Friday, April 26, 2013

MILF: Advocacy on FAB intensifies in Zamboanga City

From the MILF Website (Apr 25): Advocacy on FAB intensifies in Zamboanga City

In line with the policy of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of reaching out to the grassroots and let people understand what the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) is all about, the MILF Provincial Political Committee and the Information Committee in Zamboanga City held an advocacy program on the FAB at Barangay Labuan last April 16. 2013.

The half day activity was attended by the local folks, barangay officials, members of the PNP Police Station 10 headed by Police Senior Inspector Chester Natividad and members of the Moro Front.

Invited Speakers were Atty. Nasser Ynawat, former ARMM Assemblyman and Professor Ali S. Ayub. The local officials shared their views and extended support. They provided conducive venue, security and technical assistance which resulted to the success of the activity.

Said local officials manifested their understanding and openness on FAB and extended their cooperation to the organizers of the activity.

“We are grateful to the organizers and members of the MILF in Zamboanga City for visiting and letting us understand what FAB is all about”. “We just heard it but we do not have clear knowledge about it” one local official said.

P/Senior Inspector Natividad, said…“As law enforcers, we are indeed at ease and found a good partnership in promoting peace and stability in our community”. “We are grateful to the MILF Provincial Committee Chairman and its members in Zamboanga City for their initiative and efforts of informing us on the essence of FAB and its benefits to the people”, Senior Inspector Natividad further said.

Atty. Ynawat explained the salient points of the FAB, and other related matters. He stressed the significance of FAB and categorically emphasized the word “BANGSAMORO” which is not only confined to the Moros-Muslim in Mindanao as what most people perceived but it also referred to non-Moro or non-Muslims as what is clearly stipulated in the FAB, despites its inclusivity, The choice and the inherent rights of other residents; settlers and Lumads are recognized, respected and upheld as it is guaranteed under the Constitution.

Prof. Ali Ayub, provided updates on the peace process between the GPH- MILF and some relevant issues relevant to the FAB.

Both speakers articulately answered questions from the attendees during the open forum. The activity successfully ended with the residents well informed and enlightened relative to the peace process and the Framework Agreement.

In order to achieve full public awareness about the FAB, the MILF Political and Information Committees in the area plan to reach out to the remaining uncovered barangays in the city where the majority of the Bangsamoros are found. Zamboanga City has a total of 98 barangays.

Barangay Labuan and Limpapa are the last two barangays in west coast area of Zamboanga City where a large number of Bangsamoros are residing, many them are engaged in fishing and farming as their source of livelihood.

MILF: European Union sponsors Fiji constitutional expert’s forum with Bangsamoro Transition Commission

From the MILF Website (Apr 26): European Union sponsors Fiji constitutional expert’s forum with Bangsamoro Transition Commission

In a press statement, the European Union (EU) through its conduit international non-government organization, the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), has sponsored the visit of Prof. Yash Pal Ghai, an Fijian of Indian origin and an expert on constitutional law especially on autonomy, to Cotabato City on April 30 to hold forum on constitutional-making.

The purpose of the visit is to conduct talks forum on constitution-making especially for state-substate asymmetrical relations, something envisioned for the Bangsamoro in Mindanao.

Through the HDC, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will also avail of the logistical support of the EU to hold its second session, now in Cotabato City, seat of the BTC, to try to finalize its secretariat, establishment of committees, and its internal rules. Its maiden session was held in Pasig last April 3.

The press statement said that this is the second time Professor Ghai visits the Philippines in this capacity, following his earlier visit last January 2013, during which he held a 3-day workshop with the MILF on Autonomy and Basic Law. This time, Professor Ghai will share comparative knowledge from other case studies and suggest framework of rules of procedures and structure to make the Transition Commission an efficient joint body, an example of an effective partnership of both Parties, and set the scene through rules of procedures which would allow partnership and deter conflicts during the drafting process of the Basic Law.

On day one, the statement said, Professor Ghai will hold a workshop for both Parties in a special session. The second day will be devoted to a formal session to discuss and adopt the structure and rules of the procedures, where he has been requested by the Parties to provide his guidance and facilitate caucus of both sides to resolve any divergences that may arise.

The EU continues to support the Peace Process and provides funds for visits of eminent persons. Both Parties do benefit from the in-depth experience of peace processes in different parts of the world.

The visits of the eminent persons are facilitated by the NGO Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, funded by the EU.

Prof. Yash Pal Ghai, is a world-renowned constitutionalist. He has over 35 years of experience as a professor in public law, human rights, rule of law, and inter-ethnic relations in some of the most prestigious universities and in advising countries on constitutional, decentralization, and autonomy matters. Most recently, Prof. Ghai headed the Constitutional Commission which drafted a new Constitution for Fiji. Before that, he advised many other countries in various capacities including notably Nepal, Cambodia for which he was the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Kenya, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, China, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Prof Ghai has published extensively on constitution-making, public law, sociology of law, ethnic relations, comparative law, and law and development.’s-forum-with-bangsamoro-transition-commission

Gov't, Muslim ex-combatants 'fight' in 'Olympeace'

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 25): Gov't, Muslim ex-combatants 'fight' in 'Olympeace'

They used to fight in the mountains trying to outsmart each other and count the dead.

Now for the first time, police and Army personnel have engaged the Muslim rebels in a "fight" in a new arena: in the hardcourt for a basketball game which was part of the Sarangani Province "Olympeace". They counted not bodies but number of baskets in a match aimed at fostering better relationship.

It was not important who won the game it was how they play and "fight" in a sports that hope to start camaraderie among former combatants.

“The last time they fought like this was in the battlefield,” said Jocelyn Lambac Kanda, Sarangani peace program officer. “This time their fight was inside a basketball court and cheered by many.”

The arena is called OlymPeace (Musabaqah), a friendly athletic competition participated in by different teams from the province’s local peace partners like the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Philippine National Police (PNP), International and Local Monitoring Teams, former rebels, provincial government and media.

"OlymPeace" started on Tuesday and ended Thursday at the provincial capitol grounds.

The activity was successful after Gov. Migs Dominguez directed all provincial officials and department heads to give their utmost consideration to the delegations and cooperation for the success of the Musabaqah.

Kanda said the "OlymPeace" is the highlight activity integrated in this year’s 4th Musabaqah, an intramurals of the 2,500-strong Muslim youth from the 49 Islamic schools in Sarangani.

"As the province was working towards achieving a participative and inclusive peace process, the activity likewise served as a venue of friendship for those we perceived enemies of the government and will strengthen our built relationship with them,” Kanda told reporters.

She added: "OlymPeace have provided a space for healthy engagement of different peace workers regardless of their organizational affiliations, beliefs and principles.”

The activity, according to Kanda, also “sent a message that we can give peace a chance by opening oneself to give way for the possibility of working together.”

“The OlymPeace was considered significant instrument of successfully integrating the Moro constituents of the province into the mainstream of governance and promoting camaraderie among peace stakeholders,” she added.

According to Beverly Paoyon, Saranggani information officer, Sarangani is generally peaceful. Its local government has invested in empowering its people so that they may be able to participate in governance and identify their own problems and solutions.

“We have proven that a culture of dialogue can be institutionalized and it is very effective in bridging the gap between people or groups that have conflicting standpoints,” Kanda said.

MNLF vows to support peaceful elections in ARMM

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 25): MNLF vows to support peaceful elections in ARMM

Election and security officials in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Thursday lauded the move of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in joining organizations working for peaceful and orderly midterm elections in the region.

Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, ARMM election director, also lauded the statement of Abdul Sahrin, speaking for the MNLF's largest and most politically active group, that the MNLF will fully support the memorandum of understanding between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Earlier, the GPH and MILF agreed to work together to ensure SAFE or Safe and Fair Elections in the region's five provinces, previously known as violence-prone provinces during elections.

