Thursday, April 4, 2013

Communist rebel killed in Surigao clash

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Apr 5): Communist rebel killed in Surigao clash

A MEMBER of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed after they clashed against elements of the 36 Infantry Battalion (36IB) headquarters in Barangay Dayo-an, Tago, Surigao del Sur, early Thursday morning.

Lieutenant Colonel Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, in a statement said the 36IB soldiers were conducting a security patrol in the vicinity of their camp when they chance upon the NPA rebels. A 20-minute gunfight ensued.

Around 30 NPA rebels were about to enter a DOLE plantation in the area to cut planted bananas to sabotage the economic activity of the company, Osias said.

The troops recovered an AK-47 automatic rifle with ammunitions beside the body of the NPA rebel. The firearm was immediately turned over to the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO), which arrived at the site to collect and process the evidence from the encounter.

Osias said the whole division extends its sincere condolence to the family of the dead NPA rebel.

“Another life was put to waste, which was unnecessary -- if only the rebels willed to end this conflict peacefully and to negotiate with the government,” Osias said.

“The 4ID assures the people that they can continue to live in peace because we are always ready to protect everybody from any group that intends to conduct atrocities and terrorism,” he said.

He added that the cooperation of the people fueled the military to be determined in making the areas peaceful.

Col Lactao Assumes as AFP Command Center Chief

From the Armed Forces of the Philippines Website (Apr 3): Col Lactao Assumes as AFP Command Center Chief

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City—Vowing to provide not only situational awareness, but more of situational understanding of events on the ground, Col Oscar T Lactao assumed today the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Command Center (AFPCC) that serves as the strategic link of the Chief of Staff to all units on the ground.

“I will do my job, to the best of my ability, in providing not only situational awareness, but more of situational understanding faster than the adversary and as fast as any event that unfolds so that the Chief of Staff could come up with sound and timely recommendations for our courses of action,” Col Lactao said.

In a Change of Chief of Office ceremony held today, April 3, at the General Headquarters, Col Lactao; former Commander of the 303rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; replaced BGen Romeo T Tanalgo who will formally assume as Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps on Friday, April 5.

For his part, BGen Tanalgo received a Distinguished Service Star for his accomplishments as Chief of the AFPCC, most outstanding of which is the institutionalization of the Battle Staff Support Cell System and the sustainment of the Geographic Information System.

“It has been a challenge for me to achieve the goals of the Chief of Staff for the organization in creating a common and real-time operating picture and in further building better facilities for the AFPCC and our Unified Command Operations Center,” BGen Tanalgo said.

The Change of Chief of Office ceremony was presided by the Deputy Chief of Staff LtGen Gregorio E Macapagal.

“For people with confidence, change is an opportunity to contribute in the betterment of the organization and an opportunity to serve the country. We are certain that Col Lactao will further build up on what was started by BGen Tanalgo in the AFPCC,” LtGen Macapagal said.

Bilateral exercise Balikatan begins tomorrow

From the Defense Video & Image Distribution System (DVIDS) (Apr 4): Bilateral exercise Balikatan begins tomorrow

CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Balikatan is an annual Republic of the Philippines-U.S. military bilateral training exercise and humanitarian assistance engagement which will take place in the Philippines from April 5 to 17.

More than 8,000 combined Philippine and U.S. personnel will be participating in the exercise, which will take place at various locations throughout Luzon.

During Balikatan 2013, Philippine and U.S. service members will conduct bilateral humanitarian civic assistance projects while military medical personnel offer free medical, dental and veterinary care. Military engineers will also construct and repair schools and other community infrastructure in selected communities during the exercise.

BK13 is the 29th iteration in a series of recurring bilateral events hosted annually by the Philippine and U.S. militaries focusing on the longstanding Philippine-U.S. partnership in cooperation and our collaborative commitment to region.

This year, the Philippines and the United States have invited a number of personnel from other regional partner nations to attend a portion of the exercise.

The exercise will begin with a ceremony presided over by the chief of staff for the AFP Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr., and Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario April 5.

"Balikatan" in Filipino means "shoulder-to-shoulder" and characterizes the spirit of the exercise and the Philippines-U.S. alliance.

Listed below is a list of events that are scheduled to take place during the exercise:

Friday, April 5: Opening Ceremony at the Commissioned Officers' Club at Camp Aguinaldo, followed by a press conference with AFP Maj. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, BK13 exercise director, and U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Richard Simcock, BK13 exercise deputy director. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 8 a.m.

Monday, April 8: Medical Symposium at Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital in Zambales. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 5 a.m.

Friday, April 12: Demonstration of live-fire drills at Crow Valley Range in Tarlac. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 5 a.m.

Saturday, April 13: Bilateral live-fire field training exercises and community relations event at Fort Magsaysay. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 5 a.m.

Saturday, April 13: Air operations and aircraft static display at Clark Field. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 6 a.m.

Sunday, April 14: Dedication ceremony of a 60-meter suspension foot bridge at Barangay San Pascual in Zambales. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 5 a.m.

Monday, April 15: Multinational Maritime Disaster Response Tabletop Discussion opening ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 8 a.m.

Wednesday, April 17: Closing Ceremony at the Commissioned Officers' Club aboard Camp Aguinaldo. Media will need to meet at the AFP Public Affairs Office by 9 a.m.

Also during the exercise stories, photos, video and other information will be posted at the following online sites:


Members of the media are welcome to cover events taking place during the exercise. Please contact the Public Affairs Office, Armed Forces of the Philippines, at 632-9116439/57 or email

Read more:

Military says rebels using election in recovery, expansion works in villages

From the Leyte Samar Daily Express (Apr 4): Military says rebels using election in recovery, expansion works in villages

TACLOBAN CITY—The Philippine Army based here in the region said the rebel New People’s Army is utilizing the upcoming local and national elections this May for their recovery efforts and expansion works in the communities.
Capt. Gene Orense, spokesperson of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division said the scheme was contained in a document recovered by troops of the 87th Infantry Battalion headed by Capt. Taguinay Agoy in Barangay Rizal, Basey town in Samar.
“The NPA in the region will capitalize the election period in visiting the communities and at the same time pursue their so-called recovery and expansion efforts in the communities, as revealed in the recovered document,” Orense, in a emailed statement, said.
“The election will also be their means of gaining resources through the permit-to-campaign (PTC) and permit- to- win fees (PTW) generally to support their terroristic activities against government troops and also finance the campaign of the legal left organization,” Orense added.
Also included in the document is their main objective in joining the forthcoming elections which is to pursue and advance their electoral struggle by infiltrating the government bureaucracy particularly the legislative branch and access the government resources (priority development assistance fund or the pork barrel) to support the insurgency movement.
Orense said the newly-recovered documents confirms the plans of the rebels the implementation of PTC/PTW fees to local candidates ranging from P50,000 to P 5 million.

He added previous military operations conducted by the troops of 63IB in Barangay Capoto-an, Las Navas town, Northern Samar on October 8, 2012 have recovered several documents containing information of PTC and PTW fee schemes purportedly to be implemented by the NPA this elections.

