Wednesday, May 8, 2013

No 'pabaon' under my watch says new AFP auditor

From the Philippine Star (May 6): No 'pabaon' under my watch says new AFP auditor

The new auditor of the military on Monday assured the public that there would be no "pabaon" or illegal conversion of funds during his watch.

Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr., chief of the Armed Forces Office of the Internal Auditor, said he would make sure that the military’s resources are used properly.

“We have to look into it so that we can determine if they (resources) are in the right track or if they’re performing well in line with the security sector reform,” Tutaan said.
He added that the objective is to ensure the “judicious and prudent use of resources.”

Tutaan, who is also the spokesman of the military, said his office would conduct surprise audits when necessary.

“Other audits will be undertaken on special cases,” he said.

Tutaan said there would be no sacred cows in his drive to look into the transactions of military offices.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) image has been tainted with corruption after former military budget officer George Rabusa had claimed in 2011 that some generals got huge sums upon retirement.

He said the giving of send-off money or “pabaon” to top officials is part of a tradition.

Military funds intended for other purposes were reportedly converted to cash gifts for ranking officials.

During the height of the controversy, survey firm Pulse Asia released a survey which showed that almost half of Filipinos view the AFP as an institution where corruption is most prevalent.

The AFP has repeatedly claimed that reforms have been undertaken to insulate its financial and procurement systems from irregularities.

Among the measures that have been suggested to address fund misuse are the signing of a military logistics support and ordering agreement; using purchase card to avoid carrying too much cash and improving the AFP disposal program for unserviceable equipment and reimbursable fund operations.

Tiamzons, not Joma, now in charge of CPP

From the Manila Standard Today (May 7): Tiamzons, not Joma, now in charge of CPP

Govt may drop party founder from peace talks

The government said on Monday that it may drop Ultrech-based communist leaders Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni when it resumes the peace talks with the communists.

Government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said that based on intelligence reports from within the communist movement, Sison and Jalandoni were no longer in charge of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army, and it is actually the husband-and-wife tandem of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon who are calling the shots.

“Who is in charge? Well, intelligence reports say that the Tiamzon spouses are in charge,” Padilla said during a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on Monday.

Padilla added that this was one of the reasons why the government is studying whether it would still involve Sison in the talks in the future through another platform and framework.

Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said there were new “dynamics” within the communist movement that suggested that it was futile talking to its founding chairman who has been in The Netherlands under a self-imposed exile.

“The report is that there are dynamics and there are things that are happening with the movement now. How this eventually settles itself, we don’t know,” Deles said.

“One of the things that we have that has really come forward in the consultations is the need to examine and assess who we are talking to and therefore this [whether to still talk to Sison or not] is a question that will certainly be seriously studied,” she added.

Based on Sison’s autobiographical work called The Philippine Revolution he and Tiamzon were members of the CPP’s Political Bureau, the party’s executive panel, in 1989. Tiamzon was also “politburo’s” acting chairman in 1987.

The other members of the Politburo in 1989 were Tiamzon’s wife, Wilma Austria, Ricardo Reyes and Romulo Kintanar.

However, Sison and Tiamzon drifted apart in the succeeding years, when he supported the moves within the rebel movement to participate in legislative elections, with Tiamzon choosing to maintain the party’s vision of relying on armed struggle.

Military sources also said Sison and Tiamzon backed opposing camps in 2010 when Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo ran for a seat in the House but.

Tuazon reportedly “celebrated” Ocampo’s defeat because it was an expensive exercise that was unpopular with those who espoused armed struggle, according to the military.

The Tiamzon couple have been described as more aggressive than Sison.

Former presidential peace adviser Avelino Razon Jr. had warned that with the Tiamzon couple at the helm, a “regime of violence is at hand.”

National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said the Tiamzon couple may have gained the upperhand because the NPA ground commanders respected them over the years for their decision to stay and continue the CPP’s armed struggle in the country.

“The general belief is that those based in the Philippines are exercising leadership. It is strange for a leader to be out of the country, and that is how the Tiamzon couple is able to exercise effective leadership,” Garcia said in a phone interview.

Little is known about the Tiamzon couple, except that Benito was an urban poor scholar who graduated from the University of the Philippines with a degree in Sociology.

Army, rebels clash in Santa Catalina

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 7): Army, rebels clash in Santa Catalina

Army soldiers clashed with about 30 suspected members of the New People’s Army in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, yesterday morning.

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

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

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

Recovered items from the encounter site were 113 spent shells of caliber 5.56 M-16, 89 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.

