Friday, April 19, 2013

2 explosions rock Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): 2 explosions rock Basilan

The police are conducting a thorough probe on two separate but almost simultaneous explosions that rocked the province of Basilan Thursday night.

No one was reported killed or injured in the blasts which took place seconds apart past 9 p.m. Thursday except for the damage of the vehicle of mayoral candidate, incumbent Lamitan City Vice-Mayor Arleigh Eisma.

Lamitan City police station commander Chief Insp. Abmer Ismael on Friday said the vehicle of Eisma was parked in front of the latter’s residence along Aguinaldo Street in Barangay Maganda when the first bomb exploded.

The second bomb went off seconds later in front of a chapel in Barangay Colonia, also in Lamitan City, Ismael said.

He said the bombs used by the suspects are both classified as improvised explosive device (IED) or homemade explosive based on the fragments gathered from the blast sites.

He said that a witness is unlikely since it was blackout at the time of the incidents.

Meanwhile, police authorities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has directed the Basilan police provincial office to institute stricter measures to prevent violence ahead of the midterm elections.

Chief Supt. Noel delos Santos, ARMM police regional director, has directed Senior Supt. Mario Dapillosa to establish surprise checkpoints to thwart any attempt at destabilizing the campaign period in Basilan and Isabela City.

This after unidentified men set off two improvised explosive devices in separate areas in Basilan Thursday night.

Marine troops launch literacy program in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Marine troops launch literacy program in Sulu

Philippine Marine troops have embarked on a literacy program, which prove they could also be educators aside from being warriors and peacekeepers.

The undertaking, dubbed as summer literacy program, was launched recently by the Marine Battalion Landing Team-11 (MBLT-11) in the Municipality of Patikul,Sulu.

Patikul, which comprises of 30 barangays, is a fourth class municipality in the province of Sulu.

It has a population of 34,396 people in 5,939 households as of the 2000 census of the National Statistics Office (NSO).

MBLT-11 commanding officer Lt. Col. Nestor Narag, Jr. said the target beneficiaries of the literacy program are the children of Patikul town’s remote barangays.

Narag said the program is aimed to hone the knowledge of children and prepare them for the next school year.

The MBLT-11 is also assisting the government through construction of school buildings in Patikul municipality.

One of the school buildings they have constructed is ready for use in the coming school year, Narag said.

3 soldiers, 3 rebels wounded in South Cotabato clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): 3 soldiers, 3 rebels wounded in South Cotabato clash

Three communist rebels and three soldiers were wounded in a clash Thursday in a remote village in South Cotabato, the Army here said on Friday.

1Lt. Bethhuel Barber, civil military operations chief of the Army's 27th Infantry Battalion based in Tupi, South Cotabato, said the Charlie Company soldiers were conducting peace and development program in Sitio Pulang Lupa, Barangay Takunel in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato when they were tipped off about the presence of communist rebels moving toward the program area.

Barber said a team of soldiers were proceeding to a remote sitio (sub-village) of Barangay Pulang Lupa when they were ambushed by about 20 heavily armed communist rebels belonging to CPP-NPA Front 73.

A 30-minute firefight ensued that left three soldiers slightly wounded. Three rebels were critically wounded as they fled toward the hinterlands of Lake Sebu as monitored by soldiers in the rebel's two-way radio.

He identified the wounded infantrymen as Private First Class Allan Uy, Ronnie Duellas and Jonald Solis.

Barber said the rebels were preventing the civilian communities from attending the peace and development program.

He said the communities were very interested in the Army peace and development advocacy program because they are the beneficiaries, including rebel families.

Barber also criticized the rebels for being anti-people and anti-peace.

No civilian was involved in the skirmishes.

Barber said despite the harassment, the Army will continue its peace and development program aimed at winning the support of the communities and make them self-reliant.

Davao Oriental opens half-way house for rebel returnees

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Davao Oriental opens half-way house for rebel returnees

The provincial government here recently inaugurated the P1.7 million half-way house for rebel returnees funded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

The facility was designed to provide enabling services for “total rehabilitation and development of former rebels,” Governor Corazon Malanyaon said.

The half-way house is located in Sitio Magay at the compound of the Provincial Agriculture in Barangay Don Martin Marundan, Mati City.

Aside from providing temporary shelter for rebel returnees, the facility is packed with other services such as counseling,. psychological and psychiatric services, spiritual enrichment services, educational, health and employment services.

It will also provide livelihood assistance and will conduct sports development and therapy sessions and workshops.

“Beyond the facility, the half-way house will facilitate the development of a site which will serve as incubation area of rebel returnees for livelihood projects and related skills,” Malanyaon said.

To meet this objective, Malanyaon saw the importance of convergence of agency programs such as crop production, livestock-raising, fish culture of the provincial agriculture office and the Department of Agriculture (DA), skills development of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA);techno-transfer and value adding of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), entrepreneurship of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); and other related services of the departments of agrarian reform, and of labor and employment among other agencies of the government.

Once these government services are pooled together to serve rebel returnees, Malanyaon envisioned the half-way house to “provide an environment for total healing and preparation of rebel returnees for complete integration in mainstream society.”

Davao dads commend outgoing Eastmincom chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Davao dads commend outgoing Eastmincom chief

The City Council here commended Lt. General Jorge Segovia, outgoing commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, for the peace being enjoyed by the city and all areas under his jurisdiction.

Councilor Bernie Al-ag authored a resolution and was unanimously approved by majority of his colleagues, citing the exemplary performance and accomplishments of Segovia as former commander of the 10th Infantry Division and eventually the chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Al-ag cited Segovia’s leadership in the pursuit of the peace and development outreach program or [Internal] Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” which spurred the participation of all stakeholders both in government and private sector in alleviating the lives in the countryside.

He also cited the leadership of Segovia in the continuous engagement of the youth which led to the successful holding of the National Youth Summit in the city in 2012, the cessation of the dissent of the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BFF) which intended to sabotage the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Al-ag also said Segovia efficiently handled the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the areas devastated by typhoon Pablo.

“Because of his competence, he was designated on-the-spot by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III as over-all commander of the relief and rescue efforts in the aftermath of typhoon Pablo,” he said.

Al-ag also lauded Segovia for organizing the Joint Task Force: Tambayayong which fast tracked the repair of damaged houses and schools in the hardest hit areas in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Councilor Karlo Bello, presiding officer, thanked Lt. General Segovia for the service he rendered to the people of Davao City in particular and Eastern Mindanao in general.

He said Segovia’s leadership contributes a lot in keeping the city safe.

