Monday, June 3, 2013

Laguna court frees 3 of ‘Lumban 6’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 2): Laguna court frees 3 of ‘Lumban 6’

SAN PEDRO, Laguna - A local court has dropped the case against three peasant-activists who were earlier arrested and tagged by the Philippine Army as high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Laguna.

Mariano Julongbayan, Nolan Ramos and Ruelito Soriano were acquitted of illegal possession of explosives that paved the way for their release on Friday, after spending three years in detention.

Glendhyl Malabanan, the secretary general of the militant rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, said the court failed to find sufficient evidence to indict the three who, she insisted, were just “ordinary farmers.”

The five-page decision was penned by Judge Iluminado dela Peña of the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Julongbayan and Ramos, who were 52 and 36 at that time, hired Soriano, the owner of the van that the three used when they were arrested at a joint police-military checkpoint in Barangay (village) Lewin in Lumban, Laguna around 5:20 p.m. on January 13, 2010.

Retired Lt. General Jorge Segovia, then the commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, had identified Julongbayan as an alleged NPA finance officer carrying the alias Tito Garcia and Ramos, also known as Gerald Pastolero, as an alleged platoon leader of the communist guerilla in Laguna.

On October 6, 2010, three more activists, namely Darwin “Ka Tatcho” Liwag, Rey Malaborbor and Aries Suazo, were arrested by government troops also in the same village in Lumban, prompting the militants to collectively refer to them as “Lumban 6.”

Liwag, Malaborbor and Suazo, remain at the Laguna provincial jail in Sta. Cruz for charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Segovia, who bowed out of service last April, was known for the arrest of the 43 health workers suspected to be communist guerrillas in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010.

NPA presence nearing CAR

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Jun 2): NPA presence nearing CAR

THE New People’s Army (NPA) attack in Cagayan is a signal for the region not to be complacent, the Cordillera police top cop said.

“Dapat alerto tayo, both for administrative and tactical movements,” warned Cordillera Police Chief Benjamin Magalong.

Magalong made the statement following the ambush-slay of eight Special Action Force (SAF) personnel by communist NPA in Cagayan Valley Monday morning. Seven other SAFs were also wounded.

“I know the SAF men who died, they are comrades,” the region’s top cop lamented.
Killed were Police Officer 3 (PO3) Vladimir R. Tabarejo, PO2 Dexter Cubilla, PO1 Erick Brioso, PO2 Angelbert Mateo, PO2 Elmark Rodney Pinated, PO1 Jerome Sanchez, PO2 Jonnel Bowat, and PO2 Ronald Castulo.

The troops were wearing their athletic uniforms and were on the way to Allacapan town proper for a medical and physical examination when a landmine exploded at the boundary of barangays Cataratan and Centro West in Allacapan town.

Magalong said the attack took advantage of the vulnerability of the government troops.
Wounded were: PO2 Ronald Gomez, PO1 Ephraim Dolete, PO2 Geopano Adangui, PO1 Ryan Asunio, PO2 Ricky Monay, PO2 Jeofrey Liagao Amiligan, and PO2 Jeofrey Velasco.

Magalong said the attack is a message that the NPA is now in the thick of launching a tactical offensive against the government. “There is no assurance now that they will not touch our troops,” he said.

For the region, Magalong said, “We must always be two steps ahead of them here, dapat di na maulit ang nagyari sa Ifugao at Kalinga.”

NPA attacks in the two areas in the region have been sporadic and likewise fatal to soldiers here.

Magalong also said intelligence work for the region must come to play to be able to protect the provinces from the infiltration of the rebels.

AFP disagrees with US gov't: Sulu archipelago not 'terrorist safe haven'

From GMA News (Jun 3): AFP disagrees with US gov't: Sulu archipelago not 'terrorist safe haven'

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday disputed a report by the US government that identified the Southern Philippines and the Sulu archipelago in particular as terrorist safe havens.

“We respect their assessment, but we disagree that it’s a safe haven. We don’t agree because when you say safe haven, [terrorists] can safely move around,” said AFP public affairs office chief Maj. Ramon Zagala at a briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.

In “Terrorist Safe Havens,” Chapter 5 of its Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, the US State Department named the Southern Philippines and the “Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral” as terrorist safe havens in Southeast Asia.

A "range of licit and illicit activities" occuring in the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas' littoral areas, said the report, "pose additional challenges to identifying and countering the terrorist threat."

"Surveillance improved but remained partial at best, and traditional smuggling and piracy groups have provided an effective cover for terrorist activities, including movement of personnel, equipment, and funds," it added.

The report noted that Abu Sayyaf, "numbering a few hundred," maintained a presence in Mindanao, particularly the Sulu archipelago, and that the few remaining members of the Jemaah Islamiya in the country were in "a few isolated pockets" of Mindanao. The New People's Army, on the other hand, "maintained a national presence with a focus in rural and mountainous areas."

However, the report also noted that "continued pressure" from Philippine security forces has made it more difficult for these groups to operate, recruit and raise funds. It also noted that the Philippines along with Indonesia and Malaysia have been improving efforts to control their maritime boundaries.

Zagala said that insurgents in the area now have a “limited mobility” owing to the military's efforts.

“Through our counter-terrorism operations, terrorists in the Sulu archipelago have limited mobility in the area. The AFP has presence there and we continue to operate,” he said.

