Saturday, April 27, 2013

Army declares area in Negros Oriental "insurgent-free, development ready"

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 27): Army declares area in Negros Oriental "insurgent-free, development ready"

The Philippine Army’s 302nd Brigade in Negros Oriental has recently declared some of the barangays of Zamboanguita, Siaton and Canlaon City as “insurgent-free and development-ready” after the signing of the area clearing evaluation report of the local government units (LGUs), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Army.

Capt. Cresencio Gargar, information officer of the 302nd brigade said barangays Bayog and Lumapao of Canlaon City; Mayabon and Calango of Zamboanguita town and Tayak in Siaton town are now “insurgent-free.”

“This is contrary to the NPAs claims that they’re gaining influence, especially in the hinterlands of Negros Island,” said Capt. Gargar.

The army identified those barangays as previously victims of extortion and liquidation activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA’s).

Gargar said this group has consistently taking up measures to hinder government’s development efforts. But the active support of the LGUs towards the Bayanihan Teams deployed in these barangays brings a positive impact to the community, added Gargar.

He further said that more barangays in Negros Oriental will be declared insurgent-free as the military continues its operations in the hinterlands of the province.

“We are optimistic that the province would eventually be free from insurgency later this year and thus will attract more investors and businesses,” the army official said.

It is noted that the army’s 302nd Brigade has zero human rights violation.

During the recent visit of Maj. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, Commander of the AFP’s Central Command, he lauded the successful Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) and the zero human rights violation of the Brigade in its area of responsibility.

“We will continue to perform our mandate in protecting the Filipino people with utmost respect to Human Rights and strict adherence to the rule of Law,” said Deveraturda.

Meanwhile, Col. Francisco M. Patrimonio, Brigade Commander said that the unit will perform its best to maintain what the brigade have achieved and will maintain the tradition of excellence and discipline.

Zambo on high alert as 26 Abu Sayyaf men moved to local jail

From the Zamboanga Today (Apr 27): Zambo on high alert as 26 Abu Sayyaf men moved to local jail

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is on high alert status with the arrival of 26 suspected Abu Sayyaf detainees from the Basilan Provincial Jail to the Zamboanga City Jail in this city Wednesday afternoon.

City Mayor Celso Lobregat, Chief of Police Sr. Supt Edwin de Ocampo and Jail Warden Inspector Julius Arro are all against the transfer of these 26 suspects, as 24 others are expected to arrive in the coming days.

Insp. Arro explained that the transfer of the 50 detainees from Basilan are all covered by a Supreme Court order.

Mayor Lobregat said he already wrote Regional State Prosecutor Peter Medalle to question the transfer of these 50 alleged Abu Sayyaf suspects from Basilan to the local reformatory.

Insp. Arro said the local jail is already crowded with 1,120 detainees to include some 30 “high risk suspects” of crimes such as kidnapping, drug lords, murder and rape.

The mayor argued that there are other bigger facilities where these 50 alleged terrorists can be accommodated such as the Bicutan facility in Manila.

On the other hand, Acting City Police Director De Ocampo said the transfer of these suspected Abu Sayyaf suspects to Zamboanga will provide added work to the local police force as the command will be forced to deploy more policemen inside the jail facility to assist jail guards.

He warned that these detainees from Basilan could pose risks to the jail itself and the adjoining community since the city jail is within the city proper, less than a kilometer from city hall, adjacent to a big elementary school and big commercial establishments.

Like the mayor, the city jail warden said these Abu Sayyaf suspects/detainees should instead be sent to the Bicutan national penitentiary rather than to Zamboanga since the city jail is already congested.

These detainees in Basilan are facing court cases in that province and sending them to Zamboanga will just complicate security matters at the local jail, he said.

Military grooms new officers for war in cyberspace

From the Philippine Star (Apr 27): Military grooms new officers for war in cyberspace

In this Feb. 20, 2013 photo, a cadet works at a large computer display inside a classroom at the Center for Cyberspace Research, where cyber warfare is taught, at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The U.S. service academies are ramping up efforts to groom a new breed of cyberspace warriors to confront increasing threats to the nation’s military and civilian computer networks that control everything from electrical power grids to the banking system. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The U.S. service academies are ramping up efforts to groom a new breed of cyberspace warriors to confront increasing threats to the nation's military and civilian computer networks that control everything from electrical power grids to the banking system.

Students at the Army, Navy and Air Force academies are taking more courses and participating in elaborate cyberwarfare exercises as the military educates a generation of future commanders in the theory and practice of computer warfare.

The academies have been training cadets in cyber for more than a decade. But the effort has taken on new urgency amid warnings that hostile nations or organizations might be capable of crippling attacks on critical networks.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, called cyberattack the top threat to national security when he presented the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment to Congress this month. "Threats are more diverse, interconnected, and viral than at any time in history," his report stated. "Destruction can be invisible, latent, and progressive."

China-based hackers have long been accused of cyber intrusions, and earlier this year the cybersecurity firm Mandiant released a report with new details allegedly linking a secret Chinese military unit to years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies. This year, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post all reported breaches in their computer systems and said they suspected Chinese hackers. China denies carrying out cyberattacks.

On Tuesday, hackers compromised Associated Press Twitter accounts and sent out a false tweet. AP quickly put out word that the report was false and that its accounts had been hacked. AP's accounts were shut down until the problem was corrected.

Once viewed as an obscure and even nerdy pursuit, cyber is now seen as one of the hottest fields in warfare — "a great career field in the future," said Ryan Zacher, a junior at the Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs who switched from aeronautical engineering to computer science.

Last year the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland began requiring freshmen to take a semester on cybersecurity, and it is adding a second required cyber course for juniors next year.

The school offered a major in cyber operations for the first time this year to the freshman class, and 33 midshipmen, or about 3 percent of the freshmen, signed up for it. Another 79 are majoring in computer engineering, information technology or computer science, bringing majors with a computer emphasis to about 10 percent of the class.

"There's a great deal of interest, much more than we could possibly, initially, entertain," said the academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Michael Miller.