“Truly you have shown that you are an officer and a gentleman,” Bello said.

Segovia thanked the local government for its support to all the activities of the soldiers.

He said since his assumption as commander of the 10th Infantry Division and then two years later as chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, the local governments, stakeholders, indigenous peoples and the residents have been very helpful in realizing the peace and security programs of national government.

“My assignment here is one of the best things that happened in my career,” Segovia said.

He will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on April 23 when his post will be taken over by Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz as incoming commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

AFP signs IAC guidelines

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): AFP signs IAC guidelines

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), along with other members of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture, and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons, approved its operational guidelines Thursday.

The ground rules were approved during the 3rd meeting at AFP general headquarters in Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

The guidelines contain the definitions and elements of extra legal cases and the various teams that shall conduct investigation, oversight, and monitoring of cases.

Present in the signing are IAC chairperson and Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima; committee members Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel T Bautista, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos, and Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process; and IAC observer and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Etta Rosales.

The IAC was created by virtue of Administrative Order Number 35 signed in November last year by President and AFP Commander in Chief Benigno S. Aquino III.

Another highlight of the meeting is the presentation of the list of priority cases by the technical working group.

The list is still subject for adoption by the committee.

The AFP also committed in undertaking major steps in pursuit of peace and sustainable development with strict adherence to the Rule of Law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law.

4th Infantry Division condemns series of NPA attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): 4th Infantry Division condemns series of NPA attacks

The 4th Infantry Division, which is based in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan De Oro City, on Friday has strongly condemned the series of attacks of the New People's Army (NPA) against civilians and communities in its area of jurisdiction early this week.

In the same vein, the unit also vowed swift retribution against the rebels who conducted series of abductions and burnings of equipment in the municipalities of Tagbina, Surigao Del Sur; Loreto and San Luis, Agusan del Norte; Claveria, Misamis Oriental; and in Quezon, Bukidnon.

In Quezon, Bukidnon, NPA fighters established a checkpoint and shot the windshield of a passing truck wounding one innocent civilian in the process.

The rebels also burned the mini-packing station of Agrinanas Farm at Barangay Capehan, Quezon, Bukidnon leaving an estimated an P1.5 million worth of damage to properties aside from rendering jobless the community members in the area.

Major Leo E. Bongosia, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, said these attacks are contrary to the claims of the NPAs that the business firm is bringing damage to the natural environment.

"The criminal acts of burning are clear violation to human rights. The only clear reason for the burning is the extortion demands by the NPA rebels that were not met by the investment firms. Moreover, the burning greatly affects the lives of the people of the surrounding community,” he said.

Troops, lawless elements clash in Zamboanga Sibugay

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Troops, lawless elements clash in Zamboanga Sibugay

Troopers from the 1st Infantry Division's 44th Infantry Battalion and the local police have surprised a group of 15 lawless elements resulting in a 30-minute firefight in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay Thursday afternoon.

Lt. Col. Yegor Rey Barroquillo Jr., 44th Infantry Battalion commander, said the encounter transpired around 4:45 p.m. in Sitio KM2, Barangay Crossing Sta. Clara in Naga town.

He said his men were conducting routine security missions in the area when they encountered the group allegedly led by one Baser Sakilan.

A firefight erupted ending 30 minutes later with the brigands leaving behind a M-203 grenade launcher, one M-2 caliber .30 carbine rifle, assorted ammunition for M-16 automatic rifle, M-14 rifle and Garand rifle and one rifle grenade.

There was no casualty on the military and police personnel while undetermined on the side of the lawless elements.

Barroquillo said the lawless group is believed to about to conduct kidnapping activity in the area when surprised by his men.

Pursuit operations are ongoing.

Ex-PNP Calabarzon chief files counter-affidavit on Atimonan rubout case

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 19): Ex-PNP Calabarzon chief files counter-affidavit on Atimonan rubout case

Former PNP-Calabarzon regional director Chief Supt. James Melad on Friday filed his counter-affidavit when he attended the preliminary investigation of the Atimonan shooting incident at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The shooting incident claimed the lives of 13 individuals in Atimonan, Quezon last Jan. 6.

Melad personally executed before the DOJ panel of prosecutors, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, the counter-affidavit to clear his name and the 13 other policemen respondents in the case.

In Melad's counter-affidavit, attached is the sworn statement of Supt. Glen Dumlao stating that Melad had nothing to do with the shootout and his (Melad) signature in "Coplan Armado" was merely his ministerial duty as the regional chief of Calabarzon police.

Lt. Col. Monico Abang, Battalion Commander of the Philippine Army; Capt. Erwin Macalinao, commanding officer; and nine other soldier respondents also submitted their respective counter-affidavits.

Also appearing during the hearing were the members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives of the Quezon Provincial Police who were charged with "obstruction of justice".

Melad had approved the request of Supt. Hansel Marantan, deputy chief of intelligence of the PNP Region 4-A, for the conduct of a checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon on Jan. 6, 2013.

However, Marantan failed to appear for the second time in Friday's preliminary investigation.

According to Marantan's counsel, Marantan still remains confined in a hospital but has already submitted his counter-affidavit.

Likewise, Supt. Ramon Balauag has submitted his counter-affidavit and was also absent during Friday's hearing. Balauag was represented by his counsel, Atty. Crisanto Buela.

The respondent soldiers also turned over to the panel of prosecutors the digicam with memory card, which is one of the pieces of evidence they presented.

The camp of the respondent soldiers earlier withdrew their counter-affidavits during the hearing last week because the affidavit of the complainants was not yet complete and the camp of the policemen respondents have not yet submitted their respective counter-affidavits.

Also present during Friday's hearing were the relatives of the 13 victims of the Atimonan rubout.

The next hearing was set on May 8, 2013 wherein the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was ordered to submit its reply and the respondents were also given the opportunity to file their respective rejoinder.

COMMENT: MILF View of the Transcom

Op/Ed piece posted to MindaNews: COMMENT: MILF View of the Transcom by Patricio P. Diaz

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel and concurrently of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, meandered awhile emotionally in his welcome remarks at the launching of the Transcom in Pasig City last April 3 then settled down to business: “[L]et me … address the imperatives of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and outline the MILF view of the Transition Commission.”

The “MILF view” together with the “imperatives” of the Commission gives a preview of the Bangsamoro Basic Law the Commission will draft. The guidelines are set in the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and in Executive Order No. 120. These may have identified and defined the imperatives but the views of the Transcom members will shape the specific provisions.

