Friday, April 12, 2013

PA 10th ID: First transition House in the region for former rebels, launched in Davao Oriental

Posted to the Facebook page of the 10th Infantry Agila Division Philippine Army (Apr 10):  First transition House in the region for former rebels, launched in Davao Oriental

City of Mati, Davao Oriental –The Provincial government of Davao Oriental in partnership with the 701st Infantry (Kagitingan) Brigade, 7ID, Philippine Army launches Halfway House intended for the Former Rebels at SitioMagay, Brgy Don Martin Marundan, Mati City and Area Clearing Com...pletion Ceremony and Joint Declaration of Commitment to Sustain the Gains of the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) in the Province morning of 10 April 2013.

The 10-room transition house for the former rebels, the first in the region, can accommodate 60 persons. The 56 Former Rebels who received a total of 2.7 million worth of livelihood program through local social integration program last July 26, 2012 from the government are the first beneficiary of this program.

“The halfway house is designed to prepare the former rebels to be integrated back to their community. The facility will provide comprehensive services such as counseling sessions, spiritual enrichment services, educational services, health services, skills and livelihood trainings, sports development, therapy session and workshops coming from various agencies,” Hon. governor Corazon Malanyaon said.

Following the inauguration is the Area Clearing Completion Ceremony and Joint Declaration of Commitment to Sustain the Gains of the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) in Davao Oriental Province at Honey’s Restaurant in Mati City.

Col Rey Leonardo B Guerrero, Brigade Commander of 701st Brigade said, “The peace and security being experienced today is very much different some years back. It was made possible through the unwavering commitment and generous support of various stakeholders, provincial government and the different line agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders of Davao Oriental to the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP). The same commitment and support is deemed crucial to the sustainment of the gains of PDOP in the cleared areas as we continue our security operations in areas threatened to be recovered by the NPAs.”

Recognizing the fact that the internal peace and security affects the various sector in the country, approach to national security must also be cognizant of the key role the affected sectors must play in the pursuit of lasting peace and security. Putting an end to the works of the CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) is not the sole responsibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It is a shared responsibility of the civil society, as well. On this note, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have embarked itself on a new strategy, the IPSP “BAYANIHAN”.

Heightened insurgency threats hindered the delivery of services in far flung barangays and derail the Province’s development efforts. With the combined resources and security efforts of the government agencies and the AFP, 167 barangays were cleared from the affectation of the CNN.

More importantly, a total of 156 sustainable livelihood projects spread all across the different barangays were implemented. These accomplishments provided physical and psychological barriers, leading to the suppression of the CNN in the Province of Davao Oriental as manifested by the very few minor CNN activities and the drastic reduction of its manpower, further proving their “displacement” from the province.

LT GEN JORGE SEGOVIA, EastMinCom Commander said, “This Grim chapter in the history of Davao Oriental officially ends today as we declare completion of our Clearing Program through our genuine peace and development campaign. Contrary to rebellion, our soldiers were able to prove that Peace is the best path to progress."

“Despite the disruptions in our operations caused by Typhoon Pablo and the several other factors that significantly delayed the completion of our area clearing effort, we are gratified to announce that we were able to successfully complete the clearing of the 183 barangays of Davao Oriental from NPA influence and drive their regular armed units outside of our provincial boundary. As such we enjoined everyone for greater collaboration and coordination to ensure that there are no gaps in the security coverage of all these activities.” Guerrero added.

“Today, I give my full commitment to help in sustaining the modest gains that we have accomplished, thus far. Together, we have done so much and together we can still do more. Together lets fulfill the promise of a peaceful and progressive Davao Oriental” Gov Malanyaon said.

Released by:

Civil Military Operations Officer
H701Bde, So.Magay, Brgy Don M. Marundan,
Mati City, Davao Oriental
Contact nr: 09399178747

PA 10th ID: NPA Landmines/Explosives

Posted to the Facebook page of the 10th Infantry Agila Division Philippine Army (Apr 7): NPA Landmines/Explosives
Engaged government troops in Brgy Libudon, Mabini were able to discover another 4 landmines and assorted explosives, and assorted ammunitions 6 A.M. of 05 April 2013 from NPA encampment at Sitio Darot, Brgy Libudon, Mabini. At 7:30 A.M. same day, one section of 71st IB led by 1st Lt Braza responded to a report on the installation of landmine detonating wire.
The government troops were able to clear about 100-mtr detonating cord and detonating assembly from the main supply route (MSR) at Brgy Panibasan, Maco, CVP.
“As of this report, EOD teams were already inserted in the area for the proper disposal of the explosives,” Col Angelito de Leon said.
After the encounter at Brgy Anitapan and Brgy Libudon both in Mabini, CVP, on 03 April 2003, the government troops also recovered 3 landmines. Unfortunately, other series of explosion killed 2 soldiers and wounding 2 others.
According to Honey May Suazo on her message alert, certain Earl Jhon Antivo from the same town suffered wounds from shrapnel. Antivo might have also been a victim of one of the landmine explosions initiated by the NPAs.
To note, there were already 7 landmine explosions initiated by the NPA to include the incident killing 1 and wounding 10 government troops coming from Relief and Rehabilitation Operations in Davao Oriental.
“The continuous use of landmines by the lawless armed group – NPA shows that the NPAs are unmindful about the safety of the civilians. Their terroristic strategy shows their disregard for human rights and deliberate violation of the Government and CPP-NPA-NDF’s Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Part III, Art II, Section 15 of that agreement states that use landmines is strictly prohibited,” de Leon said.


ANAD: Reestablishment of the CPP--General Uprising and General Offensive

Posted to the Facebook page of the anti-communist ANAD (Apr 12): Reestablishment of the CPP: General Uprising and General Offensive


LESSON FOR THE DAY: April 12, 2013


By Arthur J. Tariman
National Council Member, ANAD Party-list

General Uprising and General Offensive
To better understand the concept of General Offensive and General Uprising, let us backtrack a little further.

The basic sectors being laid down into Echelon of Alliances is the so-called subjective force of the revolution and is a vital element in creating the so-called objective condition of the revolution.

The objective condition of the revolution comes with the creation of a revolutionary environment thru the weakening of the economy as a social condition once the subjective forces are in place.

The communists always believed that the economic forces influence the political forces so does the subjective force influence the objective condition. The political implication is that those who hold the economy wield influence over politics. A strong economy means strength of hold on political power.

The Maoists maintain that economic class conflict would weaken political authorities that will ultimately lead to the seizure of political power. Hence, to attain the required objective condition of the revolution – that is the weakening of the economy – the CPP has been targeting the basic industries thru the mobilization of the basic sectors.

True to the essence of democratic centralism, which is a centralized leadership and a decentralized operation, the CPP has tasked every Regional Party Committee to target the weakening of specific economic bases.

The CPP therefore expects that the weakening of the regional economic bases would lead to general uprising and general offensive to seize political power.

The general uprising within the so-called white areas – both in rural and urban centers – has the following objectives:

• weakening of the state machineries,
• isolating the government from the people,
• creating a revolutionary conditions,
• infiltrating the government, and
• sabotaging of government programs. 

On the other hand, the general design for general offensive from the so-called red areas in the countryside requires the building of the NPA from the national to local level that would result to the thin spread of the AFP.