ALL BLUSTER | North Korea lacks means for nuke strike on US, experts say

From InterAksyon (Apr 5): ALL BLUSTER | North Korea lacks means for nuke strike on US, experts say

North Korea's explicit threats this week to strike the United States with nuclear weapons are rhetorical bluster, as the isolated nation does not yet have the means to make good on them, Western officials and security experts say.

Pyongyang has slowly and steadily improved its missile capabilities in recent years and US officials say its missiles may be capable of hitting outlying US territories and states, including Guam, Alaska and Hawaii.

Some private experts say even this view is alarmist. There is no evidence, the officials say, that North Korea has tested the complex art of miniaturizing a nuclear weapon to be placed on a long-range missile, a capability the United States, Russia, China and others achieved decades ago.

In other words, North Korea might be able to hit some part of the United States, but not the mainland and not with a nuclear weapon.

The threats against the United States by North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un are "probably all bluster," said Gary Samore, until recently the top nuclear proliferation expert on President Barack Obama's national security staff.

"It's extremely unlikely they have a nuclear missile which could reach the United States," said Samore.

The North Koreans "are not suicidal. They know that any kind of direct attack (on the United States) would be end of their country," said Samore, now at Harvard University's Kennedy School.

On Wednesday, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency said its military had "ratified" an attack involving "cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means," an apparent reference to miniaturized nuclear weapons.

It was the latest in a stream of invective from Pyongyang against what it apparently sees as hostile US-South Korean military exercises, and UN sanctions imposed after its latest underground nuclear test.

Also on Wednesday, the Pentagon said it was moving a missile defense system known as the THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, to Guam, which Pyongyang has specifically threatened.

Bombs and missiles

The details of North Korea's weapons programs known to US and other intelligence agencies remain classified. And there appear to be gaps in that knowledge, due to North Korea's highly secretive nature.

Some US official and private weapons experts say North Korea may have succeeded in designing, and possibly building, a miniaturized nuclear device that could be fit aboard medium-range missiles known as the Nodong.

This is in dispute, however. And even if Pyongyang has developed such a warhead, there are serious doubts about whether North Korea would be able to test it enough to ensure it actually worked.

Medium-range missiles such as the Nodong might be able to reach US allies South Korea and Japan, as well as Okinawa, where there is still a large US military presence. But they do not have the range to hit even remote US Pacific territories.

Another missile that US intelligence agencies are watching closely is the KN-08, which has a longer range than the Nodong, and was first shown off in a North Korean military parade a year ago.

Last month, Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told journalists that, "we believe the KN-08 probably does have the range to reach the United States."

On Thursday, a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States believes the KN-08 could hit Guam, Hawaii and Alaska, but not the US mainland.

Another official acknowledged that the US estimate of the missile's range is based on limited intelligence.

Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence official now with the Arms Control Association, was more sceptical of the KN-08 missile.

When some experts examined close-up pictures of a KN-08 missile on display in Pyongyang, they concluded it was a fake or mock-up, Thielmann said.

"This was not ready for prime time," he said.

On Thursday, Western officials confirmed reports that North Korea had moved yet another weapon, apparently a medium-range missile known as a Musudan or Nodong B, to its east coast. Experts said it was unclear if the missile was moved as a menacing gesture or in preparation for a test firing.

The Musudan is believed to have a range of 3,000 kilometers (1,875 miles), more than the Nodong, which would put all of South Korea, Japan and possibly Guam in its range.

Thielmann said the Musudan had not flown either. "A missile that has never even had a flight test is not an operational system and is not a credible threat," he said.

Conditional threats?

US officials say the latest threats about a nuclear strike go beyond previous rhetoric voiced not only by Kim Jong-un, but also his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather, North Korea's founding dynast Kim Il-sung.

One US official said that until now, read closely, the threats from Pyongyang were conditional, suggesting an attack on the United States would only take place if the US first acted against North Korea.

However, that was not the case with Wednesday's threat of a nuclear strike, the official said.

Thielmann said North Korea has several hundred missiles, most of which are variants of the SCUD-B and SCUD-C missiles with a range of 300 km and 500 km (187 to 312 miles). They have some dozens of Nodong missiles with an estimated 1300 km (862 miles) range.

"Neither of these (medium range) systems can reach Guam. Neither of them can reach Hawaii or (the) Aleutian Islands," Theilmann said. There are "missiles that North Korea pretends that it has and ... various people in the United States seem to want to lend credence to these fantastic North Korean claims."

Davao groups urge gov’t to resume talks with NDF on econ reforms

Posted to the pro-CPP Davao Today (Apr 4): Davao groups urge gov’t to resume talks with NDF on econ reforms

Government peace panel members who came for a consultation were greeted with a rally from activists urging them to resume the suspended peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process held a closed-door consultation dubbed “Public Conversation on Peace Building” with around a hundred stakeholders from Davao at the Apo View Hotel.

Journalists were barred from covering the event but were told by the OPAPP secretariat that they will be given a press release after the event.

Outside the consultation were the activists led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which challenge the government to be sincere and objective in reviving the talks with the NDF.

“The government shows no interest in resuming the peace talks when it failed to recognize the objectivity of the socio-economic reforms and continues with its anti-insurgency campaign that targets civilians thru Oplan Bayanihan,” said Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of Bayan Southern Mindanao.

Talks between the two parties resumed under the Aquino administration following preliminary talks on December 2010/ January 2011 that led to the formal talks on February in Oslo, Norway. Both sides committed to finish the remaining three items of the talks in eighteen months, starting with the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.

But the talks were suspended following arrests of NDF consultants who were covered by immunity guarantees signed by the parties.

Davaotoday interviewed two participants to the consultation who expressed the need for people to get involved in the talks.

Juland Suazo, spokesperson of the environment group Panalipdan, said that “something is missing” in the consultation and that is the government draft on CASER .

“I was waiting for it. The discussions on CASER must start now so that the people will know about it, especially on policies related to the environment like the policies on mining,” Suazo said.

He adds that the talks revolving social and economic reforms must be thrown back to the people in order for them to actively participate.

Twinkle Bautista of the Peace Builders Community Inc. (PBCI) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), said that her “expectations were met in a way that the status of the special track was explained” but was also disappointed because the talks collapsed again.

Still, Bautista shared that the PBCI and PCEC “are working actively to increase the participation of churches in the peace process.”

“PCEC and PBCI are planning to deal directly with the GPH and NDF issue by enhancing our relationship with the GPH panel working with the NDF and by seeking to establish relationship with the NDF,” Bautista said.

She adds that that they also support the talks in other means and that is by continuing with their work on the “ground that deals directly with the issues of the people (livelihood, peace and reconciliation trainings, dialogues, fair trade in agriculture, upholding cultural identity etc).”

3 PN ships on standby for Sokor Pinoys repatriation

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 5): 3 PN ships on standby for Sokor Pinoys repatriation

Three ships of the Philippine Navy were placed on standby as part of the government’s preparations for the possible repatriation of Filipinos in South Korea amid the growing tension in the Korean Peninsula.