Not New

Iqbal has given notice that he as Transcom chair and the seven MILF members will assert the MILF view of the imperatives and other concerns. This is consistent with his final point in his opening statement at the 37th Exploratory Talks last April 9 restating not a new position but one in continuum from January 7, 1997.

Last April 9, Iqbal recalled: “Finally, let me remind ourselves that our peace negotiation has only one agenda: ‘How to solve the Bangsamoro Problem or more correctly, Bangsamoro Question.’This agenda was decided by the parties at the beginning of the current peace talks in January 1997 and it has guided the parties since then. Therefore, all our efforts and agreements, though sometimes very incremental, are designed to address this problem especially the root causes.” (Emphasis ours)

He stressed the Bangsamoro interest at the core of the solution: “Therefore, to say that the solution that we envision to address this question ‘must be acceptable to all’ must be taken in the context of acceptability by the people that such formula suits a particular group, in this case the Bangsamoro.(Emphasis ours) “Parties” in the above paragraph means “Government and MILF panels”; “we” means the same.

He clarified what “acceptability” is not and stated the MILF view of the FAB with unmistakable special reference to BBL: “Acceptability does not in any way mean the right of veto power of the majority because the formula does not suit their taste or redound to their direct benefit. A special problem requires special prescription; hence, the asymmetrical arrangement that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) has envisioned.(Emphasis ours)

MILF Views with Imperatives

Iqbal discussed ten views with imperatives concerning the TC and the drafting of the BBL. The discussion is vital to the proper understanding of the direction of the peace process at this stage. There are these MILF views tied to the talking point agreed on the first day of the GRP-MILF negotiation in January 1997. How do they relate now to the views of Government and of the stakeholders?

After Iqbal’s discussion, media should have asked him to elucidate the MILF views. Unfortunately, the Manila media reporters at the press conference immediately after the TC ceremonial program, more interested in the Sabah question than in the Bangsamoro Problem, did not dwell much on Iqbal’s discussion. Whatever might have been asked never saw print.

Iqbal’s discussion:

“First and foremost, the MILF views the Commission as its first initial partnership with the GPH. As such, it shall endeavour to reach consensus with representatives of the government on major decisions in the course of its work. We shall not work against each other but instead work with each other.”

The imperative is working in partnership. “Representatives of the government” are the seven Transcom members nominated by Government; they are Moros. Will the partnership hold if MILF view of Bangsamoro interest conflicts with Government’s?

“Second, the work of the Commission shall be devoted principally into transforming the Agreements of Parties, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), and its Annexes as well as other Agreements of the Parties, into a legislation envisioned to establish a new Bangsamoro Political Entity that embodies the political, economic, social and cultural aspirations of the Bangsamoro.”

The imperative is to draft BBL to establish Bangsamoro as the fulfillment of the “political, economic, social and cultural aspirations” of the Moros. In principle, Government agrees. Will it fully agree with all the specific provisions?

“Third, the TC shall be open, transparent and participative in its approach. While the MILF acknowledges the fact that the major principles has been agreed by the parties in the negotiation, the specific translation of these into mechanisms, institutions shall be open to public participation.”

The imperative is the openness of the TC to public consultation and participation. How much of the inputs from public consultations is TC willing to consider? This can either sweeten or sour public esteem.

“After all what we envision to build are institutions for our people and never solely for the MILF. Beyond this, as an organization, we are open to adopting new and innovative practices born out of principles that we all share, such as cutting edge and innovative ways in government service delivery that uses the latest information technology.”

The imperative: Bangsamoro is not for MILF alone. MILF is receptive to change and innovative. How do other Moro leaders understand this vision? Double-edged, it can either unite or divide.

“Fourth, the institutions we envision to create under the Basic Law shall feature mechanisms for inclusivity and public participation to ensure a dynamic and robust government able to engage with all stakeholders and address the concerns of its constituency. It shall further entrench appropriate measures of transparency and accountability to its people.”

The imperative: Bangsamoro is inclusive, dynamic, robust democracy. The vision is not self-operative. Its fulfillment will depend on how the Moro leaders rule and how the Moro people respond. Are the Moros prepared for the challenge?

“Fifth, the Basic Law shall entrench the new relations between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government founded on the principles of parity of esteem, mutual respect, self-sufficiency and cooperation and continuing dialogue to further enhance this unique and special relations that both respects and recognizes our unique history but brave enough to face all possibilities in the future.”

The imperative: The BBL will embody principles defining the partnership (new relations) of Philippine Government and Bangsamoro. MILF will specifically define. Will Government fully abide?

“Sixth, The TC, as the first formal engagement of the MILF with the government, shall mirror some of the features we envision for the new Bangsamoro government such as:
  • A lean but competent bureaucracy;
  • Features of transparency such as an interactive website where people can send their suggestions and recommendations;
  • Constant public consultations to build consensus and embrace divergent views to build a common and shared vision;
  • Consciousness on the need to apply resources where it is most needed; and
  • And more importantly able to partner with other institutions to move forward.”
The imperative: These five features of Bangsamoro the TC will adhere to.

“Seventh, the TC shall envision a government guided by the Quranic principles on religious freedom. Allah says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy, handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256]”

The imperative: Religious freedom in Bangsamoro is according to Quranic principles. How can the Quranic passage quoted be reconciled with “worship and belief” in Christianity and other religions?

“Eighth, the TC shall be open for partnership both with local and international actors/organizations. As we commence several transitions, from rebels to governance, from organization to government, from combatants to community builders, we recognize the imperative to see best practices, universal standards, other peoples’ experiences so that we need not continuously reinvent the wheels. However, we shall always keep in mind the principle that “context is king”.”

The imperative: In drafting the BBL, the TC will consult local and international “actors and organizations” and welcome inputs from them. How much of the inputs will TC consider?

“Ninth, The Basic Law must entrench the Bangsamoro not because it is supreme over the others but because it is an essential and indispensable heritage of this country, nay even of the world.”

In this “view”, Iqbal explains that the “uniqueness of the Bangsamoro is the only meaningful contribution” of the Moros “to the richness of this country or even of the world” and it should “not be a source of conflict but an important piece in our quest for harmony”.

The imperative: Bangsamoro is “an essential and indispensable heritage” of the Philippines; it must be established. This invites lively discussion and criticism.

“Tenth, the Transition Commission can only begin its substantial work when the Annexes are completed. The acts of completion must be undertaken immediately. It is therefore urgent that we complete the Annexes by taking the hard political decisions. The issues remaining in the negotiations have been simplified and the positions of the parties clarified. We must seize the moment now.”

The imperative: Complete the Annexes so the TC can begin drafting the BBL. Will this be done in the May post-election 38th Exploratory Talks after missing the five monthly target dates starting December 2012?