It also prescribes the conduct of IPO works with the peasants for horizontal development, and with the indigenous people or IP for vertical development.

The general uprising and general offensive would come during the short-period of strategic offensive that follows the strategic stalemate.

 TOMORROW'S LESSON: Strategic Stalemate

ANAD: Reestablishment of the CPP--Protracted People's War

Posted to the Facebook page of the anti-communist ANAD (Apr 11): Reestablishment of the CPP: Protracted People's War


LESSON FOR THE DAY: April 11, 2013


By Arthur J. Tariman
National Council Member, ANAD Party-list

Protracted People’s War
PPW’s general design to seize power took notice that the archipelagic character of the Philippines complemented by its mountainous terrain provides depth for guerilla warfare which should be protracted, i.e., from main islands to small islands, from weak to strong, and by stages: Strategic Defense , Strategic Stalemate , Strategic Offense .

The National Politico-Military Design of 1974 clearly defined the PPW’s strategy of seizing power:

“The long-term task of our Mindanao forces is to draw enemy forces from Luzon and destroy them. In this regard we can cooperate very well with the Moro National Liberation Front and the Bangsa Moro Army.

“Our forces in the Visayas can take advantage of our gains in Luzon and Mindanao and contribute their own share in the task of forcing the enemy to split his forces and of destroying them.

“On the eve of the nationwide seizure of power, Manila-Rizal shall be caught in a pincer between regular mobile forces from the north and from the two regions of Southern Luzon.”

Under this strategy, PPW’s two main forms of struggle would eventually culminate in General Offensive from the red areas and General Uprising in the white areas (urban and rural).

 TOMORROW’S LESSON: General Uprising and General Offensive

ANAD: Reestablishment of the CPP--Legal Struggle

Posted to the Facebook page of the anti-communist ANAD (Apr 10): Reestablishment of the CPP: Legal Struggle

LESSON FOR THE DAY: April 10, 2013


... By Arthur J. Tariman
National Council Member, ANAD Party-list

Legal Struggle

On the other hand, CPP waged legal struggle mainly in four forms. First is the united front building and mass protests, second is the electoral struggle, third is the peace process, and fourth is the International Solidarity Works which is also a form of legal struggle. 
PPW’s secondary task is the development of the revolutionary underground and the broad anti-imperialist and democratic mass movement in the cities thru the building of a broad united front.

Under this context, PPW’s objective would be to isolate the government from the people and their support by using the methodology of arouse (should be read as agitate), organize and mobilize or AOM. 

Finally the organized masses are mobilized when they are called on in the conduct of mass protest actions against government.

Ultimately, PPW aims to divert the people’s support initially to the National Democratic Revolution and eventually to the CPP thru ideological, political and organizational works, in short, IPO.

In ideological work, the people’s rights are being championed thru AOM that the revolutionary ideology the Party embodies becomes acceptable to the masses.

In political work, the Party’s constant questioning of the government’s integrity weakens its hold on the people but strengthens the ties between the masses and the revolutionary movement.

In organizational work, the organized sectors are either directly or indirectly linked to the National United Front Commission (NUFC) and the National Organizational Department (NOD) of the CPP.
As a strategy, the Party would conduct IPO works on the basic sectors – the workers and the peasants – then builds an Echelon of Alliances and later forges tactical alliance with the Bangsamoro revolutionary groups in Mindanao like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

TOMORROW’S LESSON: Protracted People’s War

CPP/Ang Bayan: 2 cops wounded in NPA raid in South Cotabato

From the English edition of Ang Bayan, the official news (propaganda) organ of the CPP (Apr 7): 2 cops wounded in NPA raid in South Cotabato

Two policemen were wounded when Red fighters from Mindanao’s Guerrilla Front 73 attacked the Philippine National Police Station in Barangay Sinolon, T’boli, South Cotabato on March 20.

The raid belied boastful claims by the 27th IB and 1002nd Brigade that the revolutionary movement has been wiped out in the province. The people’s guerrillas were able to seize a cal .45 pistol and other military equipment in the raid.

The Red fighters staged a surprise raid on the station while combat operations of the 1002nd Brigade’s so-called Task Force 73 continued to ravage the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat.

Meanwhile, the New People’s Army in Compostela Valley released prisoner of war PO3 Ruben Nojapa Jr. on April 2 in Mawab town.

Nojapa was ordered released by the National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao on humanitarian grounds, and despite the AFP’s refusal to declare a ceasefire to pave the way for an orderly turnover.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA-Panay ready to launch island-wide tactical offensives

From the English edition of Ang Bayan, the official news (propaganda) organ of the CPP (Apr 7): NPA-Panay ready to launch island-wide tactical offensives

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Panay has reached the capability to launch island-wide tactical offensives. This forms part of the NPA-Panay’s efforts to gain the initiative in the people’s war, according to a statement by the Regional Party Committee in the island. In this regard, the guerrillas have spurned the tendency to base themselves too long in one area, to set up camp for defense, mainly within the guerrilla base and to become passive amid an enemy attack, explained Ka Concha Araneta, Regional Committee spokesperson.

The NPA in Panay is currently developing its capability for active defense and sustained military actions within and outside guerrilla fronts to draw the enemy from pursuit operations or garrisoning big forces. On the other hand, the enemy will be tied in its narrow area of concentration and will become unable to wreak havoc so easily.

In particular, the Regional Committee defined the following tasks:

1. Actively resist and thwart intensifying enemy attacks in the island. Seize the initiative, mainly through tactical offensive campaigns throughout the island, especially in the guerrilla fronts. This is the key to defending Red power that has already been established and gaining strength and to making the revolutionary movement’s influence felt.

Show that armed revolution is the genuine alternative to thoroughly change the corrupt and exploitative system of landlord-compradors in power, such as the Cojuangco-Aquinos and Roxases. Armed revolution is likewise the alternative to the dynasties that have been given the go-signal to rule through dirty and fraud-ridden bourgeois elections.

2. Further develop company-size guerrilla fronts as a source of additional forces and strong Red power. Expansion is likewise a must to add to the contiguous guerrilla fronts towards the formation of a theater of war. We must seize on the opportunity where the enemy pours enormous resources into its “keyhole approach” and neglects the wider plains and mountainous areas. Increase the number of Red fighters and expand the mass base, which will crush the enemy and disperse him.

3. Vigorously advance the movement to defend the lands being seized by the US-Aquino regime for destructive projects and training camps of the 3rd ID and PNP. Carry forward a wider campaign to relieve the hunger and poverty of the people, most of whom are peasants. Expose the inutility of projects like 4Ps.

4. Continue exposing and opposing the US-Aquino regime’s deceptions and its exploitative and oppressive policies in the island such as “eco-tourism” and the multi-billion peso Jalaur River Project. Thwart the deceptive and brutal Oplan Bayanihan.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Advances in people’s war in Rizal and Southern Tagalog as a whole

From the English edition of Ang Bayan, the official news (propaganda) organ of the CPP (Apr 7): Advances in people’s war in Rizal and Southern Tagalog as a whole

People’s war has been steadily advancing in Rizal, a province adjacent to Metro Manila. In this province, which is a mere 25 kilometers from the gates of Malacañang, the New People’s Army (NPA) has been gaining strength, the mass base has been expanding and the revolutionary political influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines is being consolidated through its army.

