Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Philippines respects US move to keep leftist rebel group on terror list

From the Global Times (Jun 5): Philippines respects US move to keep leftist rebel group on terror list

The Philippine government said Wednesday that it respects the US decision to continue to include the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army ( CPP-NPA) on its list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO).

In a news briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that it is not for the Philippines to say whether it agrees or not on the leftist rebels' inclusion on the US State Department's list.

"That's their (decision), that's how they would like to classify the CPP-NPA," he said.

In its latest Country Report on Terrorism released recently, the United States continued to include the CPP-NPA on the list of FTO. The CPP-NPA has been on the list since August 9, 2002.

Aside from the leftist rebels, another Filipino group, the Abu Sayyaf, also remained on the list. It was included in the FTO since October 8, 1997.

"FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business," the State Department said.

The Aquino government tried to revive the peace process with the CPP-NPA through its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF). But only one formal negotiation and two informal talks through a special track took place during the past three years of the Aquino administration until the peace process collapsed in February this year.

The Philippine government is now looking for a "new approach" on how to end the more than four decades' leftist insurgency.

From Fighter To Artist, Watch The Trailer For THE GUERRILLA IS A POET

From Twitch (Jun 2013): From Fighter To Artist, Watch The Trailer For THE GUERRILLA IS A POET

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
A part of the CineFilipino festival, sibling director duo Sari Raissa Dalena and Kiri Dalena base their "The Guerrilla Is A Poet" on the story of revolutionary leader Jose Maria Siso, a central figure in the Communist Party Of The Philippines who was heavily involved in the revolutionary movement in the 1960s before being captured, imprisoned and re-emerging as a poet.
The tale of an activist's journey during the turbulent years of Martial Law, until his capture in the mountains and the dark, nine years of imprisonment that followed, leading to his birth as a poet.
The revolutionary movements within the Philippines are a total blank spot for me in terms of knowing the actual history and so I have no way of telling how accurate the sisters' portrayal may or may not be, but the trailer is quite strong. Take a look below.

DOJ files raps vs. 7 in Arles slay at RTC

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 5): DOJ files raps vs. 7 in Arles slay at RTC

The Department of Justice filed murder charges against seven of the suspects in the killing of Judge Henry Arles before the Kabankalan Regional Trial Court Monday, his son, Philip Arles, said yesterday.

The seven are Rustom Puro, Marvin Salve, Gerald Tabujara, Jessie Daguia, Alejandro Capunong and Eddie Fortunado, who are members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, and Emman Medes, an employee of the Ilog municipal government.

No bail was recommended for all of the accused, he said.

Meanwhile, the motion for reconsideration filed by the Arles family for the inclusion of three other respondents to the case, who were earlier cleared by the DOJ is still pending, he added.

The three are Negros Occidental Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez and Cauayan Vice Mayor Jerry Tabujara.

Arles was shot dead in Barangay Manalad, Ilog, while on his way home at about 6:30 p.m. on April 24, 2012.

The acting Kabankalan RTC judge now is Fernando Elumba, who also acts as judge of Bacolod RTC Branch 42.

US Pacom chief arrives, meets with DND, AFP execs on RP-China tension

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 6): US Pacom chief arrives, meets with DND, AFP execs on RP-China tension

The commander of the United States-Pacific Command (US-Pacom) will be arriving today for a two-day meeting with top Philippine defense and military officials amid the ongoing tension between China and Manila over the disputed West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila announced that Admiral Samuel Locklear III, commander of the Hawaii-based US-Pacom, will be in Manila June six to seven meetings with his counterparts in the Philippine government.

“During his visit, Admiral Locklear will consult with defense officials in the Philippine government on a range of common security challenges,” the US Embassy stated.
“No open media events are planned for the visit,” it added.

Locklear’s visit to the country follows his attendance last weekend of the Shangri-La Dialog in Singapore where he also met with defense officials from other countries across the Asia-Pacific Region.

The visit also came amid the ongoing tension between the Philippines and China over Ayungin Shoal, which is part of the Kalayaan Islands Group (KIGs) or the Spratlys, in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

During his speech at the Shangri-La Dialog, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin admitted that territorial disputes in the Asia Pacific region are among the emerging security concerns.

