Thursday, May 23, 2013

NPA commander surrenders in Kalinga

From the Sun Star (May 21): NPA commander surrenders in Kalinga

A unit commander of the communist New People's Army (NPA), wanted by a local criminal court for multiple counts of murder and robbery, surrendered to police authorities last Sunday.

In a statement released Monday, provincial police chief Froilan Perez identified the rebel leader as Benigno Conggas Cagwayan, 48, who used the aliases Dukang, Mel, and Garcia.

Cagwayan, who is the commander of the NPA's 2nd Larangan Yunit Guerilya operating in Kalinga province, has six warrants of arrest for double murder, frustrated murder, three counts of murder, and robbery with violence against Cagwan.
He carried a P500,000 bounty on his head, Perez said.

Cordillera police chief Benjamin Magalong believed that Cagwans' surrender significantly weakened the force of the NPA in the region.

"It is an indication that even ranking leaders don't believe of the cause and the violent means the CPP-NDF-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-NPA) had been employing against the government for decades," he said.

ASG abducts Marine sarge’s wife

From Tempo (May 21): ASG abducts Marine sarge’s wife

Suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) gunmen seized Saturday morning the wife of a Marine sergeant who is a hospital employee in Jolo, Sulu.

Military report identified the victim as Casilda Villarasa Marcos, a medical technologist in Sulu Provincial Hospital, which is just a few meters away from the Sulu Provincial Police Office in Jolo, the capital town of Sulu.

The report said Marcos and her nine-year-old daughter were about to enter the gate of the hospital where she works when four gunmen appeared and dragged her to a waiting black van around 6:30 a.m.

The daughter managed to run away while her mother was being taken by the gunmen to the van with no plate number, which sped off to unknown direction.

Police and the military authorities immediately mounted a rescue operation for the victim.

Authorities broker truce between rival MNLF forces in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (May 22): Authorities broker truce between rival MNLF forces in Maguindanao

Local officials managed to disengage late Tuesday rival forces of the Moro National Liberation Front  squabbling for territories at the border of two hinterland Maguindanao towns that dislocated more than 258  villagers.

The feuding MNLF groups, one led by Salipada Sumael of Barangay Ganassi in North Upi, and the other by Basco Omar of Barangay Lamod in South Upi, last fought each other Tuesday morning, sending villagers running for their lives.

North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang, chairman of the municipal peace and order council, said representatives of both sides signed a preliminary truce meant to deescalate the tension now gripping the adjoining Barangays Ganassi and Lamod.

Piang said emissaries of Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest  group in the MNLF, helped broker the peace pact.

The groups of Sumael and Omar have been squabbling for dominion over Moro and Teduray farming communities at the border of South and North Upi towns. The animosity between them was worsened by differing political allegiances during the May 13 polls.

The Omars reportedly supported the candidacy for mayor of South Upi of a clan member, Vice-Mayor Baba Omar, while Sumael and his men campaigned for one of Omar's  rivals for the town’s mayoral post.

The latest hostilities between the two groups erupted when the Omars disarmed two members of the other group following the botched attempt to kill the vice-mayor in an ambush in North Upi two days before the May 13 elections.

The two groups first figured in a showdown May 17, causing panic among farming communities at the boundary of the two towns.

Piang said community elders have also been helping resolve the conflict.

The 1st Marine Brigade, which has jurisdiction over South Upi, said  they asserted "government authority” by separating the groups of Sumael and Omar if they refused to reposition away and allow the return of displaced villagers to the conflict-stricken villages.

The two groups used assault rifles and shoulder-fire grenades as they tried to outgun each other Tuesday morning.

MILF to form political party in 2013

From Rappler (May 22): MILF to form political party in 2013

BANGSAMORO PARTY? MILF chief Murad Ebrahim says they will start forming their own political party this year. Photo taken by Karlos Manlupig

BANGSAMORO PARTY? MILF chief Murad Ebrahim says they will start forming their own political party this year. Photo taken by Karlos Manlupig

In preparation for the planned transition to the new Bangsamoro region in 2016, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will start forming its own political party this year. 

MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told a local radio station Wednesday, May 22, they will launch their political organization on or before the year ends.
“Our political group will help [us] push for the interest of Bangsamoro people in Mindanao,” he said.
As indicated in the Framework Agreement signed in October 2012, the new Bangsamoro region is expected to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2016. This coincides with the presidential election.
Before the ARMM is deemed abolished, two stages of transition would first have to take place. First, the Transition Commission will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be ratified by members of Congress. Once the basic law is in place, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, to be headed by the MILF, will lead the transition towards the Bangsamoro region.
Once the new Bangsamoro region is formally established, a new set of leaders for the region will be elected.
The MILF has repeatedly said that they want to complete the peace process before President Benigno Aquino III's term ends in 2016.
In an editorial published on its official website on March 24 highlighting the "urgency of the peace talks," the MILF said: "The truth is that if we cannot close this negotiation successfully during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, we do not know what lies ahead in 2016."
Current state of the peace process
The government and the MILF are in the final stages of talks for the comprehensive peace pact for the Bangsamoro political entity.
The negotiations suffered a delay when Aquino requested for more time to review the contents of the annexes. Out of the 4 annexes or supplementary documents for the peace agreement, only the Annex on Transition and Modalities has been signed. The annexes on wealth-sharing, power-sharing and normalization have yet to be completed.
But the transition process has already started. The Transition Commission -- the body tasked to draft the Basic Law that will serve as the legal basis for the new Bangsamoro region -- has started establishing its internal rules.
However, it can only begin drafting the Basic Law once a final peace pact is signed by both parties.
Despite the delays, MILF chief negotiatior and Transition Commission chairman Mohagher Iqbal is confident the Bangsamoro Basic Law will get enough political support for the new Bangsamoro region if the outcome of the recent polls, where majority of allies backed by Aquino emerged victorious, is to be considered.
“This is favorable to all of us especially to the on-going peace process because we know those elected officials will support the program of our President,” he said.
Sajahatra Bangsamoro
In a related development, leaders of the MILF proposed the inclusion of at least 10 provinces in Mindanao in the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a social development program for Moro communities.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said in a statement Monday, May 20, that members of the government Task Force on Bangsamoro Development, MILF Task Force Sajahatra, and the MILF Project Management Team decided to include the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Zamboanga Sibugay, South Cotabato, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Maguindanao in their forthcoming caravans from June to November this year.
Almendras said that in each location site, medical missions, scholarship grants, and livelihood support will be provided.
In November 2012, Aquino made a historic visit to Camp Darapanan, the MILF stronghold in Maguindanao, to launch Sajahatra Bangsamoro, which is part of the normalization program under the Framework Agreement.

Zamboanga boat master's kidnappers demand P15-M

From the Philippine Star (May 23): Zamboanga boat master's kidnappers demand P15-M

The group holding a fishing boat master captive in Sulu is demanding P15-million for the victim's release.

Relatives of kidnap victim Lucio Gonzales said that the kidnappers established contact on Wednesday and demanded the amount.