Since 2004, the Air Force Academy has offered a degree in computer science-cyberwarfare — initially called computer science-information assurance — that requires cadets to take courses in cryptology, information warfare and network security in addition to standard computer science. The academy is retooling a freshman computing course so that more than half its content is about cyberspace, and is looking into adding another cyber course.

"All of these cadets know that they are going to be on the front lines defending the nation in cyber," said Martin Carlisle, a computer science professor at the Air Force Academy and director of the school's Center for Cyberspace Research.

About 25 Air Force cadets will graduate this year with the computer science-cyberwarfare degree, and many will go on to advanced studies and work in their service's cyber headquarters or for U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md., the Defense Department command responsible for defensive and offensive cyberwarfare.

Almost every Army cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, takes two technology courses related to such topics as computer security and privacy. West Point also offers other cyber courses, and a computer security group meets weekly. One of the biggest cybersecurity challenges is keeping up with the head-spinning pace of change in the field.

"You know American history is pretty much the same" every year, said Lt. Col. David Raymond, who teaches a cybersecurity course. "In this domain, it's really tough to keep up with how this thing evolves."

In his congressional report, Clapper noted that the chance of a major attack by Russia, China or another nation with advanced cyber skills is remote outside a military conflict — but that other nations or groups could launch less sophisticated cyberattacks in hopes of provoking the United States or in retaliation for U.S. actions or policies overseas. South Korea accused North Korea of mounting a cyberattack in March that shut down thousands of computers at banks and television broadcasters.

Gen. Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress in March the command is creating teams to carry out both offensive and defensive operations. A spokesman said the command is drawing cyber officers from the service academies, officer schools and Reserve Officer Training Corps programs.

Teams from the three academies compete in events such as last week's National Security Agency Cyber Defense Exercise, in which they try to keep simulated computer networks running as an NSA "aggressor team" attacks. Teams from the U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marine academies also took part, along with graduate students from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and Canada's Royal Military College.

Air Force won among undergraduate schools. The Royal Military College won among graduate schools.

That hands-on experience is invaluable, said 2nd Lt. Jordan Keefer, a 2012 Air Force Academy graduate now pursuing a master's degree in cyberoperations at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

"You can't just go out there and start hacking. That's against the law," he said. The competitions, he said, "gave me actual experience defending a network, attacking a network."

Counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke, noting that really high-level computer skills are rare, suggested the military might have to re-examine some of its recruiting standards to attract the most adept cyberwarriors.

"Hackers are the 1 percent, the elite and the creators," said Clarke, who served as White House cybersecurity adviser during the Clinton administration. "I wouldn't worry a whole heck of a lot (about whether they) can they run fast or lift weights."

Cyber's appeal was enough to get Keefer to put aside his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, a job with undeniable swagger. "It's a challenge, and for people who like a challenge, it's the only place to be," Keefer said.

Military officer relieved for harassment

From the Philippine Star (Apr 28): Military officer relieved for harassment

An officer of the military based in Albay was relieved from his post while the members of his platoon were restricted to their quarters for allegedly harassing civilians and threatening policemen who tried to arrest them.

The officer, identified as 1st/Lieutenant Uniedy Omandam, was removed as leader of the 9th Infantry Division Disaster Response Platoon. Charges of acts of lasciviousness, unjust vexation and grave threats were set to be filed against him.

Reports said Omandam and his men reportedly harassed two women whom they mistook for sex workers in Legazpi City last Wednesday.

Maj. Angelo Guzman said Omandam reportedly threatened the policemen sought by the two women for help.

The policemen filed a complaint against Omandam’s group before the Community Police Assistance Center 2 (CPAC 2).

Photo: 11 ‘rebels’ arrested, 13 firearms seized in Bulacan

From the Philippine Star (Apr 28): Photo: 11 ‘rebels’ arrested, 13 firearms seized in Bulacan

Soldiers guard some of the suspected rebels arrested in a joint police and military security operation in Barangay Cabanayunan, Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan yesterday. BOY CRUZ

PH won’t give up claims to South China Sea territories

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 27): PH won’t give up claims to South China Sea territories
The Aquino administration turned the tables on Beijing on Saturday, accusing the Chinese government of occupying a piece of Philippine territory in the South China Sea.

A Palace spokesperson made it clear that Manila was not about to surrender areas in the South China Sea it claims to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and refers to as the West Philippine Sea, a day after China claimed that the Philippines was trying to legalize its occupation of islands in the disputed area by going to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or ITLOS.

“What’s our position when it comes to Bajo de Masinloc? That’s ours. And we will continue to exercise sovereignty over our territory,” said Palace spokeswoman Abigail Valte Valte in a radio interview.

Valte reminded China that the Aquino administration had already filed the case in the ITLOS, “and we are waiting for developments on that.”

When asked by phone if the Philippine government was still hoping that China would change its mind and accede to an arbitration process by a third party, Valte said, “It is the position of the Philippine government that taking the case before the arbitral tribunal is well within the framework we have chosen to adopt, which is a rules-based approach.”

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, for his part, accused Beijing of occupying Bajo de Masinloc, one of the other names for the Scarbourough Shoal, an outcropping of rocks in a shallow section of the West Philippine Sea.

“The Chinese have tried to establish a de facto occupation of Bajo de Masinloc. When we last checked, I think they had two maritime surveillance vessels there, and then they had a fisheries law enforcement boat. So they have three vessels there,” he said in a briefing at the Palace Friday.

He said this prompted the government to avail itself of the option of seeking international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“That train has left the station, and we are trying to proceed with that. We believe that that will yield the results that we’re after in terms of providing a durable solution. Any solution that we would have come up with, short of a solution that is derived from the [UNCLOS], I think, at best, would be a transactional solution, and not a durable one,” said Del Rosario.

He said the UN arbitral tribunal might begin deliberations on the merits of the Philippine case by July, and that the deliberations would proceed even without the participation of China.

Del Rosario said the tribunal’s decision would be “final and unappealable.”

Del Rosario did not make it a secret that the government of President Aquino was counting on Vietnam and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for support in the country’s decision to seek international arbitration.