Relating to Annexes?

The Annexes are viewed by MILF as essential and imperative to the drafting of the BBL by the TC. They are at the core of the MILF’s quest for political settlement that has not changed fundamentally in 16 years. But they must be posing policy, legal and other problems that restrict Government’s commitment to satisfy that quest as can be seen in the length of time it is taking Government to study them. The Aquino government can commit only what it can give. Which of the annexes can it commit and give?

MILF will accept only a political settlement that will solve the Bangsamoro Problem. This solution was agreed in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which was only a framework of a Comprehensive Compact. In declaring it unconstitutional, the Supreme Court did not nullify it but ruled it could be reframed as a peace agreement between Government and MILF. That MILF did and presented it complete with annexes in an organic law format to the Aquino peace panel as its proposed draft agreement.

The government panel rejected the draft in its format but after months of negotiation signed the FAB which if closely examined is basically the reframe of the MILF peace draft minus the annexes – the reframe of the reframed MOA-AD. This Government can commit and has given; this MILF has accepted. While MILF is ready to sign the Annexes, Government is not – still deciding what to commit and give.

Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI, last April 12, posed critical questions in Kusogmindanaw online discussion loop: “What is happening in the GPH-MILF Peace Talks?” – noting the postponements of the signing of the “Annexes and the Comprehensive Peace Compact” since December 31, 2012 “when they should have been completed” by that date. Then, “What is the real score beyond the motherhood statements that they keep repeating for the nth time? Those statements insult the intelligence of people.

We sent to GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer a copy of our article, “Annexes Shrinking the Time Line” (MindaNews, April 14) where we quoted in part Fr. Mercado. Her response: “We understand the anxiety and share the desire to complete the annexes asap. But at this stage we believe prudence and flexibility will get us faster to our ultimate goal of solving the complex ‘Bangsamoro problem’ irreversibly.”

GPH Chair Ferrer speaks in paradox. MILF and TC Chair Iqbal seen in both his April 3 Welcome Remarks and April 9 37th ET Opening Statement enunciates the MILF views and imperatives. In response to Father Mercado’s question, the “real score” can be in the conflict of Government and MILF views and imperatives.

Soldier who fought off 15 rebels cited

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 17): Soldier who fought off 15 rebels cited

A soldier was awarded yesterday morning for his courageous act last week during an encounter with a rebel group in Sition Kapatagan, Barangay Luayon in Makilala, North Cotabato.

2Lt. Lodovico A. Alejo Jr. of the 39th Infantry Battalion was awarded with the Wounded Personnel Medal by Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, chief of the 10th Infantry Division, inside Camp Panacan Station Hospital at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan.

Alejo, a scout platoon leader, was recognized for his heroism during an encounter with about 15 members of the New People’s Army last April 10.

“This soldier deserves honor because of his heroic act as the leader of his platoon. He exhibits his responsible act in leading his troop under any circumstances. Our soldiers are eager to serve our country, they will risk even their lives just to ensure the protection of our people.” Bernardo said in a statement.

Soldier sniped

From the Mindanao Times (Apr 17): Soldier sniped

Army records seven soldiers killed by snipers this year

A soldier was gunned down by alleged members of the New People’s Army in New Corella, Davao del Norte, last Monday morning. He was the seventh soldier sniped by communist rebels.

Cpl. Zalde G. Sario of the 60th Infantry Battalion was declared dead on arrival after he was rushed to Tagum City Regional Hospital. He incurred a wound on his stomach after being shot by two members of the NPA with an M14 rifle at around 11:20 a.m.
Based on the military report, the gunmen positioned themselves at a chapel in Purok 7, Barangay Sta. Fe, which was situated at a high ground about 100 meters away.

Sario was leading a Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) team during a dialogue with villagers for a proposed community project.

Soldiers immediately fired back which prompted the group to retreat. Sario was given first aid and immediately rushed to the hospital.

The 60th IB commander Lt. Col. Llewellyn Binasoy condemned who were taking advantage on soldier’s strict adherence to the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

”It is provided in Part 4, Article 4, Section 8 that places of worship and religious institutions must be respected and should be spared from any military attack,” Binasoy said in a statement.

Col. Buenaventura C. Pascual, 1003rd Brigade commander, said in a statement that the sacrifices and heroism of their soldiers will not be put in vain. He said the attack only “inflames our commitment” to “prevent them from further terrorizing our people.”

“ We will not allow them to deter our commitment to help the least of our brothers in exploring better opportunities in life. We firmly stand to that quest,” he added.

Last month, five soldiers were sniped by rebels in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and another one in January. Last year, 11 soldiers were killed using the same method in the region.

US-PH defense sea force eyed

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 18): US-PH defense sea force eyed

Joint move to protect territorial waters

A high-ranking US military official said on Wednesday that the US government was considering establishing a “strong” defense force with the Philippines’ armed forces capable of handling the country’s “strategic interest” in the South China sea.

Speaking during the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the Balikatan 2013, Gen. Terry Robling, commander of the US Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific, said he hoped to get the defense force to the point of becoming a “national maneuver force” that is best designed for territorial defense.
“One of the things that I talked to (Philippine military chief) Gen. (Emmanuel) Bautista about was a roadmap for us training with the armed forces of the Philippines,” Robling told reporters.
“I think, at some point, that will happen, but probably, not in the next exercise,” he added.

Robling added that while the territorial disputes in the Asia-Pacific region will have to be worked on through diplomatic channels, “having a strong defense” is also one tool that can be used.

The Philippines and China remained locked in a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, specifically in the islets surrounding the Spratly Islands, and the resource-rich Panatag Shoal in Palawan.

But Robling added that the military ties between the US and the Philippines may have helped prevent the escalation of territorial dispute.

Other claimant countries of some of the territories in the South China Sea are Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

The Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises have been going for the past several years as provided in the PH-US 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that later gave birth to the Visiting Forces Agreement.

And for the first time, China has sent a representative to the Balikatan to observe round-table discussions that focused on humanitarian affairs and disaster relief operations.

“Very significant,” said Robling of China’s participation. “There is no one country that has domain over that (disaster relief operations) and we need every country in the region to be able to hold together and help countries in need. Certainly, having China for the very first time at least (to) watch how we do table top exercises and the things that we talked about I think will help them be better partners in the future.”

Beijing’s representative joined other delegates from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.

Maj. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, the Balikatan 2013 exercise director from the Philippine side, said officials for Balikatan 2014 will have to discuss whether similar drills will be held again in Palawan.