Gonzales, maestro patron (boat master) of the GMA and AMR fishing companies based in this city, was seized Tuesday morning by 15 gunmen on board two pumpboats in waters off Lantawan town in Basilan.

Authorities believe that the abductors brought Gonzales to Sulu.

The Basilan Provincial Police Offic has yet to confirm reports of the ransom demand.

Army files complaint vs NPA before 'bodong' tribal court

From the Philippine Star (May 23): Army files complaint vs NPA before 'bodong' tribal court

For the first time in the history of Cordillera,  Philippine Army troopers formally sought the intervention of the indigenous justice system called “Bodong” in seeking redress over killing of two soldiers escorting precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines by New People's Army rebels last May 9.

The Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army formally filed a complaint before the Office of the Matagoan Bodong Consultative Council (MBCC) in Tabuk City, Kalinga province headed by Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban.

Army corporals Wilfredo Bacacao and Allen Pattaguan were killed when an undetermined number of NPA rebels ambushed their group escorting PCOS machines and Commission on Elections personnel in Sitio Patiking, Barangay Dupag, Tabuk.

1st Lt. Rowena Abayon, spokesperson of the 5th ID, said that the Army decided to file a complaint before the MBCC because one of the slain soldiers -- Corporal Pattaguan -- and a wounded soldier are natives of Kalinga. He said all native residents of Kalinga have rights to seek justice through the "Bodong system."

Abayon said the Philippine Army “wants perpetrators and their supporters and contacts in the barangay be meted punishment in accordance to local traditional decree of the Bodong System.”

She said that the MBCC has convened last Tuesday at the Tabuk City Hall to resolve the complaint.

111 Cordillera guerillas undergo military training

From the Philippine Star (May 23): 111 Cordillera guerillas undergo military training             

At least 111 former members of the militia group Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA), a splinter group of the New People's Army, are now being trained to become regular soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

They successfully passed the screening process to become “candidate soldiers” and are now being trained at the 5th Infantry Division Training School of the Philippine Army in Gamu, Isabela.

Their rigorous training started December last year.

1st Lt. Rowena Abayon, spokesperson of the Army's 5th Infantry Division, said the former militiamen's integration into the regular force of the AFP is part of the final closure process for Administrative Order 18.

The administrative order mandates the inegration of CPLA members into the AFP.
A total of 264 members of the militia group have been integrated into the military more than a decade ago.

“Despite of the intricate task in the implementation of the integration program of the CPLA, another batch of 168 CPLA applicants into the Regular Force, AFP as stipulated under Executive Order Nr 49 which was signed by the President Benigno S Aquino III on July 19, 2011 mandating the implementation of the CPLA’s final disposition of its arms and forces, and transformation into a potent socio-economic and unarmed force,” Abayon explained.

Sayyaf men snatch social worker in Basilan village

From the Philippine Star (May 23): Sayyaf men snatch social worker in Basilan village

At least four Abu Sayyaf militants seized a government social worker yesterday morning while she was inspecting a project in a village in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan, the military said.

The victim, Jennelyn Luna Enpera, is an employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development assigned to oversee the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program for the families of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members in Ungkaya Pukan.

Lt. Col. Tiny Perez, commanding officer of the Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion, said the Abu Sayyaf militants on board two motorcycles and armed with .45-caliber pistols snatched Enpera in Barangay Ulitan while she was meeting with the MILF beneficiaries of the cash transfer program.

The militants escaped with Enpera toward Sumisip town. Perez said the MILF beneficiaries alerted them about the kidnapping and have coordinated with them for the rescue of Enpera.

Two of the kidnappers were identified as a certain Idol and Ulay.

Also in Basilan, heavily armed men intercepted a fishing boat and seized its captain off Lantawan town last Tuesday, police said.

Investigation showed that the fishing boat skippered by Lucio Gonzales was passing through the coast of Basilan when it was intercepted by 15 men on board two “jungkungs,” Malaysian-style, shallow-hulled pumpboats, at around 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The boat’s crewmen told police the armed men herded them in a corner before seizing Gonzales and then fled toward Sulu province.

Police forces and Marines in Sulu have been alerted to monitor the presence of the kidnappers and their captive on the island.

The management of the Zamboanga City-based Albert Fishing Boat which owns the seacraft, has been trying to establish contact with Gonzales’ kidnappers to determine their motive in snatching the boat captain.

Phl sending unarmed Navy ships to Ayungin Shoal

From the Philippine Star (May 23): Phl sending unarmed Navy ships to Ayungin Shoal             

At least three Chinese ships and 10 fishing boats were seen within the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal last Wednesday despite the diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines against China’s intrusion in the area.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that the vessels were spotted by security forces that conducted surveillance operations at about 5 a.m.

“We saw a frigate. We saw CMS (Chinese maritime surveillance) maritime ships. We have pictures and we have sent them to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA),” Gazmin said in a press briefing.

“Based on [the photos] that I saw yesterday, there were two CMS and one frigate,” he added.

Gazmin added that about 10 fishing boats or dinghies were also seen in the area, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

He said the deployment of a Chinese military frigate to the area is “unusual.”

“As far as we're concerned, it (Ayungin) is not a disputed (area). It’s ours,” the defense chief said.

Meanwhile, Gazmin said that the military will not send additional ships to the shoal but the resupply mission to the Filipino contingent in the area will go on as scheduled.

"We will be using an unarmed Navy ship for our resupply and replenishment missions to our forces there," he said.

The Filipino contingent in the shoal are in BRP Sierra Madre, a landing ship tank which ran aground off the Shoal several years back.

Ayungin Shoal is 105.77 nautical miles from Palawan and forms part of the 200 nautical miles of the Philippine continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group off Palawan and is one of the areas occupied by the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, the subject of a territorial row in the region.

Last week, a Chinese ship harassed a utility boat of Kalayaan Island town with 147 civilians that included the group of town mayor Eugenio Bito-onon.

Bito-onon claimed that the Chinese vessel started chasing the Queen Seagull utility boat while they were passing by the Ayungin Shoal.

The mayor said the Chinese vessel, which came from the eastern side of the shoal, used its powerful floodlights and sailed toward their boat several times. The Chinese warship reportedly came as close as 50 meters to their boat.

The chase, which reportedly lasted for about an hour, ended when the Queen Seagull reached the area around Half Moon Shoal, where a Chinese gunboat got stuck last year.

On Tuesday, the DFA announced that the Philippines had filed a protest against the illegal deployment of Chinese vessels around the Ayungin Shoal.

The protest, which was filed last May 10, complained about the provocative presence of two CMS and one warship around the area.

The Philippines has asked China to respect its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its continental shelf.

“China’s interference with the sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea is a violation of international law,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press conference last Tuesday.

China claims virtually the entire West Philippine Sea while the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the area.

Sayyafs seize 4 in Sulu, Basilan

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (May 22): Sayyafs seize 4 in Sulu, Basilan

SUSPECTED Abu Sayyaf bandits seized four people, including a government social worker, in separate occasions in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, officials said.

Two of the four hostages were released a day after they were seized in the province of Sulu.