“And we also are looking at the solidity and the very good working arrangements that we have in terms of our cooperation on maritime security. We are trying to see how that can be improved,” he said, referring to warming bilateral relations between the Philippines and Vietnam, which has its own territorial dispute with China over the Paracel islands in the South China Sea.

“We’re happy about our cooperation, as I said, on the South China Sea. We received the compliments of Vietnam… their agreement [with our decision] in terms of what we’re trying to do, the processes that we’ve adopted. And they’re fully on board in terms of cooperating with us. We agreed on how well we are doing in terms of other regional cooperation, and essentially that was it,” said Del Rosario.

During his two-day attendance at the 22nd Asean summit in Brunei early this week, President Aquino held bilateral talks with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Both leaders were upbeat over “the progress of economic relations” between the two countries as they agreed to “further enhance” and strengthen relations, said the Palace.

Told that Filipino fishermen were now barred from entering Bajo de Masinloc by Chinese authorities, he said: “We have to take a position that we need to move in concert with what our legal advisers are able to provide us in terms of guidance. And right now, they believe that we should give priority to the arbitration case.”

SEA disputes: After Asean niceties, China, PH at it again

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 27): SEA disputes: After Asean niceties, China, PH at it again

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Friday that China was trying to establish a “de facto” occupation on the Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, and called on the Philippines to “withdraw all personnel and facilities from the islands that it said Manila was occupying.

At present, there are three Chinese boats in the shoal – two maritime surveillance ships and one Fisheries Law Enforcement Command vessel.

Filipino fishermen have also complained that they have been barred by the Chinese boats from plying the disputed waters. The Chinese vessels reportedly ringed the area with ropes to prevent the fishermen from entering the shoal.

Del Rosario, however, said that a military response is not an option at this point as the country’s legal experts have advised the government to focus on its arbitration case filed before the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas.

The Hamburg-based ITLOS has already completed the five-man arbitration panel, and will decide by July if it has jurisdiction over the case lodged by Manila questioning Beijing’s nine-dash line policy claiming the entire West Philippine Sea. But separate reports said that China lashed back at the Philippines’ attempt to bring the dispute before the UN body, as it insisted that it would never give up its claim.

In a statement posted on its website, China’s Foreign Ministry said the Philippines was attempting to “cover in a cloak of ‘legality’ its illegal occupation of China’s islands and reefs.” “The position outlined by China will not change,” it added. Del Rosario, however, said the Asean bloc was hopeful that China would be cooperative in drafting the CoC.”We are all counting on China to do its utmost in working with us. China should be concerned of its reputation as a nation that abides by the rule of law and should manifest a sense of being a responsible member of the community of nations,” he added.

Del Rosario said that foreign ministers of the member-states of the Asean would still try to convince China to agree on a Code of Conduct when they meet with their Chinese counterpart in the second half of the year.

“Asean is fully ready to do this. The next step belongs to China. The fundamental elements have already been crystallized (by Asean),” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

Del Rosario also noted that Thailand had pushed for a separate meeting of Asean Foreign Ministers ahead of the dialog with China.

The Philippines also found an ally in Vietnam which supported the filing of the arbitration case.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the expression of support during his bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday.

The Philippines, China and Vietnam are claimants to several disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

But China had said that it would only join the talks with Asean leaders when the “time is ripe.”

Meanwhile, it has flexed its growing naval muscle by occupying some areas claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, leading to a rise in tension.

Efforts by ASEAN to craft a code of conduct to manage South China Sea tensions all but collapsed last year at a summit chaired by Cambodia, a close economic ally of China.

Cambodia was accused of trying to keep the issue off the agenda despite a surge in tension over disputed areas and growing concern about China’s assertive stance in enforcing its claims over a vast, potentially energy-rich sea area.

Govt to try new approach to end Maoist rebellion

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 27):  Govt to try new approach to end Maoist rebellion

The Aquino Administration has dropped formal negotiations with communist rebels, but it is considering a new approach to end more than four decades of guerrilla war in the country, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said on Friday.

“The government doesn’t want to return to the regular track [formal talks] because it has been going nowhere for the past 27 years,” Padilla said.

He declined to give details about the “new approach,” but said the “mounting violence inflicted by the New People’s Army on civilians has eroded what little trust has been built over the years of trying to hammer out a peace agreement with the rebels.”

The talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front were held in Norway for more than 20 years. The Norwegian government served as third-party facilitator.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda called the communist rebels bandits following Saturday’s ambush of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, who was seriously wounded and whose driver and bodyguard were killed. No more peace talks, he said.

Padilla said the government scuttled the peace talks because the NDF “always comes up with new and unreasonable demands … and we cannot wait forever for the other side if they continually refuse to go back to the negotiating table without preconditions.”

“We have always been open to resuming formal negotiations with them, but they keep on insisting on preconditions such as the release of their detained consultants,” Padilla said.

He said other than asking for the release of their consultants from military detention, the NDF was also demanding that the government abolish its programs like the Conditional Cash Transfer, which provides cash to indigents.

“These demands are just preposterous. We don’t want to engage in a negotiation where the other party is clearly fooling us,” Padilla said.

“The ball is now in their hands. They were the ones who initiated the special track and they were the ones who ended it,” he said.

A palace official who asked not to be named said even the Norwegian government had expressed doubts about the sincerity of the NDF in holding the talks to attain peace in the country.

“Since they do not want to talk peace and since they keep attacking civilians and extorting money in the form of their illegal revolutionary taxes and permit to campaign, I don’t think the public will begrudge us if we decide to let go of the peace negotiations and pursue peace through other means,” the official said.

“We have done everything we can. We have even bent over backwards for some of their demands. But they keep on doing things to stall the talks,” he said.

Some of the options under consideration were holding localized peace talks and strengthening efforts to convince the rebels to come down from the hills and return to their homes, the official said.

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

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.

3 Soldiers wounded in Mindoro

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 27): 3 Soldiers wounded in Mindoro

Government forces clashed with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels the other day in Barangay Batasan, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, resulting in the wounding of three army soldiers.

Colonel Generoso Bolina, Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) spokesman, confirmed yesterday the wounding of Privates First Class (PFCs) Medillo Sgamayao, Ariel Juagpao, and PFC Aldrin Jamiro, all members of Army’s 76th Infantry Battalion.

