attack troops in Mindanao

Communist rebels on Monday arrested a policeman at a checkpoint and attacked patrolling troops in separate operations in the southern Philippines, a spokesman for New People’s Army said.

Rigoberto Sanchez, of the NPA Regional Operations Command, said a second policeman SPO2 Randy Masambo managed to escape, but rebel forces held on to his companion PO3 Ruben Nojapa, Jr. who is assigned with the Nabunturan municipal police force in Davao del Norte province.

“The NPA checkpoint was part of its regular operations against undesirable elements in the area and the abusive Special Operations Teams under (the military’s) Oplan Bayanihan,” he said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Sanchez said the policeman is now their prisoner-of-war and would be interrogated to determine whether he was involved in anti-insurgency operations and human rights abuses in the town.

He said rebels also attacked soldiers belonging to the 66th Infantry Battalion in the village of Cabidianan also in Nabunturan town. An earlier roadside attack killed four government soldiers from the 71st Infantry Battalion, and wounded several more, in the town of Maco in Compostela Valley province.

“The morale of AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) troops is sinking, so much so that it has turned its fangs against the civilians. The AFP's desperate measures are pathetic, cowardly and duplicitous. Blind and oblivious to the blows of the people's army who are ready anywhere, anytime in the revolutionary territories of the People's Democratic Government; the 10th ID has resorted to unleashing its wrath towards the peasant masses,” he said.

Sanchez accused the soldiers of human rights abuses and protector of abusive logging and mining companies in Mindanao.

There was no immediate statement from the 10th Infantry Division or the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command about the allegations, but the NPA has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.

AFP renews call vs NPA permit-to-campaign fees

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): AFP renews call vs NPA permit-to-campaign fees

The Philippine Army (PA)has again urged the candidates in the May elections not to yield to the demand of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bicol for payment of the “permit to campaign” (PTC), which is reportedly very much alive in the region as the electoral race heats up.

This developed as officials from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional office noted that indirect campaign strategies have long started even if the official period will start on March 29.

“I am urging candidates facing the PTC demand to come to us for their security and protection,” Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the PA’s 901st Infantry Brigade, said in a phone interview Sunday.

Visaya, whose brigade covers Albay and Catanduanes provinces, cited an encounter in Catanduanes two weeks ago where two NPA guerrillas were killed and yielded documents, including a list of candidates subject to PTC.

He said the National Democratic Front(NDF)list showed that candidates for congressman and governor have a PTC tag price of between P500,000 to P600,000.

He said for mayors, it is between P100,000 to P200,000.

“Even for the mere position of barangay captain, a candidate should pay P20,000,” Visaya added.

As this developed, several candidates in Albay have called the attention of the NDF-NPA leadership, asking it to clarify the letters and text messages they have been receiving, demanding certain fixed amounts in exchange for a PTC in NPA-controlled areas.

Complaints of text messages demanding certain percentage on government infrastructure projects, allegedly from people identifying themselves as from the underground movement, have also been shaking contractors who said they have to come up with the demand without knowing fully well if they are really NPA rebels.

The total amount could reach 60 percent on juicy contracts, he added.

Another contractor said she was summoned by the NPA rebels in their mountainous hideout to explain her failure to comply with their three-percent demand from her project.

“But after convincingly giving them my explanation about my heavy operational losses, burdened by the demand from politicians, the certified group of NPA rebels simply agreed and merely asked for a box of sardines, cigarettes and coupon bond." she said.

“I am urging candidates facing a PTC demand to come to us for their security and protection,” Visaya urged, saying PTC is the lone handiwork and brainchild of the underground movement.

He said the third district of Albay is most heavily NPA-infested in the province where the extra demand of “permit to win” was born during the 2007 elections.

ARMM remembers Jabidah Massacre

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): ARMM remembers Jabidah Massacre

  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) residents on Monday  commemorated the infamous March 18, 1968 "Jabidah Massacre" that took place at the Corregidor island and triggered Moro uprising in Mindanao.

ARMM Acting Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman has declared the day a special non-working holiday in observance of Muslim Mindanao Act No. 67 which declared it as Bangsamoro Day.

Hataman said the day is very significant to Muslims as citizens and as Filipinos who shed blood to self-determination.

About 60 Muslim youth were recruited by the Marcos government to be trained in the Corregidor island by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for a covert operations aimed at regaining control of the resource-rich Sabah.

However, they were massacred in the island but one of them managed to escape and tell the whole world what really transpired in the island.

The massacre gave birth to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM).

The recruits allegedly staged a mutiny to protest the non-payment of allowances promised them and for lack of medical attention while undergoing rigid military training.