“They cannot move freely because of our operations. Our campaign against them are continuing,” he said of the terrorists. “Its not a safe haven for them...They cannot plan and execute terrorist activities easily.”

The country report was submitted to the US Congress and released on May 30.

Abu Sayyaf rebel arrested in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 3): Abu Sayyaf rebel arrested in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Security forces arrested a suspected Abu Sayyaf rebel on Monday shortly after his arrival in Zamboanga City airport from Cebu province, an army commander said.

Col. Andrelino Colina, head of the anti-terror Task Force Zamboanga, said Muktar Ladjaperma was arrested for his involvement in the kidnappings of 6 local missionaries in Sulu province in 2002.

“He is a member of the urban terrorist group of the Abu Sayyaf,” he said, adding authorities are investigating Ladjaperma. 

The Abu Sayyaf is a small, but the most notorious among various rebel groups operating in the country and has been largely blamed for the spate of kidnappings and terrorism in the South.

Female general among 22 new AFP generals, flag officers

From Rappler (Jun 3): Female general among 22 new AFP generals, flag officers

7th FEMALE GENERAL: Brigadier General Marian Aleido

7th FEMALE GENERAL: Brigadier General Marian Aleido

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has 22 new generals and flag officers, including Brigadier General Marian Aleido, the 7th female to become general of the AFP.

The promotions were approved by the President Benigno Aquino III, who also serves as the AFP Commander-in-Chief. They received their new ranks in a ceremony at the AFP General Headquarters.

Aleido was also appointed last year as the first female judge advocate general. She comes from the AFP Technical Service.

The following were promoted to Lieutenant General:

Maj. Gen. Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo, the chief of the Southern Luzon Command
Maj. Gen. Roy O. Deveraturda, chief of Central Command
Maj. Gen. Rustico O. Guerrero, chief of Western Command

The following were promoted to the rank of Major General:

Brigadier General Crisologo M. Nayve
Brig. Gen. Romeo L. Gapuz
Brig. Gen. Richard C. Siga-an
Brig. Gen. John S. Bonafos

The following were promoted to rank of Rear Admiral:

Commodore Jesus C. Millan
Commodore Leopoldo M. Alano

The following were promoted to the rank of Brigadier General:

Col. Wilfredo S. Bonilla
Col. Francisco M. Patrimonio
Col. Romeo G. Gan
Col. Mayoralgo M. Dela Cruz
Col. John G. Estoesta
Col. Reynaldo R. Castillo
Col. Oscar T. Lactao
Col. Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero
Col. Marian C. Aleido

The following were promoted to the rank of Commodore:

Navy Capt. Joel T. Dela Cruz
Capt. Roland Joseph S. Mercado
Capt. Antonio A. Habulan
Capt. Franco Sebastian T. Pan

The first female general is Brig Gen Ramona Go of the Philippine Army. She retired last year to run for public office. She won the mayoral race in San Enrique town in Iloilo.

Another rebel slain, 2 soldiers wounded in Compostela Valley clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 3): Another rebel slain, 2 soldiers wounded in Compostela Valley clash

MONKAYO, Compostela Valley - Another member of the New People’s Army was killed during an encounter with government forces in a remote area in Barangay Tubo-Tubo here at 5:20 a.m. Monday.

In a report submitted to Major Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division, from the 25th Infantry Battalion, the one-hour firefight resulted to the recovery of a body believed to be an NPA rebel, an M16 Armalite rifle, a Kenwood radio, personal belongings and subversive documents.

But Private First Class Junrey Pioc and CAA Sergio Ebañez Jr. were also slightly wounded and evacuated for medical treatment.

Lt. Col. Cesar Molina, 25th IB commander, said his troops were conducting combat operation due to the reports of presence of lawless elements in the community.

"We received reports that New People's Army believed to be under the group of Front 25 is terrorizing the populace of Barangay Tubo-Tubo. They are conducting extortion activities and at the same time threatening the populace of violent reprisals if they will not join the rallies being organized and initiated by militant groups coming from Davao City which lately have targeted Compostela Valley in the conduct of rallies," he said.

The cadaver of the slain rebel was brought to Angel Funeral Parlor in Poblacion here for identification and subsequently be given a decent burial.

Kalahi-CIDSS sports new name, expands in 2013

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 3): Kalahi-CIDSS sports new name, expands in 2013

The pro-poor banner program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) known as the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) is set for a massive expansion in 2013, but will be sporting a new name.

Kalahi-CIDSS will be known as the National Community Driven Development Program (NCDDP) inter-agency program with an expansion for six years and a national budget of P89 billion up to the year 2019.

The national government is prioritizing the pro-poor program by awarding a maximum slice in the national budget.

Kalahi regional deputy program manager Leo Quintilla said the program will be expanded from 382 to 900 local government units (LGUs) and will cover 15 regions from the original 12 regions and from 8,000 to 20,000 barangays nationwide.

In Western Visayas, the program will cover 74 LGUs.

Leftist rebel killed in Compostela clash

From the Philippine Star (Jun 3): Leftist rebel killed in Compostela clash

An alleged leftist rebel was killed in a clash between government soldiers and the New People's Army in the southern Philippines early today, the military said.

Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, regional army spokesperson said a militiaman was also wounded following the 5:20 a.m. encounter in Tubo-tubo village, Monkayo town, in Mindanao's Compostela Valley province.

Paniza said patrolling soldiers from the army's 25th Infantry Battalion and the 1001st division recon company chanced upon some 30 rebels and pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels was still going on.

Security forces nab Abu Sayyaf bandit near Zambo airport

From the Philippine Star (Jun 3): Security forces nab Abu Sayyaf bandit near Zambo airport

ZAMBOANGA City, Philippines - Joint police and military security intelligence units captured an Abu Sayyaf militant on Monday near the vicinity of Zamboanga Internal Airport in this city.

The suspect identified as Muktar Ladjaperma also known with the aliases of Muktar, Tuan, Muks, and Ustadz Muktar, was tagged as a member of the Abu Sayyaf urban terror group (UTG), which is trained in bomb-making and assassinations.

Armed with a warrant of arrest issued by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court, joint police and military teams arrested Ladjaperma at around 9:40 a.m. near the airport.
The suspect is facing charges for the kidnapping of six members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses on August 2002 in Patikul, Sulu.

The eight victims were selling cosmetic products when they were seized by the militants. The two male victims were subsequently beheaded.

Further police investigation disclosed that Ladjaperma is carrying a P600,000 bounty for his arrest.

The capture of Ladjaperma came barely a few days when the US government issued a travel warning on the Philippines, particularly in parts of Western Mindanao, including this city, due to alleged terror threats.

The suspect is currently undergoing interrogation at the Regional Intelligence Division 9.

PCG: Video doesn’t show coast guards laughing

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 3): PCG: Video doesn’t show coast guards laughing

“Laughing” and “smiling” are completely different, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Sunday as it rejected the Inquirer’s report that six coast guards were seen in a video laughing as they fired at a Taiwanese fishing boat.

The Coast Guard took the video of the encounter between the coastal patrol vessel MCS-3001 and the Taiwanese fishing boat Guan Ta Hsin 28 in waters off Balintang Island in northern Philippines on May 9.

The video was submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the investigation of the fatal shooting of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-chen, 65, during the chase.

Cmdr. Armand Balilo, spokesperson for the Coast Guard, said Sunday he had seen the video and dismissed the Inquirer report as “inaccurate” and “hearsay.”

Malacañang and the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco), the Philippines’ de facto embassy in Taiwan, declined to comment on the Inquirer report.

The Palace, however, gave assurance that the outcome of the government investigation will be solely based on evidence.

The report was based on an interview by reporter Nancy C. Carvajal with a source who had seen the video and whose statements were confirmed by two other sources.

“The video showed the soldiers acted unprofessionally. They were laughing while they were shooting the boat,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

“It is disturbing and embarrassing for Philippine law enforcers,” the source said.

Balilo said there was no footage from the video that showed coast guards laughing while firing at the boat.

But “there is one crew member who’s seen in the video smiling at himself while firing a warning shot,” he said.

“Has (the Inquirer reporter) actually seen the video?” he asked.

According to Balilo, “laughing” and “smiling” are completely different. “As we all know, they do not have the same meanings,” he said.

Balilo said he was seriously concerned about the possible implications of the report.

Another Coast Guard official, who asked not to be named, said “the professionalism of our personnel is at stake here.”

The shooting death of Hung sparked a major diplomatic row between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Taiwan has demanded a government apology for the killing of Hung, compensation for the fisherman’s family, the punishment of the coast guards involved in the shooting, and the opening of fishery talks between the two countries.

To pressure the Philippines to comply, Taipei took retaliatory measures against Manila, including a freeze on new jobs for Filipino migrant workers and suspension of tourist travel to the Philippines.

Awaiting report

President Aquino ordered the NBI to investigate the fatal shooting of Hung, but Malacañang on Sunday chose not to comment on the Inquirer report until after the NBI findings had been released.

“I understand that that particular story was being attributed to a source. At this point, we [do] not wish to make any comment until the final results of the investigation have been made public,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview on state-run radio dzRB.

Valte cautioned the public against taking the reported contents of the video “at face value.”

Whatever the results of the NBI investigation, she said, “we can assure the public that they will be based solely on the evidence that was gathered and the evidence that was presented,” she said.

Antonio Basilio, Meco permanent representative, said he was not aware of the report on the video.

“What I know is that the NBI still has to complete its report and will not make it public until then. The Taiwan investigation team is similarly constrained to do so,” Basilio said.

No disclosure policy

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Sunday appealed to the media not to report prematurely any findings or even comments on the investigation until the government had released the official report.

De Lima said in a text message that the Philippine and Taiwanese investigators had agreed not to prematurely disclose their findings.

“The no-disclosure rule applies even to expressions of views or opinions from certain findings which might result in undue speculations, erroneous suppositions and premature conclusions on the part of the public,” De Lima said.

“I appeal once again to (the) media to honor (that) policy,” she said.

‘We’ll abide by it’

The Coast Guard has repeatedly said it would abide by the findings of the NBI inquiry into the May 9 incident.

Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena, Coast Guard commander, said the agency was waiting for the results of the investigation.

“We will abide by the findings of the NBI,” he said. “If our men are found to have violated (the rules of engagement), then they would have to face the consequences of their actions.”