Robling said that Balikatan 2013, which opened April 5, not only strengthened the Philippines and U.S. forces’ combined ability to defend each other, but it also “improved the multinational military and civilian disaster response coordination in Southeast Asia and throughout the region.”

Even with the fresh threats from North Korea, Balikatan proved to be an opportunity for the Philippines and the United States to ensure their “operational readiness” against “any emergency that both our countries may face,” Domingo added.

Robling also touched on North Korea’s threat of a nuclear attack in the region, saying that the US has at least seven defense treaty partners that can deal with the situation.
Robling said they are now looking forward on the possibility of conducting a multi-lateral military exercises with partner countries.

“We will begin that planning next week and we’ll take a look at that. Well, we certainly are looking at other countries like Japan and Australia,” he said.

As this developed, a congressional reports said that the US was footing more of the bill for overseas bases in Germany, Japan and South Korea even as the military reduces the number of American troops in Europe and strategically repositions forces in Asia,

The exhaustive, yearlong investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee focused on costs and burden-sharing as the United States spends more than $10 billion a year to back up the U.S. military presence overseas, with 70 percent of the amount expended in the three nations. The figure does not include military personnel costs.

Tubbataha intruders still a puzzle

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 19): Tubbataha intruders still a puzzle

Government security forces could not get their acts together on whether the captain and crewmen of the Chinese vessel Ming Long Yu that ran aground in Tubbataha Reef last week were indeed fishermen or spies on an espionage mission in the Sulu Sea.

“It’s mere speculation,” said Coast Guard chief information officer Commander Armand Balilo said on claims that the fishermen were actually probing the country’s defenses in the area of the Tubbataha Reef.

“We found documents inside the boat showing that it is indeed a fishing vessel,” said Balilio, adding that although there were no marine life on board at the time of the crewmen’s arrest, there were fishing implements and no other unusual equipment on board.

But military intelligence sources said the Armed Forces believe the seamen were indeed on an espionage mission to test the government’s ability to react and respond to the illegal presence of a foreign vessel in Philippine territory.

“We can say that they were on an espionage mission,” said a military intelligence source who asked not to be identified. “They may have been evaluating the environment at the shoals, reefs and islates within our territory.”

The official also noted that the vessel did not have an ice-maker or a refrigerated cargo hold, like most fishing vessels, and the crew, whom authorities described as fair-skinned, were not dark-complexioned like most fishermen.

Balilo said, however, that the men may have been simple poachers who were looking to profit from the scaly anteaters, or pangolins, they had on board. The authorities could not determine, however, if the engendered animals came from Palawan or elsewhere.

Balilong said pangolin scales sell for as much as P5,000 a kilo and is a traditional Chinese medicine. Authorities have not determined the species of the pangolin that were seized from the Chinese seamen. Balilo added.

But the Coast Guard has filed charges of unauthorized entry, damage of the reef, poaching under Republic Act 10067, or the Tubbataha Act of 2009. There were also slapped an additional charge of direct bribery after they offered to pay arresting officials $2,400 for their freedom.

Balilo said the men were detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail while they are awaiting trial. “It’s up to the local court to investigate, because we already filed charges against them,” he said.

Meanwhile, M/T Limay, a tugboat of the salvaging firm Malayan Towage Salvaging, arrived at the grounding site around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday to start the salvaging operations for the 48-meter Chinese boat.

The salvage operation was put on hold last Sunday after Coast Guard search and rescue vessel BRP Corregidor encountered engine problems, prompting the agency to hire the Limay as the lead salvage vessel.

Another Coast Guard vessel BRP Romblon, the first to arrive in the area, will stay at the grounding site to help Limay in the removal operations.

Balilo said the salvage team would have to assess the condition of the Ming Long Yu before they start operations, because the vessel moved slightly from its original position while its hull and propeller remain intact and are in good condition.

“Once the vessel (Ming Long Yu) is inspected, they will then tow it from Tubbataha Reef to Puerto Princesa where it will undergo another inspection,” said Balilo.

1,000 more MNLF fighters join Kiram in Sabah

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 19): 1,000 more MNLF fighters join Kiram in Sabah

About 1,000 volunteers from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are pouring into Sabah to fight alongside followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo ((SSNB) against Malaysian forces, sultanate spokesman Abraham J. Idjirani announced on Friday, who described the news as "a very good development."

He said that the Filipino fighters come from Western Mindanao, which include regions like Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Zamboanga Peninsula. He adds that while they do not intend to spark a war with Malaysia, they are ready to fight if they are attacked.

"This addition to the forces of the rajah muda are ready and willing to engage in a shooting war with the Malaysian forces if it can no longer be avoided," said Idjirani, who is in Jolo, Sulu, for the scheduled April 21 rally in support of the sultanate's Sabah claim.

"The new arrivals do not want to be called MNLF anymore. They want to be known as the Royal Army," he adds.

Idjirani revealed the reinforcements after he was informed by Habib Mujahab Hashim, chairman of the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front-Islamic Command Council (MNLF-ICC).

Hashim, former head of the defunct Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) and the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), is presently chairman of the sultanate's Council of Shariffs.

"Shariffs" are religious leaders of the sultanate, who also have "royal blood" that can be traced to various Sulu royal families.

Hashim, who is also in Jolo for the anticipated anti-Malaysia rally on Sunday, said many MNLF members can no longer be stopped from going to Sabah to reinforce the rajah muda.

"We are trying to prevent them. But many of them can no longer be stopped because of their support to the sultanate and their anger at Malaysia because of the Sabah issue," he said. "We have done our best to prevent them from going to prevent escalation of the conflict," he adds.

The MNLF leadership did not order them to go, he said. "They went to Sabah on their own, not as MNLF members," he clarified. "They were able to breach the (naval) blockade imposed by the Philippines and Malaysia. They know the different routes; they are following the routes used by smugglers," he said. Hashim.

Hashim said the MNLF members will be on a "defensive posture," but will not hesitate to shoot back if Malaysian forces pursue and engage them in a firefight.

The MNLF-ICC chieftain said many Moros in Western Mindanao are really angry with Malaysia for what he said were "abuses committed by Malaysian authorities against Filipinos in Sabah."

"So, we are appealing to Malaysia to consider the claim of the sultanate. It is high time they agree to a peaceful resolution and return Sabah to its real owner. Malaysians have already benefited from Sabah for 50 years now," said Hashim.

"We are all Muslims, so we are still after a peaceful resolution of the issue," he said.
Idjirani said it is good that Malaysia sees that many Filipinos are going to Sabah.