Almost a company has been added to the number of NPA guerrillas in the province in the past two years. It has contributed a platoon of forces for other NPA units in Southern Tagalog, where it is one of ten provinces under the leadership of the Party Committee in the region. The number of people’s militia units grew by 38% from last year. This expansion has strengthened the NPA’s capability to launch tactical offensives.

In the past fifteen months, the NPA in Rizal was able to launch 16 annihilative and attritive tactical offensives, or an equivalent of one a month. It was able to inflict the equivalent of almost a platoon of casualties on the AFP. The NPA dealt blows on the fascist enemy troops, including the 16th and 59th IB and the 22nd DRC.

The NPA also punished exploitative and environmentally destructive quarrying companies owned by big comprador bourgeoisie, such as Pacific Concrete Products Inc.

The number of villages covered by the Party and the NPA’s area of operations has increased, with a mass base in the thousands throughout the province. The organized mass base grew by 64% in two years, and the number of full-fledged peasant mass organizations has doubled in the province.

Party membership in Rizal grew by more than 40%. The ideological, political and organizational leadership of the Guerrilla Front Party Committee and the Urban Party Committee in the province have been strengthened among the people in the villages, communities, factories, mass organizations and alliances and NPA units. More than 94% of Party members in the NPA and 38% of members of Local Party Branches have finished the Basic Party Course. Cadres at the guerrilla front and section levels and a number from the Party branches have likewise taken the Intermediate Party Course.

Meanwhile, in Southern Tagalog as a whole, the NPA has achieved not a few gains in the face of extremely difficult circumstances. In the past three years, the NPA was able to launch 105 tactical offensives, killing 91 killed and wounding 70 enemy troops. These tactical offensives yielded 131 firearms comprising two light machine guns (a K3 and an M60); four grenade launchers (three M203s and an M79); 66 high-powered rifles (37 M16s, four M14s, two cal .30 Carbines and 23 shotguns); five machine pistols; and 54 pistols and revolvers.

The NPA meted punishment on persons proven to have committed crimes against the people and destructive foreign mining companies such as Citinickel in Palawan. Even in the provinces suffering from severe concentration of military forces like Quezon, the NPA was able to mete punishment on enemy operatives who betrayed the guerrillas numerous times and owed blood debts to the people.

The Danding Cojuangco-owned V.I.L. Mines was also punished. In Quezon, where Oplan Bayanihan’s attacks were most intense, a platoon of peasants, women and youth have joined the New People’s Army.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA posts significant gains in North Central Mindanao Region

From the English edition of Ang Bayan, the official news (propaganda) organ of the CPP (Apr 7): NPA posts significant gains in North Central Mindanao Region

The revolutionary movement in North Central Mindanao Region celebrated the 44th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) flushed with victories. Due to the NPA Red fighters’ strict observance of the Party’s leadership, they were able to gain the people’s ardent participation and support, which served as the bases for their gains, said Norsem Mangubat, spokesperson of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

NPA Red fighters in the region launched 83 tactical offensives from 2012 up to the first quarter of this year. Among the most notable tactical offensives were the simultaneous and coordinated attacks on the Del Monte and Dole companies, both in Bukidnon where several NPA units were mobilized on a wide scale. Red fighters also raided the Earthsaver Security Agency in Butuan City where 59 high-powered rifles (46 AK47s, three M14s and ten automatic shotguns) were seized. More than a hundred enemy troops were killed and 68 wounded in gunbattles. Up to 139 firearms of various caliber were seized by the Red fighters, arming more than a company of NPA fighters and people’s militia. Eight punitive actions were launched against the continued expansion of multinational agribusinesses.

Conservatism was gradually overcome. After an assessment and self-criticism, the NPA in the region was able to launch a correct combination of attritive and annihilative tactical offensives.

The revolutionary forces’ efforts to catch up with the island’s relatively more advanced regions and assist other regions being subjected to concentrated enemy attacks bore fruit.

The conduct of the people’s war was provided correct direction so that the region’s leading cities could be reached effectively by the revolutionary movement’s influence.

The NPA was able to maintain its offensive stance and was therefore able to wage active resistance even during defensive actions and inflict casualties on attacking AFP-CAFGU troops.

Thousands of families benefited from gains in implementing the minimum program of agrarian revolution. The mass base expanded by 34%.

There was a 7% increase in the number of full-time forces, with the number growing by 36% in the newly formed platoons. Party membership expanded by 21%, and Party education flourished. The membership of people’s militias grew by 25%. The militia units actively performed their duties in directly participating in military actions.

The Regional Military Conference was successfully convened, summing up ten years of military work and clarifying tasks in raising the level of people’s war towards the strategic stalemate in the next several years. On the other hand, the Regional and Sub-regional Command Conference united on coordinatedly raising the level of military work in North Central Mindanao.

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA takes big strides in Mindanao

From the English edition of Ang Bayan, the official news (propaganda) organ of the CPP (Apr 7): NPA takes big strides in Mindanao

Revolutionary armed struggle in Mindanao continuously made gains in 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 in accordance with the Party’s call to advance the people’s war towards the strategic stalemate.

NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos said it was but fitting for the revolutionary forces and the people to hail the New People’s Army (NPA) for its major gains throughout the island. They also saluted all revolutionary martyrs for offering their lives in the interest of the people.

The armed revolutionary movement effectively thwarted the brutal but desperate nine-year Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) of the US-Arroyo regime and the US-Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan (OPB), now three years in the running. This, it achieved even if the revolutionary movement in Mindanao has become the main target of the reactionary state as a result of the significant weakening of the Moro people’s armed resistance.

NPA units now operate in more than 200 municipalities in Mindanao. Hundreds of barangays have been added to the more than 2,000 villages included in the NPA’s areas of operation in 2011. The mass base has grown rapidly, and is now in the hundreds of thousands.

Organs of revolutionary people’s government have been established, mostly at the village level, with some at the municipal level. Revolutionary land reform has been implemented in many areas, benefiting hundreds of thousands of people.

The antifascist and anti-imperialist mass movements in the cities and town centers is gaining greater momentum, along with a vigorous antifeudal movement in the countryside. Local Party branches are fast being established to provide solid leadership to the mass organizations, people’s militia and revolutionary people’s governments in many villages and communities in the countryside.

The NPA grew by more than 10% in Mindanao. This has resulted in the formation of several new companies and platoons capable of launching widespread and intensifying tactical offensives based on an ever deepening and expanding mass base. Thousands of members of the People’s Militia have been organized into platoons and squads in several barangays.

In the past year alone, more than 400 tactical offensives were launched in the island, and from January to March this year, more than a hundred tactical offensives in the form of annihilative, attritive and punitive actions were launched by the NPA in the five regions of Mindanao. The NPA was able to seize hundreds of high-powered rifles and wipe out the equivalent of more than a battalion of combined forces of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police and CAFGU.

In the first quarter of 2013, the NPA reaped significant gains by attacking the environmentally destructive imperialist agribusinesses Del Monte and Dole-Philippines in Bukidnon.