Bolina said the encounter happened Thursday afternoon as a squad of Bravo Company of the 76th IB responded to an alarm that NPA guerrillas were in the village of Batasan, extorting money from residents.

As the squad led by 2nd Lieutenant Valmonte drew nearer to the area, the soldiers were met by gunfire.

Lt. Col. Ed Peralta, commanding officer of the 76th IB, said a number of the rebels were wounded as soldiers returned fire.

The escape trail of the rebels who withdrew deep into the forest had blood stains, said Peralta.

Maj. Gen. Cesar Ronnie Ordoyo ordered a hot pursuit operation to ensure that none of these rebels disrupt the campaign season and upcoming elections.

Ligot posts P66,000 bail

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 26): Ligot posts P66,000 bail

A day after after he was ordered arrested for 11 counts of perjury charges, Ret. Lt Gen. Jacinto Ligot posted bail at the Sandiganbayan Friday morning.

Ligot, whose questionable multi-million assets were exposed at the Senate public hearing went to the Sandiganbayan First Division at about 11 a.m. and posted a total of P66,000 bail or P6,000 per count of perjury.

Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman filed 11 counts of perjury charges against Ligot for allegedly making false declarations in his statements of assets, liabilities and net (SALN) worth from 1993 to 2003.

The charges against him were filed last April 13 by the Office of the Ombudsman a few days after the Supreme Court lifted the freeze order on his assets worth P135-million.

The Sandiganbayan also issued a hold departure order (HDO) against the retired military general.

The anti-graft cour said after evaluating Information and the resolution of the prosecutor, the evidence in support, it appears that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause for the purpose of issuing a warrant of arrest against the accused charged in the instant cases.

The ruling was signed by Associate Justices Rodolfo A. Ponferrada, Rafael R. Lagos and Efren N. de laCruz, division chairman.

In a separate issuance, the graft court also issued a hold departure order against Ligot directing the Bureau of Immigration to prevent the defendant from leaving the country unless he has secured a prior clearance from Sandiganbayan.

The perjury charges is related to a forfeiture case earlier filed against Ligot, his wife Erlinda Yambao Ligot, their children Paulo Ligot, Riza Ligot, Miguel Ligot, and relatives Edgardo Yambao and Miguela Paragas for the recovery of unexplained wealth allegedly worth at least P135.28 million.

Graft investigators said the former military general concealed assets by omitting them from his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for the years 1993 to 2003.

It can be recalled that Ligot and his wife were subjected to intense Senate public investigation due to unexplained wealth that he and other former military officials acquired while they were in active service in the Armed Forces.

There was instance they were detained at the Senate detention facility after they were cited for contempt for not telling the truth during the Senate public inquiry in 2010.

Youth party-list accuses military of Red baiting ahead of elections

From InterAksyon (Apr 27): Youth party-list accuses military of Red baiting ahead of elections

The Kabataan party-list on Saturday accused the military of waging a Red baiting campaign against it and left-wing senatorial candidate Teddy Casino.

The youth party-list said in a statement that its chapters in several regions have reported the distribution of printed material tagging Kabataan as a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army and vilifying Casino.

The statement quoted Kabataan Baguio City coordinator Cielo Marie Bayson as saying the materials were distributed there by “men in plainclothes with notably similar military haircuts.”

The materials are signed by the called “P4P Movement,” which Kabataan said is “a group closely associated with intelligence officers of the military.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued vilification of progressive party-lists and candidates, particularly Kabataan, by suspected elements of the military. This shows that despite touted reforms in the military, the mercenary culture remains in their ranks,” Kabataan president Terry Ridon said.

He called the tactic “an old trick of military lapdogs to discredit genuine representatives of the marginalized and underrepresented like Kabataan.”

“Clearly, backward elements in the Armed Forces of the Philippines have yet to understand that being progressive does not equate to being a rebel; that legal democratic organizations are far different from armed rebel groups,” he added.

Ridon noted that Red baiting campaigns are often accompanied by human rights violations against members of progressive groups.

However, he said, “despite the military’s intensified smear campaign against Kabataan, we firmly believe that the public knows better. Our track record of service for the youth and the Filipino people disproves any false claims floated by military henchmen.”

Philippines accuses China of 'de facto occupation' of Scarborough Shoal

From InterAksyon (Apr 26): Philippines accuses China of 'de facto occupation' of Scarborough Shoal

The Philippines on Friday accused Beijing of engaging in the "de facto occupation" of a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, following a face-off that began last year.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said three Chinese government ships remained in the vicinity of the Scarborough Shoal, scaring off local fishermen.

"The Chinese have tried to establish a de facto occupation," he told reporters.

The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as recognized by international law.

However, China insists the shoal is Chinese territory as part of its claim to almost all of the South China Sea -- including waters up to the coasts of other countries.

A face-off between the two countries began last year when China dispatched government vessels to stop the Philippines from arresting Chinese poachers in the area.
He said the Philippines tried to settle the matter through talks but when this failed, it was forced to ask a UN tribunal to strike down China's claims.

Del Rosario also said the Philippines had put off granting oil exploration contracts in disputed waters in the South China Sea due to the "sensitivity of the situation" with China.

"We have given this significant thought and decided what is best for the country. We also don't want to put (private companies) in a compromising situation," he added.

The Philippines has accused China of using intimidation to press its claims in the South China Sea, which are believed to encompass vast mineral resources and also include vital shipping lanes.

Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia also claim parts of the South China Sea.
The rival claims have for decades made the waters one of Asia's potential military flashpoints.

3 soldiers wounded in Occidental Mindoro clash with NPA rebels

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 27): 3 soldiers wounded in Occidental Mindoro clash with NPA rebels

Communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels are on a rampage, ambushing military troops in Occidental Mindoro province last Thursday, resulting in the wounding of three Army soldiers.

Col. Generoso Bolina, spokesman of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), said that elements of the Army’s 76th Infantry Battalion (IB) were sent out to check on the reported extortion and harassment activities of fully-armed NPA rebels in Barangay Batasan, San Jose town.