"The sultanate's many 'raayat' -- constituents -- apparently want to be in Sabah to protect both Muslim and Christians working on the island. They are not there to fight, but are ready if provoked," he adds.

"It is a very good development that Malaysia is seeing the sultanate's constituents are sneaking into Sabah to help the rajah muda. They will comply with the unilateral ceasefire; they want Malaysia to know they are there," said Idjirani.

He said that at the planned rally, political, traditional, religious, women, and youth leaders are expected to join and make their voices heard in support of the peaceful resolution of the standoff.

Chinese vessel extracted from Tubbataha

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 19): Chinese vessel extracted from Tubbataha

The Chinese vessel that ran aground the Tubbataha reef last April 8 has been successfully removed, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported Friday.

A text message from PCG Spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said that F/B Min Long Yu was 'satisfactory extracted at her grounding position' by MT Limay, a ship owned and operated by Malayan Towage and Salvaging Corporation.

Balilo earlier said they will wait for the high tide to tow the vessel. High tide was recorded at 2PM.

PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said they are expecting the arrival of F/B Min Long Yu at Puerto Princesa on Saturday morning.

Isorena also ordered 'a more detailed inspection' of the vessel following the discovery of 400 boxes of meat of anteaters or 'pangolin'.

Earlier, the Coast Guard said it will look for anteater scales aboard the ship to determine the origin of some 400 boxes of frozen anteaters found in the cargo hold.

Anteaters are endangered species.

Chinese fishermen in Tubbataha grounding plead not guilty to poaching, bribery

From InterAksyon (Apr 19): Chinese fishermen in Tubbataha grounding plead not guilty to poaching, bribery

The Chinese fishermen whose vessel ran aground on Tubbataha Reef as they arrive in Puerto Princesa City. (photo by Elmer Badilla,

The 12 Chinese fishermen arrested and detained after their vessel ran aground on Tubbataha Reef pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of poaching and attempted bribery filed against them by the Tubbataha Management Office.

The 12 entered their plea before Executive Judge Jocelyn Sundiang- Dilig of Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 51, where they have been charged with violating Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Protected Area Law of 2009 and Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code or corruption of public officials.

They allegedly tried to bribe Tubbataha park rangers in exchange for releasing them.
Park Superintendent Angelique Songco, the main complainant in the case, said they expected the fishermen to plead not guilty.

She also vowed to file more charges against the Chinese.

Aside from the 400 boxes of slaughtered anteaters or ‘balintong’, a powdered substance was also found aboard the fishing vessel the Min Long Yu and is being tested at the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory.

The fishermen’s lawyer, Lex Jagmis, refused to comment on issues raised over the identity of his clients and the purpose for their foray into Philippine waters, saying this was best left to the wisdom of the court.

The first hearing of the case is scheduled on May 22.

Plunder vs former AFP CoS can still be pursued

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 19): Plunder vs former AFP CoS can still be pursued

The Ombudsman’s dismissal of plunder charges against former military generals involved in the so-called “pabaon” scam does not prevent government prosecutors from pursuing still the case, especially since “double jeopardy” has not set in.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, who is also a lawyer, yesterday said the Department of Justice (DoJ) can move for a reconsideration on the dismissal of the case at the level of the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Let us not jump into conclusion that just because the case was dismissed that they (the accused military chiefs) has no culpability, nor can we say that they are guilty — that’s presuming guilt rather than innocence,” he said to reporters during a weekly news forum at the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, last Wednesday, expressed dismay over the dismissal of the plunder charges against former military officials involved in the so-called pabaon scam.

“All our efforts were put to naught by this recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman,” said Estrada, who had vigorously led a Senate blue ribbon inquiry into the alleged misappropriated military funds.

A lot of hard evidence was presented before the Senate by retired Col. George Rabusa against three former Armed Forces chiefs of staff (CoS), 14 other top-ranking military officials and five civilians who worked for the military, in connection with billions of pesos of alleged misappropriated funds in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Rabusa was just as dismayed, and asked in a TV interview,” what more does Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales want (by way of evidence)?,” adding that he had a truckload of documents pointing to the irregularities committed in the AFP precisely due to the pabaon and pasalubong (welcome cash gift) amounting to millions, given to the incoming and outgoing CoS of the AFP.

The pabaon practice is common knowledge among the officers and men of the AFP.

It is possible, Angara said, that the government prosecutors committed some lapses insofar as gathering additional or sufficient evidence.

“Usually in cases like this, it’s either the lack of skill or the lack of diligence on the part of the prosecution.

“Normally, the Ombudsman will dismiss it for insufficient evidence so that reflects on the incapacity of the prosecutors to assemble evidence sufficiently to establish prima facie case. I cannot say on that basis they are not guilty but on the other hand, we cannot say that they are guilty. So, it’s the call of the Ombudsman,” he added.

It is likely that the case was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence and as such the prosecutors have to assemble more credible evidence, said Angara.

“Perhaps the evidence gathered by the Senate is not sufficient to show prima facie case. There may be need for additional evidence to be produced by the prosecutors.
There have been many investigations of the blue ribbon that we send to either the DoJ or Ombudsman where action is not being taken,” the senator said.

NPA rebels free 7 militias in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner Blogspot site (Apr 18): NPA rebels free 7 militias in Southern Philippines

    Jorge Madlos

Communist rebels have freed 7 pro-government militias they captured in separate operations in the southern Philippines, a leader of the New People’s Army said on Thursday.

Jorge Madlos said the NPA released prisoners-of-war Danny Sevillejo, 27, Evangeline Cabodbod,31, and Leonardo Sevillejo, 63, - who were captured on April 14 in the village of Santa Juana in Surigao del Sur’s Tagbina town.

And also Mario Lepanda, 36; Toloy Lepanda, 34; Rejoy Francisco, 23; and Janjan, a minor – who were arrested by rebels on April 15 at a checkpioint in the village of Don Alejandro in San Luis town in Agusan del Sur province.

The release of the militias – who all underwent separate investigations by the NPA - was attended by government officials and representatives from the religious sector and the media.

Madlos said the release of militias ended successfully with no untoward incidents.

He said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, ordered the release of the militias on humanitarian grounds and after the NPA submitted the results of its interrogation on the prisoners.

The release of the militias were based on the following grounds – they have not committed any serious offense against the people and the revolution; and swore never again to commit their minor offenses, and to take steps to rectify their mistakes; and for having exhibited good behaviour during detention.

“The detention, investigation and release of these prisoners of war show the politico-military capability of the revolutionary forces in the different regions in Mindanao. These prove not only the capacity of the NPA, the Party and the NDFP to undertake such action, but more so the widespread and solid support of the masses toward the revolutionary movement in the island,” Madlos said.