Sahrin said MNLF chair Muslimin Sema, who is seeking the mayorship of Cotabato City, directed all MNLF field commanders in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to support the MOU and help prevent lawless elements from disrupting the political exercises.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Santos, ARMM police regional director, also welcomed the MNLF move, saying the ARMM balloting will surely be smooth with major stakeholders' commitment to support all peaceful means of holding the elections.

Sema is Liberal Party’s candidate for mayor of Cotabato City against reelectionist mayor Japal Guiani, Jr.

Sema, in a statement stressed that the MNLF's move was consistent with the provisions of the 1996 GPH-MNLF final peace pact, which enjoins both sides to mutually cooperate in furthering peace and sustainable development in areas covered by the accord.

President Benigno Aquino III, in his campaign sortie in Maguindanao last week, endorsed the candidacy of Sema, calling him "peacemaker" for his support to the ongoing government peace process with the MILF.

According to Sahrin, Sema has ordered MNLF field commanders to help the police and military monitor any unusual movements in their respective communities of suspected partisans or lawless elements in their respective areas in the region.

Grenade attack at home of North Cotabato town councilor

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 26): Grenade attack at home of North Cotabato town councilor

Police and Army authorities have placed the restive town of Kabacan in North Cotabato under close watch after unidentified men tossed a hand grenade into the house of a reelectionist councilor on Thursday evening.

Supt. Leo Ajero, Kabacan town police chief, said the incident happened at about 6:00 p.m. at the residential compound of reelectionist councilor George Manual along Gen. Luna Street.

Nobody was hurt in the incident which local police believed was politically motivated. The blast also sent fears among residents in the thickly populated street.

Citing statement from witnesses, Ajero said two men riding in tandem on a motorbike without license plate passed by the residence of Manual and one of them threw the MK2 fragmentation grenade.

The blast triggered panic in the surroundings.

Ajero said investigation is still ongoing.

The 602nd Infantry Brigade which has jurisdiction over Kabacan has deployed intelligence operatives to determine the suspects in the grenade attack which came a day after an improvised bomb went off and killed a village chair in nearby Maguindanao province.

On Thursday morning, Village Chair Salindatu Raguiamuda of Barangay Macasampen, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, was driving his Toyota Tamaraw FX with his son.

As he parked in front of a coffee shop and about to disembark, a powerful blast went off close to the driver's side of his car.

Raguiamuda sustained multiple shrapnel injuries and was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

His son was also wounded but declared stable, police investigators said. A minor girl who was near the coffee shop was also injured in the blast.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Army: Ex-rebel group in Neg. Occ. still a threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 26): Army: Ex-rebel group in Neg. Occ. still a threat

The former Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) under Tabara-Paduano Group remained a threat despite the transformation of the group into a socio-economic organization.

This is according to Colonel Jon Aying, the newly installed commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Negros Occidental during his presentation on Thursday of their security preparations for election next month.

Aying said the former rebel group is still a threat considering that not all of them are fully disarmed yet.

“Practically, we still consider RPAs as threat. Although they changed into ‘Kapatiran’, yet the action and behavior [of a rebel] remain with them,” Aying said.

The RPA-ABB under Tabara-Paduano Group is now known as the “Kapatiran para sa Progresong Panlipunan” or Brotherhood for Social Progress.

The conversion of the group into a socio-economic organization is one of the conditions under the national government’s proposed closure peace agreement.

The RPA-ABB has 716 members nationwide wherein 607 are in Negros Occidental and 58 are in Negros Oriental.

The former rebel group possesses more than 400 firearms and 300 explosives based on the data of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process.

Aside from RPA-ABB, Aying said the New People’s Army (NPA) and Private Armed Groups (PAGs) are also posing threat to their security preparations for May 13 national and local elections.

The NPA in the province, divided into four organized committees, alone has estimated 200 firearms in their possession, he noted.

Aying, however, assured the public that they will prevent these lawless elements, especially the private armed groups, from conducting atrocities in order to achieve a secure, fair and free election.

He also emphasized that they will make sure that every registered voter shall have casted their votes freely.

Philippine Army assigns bemedalled general as 1st Infantry Division commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 26): Philippine Army assigns bemedalled general as 1st Infantry Division commander

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes on Wednesday led the turnover of command ceremonies of the First Infantry “Tabak” Division based in Camp Cesar Sang-an in this municipality.

Coballes installed Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero vice Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, III, who assumed command on Monday as the new Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) chief.

Both Lucero and Cruz are veteran and decorated military officers.

Lucero, the concurrent commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said he will sustain the collaborative efforts with the stakeholders in achieving peace and development in the region.

Lucero said he will continue the campaign against all lawless elements within its area of responsibility, which covers 3,393 barangays in 116 municipalities and seven cities here in Western Mindanao.

Four infantry brigades--101st, 102nd, 103rd, and 104th--are under his command as the First Infantry Division commander.

Lucero, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA)-Class 1983, is the first in his class to assume as Army division commander.

He started his military career as a platoon leader here in Mindanao until he was designated as commanding officer of major commands.

He also served as the first commander of the Philippine contingent to the United Nations mission on the Caribbean island from 2004 to 2005.

He also served as the spokesman of the then Southern Command which was later divided into two commands namely Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) and Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

Among the awards he received were three Distinguished Service Star Medals, Gold Cross Medal, Outstanding Achievement Medal and the Honor Graduate Medal and a number of Military Merit Medals. He was also and one of the recipients of the Metrobank Foundation 2011 of the Outstanding Soldier of the Philippines award.

Cruz, on the other hand, was instrumental in the successful government campaign against rebels and bandits and largely credited for maintaining peace and order in the region.

500 Marines sent to Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 26): 500 Marines sent to Misamis Oriental

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has started to move some 500 soldiers of the Philippines Marines Landing Team 3 to Misamis Oriental since Wednesday.

Maj. Leo Bongasia, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division here, said that the massive redeployment and repositioning of the Marines in Misamis Oriental has orders to crush the New People's Army (NPA) rebels who ambushed Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona five days ago.

Bongasia said the deployment of the Marines continues until Friday with the landing team anchoring in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte, some 100-kilometer northeast of Gingoog City.

He said the Marine Corps would have a temporary headquarters in Balingasag where the army’s previous 58th Infantry of Battalion has a military base.

Bongasia also dismissed reports that the deployment of Marines has caused anxiety among farmers in the hinterlands of Misamis Oriental.

A village councilor in Barangay Capitulangan reportedly went to a local radio station to report that hundreds of civilians have started evacuating from their farmlands for fear that the drive against the armed communist guerillas will erupt into an all-out war in the area.

He said that said affected local communities near Barangay Kapitulangan including Barangays Bakid-Bakid, Pinulangan, Dimakulan, Libon and Sitio Mindurian, all of Gingoog City were now almost 50 percent abandoned and evacuated.

“We have not received any report of a farmer abandoning their farms and houses in the mountain barangays of Misamis Oriental due to the presence of Marines in their areas,” Bongasia said.

Bongasia said the Marines were called to assist the Philippine Army (PA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure that the conduct of the May 13 elections in areas concerned would be peaceful.

The army spokesperson also confirmed that the Philippine Marines were deployed in Barangays Bakid-Bakid, Pinulangan, Dimakulan, Libon and Kapitulangan, all of Gingoog City.

Bongasia said Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and now Misamis Oriental are "areas of concern" in the May 13 elections in the region due to the presence of armed groups in these areas.

He said that the deployment of the additional troops to Misamis Oriental had been planned even before the NPA attack on Mayor Guingona.

“The presence of the additional troops would stop any intimidating plans to disrupt the coming election,” said Bongosia.

New 4th army division commander installed

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 26): New 4th army division commander installed

The army’s 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division has a new division commander following a simple turnover at the division’s command conference room Friday afternoon.