A businessman, who was seized a month ago in Sulu by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits, has also been freed.

Abducted in Basilan province were fishing boat skipper Lucio Gonzales and social worker Jenelyn Entera while seized in Sulu were truck-mixer driver Hadji Sali Espada and his helper, who was identified only as a certain Dimar.

Basilan police director Senior Superintendent Mario Dapilloza said that Gonzales, the skipper of fishing boat (F/B) Albert, was seized around 8 a.m. Tuesday in the vicinity of Mataha, Lantawan municipality.

Dapilloza said the F/B Albert owned by Zamboanga City-based SMR Fishing Firm skippered was on a fishing venture when 15 gunmen aboard two motorboats locally known as “jungkung” arrived.

The gunmen suspected to be Abu Sayyaf bandits have seized Gonzales and sped towards the direction of Sulu province leaving behind the other crew of F/B Albert, Dapilloza said.

Dapilloza said that Entera (not Enpera as earlier reported) was seized by four gunmen suspected to be Abu Sayyaf bandits at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the village of Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan province.

Entera was inspecting some of the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries in the village of Ulitan when the gunmen seized her, Dapilloza said.

The victim was forced to board in one of two unregistered motorcycles that sped towards the municipality of Sumisip, Dapilloza said.

Entera is a social work staff of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and in charge of the agency’s 4Ps in Ungkaya Pukan town.

Espada and Dimar were seized by more or less 10 gunmen believed to be Abu Sayyaf bandits around 2:30 p.m. Monday at Sitio Santol, Latih village, Patikul, Sulu.

Task Force Sulu Commander Colonel Jose Joriel Cenabre said they were traveling aboard a truck mixer when the suspected bandits waylaid and seized them.

Cenabre said that Espada and Dimar were freed around 1 p.m. Tuesday at the circumferential road of Patikul municipality.

Businessman Renato Yanga, 53, was secretly released around 11 p.m. Monday in an undisclosed location in Jolo, Sulu following a month in captivity.

Yanga, owner of Top Spot coffee shop and restaurant and a resident of Serantes Street, Jolo, Sulu, was seized last April 20 while he was opening his coffee shop.

The abduction of Yanga last month was the second time to happen to him.

He was kidnapped on April 10, 2005 and was freed three months later.

MNLF, Sulu sultanate fighters engage in guerrilla warfare in Sabah

From ABS-CBN (May 23): MNLF, Sulu sultanate fighters engage in guerrilla warfare in Sabah

Almost 1,161 fighters of the Sultanate of Sulu and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are now engaged in guerrilla warfare against Malaysian security forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

Abraham Idjirani, sultanate spokesman, said the royal security force under Agbimuddin Kiram were ordered to remain in a defensive posture until the unilateral ceasefire that the Sultanate of Sulu has declared is lifted.

“They are now employing guerrilla tactics,” he said. “They are not on the run as the Malaysian forces are not pursuing them. There is now a lull in the fighting.”

Idjirani said the date of the lifting of the ceasefire will be set after a meeting between the sultanate’s council of shariffs and top commanders of the MNLF in Zamboanga City today.

Hajib Mujaha Hashim, MNLF Islamic Command Council chairman, will chair the meeting, he added.

Idjirani said the fighters are on ceasefire mode following the call of the United Nations for sobriety.

Malaysian forces are also not making any moves against them, he added.

Idjirani said the Sultanate of Sulu is prepared to talk with the Malaysians based on the call of the UN.

“We are assuring the Filipino people that we are not initiating any moves against the Malaysian forces,” he said.

Soldier killed, 3 hurt in Misamis clash

From ABS-CBN (May 23): Soldier killed, 3 hurt in Misamis clash

A soldier was killed and three others were wounded in an encounter with New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Misamis Oriental on Wednesday, the military said.

Capt. Jefferson Somera, spokesman of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, said government troops from the Army's 55th Infantry Battalion swooped down on a rebel camp in Anonang village in Bonifacio at around 11 a.m., triggering a firefight.

"We received reports on the rebel presence, allegedly they are planning to conduct atrocities against business establishments so our troops responded…They found the camp, leading to the encounter. We swooped down on the rebel camp and we were able to capture it," Somera said, citing reports from the field.

The soldier killed in the clash was only identified as a certain Cpl. Depositario, while the wounded were identified as 2nd Lt. Pamor, Cpl. Vincoy and Pvt. Lee.

The military was able to capture the camp, which can accommodate around 30 to 35 fully-armed rebels.

Somera said a number of rebel soldiers were also wounded in the incident.

“They (rebels) were able to take with them their casualties," he said.

Blast rocks mall in Pagadian City

From ABS-CBN (May 23): Blast rocks mall in Pagadian City

An explosion occurred at the parking area of Gaisano Mall in Pagadian City Thursday afternoon, police said.

Initial investigations showed that an improvised explosive device was planted inside one of the parked vehicles.

No one was reported hurt in the incident, as of posting, but several vehicles were damaged.

Police have yet to determine the type of explosive used and the motive behind the attack.

PNP: DPWH driver, helper abducted in Sulu released, no ransom paid

From GMA News (May 23): PNP: DPWH driver, helper abducted in Sulu released, no ransom paid

A driver of the Department of Public Works and Highways and his helper who were abducted by armed men Monday have been released, the Philippine National Police said Wednesday.

The PNP said DPWH driver Hari Salih Espada, 50, and helper Dimal are now with their families after their release at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

In a post on its news site, the PNP said no ransom was paid, even as its Anti-Kidnapping Group reported Taballang Atluh, a DPWH district engineer, allegedly helped negotiate for the victims' release.

Espada and Dimal were released along the Circumferential Road in Patikul in Sulu, police added.

Earlier, the PNP said at least 12 armed men abducted the two in Sitio Santol in Barangay Latih in Patikul.

Initial investigation showed the victims were aboard a mixer truck and were heading to a construction site in Danag village when some 12 armed men blocked their path and abducted them.

Armed men abduct DPWH truck driver, helper in Sulu

From GMA News (May 22): Armed men abduct DPWH truck driver, helper in Sulu

At least 12 armed men on Monday abducted a driver of a Department of Public Works and Highways truck and his helper in Patikul town in Sulu province, the Philippine National Police said Tuesday.
In a report posted on its news site, the PNP said the abduction occurred in Sitio Santol in Barangay Latih in Patikul.
Citing initial information from its Anti-Kidnapping Group, the PNP said the victims were aboard a mixer truck (KEK-919) and were heading to a construction site in Danag village when some 12 armed men blocked their path and abducted them.
The PNP identified the driver as Hji Salih Espada, 50, and his helper only as Dimal.
A separate report on Tuesday evening by radio dzBB's Tuesday Niu cited information from the Joint Task Force Sulu identifying the abducted driver as Esapada Salih.
The dzBB report added the abduction occurred at 2:30 p.m., when the men dragged the driver and his helper away.
Police are looking for leads on the identities of the armed men and the motive for the abduction.

