Monday, May 6, 2013

Army major, 1 other soldier, killed in Basilan ambush

From InterAksyon (May 7): Army major, 1 other soldier, killed in Basilan ambush

Two soldiers, one of them an Army major, were killed Monday afternoon in an ambush staged by the Abu Sayyaf in Al Barka town, Basilan.

Colonel Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army's 104th Brigade, said about 180 soldiers from the 18th Infantry Battalion and civilians from the Office of the President were ambushed by about 30 Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sitio Pagtawanan, Barangay Magcawa at around 3 p.m.

Galvez said the soldiers and civilians were on their way to Barangay Bohe Piyang to distribute 20 goats to the community and check on projects of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process when gunmen led by Basir Kasaran and Musana Jamiri fired on them.

Major Alin Kannung, executive officer of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, and Technical Sergeant Ferdinand Costan were killed while four other soldiers of the 18th IB were also wounded.

"Government forces were subjected to mortar and sniper fires for three hours," Galvez said.

At least six of the extremist fighters were killed as reinforcements were rushed to the scene of the fighting.

Galvez said the ambush was possibly in retaliation for the April 15 military operation in Tipo-Tipo town in which eight Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed when their camp was overrun.

Kannung, said Galvez, has long been a target of the Abu Sayyaf because of his peace efforts in the province.

Aside from his stint in the 32nd IB, Kannung, 53, was also part of the monitoring team on the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

His body was brought to his home in Barangay Kalih in Al Barka.

The wounded soldiers were airlifted to Zamboanga City for medical treatment.

MNLF, MILF clash in North Cotabato left 1 dead, 3,000 evacuees

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): MNLF, MILF clash in North Cotabato left 1 dead, 3,000 evacuees

MATALAM, North Cotabato -- A member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was killed during a clash with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters on Sunday night in a remote village here, police said.

About 3,000 individuals from three adjoining villages have fled to safer grounds when both sides, each with 200 fighters, traded bullets until Monday morning.

Chief Inspector Elias Dandan of Matalam police said the firefight was between the forces of Datu Dima Ambel, MNLF chair for North Cotabato, and a certain Commander Manzur of the MILF 108th base command.

Dandan said the MILF was to host a Bangsamoro Framework Agreement information forum in Barangay Marbol, Matalam, North Cotabato, an area also known as the bailiwick of Commander Ambel.

Commander Manzur claimed the MNLF fired the first shot after they took hostage a member of the MILF and disarmed him.

Dandan could not say who fired the first shot between MNLF and MILF forces.

Armed MILF and MNLF forces could see each other but did not fire when policemen, led by Inspector Dandan and backed by police provincial safety company, entered the conflict area to separate the warring groups.

“We serve as peacekeepers here,” Dandan told reporters. “Both the MNLF and MILF have agreed to a temporary cessation of hostilities," he added.

Commander Manzur said the MILF, office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, GPH-MILF peace panels were to conduct Bangsamoro Framework Agreement information drive on Sunday in Barangay Marbol, a known area of Commander Dima Ambel, chair of the MNLF in North Cotabato.

Ambel agreed to the holding of the forum provided the MILF would not bring in firearms.

“However, the MILF brought firearms and many of them are not from the area, that is a violation to our earlier agreement," he said.

But according to Commander Mansur, the armed MILF are native residents of Barangay Marbol and they did not violate any agreement.

At about 6:00 p.m. Sunday, Commander Mansur said the MNLF fired two M-79 grenades, one of which hit the rooftop of his home while the other in the newly paved Marbol highway. Sporadic firefights ensured between MNLF and MILF forces as evidence by dozens of empty shells found at the approach of Marbol Bridge.

No casualty was reported on the MNLF side.

As a result of the firefight, the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement information drive did not push through.

Dandan said the Matalam policemen and provincial police safety company have remained in the middle of MNLF and MILF forces.

Both Moro groups agreed to an informal ceasefire until the International Monitoring Team arrived and arranged a permanent ceasefire.