However, upon approaching Sitio Lagnas in the said barangay at around 3:15 p.m., the Army troops were fired upon by the rebels.

Wounded were Pfc. Ariel Juagpao, Pfc. Merdilito Sagmayao and Pfc. Aldrin Jamiro.
“The wounded were air evacuated to V. Luna General Hospital,” said Bolina.

Bolina added that Solcom chief Maj. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo vowed to relentlessly pursue the NPA rebels.

The ambush happened despite intensified combat operations against the NPA following series of high-profile atrocities staged in various parts of the country.

No less than President Aquino ordered the military and police to dismantle NPA roadblocks in the aftermath of the ambush against Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, last Saturday.

However, as if taunting the Aquino administration, the NPA continued launching atrocities against police and military targets, particularly in some parts of Mindanao.
On Tuesday, NPA rebels attacked a police station and abducted an Army soldier in Compostela Valley province. The rebels blasted the Mabini Municipal Police Station and snatched Pfc. Tomas Jesus in Maco town.

In Davao del Sur, NPA rebels also attacked the headquarters of the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Paquibato District, Davao City also on Tuesday or a day after the President issued his order to the military and the police.

China slams Philippines over disputed islands

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 27): China slams Philippines over disputed islands

China on Friday hit out at the Philippines’ attempt to seek an international verdict on a territorial dispute over islands in the South China Sea, repeating that it would never give up its claims.

Manila is seeking a United Nations ruling on the validity of Chinese claims to the resource-rich sea, with a possible unfavorable verdict for China seen as a test of its willingness to yield over territorial disputes.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site that the Philippines was attempting to “cover in a cloak of ‘legality’ its illegal occupation of China’s islands and reefs.”

It called on the Philippines to withdraw all personnel and facilities from the islands that it said Manila was occupying.

“The position outlined by China will not change,” it added.

The statement came a day after leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) called for urgent talks with China to seek a resolution to the increasingly tense territorial disputes.

Asean members — the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — also claim parts of the sea, as does Taiwan. The competing claims have for decades made the area one of Asia’s potential powder kegs.

The Philippines accused China of occupying a shoal close to its main island last year, and has sought to unite with other Asean countries to dispute China’s claims.
China has consistently rejected multilateral negotiations over the disputes, stating that discussions should occur through direct talks between countries.

China and other countries with claims in the South China Sea have boosted naval spending in recent years, while others including the Philippines have sought closer diplomatic and military ties with the United States.

Meanwhile, of the Asean overnight affair, no issue of Sabah was discussed, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario explained yesterday in Malacañang how the 2-day Asean Summit had been capped by the topic that was focused mainly on the issues of maritime security affecting the China Sea and the neighboring countries in the region.

“Apparently, I was the only person present in all of the meetings. So I am the only one who can answer all of your questions, and I will endeavor to do that,” del Rosario said.
Del Rosario said that on the first day, upon arrival of the delegation headed by President Aquino until they went back to Manila, “there were essentially just three meetings.”

“The first was, after dinner on the first day. It was managed very well by the chair. I think the meeting for that evening lasted maybe an hour. So we discussed only one topic, and that was the topic of South China Sea. And we think that the chair had managed the meeting very well by placing the South China Sea, which we called a very important topic that should be discussed to be able ensure peace, security and stability in a region,” del Rosario said.

The DFA chief said that “the intervention was actually provided by President Aquino himself, and the position we took was: we are advocating a rules-based approach based on two components. These components being one, the DoC and the CoC; and two is the arbitration.”

Six nations are currently involved in territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea: China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. In 2002, the four Southeast Asian states, acting through Asean, negotiated a modus vivendi with China. This took the form of a Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC) which is nothing more than a political statement. Its signatories agreed to settle their disputes peacefully and not to upset the status quo. The parties also agreed that the DoC would be the first step towards a more binding Code of Conduct (CoC).
“We think that both of these elements, major elements, are supportive of the rule of law approach. In terms of the CoC and the DoC, the President expressed his full support for full and effective implementation of the DoC; and on the CoC, he expressed very clearly the need for an expeditious completion of that mechanism,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said “He (Aquino) talked, at length, about arbitration, about its importance, about the fact that it’s an open, friendly and durable solution to the disputes in the West Philippine Sea. He talked also about the benefits to all countries, starting with China, he emphasized that it clarifies the maritime entitlements of China, especially to its own constituents, in terms of what its expectations should be in accordance with international law.

“Secondly, it’s good for the Philippines, obviously because it will serve to define what is ours; it will serve to support what we are entitled to in terms of our fishing rights, in terms of our enforcement of our laws in those areas, and in terms of the fact that we are entitled to these areas in accordance with the EEZ as provided by the UNCLoS to us.
“And lastly, he also emphasized the need for all countries to appreciate the benefits of this arbitration because it does provide a resolution to the threats that’s offered — or you remove the threat or supports the freedom of navigation.

Del Rosario said that there were three or four other questions raised by other leaders.
“All of them were for advocating the application of the rule of law, and also the fact that the DoC and CoC are very important. There was a reinforcement of arbitration as a mechanism under international law that could be used to pursue disputes settlement mechanisms. I think that essentially was the essence of that meeting, and those were the key messages,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said that “in the morning after, there was a three-hour retreat, and what the chair (Brunei) had announced is to give importance to the South China Sea issue. He indicated that we would continue, if desired. So those who had not been given time to provide interventions, they may discuss the South China Sea as well, and so the South China Sea issue actually became the major topic, in my view of the meetings in Brunei.”

Del Rosario said that from there in terms of the support signified by Aquino for the emphasis which Bolkiah placed on in terms of building an Asean community in terms of all of its pillars: the political, the economic, and the social aspects of it.

“There was a great emphasis in terms of doubling the efforts to be able to meet the objectives by 2015. And the President himself discussed certain initiatives that we are undertaking in the contribution of meeting those objectives. We talked about the Philippine efforts to be able to support and assist, and enhance our micro, small and medium enterprises,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said Aquino had indicated what assistance has been provided in terms of loans, significant amount of loans to a greater number of people in these categories and businesses in these categories, as well as the facilitation arrangements that have been made so that the business can become more successful, greater numbers of employees can be created, and also that the businesses between countries.