Gazmin, however, did not specifically mention the dispute over the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysian, Brunei and Vietnam.

The Philippines is again in a tense “standoff” with China over Ayungin Shoal in the KIGs or the Spratlys after Chinese maritime surveillance ships continue to stay in the vicinities of the Philippine-occupied territory.

A security official said that China is trying to “establish foothold” on Ayungin Shoal despite the presence of Philippine Navy troops there.

In April last year, Chinese ships also engaged Philippine vessels in a standoff in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Masinloc town in Zambales after Filipino authorities tried to apprehend Chinese poachers. The Chinese have not left the area since then and have harassed Filipino fishermen.

The Philippines has filed several diplomatic protests against China.

Peace advocates express concern on slow progress of negotiations

From the Business World (Jun 5): Peace advocates express concern on slow progress of negotiations

Peace advocates in Mindanao have expressed concern over delays in the peace process as discussions on key points have failed to move.

The Mindanao Peoples Caucus, a coalition that represents civil society in the International Monitoring Team that oversees the ceasefire between the government and Moro rebels, said both parties should hasten the process given the limited time for the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro Region.

"We urge the peace panels to immediately schedule the next round of talks and focus all their energies, time and attention on the completion of the annexes (to the Bangsamoro framework agreement). This should be a priority and must be resolved at the soonest possible time," it said in a statement.

In April, the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said talks on the remaining annexes to complete the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro will resume after the midterm polls last May 13.

"It is almost a month from the midterm elections but up to now, there is still no schedule for the formal resumption of talks. Given the very limited transition road map between now and 2016, any delay in the signing of the Annexes will cause irreversible consequences on the viability of the transition period itself," the Mindanao Peoples Caucus said.

"As primary stakeholders of the peace process in Mindanao, the grassroots communities can only afford to rest once the parties have signed a comprehensive peace agreement.

"No amount of Sajahatra scholarships, skills trainings, livelihood, PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) cards, appointments to government positions and outpouring of donor funds could ever substitute for the urgent need to have a final deal on the annexes," it added.

Chief negotiators of both panels were not immediately available for comment.

Miriam Colonel-Ferrer, the government’s chief negotiator, earlier said her team had hoped to start the exchange of notes last week to hasten the negotiation process.

She maintained there is no delay in the talks, saying the "President and the Cabinet wanted time to review all government commitments laid out in the draft annex in their entirety."

MILF: Koronadal Moro women undergo basic financial management training

From the MILF Website (Jun 5): Koronadal Moro women undergo basic financial management training

More than 70 Moro women from Koronadal Province underwent Basic Financial Management Training held at the Community Learning Center in Barangay Koronadal Proper in Polomolok, South Cotabato on May 24, 2013.

The all-women participants came from the municipalities of Tantangan, Marbel, Tupi and Polomolok which forms Koronadal Province in the MILF’s description of areas.

“The training was aimed to equip our Moro women with basic skills in handling financial transactions of their respective organizations,” Mandao Wali, Jr. Regional Finance Officer of Bangsamoro Development Agency-Southern Mindanao Regional Office (BDA-SouthMin).

Wali disclosed it was first time for most of the participants to attend such training. The facilitator employed lecture-workshop process in the activity. The learners were given chance to directly ask the facilitator during the sessions.

Topics of the training included financial management, disbursement guidelines, recording data and maintaining cashbook.

The participants expressed gratitude to BDA for providing them the financial management skills which they can use in the operation of their organization.

Ustadza Guiaria Enged, one the Moro women leaders present looked forward for more capability-building trainings for their officers and members.

Mandao offered BDA SouthMin’s technical assistance in other organizational management training which includes skills in facilitating meetings, basic documentation, data gathering and basic news writing.

The women trainees were all involved on the social concerns of Moro communities that includes education of the communities on health and sanitation.  The committee further oversees the concerns of the widows, elderly and children especially during the time of conflict.