Coast Guard finalizes report on USS Guardian grounding

From GMA News (May 22): Coast Guard finalizes report on USS Guardian grounding

The Philippine Coast Guard is now finalizing its report on the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardian at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17 and will soon submit it to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Administrative sanctions for those found liable may be included in the final report of the Coast Guard's Marine Casualty Investigation Team, radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported Wednesday.
Once he goes over the report, Abaya is expected to submit it to President Benigno Aquino III, the dzBB report added.
Last April, the Philippine Maritime Casualty Investigation Team (MCIT) received relevant documents on the incident from the US Navy.
The USS Guardian ran aground at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17, and damaged 2,345.67 square meters of the reef. It was cut and removed from the area last March 30.
A news release from the Tubbataha Management Office said the fines for the Jan. 17 grounding may amount to P58.4 million ($1.5 million).
On the other hand, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the MCIT's safety inquiry also aims to identify measures the Philippines and US may adopt to prevent a repeat of the incident.

NPA guerrillas release unharmed 6 drivers abducted in North Cotabato

From GMA News (May 22): NPA guerrillas release unharmed 6 drivers abducted in North Cotabato

The New Peoples’ Army released unharmed on Tuesday in Makilala, North Cotabato the six drivers of rented cars the rebels commandeered and used to raid a security agency in Tagum City, Davao Oriental.

Senior Inspector Joyce Birrey, chief of Makilala Police, identified the freed drivers as:
  1. Armando Woamil of Davao City, driver of beige Mercedez Benz (LXB 686);
  2. Orbil Bacaro of Ma-a, Davao City and driver of red Montero Sports (LGC 129);
  3. Reynaldo Pedere of Talomo, Davao City, driver of silver Toyota Grandia (LGY 732);
  4. Hashim Moalid of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, driver of green Hi-Ace Toyota van;
  5. Schmidt Apat of Matina, Davao City, driver of black Hyundai Starex (KCP 166); and
  6. Danilo Tamayo of General Santos City, driver of gold Toyota Innova (ZCX 871).
The drivers told Birrey they were held for one day in a nipa hut in Purok Nangka, Barangay New Bulatucan, about two kilometers away from the national highway.

A total of 20 fully-armed NPA rebels were detailed to watch them, the drivers said.

Pedere, driver of Toyota Grandia van, said the rebels did not hurt them and provided them with food and water.

Also Pedere said that before they were abducted, a woman who introduced herself as a wife of a foreigner contacted him through the internet and hired him to fetch the foreigner who had stayed for a vacation in Barangay New Israel in Makilala town and bring him to the Davao International Airport.

The other drivers said they were also hired through online booking and were told to fetch a family, also in Barangay New Israel, for a reunion somewhere in Davao Oriental.

Pedere and the rest of the drivers left their places of origin, around 7 a.m., on Monday.

But when they reached Barangay New Bulatucan, around two kilometers away from the Makilala-Bansalan highway, a group of armed men blocked their way and ordered them to disembark from their vehicles, Pedere said.

The drivers said they were told to board habal-habal motorcycles that brought them to a shanty in New Bulatucan, where they were held from 9 a.m. on Monday until 6 a.m. the next day.   

Also they said the same habal-habal motorcycles were used to take them to a lodging house in Barangay Kisante, also in Makilala, where they were freed.

The NPA, in a statement, admitted it was responsible for the abduction of the drivers.

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman for the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, also claimed responsibility for the raid of Dasia Security Agency in Tagum City.

Sanchez said the raid was led by the 6th Pulang Bagani Company of the ComVal-Davao East Coast Sub-Regional Command.

Meanwhile, Birrey said the Toyota Innova is still missing.

MILF: Bangsamoro Transition Commission inches forward, despite lack of funds

From the MILF Website (May 22): Bangsamoro Transition Commission inches forward, despite lack of funds


The Bangsamoro Transition Commission started its formal work with a ceremonial session in a hotel in Pasig City, Metro Manila on April 3 followed by the 2-day session in Cotabato City on April 30-May 1. The latest was the May 16-18 special session in Tagaytay City where the 15 commissioners attended through to the end.

In the press conference following the inaugural session, media concentrated more on the burning issue of the day that was the Sabah problem rather than the main task of the commission to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law enunciated by the Framework Agreement as agreed by the principal parties in the peace negotiations. The second one was a continuation of the getting to know each other, building camaraderie among the commissioners and levelling- off session.

The third special session in Tagaytay proved more fruitful than the previous ones. After initial diverse viewpoints and lengthy discussions that ensued reminiscent of parliamentary practice that guided the body, the commission adopted its Internal Rules crafted by the assigned lawyer-members; chose an appropriate logo that symbolizes and mirrors the geographic and other realities of Mindanao with the traditional dove of peace with the olive branch, and put in place the organizational structure and calendar of activities that will see the commission hitting the ground running as they embark on their main task of drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Banking on the vast experiences of Mohagher Iqbal, the BTC chairman, as chief of the MILF information committee and prime negotiator of the MILF for more than a decade already and his being part of the think tank of the Front and his cool stand amidst turbulent settings; the two deputy chairmen (Roberto Alonto and Akmad Sakkam), the former being a member of the MILF Central Committee and accomplished writer and reliable analyst of issues while the latter a seasoned diplomat posted on several assignments in different countries, and the choice of a brilliant and dynamic floor leader supplement the needed wisdom and energy to chart the difficult work crafting the basic law for a troubled region.             Considering the diverse ethnic origin, the geographic divide and the various interest of its composition, the commissioners demonstrated their cohesive bind to craft a historical document that will hopefully put to rest the dreaded Mindanao conflict.

Despite the non-release of its operating fund the Commission and its members have shown that they can work under extreme circumstances. Indeed they are fulfulling their solemn contract with the Bangsamoro people and ultimately with history.

Having been with them for the entire stretch of the special session one can say gradually the Commission is turning into a working commission.

The special sessions both in Cotabato City and in Tagaytay City were bankrolled by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC). HDC’s country representative is Mr. Ali Salem. He was assisted by Law Dean Benny Bacani and Mike Alar formerly with the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

MILF: Anti-landmines group clears ground for classroom construction in Mag’danao town

Posted to the MILF Website (May 23): Anti-landmines group clears ground for classroom construction in Mag’danao town

The Task Force on Joint Mines/UXO Detection and Clearance, which is composed of the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and the International Monitoring Team (IMT), responded to a request by a local NGO United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) to clear the ground of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in preparation for the construction of classrooms in Barangay Lapok in the municipality of Shariff Aguak.
Barangay Lapok was one of the areas where heavy fighting occurred between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). A number of reports of unexploded ordnances (UXO) have been recorded and these pose risk to the community years after the armed clashes stopped.

The Task Force, through the GPH CCCH, sought the technical assistance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, in accordance with the guidelines on the Joint Mines/UXO detection and clearance signed by both negotiating panels in Kuala Lumpur in 2010.

All reasonable efforts, including visual and sub-surface search methods, in conjunction with an explosives detection dog, were made to reduce the UXO risk to as low as reasonably practicable during the operations on 8 May 2013. Concurrent with the EOD team’s technical survey, a PCBL/FSD team carried out a general mine action assessment of the village, interviewing the local residents to identify other possible UXO contaminated areas.