Del Rosario said there was a discussion also in terms of post 2015 vision, what is that going to be like target should be beyond 2015.

Del Rosario said that “from there, we went to issues like North Korea.” With AFP

Noy ends peace talks with Reds

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 28): Noy ends peace talks with Reds


The Aquino administration had abandoned negotiations for peace with rebel communist groups due to “preconditions” that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) had demanded for the resumption of dialog with the government to end a 22-month impasse.

“We cannot wait forever for the other side if they continually refuse to go back to the negotiating table without preconditions. The government will be taking a new approach to pursue peace,” Alex Padilla, government of the Philippines (GRP) chief peace negotiator said.

The government decision to end the negotiations came a week after a ruthless attack on Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona in which two of her aides were killed while Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and mother of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, was hurt.

Padilla said he is reiterating the government’s call to the NPA to end the hostilities on the ground following a series of attacks on civilian targets, including the recent ambush of Gingoog City Mayor Guingona and her companions last Saturday. Her driver and bodyguard were killed and two others were wounded.

The NPA has apologized and taken responsibility for the attack.

“We have always been open to resume formal negotiations with them, but they keep on insisting on preconditions, such as the release of their detained consultants.

Discussions under the Special Track have also been closed since they have come up with new demands,” Padilla said.

Padilla explained the Special Track (ST) was proposed by Jose Maria Sison to hasten negotiations through an agreement on a Draft Declaration on National Unity and Just Peace which would lead to an immediate ceasefire and creation of a Committee for National Unity, Peace and Development.

Padilla said the ST imposed no preconditions and would skirt the protracted process of the regular track.

In pursuit of the ST, the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF met on Dec. 17 to 18 last year in The Netherlands where they agreed to discuss further a draft Declaration of National Unity and Just Peace prepared by Sison.

Padilla recounted that when the parties resumed the ST meeting on Feb. 25 to 26, “instead of discussing the Sison draft, the NDF proposed three new documents that backtracked from their original position on a Draft Declaration, particularly on ceasefire, which they now subjected to preconditions. They also reverted to the prolonged and untenable process of the regular track.”

Apart from the demand to free the communist group’s detained consultants, it also demanded that the GPH abolish its peace and development programs, such as the conditional cash transfer, Pamana and Oplan Bayanihan, Padilla said.

“These demands are just preposterous. We don’t want to engage in a negotiation where the other party is clearly fooling us,” Padilla said.

“The ball is now in their hands, They were the ones who initiated the ST and they were the ones who ended it.” Padilla said.

Padilla said the GRP doesn’t want to return to the regular track (formal talks) because it has been going nowhere for the last 27 years.

The CPP in reaction to the statements issued earlier by Malacañang claiming that the NPA is not interested in peace negotiations and has supposedly lost all ideology and “resorted to banditry”.

“If the leaders and members of the NPA were driven only by the selfish aim of enriching themselves, they would instead simply join the government and allow themselves to be used by the criminal scalawags posing as politicians, officers of the military and police, judges and big bureacrats,” said the CPP.

The CPP said that the biggest bandits in the Philippines are those in the Aquino regime and its big business cronies who fund the election kitties of their favored politicians, manipulate election results, dish out and receive state favors, tax exemptions and juicy contracts to the detriment of the Filipino people.

“Aquino and his cohorts are peeved by the fact that the people’s organs of political power exercises government functions and issues policies regulating the conduct of the reactionary elections in order to protect the rights and welfare of the people,” said the CPP.

The CPP said “they are doubly peeved by the fact that most of the reactionary politicians and political candidates actually abide by these policies.”

The CPP also laughed off claims by Aquino’s spokesperson that the revolutionary armed movement is simply engaging in “attention grabbing activities” in launching tactical offensives.

The Aquino regime and its armed forces desperately try to downgrade the current strength of the revolutionary forces by endlessly repeating the lie that the NPA had 25,000 fighters in 1986 and that there are now only 4,000 to 5,000. The fact is that the NPA had only around 6,000 high powered firearms in 1986-1987, the CPP claimed.

“As it continues to seize the initiative and intensify the people’s war, the NPA is set to surpass its previous peak strength in the 1980s within the current presidential term of Aquino, if it is not cut short by an upheaval of mass protests before 2016,” the CPP said.

“If the NPA understands the true meaning of taking responsibility, it should stop inflicting violence on our society,” Padilla said.

“If its apology (to the Guingonas) means anything at all, it should cease and desist from further disrupting the life of the nation with impunity. It should realize that it cannot reform society by destroying its essence. They must put down their guns and pursue their desired reforms in peaceful, sincere and constructive dialogue and culturally acceptable ways,” Padilla said.

Commenting on the statement of NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos that they did not expect the incident to occur, Padilla asked, “What did he expect to happen when 50 armed rebels accost a convoy of a politician in a deserted rural road in the middle of the night? If they did not mean to kill Mayor Guingona, why was her car so mercilessly peppered with bullets and decimated with grenades?”

CPP/NPA: NPA punitive actions vs Mabini Police, 71st IB, a revolutionary justice for children victims

Posted to the CPP Website (Apr 26): NPA punitive actions vs Mabini Police, 71st IB, a revolutionary justice for children victims

Daniel Ibarra
NPA ComVal-Davao Gulf Sub-region Sub-regional Command

To enforce revolutionary justice for the brutal killing of eight-year old Roque Antivo, the New People’s Army (NPA) launched a series of punitive actions against the 71st Infantry Battalion-10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Mabini Police Station.

As the fascist soldiers denied culpability in its appalling attack versus Antivo and two other children, the police planted false evidence at the crime scene to cover up the military’s atrocious act.

Red fighters took as Prisoner of War(POW) 71st IB member Pfc Jesus Tomas Jr. (Serial No: 879223), 23 at 6AM, April 24, 2013 in Barangay Elizalde, Maco town, Compostela Valley. He was part of three-man supply team when accosted by the NPA. POW Tomas is currently undergoing investigation for his involvement in counterrevolutionary and anti-people activities.