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, Sison said, 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.

He also said he is constantly meeting with the security officers of vital installations in his area to prevent possible attacks by the NPA at the height of the elections.

He said they have been on red alert status since May 1 in preparation for next week’s polls.

4 injured in Basilan bombing

From the Philippine Star (May 6): 4 injured in Basilan bombing

Four people were wounded after suspected Abu Sayyaf militants attacked a political meeting in Lamitan City, Basilan.

Chief Inspector Almer Ismael, police commander for Lamitan city, said today that an improvised bomb was hurled into the house of incumbent Lamitan City mayor Roderick Furigay about 10 p.m., local time, Sunday.

Ismael said the suspects, believed to be riding in tandem, hurled the bomb during a meeting among Furigay's supporters. The suspects quickly escaped towards unknown direction.

The bomb exploded and injured at least four civilian supporters but the mayor was unhurt, according to Ismael.

It's not clear yet the motive behind the bombing. But Furigay alleged that this may be part of Abu Sayyaf's extortion activities.

Ships sighted off PH-occupied shoal are Chinese spy vessels — sources

From the Philippine Daily  Inquirer (May 8): Ships sighted off PH-occupied shoal are Chinese spy vessels — sources
The Western Command is monitoring the presence of two Chinese military surveillance vessels that were reported to be on a stationary position since Tuesday afternoon near the Philippine-occupied Ayungin Shoal in the disputed Spratly’s region.

The two Chinese vessels were identified by other defense sources who asked not to be identified as “maritime surveillance vessels”. They were reported to be in stationary position some six nautical miles west of Ayungin Shoal since Tuesday afternoon.

The source added that the information about the Chinese presence “has been relayed to proper authorities”, including Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Lieutenant Cherry Tindog, Wescom spokesperson, confirmed that the regional military command has received reports about the Chinese vessels but declined to issue additional information concerning the reported intrusion.

Ayungin Shoal, also known internationally as Second Thomas Reef, is one of the reef formations within the six islands with Philippine troops presence and is considered by the country as part of the municipality of Kalayaan.

It is closest to Mischief Reef, which until 1995 was occupied by the Philippines until the Chinese built a fortification in it.

Intel operative killed in gun attack

From the Philippine Star (May 7): Intel operative killed in gun attack

A military intelligence operative was killed while another was seriously wounded in a gun attack on Monday night by riding in tandem suspects in Jolo, Sulu, police said.

The slain intelligence operative was identified as Corporal Timhar Abdulkasim while his wounded comrade is Master Sergeant Datu Andan Duran.

Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra, Sulu provincial police director, said the victims were on board their service motorcycle when they were shot at Kakuyagan village about 9:30 p.m.

Investigation disclosed that the victims failed to notice they were tailed by the four suspects riding in tandem on two motorcycles that closed in and shot them several times, killing Abdulkasim on the spot and seriously wounding Duran.

Abdulkasim sustained several gunshot wounds in his body while Duran suffered a gunshot wound from his back which exited through his chest.

The wounded victim was initially rushed to the hospital in Jolo for treatment before he was airlifted by the United States military contracted helicopter for further treatment at the Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.

The military believed the attack on the victims was related to their job and suspected the Abu Sayyaf hit squad as the possible suspects in the gun attack.

US troops nearly figure in Basilan encounter

From the Philippine Star (May 8): US troops nearly figure in Basilan encounter

American soldiers were nearby when an encounter broke out between government forces and suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, which left eight dead in Al-Barkah, Basilan last Monday, a senior military official said yesterday.

Filipino soldiers led the US servicemen out of Sitio Pagatawnan, Barangay Magcawa, said Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Basilan-based 104th Infantry Brigade.

“They (US troops) wanted to inspect their sponsored Mincost Project, but when the firing started, we had them withdrawn from the area. No one among them got involved in the fighting,” Galvez said.

Sayyaf gunmen release 2 captive laborers in Sulu

From the Philippine Star (May 8): Sayyaf gunmen release 2 captive laborers in Sulu

Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen freed their two captive laborers unharmed after the latter allegedly paid a ransom in the hinterland of Patikul town, Sulu, according to police Wednesday.

The victims – Awan Usman and Boy Nunung, both laborers of a local construction firm, were freed about 4 p.m Tuesday at Barangay Bauno Bangkal, Patikul town, according to Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, Sulu provincial police director.

The victims were fetched by an unidentified person on board a motorcycle with no plate number and dropped them along the road crossing near the Jolo fire station.