Maj. Leo S. Bongasia, spokesperson of the army’s 4th ID, said that Brig. Gen. Ricardo R Visaya took over the reins of leadership of the 4ID from Maj. Gen. Nestor A Añonuevo.

A well decorated military officer, Visayas was Assistant Division Commander of the army’s 6th Infantry Division in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao prior to his assignment here.

In his parting message, Añonuevo commended all the officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees of the 4ID and other operationally controlled and support units for their services during his leadership as a division commander.

Bongasia did not disclose the possible next assignment of Añonuevo as reassignments of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) major commands in Mindanao took effect last week.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainer Cruz, the commander of the army’s 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga was promoted as the new commanding general of the army’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao two days ago.

Palace tags Reds bandits

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 25): Palace tags Reds bandits

Govt scuttles peace process after attacks by CPP-NPA

The Palace on Wednesday branded the communist rebels as bandits, lumping them with the Abu Sayyaf kidnap gangs and effectively scuttling new talks to end the 45-year insurgency.

“They have been reduced to a bandit group,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front and their armed wing, the New People’s Army. “There is no ongoing peace process.”

The Palace statement came in the wake of Saturday’s ambush staged by communist rebels against Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Guingona in Misamis Oriental, which killed her civilian bodyguard and driver and left the mayor wounded.

The rebels also launched two separate attacks in Mindanao and took an Army private hostage Wednesday.

“They have to show their sincerity, not us. We have shown our sincerity. The burden shifted to them a long time ago. Our commitment is there but is the commitment of the CPP-NDF-NPA there? We have not seen it,” Lacierda added.

Lacierda also used tough language in challenging the NPA to take on the military and not civilians.

“There is a Marine battalion that’s moved to the 4th Infantry Division which covers Misamis Oriental. So the approximate headcount for the Marines is 500 people, and hot pursuit operations are now ongoing in Misamis Oriental,” Lacierda said.

Addressing the communist rebels, he added: “You want to challenge us? Go ahead, make our day.”

In a display of defiance, the rebels on Wednesday took a soldier hostage in Maco town and fired on a police station in Mabini Town, both in Compostela Valley.

In Maco, rebels attacked Army soldiers who were buying food and supplies in town and dragged away PFC Jesus Tomas, the military said.

Tomas is a member of the 71st Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Jerry Borja, whose unit had killed a minor when they fired upon a group of suspected rebels.

Army reinforcements pursued the rebels.

In Mabini town, NPA rebels fired grenade launchers at the police station at the national highway, damaging the structure and shattering its windows. No one was injured in the attack.

Witnesses said they saw two men riding on a motorcycle firing M203 grenade launchers at the police station from 30 meters away.

The communists earlier belittled President Benigno Aquino III’s order to dismantle rebel checkpoints as “empty bluster” that the military and police “are incapable of enforcing.”

The CPP also ordered its armed wing to set up more “election checkpoints” to “enforce the prohibition against the bearing of firearms by election candidates and their escorts” in areas the rebels claim to control.

Last month, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said peace talks with the CPP-NDF-NPA have bogged down, adding that it was “a waste of time” to negotiate with the rebel group.

“I don’t think we should waste our time [negotiating with the CPP-NDF]. They always find ways and means to look for an issue,” Padilla said.

“Effectively they have scuttled the talks under the special track. All the more that we cannot expect the regular track to resume,” he added.

NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni earlier accused the government of trying to trap the communist group into signing an indefinite ceasefire while refusing to release detained consultants and NPA leaders.

Jalandoni said a planned meeting between Mr. Aquino and CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison early this year in Hanoi will no longer push through because of the government’s failure to deliver its commitments during the last meeting under the special track of the talks in February.

The Palace denied Jalandoni’s claim of a planned meeting, however, saying there was “no meeting of the minds” during the special track meeting.

“The special track was an initiative of Sison, where both sides agreed that they would not be bogged down by conditions, like the release of prisoners,” Padilla said.

Meetings under the special track began late last year, when the two sides agreed to discuss a Common Declaration of National Unity and Just Peace, which would lead to an immediate truce.

“Unfortunately, Sison put so many conditions last February that the special track has become tedious, onerous and next to impossible to continue,” Padilla added.

The government and the rebels last held informal talks in February 2011.

China bares plan to build more aircraft carriers

Posted to the Manila Standard Today (Apr 25): China bares plan to build more aircraft carriers

China unveiled plans to build more aircraft carriers after commissioning its first last year, as the country extends its influence amid territorial disputes with neighbors including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

China’s conflict with the Philippines began in April last year, and Manila marked the first anniversary of the Chinese’ incursion at the Panatag Shoal by expressing confidence of its chances on the arbitration case that it filed before the United Nations that challenged Beijing’s claim over the entire West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Ocean Concerns Gilberto Asuque said the UN International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas will complete the arbitral panel today, April 25.

Asuque said the presence of three Chinese boats in the shoal – two maritime surveillance ships and one Fisheries Law Enforcement Command vessel – would not deter the country’s determination to complete the arbitration process.

“Any provocative action that China does will not change the fact that their nine-dash line is being challenged by the Philippines,” Asuque said.

“We have a strong and well-documented case. We are not submitting the issue of who owns the land but that the Philippines has maritime entitlement and China’s nine-dash line is excessive,” he added.

China, meanwhile, said its future aircraft carriers will carry more fighter jets than the Liaoning, Rear Admiral Song Xue told foreign military attaches yesterday in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua New Agency. The carrier was built around a Soviet-era hull and began trials at sea last year.

China’s announcement on the new carrier signaled that the People’s Liberation Army will push ahead with a modernization plan under which defense spending has more than doubled since 2006.

The announcement came after Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited China. He and Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui said April 22 they want to expand military ties.

At the same time, tensions between China and Japan have escalated over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both sides. Yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to use force if necessary to defend the islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

Chinese news website China Daily reported that Beijing strongly protested against “provocation” by Japanese ships in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands, calling the moves “illegal” and “troublemaking”.

A group of 168 Japanese lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on the same day, despite repeated objections from Beijing and Seoul. The visit worsened Japan’s diplomatic deadlock in the region.

According to a statement issued by China’s State Oceanic Administration, a fleet of Chinese marine surveillance ships on regular patrol duty found several Japanese ships in waters around the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday.

Ten boats carrying about 80 Japanese activists entered the waters off the Diaoyu Islands, claiming to be conducting fishery studies, Japanese media reported.

China strongly protested and has lodged solemn representations to Japan regarding Japanese “right-wingers’ illegal entry” into the waters, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at Tuesday’s news conference.

Ties between Beijing and Tokyo have been strained since last September when Japan attempted to “nationalize” the islands. Recently, they have been further haunted by historical issues.

The Yasukuni Shrine visit by Japanese lawmakers marked the first time the number of lawmakers visiting the shrine has exceeded 100 since October 2005.

Japanese senior Vice-Minister of Finance Shunichi Yamaguchi, Senior Vice-Minister of Environment Shinji Inoue and policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Sanae Takaichi were among the visitors.

Their visit followed Abe’s ritual offering of a pine tree and three cabinet ministers’ weekend visits to the shrine, which honors convicted war criminals during World War II.

South Korea is also strongly against Japanese leaders’ visits to the controversial shrine.
Cho Tai-young, a South Korean government spokesman, expressed deep concern and regret over the visits, calling the shrine “a place to glorify Japan’s aggressive war”.
A day earlier, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called off a planned visit to Tokyo, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, defense ministry officials from both countries may hold talks on the islands, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in Tokyo. The Asahi newspaper today said director- general level talks could take place as soon as this month to discuss the establishment of a maritime communications hotline.

“It appears that something like that is being arranged, and Japan’s door is always open to diplomatic talks with China,” Suga told reporters. “It’s true we have discussions with China about issues such as this.”