In a statement, Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Gerald Fabic, spokesman of the Navy, said that Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano ordered three ships and their personnel to be on alert since Monday.

“The Navy chief ordered the troops and the ships to be on alert for possible deployment in contingency and humanitarian assistance especially for Filipinos who will be affected if the conflict arises into a full blown crisis,” said Fabic.

Earlier, the Philippine Air Force also placed two of its three operational C130 cargo planes on standby as part of its contingency plan in case the tension between South Korea and North Korea worsens.

There are more or less 40,000 Filipinos now living and working in South Korea.
Fabic said that the three ships placed on standby were composed of two logistics vessels and an escort.

“Said vessels will be under the operational control of the maneuvering force of the Philippine Navy, the Flletm-Marine Ready Force under the command of Commodore Alexander Lopez,” said Fabic.

“The ships will be placed on standby and will be deployed upon instructions from the higher headquarters,” added Fabic.

The government has set up contingency plans for Filipinos in South Korea after North Korean declared it is now under a “state of war” with South Korea.

8 dead as leftist rebels attack Compostela town

From the Philippine Star (Apr 4): 8 dead as leftist rebels attack Compostela town

Eight people died and several others were wounded in a series of clashes between government troops and leftist rebels in a southern Philippine province, authorities said today.

Two soldiers and a nine-year old civilian as well as five New People's Army rebels died in a series of encounters in the towns of Mabini and Monkayo in Compostela Valley, according to Lieutenant Vilma Mojado, information officer of the 1001st Infantry Brigade.

At least 30 gunmen of the leftist NPA detonated an improvised landmine and fired upon a patrol of army rangers in Mabini at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday local time, sparking a fire fight that killed five guerrillas.

"Residents reported they have seen the fleeing rebels carrying the bodies of their five slain comrades on hammocks," Mojado said. She added another group of soldiers from a separate army unit also came under fire at Kidaraan community, in nearby Anitapan village at around 6:40 p.m.

A nine-year old boy died while another child, a 13-year old boy was wounded after being fired at by soldiers at Kidaraan.

In Monkayo town, a militiaman was also killed and another hurt as NPA rebels attacked a militia outpost in the village of Casoon past 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Col. Angelito de Leon, provincial army commander, said pursuit operations were launched against the attackers.

The 4,000-strong NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting a leftist insurgency in 60 Philippine provinces since 1969.

Bandits attack Army detachment in NCotabato

From the Philippine Star (Apr 4): Bandits attack Army detachment in NCotabato

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Members of the bandit group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) raided another Army detachment in Central Mindanao Wednesday night, the region’s third in three days.

No one was reported killed or wounded in the latest attempt by bandits to take over a roadside detachment of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Ulandang in Midsayap, North Cotabato, but the incident triggered panic in the area.

The Midsayap municipal police said the gunmen first surrounded the detachment and opened fire with assault rifles and shoulder-fire 40 MM grenade projectiles.

Although outnumbered, the soldiers manning the detachment returned fire, preventing the BIFF gunmen from closing in.

The bandits scampered away when the soldiers inside the detachments fired at them with M-60 machineguns.

Barangay folks said three bandits, who were either wounded or killed in the ensuing firefight, were seen being carried away by companions as the latter fled in haste.

The spokesman of BIFF, Abu Misry Mama, said the attacks on military positions in Central Mindanao were amde in retaliation to the death of a companion whom he said was earlier “arrested, tortured and killed” by soldiers in Maguindanao.

He said their slain companion was intercepted at an Army checkpoint, went missing, and was found dead later by relatives.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over Maguindanao and North Cotabato, denied any knowledge of Mama’s assertion.

The Maguindanao provincial police have no record of such an incident either.

The BIFF attacked the detachment of the 40th IB in Midsayap after members of the group attempted to take over two roadside outposts of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade at the border of Maguindanao’s Salibo and Datu Piang towns.

An ethnic Maguindanaon farmer was wounded in one of the attacks.

The BIFM is led by Ustadz Ameril Umrah Kato, a former senior commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who was booted out for serious infractions of the MILF rules.

Sayyaf with P1M bouny captured in Basilan

From the Philippine Star (Apr 4): Sayyaf with P1M bouny captured in Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - A mid-level leader of the Abu Sayyaf group was captured by joint police intelligence units and commandos during a raid Thursday morning in his safehouse in Basilan, a security official said.

The suspect, which has a P1-million bounty reward on his head, was identified as Abdulla Kallitut, according to the Regional Intelligence Unit 9 (RIU) in its report to Chief Superintendent Juanito Vaño.

The joint personnel of RIU under Task Force Sanglahi, backed by the police commandos of the 53rd Special Action Company of the Special Action Force (SAF), Basilan police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) cornered Kallitut in his hideout at Barangay Riverside, Isabela City about 8:55 a.m. Thursday.

The suspect has a standing warrant of arrest for nine counts of murder issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 1, 9th Judicial Region, Isabela City.

The suspect, who did not resist during the raid, was immediately brought to the Regional Intelligence Unit headquarters for further tactical debriefing and determine his other participation in the terrorism attacks in Basilan province.

US agrees to compensation on reef damage, says DFA

From Malaya (Apr 4): US agrees to compensation on reef damage, says DFA

THE Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday said the United States has ensured its full cooperation in the investigation into the grounding of the USS Guardian at the Tubbataha Reef last January.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said US Secretary of State John Kerry also gave the assurance the US will pay for the damage caused by the grounding.

“I would like to reiterate my own assurance to the Filipino public that every effort will be made to obtain proper compensation. We also are of the view that a long term commitment of resources by the US to the future well-being of the reef is important,” said Del Rosario quoting Kerry.

Del Rosario and Kerry met at the State Department on April 2. Del Rosario was accompanied to the meeting by Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr., DFA Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta, Deputy Chief of Mission Maria Austria, and Executive Director Rosalita Prospero of the DFA Office of American Affairs.

The US Navy ship USS Guardian ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef last January 17. Initial damage was placed at 4,000 square meters. Salvage operations were completed last Saturday.

Del Rosario said a joint damage assessment by the Philippines and the US is scheduled on April 8.

The DFA said Kerry also expressed support to the recent action taken by the Philippines in resolving its territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Secretary Kerry assured me that the US is committed to supporting the efforts of the Philippines to settle the disputes peacefully and in accordance with the rule of law,” Del Rosario said.

The Philippines brought the dispute to the UN last January.

Ligot’s freeze lift should be appealed — Jinggoy

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 5): Ligot’s freeze lift should be appealed — Jinggoy

Government prosecutors should immediately appeal the Supreme Court (SC) decision ordering the lifting of the freeze order on the P54-million assets of retired Army comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot and his family members, if only to prevent from putting to naught the efforts of senators who unmasked his alleged ill-gotten wealth in an inquiry few years ago, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said yesterday.

Estrada led the Senate probe into the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Ligot and several other active and retired military generals following the surfacing of former Col. George Rabusa on the purported “pabaon” or cash gifts system in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the course of the upper chamber inquiry into the case of retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia over his P303-million plunder case.