Members of the Task Force observed the operation represented by Major Carlos Sol Jr. from the GPH CCCH, Omar Bayao and Toks Upahm from the MILF CCCH, Fred Lubang of the PCBL, Tony Fish of FSD and the IMT members Takayuki Nakagawa and Lars Bleymann.  PCBL members were also present from the Mindanao Peace and Development and UNYPAD officers. Members of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Post (JCMP) in Kitango were also present.’danao-town

CPP/NPA: NPA raids Tagum security agency HQ, confiscates 6 high-powered rifles; high enemy casualties in NPA ambush vs. reaction troops

Posted to the CPP Website (May 21): NPA raids Tagum security agency HQ, confiscates 6 high-powered rifles; high enemy casualties in NPA ambush vs. reaction troops

Rigoberto Sanchez
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Merardo Arce Command)

 The New People’s Army (NPA) Southern Mindanao Regional Command lauds the officers and Red fighters of the 6th Pulang Bagani Company of the ComVal-Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Command and the ComVal-Davao East Coast Sub-Regional Command for the successful joint tactical offensive launched at a security agency headquarters and the military’s reinforcement troops on May 20 and 21 in Tagum City and Mawab town.

Disguised as PDEA operatives, the NPA Red fighters raided the Dasia Security Agency headquarters at the Dr. Juan Gonzales Street, Orange Valley village located less than a kilometer from both the Davao del Norte Provincial headquarters and Tagum City Philippine National Police station at 7:45 evening of May 20. Without firing a single shot, the Red fighters immediately controlled the headquarters and confiscated one M4 5.56 automatic rifle, three Baby armalite rifles, two M16 armalite rifles, two 12-gauge shotguns, ammunitions, ammunition magazine and vests and bulletproof vests.

For a total of 15 minutes, the NPA’s daring raid was conducted amid high police, military and intelligence personnel at the downtown city area. Caught by surprise, the enemy was only able to dispatch its reinforcement troops after more than 10 hours later. The successful NPA offensive in Tagum City drew the enemy forces to NPA lair, thus making the enemy reaction unit vulnerable to NPA ambuscades. Having anticipated enemy reaction, the NPA operatives hit military troops with two attritive actions resulting to multiple casualties.

On May 21, at 6:15 AM, the NPA discharged command-detonated explosive (CDX) hitting the Philippine Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion onboard a KM450 military vehicle along the national highway at Barangay Pandapan, Tagum City. Enemy soldiers were wounded.

Later at 8 AM, the NPA discharged another round of CDX, damaging an armored personnel carrier some two to three kilometers away from the Army’s 10th Infantry Division at Sitio Tagmanok, Barangay Tuburan, Mawab town, Compostela Valley province. The explosion resulted to high enemy casualties.

The disarming of the Dasia Security Agency was a punitive action against its owner, the Escandor family, who was responsible for various landgrabbing offenses against the Matigsalogs in Barangay Salumanay and Sitio Marahan in Marilog District and versus the Ubo Lumads in Baracatan, Toril District, all in Davao City.

The Tagum City raid and ambush of reaction troops are in line with the call of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines to intensify tactical offensives in order to seize more weapons and create more units of the People’s Army. The intensification of disarming operations and ambush of enemy reaction troops aim to develop fully the political and military strength of Red fighters under the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command in order to reach the strategic stalemate in the next few years.

Security force survives encounter enroute from poll duty

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 22): Security force survives encounter enroute from poll duty

PINUKPUK, Kalinga -- A platoon of Army encountered an undetermined number of New People's Army rebels on May 15 at Sitio Sidog, Limos in Pinukpuk. Three soldiers were reportedly injured.

LtCol. Alvin Flores, commanding officer of the 17th Infantry Battalion, said the wounded were identified as Sgt. Eduardo Cabiliza, Cpl. Roldan Viray, and Pfc. Jeffrey Langcay.

They were immediately evacuated by the 501st brigade field ambulance from the encounter site to 501st brigade headquarters here then flown to the Camp Melchor Dela Cruz Station Hospital in Upi, Gamu, Isabela for treatment.

A reinforcement force from the 501st brigade was immediately dispatched to pursue the enemies, said Flores said.

“We, in the AFP are here to address those insurgent who threaten the peace and security with violence and ready to serve and die if necessary, so that others may live. So we your soldiers urge our fellow peace loving Filipino people to help us your soldiers to find, report and convince these Lawless elements to lay down their arms and go back to the folds of law, live normal lives and stop inhuman killing of fellow Filipinos,” the brigade statement said.

PAF turns over 7 housing units to HFHP

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22): PAF turns over 7 housing units to HFHP

In line with its community development efforts, the Philippine Air Force turned over seven housing units to Habitat for Humanity Philippines (HFHP) Tuesday afternoon.

These houses are at Humanity, Bistekville 1, Payatas Road, Quezon City, PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said Wednesday.

Each house has two floors and two rooms each.

Construction started last March 18 and ended mid-May.

Okol said this housing project was done with the assistance of the Quezon City local government, HFPHP, Department of Education, Pagibig Fund and school teacher groups in Quezon City.

Present during the turn-over ceremonies were PAF chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Cruz, 355th AEW wing commander Brig. Gen. Danilo Penafiel, HFHP managing director Charlie Ayco and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.

HFHP is a non-profit, Christian housing ministry that works make adequate housing available to everybody.

PN committed to providing medical care to its sailors

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22): PN committed to providing medical care to its sailors

Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano said that the naval service is now providing quality medical care to its sailors as part of their human capital strategy.

Around 25,000 sailors are currently serving aboard the Navy's estimated 80 to 110 ships.

Alano pointed out that with it is the enhancement of the PN’s wellness program where they strive to provide the necessary medical care to their sailors through quality medicines, instruments and services, stressing that not only at the naval hospitals, but on all sick bays aboard our ships and field units for our crewmen that are ever exposed to great risk.

The PN chief said that the Navy leadership has remained focused in the review and improvement of policies in procedure in recruitment.

"The Navy takes pride in its most important asset, and that is each and every sailor and marine, who never ceases to amaze me with their untiring dedication to keep our seas and islands secured and safe but more importantly willing to go into harm’s way without hesitation or delay, in order to protect the Filipino from harm, whether these be from organizations or individuals with ill intent for their selfish gains such as during the election campaign period in Ginoog or from calamities, such as the devastation caused by Typhoon 'Pablo'," he added.

Alano said that the PN owes it to its sailors to provide them with a work environment that is conducive for their professional growth and welfare.

"An environment that is governed by meritocracy and fairness: one that shuns ignorance, idleness, and indifference; one that provides a career path with a clear purpose; one that provides equal opportunity to all no matter what race, gender or creed and one that provides a whole and balanced development of career, wellness, social, spiritual, and family aspects of our personnel," the PN chief said.

AFP limits NPA extortion campaign collection to only P26 M

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22): AFP limits NPA extortion campaign collection to only P26 M
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Wednesday claimed it was able to limit the New People's Army extortion collection to only an estimated P26 million during the recently-concluded May 13 mid-term elections.