Zhang Zheng, the Liaoning’s captain, told the foreign attaches that the carrier’s crew had mastered the ship’s weapons systems, Xinhua reported. Song said that the J-15 fighter aircraft needed more trials before becoming operational on the carrier, according to the report.

The Liaoning has a full displacement of more than 50,000 tonnes. The carrier’s original design allows it to carry about 30 fixed-wing aircraft.Song Xue said the Navy hoped that the next carrier could be larger to load more aircraft.

He also revealed that the Navy is building a naval aviation force for the Liaoning, and there will be at least two aviation regiments on one carrier, including fighters, reconnaissance aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, electronic countermeasure planes and rotary-wing aircrafts.

1 rebel killed, many wounded in gun battle in Compostela Valley

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 26): 1 rebel killed, many wounded in gun battle in Compostela Valley

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – An alleged communist-New People’s Army (NPA) rebel was killed while undetermined number of other rebels were believed wounded when a fierce gunbattle erupted between government security forces and communist insurgents in Compostela Valley (ComVal) province, the military reported on Friday.

The military report said a platoon of combat maneuvering troops of the 66th Infantry Battallion (66th IB) led by 1Lt. Marvin Gammad engaged in fierce fire fight some 30 heavily armed NPA’s at Sitio Apogon, Bparangay Katipunan, Nabunturan town, ComVal province.

Initially, the operating troops seized 6 high powered firearms and unaccounted number of live ammunitions.
The gunbattle started at 9 o’clock in the morning on Thursday.

According to initial report, the troops engaged the NPA’s positioned in a ridgeline in the area and the firefight lasted for an hour.

Outgunned, outnumbered and out positioned, the rebels disengaged in the fire fight leaving behind their slain and wounded comrade-in-arms, reported Lt. Col. Michael Logico, commander of the 66th IB.

The operating troops evacuated the wounded NPA from the encounter site and brought him to Nabunturan Hospital for immediate medical treatment.

"The troops conducted combat operation in response to the reports of civilian populace regarding the presence of these lawless armed groups in their community," said Col. Logico.

The 66th IB commander claimed that the NPA allegedly conducted intimidation, forced recruitment and extortion in the area. “They are also planning to conduct checkpoints to abduct civilians suspected of being government informants and military/PNP personnel,” alleged Col. Logico.

"We will not allow the New People's Army to continue intimidating and threatening the populace", he added.

Meanwhile, Col. Angelito De Leon, commanding officer of the 1001st Infantry Brigade has directed the relentless conduct of pursuit operation against the NPA’s allegedly sowing terror in ComVal province.

Aside from the alleged NPA’s who are intimidating and extorting from civilians, Col. De Leon further directed that operations be conducted to pursue the NPA group that mercilessly kidnapped Pfc. Jesus Tomas Jr, a community Peace and Development Team member in Barangay Elizalde, Maco, also of that same province on Wednesday.

“I commend the troops who engaged these NPA’s for successfully carrying out their mission which is to protect the properties and lives of people of ComVal province," said Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commanding general of the Army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division.

Malaysian report 'complete lie': Sultanate of Sulu

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 25): Malaysian report 'complete lie': Sultanate of Sulu

"That is a complete lie, a fabrication!"

The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB) made this strong statement on Thursday, denying and rejecting a news report in a Malaysian newspaper that said that Philippine Navy and Coast Guard personnel killed 35 Suluk (Tausug) militants on Wednesday trying to get into Sabah.

"We are denying that because no one is going there in Sabah because of the election there," sultanate spokesman Idjirani said on Thursday.

"If that is true, then the news will quickly spread like wildfire," he said.

According to Idjirani, the last time people from Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan went to Sabah was over two weeks ago referring to the 1,000 or so members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who volunteered to help the sultanate's Royal Security Force (RSF).

"My wife and I were in Sulu on Wednesday. We did not hear anything. We arrived in Manila only in the evening," said Idjirani.

He said the sultanate has no plans to disrupt the 13th General Elections (GE13) of Malaysia, saying "We are not involved in the election there, and we are not with the Malaysian opposition."

He accused Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaid Hamidi of "lying and fabricating reports" about the supposed 35 slain Suluk militants.

Hamidi's statement came out on Thursday in the online edition of the The Star, citing an "intelligence report" that reportedly said the Suluk men wanted to disrupt the election.

The Malaysian official said the Suluk men were shot by Filipino soldiers after they refused to turn back, but were still in Philippine waters.

Idjirani noted that the report came as President Benigno S. Aquino III is in Brunei attending the summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Maybe the Malaysian government wants the President to become angrier with the sultanate," the sultanate's secretary-general said.

"We wish the President success in his trip and hope that he will talk about Sabah at the ASEAN summit. The Suluk people in Sabah are going to exercise their right to vote. Our people here in Sulu are doing everything to help their relatives in the May 13 election in our country," he adds.

He said everyone in Region 9 is busy helping their relatives win in the electoral race and have no time to go to Sabah.

Idjirani said in Sabah (formerly North Borneo), there are over 600,000 Suluk people who are eligible voters because they have the identification cards (IC) called "Mahathir MyKad" issued in the past by the government.

"The Suluk people in Sabah will be a crucial factor in the election. They are going to vote in order for them to distance themselves from the Sabah standoff and show they are not members of the Royal Army of the sultanate," he said.

He recalled that a certain "Mr. Jambon" of Sabah's Kadasan tribe spoke in the British Parliament in 2010 and exposed the Malaysian government's distribution of the ICs.
"Obviously, the purpose of giving ICs to Filipinos and other foreigners in the territory was to court voters to favor administration candidates," said Idjirani.

In early February this year, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram led 235 RSF members to Sabah to revive and stake their "historical rights" over the disputed territory.

A three-week standoff ensued as Malaysia wanted them to stand down and return to the Philippines.

The rajah muda did not budge, saying they went to Sabah to live settle peacefully because it is their "ancestral home."

On March 1 fighting erupted, and escalated on March 5 to a massive offensive launched by the military and police of the Muslim country.

After about 70 dead, the rajah muda and his men reinforced by hundreds of MNLF members are still on the island, Idjirani said.

Palace to NPA: ‘Make our day’

From Malaya (Apr 25): Palace to NPA: ‘Make our day’

ARMED Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has ordered troops in Misamis Oriental to conduct a “relentless pursuit” of New People’s Army rebels who ambushed a convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruth Guingona last Saturday.

The military leadership has doubled the troops deployed in the province. A Marine battalion is set to augment the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion already in the province.

AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said a company of Army soldiers, or at least 100 men, are conducting pursuit operations for the 15-man NPA group.

Burgos said Bautista also ordered the troops “to intensify security patrols so that the NPAs would not be able to establish similar roadblocks.”

Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and mother of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, was in a six-vehicle convoy on the way back to the city proper after attending a fiesta in a village in the city’s outskirts. They were fired at upon reaching a “checkpoint” set up by the NPA. The mayor was wounded while two of her escorts died.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the NPA used to be a group with a cause but is now reduced to an ordinary bandit group.

“Well, do we now negotiate with bandits? If they commit banditry, if they are to commit crimes, we will arrest them. We will apprehend them,” he said.

He told the NPA government troops are prepared to dismantle its roadblocks.

“You wanna challenge us? Go ahead, make our day,” he said.

He acknowledged the apology issued by the NPA to the mayor and the fatalities but said the NPA should also apologize to its other victims and the families of the other victims including policemen and soldiers.

He said manhunt operations against the NPA have been intensified also because of renewed operations like extorting permit to campaign fees.

“So we’re asking to local politicians: Do not succumb to this... In the long run, it’s not going to help the politicians kasi you’ll be subject to their whims, subject to their mercy…There’s only one Armed Forces and we will protect you,” he said.