He said the capture of the militias exposes the vulnerability in the deployment of government forces and its inability to prevent or counteract any of the NPA offensives. “The most that the AFP and the PNP could do was to brush off these NPA-led military actions as a “desperate show of force. But in truth, this is a huge blow against the capability of both the AFP and the PNP,” Madlos said, referring to military and police authorities.

He said the NPA is still holding two policemen - PO1 Ronal Allan Munez and PO1 Nemuel Espana - who were accused by rebels as behind extortion activities in Agusan del Sur’s Loreto town. He said the prisoners remain under the custody of an NPA Unit in Front 03 in Southern Mindanao.

“The two are still under the process of preliminary investigation,” Madlos said.

Bombs explode outside house of Basilan vice mayor, Catholic chapel

From the Mindanao Examiner Blogspot site (Apr 19): Bombs explode outside house of Basilan vice mayor, Catholic chapel

Two powerful homemade bombs exploded late Thursday near a Catholic chapel and outside the house of the vice mayor of Lamitan City in the troubled province of Basilan, reports said.

It said the blast outside the house of Vice Mayor Arleigh Eisma destroyed his vehicle and another explosion was also reported near the chapel. There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties in the bombings which occurred ahead of the May 13 general elections.

Eisma, a prominent and popular politician in Basilan, is running for mayor against Liberal party’s Rosita Furigay, the wife of incumbent Lamitan Mayor Roderick Furigay - who is on his third and last term as mayor - and is also running for vice mayor; and Councilman Hegem Furigay, of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

Two others – Mario Mamang and Masandal Sahal – are also running for mayor.
The twin attacks came even as police launched a manhunt for gunmen who shot and wounded 3 people, including Henry Furigay, the father of the councilman who is also the mayor’s nephew.

Police said the gunmen attacked the elder Furigay and his driver Bernard Cuevas and another supporter on April 13 in the village of Limook and escaped on a motorcycle after the shooting. The victims were heading to a political meeting when the attack occurred. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two vehicles were damaged after a powerful bomb exploded outside the house of Lamitan City Vice Mayor Arleigh Eisma and followed by a second bomb explosion near a Catholic chapel late Thursday, April 18, 2013. (Photos courtesy of Richard Falcatan)

2 cops held by NPA rebels in Mindanao escape

From the Mindanao Examiner Blogspot site (Apr 19): 2 cops held by NPA rebels in Mindanao escape


NPA fighters during jungle training. (From Ka Mine's photo file - Rodante Urtal Command)

Two police officers being held captive by communist rebels have made a daring escape to freedom early Friday after one of them grabbed the rifle of their guard and shot him in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said PO1 Ronal Allan Munez and PO1 Nemuel Espana were seized by New People’s Army rebels in Agusan del Sur’s Loreto town. Details of their escape were not immediately available, but Jorge Madlos, a senior rebel leader accused the officers as behind extortion activities in the town.

Their escape came a day after the NPA freed 7 pro-government militias they also captured in separate operations in the provinces of Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur in Mindanao.

The NPA released prisoners-of-war Danny Sevillejo, 27, Evangeline Cabodbod,31, and Leonardo Sevillejo, 63, - who were captured on April 14 in the village of Santa Juana in Surigao del Sur’s Tagbina town.

And also Mario Lepanda, 36; Toloy Lepanda, 34; Rejoy Francisco, 23; and Janjan, a minor – who were arrested by rebels on April 15 at a checkpioint in the village of Don Alejandro in San Luis town in Agusan del Sur province.

The release of the militias – who all underwent separate investigations by the NPA - was attended by government officials and representatives from the religious sector and the media.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, ordered the release of the militias on humanitarian grounds.

Security forces clash with notorious Zambo bandit leader

From the Mindanao Examiner Blogspot site (Apr 19): Security forces clash with notorious Zambo bandit leader

A photo released by the Philippine Army to the Mindanao Exsminer shows weapons left behind by bandits following a clash in Zamboanga Sibugay's Naga town.

Government forces killed an undetermined number of bandits in a clash in Naga town in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga Sibugay, officials told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said policemen, backed by army soldiers, clashed with the group of Baser Sakilan, a notorious bandit leader tagged as behind numerous extortion activities in the province.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Yegor Rey Barroquillo, Jr., commander of the 44th Infantry Battalion, said the fighting in the village of Santa Clara lasted about 30 minutes. The gunmen, numbering about 15, split into smaller group and escaped along with their casualties.
“The villagers tipped off the military and police about the presence of Sakilan’s group in the area which prompted authorities to deploy forces in the town,” he said, adding there was no report of military casualties.

Barroquillo, citing intelligence reports, said the group may be planning to kidnap locals in the town.

He said security forces recovered assorted weapons, including an M203 rifle with grenade launcher and munitions.

Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said he ordered troops to track down the gunmen in the province and at the same time praised the public support to the military and police for helping authorities by providing information about lawless groups in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“The support of the populace to law enforcers in the spirit of Bayanihan is now overwhelming and I admire their vigilance to fight criminality and lawlessness. The timely information provided by the people encourages our law enforcers to double their efforts to attain lasting peace and security in this region,” Cruz said.

Bayanihan refers to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign in the country.

MILF: KDFI held Speakers’ Bureau Training

From the MILF Website (Apr 19): KDFI held Speakers’ Bureau Training

Kalilintad Development Foundation, Incorporated (KDFI) Strengthens Its Speakers Bureau for Information Campaign on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The Kalilintad Development Foundation, Inc. (KDFI) in partnership with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center & Training Institute with support from the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process held a two- day Peace Communication Training on the Updates on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro last April 15-16, 2013 at EDJIN Pension House and Restaurant, Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

The training sought to raise the awareness of KDFI members and community /area representatives on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro as well as the prospects and opportunities that its successful implementation shall bring about; and to build the capacities of the participants as community peace advocates and communicators so that they can help inform the public and key communities about the FAB.

Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, KDFI Senior Programs Advisor and BLMI Steering Committee Member, delivered his lecture on the History of Mindanao Conflict, including the root causes and status. He explained that the Bangsamoro People in Mindanao had experienced oppression since the coming of the colonizers. And due to relentless oppression and tyranny by both foreign and local colonizers, the Bangsamoro waged a revolutionary war to free themselves from tyrants and oppressors. This war started in the late 60’s and continued until these days.

He stressed that the accord signed between the GPH and MILF Peace Panels on October 15, 2012 is the key towards the establishment of a just, peaceful and humane Bangsamoro Region in Mindanao.