A source said the MILF wanted to put up a satellite camp in Barangay Marbol which is a known bailiwick of the MNLF. Ambel allegedly did not like the idea of MILF putting up a camp in his territory.

Army, BCDA forge pact for Clark Green City project

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): Army, BCDA forge pact for Clark Green City project

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija -- The Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division (7ID) and the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the Clark Green City project, a ranking military official said on Monday.

Maj. Gen. Pio Catapang, Jr., commanding general of the 7ID, said the MOA aimed to further the ties between the two government organizations and cater to the progress of the Clark area in Pampanga.

Catapang said that prior to the actual signing of the MOA, a briefing on Clark Green City project, which aims to create a bigger and better Fort Bonifacio-like developed area, was held.

Under the MOA, it was mandated to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 7ID, which holds responsibility of the Clark-Tarlac areas, to ensure the security of the area and the execution of the project.

Dubbing Pampanga as the heart of Central Luzon, Catapang said he was happy to have known of the proposed projectwhich will cut off the remaining remnants of insurgency in the said province.

"Actually, there is no more insurgency, only extortionists. They have lost their ideology. Insurgency is dead and we are now heading to peace, development, and prosperity," he said.

He said there is no more internal security threats but rather threats coming from outside like global warming, international crime which includes human smuggling, arm smuggling, cybercrime, drugs, and maritime security.

He also said that the 7ID is now deviating from just fighting the local extortionists but focusing on contributing to the development of Central Luzon.

The 7ID is willing to fully collaborate on the progressive project as it will benefit and safeguard not only the modernization of the 45,000-hectare military camps under 7ID the but also the entire nation, he added.

Army soldiers clash with suspected rebels in NegOr

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): Army soldiers clash with suspected rebels in NegOr

Army soldiers clashed with an estimated 30 suspected New People’s Army (NPA)rebels in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental on Monday morning.

A team of soldiers from the 79th Infantry Battalion, led by Cpl. Jesus A. Alamon, was on combat patrol around 9:30 a.m. Monday at Sitio Cadlum in Barangay Nagbalaye, Sta. Catalina when they came across the group of suspected rebels and engaged them in a running gun battle.

The armed men are believed to be members of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas-South East Front (KRSB-SEF), operating in the southwestern portions of Negros Oriental.

No casualties were reported during the firefight which lasted for about 10 to 15 minutes after which the suspected insurgents withdrew towards the northeast, according to Lt. Col. Marion Sison, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion based in the adjacent town of Siaton.

Recovered items from the encounter site include 113 pieces of spent shells of caliber 5.56 M-16, 89 pieces of empty shells of caliber 7.62 M-14, 98 pieces of caliber .30 carbine, one compass, one stethoscope, one sphygmomanometer, six paracetamol tablets, four family pictures, three kilos of corn grits, one bottle of cymbush insecticide and an X-ray film result of a certain Sita Dacaldacal.

Lt. Col. Sison said his troops were conducting combat patrol to verify a report from civilians on Sunday on the presence of armed men in the area.

He reiterated that due to pressure on the rebels with the continuous conduct of combat operations, the NPA has apparently failed in its purported goal to campaign for the political candidates the underground movement is supporting in the May 13 polls.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Sison has disclosed that the NPA is likely to take advantage of the upcoming mid-term elections by launching tactical offensives against soft targets, military detachments and vital installations.

The battalion commander said he is constantly meeting with the security officers of the different vital installations in his area of coverage to avert possible attacks by the NPA at the height of the elections.

The Philippine Army commander said they have been on red alert since May 1 in preparation for next week’s polls.

MILF: Advocacy on FAB held at Zamboanga Peninsula

From the MILF Website (May 6): Advocacy on FAB held at Zamboanga Peninsula

About 6,000 Bangsamoro people actively participated in a three-day advocacy on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro held at Camp Salman Al-Farishey, Datu Tumanggong, Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay from April 27-29, 2013.