Lacierda said some NPA members could still be unaware of reforms the Aquino government has implemented as their leaders are preventing them from going down the mountains.

“We are pushing for more jobs in the countryside; we are improving the productivity of the farmers. There’s no sense for them to spend time in the mountains. You know, come down and join us in sharing the wealth and sharing the progress of the country. They (NPA) have been reduced to a bandit group, and it makes no sense for them to continue their nefarious ways,” he said.

PNP chief Alan Purisima suggested that candidates who want to campaign in NPA-infested areas do so at the same time in the same place, regardless of party.

This way, the police can ensure their security, he said.

First, candidates should contact local police chiefs in advance so that area security will be arranged, especially those with few policemen.

He said he sees no problem with candidates of different political parties campaigning at the same time in the same area because this will test their political maturity.

Meanwhile, suspected NPA rebels attacked a market in Maco town in Compostela Valley and snatched a soldier, Pfc. Jesus Tomas of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion.

Tomas and two other soldiers, Pfc. Segundino Domo and Pfc. Feliciano Gavino, were buying supplies from the market when fired upon by an undetermined number of rebels.

The NPA then seized Tomas. Domo and Gavino were able to evade rebels with the help of civilians who hid them among civilians, the military said.

In Northern Samar Tuesday, troops from the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion seized an NPA camp in Victoria town.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Noel Vestuir said the camp in Sitio Dakong Sapa in Buenasuerte village was abandoned by the NPA about two weeks ago.

It is the eight rebel lair to fall into the hands of the 20th IB in the province this year, he said.

In Iloilo, forces from the 82nd and 31st Infantry Battalions seized another abandoned NPA camp at Sitio Carbasa in Igpajo village last Monday.

Residents tipped the military on the existence of the camp.

Fil-Am activist’s abduction revived

From Malaya (Apr 25): Fil-Am activist’s abduction revived

THE Supreme Court has ordered the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a deeper investigation into the abduction of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas.

In an April 16, 2013 resolution which was released only yesterday, the High Court said the more thorough probe should identify those behind the alleged abduction and abuses and lead to the eventual filing of cases.

The SC also stated that instead of following the evaluation report of the appellate court to junk the case provisionally, “the petition must be archived pursuant to Section 20 of the Rules of the Writ of Amparo.”

Roxas had claimed that she was abducted by armed men in the municipality of La Paz in Tarlac on May 19, 2009 and was tortured physically and mentally. She surfaced a week after.

A writ of amparo and habeas data petitions were filed in her favor against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her former military and police officials led by former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, ex-AFP chief Gen. Victor Ibrado, ex-PNP chief Jesus Verzosa, along with Gen. Delfin Bangit and Supt. Rudy Gamido.

The appellate court earlier recommended the dismissal of the case “as against all the public respondents” who were not shown to be liable for the abduction and torture, without prejudice to the any evidence that may surface or be discovered in the future.

Officer wanted for stealing AFP funds

From Malaya (Apr 25): Officer wanted for stealing AFP funds

A QUEZON City court has ordered the arrest of a military officer charged with misappropriating some P1.4 million in funds from the Armed Forces’ “Balik-Baril program.”

Maj. Christopher Lee Patindol, who went AWOL (absent without official leave) after the irregularity was discovered two years ago, was former special disbursing officer at the office of AFP deputy chief of staff for Civil Military Operations Rear Adm. Jose Miguel Rodriguez.

He is facing three counts of malversation of public funds for allegedly falsifying Rodriguez’ signature in encashing three checks on July 4, 5 and 8, 2011.

The arrest warrant was issued Monday by Judge Maria Filomena Singh of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 85.

Patindol, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1997, had been the subject of a search since August 2011.

Patindol was earlier reported to have incurred a P1.5-million debt with a military contractor, Sabrina David, from April to July 2011. The military discovered the case when David went to Rodriguez’ office in August 2011 to demand payment.

Rodriguez has quoted David as saying Patindol borrowed the money for the operating expenses of the office. Rodriguez has said he did not authorize Patindol to borrow money.

The complaint at the Quezon City court was filed by Lt. Cmdr. Arnold Marie Obra, then acting chief of the CMO administrative division.

‘Car Bomb’ TKO’d by ‘Low Bat’

From Malaya (Apr 26): ‘Car Bomb’ TKO’d by ‘Low Bat’

THE Laguna Police Provincial Office is readying charges of illegal possession of explosives against three Indians after an improvised explosive device that could be detonated by a cellphone was found attached to the engine of their vehicle Wednesday morning.

But the IED could not be set off as the cellphone battery was already drained.

The IED was discovered by a mechanic at the Toyota branch along the Maharlika highway in Barangay San Benito, Alaminos town in Laguna, where Narinder Singh, Rajeth Kumaar, and Jasbir Singh, all from Sta. Cruz in Laguna, left their Toyota Avanza van for an oil change at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The IED was defused by the local police.

The IED was made up of a cellphone, 9-volt battery, electrical blasting cap, metal sheet box, and C4 as its main charge, Chief Supt. Benito Estipona, regional police director of Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), said yesterday.

Estipona said the Indians could not explain how the bomb got into the vehicle. They also told investigators they have not used the vehicle which they said had been parked for three days in front of their house.

“We will file the charges against them kasi it is their vehicle and they could not explain how the bomb got there. They should be responsible for their vehicle,” he said.

Navy denies yarn it killed 35 militants entering Sabah

From Malaya (Apr 26): Navy denies yarn it killed 35 militants entering Sabah

MILITARY officials yesterday disputed a claim of Malaysian defense minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that Philippine Navy forces shot dead 35 Filipino militants while about to enter Malaysian waters last Wednesday.

“We have no information (on that). It’s very peaceful here,” said Capt. Renato Yonke, commander of the Naval Task Force 62 that is in charge of a naval blockade near the Malaysian border.

The blockade was put up by the Navy in February after members of the “Royal Sultanate Army” crossed over to Sabah to renew their claim over the territory.

Subsequent fighting with Malaysian forces led to loss of dozens of lives on both sides.
Military officials have said that the blockade was established to prevent reinforcements from going to Sabah and to render assistance to civilians affected by the conflict.

Thousands of Sabah residents have returned to Mindanao since then.

In its website, Malaysia’s Star Online quoted Hamidi as saying that Philippine Navy and Coast Guard forces shot dead the 35 militants last Wednesday before they could enter Malaysian waters when the suspects refused to turn back.

The report also quoted Hamid as saying that the militants were out to cause problems during the general election in Malaysia on May 5. “If they entered our waters, we would have taken them out. We will defend our country,” Hamidi reportedly said.

“We don’t know what their intention is,” said Yonke of the report.

“Evacuees are coming in but to say (militants) going out (to Sabah) and we opened fire at them, we have no information on that…It’s very peaceful here. If true, that will be known in Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Basilan,” he said.

“Our blockade remains in place and what we’re documenting are evacuees coming from the other side...We have not encountered any armed group (entering Malaysian waters),” the official said.

Navy spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said he conducted a check in the field and found no evidence to back up the report.

On whether the report was propaganda, Arevalo said: “That we cannot say. If the report quoted Malaysian sources, it’s difficult for us to comment. They (Malaysians) might as well be the one to establish that.”

President Aquino, in an interview Wednesday night in Brunei where he attended the Asean Summit, said he is still awaiting the results of the study he ordered concerning the country’s claim over Sabah. He said the study group that he formed has yet to submit its recommendations to him.

He said he wants a government decision that is based on logic, reason, and values while taking cognizance of the realities.

NPA reb killed in Compostela

From Malaya (Apr 26): NPA reb killed in Compostela

A NEW People’s Army rebel was killed yesterday while another was wounded and subsequently captured as government troops caught up with a rebel group that abducted a soldier in Maco, Compostela Valley Wednesday.