“Although I disagree with the decision of the SC, we have to respect it. We, in the Senate conducted a probe on the hidden wealth of General and Mrs. (Erlinda) Ligot, including their homes in the US. I don’t know why this was the decision of the court,” he said.

“I really do not know the details of the case. But I disagree with the decision of the SC lifting the freeze order on the money of Gen. Ligot,” Estrada added.

 The matter of the high court’s ruling should be immediately petitioned by the Office of the Solicitor General for reconsideration, the Senate leader said.’s-freeze-lift-should-be-appealed-—-jinggoy

‘Balikatan’ not directed at any countries

From the Daily Tribune (Apr  5): ‘Balikatan’ not directed at any countries

With “Balikatan 2013” exercises about to go into high gear this Friday, Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, the Philippine spokesman for the activity, said that the event is not aimed at any particular country.

“Well we hope other countries will not misinterpret it. ‘Balikatan’ is not directed against any country,” he said when asked whether the joint Philippine-US military training exercise is connected to the ongoing tensions between the two Koreas.

“This (Balikatan) has been planned long before those issues like (in) the Korean peninsula and other world events occurred,” he added.

Garcia also stressed that the planning stage for “Balikatan 2013” started during the last quarter of 2012.

“Planning stage for ‘Balikatan’ started in September to December 2012 and until now we are still ironing out some venues and exercise areas,” he pointed out.

Garcia also said that the primary function of “Balikatan 2013” is to highlight interoperability between American and Filipino forces in providing humanitarian assistance in wake of disasters or other calamities.

He stressed that such actions are in no way offensive.

Garcia said that special emphasis is given to humanitarian disaster response activities in this year’s “Balikatan” in order train rescue forces in an event of another super typhoon like “Pablo” which struck Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley in the middle part of December 2012.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed in the issuing landslides and flashfloods while hundreds more are still missing until today.‘balikatan’-not-directed-at-any-countries

ASG with P1M bounty arrested

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 5): ASG with P1M bounty arrested

Combined police and military operatives yesterday arrested a wanted Abu Sayyaf, who has P1 million reward for his neutralization, aduring an operation in Basilan province.

Nabbed was Abdulla Kallitut, who was cornered by joint police, military and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives during a raid in Barangay Riverside in Isabela City at around 8:55 a.m.

Kallitut was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Leo Jay Principe of the Regional Trial Court Branch 1 in Isabela City, for nine counts of murder.

The captured Abu Sayyaf man is reportedly included on the list of wanted terrorists with P1 million reward.

Kallitut was subsequently detained at the Regional Intelligence Unit-9 headquarters for proper documentation and debriefing.

US missile shield sent to Guam as Nokor approves nuke strike

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 4): US missile shield sent to Guam as Nokor approves nuke strike

The United States has scrambled to reinforce its Pacific missile defenses, preparing to send ground-based interceptors to Guam as North Korea yesterday said it had authorized plans for nuclear strikes on US targets.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose threats combined with its military capabilities represented a “real and clear danger” to the US and to its allies South Korea and Japan.

“They have nuclear capacity now, they have missile delivery capacity now,” Hagel yesterday said. “We take those threats seriously, we have to take those threats seriously.”

The Pentagon said it would send ground-based THAAD missile-interceptor batteries to protect military bases on Guam, a US territory some 3,380 kilometers southeast of North Korea and home to 6,000 American military personnel, submarines and bombers.

They would complement two Aegis anti-missile destroyers already dispatched to the region.
Shortly after the THAAD announcement, the North Korean military said it had received final approval for military action against the US, possibly involving nuclear weapons.

“The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” the Korean People’s Army general staff said, responding to what it called the provocative US use of nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers in ongoing war games with South Korea.

The US aggression would be “smashed by... cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means,” it said in a statement.

While few of the North’s threats have been matched with action, reports yesterday said it appears to have moved a medium-range missile capable of hitting targets in South Korea and Japan to its east coast.

The South Korean Defense Ministry declined to confirm the report, but stressed it kept a “24-hour watch” for any potential North Korean missile launches.

“We believe there is always an open possibility for a missile launch and related measures have been prepared,” ministry spokesman Wi Yong-Seop told reporters without elaborating.

“We are closely monitoring whether the North moved it with a view to actual launch or just as a show of force against the US,” Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper also carried a similar report.

The Musudan missile was first unveiled at a military parade in October 2010 and is believed to have an intended range of around 3,000 kilometers. But it is not known to have been tested.

Yonhap cited intelligence sources as saying the North might launch the missile on April 15, the birth anniversary of founding leader Kim Il-Sung.

A provocative missile test-fired into the sea over Japan is one scenario that analysts have said the North could opt for as a relatively low-risk way of exiting the crisis with a face-saving show of force.
Yun Duk-Min, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, said the latest nuclear threat was similar to one issued a month ago, but with the added weight of “approval” — presumably by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“The problem is whether Kim, who is still young and inexperienced, knows how to handle this escalation,” Yun said. “Where does it end? That’s the worrying question.”

North Korea blocked access to its Kaesong joint industrial zone with South Korea on Thursday for the second day running, and threatened to pull out its 53,000 workers in a furious reaction to the South’s airing of a “military” contingency plan to protect its own workers there.

Pyongyang informed Seoul on Wednesday it was stopping the daily movement of South Koreans to the Kaesong complex, the last real surviving point of contact between the two countries.

“The full closure of the complex is set to become a reality,” a spokesman for the North’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said.

The North has said the more than 800 South Koreans currently in Kaesong — 10 kilometers inside the North Korean border — can leave whenever they want but many have chosen to stay to keep the factories running.

North Korea threatened a “preemptive” nuclear strike against the United States in early March, and last week its supreme army command ordered strategic rocket units to combat status.

Most experts think it is not yet capable of mounting a nuclear device on a ballistic missile capable of striking US bases or territory.

Tensions have soared on the Korean peninsula since December, when the North test-launched a long-range rocket. In February, it upped the ante once again by conducting its third nuclear test.

Subsequent UN sanctions and joint South Korea-US military drills triggered weeks of near-daily threats from Pyongyang, ranging from artillery strikes to nuclear armageddon.

The escalating crisis has triggered global concern, with China and Russia issuing repeated calls for restraint and UN Chief Ban Ki-moon warning that the situation had “gone too far” and risked spiraling out of control.

This week, the North warned it would reopen its mothballed Yongbyon reactor — its source of weapons-grade plutonium. It was closed in July 2007 under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament accord.

Bangsamoro process gets under way; Iqbal upbeat

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 5): Bangsamoro process gets under way; Iqbal upbeat

The Transition Commission, the body mandated to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, will conduct consultations in all communities that will be affected by the planned abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The basic law, once enacted, will pave the way for a new autonomous political entity in Mindanao to be called Bangsamoro as an offshoot of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“If possible, the last man and last woman will be consulted because we want the people to own the process, to own the basic law,” TC chairman and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said.

“This is for peace: for our people, for Mindanao and for the Philippines so I don’t see any reason why people or Congress will reject the basic law,” he stressed.