It was organized by the Zamboanga Peninsula Political Committee and 113th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). Various speakers were invited to talk on the contents and salient features of the FAB.
Mr. Nasrullah Muhammad, a representative from the Office of the First Vice- Chairman oriented the participants on the FAB. He said that, “it is better if every Bangsamoro individual can share the letter and intent of FAB and its essence to his/her brothers and sisters.

Ameer Jamah Mukaddam, Provincial Chairman of the Kalibugan Province challenged every municipal chairman and the different sectors to do their roles and fulfill their responsibilities by extending to many people the objectives of the FAB and its benefits to the people. He also added that, “it is of great importance that many people will be oriented and familiarized with the noble undertaking of advocating the Peace Agreement”.

“Dapat palakasin ng BIAF ang kanilang tungkulin bilang mga sundalo ng mga Bangsamoro. Dapat din nilang gawin ang nararapat bilang Mujahideen at iwasan ang mg hakbang na makasisira sa usaping pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng pamahalaan at ng MILF”, said Battalion Commander Maulana Mukaddam. (“The BIAF should strengthen their role as soldiers of the Bangsamoro and as Mujahideen they should avoid any act that may imperil the peace process between the government and the MILF, said Battalion Comdr. Maulana Mukaddam)

Malaysian IMT, Julkipli Hasim also shared his thoughts. He said that, “We must value the peace process in order to achieve lasting peace and so that development will take place especially in the Bangsamoro homelnd, Mindanao”.

Malik Abdul Karim, Deputy Chairman of Committee on Information said that, “We must avoid gossips and creating hearsays for they are obstructive to the peace process. We must all be optimistic so that we can achieve what we’ve been longing for: genuine peace, security, progress and achieve our rights to our own homeland”.

The advocacy served as an avenue to all the members for establishing rapport and camaraderie, thus, made everyone more committed on the realization of the Bangsamoro aspiration for sled-determination. The gathering finally ended with smiles and handshakes; the participants felt contented with what they heard and learned from the speakers. The organizers are contemplating to organize more advocacy programs so that more areas in the peninsular will become recipient of similar program.

CSupt. Napenas lashes out at insurgents

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): CSupt. Napenas lashes out at insurgents

Police Regional Office XIII chief Getulio P. Napenas minces no words in lashing out at the communist insurgents whom he said are out not only to undermine our democratic system but also to disrupt the peacefulness and orderliness of the May 13, 2013 midterm polls.

The Caraga top cop called the NPA rebels "evil" and the Philippine Army Special Forces and their SCAA units "good" while commending them for successfully defending their patrol base against a numerically- superior and heavily-armed NPA rebels who attacked their patrol base located in Brgy. San Antonio, RTR town, Agusan del Norte, 4:30 dawn Saturday.

Napenas, in his message Monday morning during the traditional flag-raising ceremony, said that "good will always triumph over evil." Napenas added that there's no justification why the rebels will harass the CAFGUs and the Army Special Forces whose presence were there just to maintain peace and order in the area and to do community service. "What honor can a group earn for harassing or fighting their fellow Filipinos?" Napenas said.

He said there is no honor in store to a group who forbid candidates to go to a certain place for failure to pay the so-called "permit to campaign" or "permit to win" fees, which according to him are actually extortion activities.

"It is dishonorable, according to him when top communist leader Jose Maria Sison said over the weekend in national papers that his bunch of rebels will intensify their fighting against the government. Its not honorable, he further said, to a group who had the gut to write on a wall which he read at a certain place during his visit to Surigao del Sur province saying, "Rebolusyon, hindi Eleksyon!"(Revolution and not Election!).

Napenas said that "Revolution is the law of the unlearned, the law of the jungle, the way of communism and terrorism. Election is the way of democracy, where the subjects can enjoy their right to elect their leaders or be elected to elective positions."

According to him, communism thrives on the people's passivity. "Let those who wanted to play with communism go to North Korea. There, they really will experience the reality of communism," he said.

Napenas cited the case of Cambodia during the Khmer Rogue takeover where the communist killed all the learned people which resulted to the so-called "Killing Fields." He said that during his travels in Europe, he actually saw the backwardness of the places which were once under communism.