The troops clashed for about an hour with about 30 rebels in Apogon village, Nabunturan town around 9 a.m.

The abducted soldier, Pfc. Jesus Tomas, was not sighted during the fighting, said Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, deputy public affairs officer of the Armed Forces.

Soldiers retrieved a rebel body after yesterday’s clash, and recovered five M16 and an M14 rifle left behind by the rebels at the scene.

The wounded rebel was brought to a hospital.

12 killed, 8 others, including town mayor, wounded in Lanao del Norte ambush

From InterAksyon (Apr 26): 12 killed, 8 others, including town mayor, wounded in Lanao del Norte ambush

Mayor Abdulmalik Manamparan of Nunungan town, Lanao del Norte recuperates at a hospital in Iligan City following the ambush on his campaign party Thursday night that left 12 dead and himself and eight others wounded. (photo by Richel Umel, AFP)

Twelve persons were killed and eight others, including the mayor of Nunungan town, Lanao del Norte were wounded in an ambush Thursday evening, the worst incident of violence during the run-up to the May elections.

But police attributed the incident to a "rido," or blood feud, usually among warring clans, and not to politics.

Many of the victims were young people from their teens to mid-20s.

Mayor Abdulmalik Manamparan, who is running for vice mayor under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said he and his party were on their way home from campaigning in Barangay Malaig in the town when “dozens” of gunmen opened fire on the dump truck they were riding around 6:30 p.m.

Police placed the number of attackers at between 10 to 15.

"It was indiscriminate firing for about 20 minutes. Men, women everyone was gunned," Manamparan, 62, said. The mayor was being treated for a shrapnel wound that grazed his head.

Among the dead was Manamparan's daughter, Adnani, 32, and several other relatives. A number of the victims also had the same family names.

The 11 other fatalities were identified as:
  • Baobi Manamparan, 25
  • Sadam Manamparan, 23
  • Johani Bantuas, 21
  • Sami Sanayon, 21
  • Baby Dimasangcay, 16
  • Lala Diamrang, 54
  • Apipa Mamantuc, 18
  • Saidona Mamantuc, 52
  • Hamdan Mamantuc, 18
  • Alinor Mamantuc, 19
  • Maliha Sultan, 17
Aside from the mayor, wounded were:
  • Amira Manamparan Labe, 15
  • Wilfredo Vega, 44
  • PO1 Frenel Laguting, 24
  • Lili Macaraya, 16
  • Nuaman Watamama, 17
  • Aiman Dimasangcay, 15
  • Nobaisa Otto, 19
The Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion sent troops and an ambulance to evacuate the victims.

The soldiers had to carry the casualties out of the ambush site because the road was impassable to the ambulance.

Senior Superintendent Gerardo Rosales, Lanao del Norte provincial police director, described the ambush site as "isolated" and that it took four hours to evacuate the casualties.

The mayor told TV5’s “Good Morning Club” that he is now in stable condition. "I am ok now. Although I am still having difficulty rising from my bed and walking," he said.

Rosales said it was Manamparan himself who said the ambush was the offshoot of a rido.

"Sa kanila mismo nanggaling, sa grupo nila Mayor, na may sinasabi silang mga pangalan ng responsable dito. Sila rin nagsabi na ito ay rido (It came from them, from the mayor's group, they were mentioning names of those allegedly responsible. They themselves said it was a rido)," Rosales said.

Manamparan did not deny this, saying there have been feuds within their clan.
"Yes, I've received threats. But it's hard to pinpoint as of now who is possibly behind this," Manamparan said.

But he added that the possibility of the gunmen being hired killers should not yet be discounted.

4ID chief relieved but Army says 'nothing to do' with wounding of Mayor Guingona

From InterAksyon (Apr 26): 4ID chief relieved but Army says 'nothing to do' with wounding of Mayor Guingona

Major General Nestor Anonuevo, commander of the 4th Infantry Division based at Camp Edilberto Evangelista here, has been relieved effective “immediately” although the Army said this had nothing to do with the wounding of Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Guingona by the New People's Army.

Brigadier General Ricardo Visaya, assistant commander of the 6th ID, will be installed as “acting commander of the 4th ID anytime from this afternoon to Monday.”

Anonuevo has been recalled to Camp Aguinaldo.

However, while acknowledging they received a “warning order” about Anonuevo’s impending relief earlier this week, Colonel Rolando Dumawa, 4th ID civil-military relations chief stressed it had “nothing to do with the ambush of Mayor Guingona.” “General Anonuevo is being recalled to higher headquarters because they need him there,” he said.

Guingona was wounded and two of her aides killed early this week in what authorities claim was a New People’s Army ambush but which the rebels say was a firefight triggered when the mayor’s security escorts rammed through the rebels’ checkpoint and opened fire.

“Only one thing is sure -- there will be a turnover of commander. We are waiting for the final scheduled which will come from higher headquarters,” Dumawa said.
Anonuevo’s recall to Camp Aguinaldo, said Dumawa, is “just a normal happening in the military.”

“Only higher ups know the reason why he is being recalled.”

Anonuevo assumed command of the 4th ID in the last week of October 2012.

Aside from the wounding of Guingona, Anonuevo’s stint was also marred by the NPA raid on the headquarters of food giant Del Monte in Bukidnon province in February.

NPA atrocities continue amid intensified military ops

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 26): NPA atrocities continue amid intensified military ops

Despite intensified military operations ordered by President Aquino against the New People’s Army (NPA), communist rebels continued to launch atrocities in some parts of Mindanao, attacking police station and kidnapping a soldier in Compostela Valley province and harassing military detachments in Davao del Sur.

Military reports showed that NPA rebels attacked a police station in Mabini town at around 7:25 p.m. on Tuesday, or a day after the President ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to crush NPA roadblocks in various parts of the country.

“Fragments believed to be of M203 were recovered at the area and the suspects are believed to be NPA members,” military reports stated.

The explosion happened while there was no electricity in the area. No casualty was reported during the attack.

In Davao del Sur, undetermined number of NPA rebels simultaneously attacked the headquarters of the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Pandaitan, Paquibato District, Davao City, and a detachment in Sitio Pigdalahan also in the said village at around 11 p.m. also on Tuesday.

“The perpetrators positioned more or less 200 meters from the southwest of the battalion headquarters and fired more or less five rounds of M16,” military reports said.

At the detachment, more or less 20 rounds of M16 were fired.

On Wednesday, NPA rebels also abducted Pfc. Jesus Tomas, a member of the Peace and Development Team of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Elizalde, Maco town at around 6:45 a.m.

Yesterday, pursuing elements of the 66th IB caught up with the NPA band believed to have been responsible in the kidnapping of Tomas along Barangay Apogon in nearby Nabunturan town, also in Compostela Valley.

Lt. Vilma Mojano, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID), said that an NPA fighter was killed during the clash.

She said that more or less 30 NPA rebels were encountered. Five M16 rifles and an M14 rifle were recovered from the scene.

Last Monday, President Aquino directed the AFP and the PNP to crush NPA roadblocks following the ambush against Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, along Barangay Binakalan in Gingoog City, killing three civilians.

The NPA admitted responsibility over the ambush and accused Mrs. Guingona’s group of ignoring an NPA roadblock in the area.

Asean rebuffs Noy, backs China tack on sea claims

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 26): Asean rebuffs Noy, backs China tack on sea claims

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) rejected President Aquino’s overture for a united regional stand against China’s aggressive territorial claims after the regional group issued a carefully-worded statement for the drafting of a code of conduct but at the same time said “overlapping claims are for claimant states to deal with.”

The Asean position is similar with that of China which insists that negotiations on the claims should be among claimants and not the third-party arbitration that Aquino was pursuing.

Asean Summit chairman Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said the group had agreed on a two-step approach to settle territorial disputes within the region in which the overlapping claims are for the claimant states to deal with and that both Asean and China wish to promote a calm and peaceful atmosphere and will urgently work on a Code of Conduct.