On the part of the Communist Party which has absolute leadership over the NPA, its membership grew by more than 50%. The Party is firmly rooted among the basic masses of workers and peasants and even among the middle forces. The Party’s ideological foundation is much stronger now compared to when it was first established in Mindanao. It is now thoroughly implementing the three-tier Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM) course.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Progressive youth launch 2-day caravan vs Balikatan

From the English edition of Ang Bayan, the official news (propaganda) organ of the CPP (Apr 7): Progressive youth launch 2-day caravan vs Balikatan

Youth groups roundly assailed the ongoing 29th Philippine-US Balikatan Exercises 2013, calling it a thinly veiled preparation for war by the US against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The youth joined other patriotic groups in a two-day caravan towards Central Luzon.

The two-week military exercise, which began in Central Luzon on April 5 and will end on April 17, is being joined by up to 4,000 American soldiers. At the height of tensions between the US and North Korea, the US government sent 30 airplanes of various capacity, 12 of them F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters. This is on top of three warships led by the USS Tortuga.

The demonstrators slammed the use of the Philippines as a launching pad for US wars.

Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) lambasted the launching of Balikatan as “a show of contempt against Philippine sovereignty and a show of force in the face of heightened US war preparations in the Korean Peninsula.”

The CPP assailed the US and Aquino governments for deceiving the Filipino people by saying that the Balikatan exercises are all about humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness. “For the past several years, the US has been using humanitarian and disaster operations in order to surreptitiously carry out combat and intelligence operations and set up their spy and communications network.”

Members of the Kabataan Partylist and League of Filipino Students gathered early on April 5 at the People Power Monument and joined a march of other patriotic groups to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City where high-ranking military officials from the US and the Philippines were holding a meeting. They were to proceed to Central Luzon where war games were being held at Subic, Olongapo City; Crow Valley in Pampanga; Tarlac; and Nueva Ecija.

MILF: BIAF 116th Base Command conducts capability building training BIAF in Lanao del Sur

From the MILF Website (Apr 12): BIAF 116th Base Command conducts capability building training BIAF in Lanao del Sur

The Central Mindanao Front (CMF) of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) conducted a capability building training on leadership and management for the officers of the BIAF 116th Base Command in Marogong, Lanao del Sur last April 6-7, 2013.

The Central Mindanao Front is under the command of Gordon Shyfullah Khan which has jurisdiction over the Central Mindanao Region including 116th Base Command at Camp Madina in Lanao Del Sur.

Referring to the capability building program, Mar Ebrahim, Administrative Officer of CMF said that, “It was a complementary program of the Moro Front in support to the advocacies on the Framework Agreement signed by GPH-MILF on October 15, 2012 at Manila”. “These initiatives of the BIAF-CMF are being undertaken to assure widest acceptability of the FAB by stakeholders in the region”, said Mr. Ebrahim who facilitated the program.

During the last day of the activity, Sheikh Abdulsalam Alabat, member of the Steering Committee of the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) stressed the importance of the Sharia’h Law as it guides every Muslim on how he act and behave at all times of his life on earth.

Sheikh Alabat, told his audience that, “The basic rights of all residents in the proposed Bangsamoro Region either Moro, Settler or Lumad are protected under the FAB. On the other hand, Zamin Unti, Administrative Officer of BLMI urged members and officers of the 116th Base Command to strengthen their capabilities in enlightening the people about the essence of the FAB.

“This undertaking is a collective endeavour of every individual in the proposed Bangsamoro Region in explaining and clarifying to other people the benefits that maybe derived from the implementation of the FAB”, Mr. Unti further said.

Meanwhile, Nas Pulindao, a member of the Committee on Information elaborated further on the contents of the GPH-MILF Peace Accord.

The participants comprising battalion, company and platoon commanders of the BIAF 116th Base Command expressed their full support to the on-going peace process.

Police: P10-M ransom demand unconfirmed

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Apr 12): Police: P10-M ransom demand unconfirmed

REPORTS of a ransom demand being offered in exchange for the release of a trader and her live-in partner remains unconfirmed, said Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge Edwin de Ocampo on Friday.

Earlier reports said the kidnappers are demanding for a P10-million ransom in exchange for the release of Nancy Gonato, 38, and Ronnie Sandagon, 50.

Gonato and Sandagon were seized around 12:20 a.m. Sunday while they were asleep at the Ocean World Marine Products’ buying station at Taha wharf in Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City.
Gonato owns the Ocean World Marine Products, while Sandagon is a councilor in the municipality of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The report quoted Sandagon’s daughter who said that the kidnappers called them Monday afternoon and demanded P10-million ransom, which the police doubt its veracity.

“It (ransom demand) is unconfirmed. Sila lang ang nagsasabi,” De Ocampo added.

De Ocampo said they have coordinated with the Zamboanga Sibugay Police Command to track down the whereabouts of the victims, as well as that of the suspects.

WikiLeaks: Libya used Sabah to arm PHL Moro rebels in 1970s

From GMA News (Apr 12): WikiLeaks: Libya used Sabah to arm PHL Moro rebels in 1970s

Sabah had played a big role in the rise of the Muslim secessionist movement in Mindanao in the 1970s when it was used as conduit in the smuggling of arms from Libya to southern Philippines, according to declassified cables published by WikiLeaks.

According to two cables, former Sabah chief minister Tun Mustapha facilitated the arms smuggling from Libya, then ruled by military dictator Muammar Gaddafi, to Mindanao to arm Moro rebels there in the hope that it will force the Philippines to abandon its claim to Sabah.

A cable dated April 17, 1976, quoted then-Sabah chief minister Tun Fuad as saying that it was “no secret” that his predecessor, Mustapha, supplied arms to Philippine guerrillas.

“He said it was no secret that his predecessor, former chief minister Tun Mustapha, had been running guns and money from Libya's Gaddafi to the Philippine guerrillas,” according to the secret cable written by an unnamed American Embassy official in Kuala Lumpur.

The official reported that “assistance has been provided to Filipino Muslim insurgents directly by Mustapha, by Libya and perhaps other Arab countries through Mustapha, and there is evidence of GOM (Government of Malaysia) agencies collaborating with Mustapha.”

The official added that Mustapha seemed to have resorted to arms smuggling following reports that then-Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos was training Muslims to invade Sabah, a disputed territory. This project failed and eventually led to the killing of 68 to 200 young Moros on March 18, 1968, an event now known as the Jabidah Massacre.

“(Government of Malaysia's) involvement in the southern Philippines was triggered by evidence in 1968-89 that president Marcos was training Muslims for infiltration of Sabah (the Jabidah affair),” according to the cable.

The official also said the Sabah government would not stop arms smuggling unless Marcos gives up the Sabah claim.

“The mission feels that while present Kuala Lumpur government may be less inclined to condone direct assistance to Moro rebels, the government of Malaysia (Mustapha) will not give up possibility of extending such assistance until President Marcos publicly and categorically abandons Philippine claim to Sabah,” according to the cable.

Upon finding out about Marcos' plan to invade Sabah, Malaysia allegedly conspired with Moro secessionist groups to distract the Philippines from the Sabah claim, said Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson of the Jamalul Kiram III's sultanate whose forces are fighting against Malaysian authorities in their stake for the land.
Sabah then instigated an "arms shipping" from Libya to Sulu, Palawan and Mindanao to arm a group of young Moro soldiers which came to be known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), he added.
After MNLF co-opted with the Philippine government, Sabah then veered their arms shipments to a breakaway group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Idjirani claimed. The MNLF signed a peace pact with the government in 1996. On the other hand, the MILF is now conducting exploratory talks on the peace process in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"The arm shipments were done to augment the power capacity of the MNLF in fighting against Philippine government. When they co-opted with the Philippine government, they now encouraged the MILF to fight against Philippine government," Idjirani said in a phone interview.
"It is Malaysia who created the Mindanao conflict so that the Philippine government could not focus their attention in pursuing their claim to Sabah," he added.
Reached for a reaction, MILF peace panel chairperson Mohagher Iqbal said he does not want to comment on a "very delicate issue."
As of posting time, GMA News Online was still awaiting for a response on our e-mailed query from the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines.