The rebels had a target of P500 million, according to military public affairs office chief Maj. Ramon Zagala.

"The NPAs have a target of P500 million but they were only able to collect an estimated P26 million. This is (a) far cry from their original target," he added.

Bulk of the money collected came from the National Capital Region, Isabela, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Masbate and Negros Oriental.

Zagala attributed this reduction to an increase in the AFP's operational tempo which he said severely restricted the rebels' movement.

"We can attribute (the decrease) to the increase in operational tempo, because from the past we learned that during the elections they are aggressive in collecting, so the unified commands recognized this and (they) increased the operational tempo through this, we were able to restrict their movement," he stressed.

Zagala said their intelligence operatives also played a key role in this triumph as they were able to move a step ahead of the rebels through the information the former provided.

Military, DILG help solve transmission line problem in Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22): Military, DILG help solve transmission line problem in Mindanao

As an extension of their service to the country, members of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade (MIB) of the Philippine Army in Iligan City rendered their assistance to solve Right-of-Way (ROW) issues concerning the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP’s) transmission lines in Balo-i, Lanao Del Norte.

The military unit, through the directive of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Region 10, coordinated with more than 20 owners of the land traversed by the Agus 2 – Kibawe 138 kilovolt (kV) line of NGCP. Through this effort, the military aimed to convince the owners to allow NGCP to trim the trees that are breaching or about to breach the ROW clearances set by the system operator.

As reinforcement, the 2nd MIB also conducted information dissemination among the Municipal Peace and Order Council of Balo-i on the ROW problems and how these adversely affect the service delivery of NGCP.

Earlier this year, NGCP expressed its difficulty in maintaining the said transmission line due to the intentional planting of trees under the facilities which caused 20 outages in Lanao as of May.

“NGCP is thankful that the DILG and the military are helping curb ROW violations in Lanao Del Norte. We hope that this would be the start of a smoother operation and better community relations for us in the area,” NGCP Spokesperson Atty. Cynthia P. Alabanza said.

The Balo-i Substation and lines connected to it, including the Agus 2 – Kibawe 138 kV line, are crucial to the Mindanao grid because they carry the bulk of electricity produced by the government-owned generator Agus Complex. The said hydro power plant supplies 500 megawatts or around 60% of Mindanao’s power demand and 200 MW of which passes through NGCP’s Balo-i Substation and lines emanating from it.

NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid. NGCP transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines and towers, substations and related assets. NGCP’s regular maintenance activities and expansion projects aim to enhance the reliability and quality of electricity delivered to customers.

Convergence Initiative, DND partner in development of military reservations into plantation sites

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22): Convergence Initiative, DND partner in development of military reservations into plantation sites

The National Convergence Initiative (NCI) has forged an agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) to develop selected military reservations into nurseries and plantation sites in a bid to reduce poverty, ensure food security and mitigate climate change.

Composed of the Departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Interior and Local Government (DILG), the NCI said turning vast idle military reservations into productive use, such as planting high-value crops, producing seedlings and tree planting would also help generate more employment opportunities.

“The government is steadfast in its commitment to maximize the use of our resources and at the same time preserve our environment. This will be the government’s legacy to the succeeding generations,” said DAR Secretary Virgilo de los Reyes shortly after the signing of the agreement between NCI agencies and the defense department.

The NCI agencies and the DND came to terms in compliance with President Benigno S. Aquino’s order, directing them to consolidate and harmonize greening efforts for the country.

Last year, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin made available some 12,000 hectares of military reservations nationwide for the establishment of tree nurseries as part if its commitment to the Aquino administration’s National Greening Program, which seeks to plant 1.5 million trees over 1.5 million hectares of land within his term.

Under the agreement, the DND will identify suitable areas for the development of nurseries and plantations sites in military reservations nationwide. The DA will provide access roads and post-harvest facilities to these areas to motivate farmers to work harder and produce more.

“These infrastructures will help boost farmers’ income and reduce poverty in the rural sector,” said DA Secretary Proceso Alcala.

“We at the DENR will select the right plant species for the kind of agricultural areas that will be identified by the DA,” said DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.

The DILG will provide transportation, security and fire protection amenities to the program.

For its part, the DAR will mobilize activities for agrarian reform beneficiaries to provide technical assistance in planting trees and crops.

Initial sites identified for the program are Camp Kabaritan in Bukidnon to be planted with coffee beans, and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija will be planted with bamboo.

Under the agreement, government personnel of the DND and AFP as well as those of DAR, DA, DENR and DILG are encouraged to plant at least 10 seedlings per year in identified plantation sites inside the military reservations.

“The National Greening Program is in line with our current efforts to reduce the risk of disasters and the effects of climate change. There is really a need to be more vigorous in our campaign. Bamboo, for example, is very beneficial to the environment. It converts carbon dioxide in large quantities. It also prevents soil erosion which has been the cause of disasters brought by typhoons,” said Gazmin.

PA shooting team wins Asian Armies Skills at Arms Meet in Australia

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): PA shooting team wins Asian Armies Skills at Arms Meet in Australia

Philippine Army (PA) chief, Lt. Gen. Noel A Coballes, has feted the Army shooting team for winning the Asian Armies Skills at Arms Meet which was held at Puckapunyal, Victoria, Australia last May 17.

The 14-man shooting team was awarded championship trophies and medals for the two most coveted awards during the two-week competition.

The team won five gold, two silver and three bronze medals.

The PA shooting team was also awarded the Commander-in-Chief Cup, Australian Armed Forces for emerging as over-all champion.

The individual championship match was won by Staff Sergeant Armando G. Mejia. He was seated on the throne of the Champion Shot, an honor bestowed to the best shooter of the meet.

These two awards earned for the PA the emulation and respect of the international shooting community.

Coballes said the Army Shooting Team brought forth extreme honor to the Army and to the country.

“We shall continue supporting them as they strive to be the best not only in Asia but worldwide," he added.

7th ID soldiers plant 800 narra, mahogany saplings

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): 7th ID soldiers plant 800 narra, mahogany saplings
The 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Ramon Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, has planted 800 mahogany and narra young trees in their camp area last May 21.

The tree planting took place at Fort Ramon Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) which is located at Barangay Liwayway, Sta. Rosa Tuesday.

The planting is part of the 7th Infantry Division's pre-celebration of the country's 115th Independence Day.

Around 400 personnel participated in this re-greening activities.

“As we celebrate and commemorate our 115th year of independence as a country, this tree planting signifies not just our environmental responsibility as soldiers and our love for our nation as Filipinos but most importantly, our legacy for the next Filipino generations whose future is said to be in danger because of the environmental depletions we are having now,” 7th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. said.

“As for the FMMR, we will continue to program activities like this and align them with the commemoration of our country’s important occasions and bring up Fort Magsaysay as one of the best tourist destinations here in Nueva Ecija and the entire Central Luzon,” he added.