“Let us advocate peace and justice towards genuine governance in our homeland, the Bangsamoro. We are fighting for justice, so we must be firmed and determined in seeking our right to self-determination”, he said.

Nasrullah Mohammad, MILF focal person for the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation Development Component of the International Monitoring Team, also made a presentation on the historic accord. He shared inputs on the Bangsamoro territory, identity and the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be framed by the Transition Commission. He also provided insights on the unresolved annexes on the Revenue Generation, Wealth and Power Sharing, Basic Rights and Normalization.

“If ever the Agreement is implemented, there will be social, economic, cultural and political empowerments in our homeland as well as a strong and wider fiscal autonomy. We have to work harder to support the signed peace pact”, he concluded.

Madam Susan “Toots” Ople, the President of Blas F. Ople Policy Center & Training Institute shared strategies and techniques to become good communicators. Participants were divided into five groups during the workshop to measure the participants’ intellectual capacity on certain topics.

“To become a Speakers’ Bureau member is a responsibility, mission, and struggle of individuals to inform the people thru information campaigns in support to the Framework Agreement. Knowing Bangsamoro is an excitement to everyone who is seeking for peace and justice in Mindanao. It is an opportunity for all to invest in businesses, build infrastructures, livelihood projects, organize institutions of learning and develop beautiful landscapes in Mindanao,” she said.

Ms. Estelle Ople Osorio, Director for Training and Education of Blas F. Ople Policy Center & Training Institute, walked the participants through public speaking tools and techniques for effective speech delivery. A workshop provided an opportunity for participants to apply those techniques.

The participants said that the activity will guide them in further developing their communication skills to advocate the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in their communities.

The said training was attended by community leaders from the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.’-bureau-training

MILF: AFP officers launch ‘poison campaign’ vs. FAB in South Cotabato

From the MILF Website (Apr 19): AFP officers launch ‘poison campaign’ vs. FAB in South Cotabato

A commissioned officer and a non-commissioned officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army under 301st and 601st Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division conducted barangay to barangay campaigned in the municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato recently.

A source, who refused to be named for security reason, said that a certain Major Dodoy Steba and Sergeant Apiong Steba launched the “poison campaign” to win the sympathy of the dominated constituents Indigenous People (IPs), mainly belonging to the T’boli tribe, of the said municipality. They also enjoined them, the report added, to oppose and disagree to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last October 15, 2012 in Malacañang.

Accordingly, the two officers of the Philippine Army coached the IPs to adopt a negative stance against the FAB. The duo also threatened and warned the IPs that should they opt to prepare a petition letter for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Government they would regret later.

The source urge the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GPH-MILF) Joint Coordination Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) to look into the report and conduct proper investigation regarding this scenario.

They said that under the GPH-MILF Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) this is provocative act against the civilian, done by the AFP. They cited Article VI of the FAB which is the Basic Rights that the Indigenous People’s rights shall be respected.

Why are these officers violating the provision of the FAB and above all, defying the policy of the Aquino administration of the primacy of the peace process, the source asked.

However, as of this writing Luwaran is still double-checking the report.‘poison-campaign’-vs-fab-in-south-cotabato

CPP: Video--CPP-Panay 44th NPA anniversary statement

Posted to the CPP Website (Apr 14): Video: CPP-Panay 44th NPA anniversary statement

[CPP - Panay statement on the 44th Anniversary of the New People's Army!]

CPP/NDF: Seven prisoners of war (POWs), released

Posted to the CPP Website (Apr 18): Seven prisoners of war (POWs), released

Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
NDFP Mindanao Chapter

On April 14, 2013, CAFGUs Danny Sevillejo, 27, Evangeline Cabodbod,31, and Leonardo Sevillejo, 63, were captured at Sitio Greenfield, Brgy. Sta. Juana, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur, and were all taken under the custody of an NPA unit under Front 14. Preliminary investigation was immediately undertaken to ascertain whether they have committed serious or criminal offenses against the people and the revolutionary movement.

On April 15, 2013, when a unit of the NPA under Front 18 mounted a checkpoint at Don Alejandro, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, four CAFGU elements, namely Mario “Tata” Lepanda of San Pedro, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, 36, married and 10 years in service; Toloy Lepanda, also of San Pedro, 34 (he was only 14 when he was recruited into the CAFGU); Rejoy Francisco of Mahayahay, 23; and, alias Janjan (not his real name) of Km. 41 Binicalan, 17. Preliminary investigation was also conducted.

On April 16, the political authority in both Fronts 14 and 88 immediately submitted separately to the NDFP-Mindanao the results of their preliminary investigation, and at the same time, their recommendation for the release of the so named prisoners of wars (POWs) based on the following:
  1. For not having committed any serious offense against the people and the revolution;
  2. For having sworn never again to commit their minor offenses, and to take steps to rectify their mistakes;
  3. Humanitarian reasons; and,
  4. For having exhibited good behaviour during detention.
The NDFP-Mindanao concurred with these recommendations, and with such, ordered the custodial forces of Front 14 and Front 88 to immediately release the respective POWs after having educated them, and commit to never repeat their minor offenses again.

On April 17, Front 14 and Front 88 separately undertook the release of seven (7) prisoners of war.

The release of four CAFGUs in Front 88 was attended by representatives and officials from the local government unit, religious, other personalities and the media. Under safe conditions, the POWs were turned over to them, including the minor.

The release of the three CAFGUs in Front 14 was witnessed by Gov. Johnny Pimentel and other officials of the LGU, the religious, local personalities and the media. The turn-over ended successfully with no untoward incidents.

There are still two POWs, namely PO1 Ronal Allan Munez and PO1 Nemuel D. Espana, who remain under the custody of an NPA Unit in Front 03 in Southern Mindanao Region. The two are still under the process of preliminary investigation.

The detention, investigation and release of these prisoners of war show the politico-military capability of the revolutionary forces in the different regions in Mindanao. These prove not only the capacity of the NPA, the Party and the NDF to undertake such action, but more so the widespread and solid support of the masses toward the revolutionary movement in the island.

These events also expose the vulnerability in the deployment of forces of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU when they were clearly unable to counteract any of the tactical offensives launched by the NPA. The most that the AFP and the PNP could do was to brush off these NPA-led military actions as a “desperate show of force.” But in truth, this is a huge blow against the capability of both the AFP and the PNP, especially in its glaring failure to defend its imperialist multinational masters, such as Dole and Del Monte, which are responsible for destroying the environment and the oppression and exploitation of workers, peasants and the Lumads.