But “that would not stop us from going after illegal fishermen and poachers,” he added. “We are professionals and we will continue doing our job.”—

Re-emergence of traditional security threats worries Defense chief

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 3): Re-emergence of traditional security threats worries Defense chief
Territorial disputes, among other traditional security concerns, remain high as it re-emerges in the regional security agenda, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

Gazmin made the statement on Sunday during his speech at the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shangri-la Dialogue held in Singapore.

The annual security forum was attended by defense ministers, military chiefs and top defense analysts from 27 countries.

“Traditional security concerns, including territorial disputes, issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula, military modernization and arms race, and proliferation of weapons, remain high in the regional security agenda,” Gazmin said, but did not make mention of China, which is locked in a territorial dispute with the Philippines over the hotly-contested West Philippine Sea.

The defense chief said that these sensitive issues “placed in the backburner” in the past have “re-emerged to take center stage,” and would be solved if states involved would settle these issues “through mechanisms provided by international law.”

“This dispels notions that these issues have become irrelevant in the 21st century with the emergence of non-traditional security challenges,” he said.

“Given this, while sensitive issues will not be resolved overnight, it would be timely for states to cooperate in finding means to achieve long-lasting regional stability through mechanisms provided by international law, with the hope of settling these issues with a sense of finality,” he added.

At the same time, Gazmin also recognized maritime security, disaster response, and cyber security as other security issues.

Gazmin recalled that maritime security, based on defense standpoint, used to be about protecting the Philippines’ territorial waters.

“However, illegal fishing, piracy, smuggling, and poaching, among others, make it necessary for our armed forces to work closely with maritime law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Cyber threats, meanwhile, are also becoming a security risk, as citizens become more dependent to technology.

“While cyber security previously focused only on individual hackers, recent trends show that attacks against government cyber portals could come from organizations. Thus, we need to develop our cyber-related capabilities as we secure our channels of communication,” he said.

Gazmin also noted the emergence of new security risks. “While these issues are not entirely new, they are increasingly becoming a concern for all government agencies, including the defense sector. First is food, water, and energy security. The scarcity of strategic resources, such as food and water, can eventually cause domestic instability as well as international conflict given the competition for limited resources,” he said.

The aging population is also fast becoming a security concern to the defense department according to Gazmin, even as he noted that the Philippines is one of the youngest population of Asia with a median of 23, but the population may increase to 142 million by 2040 according to the United Nations.

“On the part of the Department of National Defense, we need to provide pensions for our veterans and retirement benefits of our military personnel while ensuring that there are enough funds for our operations. Furthermore, an aging population would have implications on our ability to recruit new soldiers,” he said.

China’s cabbage strategy to recover Chinese islands, reefs illegally occupied by PH

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 3): China’s cabbage strategy to recover Chinese islands, reefs illegally occupied by PH (By )

While the attention of the Philippines has been focused on its conflict with Taiwan over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard on May 9, little notice has been given to the arrival, just the day before, of three Chinese naval ships at the Ayungin Reef (Second Thomas Shoal), the gateway to the oil and mineral rich Reed Bank, just 105 nautical miles from Palawan Island, within the 200 mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed the presence of the Chinese government vessels – two marine surveillance ships and one naval frigate – in the Ren’ai Reef (Ayungin Reef) which Hong claims is part of the Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) over which China has “indisputable sovereignty.” Hong added: “It is beyond reproach for Chinese boats to carry out patrols in these waters” even though it is more than 600 miles from the nearest Chinese port.

In a press conference on May 23, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that the Ayungin Reef is guarded by a small contingent of about a dozen marines aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, a WW II era vessel that was intentionally sunk on the northwest side of the shoal in 1999 to serve as the Philippine marine base. The marines are equipped with arms and battery powered radios as well as a small generator to cook their food, which is regularly delivered by boat.

The Chinese ships are threatening to impose a blockade to prevent the Philippine marines guarding the Ayungin Shoal from receiving fresh supplies, part of China’s “cabbage strategy” (see below). But Secretary Gazmin declared that he will not pull out his marines from the area. “We will fight for what is ours up to the last soldier standing,” he vowed.

President Benigno S. Aquino IIII backed his defense chief in his speech at an official ceremony to mark the Philippine Navy’s 115th anniversary. “We have a clear message to the world,” he said:” The Philippines is for Filipinos, and we have the capability to resist bullies entering our backyard.”

But China has entered the “backyard” of the Philippines before. Successfully.

In 1994, China occupied the Mischief Reef, which is just 130 nautical miles from Palawan Island, while the Philippine Navy was not patrolling the area because of the monsoon season. When the Philippines protested the occupation, China explained that it was just building temporary shelters to protect its fishermen from the monsoon rains. In 1999, the Philippine government protested that the structures the Chinese built on the reef resembled a military installation more than a shelter for fishermen. China ignored the protest.

The Philippines decided not to destroy the military fortifications on the Mischief Reef for fear that it would escalate the conflict into a war.

In April of 2012, the Philippines and China had a two month standoff in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) – located just 125 miles from Zambales – after a Philippine Navy frigate, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, boarded Chinese fishing vessels that had trespassed on the shoal. After discovering that the fishermen had illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks, the Philippine Navy men sought to arrest them. But they were blocked by Chinese maritime surveillance ships which freed the detained Chinese fishermen and their illegal cargo.