Presence of Chinese frigate off Ayungin Shoal 'unusual' - DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Presence of Chinese frigate off Ayungin Shoal 'unusual' - DND chief

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin Thursday called the presence of a Chinese frigate, along with a group of fishing vessels off Ayungin Shoal, highly "unusual".

The frigate, with two Chinese Maritime Surveillance ships, was spotted by a Philippine aerial patrol 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Three steel-hulled fishing ships and around 10 dinghies were also seen.

Gazmin said the presence of the frigate, a ship similar to the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) but more heavily-armed, further highlights the Chinese intrusion in Philippine maritime territory.

Ayungin Shoal is roughly 105 to 110 nautical miles away from Rizal, Palawan and well within the country's exclusive economic zone while the nearest Chinese landmass, which is Hainan, is around 500 nautical miles.

The DND chief said the country is a adopting a "jurist approach" in resolving the matter.

Gazmin said this is being done through the Dept. of Foreign Affairs which earlier filed a diplomatic protest at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) against the Chinese incursion.

"At the moment, this the Philippines will do and hopefully the UNCLOS will rule on this dispute soon," he added.

But Gazmin clarified that despite this stance, the Philippine military is constantly monitoring the situation off Ayungin Shoal since this is an integral part of the country's territory.

"Monitoring will be done by aerial patrols and civilian ships passing through the area," he added.

No plans to reinforce PHL troops deployed off Ayungin Shoal

From the Philippine News Agency (may 23): No plans to reinforce PHL troops deployed off Ayungin Shoal

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said that there are no plans yet to reinforce the Marine contingent keeping watch off Ayungin Shoal.

The Filipino presence is located on BRP Sierra Madre, a landing ship tank which ran aground off Ayungin Shoal some years ago.

"(We have a diplomatic case filed at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), we want a status quo on that," Gazmin said.

He was referring to the fact the Philippines owes absolute rights to the area and should be respected by such by other foreign governments, China included.

Gazmin also expressed his opinion that the massive presence off Ayungin Shoal is but a ploy to scare the Philippines.

"That might be their message but we will fight up to the last soldier for what is ours," he added.

Gazmin added that resupply missions to the Filipino contingent will go on as schedule despite the ongoing tensions.

"We will be using an unarmed Navy ship for our resupply and replenishment missions to our forces there," he stated.

Even if PHL wins case vs. China in UNCLOS, PHL has no other recourse except world opinion -- Carpio

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Even if PHL wins case vs. China in UNCLOS, PHL has no other recourse except world opinion -- Carpio

The Philippines' only recourse in the territorial dispute with China is to appeal to world opinion even if the country has already taken the issue to an arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a senior magistrate of the Supreme Court said.

Speaking before the law graduates at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio said even if the Philippines wins its case, there is difficulty of enforcing such ruling citing a "black hole" in international rule of law "where there is a law but there is no justice."

Carpio said if UNCLOS rules against the Philippines, China has the naval might to enforce the decision on its own.

However, if the decision is adverse to China, it has already said that it will not be bound by such an adverse decision.

"The Philippines does not have the naval might to compel China to comply with any decision of the arbitral tribunal. So, what can the Philippines do," Carpio said.

He explained under the United Nations Charter, the winning state in a decision by the International Court of Justice can ask the Security Council to enforce the ICJ ruling.

However, UNCLOS does not provide for any enforcement mechanism for decisions of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea or the arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS.

Even for ICJ rulings, Carpio said, the Security Council can only act if none of the five permanent members will oppose the implementation of the ICJ ruling, as each of the five permanent members wields veto power.

"China is a permanent member of the Security Council and will naturally veto any enforcement measure against itself," Carpio said.

"Decision of ITLOS and of UNCLOS arbitral tribunals, may declare that there is an international law giving rise to a right, and a correlative duty, between states that are parties to a maritime dispute. There is, however, no way of enforcing that right, or exacting compliance with that duty, between the parties to the dispute. This is where the Rule of Law in the international sphere falls into a black hole-a gap in the Rule of Law where there is a law but there is no justice," he said.

Carpio told the graduating students appealing to world opinion is the country's only recourse.

"As life-long students of the law with an abiding faith in the Rule of Law, it is your mission from now on to help shape world opinion that a nation should follow the Rule of law if it wants to be accepted as a member and leader of the community of civilized nations," he said.

"With a favorable decision from the arbitral tribunal and world opinion also in our favor, time will be on the side of the Philippines…As life-long students of the law, your mission is to help protect, through advocacy of the Rule of Law, our nation's maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea from encroachment by other countries. Our nation counts on you," he added.

Philippine Fleet operatives help clean, repair Cavite elementary school

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Philippine Fleet operatives help clean, repair Cavite elementary school

Fifty members of the Philippine Fleet, based in Sangley Point, Cavite has joined teachers and other stake holders in the cleaning and repairing of Mabolo Elementary School, Bacoor Thursday morning.

Lt. (junior grade) Rommel Rodriquez, the unit's spokesperson, said that this activity is part of their efforts to help the Department of Education's "Brigada Iskwela" which started last May 20 and will end on May 25.

Milagros Vinluan, Mabolo Elementary School principal, said that the 50 sailors helped in repairing damaged ceilings, roofs and windows at the school.

She said that the sailors also restored more than 250 chairs aside from installing new electrical wiring, circuit breakers and fluorescent lights along the school’s passageway and classrooms.

Rodriquez also said that the Philippine Fleet sailors also trimmed trees and de-clogged the nearby sewers and canals, which are the main cause of flood inside the school every time it rained.

Rear Admiral Orwen Cortez, Philippine Fleet commander, said that the involvement of their sailors in the nationwide launch of “Brigada Eskwela” aims to help public schools prepare for the opening of classes by providing manpower to conduct minor repairs and repainting of classrooms, chairs, leaking roofs and pipes, and others.

He added they regularly partner with many schools yearly on similar endeavors as part of its “Bayanihan” efforts to actively participate in the nation’s development programs.

Around 23 teachers and 23 members of the Parents Teachers Association who participated in the joint efforts with the sailors.

Mabolo Elementary School caters to more than 1,000 students who are mostly living in the nearby coastal shanties.

Brigada Eskwela, now on its 10th year, is a nationwide voluntary effort which started in 2003, bringing together teachers, parents, and the community to do clean up and repairs in public schools to prepare the facilities for the June school opening.

Volunteers paint classrooms, repair furniture, and clean up the school grounds. Materials and supplies are usually donated by the parents or by private businesses and foundations.

2 PSG men nabbed for alleged break-in at QC motor shop

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): 2 PSG men nabbed for alleged break-in at QC motor shop
Two members of the Philippine Army, at present assigned to the Presidential Security Group, were arrested for reportedly breaking in at a motorshop in Lagro, Novaliches, Quezon City before dawn Thursday.

Supt. Eleazar Matta, Quezon City Police District-Station 5 commander, identified the suspects as Cpl. Bobby Ates, 25; and Sgt. Marvin Gaton, 31.

The two were arrested roughly an hour later when they were seen carrying firearms inside a KTV Bar.