According to commission member Johaira Wahab, the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, as part of the Bangsamoro core territory, will be included in the consultations.

Under the framework agreement, the Bangsamoro will have for its core territory the present composition of the ARMM.

The new political entity will also include the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he wants the basic law to be enacted by 2015, with an interim authority in place a year before the next national elections.

“We need the organic act enacted into law by 2015. This will be passed through Congress and approved in a plebiscite and we hope to install the new government with a mandate after 2016 elections. There will be an interim authority from 2015 to 2016,” Aquino said.

Strong US-PH defense ties assured

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 5): Strong US-PH defense ties assured

The United States on Thursday assured the Philippines of its commitment to further “strengthen” its defense ties with the country in the face of uncertainties and security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a statement, the Foreign Affairs Department said that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the assurance when he met with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario at the Pentagon.

Even as the meeting was going on, a squadron of American fighter jets are scheduled to arrive in the next few days to take part in the 2013 Balikatan, a joint military exercise between the two countries.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said the fighter jets would join 20 other aircrafts for the exercise, 14 of which had arrived at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga a few days ago.

Burgos said the 12 FA-18 Hornets fighter jets will land at the same airbase. The Hornets are twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable fighter jets, designed to attack ground targets.

The joint exercises to be participated by 8,000 Filipino and American troops will be officially declared open today (Friday) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. It will run through April 17 in Luzon, particularly in Zambales and Tarlac.

Del Rosario, meanwhile, said that Hagel had expressed that there was a need for the Philippines and the US to further deepen their partnership to uphold peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” del Rosario said.

The DFA chief added that the US official “expressed his appreciation” to what the Philippines is doing in the region and noted that our partnership is critical in our part of the world.

The meeting with del Rosario was Hagel’s first with a senior Philippine official since taking over the helm at the Pentagon in February.

The meeting followed a separate discussion between del Rosario and Secretary of State John F. Kerry—the former Massachusetts senator’s first face-to-face encounter with a senior Filipino official since he succeeded Secretary Hillary R. Clinton at the State Department early this year.

Del Rosario provided Pentagon officials an update on Manila’s efforts to peacefully resolve the disputes in the West Philippine Sea, particularly its decision to seek arbitration.

“The Pentagon was supportive of our arbitration initiative, especially because it is consistent with efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute without resorting to coercion,” Del Rosario said.
Hagel said that developing the two countries alliance was “very, very important at this point in time,” referring to the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea and North Korea’s war posturing in the Korean peninsula.

“I articulated that the Philippine Government is committed to see through the arbitration proceedings to its conclusion. We will not slow down on this effort,” del Rosario explained.

The region is currently reeling from China’s enormous economic and military growth, which has impacted on Beijing’s relationships with its neighbors especially because of its overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea and East China Sea.

The Philippines and Japan, both allies of the United States, are locked in their own territorial disputes with China.

Del Rosario said Hagel also expressed satisfaction with the progress being made on the increase of US military rotational presence in the Philippines.

Also discussed during the meeting were the US support for the modernization plans of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the situation in Sabah and North Korea, and the investigation of the grounding of the USS Guardian, including the participation of the Philippines in the probe and the conduct of an environmental impact assessment of the incident.

Also present during the Pentagon meeting were Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr., Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Carlos D. Sorreta, Deputy Chief of Mission Maria Andrelita S. Austria, Defense Attache Brig. Gen. Cesar B. Yano, and Director Rosalita S. Prospero of the Office of American Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Joining Hagel in the meeting were other senior Pentagon officials namely Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Peter Lavoy.

Army turns over peace operations to police

From the Business World (Apr 4): Army turns over peace operations to police

The Army has cleared Eastern Samar of threats from communists, handing over to the Eastern Samar Provincial Peace and Order Council the lead role in internal peace and security operations in the province.

Eastern Samar Governor Conrado B. Nicart, Jr., 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Gerardo T. Layug and police provincial director Supt. Jose Cesar B. Beso recently signed a joint resolution declaring the province as ready for development.

“This joint declaration is not only the success of my administration but rather, the success of each and every Eastern Samareño,” Mr. Nicart said in a statement.

The declaration means the city of Borongan and all 22 towns of Eastern Samar are free of rebels.

Mr. Layug said the rebels have ceased to function effectively as an organized insurgent movement and its threat to stability, peace and order, and development in Eastern Samar has been significantly reduced and relegated to inconsequential.

He added that the rebels’ capabilities have been degraded and actual and potential support have been cut.

“More and more provinces are attaining the status of being free from insurgents such as Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran. Such development is a result of dynamic teamwork between government agencies, nongovernment organizations, various sectors and the people,” Mr. Layug said.

Cops tracking another Malaysian linked to Sabah mess

From GMA News (Apr 4): Cops tracking another Malaysian linked to Sabah mess

Malaysian authorities are looking for a second Malaysian who reportedly can shed light on the entry by followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III into Sabah earlier this year.

Sabah deputy police commissioner Datuk Tan Kok Liang identified the Malaysian as Clarence Luing Karl a.k.a. Muhammad Khalil John L. Karl, 57.

"Clarence's last address was in Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli, about 45 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu town," Tan said, according to a report on Malaysia's The Star Online.

The Star Online cited initial investigation showing Clarence, who holds the title Datuk Seri - a state title conferred to someone who contributed greatly to the nation - is still in Sabah.

Tan urged Clarence to surrender, and asked the public to provide information about his whereabouts.

Last Monday, another man with the title "Datuk Seri" who was linked to the incident - Muhammad Ridzwan Sulaiman - surrendered to police.

He denied knowing Sultan Jamalul Kiram III but was detained under the Security Offenses Act (Special Measures) 2012 (Sosma), Malaysia's Bernama news agency reported.

Kiram's followers entered Sabah last February and engaged Malaysian security forces in a three-week standoff, which ended with deadly clashes March 1 and 2.

The deadly clashes prompted Malaysian security forces to conduct offensives against Kiram's followers starting March 5.

Malaysian police arrest suspected Kiram financier, 3 others

From GMA News (Apr 4): Malaysian police arrest suspected Kiram financier, 3 others

Malaysian police on Wednesday night arrested a man with suspected financial links to the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, a Malaysian news site reported Thursday.

A report on The Star Online said Datuk Seri Clarence Luing Karl, a.k.a. Muhammad Khalil John Karl, 57, and three others were arrested at a house in Tanjung Aru at 10:30 p.m.

The report quoted Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib as saying the four were detained under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012.

A separate report on New Straits Times said the three others arrested included Khalil's wife and stepson.

Hamza said all four will be detained for 29 days for investigation purposes.

While he did not elaborate, the Star Online report said this may be related to the investigation into the "financing" of the intrusion into Sabah of the followers of Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III in February.

The report also said Khalil was from the Kampung Bawang area and was not known to local residents.

Hearing set for JI man’s wife

From the Sun Star-Davao (Apr 4): Hearing set for JI man’s wife

THE wife of the Malaysian national tagged as member of the international terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is scheduled to appear anew before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) two weeks from now for another hearing.