The two victims were seized last Friday morning by eight Abu Sayyaf gunmen wearing masks at Barangay Latih, Patikul.

The police said they are investigating whether ransom in the form of a “board and lodging” fee was reportedly paid in exchange for the victim's release.

55IB, Phil. Army sets up quick response teams in remote areas of Misamis Occidental

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 7): 55IB, Phil. Army sets up quick response teams in remote areas of Misamis Occidental

The 55th Infantry Battalion (55IB), 101 Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, has set up quick response teams (QRT) for deployment in the remote areas of Misamis Occidental.

The deployment will complement that of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the province, whose concentration is on the municipalities along the national highways and secondary roads, as well as the coastal areas, Lt. Col. Rommel A. Almaria, Commander of 55IB, said.

“Although our main concern is counter-insurgency, the 55IB is also concerned of making the May 13, 2013 national and local elections safe and orderly,” Almaria said.

He also said they have already coordinated with the Misamis Occidental Provincial Police Office (MOPPO) and taken the task to provide security to the people living in the boundaries of the province and the Zamboanga provinces, located at the foot of the Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park (MMRNP).

Particularly, these municipalities had histories of election-related atrocities and rebel infestation, such as Concepcion, Don Victoriano, Bonifacio, Tudela, Sinacaban and Ozamiz City.

Meanwhile, Almaria assured the residents of the province that they have organized more than 400 members of the Civilian Auxiliary Forces Ground Unit (CAFGU) to serve as augmentation force to close to 300 regular members of 55IB.

On the other hand, Almaria said the 55IB soldiers, along with the members of the CAFGU will be providing security support to the deployment of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), as well as the voters, on election day, on May 13.

NPA tries to make presence felt in Region- Army

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 6): NPA tries to make presence felt in Region- Army

Atrocities made by the New People's Army is designed to sow fear and to make their lean presence felt, Armed Forces of the Philippines 10th ID spokesperson Lyndon Paniza said.

Paniza in an interview revealed some forms of activities which he said were desperate moves by the rebel group to gain public cognizance.

The military recently uncovered extortion activities of the NPAs which allegedly asked revolutionary taxes from small businesses in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley, Paniza said.

The NPA were observed to be sending letters to small businesses in Monkayo town, among which received such letter was a courier service entity.

Paniza said the courier establishment revealed being threatened by the NPA which expressed intention to burn delivery vehicles on their way to outskirt areas if it refused to pay revolutionary tax.

Such activity was on top of the "tactical offensive" such as abduction activities that the NPA wages against the Philippine National Police and the AFP personnel.

Late last month, the police security of Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo was abducted by the NPA which held a checkpoint in Baranga Anitapan in Mabini.

At the backdrop of these atrocities, some members of NPA are going back to the folds of the law.

Paniza revealed that last morning a couple surrendered to the 72nd Infantry Battalion which brought them to the barangay captain of Libasan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.

PNP: Extortionist behind attempt to topple power lines in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (May 8): PNP: Extortionist behind attempt to topple power lines in North Cotabato
Police here believed the motive in the attempt to topple a major power transmission line in North Cotabato was triggered by an ignored extortion demand by lawless groups, police here said.

Police and military have deployed civilian volunteers to secure the power lines following the bomb attempt in one of the steel transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Kabacan police chief Supt. Leo Ajero said suspected extortion gangs planted a powerful improvised explosive device at the foot of the steel tower in Barangay Kayaga and set off at about 10:00 p.m. Monday. The blast failed to damage the steel tower, according to Ajero.

Ajero said the IED has malfunctioned and it did not fully explode, describing it as semi-dud IED.

Chief Inspector Jerson Birrey, North Cotabato police office community relations chief, said the NGCP which transmits power from Bukidnon to North Cotabato had been receiving extortion demand from lawless elements.

Birrey did not name the group responsible in the attempt but he added pursuit operations are still ongoing.

Police and Army bomb experts said the IED has the signature of al-Khobar extortion gang operating in North Cotabato.

Al-Khobar extortion group composed of former Moro rebels turned bandits has been operating in North Cotabato and victimizing transport companies and multinational corporations.

Police have recovered a Nokia 3310 mobile phone which was used by the suspects as trigger mechanism.

Ajero said the mobile phone was not damaged and it had two missed calls, an indication that it was called to ignite the main charge which police believed was made of 60 mm mortar.