Another cable detailing the meeting between former Indonesian ambassador Sjarif Thajeb in a meeting with US State Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Marshal Green mentioned reports that the Indonesian government invited Sabah's Mustapha “in order to persuade him to stop supporting Muslim insurgents in Southern Philippines.”

The Indonesian ambassador was then under the “view that problem would be resolved if GOP (Government of the Philippines) renounced its claim to Sabah, but observed that this view (is) 'not yet' communicated to GOP,” according to the cable dated March 10, 1973.

PH open to US bases

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 12): PH open to US bases
American Military Facilities May Be Allowed Under ‘Extreme Emergency’ – Gazmin
Amid North Korea’s nuclear threat, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin yesterday said the United States may be allowed to open military bases in the country in case of “extreme emergency.”
“Well right now our Constitution does not allow that (setting of new American or any foreign military bases) but in cases of extreme emergency then there are extreme measures to be undertaken... maybe this is one of them,” said Gazmin, without elaborating constitutes “cases of extreme emergency.”

The defense chief made the statement when asked if the United States can set up military bases in the Philippines “in case something happens” in the face of explicit nuclear threats by North Korea.
He likewise clarified that at the moment, the defense and military departments have not raised alert level despite rising tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
“We are still on normal alert level,” said the defense chief, noting that even in North and South Korea it’s still business as usual.
But he also stressed that the government is prepared to evacuate the 43,000 Filipinos working in the Korean peninsula in a shooting war erupts.
“The Air Force has three Lockheed C-130 ‘Hercules’ aircraft in stand-by while the Navy has the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15),” Gazmin said, adding this is the first time that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has the stand-by capability to evacuate its nationals without resorting to its allies.
In the same interview, Gazmin said while the government does not allow any foreign military to set up a permanent base at the moment, there is increased rotational presence of American troops in the country who are involved in exercises and training.
While the 1987 Constitution bans permanent foreign military bases in the country, American maintains close military ties with the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Through the MDT and VFA, US military forces have actively engaged their Philippines counterparts in bilateral exercise such as the ongoing “Balikatan,” which is now on its 29th iteration.
The US also has about 500 forces temporarily deployed in Mindanao under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). JSOTF-P, which operates under the Special Operations Command, has maintained its presence in the south since 2002.
Last week at the opening of the Balikatan exercise, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said the Philippines is bound to help the US in case North Korea will make good its threat of a nuclear attack.
“I think as treaty allies, if there is an attack we should help one another which is what the treaty alliance is all about,” he said.

Release of 12 Chinese sought

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 12): Release of 12 Chinese sought

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Let them go. Forgive and forget. This was the gist of what two ranking officials of the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Thursday were asking in trying to secure the immediate release of 12 Chinese fishermen accused of poaching in the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea. But they were snubbed by marine park and defense officials.

Instead of listening to Consul General Shen Zicheng and Third Secretary Li Jian, officials of the Tubbataha Management Office proceeded to file bribery charges against the 12 Chinese fishermen, who were arraigned in a court here on Wednesday on charges of poaching.

Shen and Li arrived here on Tuesday and sought a meeting with marine park supervisor Angelique Songco, but were “quietly turned down,” according to a member of the Tubbataha Management Board.

The two Chinese diplomats refused to talk to reporters and returned to Manila on Thursday, said the board member, who requested anonymity for not having authorization to discuss the matter with journalists.

An official at the military’s Western Command (Wescom) here said the two Chinese officials tried to convince local defense authorities in a meeting on Wednesday to pardon the fishermen because their presence in Tubbataha, a protected marine sanctuary, was “unintentional.”

“They tried to convince us that this was all an accident and they did not intend to be there,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The fishermen have been in detention here since their arrest by park rangers who found their vessel, the 48-meter Ming Long Yu, jammed onto the northern atoll of the world-famous marine sanctuary, 1,600 kilometers from China’s nearest major landmass.

“We will seek to quickly prosecute and resolve this case,” Alen Ross Rodriguez, chief prosecutor of Palawan province, which has jurisdiction over Tubbataha, said.

“No one can just enter our waters and willfully destroy our marine life,” Rodriguez said.

Second case

Like the marine park officials, the security officials refused to listen to Shen and Li, the Wescom official said.

Lawyer Adel Villena of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, who assisted the marine park authorities in bringing the bribery charges, said the second case involved the Chinese fishermen’s offering park rangers $2,400 to let them go after their boat ran aground on the northern atoll of Tubbataha Reefs, a UN World Heritage-listed site, on Monday night.

“The second case was for violation of Article No. 212 of the Revised Penal Code concerning bribery of public officials,” Villena said.

“Possibly we are also going to file an additional case for judicial determination of fines,” he added.
The Chinese fishermen—Che Li Yong, Fon Lenl Yie, Zuan Ven Fe, Wang Yu Zhen, Lizhong Shen, Lizhi Ming, Liu Cheng Tie, Liu Wen Jie, Tung Zhue We, Tang Hai Ling, Wen Hong Min and Qi Vixn—face up to 12 years in jail in the Philippines on conviction.

No Beijing role

Despite the Chinese Embassy’s intervention, Malacañang on Thursday dismissed insinuations that Beijing was behind the unauthorized entry of the Ming Long Yu into Tubbataha.

“At this point, we’re treating it the way it looks, it’s a Chinese fishing vessel, not government-owned, and that it ran aground by accident,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters in the Palace.

“At this point, we have no reason to believe otherwise,” he added.

The filing of charges against the Chinese fishermen followed President Aquino’s promise of swift legal action to quickly resolve the violations of Philippine environmental and maritime security laws.

US Navy case

The Ming Long Yu is the second foreign vessel to run aground on Tubbataha Reefs this year.
On Jan. 17, the US Navy’s minesweeper, the USS Guardian, ran aground on the south atoll of Tubbataha, damaging over 2,000 square meters of coral reef in the sanctuary.

The Guardian had to be dismmantled piece by piece to prevent further damage to the reef, in a salvage operation that took 10 weeks.

The damage would cost the US Navy $1.4 million in fines, which environmentalists and some lawmakers find too small. They want the government to press the investigation to determine further US liability for the damage to the reef.

Responding to criticism of the government’s speedy legal action against the Chinese fishermen and its kid glove handling of the US Navy in the Guardian incident, Carandang said: “Those are two separate incidents. They are not apples to apples. One is a military ship of an allied country that was here with our permission, involved in our mutual defense. The other is a private fishing vessel, which was here without permission [and] for commercial reasons. So clearly, the different natures of these [incidents] necessitate different responses.”


The US Navy has relieved the four top officers of the Guardian while an investigation of the grounding is going on.

“We have an investigation that is proceeding with the Americans, and there are certain laws and practices that we have to abide by,” Carandang said.