A source who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak said Judge George Omelio of RTC Branch 14 scheduled the next hearing of the case filed against Annabelle Nieva Lee, of Sorsogon Province, on April 17 and 18 at 2 p.m.

Lee was charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives.

Lawyer Ben Joseph Tesiorna, legal counsel for the accused, confirmed the report to Sun.Star Davao in a text message on Thursday.

"Yes (the court has scheduled another hearing). But we expect resolution of our petition for bail before the upcoming hearing," Tesiorna said.

Omelio has yet to decide for the petition for bail filed by the accused through his legal counsel, as he had to resolve the result of the hearing based on the evidence and defense of both parties involved in the case.

Tesiorna, on the other hand, said they are hoping that the hearing of Lee will not just focus on the petition to bail, but also for the case to be dismissed as they believe that Lee has nothing to do with the activities of his husband, Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar.

Omelio, in his order dated February 14, said the accused through Tesiorna said she "has no knowledge as to the contents of the bag she carried" when she and her husband Kahar were cornered by authorities on December 14, 2012.

Kahar was gunned down when authorities led by Senior Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa cornered him and his wife along Camus Street around 10:30 p.m. of December 14, 2012. Lee was arrested for carrying the bag that contains a bomb.

Tesiorna, in his motion to admit and fix bail, said the allegation that Lee is the wife of the slain terrorist was the only evidence clearly established by the authorities, hence "it cannot suffice for the denial of the constitutional rights of the accused to bail before conviction."

Tesiorna said the evidence of the prosecution to prove the guilt of Lee is not strong since the basis for the filing of the case against the accused is the allegation that she was initially in possession of the black bag allegedly containing the improvised explosive device.

On January 11, the accused pleaded not guilty during her arraignment.

For TransCom to work, GPH-MILF annexes “must be finished before the elections”

From MindaNews (Apr 4): For TransCom to work, GPH-MILF annexes “must be finished before the elections”

The three remaining annexes that would complete the comprehensive peace pact between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “must be finished before the elections” because the Transition Commission cannot craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law unless the annexes are signed, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent chair of the 15-member TransCom, said.

“We cannot proceed to discuss the substantive issues unless the three remaining annexes will be discussed and signed by the parties,” Iqbal told a press conference, aired live on ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel) from the Crowne Hotel in Pasig City on Wednesday morning, after the TransCom’s “first en banc meeting.”

Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) that the GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012, the panels were supposed to have finished by yearend 2012 the annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing, normalization, and transitional arrangements and modalities to complete the comprehensive peace pact. From there, the TransCom, is supposed to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would govern the “Bangsamoro,” the new autonomous political entity that will replace the 23-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by June 30, 2016.

But in the four meetings after the signing of the FAB – in November, December, January and February – the panels managed to sign only one, the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, in the last talks in February.

Iqbal said the TransCom for now can only attend to organizational matters such as writing the internal rules, organizing the secretariat and the committees “but certainly we cannot discuss the more substantive part of our task unless the annexes are finished.”

The panels were supposed to have met in Kuala Lumpur on March 25 to 27 but the talks were reset upon the request of President Aquino, according to a statement issued by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles some 15 minutes before the “special meeting” in Kuala Lumpur on March 25, where GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was to have formally requested postponement and decide on the next meeting.

No reason was cited for the postponement but the next day, Deles’ office issued a belated Q and A explaining that the President sought the postponement because he “deems it necessary to have more time for review and consultations on the draft annexes.”

When the two panels ended their talks on February 27, they were supposed to have consulted their respective principals on their latest draft of the annexes in preparation for the next round on March 25 to 27.


Still, Iqbal told Wednesday’s press conference that he was optimistic the annexes would be finished soon because “we have a partner in government in the person of President Benigno Aquino III as sincere partner in the quest for lasting peace in Mindanao so I am optimistic although I recognize the way ahead is still full of obstacles, that we need to surmount the obstacles along the way” and that it is “not an easy way forward.”

When a reporter asked if the annexes would be signed before the May 13 polls, Iqbal replied: “I believe that it will be signed because there is no other way except to move forward and finish all the annexes.”

“Any other track is not …advisable … so I would like to believe once again that it must be finished before the elections. The three annexes,” he said.

But Iqbal acknowledged that in the case of the third annex on Normalization, which contains “very, very difficult issues” such as the decommissioning of MILF combatants and firearms, gradual redeployment of government troops to other areas and the issue on constituting the police force for the Bangsamoro, may not be settled so “it can be a continuing agenda.

“Normalization is the hardest nut to crack. It concerns very, very difficult issues. Personally I would like to see signing of the architecture as far as normalization is concerned” and the tough issues which he said he expects would be settled “as long as two parties there and talking with each other”
The panels will resume negotiations this month. The mid-term elections will be held on May 13.

Asked how long they expect to finish the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Iqbal asked TransCom member Maulana “Bobby” Alonto to answer.

Alonto, also MILF peace panel member, said they hope to craft the Basic Law “as early as possible.”

Done by 2014

“Hopefully by 2015 we expect the (Bangsamoro) Transition Authority to be established which would abolish the ARMM by that time. Again we have until 2014 to finish all the tasks the three tasks the main tasks of the TransCom.

Alonto said the TransCom will be based in Cotabato City.

The TransCom was created by Executive Order 120 issued by President Aquino on December 17.
The EO provides the following tasks of the TransCom, in accordance with the FAB: “draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro; whenever necessary, to recommend to Congress or the people, proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution; and whenever necessary, to assist in identifying and coordinating development programs in the proposed Bangsamoro in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI)” and for this purpose, “may likewise coordinate with such other relevant government agencies and/or non-government organizations.”

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

“If possible, the last man last woman would be consulted,” Iqbal said, “so that they will own the process, they will own the basic law.”

He said if the people own the Basic Law crafted by the TransCom, he sees no reason why Congress would water down the law, as it did with the 1996 GPH-Moro National Liberation Front peace agreement, or reject it.

“People must own it, not just in Mindanao but everybody. This is for peace. Peace for our people, peace for Mindanao, peace for the entire Philippines,” Iqbal said.

The Sabah crisis, however, took about half the time of the 43-minute press conference as reporters) asked, among others how Malaysia could continue serving as third party facilitator in the GPH-MILF peace process, given the alleged human rights violations perpetrated against Filipinos, particularly the Tausugs, in Sabah.

US-Philippine air force engineers lay foundation for new schoolhouse

From the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) (Apr 3): US-Philippine air force engineers lay foundation for new schoolhouse

BK13 - Omaya School Foundation

U.S. and Philippine air force engineers smooth out concrete while laying the new Omaya schoolhouse's foundation. The project was one of eight engineering civic action programs being performed by JCMOTF units in support of exercise Balikatan 2013. Balikatan 2013 is an annual Philippine-U.S. bilateral exercise. Humanitarian assistance and training activities enable the Philippine and American service members to build lasting relationships, train together and provide assistance in communities where the need is the greatest. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/ Released)

ZAMBALES, Philippines - U.S. and Philippine Air Force engineers laid the concrete foundation for the new Omaya schoolhouse, April 1, marking the first major construction milestone for the combined team.
Interwoven with steal rebar, the 60-by-28 meter concrete pad will be the permanent home for a two-classroom prefabricated building.