Army criticizes NPAs robbery in band, bombing, extortion in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (May 8): Army criticizes NPAs robbery in band, bombing, extortion in North Cotabato

The military has lambasted the New People's Army (NPA) operating at the foot of Mount Apo for atrocities, robberies and kidnappings.

First Lieutenant Nasrullah Sema, speaking for the 57th Infantry Battalion, said the latest atrocities the guerillas carried out was the confiscation of truckloads of rice from the towns of Makilala, Magpet and Arakan traders, all in North Cotabato.

Sema said the NPAs are taking advantage of the election fever and carried out bombings against government forces and civilians here.

On Tuesday night, communist guerillas belonging to Mt.Apo Sub-Regional Command, through its spokesperson Isabel Santiago, admitted they seized more than 100 sacks of rice that some politicians used in wooing voters in Magpet, Arakan, Makilala and nearby communities.

Sema said whether those rice were for "vote-buying" or business purposes it does not matter because the fact that the NPAs seized them and it was a clear case of robbery in band.

Santiago also accused the military of providing escorts to trucks loaded with rice owned by unidentified politicians.

But Sema denied by saying the Army has been neutral from the start and never engaged in political activities as directed by higher headquarters.

"We remained non-partisan and we will continue our mandate," Sema said. "The NPAs are extortionists, robbers and insincere in efforts to peacefully resolve their struggle."

The military is preparing charges against the NPAs for the abduction of Police Officer 3 Maulana Ali of Arakan PNP.

The NPA earlier vowed to release the police captive if the military ceases its offensive against them.

"That's propaganda, there is only one Armed Forces in the Philippines," Sema stressed.

He added that communist guerillas are making a living from politicians who enter their communities to campaign, asking them to provide "permit to win."

The Army spokesperson has repeatedly appealed to politicians not to give in to the NPA demands "because it will become a cycle and in a way supporting the movement."

Army, PNP see peaceful ARMM polls with MILF's backing

From the Philippine News Agency (May 8): Army, PNP see peaceful ARMM polls with MILF's backing

Military and police officials foresee a peaceful and orderly midterm elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Among the major contributory factors that contributed to a peaceful run-up for the May 13 national and local polls was the existing ceasefire agreement between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the rebels' commitment to help the authorities in the peaceful conduct of the balloting.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said he appreciated the assurance issued by MILF chief Al-Haj Murad that his forces will abide by the special security arrangement aimed at ensuring a peaceful balloting in areas that were used to be violent before and during elections.

ARMM is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Through the efforts of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the MILF and the GPH crafted a special ceasefire agreement in Davao City last April 22.

The agreement restrained the MILF forces from getting close to any voting centers in their areas of jurisdiction or carry firearms during election day.

"We are glad with the MILF's commitment to help maintain a peaceful balloting," Delos Reyes said, appreciating the MILF leadership for their good gesture.

In a statement, the MILF said it will only support candidates who back the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement but will not campaign against those who will not support the accord.

In previous elections, the MILF maintained a non-participation policy, exactly opposite in its new stance where they will support, as individual voters, candidates supporting the GPH-MILF peace process.

The MILF also said individual MILF members are supporting the administration candidates who openly support the peace process as President Aquino, chair of the Liberal Party, was sincere in his aspiration for the peace process to succeed.

His statement ran counter to claims by certain members of the United Nationalist Alliance in the ARMM provinces that they enjoy the political backing of the MILF.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, 6th Infantry Division commanding general, also welcomed Murad’s assurance of cooperation with the security efforts of the Commission on Elections.

According to Gapuz said any violation in the agreement will be reported quickly to the GPH-MILF joint ceasefire panel for appropriate action.

"We are glad with the developments, we hope it will set a precedent ahead of the 2016 national elections," Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, Comelec-ARMM regional director.

He said it was unprecedented since it was the first time that the rebel movement had publicly declared its full cooperation for the safe conduct of the balloting.

Gapuz and Delos Reyes both said Maguindanao's balloting is expected to be as peaceful as ever since all stakeholders vowed to work with security officials.

"Security preparations for Maguindanao are now in place, but are still subject to immediate changes according to the disposition of the Comelec," Delos Reyes said.

Both officials assured the public that their subordinates from highest officials to the lowest and ordinary police and soldiers will remain apolitical and will not take sides except for Safe and Fair Elections (SAFE).