Then-University of the Philippines Professor Nur Misuari led the uprising and formed the MNLF.

Hataman said the Moro people will always remember this day as a sacrifice of their brethren to gain what they have been fighting for - respect and recognition of their right to self-determination.

NPA rebels abduct cop in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): NPA rebels abduct cop in Compostela Valley

An off-duty policeman was allegedly abducted by elements of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a “deceptive” checkpoint at Purok 1, Barangay Anislagan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.

Major Maria Rosa Manuel, deputy commander of the Civil Military Operation Batallion of the 10th Infantry Division, said Police Officer 3 (PO3) Ruben Nohapa, assigned with the Nabunturan municipal police station, was snatched at 6:00 a.m. Monday.

Manuel said that right after the alleged abduction, troops of the 66th Infantry Batallion immediately conducted pursuit operation but while on their way, they were reportedly attacked with a landmine at Barangay Cabadianan, also in Nabunturan.

“No casualty was reported on the government side,” she said, adding the pursuing authorities were augmented by elements of the Nabunturan police station.

Army official says arrest of NPA leader boosts govt anti-insurgency campaign

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): Army official says arrest of NPA leader boosts govt anti-insurgency campaign

The recent arrest of Bernabe Tubongbanua, in-charge of the financial operations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), is an added accomplishment to the anti-insurgency effort of the government.

M/Gen. Jose Mabanta, commanding officer of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army, said Monday the rebel group is “losing its important leader” as well as the support of the people has been dwindling. Their finances are “really down at this point,” he said.

“This is a big blow to the enemy because we are talking about finances. This is a significant victory for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and our total effort to eventually eradicate insurgency in the island,” he added.

Mabanta credited the citizenry for the arrest saying that they were the ones that gave information about the NPA leader.

Tubongbanua was arrested over the weekend at Barangay Balantang, Jaro this by virtue of a warrant of arrest due to a murder case. He has other cases ranging from extortion to homicide and murder.

Meantime, Mabanta added that insurgents thrive in highly urbanized areas such as this city because it is where they extort funds.

“He has been prying on hapless businessmen. He has been doing this for quite some time,” he added.

The suspect is currently detained at the Jaro Police Station.

Gunmen kill lumberjacks in Zambo Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): Gunmen kills lumberjacks in Zambo Sur

Two lumberjacks were killed by four gunmen, including three clad in camouflage uniforms, in a remote barangay of Zamboanga del Sur, a police official disclosed Monday.

Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) spokesman Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, quoting a belated report, said the incident took place around 7 a.m. Saturday at Sitio Campo Uno, Barangay Dongos, Dinas municipality.

Huesca identified the victims as Rodulfo Clarin and Cristopher Tagayan, both residents of Barangay Sungoy of the nearby San Pablo town.

Investigation showed the victims were cutting down coconut trees when the suspects appeared and without provocation opened fire instantly killing the victims, Huesca said.

The three of the four suspects, who were clad in camouflage uniforms, could be known to the suspects since they were wearing masks when they shot the victims, he said.

The responding team of policemen have recovered 12 empty shells of M-16 Armalite rifle at the crime scene while the victims’ chainsaw was missing, he said.

Maguindanao massacre suspect killed in encounter with arresting team

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): Maguindanao massacre suspect killed in encounter with arresting team

  A resisting massacre suspect was killed on Monday as he and his armed followers engaged in a four-hour gun battle with government operatives carrying a warrant for his arrest in Sitio Puloy, Barangay Lapok, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Col. Edgar Gonzales, Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade commander, said five cops and an Army man were injured in the 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. clash, which prompted the evacuation of civilians in Lapok village.

The firefight came about after Daenga Ampatuan, a suspect in the infamous 2009 Maguindanao massacre resisted arrest and opted to shoot it out with the arresting officers together with his armed group.

Ampatuan died during the encounter as his armed followers retreated to a forested section of the village carting away wounded comrades.

Military operations are still ongoing in the area, Gonzales said.

He said the arresting team is composed of operatives from the military, police and the National Bureau of Investigation.

Tension remains high in the area following the incident.

AFP: 21 Filipino peacekeepers likely to finish their tours

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): AFP: 21 Filipino peacekeepers likely to finish their tours

The 21 Filipino peacekeepers, earlier captured and released by Syrian rebels while conducting a logistics run at the Golan Heights this month, are likely to finish their tour of duty after successfully passing their debriefing, physical and medical examinations Sunday.

“All indications point to our peacekeepers returning to their posts and finishing their respective tour of duty,” AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos, Jr., said.

The 21 Filipino military men were subjected to tests to determine their psychological, physical, and mental dispositions after being held for four days by Syrian rebels.