He cited Serbia, Kosovo and Albania which were then under Russian communism as very underdeveloped places. "There is more development under a democratic system of governance than under communism" Napenas stressed.

It will be recalled that at dawn Saturday, about 100 fully armed rebels believed to be a combined force of the Regional Sentro De Grabidad (RSDG) and Guerilla Front 21 of the Northeastern Mindanao Revolutionary Committee (NEMRC) attacked a Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA) patrol base in Brgy San Antonio, RTR town, Agusan del Norte.

Police accounts said the base-defenders held their ground against the enemy until the reinforcement teams from the Special Forces led by Capt. Bautista, Commanding Officer of the 9SF Company and 1Lt. Balatbat based in Pianing, Butuan City arrived in the area. The firefight lasted for about four hours until the enemy withdrew towards the northern direction.

Pursuing troops recovered an M14 Rifle, a backpack (near the patrol base), a tampered Elisco M16 Rifle, a shotgun, three improvised explosives (at 20 kilos each), six rolls electric wires, three bundles of detonating cord, six blasting caps, 20 more backpacks containing personal belongings, four handgrenades, four bangalores, a rifle grenade, a hand held radio, a Nokia cellular Phone, six ignition board switch, assorted medical supplies, an M14 fully loaded magazine, an empty AK47 magazine, assorted ammunitions for AK47, M16 and M14 and 25 liters of gasoline.

Human rights abuses on the decline -- CHR

From the Philippine News Agency (May 6): Human rights abuses on the decline -- CHR

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has announced that there is a significant reduction in the number of cases and victims of enforced disappearance, extra-judicial killings, torture and other forms of ill-treatment from 2010 to 2013.

The announcement on the drop was made by CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales on Friday in the Ulat sa Bayan 2013 that marked its 26th year foundation anniversary held at CHR Multi-Purpose Hall, Commonwealth Ave., Diliman Quezon City.

Rosales cited that based from the comparative report of Martus-based Executive Information Service (MAREIS) that CHR is using to monitor human rights violations, in the first quarter of 2013, there are only 2 cases and 2 victims in the number of enforced disappearance,; 14 and 2 in 2012; 16 and 24 in 2011; while 34 and 53 in 2010.

In the first quarter of 2013, the number of cases and victims of extra judicial killings validated by CHR noted a drop to 15 and 30, in comparison to 43 and 48 in 2012; 61 and 93 in 2011; and 89 and 138 in 2010.

The number of cases and victims of torture and other forms of ill-treatment validated in the 1st quarter of 2013 also declined to 6 and 6; from the 39 and 63 in 2012; 55 and 68 in 2011; and 41 and 53 in 2010.

Rosales pointed out that the drop was due to a quite number of variables working together.

“Government’s paradigm shift in addressing internal armed conflict focusing on the political, rather than the militarist approach; sustained dialogue between CHR and the Security Sector, focused on human rights law enforcement and security sector reforms; peace building process especially in Mindanao with the MILF, better confidence in government by the poor and business sectors because of anti-corruption drive and others,” Rosales said when asked what are the factors that contributed to the decline.

However, Rosales cautioned that while there are clear indications on the drop that should not be taken as a reason to be happy and be contented.

“Radically, with the concerted efforts of different agencies and LGUs working together it is going down but it never really disappeared,” she added.

“The mere fact that there are still cases of enforced disappearance signifies, extra-judicial killings, torture and other forms of ill-treatment that much concerted efforts still needs to be done in the road towards ending impunity,” she stressed out.

She expressed hope that the people will participate to make human rights a way of life by encouraging exercise of vigilance in guarding and protecting against perpetrators of human rights violations.

“I hope that people and different civil society groups will have deeper understanding to stand firmly against the perpetrators of human rights violations to send them the messages that they are not being tolerated and allowed in our society in whatever way,” she then added.

When asked what is the message she wants to impart to those who undauntedly commit human rights violations, she plead to them to end impunity and said: "They should fully understand that concerted efforts from different sectors are working together for the delivery of criminal justice to the victims as a way to combat them".