At one point in the standoff, the Philippine Navy had two ships facing off against 90 Chinese vessels which pro-China Senator Antonio Trillanes claims he succeeded in getting China to reduce by half.

The tense standoff continued until June of 2012 when the US brokered an agreement for Philippine and Chinese ships to leave the Scarborough Shoal. Unfortunately, only the Philippines complied with the agreement. China later claimed that it was not bound by the agreement because it never actually signed any written agreement to leave the Scarborough Shoal, or what China calls the “Huangyan Island”.

Instead of engaging in “smile diplomacy” to consolidate its illegal occupation of the Scarborough Shoal, China instead doubled down on its aggressive posture. In July of 2012, China announced that it had created the Sansha City prefecture, with its own military garrison, vested with jurisdiction over the entire 1.2 million square kilometers of the South China Sea including all the Spratly Islands which China’s Communist government claims it owns because they are all located within the “9 dash line” on a map of the South China Sea created by a mapmaker in Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang government in 1947.

In an article which appeared in the Foreign Policy magazineon August 3, 2012, Robert Haddick  describes the bind that China has placed the US in (“Salami Slicing in the South China Sea”). . He explains that both the global and U.S. economies depend on freedom of navigation through the South China Sea where $5.3 trillion of global trade passes through, $1.2 trillion of which passes through U.S. ports.,0

“A salami-slicer puts the burden of disruptive action on his adversary. That adversary will be in the uncomfortable position of drawing seemingly unjustifiable red lines and engaging in indefensible brinkmanship. For China, that would mean simply ignoring America’s Pacific fleet and carrying on with its slicing, under the reasonable assumption that it will be unthinkable for the United States to threaten major-power war over a trivial incident in a distant sea,” Haddick writes.

Haddick adds: “If sliced thinly enough, no one action will be dramatic enough to justify starting a war. How will a policymaker in Washington justify drawing a red line in front of… a Chinese frigate chasing off a Philippines survey ship over Reed Bank, or a Chinese infantry platoon appearing on a pile of rocks near the Spratly Islands? When contemplating a grievously costly war with a major power, such minor events will appear ridiculous as casus belli. Yet when accumulated over time and space, they could add up to a fundamental change in the region.”

When I wrote about China’s “creeping invasion” of the Philippines in the past, some pro-China apologists were quick to charge that I was exaggerating and distorting China’s position. Below is the English translation of the Beijing TV interview of China’s “well known military expert” Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, which appeared in the May 28, 2013 issue of the China Daily Mail.  In this remarkable interview, General Zhaozhong openly discloses China’s strategy to recover all the “Chinese islands and reefs illegally occupied by the Philippines”.

TV host: “Well, we have watched the footage and now let’s look at the big screen that shows the Chinese islands and reefs illegally occupied by the Philippines. All of us should remember that counting from the north, there are the Beizi Island, Feixin Island, Zhongye Island, Xiyue Island, Shuanghuangzhou Shoal, Mahuan Island, Nanyue Island and Siling Reef.

What one has stolen has to be returned. No matter how long the Philippines have illegally occupied those Chinese islands and reefs, I believe that it cannot change the fact that those islands and reefs are inherent Chinese territories. However, what shall we do to counter those rude and barbarian acts of the Philippines?”

Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong: “What should we do about those islands and reefs? I think that in the main we have done some things relatively successfully in dealing with the Philippines. Since the 1990s, the Philippines has done quite a few illegal and irrational things in its attempt to turn the Huangyan Island (Panatag Shoal) into its territory by means of presidential order, domestic legislation, and so on.

Each time our Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested, but it refused to listen. In the meantime, it was busy doing this and that, such as sunk a boat there and conducting lots of patrols there. By April, 2012, an incident finally took place that it took initiative to detain Chinese fishermen by force; it sent troops to detain at gun point the Chinese fishermen who entered the lagoon to carry out normal fishing.

Since then, we have begun to take measures to seal and control the areas around the Huangyan Island, seal and control continuously up till now. In the over one year period since then, there have been fishermen in the inside. Our fishermen are often there because there is lot of fish there. Fishermen go there in large ships and then sail small boats in the lagoon to fish. They can have shelter in the lagoon when there is a typhoon.

The fishermen conduct normal production there. In the area around the island, fishing administration ships and marine surveillance ships are conducting normal patrols while in the outer ring there are navy warships. The island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage. As a result, a cabbage strategy has taken shape.

If the Philippines wants to go in, in the outermost area, it has first to ask whether our navy will allow it. Then it has to ask whether our fishery administration ships and marine surveillance ships will allow it. Therefore, our fishermen can carry out their production safely while our country’s marine rights and interests as well as sovereignty are safeguarded. Is that not satisfactory?

We can adopt this method elsewhere. We have not resorted to war and we have not forced the others to do anything, have we? You have invaded and then left. You have violated Chinese law and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, haven’t you? Why did you point your guns at our fishermen? As you have first violated the law and pointed your guns at our fishermen, you would never be allowed to enter the area.

We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the “cabbage” strategy, you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own. Once they have left, they will never be able to come back.

For many things, we have to grab the right timing to do them. Over the past few years, we have made a series of achievements at the Nansha Islands (the Spratly Islands), the greatest of which I think have been on the Huangyan Island, Meiji Reef (Mischief Reef) and Ren’ai Shoal (Ayungin Shoal).