Army thwarts another extortion attempt of NPA in Northern Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 8): Army thwarts another extortion attempt of NPA in Northern Samar

For the second time troops of the 8th Infantry Division (8ID) of the Philippine Army (PA) foiled the attempt of the New People’s Army (NPA) to extort money from political candidates in relation to the forthcoming May 13 elections.
The 34th Infantry Battalion of the 8ID responded to information coming from civilians about the presence of NPAs waiting for the payment of money they extorted from political candidates morning of Tuesday at the vicinity of Lakandula village, Las Navas of Northern Samar .
The area clearing patrol resulted to an encounter with around 15 NPAs that also lasted for about 15 minutes. Thereafter the rebels fled to various directions, according to Capt. Amado Gutierrez, officer-in-charge of the 8th ID public affairs office.
Additional troops were immediately deployed in the area to conduct pursuit operation against the fleeing NPAs.
Earlier, the 8th Infantry Division also foiled the extortion activities of the NPAs at Brgy. Albalate, Catbalogan City.
The 87th Infantry Battalion also engaged in a firefight the undermined number of NPA insurgents who were on their way to Catbalogan City to collect extortion fees from the local candidates.
Recovered during the encounter were one M16 rifle, one baby armalite, one fragmentary grenade and a civilian backpack containing personal belongings.
Col.Rolando Malinao, Commander of 803rd Infantry Brigade also of the 8ID based in Camp Somoroy, Catarman, Northern Samar assured that their troops are always ready to respond to any information coming from civilians to prevent extortion attempts of the rebels.
“We have to stop them from harassing and intimidating the peace-loving people in Northern Samar,” he added.
On the other hand, 8ID commander, M/Gen. Gerardo T Layug, Commander also congratulated the troops for foiling the extortion activities of the NPAs, against local candidates.
“Let us vigorously do our mandated task this coming May 13 elections to secure and protect the people, so that they can exercise their right of suffrage free from intimidation or coercion,” he said.

Two Sino navy vessels spotted off West Philippines Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (May 8): Two Sino navy vessels spotted off West Philippines Sea

Two Sino navy surveillance vessels have been reportedly spotted near Ayungin Shoal in the disputed West Philippines Sea, and the Western Command (WESCOM) is verifying the report.

A source said the Chinese navy vessels were located Tuesday at a distance of over six miles west of Ayungin Reef (2nd Thomas Reef), and information about their presence have already been reported to the WESCOM.

Lt. Cheryl Tindog, spokesperson of the WESCOM in Palawan, confirmed that information about the presence of the alleged Sino navy vessels has reached Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, the newly-installed commander.

However, when asked to comment on the matter, she refused to say any and merely said verifications are now being done by the WESCOM.

Closest to the Mischief Reef, which has gained international fame due to the construction of pre-fabricated structures that appear to be naval outposts at sea some years ago, Ayungin is a reef named after a fish with the same name.

It is well within the six islands that the Philippines is claiming in the West Philippines Sea under the Kalayaan municipal government.

NPA releases prisoner of war in Arakan

From the Sun Star-Davao (May 9): NPA releases prisoner of war in Arakan

The New People's Army (NPA) released Police Officer 3 Maula Tato Ali of the Arakan Police in Barangay Kabalantian, Arakan, around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Ka Simon Santiago, political director of the NPA Regional Political Department, confirmed the release through a text message sent to reporters here.

Santiago said the NPA’s Mount Apo sub-regional command turned over Ali to his wife and a group of peace advocates in Mindanao.

Ali immediately underwent medical check-up after the turnover.

He said the release took place despite the presence of government soldiers near the area.

He said soldiers under the 8th IB of the 10th Infantry Division were positioned at least eight kilometers away from the area.

A sniper from the Mount Apo sub-regional committee killed at least two of the 8th IB soldiers, according to Santiago.

The Army in North Cotabato has not confirmed such reports.

DFA calls on China not to fish in PHL waters

From GMA News (May 8): DFA calls on China not to fish in PHL waters

The Philippines called on China Wednesday to respect its internationally-recognized territory and sovereignty in the South China Sea amid reports that 30 Chinese vessels have been deployed to scour the contested waters for fish and other resources.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez said it would be a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) if China proceeds with its fishing expedition in areas that would include Philippine territorial waters.

“The Philippines has international obligation to ensure the sustainable management of these resources. China is in violation of international law if it interferes with the sovereign rights of the Philippines,” Hernandez told a press briefing.

In another provocative assertion over the resource-rich waters, a flotilla of fishing vessels—the largest Chinese deployment to date— has reportedly sailed to the South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

The vessels, according to Chinese state media, will harvest marine resources for about 40 days.