He said the goals of the US internal investigation were to find out what really happened and to seek “some sort of reparations for the damages that admittedly were incurred.”

“Nobody believes that this was done on purpose so our idea is, if something happens again, there are certain processes in place that would ensure or that would provide for resolution or reparation,” Carandang said.

PH to stick with arbitration under UNCLOS to pursue Spratly claims

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 12): PH to stick with arbitration under UNCLOS to pursue Spratly claims
The Philippines reiterated, on Thursday, its commitment to the peaceful settlement of its claims in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea area through arbitration proceedings under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS.

Speaking before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ foreign ministers meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario emphasized on Thursday, that “the Philippines’ recourse to arbitration is firmly rooted in the tradition of good global citizenship.”

The Philippines shall always adhere to the peaceful settlements of disputes through lawful, non-coercive and transparent means that promote the healthy functioning of an equitable and rules-based international system,” said the Department of Foreign Affairs head.

Del Rosario asserted that Manila’s arbitration initiative, “when objectively considered, will benefit all parties.”

“For the Philippines, it will clearly define what is legitimately ours, specifically maritime entitlements under the UNCLOS with regards to our fishing rights to resources and our right to enforce our laws within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” he said.

For China, “an arbitration award will finally clarify its lawful maritime entitlements in the South China Sea,” he pointed out.

“This will enable China to provide responsible leadership towards fostering stability in the region,” according to Del Rosario.

At the same time, he reiterated that “the Philippines’ desire to have a legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea has not changed.”

“We will continue to work with ASEAN and China in crafting the COC and in implementing our commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),” he said, adding ASEAN should “focus on solidarity in taking a stronger position on violations of the DOC.”

In a related development, the DFA said China had yet to respond to the Philippines’ request for clarification of its new maritime rules in the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing “did not reply to our note (verbale),” Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Sometime in late December, China sent its first patrol vessel to disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea ahead of its enforcement of new rules that authorized Chinese border police to board search and expel foreign vessels from waters Beijing considers its territory.

The patrol chief Haixun 21 reportedly sailed into the high seas under the administration of the Maritime Safety Administration of Hanan Province from which China administers the West Philippine Sea.

Del Rosario then said that if the reports proved correct, the Philippines would ask the Chinese why they were patrolling and in what areas.

The new rules came into effect on January 1, but ASEAN nations and the United States had asked China for clarification on their purpose and extent.

China claims almost the entire West Philippine Sea, but the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei claim parts of the sea within their EEZs. Taiwan also claims some islands in the same sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam are the more strident claimants, both pressing for the resolution of their claims according to UNCLOS and for a code of conduct in the region to prevent the conflicting claims from erupting into armed clashes.

Boat loaded with gunmen sinks in Zambo Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 12): Boat loaded with gunmen sinks in Zambo Sur

A motor boat loaded with gunmen involved in a firefight between two warring families sank off Zamboanga del Sur late yesterday, causing an undetermined number of casualties, local police said today.

Ariel Huesca, Zamboanga Peninsula police spokesman, said initial investigation showed that the clash between the Moen Lam and Lao families occurred around 5 p.m. Thursday off the coast in Pisaan, Dinas town.

Both parties agreed to meet at the sea for a firefight, a move to solve their problems, Huesca added.

Moen Group from Dimataling town on board a motor boat fell down and sank into the sea with undetermined number of passengers, Huesca said.

He said that the motive of the incident was believed to be family feud, adding that investigation has still been underway.

NPAs demand ‘campaign fees’ from 12 Caraga bets

From the Philippine Star (Apr 12): NPAs demand ‘campaign fees’ from 12 Caraga bets

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – Communist rebels have reportedly demanded so-called “permit to campaign” fees from at least 12 candidates running for various positions in the Caraga region, according to a military official.

Lt. Col Eugene Osias, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, did not identify the candidates for their safety and security, except to say that they have asked for police and military assistance.

Osias gave assurance that authorities are ready to provide security to candidates being harassed by the New People’s Army (NPA).

The military earlier urged candidates to turn down the NPA’s extortion demands and avoid campaigning in communist-infested areas.

Local radio station dxBC of the Radio Mindanao Network earlier identified Butuan City councilor Ryan Anthony Culima, who is running for re-election under the Liberal Party (LP), as among those being asked to pay P20 million in campaign permit fees.

The amount, according to the radio station, is also for San Roque Mining Inc. (SRMI), where Culima is an official. SRMI is one of the biggest mining firms operating in Agusan del Norte.

Culima, in an interview with The STAR, neither confirmed nor denied the dxBC report.

“Where in the hands of God will I get the P20 million?… I am only an employee of SRMI being its spokesman. I only receive salary for my services,” he said.

The dxBC report added that the proclamation rally of LP candidates in Las Nieves town was cancelled due to the reported sighting of NPA guerrillas there.

Osias said the Caraga region is now an area of concern in the May elections due to the increased presence of NPA rebels.

NPA stages 2 attacks in Camarines Norte town

From Bicol Today (Apr 11): NPA stages 2 attacks in Camarines Norte town

The New People’s Army (NPA) staged two successive attacks within the week in Labo town, Camarines Norte, which included the burning of mining equipment and shooting to death of an ex-rebel turned barangay tanod (village security).

Senior Supt. Moises Pagaduan, Camarines Norte provincial police director, said over the phone Thursday that suspected NPA rebels burned down equipment worth P4 million early morning Monday in the mining town of Labo.

Pagaduan said the equipment belong to Bohai Top Mining International, a mining firm owned by a Chinese national he named only as Mr. Peng, which operates mining activities in Barangay Napaod, Labo.

He said two dump trucks and a payloader were burned by around 20 NPA rebels.

Ka Greg Bañares, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Bicol, said in a statement Thursday that the Chinese mining firm was penalized for alleged disregard of the environment.

Pagaduan said the NPA rebels have yet to own or disown the Tuesday killing of Jimmy Marquez, 45, married with children, who was shot dead with a .45-caliber pistol by one of three assailants.

He said Marquez, a rebel returnee, was walking home when three armed men, two with M16 rifles, waylaid him.

Pagaduan said the suspected NPA rebels fled on foot towards the mountainous part of Barangay Tigbinan of the same town.

No more RPA-ABB

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 12): No more RPA-ABB

The name, “Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade,” an armed component of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Mangagawa-Pilipinas, no longer exists.

Instead, it is now known as the “KAPATIRAN para sa Progresong Panlipunan (Brotherhood for Social Progress),” as part of the compliance with the provisions of the peace agreement they signed with the government in year 2000.

The peace agreement aims to transform the RPA-ABB into a civilian, socio- economic organization; and to mainstream its members into their communities, provide them with livelihood and employment, and move them towards disarmament and the dismantling of their military structure.

With this development, Gilbert Arsenal, who was elected president of the KAPATIRAN, said they are now a legitimate organization composed of former revolutionary armed group members, that will lead to the disbandment of the RPA-ABB.

Records of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process show that, of the 716 profiled RPA-ABB members, 607 are in Negros Occidental, 58 in Negros Oriental, and the rest scattered in Panay and some areas of Mindanao and Luzon. They also possess more than 400 firearms and 300 explosives.