We have gained quite satisfactory experience about the ways to recover the islands and reefs and defend them. For the Nansha and Xisha (Paracel) Islands, we have established Sansha City to administrate them. That was a good step we have taken.

The next step will be the strengthening of power and authority in implementing our law in conduct our administration. The further next step shall be the vigorous development there, including the development of economy, tourism, marine fishery and marine protection.

We have to do much more work there, and coordinate various efforts. We should not rely only on military effort. In the military perspective, fighting is the last resort while before it there must be production on a large scale and with high enthusiasm and large-scale production on the sea. That is why I say that we have to create such an environment and atmosphere.”

Well, there you have it, straight from the lips of China’s military expert, General Zhaozhong.  Soon, he predicts, China will be bringing in tourists from the Sansha City prefecture to visit Mischief Reef,  Scarborough Shoal, Ayungin Reef, and all the other “Chinese islands and reefs  illegally occupied by the Philippines” for centuries, now liberated from those “rude and barbarian Filipinos”.

Army to investigate General Lucero’s death

From the Manila Times (Jun 3): Army to investigate General Lucero’s death

THE Philippine Army is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, who died Sunday after scuba diving in Zamboanga del Sur.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang on Monday said the probe is standard procedure, adding that among the things that would be looked into was the claim of Lucero’s wife that his diving gear was defective, and who owns the equipment.

“As a matter of policy, units submit investigation reports in cases of death of their personnel,” he said. “We are not yet sure who owns the (scuba) gear.”

Lucero had a heart attack on Sunday after diving at Tabak beach in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur.

Cabangbang said the incident happened during the reception outing for the newly assigned 21 second lieutenants to the 1st ID. Among the guests were the general’s wife Maria Consuelo, and their only child, Paula Divina.

“He was immediately evacuated to Mendero Hospital in Pagadian City for medical treatment but was later pronounced dead by the attending physician,” he said.

Lucero’s remains are at the Tabak Chapel and will be transferred on Tuesday to the Army general headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Lucero, 54, was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Matikas” Class of 1983. He got his general’s star in October 2012.

Before his appointment as 1st ID commander, he commanded the 103 Infantry Brigade. He was spokesman of the then Southern Command, now known as Western Mindanao Command, during the time of former chief of staff Gen. Narciso Abaya.
Lucero had extensive experience in the Army’s civil military operations.

Probers looking at gas leak as most likely cause of Serendra explosion

From the Manila Times (Jun 3): Probers looking at gas leak as most likely cause of Serendra explosion

A leak in the gas line looms as the most likely cause of the powerful explosion at the Two Serendra condominium in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig that killed three persons and injured four others on Friday.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Monday said because investigators have not found any indication that the blast was caused by a bomb or an improvised explosive device, chances are increasing that it may have been caused by a gas leak or chemical ignition.”

“This is not conclusive but we could say the probability of a bomb is getting remote because, one, no triggering device was found, and, two, our dogs were negative,” Roxas said.

He, however, said investigators have not made any firm conclusions yet on what caused the blast.

Roxas asked the public not to compare the Serendra blast with the October 2007 blast at Glorietta 2 mall in Makati’s Central Business District that killed 11 people.

The owner of Two Serendra’s unit 501 where the blast occurred extended her sympathies to the victims of the explosion.

“On behalf of the Cayton family, we would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this tragedy. We are equally devastated by the damage that this has caused us,” Marianne Cayton Castillo said in a statement.

Cayton, who is now based in California, said the unit was purchased through their hard-earned money.

She said her family is committed to cooperating fully with the authorities.

3 reds die in N. Luzon clashes

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 3): 3 reds die in N. Luzon clashes

Narvacan, Ilocos Sur/CAMP CRAME, Quezon City — At least three communist rebels were killed in separate clashes in the provinces of Abra, Ifugao and Compostela Valley since Thursday with a number of rebel firearms seized by government forces, the police and military reported yesterday.

Superintendent Dave Limmong, spokesman of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (PRO-CAR), said the latest encounter broke out in Barangay Butac in Aguinaldo town, Ifugao around 5:30 a.m. Sunday and resulted in the death of at least one communist rebel.

The clash was still ongoing as of press time yesterday afternoon with elements of the Philippine Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion (54IB) collecting three M16 rifles – one mounted with a grenade launcher – on the battleground.

The rebels, numbering about 20, are under the command of one Artos Talastas, also known as “Ka Libre” and “Ka Layden,” of the Kilusang Larangang Guerilla (KLG) “Marko.”

“During the exchange of gun fire; our troops outpowered the rebels prompted the latter to escape from the encounter site leaving a number of firearms and subversive documents,” said 1st Lieutenant Rowena Abayon, spokesperson of the army’s 5th Infantry Division (5ID).

In Abra, government troops shelled the location of a band of fleeing communist rebels to reinforce the ground troops running after them after the clash erupted on Thursday.

The bombs pounded a remote area in Sitio Alligang, Barangay Lat-ey in Malibcong town and killed at least one communist rebel. The fatality was confirmed by some commuters who spotted four rebels carrying a cadaver wrapped with a blanket near the boundary of Kalinga province, said Limmong.