“You can always kind of exhale a bit once you finish the concrete,” said Air Force Construction Officer-in-Charge Master Sgt. Benjamin Bone, from the 773rd Civil Engineering Squadron. “It’s the hardest part and takes the most focus. We’ll give it about three days to dry and then begin building the actual schoolhouse. Feels great getting this done. The community is really happy too.”

Education is a valuable commodity in the Philippines. In areas where farming is basically the only occupation, a good education can allow greater opportunities for students. Missing school because of dangerous conditions causes students to struggle and that weighs on the minds of the parents.

“During the stormy season, the school tends to flood,” said Marilyn Palaylay, mother of an Omaya Elementary School student. “That scares me and many of the other parents, so we don’t let them go.”

The new schoolhouse will be on an elevated piece of land on the school grounds. This will keep the schoolhouse and children away from the river and any future flooding or other related danger.

“We are very happy about that, and our kids will be much safer,” said Palaylay.

The schoolhouse was one of eight engineering civic action projects being performed by Combined/Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force units in support of exercise Balikatan 2013.
Balikatan 2013 is an annual Philippine-U.S. bilateral exercise. Humanitarian assistance and training activities enable the Philippine and American service members to build lasting relationships, train together and provide assistance in communities where the need is the greatest.

North Negros Occ. Guerilla Units Thwarting Biggest Assembly of Gov’t Forces

From the Negros Daily Bulletin (Apr 4): North Negros Occ. Guerilla Units Thwarting Biggest Assembly of Gov’t Forces

Army Slams NPA Attack
Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz - Around 6 pm of April 1, CAA Joseph Lutrago and PO1 Tanguan were riding their XLR 200 motorcycle going about their peaceful lives towards Escalante City Public Market when they were fired upon by 3 members of an NPA assassination unit.
CAA Joseph Lutrago, 38, married, who was assigned at RMG based in Brgy. Libertad, Escalante City got hit in the head that caused his instantaneous death, while PO1 Tanguan was dead a few minutes later but was able to return fire before he died. Later, reports from civilians revealed that a certain alias Toli succumbed to his wounds and died April 2, 2013.
The suspects are believed to be composed of an 8-man team with a certain a.k.a Dan leading the assassination unit.
"We extend our deepest and sincerest condolences to the bereaved families. The killing perpetrated by the NPA was the worst form of tactical offensive. It was done with treachery and goes to show how heartless they are," said MGen Jose Z. Mabanta Jr., Commander of 3ID.
"They have not achieved anything from what they have done other than make people aware that they no longer have the principles and ideals of a true revolutionary but are mere criminals and bandits," stressed Mabanta.*
The New People’s Army (NPA) Northern Negros Command, the Roselyn Pelle Command, has claimed thwarting the successive government counter-insurgency operations resisting it successfully, despite the biggest military force deployed against it in this area of Negros Island.
This was contained in a statement dated March 29, the guerilla’s army 44th anniversary of its founding years ago.
The campaign to destroy the guerillas started with Oplan Bantay Laya One and Two during the period then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ruled until the present regime which is employing another strategy, Oplan Bayanihan concentrating on "winning hearts and minds," primarily, then followed by combat operations.
This is but merely grandiose operations, psychological warfare operations to make it appear they are for peace and progress. This is their supposed "icing on the cake" which is already rotten and spoiled and is not fit to eat.
In its several years attempt to destroy the NPA, it deployed originally one army battalion in 2006.
It was then replaced by the 15th IB in 2008 and was augmented by the 62nd IB in 2009. But today, the CPP-NPA faces no less than a combined three battalions composed of army and police units with paramilitary CAFGUs, goons under the RPA-ABB and those of sugar planters. There is also one Civil-Military operating battalions, one Special Action Force Battalion the police and two Regional Public Safety Management Battalion.
There is also the Regional Training Center of the RPSMMB in Victorias City. Another RPSMB Company in Sagay City, the 12th IB’s CAFGU Detachments and the undisciplined goons.
These military, police and paramilitary forces have launched combat operations on a sustaining basis with the red fighters resorting to mobile operations so as not to be caught red-handed, it said. The intent of the large-scale military operations is to destroy the NPA. In the process, the Roselyn Pelle Command statement said in the cities and towns of Northern Negros, the revolutionary forces have thwarted and preserved themselves preparatory to achieving strategic stalemate in 2016. This would mean that CPP-NPA Forces would be at par with those of governments. Even genuine agrarian reform being implemented by the revolutionary forces or by legal organizations is being prevented by the government.
The new counter-insurgency strategy Oplan Bayanihan would be for naught, the Pelle Command’s statement said.
But the world’s economic and political situation is favorable for the revolution, with the forces of world capitalism facing crisis after crisis.
The objective situation in the local level favors them, the Roselyn Pelle Command statement said.
Several days after the statement came out, a combat policeman and a former CAFGU were killed in a sparrow operations in Escalante City but the military and police claimed a Sparrow hitman was also killed.

NPA violated human rites’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 4): NPA violated human rites’

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division yesterday charged the leadership of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros of tolerating violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law when members of its Special Partisan Unit gunned down a policeman and a civilian Monday night in Escalante City.

Last month, an unarmed member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit was also shot dead by suspected NPA assassins in Toboso, Negros Occidental, military records show.

Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said yesterday that priest-turned-rebel Frank Fernandez, KR-Negros secretary, and released rebel leader Romeo Nanta, alias Juanito Magbanua, commander of KR-Negros Regional Operations Command, both have direct knowledge, and supervision over the latest SPARU operations in Escalante City.

Killed in the latest SPARU attack were Police Officer 1 Bejein Tanguan and Joseph Lutrago, a former CAFGU member-turned police asset. A year ago, the brother of Lutrago was also killed by suspected NPA assassins in Negros Oriental.

Mabanta, who is joining Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista today at the 5th founding anniversary of the Church-Military Advisory Group at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City, said, “The CPP-NPA continues to violate human rights in its highest form while its leadership who have direct knowledge, continue to tolerate such act. This is another inhumane act committed by the CPP-NPA which also violated the CARHRIHL which the communist group is a signatory.”

CARHRIHL states that parties involved in the agreement should affirm and apply the principles of international humanitarian law in order to protect the civilian population and individual civilians, as well as persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict and also guarantees the right against economic and food blockades and indiscriminate bombings, shelling, strafing, gunfire and the use of landmines.

Mabanta said the CARHRIHL is the first of four agreements in the substantive agenda of the formal talks between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National democratic Front of the Philippines which was signed Hague, Netherlands in 1998.

While he condemned the atrocious attack by the NPA, Mabanta said he is still calling on the ranks of the CPP-NPA who are being used by their opportunistic leaders in executing innocent civilians, to abandon the armed violence, live a peaceful life, and join them in bringing peace and development to the communities.