Since they entered into the peace pact with the government, Arsenal said, 50 to 60 percent of the provisions of the peace agreement have already been complied with by the government. He, however, said the threats to their lives and resettlement areas of their members, among others, are still to be addressed.

The OPPAP has proposed a P279.16 million budget for livelihood and development programs for conflict-affected communities identified by then RPA-ABB (Tabara-Paduano Group), that will be implemented through the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program, a national government framework and program for conflict-affected areas, and in communities covered by existing peace agreements.

KAPATIRAN secretary Marlon de los Santos said the transformation of the RPA-ABB into a socio-political-economic organization, may be an eye opener and show members of the New People's Army, that waging an armed struggle is no longer an option.

Pending signing of the closure agreement, de los Santos, however, said they may still possess their firearms for security reasons. But he added that they are very strict against the display of firearms in public places and they will not tolerate it.

Arsenal also dismissed as “black propaganda” claims that they are serving as private armed groups of some politicians during the election period. He, however, admitted that they are supporting some candidates in the May 13 elections, including the Abang Lingkod partylist group, with Stephen Paduano, as the number one nominee.

Paduano, known as Carapali Lualhati, had served as commander of the RPA-ABB for more than a decade, before he resigned last year.

Arturo Tabara, who used to the secretary of the CPP-NPA Visayas Commission, founded the RPM-P, after they severed their ties with the mainstream rebel faction in the early 1990s. He was murdered in Quezon City by suspected NPA assassins.

His wife, Veronica, succeeded him as the RPM-P secretary.

As stipulated in the closure agreement, the RPA-ABB Tabara Paduano Group has agreed to lay down its firearms, even without monetary remuneration.

Chinese vessels continue to stay at Panatag Shoal a year after tension between Manila, Beijing

From InterAksyon (Apr 12): Chinese vessels continue to stay at Panatag Shoal a year after tension between Manila, Beijing

Chinese vessels continue to remain at the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal—claimed by both the Philippines and China—more than a year after Beijing blocked Manila from arresting its nationals caught poaching on local waters.

Two China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessels and a Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) ship are still in the disputed area, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday.

For its part, the Philippines maintains its naval and air assets in the area. No recent tension or standoff has yet been reported.

"They are there, but we don't want to escalate the problem. We have done our part by submitting this matter to an international court of arbitration so that we can resolve this peacefully," Gazmin said.

On April 10, 2012, tension erupted between the Manila and Beijing when a Philippine Navy ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen who illegally collected corals, giant clams, and live sharks in the area but was blocked by Chinese vessels.

Gazmin dismissed speculations that China was already controlling the area. He also denied that Philippines has weakened its stance on Panatag Shoal.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government has still yet to identify the two foreign aircraft that intruded into Philippine air space last week. The two unidentified aircraft flew at high-speed over Philippines' Pag-asa Island.

"That is the sad truth about these things. We admit...we cannot file the necessary complaint because we have not identified the nationality of these aircraft," Gazmin said.

Spies? We're looking into that, Gazmin says of Chinese fishermen whose vessel got stuck on reef

From InterAksyon (Apr 12): Spies? We're looking into that, Gazmin says of Chinese fishermen whose vessel got stuck on reef

Chinese fishermen arrive in Puerto Princesa after their vessel got stuck on Tubbataha. (Elmer Badilla,

Philippine intelligence officials are looking into the possibility that the Chinese fishermen whose vessel got stuck on Tubbataha Reef could be spies.

While it remains “coincidental” that the grounding of the Chinese vessel took place just months after the US Navy ship USS Guardian got stuck in the same area, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said appropriate agencies are now looking into the matter.

"It's difficult for us to just accuse anyone or suspect anyone, it's unfair but we do hope it's coincidental," he told reporters on Friday.

Speculations arose that the Chinese fishermen could be secret agents after they tried to bribe park officials with $2,400.

The 12 Chinese fishermen were brought to the local detention facility in Palawan after they were charged for violating several environmental laws.

Gazmin could also not confirm reports that the 12 Chinese fishermen had asked for their freedom.

The Philippine Coast Guard hopes to remove the Chinese fishing vessel from the North Atoll this weekend.

Gazmin rules out US bases but sees increased American military presence in cases of emergency

From InterAksyion (Apr 12): Gazmin rules out US bases but sees increased American military presence in cases of emergency

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ruled out the possibility of re-establishing US military bases in the Philippines after tension rose in the Korean Peninsula.

However, in cases of emergencies, "extreme measures" may be undertaken such as increased US presence in the country, Gazmin said. For the meantime, the Philippines will continue to undertake bilateral military exercises and training with the US military, he added.

The Philippine government also has contingency measures in place should violence break out in the Korean peninsula. Gazmin said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute also has prepared possible scenarios in case of a full-blown nuclear war that could affect the Philippines.

"But hopefully we will not be able to implement this, meaning we hope our worst fears would not happen," Gazmin told reporters.

Air and naval assets from the Philippines are also on standby should Filipinos living and working in South Korea need evacuation, he added.

US, Philippine Marines in live-fire maneuver

From Rappler (Apr 12): US, Philippine Marines in live-fire maneuver

ALLIES. US and Filipino armed forces stage armored assault maneuvers as part of annual military exercises the Philippines has deemed vital in building its capacity to defend itself. Photo by AFP

ALLIES. US and Filipino armed forces stage armored assault maneuvers as part of annual military exercises the Philippines has deemed vital in building its capacity to defend itself. Photo by AFP

CAPAS, Philippines - US and Filipino marines staged armored assault maneuvers on Friday, April 12, as part of annual military exercises the Philippines has deemed vital in building its capacity to defend itself.

This year's edition is taking part amid a tense territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea, as well as bellicose anti-US rhetoric by North Korea.

More than 8,000 soldiers from both countries, 30 military aircrafts including a dozen US F/A-18 Hornets and 3 naval vessels are taking part in 12 days of military exercises that end on Wednesday, April 17.

The exercise, part of annual large-scale war games, highlighted how two allied armed forces with unequal military capability can work together to defeat a common enemy, said First Lieutenant Garth Langley, a US participant.

"They didn't have their own vehicles, but we put them inside our vehicles and showed them what we can do with inter-operability," Langley told AFP, speaking of their Filipino Marine counterparts.

About 60 US and Filipino Marines aboard 4 US AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles ploughed through the volcanic ash of Crow Valley, a gunnery range laid waste by the 1991 eruption of nearby Mt Pinatubo.

The marines fired live rounds from the armored vehicles' mounted machine guns, after which their occupants got off and used their automatic rifles to hit designated targets, said Langley, a 25-year-old from California.

Afterwards, a US F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet screamed atop the Crow Valley canyons in a related military exercise being conducted from the nearby Clark air field.

At a time of rising regional tensions, the Philippines has sought closer diplomatic and military ties with the United States, its former colonial ruler.

The two countries share a 61-year-old mutual defense pact, which requires the US to come to the aid of the Philippines if it is attacked.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said at the opening of the maneuvers last week that the war games are an important contribution to building the country's capacity to defend its territorial integrity.

However First Lieutenant Langley said Friday's live-fire exercise was not conducted with a specific enemy force in mind.

"We're focused on what we're doing. It doesn't matter what's going on in the world," he added.