“Our troops were dispatched in the area following the information they received from the civilians in the area about the presence of more or less 20 fully-armed men, who reportedly conducting extortion and violent activities,” said Colonel Danilo Domingo, commander of the army’s 41st Infantry Battalion (4IB).

The rebels are led by a certain “Ka Chico” and “Ka Bram,” he said.

In Compostela Valley, soldiers captured three communist rebels and also carried a cadaver of a New People’s Army (NPA) fighter from the area of a clash in Bvarangay Longganapan in Laak town on Saturday.

US submits report on USS Guardian grounding at Tubbataha

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 3): US submits report on USS Guardian grounding at Tubbataha

Another thick document will keep President Benigno S. Aquino III busy in the coming days.

The President said US fact-finding mission has submitted its report into the grounding of the minesweeper USS Guardian at Tubbataha Reef last January.

Aquino, who has expressed concern over the damage caused to the protected reef, said he intends to review the inquiry report submitted by the American probers.

“The Guardian (report) I got it last week. It’s a thick volume, it’s roughly about an inch thick,” Aquino said in a press conference at the Palace.

“I understand this is the findings of the American fact-finding mission. I have to go through it. It’s, again, about an inch thick—full of nautical charts, amongst other things,” he added.

The Philippine Coast Guard has also reportedly submitted its investigation into the grounding of the US ship to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. The findings, that include recommendations on how to prevent a similar incident in the future, is expected to be transmitted to the President afterwards.

The USS Guardian ran aground at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17 and destroyed more than 2,000 square meters of the reef. The US minesweeper was cut to pieces and removed from the World Heritage site after more than two months.

The Tubbataha Management Office has demanded the US Navy to pay $1.4 million fine for the damaged caused to the protected reef.

As for the initial National Bureau of Investigation inquiry report on the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by coast guard personnel, the President said he may get the report this week.

Soldiers in a new war: Poverty

From Malaya (Jun 3): Soldiers in a new war: Poverty

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija - Elements of 7th Infantry Division (7th ID), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army Signal Regiment (ASR) and a number of retired soldiers are on another warpath – a war against poverty.

In the recent five-day seminar on fish cage construction and tilapia culture operations, the participants have completed their course conducted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Region III, at the Pahingahan Dam here.

Led by Wilfredo M. Cruz, BFAR agricultural center chief, some 30 enlisted personnel were lectured on the benefits of basic fisheries, proper fish handling and medical treatment.

Participants underwent fishnet-weaving and floating bamboo fish cage – making as practical exercises under the supervision of BFAR personnel at Pahingahan Dam where tilapia will be propagated as part of the BFAR III and DND-AFP collaborative livelihood project.

It was learned that fish propagation project is just one of the many livelihood programs being implemented by 7th ID through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines (DND-AFP).

De Lima: Shooting of Taiwanese fisherman happened on PHL waters

From the Business Mirror (Jun 3): De Lima: Shooting of Taiwanese fisherman happened on PHL waters

THE government maintained on Tuesday that the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman early last month occurred within the country’s territory, contrary to the claims of Taiwanese officials.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Monday, “there is no doubt that the shooting of Taiwanese Hung Tzu Chien happened within the country’s territory near Batanes,” as she dismissed claims by Taiwan that the incident happened within its territory.
Chien was poaching along with other Taiwanese fishermen when he was shot by Coast Guard personnel after his boat allegedly became belligerent and attempted to ram the Coast Guard boat, rather than leave when they were shooed away by the Coast Guard.
“Our jurisdiction is clear. The incident happened inside our territory which is why we are conducting an investigation,” de Lima told reporters.
She said based on the global positioning system record of the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, that owns MCS 3001, the shooting incident, which happened on May 9, occurred within Balintang Channel.
De Lima said the exact record showed 43 nautical miles east of Balintang Island, which is well within the country’s territory.
Earlier, Taiwan claimed the incident occurred outside Philippine territory as shown by the alleged graph of the Taiwanese fishing vessel’s course. It even went further by claiming that it happened within Taiwan fishing waters.
Taiwan earlier called the shooting of Chien as as “cold-blood murder,” a claim that was belied by the Coast Guard and the Philippine government, as it launched an investigation into the incident.
The incident followed several drastic actions by Taiwan, until it was able to force the Philippine government to hold a parallel investigation.
Taiwan has completed its probe on Friday after its investigators accessed evidence in the hands of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and talked to the involved Coast Guard personnel.
They also examined the firearms of the Coast Guard personnel and inspected the involved Coast Guard boat, which showed marks of the ramming by the Taiwanese fishing boat.
A team of investigators from the NBI also visited Taiwan and talked to the colleagues of the killed Taiwanese fishermen and inspected the involved fishing boat.
De Lima downplayed hints that Taiwan may be attempting to impose its laws on the country.
“Probably you should ask the Taiwanese government why they are conducting their own investigation. They probably have extra-territorial jurisdiction like if the victim is a Taiwanese or the vessel is flying the Taiwanese flag,” she said.
She cautioned everybody, including Taiwan from speculating on the results of the NBI investigation.
But De Lima said there should be no speculation about the outcome of the investigation.
“We should not speculate. We should wait for the report. The video will also be part of the report, what exactly is shown in the video and how it impacts on the conclusion,” she said.
The incident at sea was caught by the Coast Guard on video tape. The video has been watched by Taiwanese authorities.