Hernandez said the Philippines has all the rights to defend its maritime entitlements, noting “the maritime resources in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone belong to the Filipino people.”

China cites historical entitlements as the basis for its huge claim in the South China Sea, where some parts are called West Philippine Sea by the Philippines.

Tensions flared between Manila and Beijing last year when Chinese government ships prevented the Philippines from arresting Chinese poachers in the Philippine-administered Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, resulting to a standoff.

The incident further emboldened China to pursue its territorial claim over the waters and has since blocked Philippine access to the shoal, which Manila says lies within its UN-sanctioned 200-nautical mile EEZ entitlement to coastal states.

Army chief confers honors Bulacan-based troops for neutralizing armed extortionists

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 8): Army chief confers honors Bulacan-based troops for neutralizing armed extortionists

Army chief Lieutenant General Noel Coballes recently conferred medals to eight troops from the 56th Infantry Battalion (56IB) based in Bulacan for successfully neutralizing armed extortionists.

Award of Military Merit Medal (Interim) was conferred to 2nd Lt. Daryl Glenn Secong, 2nd Lt. Joel Romano III, Cpl. Danilo Viray Jr., Cpl. Romy Siddayao, and Pfc. Jerry Palicas.

Moreover 1st Lt. Eric Phil Estrada and 1st Lt. Dheryl Pacleb received the Military Merit Medal while Cpl. Jerry Masalonga was bestowed with the Award of the Military Commendation Medal.

“The personnel were commended for their acts of heroism involving risk of life, meritorious and valuable achievements, and highly commendable and exemplary performance of duty during the conduct of operations that led to the zero-casualty neutralization of eleven members of the New People’s Army and the confiscation of nine high-powered firearms, four hand grenades, including 22 assorted magazines and 307 assorted live ammunitions, and a Mitsubishi Delica van as well as subversive documents at Sitio Sapang Linao, Brgy. Kabayunan, Doña Remedios Trinidad last April 26” said Coballes.

“With these achievements, subject officers and enlisted personnel earned distinct credit and honor not only for themselves, the 56IB, 7th Infantry Division (7ID) and Philippine Army but also for the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines as well” Coballes added.

In a statement, 7ID commander Major General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. shares equal jubilance for the success and achievement of one of its line units.

“I congratulate the 56IB for a job well done. Through their hard efforts and exemplary performance of duty, the remaining remnants of insurgency were conquered all the more. Insurgency is indeed dead, and we are now heading to peace, development, and prosperity,” Catapang said.

Army mulls charges vs. NPA

From the Visyan Daily Star (May 8): Army mulls charges vs. NPA

The 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, will seek the assistance of the Commission on Human Rights in filing criminal charges against suspected members of the New People’s Army for an encounter in Sta. Catalina town Monday.

Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Marion Sison, said yesterday that, according to witnesses, around 30 rebels had used some residents of Sitio Cadlum in Barangay Nagbalaye, Sta. Catalina, as human shields during the firefight with government troopers that lasted for about 15 minutes.

Sison said soldiers acted on a tip from civilians about the presence of armed men in a house in Cadlum, and were fired at as they approached. A firefight ensued and while no casualties were reported, the presence of residents at the encounter site had slowed down the soldiers’ efforts to fully engage and pursue the armed group.

He added some witnesses had claimed that there were children in the vicinity.

Sison said he had talked with CHR special investigator Jess Cañete on the possible filing of charges, like violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law, the Commission on Elections gun ban, and child abuse and exploitation under Republic Act 7610, against the rebels.

He added that he will meet Cañete to submit the statements of the witnesses and to discuss legal options Friday.

NPA admits torching mine drilling rig

From the Philippine Star (May 7): NPA admits torching mine drilling rig

New Peoples Army guerrillas have claimed responsibility over the April 26 torching of a drilling rig of the Far South East Gold Resources Inc., a subsidiary of the African-based Goldfields Resources Corp. , in the mining district of Mankayan, Benguet.

The Benguet-based Jennifer “Maria” Cariño Command” of the NPA said “(it) was a punishment of the mining company, and it is in support and solidarity with the people of Mankayan and with people of other places against the destructive mining operations.”

Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong earlier said four men armed with M16 and M203 rifles put ablaze the drilling machine being used by the mining firm in confirming gold ore in Ampontoc, Colalo, Mankayan at around 6:43 p.m. on April 26, quoting Lawrence Pasiwen, supervisor of the private Warrior Security Agency.