The soldiers, part of a 300-strong Philippine peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, were captured by rebels while on a logistics run on March 6.

They were later released on March 10.

The Philippines has been maintaining a peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights since the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) implemented the 1974 UN Security Council resolution 350.

Burgos said the peacekeepers passed the first set of debriefing that began March 14.

The debriefing sessions, as well as the physical and medical examinations, were conducted at the UNDOF headquarters in Camp Faouar, Syrian Golan.

The AFP spokesperson said each soldier would have different months for completion of their respective tours of duty.

He added some of them were deployed to the Golan Heights before and after November last year.

“So some of them would finish their tour of duty by June, some by August.”

Burgos said, however, that all of the 21 would have completed their tour of duty by September.

Aquino leads groundbreaking rites for Mindanao Garden of Peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): Aquino leads groundbreaking rites for Mindanao Garden of Peace

President Benigno S. Aquino III led Monday the groundbreaking ceremonies for the development of the Mindanao Garden of Peace in commemoration of the 45th year of the Jabidah massacre.

The Chief Executive spearheaded the groundbreaking rites which had for its theme "Learning from History, Uniting for People."

It signalled the start of the development of the Mindanao Garden of Peace at the tailside portion of Corregidor Island.

President Aquino was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and other government officials.

Also in attendance were Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman, Colonel Artemio Matibag, Sister Ma. Lourdes Arnold Noel.

The Mindanao Forum Inc. and the Corregidor Foundation Inc. agreed to put up the Mindanao Garden of Peace to remind the people of the tragic Jabidah massacre that happened 45 years ago. In 2010, the museum was put up in the place in recognition of the heroism of the Jabidah Martyrs.

The Mindanao Garden of Peace is a strong reminder not only for the Filipinos but also to the whole world that both Muslims and Christians, desire true, genuine and lasting peace.

After the groundbreaking ceremonies, President Aquino proceeded to the Jabidah Marker for the Hands for Peace where he placed his handprint on the Hands for Peace Wall.

The President led the nation in commemorating the grim chapter in the country's history known as the Jabidah Massacre. The incident refers to the massacre of a number of young Moro recruits from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, with estimates ranging from 28 to more than 200, by their military handlers on the island of Corregidor.

The recruits were undergoing training for a government-sponsored covert military operation dubbed “Operation Merdeka” with the objective of invading Sabah.

Records showed that Col. Eduardo “Abdullatif” Martelino started the commando-type of training that involved jungle warfare at Camp Sophia in Simunol, Tawi-Tawi where the training camp was set up.

The trainees were later shipped to Corregidor by a naval boat.

It was during the second phase of the training in Corregidor that the recruited Muslim trainees learned that their true mission was to invade Sabah, which would mean not only fighting their brother Muslims but also possibly killing their own Tausug and Sama relatives living there.

The recruits then demanded to be returned home but their military handlers prevented their return and instead killed them.

Jibin Arula, one of the Jabidah recruits from Siasi, Sulu was the lone survivor who managed to tell about the massacre. The Senate subsequently conducted a probe of the alleged massacre after the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. denounced the unfortunate incident in a privilege speech on March 18, 1968.

Malaysia unswayed by Sulu sultan's threat of guerilla war: official

From the Philippine News Agency/Xinhua (Mar 18): Malaysia unswayed by Sulu sultan's threat of guerilla war: official

Senior Malaysian security officials on Monday expressed confidence to end the deadly standoff in Sabah of North Borneo by flushing out the Sulu gunmen, while the Sulu Sultan called upon a guerilla war against the security forces.

Sabah police chief Hamza Taib said the security forces believe that there are less than 50 gunmen remaining in the conflict zone.

He said the troops were undisturbed by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III 's call for a guerrilla war in Malaysia.

"Jamalul Kiram can say anything he wants. We are all out to flush them out," Hamza was quoted as saying by the state news agency, Bernama.

Some 200 of Kiram's followers landed in Sabah last month to stake a territorial claim on the land. Ten security forces and more than 60 gunmen were killed during the month-long standoff.

Malaysian security forces launched an all-out attack on March 5 after negotiations broke down.

Hamza said two clashes between the security forces and the terrorists occurred on Monday morning.

Malaysia and the Philippine governments were discussing on a request to claim the bodies of 28 gunmen who were killed in the mopping up operations by security forces, he added.

It is estimated that as many as 800,000 Filipinos, including a large Sulu community, are working or living in Sabah. However, they are not likely provide support for the Sulu gunmen, as many of them are already Malaysian citizens, said Danny Wong, director of global planning and strategy center at the University of Malaya.

"They will not like their peaceful lives to be ruined," he told Xinhua.