Aquino promotes female senior officer to general, 21 others

From the Business Mirror (Jun 3): Aquino promotes female senior officer to general, 21 others

PRESIDENT Aquino has promoted the first female officer to head the Armed Forces Judge Advocate General’s Office to one-star rank.
Also promoted were 21 other senior military officers.
Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Armed Forces chief of staff, said the President recently approved the promotion of Brig. Gen. Marian C. Aleido, the seventh female general coming from the Armed Forces Technical Service.
“The first female general from the military’s regular service was Brig. Gen. Ramona P. Go of the Army who retired September last year to run for public office. She was proclaimed mayor-elect of San Enrique town in Iloilo, three days after the May 13 midterm elections,” Bautista said.
Promoted to lieutenant general or three-star rank were Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo, Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief; Roy O. Deveraturda, Central Command (Centcom) chief; and Rustico O. Guerrero, Western Command (Westcom) chief.
Promoted to the rank of major general or two-star rank were Crisologo M. Nayve, Romeo L. Gapuz, Richard C. Siga-an and John S. Bonafos, while the Navy’s Jesus C. Millan and Leopoldo M. Alano became rear admirals.
Promoted to the rank of brigadier general or one-star rank were Wilfredo S. Bonilla, Francisco M. Patrimonio, Romeo G. Gan, Mayoralgo M. de la Cruz, John G. Estoesta, Reynaldo R. Castillo, Oscar T. Lactao and Aleido.
The new Navy commodores on the other hand, were Joel T. de la Cruz, Roland Joseph S. Mercado, Antonio A. Habulan and Franco Sebastian T. Pan.
“Promotion in the Armed Forces is a constant, dynamic and vital process which the organization has to undertake. This is done to ensure that the right key-players are placed in the forefront to maintain the organization’s momentum toward growth and development. It is also part of the military’s campaign of fostering professionalism as a primary trait to enforce adherence to the chain of command which will help the soldiers perform their duties efficiently and effectively,” Bautista said.

Youth groups gear up for more protest actions

From the Business Mirror (Jun 3): Youth groups gear up for more protest actions

PROTEST actions marred the opening of classes on Monday with members of the youth group Anakbayan condemning the Aquino administration’s education policies.
Members of the group staged a picket on Mendiola Street, Manila, on Monday morning to condemn the tuition increases imposed by private schools with Malacañang’s alleged approval and to reiterate their opposition to the Aquino administration’s K to 12 program.
The protesters said private schools should not have been allowed to impose tuition increases without justification considering that private schools are already raking in huge profits.
Anakbayan said 354 private tertiary schools out of 451 applicants and 241 private elementary and high schools out of 1,144 applicants were allowed to impose tuition and other fees increases.
Some private colleges and universities have increased their tuition to as high as P130 per unit, aside from increases in miscellaneous fees, the group said.
Anakbayan-National Capital Region Secretary-General Andre Zarate told the BusinessMirror in an interview that more protest actions will be held in the ensuing days, saying any tuition increase imposed by private schools will only add burden to the Filipino people considering the high cost of living and the fact that the government continues to deny petitions for substantial wage increase until now.
He said his group, along with the League of Filipino Students (LFS), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) will lead anti-tuition increase rallies and demonstrations inside and outside campuses in Metro Manila and different parts of the country on June 10 and June 19.
The groups, he added, will call on lawmakers to pass a legislation that imposes a tuition increase moratorium. He recalled that a proposed measure was filed by the Kabataan Party-list group.
The protesters blamed the Aquino administration for what they said was the worsening educational crisis, and referred to Malacañang as “the gate of hell” for the Filipino youth “whose dreams will be burned to ashes because we are being deprived of our right to education.”
Zarate said the opening of classes will also mark the start of a series of protest actions against the anti-poor policies of the Aquino administration such as in education, which allegedly paves the way for state abandonment of its duties and obligations to the Filipino youth.
“Instead of making quality education accessible to all, this government is the one enabling private schools to hike fees,” he said.
He added that although there is a 70-20-10 increment system which will go to the salary of teachers, improvement of facilities and return-of-investment, respectively, the government has neither the will nor the resources to check whether the increment system is being implemented.
Meanwhile, Zarate said with the implementation of the K to 12, which is designed to train students taking up basic education as semi-skilled workers, more Filipino youths will not be able, or will decide not, to pursue college education anymore.
K to 12, the group stressed, is just another scheme for state abandonment of its duties to provide the Filipino youth quality education.
The group added that the program will eventually lead to a decline in the number of state universities and colleges with the government’s plan to allocate less for education.
The group is reacting to a pronouncement of the Department of Budget and Management that the government will yet again reduce its spending on state universities and colleges.
This, the group lamented, is despite the howls of protest over the death of 16-year-old University of the Philippines Manila student Kristel Tejada, who committed suicide owing to the failure to raise funds for tuition.
“Aquino’s grand scheme, dubbed as ‘Road map to Philippine Higher Education Reform,’ is set to cast a darker future for the Filipino youth. This scheme is the application of neo-liberal policies on education under Aquino—denationalization, privatization, liberalization and deregulation—all of which are present in the system today,” Zarate said.
“The opening of classes will mark the opening of protests against policies and the system that continues to deprive the youth of a better future,” he said.