Matta said Streamline Auto Salon and Detailing Shop owner Richard Tubig and security guard Manolo Panotes were at the shop at Barangay Lagro in Novaliches, Quezon City when Ates and Gaton, along with three other still unidentified suspects, entered around 12 a.m.

The suspects then handcuffed Tubig and hogtied Panotes. One of the suspects also whipped a pistol at Tubig’s head, police said.

Items taken at gunpoint were a Sony Vios laptop worth P50,000; IPhone 4 wprth P30,000; Ipad worth P15,000; a wedding ring worth P65,000, a driver’s license and a white Honda Civic which they subsequently used as their getaway vehicle.

2 rebel returnees get P100,000 aid from Davao del Norte prov'l gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): 2 rebel returnees get P100,000 aid from Davao del Norte prov'l gov't

Two former members of the New People's Army (NPA) were given P50,000 worth of cash assistance by the Davao Del Norte provincial government Thursday morning.

The two are former members of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda, Guerilla Front 34, Southern Mindanao Regional Command.

Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo Del Rosario personally handed the checks to Dante Miranda, 40, of Andam, Laac, Compostela Valley province and Jessie Casium, a resident of Poblacion Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

He urged them to use the money in getting better livelihood opportunities for their families.

Miranda and Casium surrendered to 60th Infantry Battalion in February and August of 2011, respectively.

4ID troopers join 'Brigada Eskwela' 2013

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): 4ID troopers join 'Brigada Eskwela' 2013

The 4TH Infantry “Diamond” Division is participating in the Department of Education's (DepEd) nationwide “Brigada Eskwela" 2013 this week or May 20-25, Maj. Leo Bongosia, spokesperson of the army’s division command here said on Wednesday.

He said that the army division sent personnel to various public schools in Cagayan de Oro City as personnel in the division’s field offices in the region also participated the “Brigada Eskwela” in their areas of responsibility.

Bongosia said that the activity gave the Army the opportunity to showcase the Internal Peace Security Plan, “Bayanihan", as one of the stakeholders for development.

Brigada Eskwela aims to prepare schools for the opening of classes on June 3 where all concerned government agencies, private entities, and parents join hands in the cleaning and maintenance of schools, Bongosia added.

Better known as National Schools Maintenance Week, it is an annual school maintenance program of the DepEd which started in 2003.

Palawan-based PAF, PN donate books to poverty-stricken schools

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Palawan-based PAF, PN donate books to poverty-stricken schools

Troops of the Palawan-based Air Force and Navy have joined hands in helping poverty-stricken students of 10 elementary schools in Palawan, and four rural barangays in this city.

This is by donating computer sets and new books for their decrepit mini-libraries, and helping in the repair, repainting and maintenance of classrooms on a week-long activity starting Monday (May 20) and is expected to end by Friday.

Troops from the 570th Composite Tactical Wing and the Naval Forces West brought the computers and books, and traveled through poorly maintained dirt roads on May 20, on a mission called "Books For Peace", said Maj. Oliver Bañaria PAF, commander of the 6th Civil Relations Group at the Western Command.

Bañaria said the Books for Peace was in conjunction with the military participation to Brigada Eskwela and was made possible through the support from various stakeholders and civilian partners of the above-mentioned military formation.

“Books for Peace” donated the books simultaneously at a short ceremony in their respected campuses with a film showing and school repair, repainting and maintenance at the following public elementary schools: Salvacion in Busuanga; Mabini in El Nido; Cataban in Taytay; Silanga and Tagusao in Quezon; Panitian and Pulot Interior in Sofronio Española; Aribungos and Mainit in Brooke's Point; Pag-asa in Kalayaan; and Sta. Fe, Manalo, Bahile and Palawan National School in Puerto Princesa City.

Dr. Servillano Arzaga, Palawan DepEd schools division superintendent, upon receiving the books said they fitted well into the needs of the pre-identified school-beneficiaries.

"These computer sets and books would enrich the students' learning and is really a big help for the schools in general. We are very thankful for our soldiers who took down their rifles and combat boots to help us out. They are really a great help in the schools," Arzaga said.

"Through the military participation in this activity, we learned that doing things together is more fun. Even if we worked for only one day, we realize that our participation was meaningful most especially in the lives of students who deserve to be in a conducive environment for learning," Lt. Stanlee Vince Gonzaga, PN, commander of the Navy's Civil Military Operations Unit-West (CMOU-West).

Army soldier dies, 15 others hurt in Ilocos Norte road accident

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Army soldier dies, 15 others hurt in Ilocos Norte road accident

An Army trooper was killed and 15 other soldiers were injured when a 6x6 truck they were on board sideswiped a passenger bus along the national highway in Barangay Susugaen, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

The 6X6 military truck was allegedly moving towards south direction when it sideswiped a Florida bus coming from the opposite direction causing the truck to lose its control and rammed into a house on the roadside.

The Pasuquin police identified the fatality as Sergeant Anastacio Fernandez, a member of the 41st Infantry Battalion based in Baay-licuan, Abra and a native of Isabela.

The 15 injured soldiers were identified as Corporals Jerry Valentin and Joel Andrade; and and Privates First Class Allan Ramos, Jomar Sagun, Marlon Malongga, Rino Tabilon, Jaydee Marvin Lopez, Alfredo Cabingas, Domifer Saking, Marvin Magay, Alejandro Bonagan, Gilbert Patong, Jeffrey Katayong, Jake Avarca and Jay-R Domingo.

No one was hurt from among the Florida bus passengers and occupants of the house rammed by the Army truck except incurring minor damage.

The 15 injured soldiers are now confined at the Governor Roque Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital in Laoag.

61IB joins ‘Brigada Eskwela'

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): 61IB joins ‘Brigada Eskwela'

The Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion (61IB) based in Camp Carreon, Calinog, Iloilo under the stewardship of its commanding officer Lt. Col. Christopher C. Sab-it, has joined parents, teachers and pupils in the “Brigada Eskwela” program in the different schools within their area of responsibility in Calinog and Bingawan, all in Iloilo province and in Tapaz, Capiz.

Brigada Eskwela or the School Maintenance Week, which started on May 20 and will end May 25 in the different schools throughout the country, is a yearly undertaking of Department of Education (DepEd) as a preparation for the opening of classes.

Sab-it said the 61IB as an operational arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) supports these activities in coordination with the school heads of the different schools "to show the people that if we join hands, we can achieve our common goal – the true essence of 'Bayanihan'.”

He said their support to the undertaking is to give emphasis to the AFP's current thrusts, the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan.”

The 61IB falls under the operational jurisdiction of the 3rd Infantry Spearhead) Dvision, PA, based at its headquarters in Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz.

Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide voluntary effort which started in 2003, bringing together teachers, parents, and the community to do clean up and repairs in public schools to prepare the facilities for the June school opening.

Undertaken in all public schools every third week of May or two weeks before classes begin, it is participated in by private organizations, individuals, national and local government agencies, local businesses, and international organizations and foundations, among others.

Volunteers paint classrooms, repair furniture, and clean up the school grounds. Materials and supplies are usually donated by the parents or by private businesses and foundations.