At around the same time, the NPA’s Sub-Regional Command Guerilla Unit also ambushed the 71st IB’s Charlie Company with command-detonated explosive, hitting a number of casualties.

Earlier, on April 23, at 7 AM, a team from the NPA Guerilla Front 2 hit the Mabini Police Station with a grenade launcher. On duty policemen took cover against the Red fighters who were aboard a motorcycle.

The 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command and the Philippine National Police are bent in obliterating proof of the 71st IB’s atrocities. The police declared that other shells were found at the scene where the boys were hit in Sitio Kidaraan, Mabini, to push the lie that the Army was in an encounter with the NPA.

Together with the ComVal Police, it coerced the victim’s family to accede to an autopsy — a move to bolster the scripted alibi of the 71st IB.

The reactionary local government of ComVal has become an accomplice, if not guilty of omission, for not lifting a finger on the atrocities of the 71st IB against the civilian communities. While moves were pushed to investigate the families of the military’s victims, there was no concrete move to ultimately hold the fascist soldiers accountable.

The People’s Army will continue to inflict blows versus the enemy especially in its weakest points, detain POWs, fortify people’s defense against the onslaught of the rabid Oplan Bayanihan and expose the rotten US-Aquino regime. Abusive police and military men and officers are legitimate targets, and undesirable elements in the communities are subject to the NPA and regulations of the People’s Democratic Government.

MILF: MILF, AFP and IMT/LMT join the 1st OlymPeace in Sarangani

From the MILF Website (Apr 27): MILF, AFP and IMT/LMT join the 1st OlymPeace in Sarangani

Delegates from the local Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), International Monitoring Team (IMT) along with the Local Monitoring Team (LMT), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Philippine National Police fought in a friendship basketball tournament during the first ever OlymPeace aimed to bring together and foster unity among different peace stakeholders.

Other groups joining the tournament include the Moro National Liberation Front, media practitioners, and Sarangani provincial employees. The MILF delegates were sent by Malapatan Political Committee.

The event, which was integrated to the 4th Provincial Musabaqa (Madaris Intramurals), was held at the Provincial Gymnasium, Capitol Ground, Alabel, Sarangani Province from April 23-25, 2013 and hosted by the Provincial Government of Sarangani through the Kalinaw Sarangani Unit with the support of the IMT, LMT, and private partners.

During the opening program, Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene A. Dominguez said the friendship tournament is historic and cited “we can say that the symbol of peace and unity springs from our province.”

The governor, which will complete his three term of office by June this year, thanked the Asatidz (Madaris teachers) and parents pupils for the successful operation of Madaris education.

IMT-Malaysian Contingent Col Syed Islam Bin Shahajalam, IMT Team Site 4 Leader, related the objectives of the international peace monitors to the GPH-MILF Peace Process and urged the audience to support the peace process

Raja Muda Alimudin Hassan, head of the Sugoda Buayan Royal House urged the Madaris pupils and the Muslim constituents of the province to maintain good character for it could be their weapon.

In his message read by National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Field Director Guialil Kanda, NCMF Secretary Mehol Sadain, expressed his appreciation to the event and also urged the Muslim constituents of Sarangani to uphold unity and cooperation.

Under-Secretary Nabil Tan, Head, Mindanao Coordinating Office from the Office of the Secretary, said Sarangani has set a good example showcasing cooperation and how the people work together towards peace and development.

“We hope that the nurturing of the peace climate will continue after the signing of the GPH-MILF Peace Agreement,” Tan said and he is optimistic that “there will be final closure to the peace problem in southern Philippines.”

Madaris pupils coming from six coastal towns of Sarangani join the athletic, ball games and literary competitions.

The Madaris teachers and parents also gave their best to showcase their Moro dresses, traditional Moro foods, and Moro decors in the Moro Cottage competition.

Malapatan was the over-all champion in the Musabaqa, followed by Maitum as 1st Runner-up and Glan, 2nd Runner-up.

The IMT/LMT Team bagged the championship in the OlymPeace, the MILF Team was the 1st Runner-up and the PNP Team 2nd Runner-up.

The delegations coming from the six coastal towns of Sarangani Province numbered close to two thousand.

Sponsors include Dole Philippines, Dadiangas Halal Catering and Sagittarius Mines Inc.

MILF: Bangsamoro alumni of Malaysian technical and cooperation program launches group in Maguindanao town today

From the MILF Website (Apr 27): Bangsamoro alumni of Malaysian technical and cooperation program launches group in Maguindanao town today

Some 59 members of the Bangsamoro MTCP Alumni Association (BMAA) will launch itself during a simple program at Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao today.

The alumni are graduates of the various courses offered by MTCP, which stands for Malaysian Technical and Cooperation Program.

At least three foreign personalities will grace the occasion. The Malaysian consul general, Abdullah Zawawi Bin Tahir, will give his message of support. Dr. Steven Rood, country representative of The Asia Foundation, and Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, a representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will also render their respective messages of support.

The keynote address will be rendered by MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, but a reliable source reaching Luwaran that he is still not in the country. It is not reported who will represent him in the program.

The BMAA is headed by Dr. Tato Usman. Dr. Mohammad Taha Pendaliday is the vice chairman.

The Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) was first initiated at the First Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for Asia Pacific Region in Sydney in February 1978. It was officially launched on 7 September 1980 at the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting in New Delhi to signify Malaysia’s commitment to South-South Cooperation, in particular Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).

In line with the spirit of South-South Cooperation, Malaysia through the MTCP shares its development experiences and expertise with other developing countries. The MTCP was first formulated based on the belief that the development of a country depends on the quality of its human resources. The programme forms part of the commitment of the Malaysian Government towards the promotion of technical cooperation among developing countries, strengthening of regional and sub-regional cooperation, as well as nurturing collective self-reliance among developing countries.

Troops alerted vs escalation, spillover of violence in Lanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): Troops alerted vs escalation, spillover of violence in Lanao

All Philippine Army units based in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur have been placed on alert to avert possible escalation and spillover of violence following an ambush of a candidate and his supporters.