Bolkiah said “we would like all parties concerned to seize the current positive momentum and to reach an agreement on the Code of Conduct. And we all agree to encourage continuing discussion, dialogue, and consultation in all levels especially among claimant countries and to keep the lines of communication open.”

“We discussed the situation in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of peace stability and maritime security in the region,” Bolkiah said.

“We underscored the importance of the Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea,” he added.

Bolkiah also cited the collective commitments under the DoC in ensuring the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, without resorting to the threat or use of force, while exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities.

“We look forward to continued engagement with China in implementing the DoC in a full and effective manner, including through mutually agreed joint cooperative activities and projects,” he said.

“In my view, it is important to have in place practical procedures which could assist in avoiding undesired incidents at sea. For instance, if there is a major storm, fishermen may need to take temporary shelter in disputed areas. Such innocent incidents may be misinterpreted and, therefore, it would be appropriate to have established procedures, for example, having hold lines to avoid misunderstandings,” Bolkiah said.

Bolkiah had a 2-day visit in the Philippines April 15 to 16 where he had a discussion with Aquino on matters affecting maritime security issues.

“I personally have held a number of consultations with concerned countries on this matter and I would continue to do so in the coming months. Thank you,” Bolkiah said.
The 10-member Asean wrapped up a two-day summit in Brunei with a chairman’s statement in which they emphasized the importance of “peace, stability and maritime security in the region”.

The other key focus at the summit was pushing forward plans to create a single market for Southeast Asia and its 600 million people — known as the Asean Economic Community — by 2015.

But the flashpoint South China Sea issue dominated the meeting, amid growing concern among some Southeast Asian countries over China’s increasing aggression in laying claim to the waters.

China says it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop huge deposits of oil and gas. It is also home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and richest fishing grounds.

Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, also claim parts of the sea.

The competing claims have for decades made the area one of Asia’s potential powder kegs for military conflict. China and Vietnam fought battles in 1974 and 1988 for control of islands that left dozens of soldiers dead.

Tensions have risen again in recent years as China has used increasingly aggressive diplomatic and military tactics to assert its authority.

Among the actions that have caused alarm were China’s occupation of a shoal close to the Philippines’ main island last year, and the deployment last month of Chinese naval ships to within 80 kilometers of Malaysia’s coast.

Asean endured unprecedented infighting last year as the Philippines and Vietnam failed to persuade the bloc to send a united message of concern to China.

Cambodia, a close China ally that held the rotating chair of Asean in 2012, blocked the efforts of the Philippines and Vietnam.

Southeast Asian leaders said this week’s summit had successfully led to a regained sense of unity within Asean on the issue, with President Aquino praising his Brunei host for deft diplomacy that helped build a consensus.

“Everybody is interested in having a peaceful resolution and also in voicing... concern that there have been increasing disputes,” Aquino told reporters.

Nevertheless, analysts said Asean’s calls for China to agree on a legally binding code of conduct for the sea would likely lead nowhere.

Asean and China first agreed to work on a code in 2002, but the Asian superpower has since refused to discuss it further.

“China was never enthusiastic about a code of conduct, as it does not want to sign an agreement that will constrain its sovereignty-building activities,” Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, told AFP.

But Aquino said he was happy that Asean leaders had at least united in trying to ensure the disputes over the South China Sea did not “become bloody”.

“So there is unity of purpose and one can always be hopeful that that will lead to something more concrete,” he said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Asean foreign ministers would hold talks with China on the issue during a scheduled event in Beijing later in the year.
But officials gave no indication of whether there could be any meetings before then.

Bolkiah and other Southeast Asian leaders said progress had been made this week on the Asean Economic Community, and more than three-quarters of its framework had been agreed upon.

But they also cautioned the hardest phases of the negotiations had just begun.
Also, contrary to what was expected following the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs claiming there would be no scheduled bilateral talks in any of the Asean states and Aquino had a talk with the Prime Minister of Vietnam.

The DFA on April 17, in a press briefing in Malacañang, said there would be no bilateral talks that would be made by Aquino, particularly with Malaysia on the issue of Sabah.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made a confirmation that the Philippines and Vietnam held bilateral talks at the sidelines of the 22nd Asean Summit being held here from April 24 to 25.

Lacierda, in a text message to the media, said the President and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung were upbeat over “the progress of economic relations” between the two countries as they agreed to “further enhance” and strengthen relations.

Lacierda added that Vietnam expressed support for the Philippines initiatives on maritime security, noting the improvement of this initiative between the two countries.

CPP/NDF: Expand and strengthen the NDFP and the unity of the Filipino people!

From the CPP Website (Apr 24): Expand and strengthen the NDFP and the unity of the Filipino people!

The Filipino people will be celebrating the 40th founding anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on April 24th. This celebration is especially significant as the armed revolutionary movement all over the Philippines continues to gain strength and advance.

From the establishment of the NDF Preparatory Commission in 1973, the NDFP is now composed of 16 revolutionary mass organizations. It represents millions of people under the emergent organs of new democratic people’s government.

Since 1973, the NDFP has played a major role in the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and on the strength of the basic alliance of workers and peasants, the NDFP embraces the progressive and patriotic classes, sectors and forces. The NDFP played a big role in uniting the people and advancing their struggles against the US-Marcos dictatorship and the succeeding reactionary governments. It likewise played a big role in the struggles for genuine land reform, against the US military bases and for human rights.
It represents the people in establishing diplomatic relations with other governments and building anti-imperialist solidarity with peoples in various parts of the globe.

It represents the people’s democratic government in peace negotiations with the ruling state to push for national and democratic changes in order to resolve the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines.

The NDFP’s role as an instrument of the Filipino people in building their national and democratic unity and strength is especially crucial now in the face of the further deterioration of the semicolonial and semifeudal system and the worsening corruption, puppetry and brutality of the US-Aquino regime.

The US-Aquino regime has proven that its class rule is no different from that of previous reactionary regimes. It is not far off from the Arroyo regime and other previous governments notorious for rampant corruption.

Aquino’s “righteous road” and “clean governance” slogans repeated ad nauseam could not cover up the stench of anomalies reeked by his regime.

The Aquino regime’s biggest businessman-cronies like Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Lucio Tan, Manny Pangilinan, Henry Sy, Lucio Co and their ilk are also the biggest tax evaders. They are the biggest beneficiaries of contracts under the Public-Private Partnership Program. The Cojuangco-Aquino camp has been seizing contracts for infrastructure projects from its businessman-rivals and exacting the biggest percentages to line its pockets. It is engaged in a dog-eat-dog struggle for control over the operations of smuggling and illegal gambling syndicates and other criminal operations.

On the other hand, the Filipino people are being squeezed dry with taxes and other fees. Taxes on basic commodities, including petroleum products remain sky-high, and are a huge burden on the people. Budgets for health services and education are grossly inadequate. Hospitals and public schools are in various states of decay. Urban poor shanties are being demolished to give way to infrastructure projects for foreign companies.

Aquino’s gimmickry could not cover up the people’s poverty. Unemployment and underemployment are worsening. Workers’ wages remain pegged and their rights to form unions and strike suppressed. Genuine land reform is absent, and reactionary laws used to pave the way for foreign and feudal control of vast landholdings.

Aquino challenges the people’s patriotism by granting full access to US soldiers, warships and warplanes and allowing unbridled insults to Philippine sovereignty. He allows the use of the Philippines for US hegemonism, warmongering and intervention in the Asia-Pacific. He permits the US military to operate and base itself in the Philippines. It is no wonder that his imperialist master has been all praises for Aquino, even including him in Time magazine’s list of the most influential personalities.
Thus, it likewise comes as no surprise that in the face of the worsening crisis of the ruling system in the Philippines, the Filipino people’s desire for national and democratic change has heightened. They want an end to the oppression, exploitation and suffering wrought by the US-Aquino regime’s pro-imperialist and antipeople policies. They are determined to advance their revolutionary struggles and bring the people’s war to the next stage of the strategic stalemate in the coming years.