Meet the members of the Transition Commission

From Rappler (Apr 4): Meet the members of the Transition Commission

Fifteen individuals will perform the task of drafting the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Led by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, the Tran Commission convened for the first time on Wednesday, April 3.

The body was created by virtue of Executive Order 120. Eight of the members were nominated by the MILF while 7 were nominated by the government.

“The MILF views the commission as its first initial partnership with the GPH (government of the Philippines),” Iqbal said during the opening ceremonies for the commission's first meeting. “We shall not work against each other but instead work with each other to address the Moro problem or more correctly, the Moro question,” he added.

Who are the members of the Transition Commission? They have one thing in common -- they are all Bangsamoro. Get to know them here:

Mohagher Iqbal - Chairman
  • Also the chief negotiator of the MILF on the peace talks
  • Member of the MILF Central Committee, chair of the committee on information
  • Studied BA Political Science and MA Political Science at the Manuel Quezon University
  • Joined the Moro National Liberation Front in 1972 after returning to Maguindanao from Manila
  • Joined the MILF, then known as the New MNLF Leadership, in 1977
  • Wrote two books -- Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny, and The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GPH-MILF Peace Talks under the pen name Salah Jubair
  • Hails from Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao
The members
From the MILF side:

Ibraham Ali
  • Member of the MILF Central Committee
  • Board of Consultants of the MILF peace panel
  • Member of the MILF since the 1970s
  • Member of the MILF’s Darul Ifta (House of Opinion)
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of Hayatol Ulama of the Philippines
  • Educated in Saudi Arabia – studied at the Arabic Language Institute of the King Abdul Aziz University in Mecca from 1980 to 1987; College of Islamic Law at Ummol Qura University in Mecca from 1982 to 1987; and King Soud University in Riyadh for a post-graduate diploma from 1994 to 1995
  • Director of the Kutawato Islamic Institute in Cotabato City from 1989 to 1993

Maulana Alonto
  • A writer and an activist from Lanao del Sur
  • Member of the MILF central committee
  • Joined the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel as member of its Technical Committee in 2000 when peace negotiations were held in Tripoli, Libya
  • Became a member of the peace panel in 2003
  • A former MNLF member, he joined the organization as a young Moro student
  • Fought against the Marcos dictatorship as head of the information and propaganda of the Northern Mindanao Regional Revolutionary Committee (NMRC)
  • Left the MNLF in 1981 and joined the "above-ground" anti-Marcos movement
  • Joined the MILF when former MILF chair Sheikh Salamat Hashim came home from exile in the mid-80s

Abdulla Camlian
  • An alternate member of the MILF Peace Panel since 2010
  • Chairman of the MILF Technical Committee
  • Studied BS Military Science in the Cairo Military Academy in 1965
  • Hails from Basilan; Sama-Bangingi-Tausug ethnic roots

Raissa Jajurie
  • Board of Consultants of the peace panel of the MILF
  • Member of the MILF’s technical working group on the annex on wealth-sharing
  • Studied AB Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University and law at the University of the Philippines
  • A human rights lawyer with expertise on the issues of workers, women, peace in Mindanao, indigenous peoples, and the Moros
  • Handles cases of Moro political detainees and human rights defenders, and works on the prosecution of human rights violation
  • A Tausug, she hails from Jolo, Sulu

Hussein Munoz
  • Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces
  • Studied AB Political Science at the University of Mindanao in Davao City
  • Also known as “Sonny Davao”
  • Fluent in English ang Tagalog, as well as in Maguindanao, Tausug, and Bisaya
  • Hails from Lupon, Davao Oriental

Said Shiek
  • Head of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.
  • Finished Secondary Education at the Lanao National College and practiced his teaching profession in the province
  • A Maranao

Timuay Melanio Ulama
  • A Teduray leader who heads the Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference
  • Indigenous Peoples (IP) consultant of the MILF
  • Finished BS Agronomy in Upi Agricultural School and MA Public Administration in Notre Dame University
  • Hails from Upi, Maguindanao
On the government side:

Talib Abdulhamid Benito
  • A practicing Shari’ah lawyer
  • Former Dean of the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City from 2008 to 2012
  • Long-standing member of the Philippines Shari’ah Bar since 1985, serving as legal researcher and professor, specializing in Muslim procedural law and Muslim law of personal and family relations
  • A Maranao

Pedrito Eisma
  • Host of a news program aired in Basilan Today TV
  • Recognized twice as an Outstanding Municipal Councilor as an awardee of the Gawad Parangal ng Bayan in 1999 and the Excellence in Public Service Award in 2000.
  • Authored the resolution that led to the conversion of the municipality of Isabela into a component city separate from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
  • Teaches Political Science and Director of Student Affairs at the Claret College of Isabela in Basilan
  • Finished Bachelor of Law at Silliman University
  • A native of Basilan

Froilyn Mendoza
  • Member of the all-women contingent of the Civilian Protection component of the International Monitoring Team
  • Studied BS Agriculture at the University of Southern Mindanao and earned another degree as registered midwife in Northern Cotabato College
  • Project Manager of the special project for the advocacy of Lumad women’s rights in the ARMM by UNIFEM (now UN Women)
  • Advocacy specialist of the special project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance for the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples in the ARMM
  • One of the founding members of the Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization Inc
  • A Teduray who hails from South Upi, Maguindanao

Akmad Sakkam
  • Served as ambassador to three Islamic states -- Iraq from 1986 to 1992; Bahrain from 1994 to 1999; and Oman from 1999 to 2003
  • A recipient of the Presidential Award of Merit given by former President Cory Aquino for his “outstanding service to the country in the safe evacuation of Filipino workers in Kuwait and Iraq during the first Gulf War of 1991”
  • Served as labor attache to Saudi Arabia from 1976 to 1981
  • Recipient of an outstanding service award from the DFA for exceptional performance and contributions to foreign policy formulation
  • A native of Sulu

Fatmawati Salapuddin
  • Active member of the civil society sector, particularly in the area of peace-making
  • Director of the Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution under the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos since 2010
  • Served as a member of the Consultative Assembly of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), the transition mechanism of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF
  • A native of Sulu

Asani Tammang
  • Former representative of Sulu for 3 consecutive terms -- the 9th, 10th, and 11th Congress
  • A trial lawyer; served as assistant provincial prosecutor in the past
  • "Proud son" of the town of Pamanao in the province of Sulu

Johaira Wahab
  • Youngest member of the Transition Commission
  • Obtained her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, minor in Psychology at the University of the Philippines (Diliman), magna cum laude, in 2005 and finished her law degree (Juris Doctor) at the same university in 2009
  • Member of the Philippine Institute of Arbitrators
  • Member of the board of Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro
  • Actively engaged in advocacies for gender justice in Islam and minority rights
  • Member of the International Advisory Group of Musawah
  • Head of the legal team of the Government Peace Negotiating Panel since July 2010 upon the resumption of the peace talks with the MILF under the Aquino administration
  • Hails from Maguindanao
Source: Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process