GPH Chief Negotiator: GPH-MILF peace process reaches new phase

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 12): GPH Chief Negotiator: GPH-MILF peace process reaches new phase

Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel chair Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Thursday said that the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is taking on a “new phase” never reached before by both sides.

“We are where the process has never been before. Never before had the negotiations between the government and the MILF come to the stage of actually defining and listing down powers; of actually identifying sources of funds and revenues for the new political entity that we are creating. Never before has the transformation of an armed group been discussed let alone imagined in detail,” she said in her speech during the closing ceremony of the 37th GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur, a statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace (Process) said.

The panels concluded their three-day talks with the signing of the Terms of Reference for Sajahatra Bangsamoro, which is a development program jointly undertaken by the GPH and the MILF to deliver basic socio-economic services to target communities in the south.

Discussions on the normalization annex by their respective Technical Working Groups also resumed while both parties continued to discuss the remaining issues on power-sharing and wealth-sharing.

“Let us not think there is only one correct way of moving forward. After this round, we have agreed to a process of exchanging notes that will settle the unresolved issues,” Coronel-Ferrer added, thanking Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed for his “willingness to maximize the potential of this approach in the next weeks before we convene again for the finishing touches.”

She said that both panels may possibly sign the three remaining annexes at the same time or sign each in a sequential process.

“However the actual process turns out, what is important is that we do this together, take the same path together, and reach our goal together – with the rest of the country, the whole government, its three branches, Philippine civil society and the international community behind us,” Coronel-Ferrer stated.

Overcoming challenges

The peace panel chair quoted President Aquino in describing the current stage of the GPH-MILF peace process to the difficult part called “Heartbreak Hill” in the famous Boston marathon.

“The Heartbreak Hill, it turns out, has many diversions. We are once more in this long marathon, at the crossroad where we need to stop and reflect … to get us a full second wind that will carry us through the finishing line.”

Tough round

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal described the three-day sessions as “tough.”

He congratulated everyone “for being very professional” as they exchanged their views “in the spirit of fair play and understanding.”

“We know that in negotiations, nothing is personal, it is about issues,” said Iqbal. “Rest assured that on the part of MILF peace panel, we have only respect for our counterparts in government. I know that our counterparts in government are honorable women and men. We salute all of them.”

He stressed the need to complete the annexes the soonest possible time. “We understand that the remaining issues are very tough, very, very tough but they are not insurmountable. We can surmount all these remaining issues as long as our negotiation is (geared toward) problem-solving. We can settle these, Insha Allah.”

Based on solid ground

Coronel-Ferrer reiterated, “The GPH wants a peace agreement based on a solid foundation that will withstand scrutiny and has solid legal, political and financial grounds.”

“We are thoroughly reviewing all the issues on the table so that we can confidently sign and implement what we agree to,” she stated.(

Philippine Army Aptitude Test Battery set on Apr. 26-27

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 12): Philippine Army Aptitude Test Battery set on Apr. 26-27

The Philippine Army Recruitment Office for Mindanao, Army Personnel Management Center (APMC) is set to conduct an Aptitude Test Battery examinations (PAATB) and other Pre-Written Examinations for Officer Candidate Course (OCC), Officer Preparatory Course (OPC) Probationary Officer Training Course and Candidate Soldier Course (CSC) on April 26, 2013 at the Surigao State College of College, Surigao City and April 27, 2013 at the Kalayaan Hall, 15th RCDG, Butuan City.

Qualifications for OCC are: he/she must be 21-24 years old, single, Filipino, physically and mentally fit, at least 5 feet tall, and baccalaureate degree holder.

For OPC qualifications are: he/she must be a graduate of Probationary Officers Training Course, baccalaureate degree holder, 21-31 years old, single, minimum height is 5 feet, Filipino and mentally and physically fit.

Qualifications for POTC are: he/she is at least 21 years old, college graduate and ROTC advance graduate and must be physically and mentally fit.

And for CSC, he/she is 18-26 years old, single w/ no child, minimum height at least 5 feet tall, Filipino, at least had 72 units in college, if applicant is high school graduate, he/she must possess a certified skill needed in the military service and physically and mentally fit.

Interested applicants must prepare the needed requirements such as; NSO Birth Certificate, Transcript of Records and Diploma, Form 137-A for High School Graduate, and any Valid Identification Card.

For additional information you may contact Philippine Army Technical Sergeant Darwin F. Doble at 0947-7149299.

WESMINCOM awards bronze cross medal to IMT personnel

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 12): WESMINCOM awards bronze cross medal to IMT personnel

The Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) has recently awarded bronze cross medal to outgoing personnel of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) whose one year tour of duty ended on March this year.

In a statement, Col Rodrigo T Gregorio, WESMINCOM Public Information Officer (PIO) said the awards were given last February 25 in recognition of IMT personnel’s acts of heroism during their stint at the command from March 3, 2012 to March 23, 2013.

The awardees were composed of five Malaysians, three Indonesians, and two Brunei nationals. They were recognized for their efforts in monitoring the ceasefire agreement which led to the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Col. Gregorio said that Col. Halim of the Royal Malaysian Army and his team monitored and ensured the establishment of the plan for the development and humanitarian support that would complement the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

“They ensured the implementation of guidelines of the ceasefire agreement and the Joint PGH-MILF Law Enforcement Operations against kidnappers and lawless elements in areas with MILF presence. With the collaborative efforts of Ad Hoc joint Action Group (AHJAG), Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), and WESMINCOM, they successfully facilitated the activities for the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) in MILF communities,” Gregorio said.

He lauded the awardees for they disregarded personal safety by actively pacifying and preventing armed confrontations between warring clans in Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Norte.

He said that together with (AHJAG), the awardees conducted numerous advocacies and focused discussions in the headquarters of the division and brigades on the ceasefire mechanisms and agreements.

According to Gregorio, the awardees have actively assisted GPH and MILF panels, Local Government Units (LGUs), and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) during the conduct of 13 advocacies on the FAB.

These efforts greatly helped the local populace in deeply understanding the agreement in localities not covered by the proposed Bangsamoro and in covered provinces without MILF. They conducted limited civil military cooperation projects with the locals and engaged the AFP, PNP, LGUs, NGOs and the MILF in the area of monitoring (AOM).

“During their stint, they conducted peace advocacies to 30 interested groups, met all provincial governors, municipal mayors, some barangay captains, numerous NGOs, PNP and AFP commanders, and most MILF commanders,” he reported.

He also noted that last July 2012, the awardees had actively assisted GPH-MILF panels, LGUs, and AHJAG in bringing cooperation and establishing trust between 102nd Infantry Brigade and the MILF commanders in Tumangong, Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay Province to prevent the operations of lawless elements.

“With GPH-MILF and AHJAG, they spearheaded confidence-building activities and measures between AFP and MILF in Basilan Province by setting up peaceful meetings between AFP Commanders and MILF Commanders in the area in January 2013 in Magkawa, Al Barka, Basilan,” he said.

Gregorio said that the event started bridging network, close relationship, law and order, and facilitates peaceful resolution of conflicts between leadership and members of both camps.

Together with AHJAG, LGU and 104th Infantry Brigade, the awardees were active in the settlement of conflict between Ustaz Amir Mingkong of MILF and the Bakkal family on Jan. 21, 2013 in Baag, Sumisip, Basilan.

The command is expecting a new batch of IMT soon to replace the outgoing personnel.