Towards this end, the NDFP must be strengthened and consolidated as the center of the people’s national-democratic unity. We must propagate the NDFP 12-Point Program as the framework for building national solidarity.

The NDFP must lead in building the people’s patriotic unity in the face of the ruling Aquino regime’s worsening puppetry and violations of national sovereignty. We must build the broadest possible unity to oppose and effect the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mutual Defense Treaty and other unequal treaties.

We must likewise build a broad unity against evil designs to amend the reactionary constitution of 1987 to allow fullblown foreign capitalist ownership of local businesses and reestablish the US military bases or allow them to operate in the country anew.

We must gather broad support to advance the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Philippines. We must demand respect from the US-Aquino regime for all previously signed agreements, among them those pertaining to the release of NDFP peace talks consultants in order to pave the way for negotiations on socio-economic issues.

Organs of people’s democratic government must be built on various levels and the Filipino people’s capacity for self-governance strengthened. These measures form part of efforts to strengthen the NDFP as the representative of the Filipino people.

The NDFP’s initiatives to build solidarity with anti-imperialist struggles in various countries and rally the broadest possible support for the Filipino people’s struggle must be strengthened.

CPP/NDF-EV: NDF-EV gives ultimatum to reactionary die-hards Evardone and Zacate over crimes against the people and the revolution

Posted to the CPP Website (Apr 25): NDF-EV gives ultimatum to reactionary die-hards Evardone and Zacate over crimes against the people and the revolution

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today issued a final warning to reactionary die-hards Ben Evardone and Javier Zacate over their counterrevolutionary and anti-people crimes that are being investigated by the people’s democratic government, otherwise they will surely face the full force of revolutionary justice.

Evardone, the previous governor of Eastern Samar and the incumbent congressman of the province, is running for reelection while Zacate is gunning for governor after formerly serving as mayor of Sulat town. “Evardone and Zacate are partners both in politics and in crime,” said Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson.

“They both enriched themselves in office as well as through masterminding criminal activities. The Evardone-Zacate tandem also violates the guidelines for electoral access in revolutionary areas by bringing along soldiers to secure and support their campaign sorties. Despite the many opportunities the people’s democratic government gave them to change their rotten ways, these hoodlums persist with impunity. Enough is enough.”

Fr. Salas slammed Evardone as a plunderer who became enormously rich at the expense of the people. “Ben Evardone is one of the richest congressmen while Eastern Samar is the poorest province in the region and the fourth poorest in the country. He looted the P173 million loan to the province in 2006 meant to buy equipment and for other purposes. His political reign in Eastern Samar is characterized by anomalous projects, purchases and disbursements. He also opened the province to mining projects that pretended to be small-scale but were in reality large-scale because of sheer numerousness. He also backed the human rights violations of the military and actively contributed to the surrender campaign against the New People’s Army known as the Social Integration Program. Evardone even funded the setting up of military intelligence networks in Dolores and Can-avid towns.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson also said Evardone’s cousin and and bet for governor, Javier Zacate, is a known criminal and corrupt official. “Javier Zacate has been arrested for involvement in kidnapping-for-ransom to enrich himself as well as support his political candidacy. He also faced corruption charges as Sulat mayor. For several years, he has been misrepresenting himself as a member of the revolutionary movement to extort money from businessmen. Recently, he extorted P500,000 from a construction contractor to fund his gubernatorial campaign. Zacate commits his crimes with impunity because of his connections to Evardone and the military.”

Fr. Salas also noted that Evardone and Zacate have been campaigning with widespread military support and security, thus putting the people at risk as well as violating the territorial integrity of the revolutionary areas. “The people in the towns of Oras, Dolores, Arteche and San Policarpio have been complaining of widespread military operations whenever Evardone and Zacate conduct their campaign sorties. Bringing goons and soldiers during political campaigns inside the revolutionary territories seriously violates the guidelines for electoral access in the said areas. The people’s democratic government has long been warning the reactionary politicians that doing such will be penalized. Evardone and Zacate are fully aware of this and are therefore acting with grave defiance and impunity.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson said that the NPA in Eastern Samar is authorized to disarm and dismantle the goons of Evardone and Zacate and to take offensive actions against their military and police backers. “Who do Evardone and Zacate think they are? They are just a couple of crooks and criminals who have been coddled by a ruling system that is rotten-to-the-core. The people of Eastern Samar have long been demanding to be rid of these scoundrels through the elections or any other means. The NPA will surely take offensive action against the continuous violations of Evardone and Zacate’s goons and military backers which are both legitimate targets. Evardone and Zacate are also warned by the people’s democratic government to cease, desist and account their counterrevolutionary and anti-people activities. This is their final warning and no appeal is possible.”

CPP/NDF-EV: Respect the people's electoral struggle, stand up for genuine change

Posted to the CPP Website (Apr 25): Respect the people's electoral struggle, stand up for genuine change

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas calls on all to respect the people’s electoral struggle and stand up for genuine change. We do not expect meaningful changes through the elections, because it is an instrument of the ruling system and US imperialism to maintain the semifeudal and semi-colonial system in the Philippines. But we do respect that a significant number of the people still believe in the elections, thus we challenge that we all stand up for genuine change.

US imperialism itself introduced the bourgeois elections when it colonized the Philippines and up to now, to make it seem that there is a peaceful and honest way towards change and to calm the grievances of the people. In truth, through the automated elections in place since 2010 and backed by US imperialism, cheating has become simpler and faster while retaining the essentially vicious competition between political rivals till the shedding of blood.

Widespread cheating exposes the dirty character of the elections. In the local level, there are various forms of this such as the use of goons, vote-buying, bribing the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and using the military in political campaigns and on election day itself. In fact, in the provinces of Eastern Visayas, the 8th Infantry Division blatantly participates in electioneering where their troops campaign for politicians who are reactionary die-hards, while disparaging progressive candidates.

The voice of the people in their electoral struggle must be respected. Thus we forewarn the politicians and their machinery in the elections including those in the BEI who are in their pockets, that they will have accounts to settle with the people should there be incidents of widespread cheating, election violence such as harassments and killings, seizure of election machines and other forms of sabotage and irregularities in the elections.

In the experience of the masses in the past two elections in a Northern Samar town, there were many incidents where the BEI itself participated in cheating and sabotage. In the election precincts, voting was delayed, the use of election guarantors denied, and voters who supported the rival candidate were not even included in the list of voters.

 The BEI did not make the minutes of the electoral process, but when their candidate was defeated, they made minutes to present in the town falsely accusing the New People’s Army of disturbing the voting process even though there was no such incident. The municipal election officer was also bribed and it was made to appear that the losing candidate won the election. The corrupt personalities in the Commission on Elections and the BEI violated their own so-called role for clean and honest elections.

We call on the people to be vigilant and assert their rights against the possibilities of election violence, cheating and dirty tactics of the politicians in collaboration with the Comelec and the BEI. The reactionary politicians would like the people to be passive participants and to mechanically vote for those who are corrupt, fascist and pro-imperialist. Thus the right to suffrage must be struggled for along with other democratic rights. The people must insist who they would like to vote for, especially those who are for the country and for the people, in the midst of threats from the reactionary government. They must be prepared for militant struggle for their democratic rights in the electoral process. The revolutionary movement respects the electoral struggle of the people as a method of parliamentary struggle, but genuine change can only be achieved through revolutionary struggle. Therefore, we call on the people to take advantage of the electoral struggle to raise their political consciousness, towards higher levels of mass struggle up to directly participating in the revolution.#