Thirteen political supporters of a town mayor were killed while eight others, including the mayor, were wounded when gunmen believed to be allied with opposing party staged an ambush Thursday evening in Barangay Malaig, Nunungan, Lanao del Norte.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero, newly-installed commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said Saturday he has ordered all the units under his command to undertake preemptive measures to prevent escalation and spillover of violence in their areas.

Among the preemptive measures ordered by Lucero is the conduct of surprise checkpoints in strategic areas and strict implementation of the election gun ban.

Both the military and police authorities believe the motive behind the ambush is family feud aggravated by intense political rivalry.

Lucero said they have initiated late last year peace covenant which broke down during the campaign period.

The party of Nunungan Mayor Abdulmalik Manamparan were aboard a convoy of vehicles on their way to Barangat Poblacion from a political rally in Barangay Malaig when they were ambushed.

One of the 13 fatalities was Adnanie Manamparan, the 32-year-old daughter of the mayor.

Mayor Manamparan, who is in his last term of office, is seeking election for vice-mayor, while his son Dondon, is running for mayor.

11 NPAs conducting “permit to campaign” sorties in Bulacan captured

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): 11 NPAs conducting “permit to campaign” sorties in Bulacan captured

Government forces Saturday arrested 11 suspected members of the communist New People’s Army while conducting “permit to campaign” operations on politicians running in the May 13 midterm elections.

Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna said joint forces of the Philippine Army and the Bulacan Police Provincial Office captured 11 alleged NPA members during a series of internal security operations in Sitio Sapang Linao, Barangay Kabayunan, Dona Remedios Trinidad town early Saturday morning.

Orduna said the joint operations were conducted after receiving reports that heavily armed men , believed to be NPA members, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, were sighted in the said mountain village in Dona Remedios Trinidad.

The arrested alleged NPA members were identified as Rodolfo Cruz, 65, resident of barangay Bigte, Norzagaray town; Rico Vicene, 43, a resident of San Jose del Monte City; Cyrhyl dela Cruz,19, resident of barangay Tibagan, Jayson Valmadrid, 25, a resident of barangay San Juan, Randy Puno, 33, Josefino Lupanco, 34, Angel Cabrera, 48; Alberto dela Cruz, 24, all of barangay Salangan, San Miguel town;  Graciano dela Cruz, Billy Asuncion and William Asuncion.

The last three suspects were arrested in a follow- up operations, Orduna said.

Confiscated from the suspects were three caliber .45 with three magazine assembly; four hand grenade; one 12 gauge shotgun with six live bullets; subversive documents , medical kits and personal belongings.

Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, commander of the 7th ID of the Philippine Army, said the government forces also seized from the three other suspects during the follow up operation three M-16 rifles with 9 magazines and 200 bullets; two M-14 rifles with 10 magazines and 181 pieces of live ammunition and one Mitsubishi Delica Van without plate number.

Catapang said the three suspected NPA members were on board the Delica van when they were intercepted by army and police troops.

He said the government forces are now intensifying their internal security operations to neutralize the armed-mulcting operations of communist rebels.

He called on the people to help the government forces by reporting the presence of armed groups in their areas and help them make the coming elections peaceful and orderly.

He added the world is now watching the country if it can hold peaceful elections.

Supt. Fitz Macariola, operations chief of the BPPO, said the arrested suspects were distributing solicitation letters to politicians running in the coming May 13 elections.

The suspects are now in the custody of the Bulacan police while appropriate charges are being readied against them.

11 rebels captured, 13 firearms seized in Bulacan

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): 11 rebels captured, 13 firearms seized in Bulacan

The Armed Forces announced Saturday field units have captured 11 members of the New People’s Army and recovered 13 high-powered firearms and explosives in a security operations in a remote village in Bulacan Friday morning.

At about 4:30 a.m., the 56th Infantry Battalion received information from civilians on the presence of around 30 fully-armed members of the NPA at Sitio Mahangin and Sitio Sapang Linao of Barangay Kabayunan in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.

According to the report, the armed group has been sending permit-to-campaign letters to the local political candidates in the area.

Upon receipt of the report, the battalion, in coordination with the local police units, organized a joint task-group to catch the armed men and prevent them from conducting terroristic activities against civilians.

Initially, the troops captured eight NPA members and recovered three caliber 45, four hand grenades, and one shot gun including subversive documents and paramedic medical instruments.

This led to a follow-up operation later that day which resulted in the capture of three more rebels and the recovery of two M-14 carbines and three M-16 rifles.

The arrested NPA members and the confiscated firearms and other items were transported to Bulacan Provincial Police Office for proper documentation and filing of criminal charges.

Last February, the AFP has received information that rebels have been sending their “rates,” specifically those in Northern Luzon and in Eastern Visayas.

The AFP appeals to the general public to be extra vigilant.

It is usually during the election season that the NPA exploits the political ambition of certain candidates by vigorously imposing this scheme.

Records show that in 2012, the NPA collected a total P25, 005,000 through their extortion activities, and in 2011, the rebels generated an income of at least P300 million which they derived from extortion activities against companies and other big businesses nationwide.

Palace: Gov't remains hopeful on peace talks with communists

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27): Palace: Gov't remains hopeful on peace talks with communists

Malacanang said the government remains open to restarting the discussions with the communist rebels insisting however that the Aquino administration will sit and negotiate without preconditions.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan Saturday that the administration has been waiting for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to continue the peace discussions.

There are suggestions calling for the government to abandon the regular track or the formal talks because it has been ineffective in dealing with the rebels in the past 27 years.

But Valte said the Palace is leaving this issue to the President’s peace adviser whether to change the current track for peace talks.

“Matagal na tayong nakaupo at matagal na tayong naghihintay na sila ay makipag-usap sa atin,” the Palace official said.

“Pero katulad nang inanunsyo natin noon sa simula ng panunungkulan ng Pangulong Aquino, umupo tayo dito at nagsimula tayong makipag-usap nang walang pre-conditions doon sa mga negotiations,” she added.

The CPP-NPA-NDF has been insisting for the release of its consultants according to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

Asked if the possible change in approach in the discussions was a result of the ambush of Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Guingona by the NPA, Valte said these things are not related.

“Wala namang kinalaman ang new approach sa ambush kay Mayor Guingona,” she said.