Mankayan policemen led by Chief Inspector Ferdinand Oydoc, a team from the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philipine Army under 1Lt. Roger Durada and another team from the Benguet Police Public Safety Battalion led by Supt. Lambert Suerte tried to run after the armed men but failed to catch them.

In the 70’s, communist guerrillas also burned a drilling rig of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., which has partnered with Goldfields in the FSGRI’s projects in Mankayan.

FSGRI, amid local protests, has pursued its confirmatory drillings in several areas in Mankayan despite heavy oppposition to the operations.

The FSGRI has remained mum on the attack, while the NPA said ”the drilling operations in Colalo is for the planned construction of Tailings Dam 5B of (Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. for its expansion of mining operations in Mankayan and the nearby municipality of Tadian, Mt. Province."

“The setting up of the tailings dam 5B means the grabbing anew of many hectares of land of the people of Barangays Colalo and Bedbed by LCMC,” the NPA said.

Makabayan condemns 'commies' tag

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 8): Makabayan condemns 'commies' tag

Makabayan Coaltion of progressive party lists condemned the use of smear campaign materials and other forms of black propaganda against their ranks.

Makabayan’s pollwatch group Task Force Pollwatch said it acquired a sample flyer that tags progressive party lists and candidates as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The flyer also used ABS CBN’s Juan Dela Cruz program as the instigator of the smear campaign. In their investigation, underage children were paid P40 to distribute the materials along Elipidio Quirino Avenue and Ilustre Street in Davao City.

"This form of harassment made against progressive party lists and candidates using a prominent station such as the ABS-CBN is a clear case of systematic attacks We also condemn the use of underage children in propagating these materials."

"It only shows that these children are vulnerable to anything during these final days of the electoral campaign. If they were easily used in this smear campaign, they would also be easily harassed," Ariel Casilao, regional coordinator of Makabayan Coalition Southern Mindanao, said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The material makes use of the ABS-CBN’s hit prime time series ‘Juan dela Cruz’ as its header photo and below it is a list of progressive partylists and Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casiño. The flyer reads “Wag iboto! Numero ng mga Komunista”

"We encourage ABS-CBN to release an official statement in order to clarify their involvement in the incident. We would also like to ask their help in raising voters’ awareness to not give in to any forms of black propaganda. Instead, voters should look into the track record and platforms of the candidates before election day," Casilao said.

CPP reiterates full recognition of NDFP Negotiating Panel

From the CPP Website (May 8): CPP reiterates full recognition of NDFP Negotiating Panel

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reiterates its full support and recognition of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) headed by its chair Luis Jalandoni and its chief political consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison.

“The intrigues being circulated by the Aquino regime and its peace negotiators over the past few days maliciously suggesting a ‘rift’ between Professor Sison and the revolutionary forces in the Philippines are utterly baseless,” pointed out the CPP. “The leadership and entire membership of the CPP and all revolutionary forces are fully behind the NDFP Negotiating Panel.”

“The Aquino regime has resorted to such a low level of rumor-mongering in a desperate attempt to justify its unilateral termination of peace negotiations with the official panel of the NDFP and its plan to carry out so-called localized peace talks” said the CPP.

“In the interest of pursuing the path of peace negotiations, the local leadership NDFP has kept the offices of the Negotiating Panel based in Utrecht, The Netherlands open in the event that the Aquino regime changes its mind and heeds the people’s demand to resume formal peace negotiations with the NDFP,” said the CPP.

The CPP said “the planned ‘localized peace talks’ are nothing but a psywar publicity gimmick that aim to portray the Aquino regime as interested in peace when in fact it has no interest in addressing the socio-economic and political roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines.”

“Not a single unit of the NPA or leadership committee of the CPP will fall for the Aquino regime’s localized peace talks scheme,” reiterated the CPP.

“In the guise of ‘localized peace talks’ and working with supposed ‘stakeholders,’ Aquino’s government will simply be talking to its own shadow. We can anticipate in the next years that Aquino’s defense and security officials will be making a big show of supposed ‘NPA surrenderees’ to justify its corruption-laden ‘socio-economic programs’ and pocket the millions of reward money alloted by the Department of Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government.”

Real reasons why Aquino Regime has ended peace negotiations with NDFP

From the CPP Website (May 7): Real reasons why Aquino Regime has ended peace negotiations with NDFP

Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines

By their pronouncements and actions, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are highly desirous of continuing the peace negotiations between the Philippine reactionary government (GPH) and the NDFP in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements.

As Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, has repeatedly confirmed, the members and consultants of his panel enjoy the full confidence of all members of the CPP Central Committee and the NDFP National Council. His panel continues to carry the authorization of the CPP and NDFP and is ever ready to resume the formal talks in the peace negotiations.

I am only the Chief Political Consultant of the panel. Since my arrest by the Marcos dictatorship in 1977, I have never claimed to be an official of the CPP Central Committee and the NDFP National Council. It is the journalists and my academic colleagues who accurately refer to me as the CPP Founding Chairman. This is a historic fact which I am always proud to acknowledge and include in my resume.

OPAPP secretary and GPH panel chairman Alex Padilla are presumptuous and ridiculous when they talk as if they had the power and right to choose the negotiators and consultants of the NDFP. They sink to the bottom of the garbage dump of intriques when they make false claims about my relations with the Tiamzons, whom I know to be excellent and sincere revolutionaries worthy of the highest respect.

The intrigues that Deles, Padilla and Lacierda are spewing out in the mass media are a desperate and futile attempt to obscure the real reasons why the regime is ending the peace negotiations, without giving the formal notice of termination to the NDFP. The real reasons are as follows:

First, the Aquino regime wants to scrap The Hague Joint Declaration and all subsequent agreements and to demonstrate that it does not have to negotiate with the NDFP because it depends totally on the violent and deceptive means under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan.

Second, the Aquino regime is willing to talk to the NDFP only for the purpose of seeking the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people on the precondition of indefinite ceasefire that permanently evades the necessity of addressing the roots of the civil war through comprehensive agreements on basic social, economic and political reforms. The NDFP has already tested and proven on the “special track” that the Aquino regime is not willing to have a truce and cooperation with NDFP, even if such were based on a general declaration of common intent for the benefit of the people.

Third, the Aquino regime is allowing its corrupt bureaucrats and military officers to carry out fake localized talks and fake surrenders and to pocket privately lots of money from the Conditional Cash Transfer and PAMANA funds, which amount to more than Php 45 billion. The Commission on Audit has already exposed the misappropriation of such funds.

The much ballyhooed “new approach” of the Aquino regime involves the escalation of military campaigns of suppression and psychological warfare, the ending of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, replacing these with fake localized talks and fake surrenders and pocketing of CCT and PAMANA funds by corrupt bureaucrats and military officers.

The advice that I have given to the NDFP Negotiating Panel is to be always ready for peace negotiations on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration and subsequent agreements. If the Aquino regime continues to be intransigent, its three remaining years is not too long to let pass. The puppet, exploitative, corrupt, brutal and mendacious character of the regime will further weaken the ruling system of big compradors and landlords.

The Aquino regime is a rabid follower of the bankrupt neoliberal economic policy and aggressive expansionism of the US. It pays no serious attention to the basic problems of the Filipino people but is overdependent on mere publicity stunts, rigged poll surveys and pre-programmed elections by Smartmatic. The ultra-reactionary character of the Aquino regime and the worsening economic and social crisis are favoring the growth of the people’s democratic government and the revolutionary forces and people supporting it.

MILF: MILF congratulates PM Najib, party’s victory in May 5 national polls

From the MILF Website (May ): MILF congratulates PM Najib, party’s victory in May 5 national polls

Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have congratulated Prime Minister Najib Mohammad bin Abdulrazak and his party, the Barisan Nasional, for their resounding victory in the recently-held national elections in Malaysia last May 5.

“I congratulate you and your party on your success at the general election and wish you well, as you take your country forward,” Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the MILF said in a telephone interview Monday evening.

He noted that the democratic process is alive and well in Malaysia.

“This is a historic opportunity for the people of Malaysia to come together to build a better future,” Murad stressed further.

Murad also described the success of Najib’s political party as a very strong shot in the arm that invigorates the Philippine-MILF peace process which Malaysia has been facilitating since 2001.

The Malaysian Election Commission said Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional (BN; National Front) coalition won 133 of the 222 in parliamentary seats.

The opposition won 89 seats, up from 82, in Sunday's election.

Voters - some 80% of whom cast ballots - had been faced with returning the ruling coalition or choosing Mr. Anwar's untested three-party alliance, Pakatan Rakyat.

In the 2008 polls, the BN lost its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time - something it failed to regain in these elections.

As the result was confirmed, Najib, 59, urged all Malaysians to accept his coalition's victory but acknowledged there is work ahead.

On Monday, a day after the Barisan victory, Najib was sworn in for a second term as prime minister by Malaysia's king.’s-victory-in-may-5-national-polls