The BDA is an agency created in 2002 as agreed upon by the MILF and the Philippine Government during the peace process. It is tasked to identify, lead and manage development and rehabilitation initiatives to conflict affected areas in Mindanao.

Sultan: No liability in Sabah clash

From the Manila Standard Today (Jun 5): Sultan: No liability in Sabah clash

The Sulu Sultanate insists  that it has no criminal liability in the bloody standoff with Malaysian security forces in Sabah that left at least 80 persons dead.

Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, on Tuesday said the sultanate merely fought for its rights over Sabah, and that his army did not violate any Philippine law.

“We don’t know what charges they will file against us. We did not go against the Philippine Constitution. We have explained everything to the government, and we have proven that there was no conspiracy whatsoever,” Idjirani said.

The sultanate made the statement as the National Bureau of Investigation said it has wrapped up its investigation on the failed attempt of Kiram’s armed followers to take possession of the disputed territory.

Kiram’s decision to send 200 members of the sultanate’s so-called Royal Security Forces last February set  off a bitter armed conflict with the Malaysian government, which resulted  in the deaths of 68 Filipinos and 10 Malaysian security personnel.

The NBI has summoned officials of the sultanate and their close supporters during its investigation to prove reports of alleged conspiracy to sow terror in Sabah and cause destabilization in the government.

Idjirani said the NBI and the Department of Justice  are using the threat of lawsuit as a scare tactic to discourage support to the sultanate’s long-standing claim on Sabah.

“We half-expected the Aquino administration to support us, being citizens of the Philippines, and yet President Aquino wants us indicted for doing what we believe is right. Like all previous presidents, he put our Sabah claim in the backburner, so we have no choice but to act on our own,” the sultanate official said of Kiram’s decision to send his followers to Sabah to revive its claim over the area.

Idjirani pointed out that the Philippine and Malaysian governments have failed to abide by the 1963 Manila Accord.

The agreement, signed on July 31, 1963, stated that Malaysia and Indonesia “took note” of the Philippines’ claim on Sabah and the right of the Philippines to continue to pursue it in accordance with international law and the principle of the pacific settlement of dispute.

“The sultanate has all the rights to appeal its claim on Sabah before an international body based on the provisions of the 1963 Manila Accord,” Idjirani reiterated.

“Under the 1963 Manila Accord, our appeal has basis. The Sabah claim has not been decided upon by the United Nations, so we can tell Malaysia that the sultanate has the right to protect its interests over Sabah, especially the Filipino residents there,” he added.

Kirams dare PNoy to ready big jail for them

From the Philippine Star (Jun 5): Kirams dare PNoy to ready big jail for them

The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Wednesday dared President Aquino to prepare a big jail cell for Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, his family and his supporters saying they would be facing the charge of inciting  war against Malaysia over Sabah and are willing to be jailed for it.

“Prepare a big jail cell for all of us. We will not run. We will not hide. It is up to the Filipino people to decide who really abandoned the claim on Sabah,” said Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani.

Idjirani, who earlier said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had conducted a credible probe on the occupation of Lahad Datu, Sabah, by the Sultanate’s Royal Security Force, has slammed the agency for “concocting” a report finding Kiram, his family and their supporters of conspiring to incite  war with Malaysia.

“The report by the NBI is concocted. This is lutong Macau. They know that the only way of stopping the Sabah claim is to stop the Kiram family,” said Idjirani.

Idjirani said that should warrants be issued for the arrest of the Kiram family  members and their supporters, they would not resist. Idjirani added that the Sultanate is cash-strapped and that it would  be unable to post bail on the possible charges of inciting  war and violation of the election gunban.

“These are bailable offenses but we do not have the money to post bail. Whether we will be arrested or not depends of the decision of the President,” he said.

Kiram accuses  Aquino of putting pressure on the Kiram family and their supporters to appease Malaysia which has brokered the peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“The PNoy administration is putting pressure on the Kiram family because it does not want to displease the Malaysian government which had sponsored the peace deal with the MILF. President Aquino will never take the side of the (Kiram) family. The Pnoy administration is not protecting the interest of the Filipino people,” Idjirani said.

Idjirani said he is not surprised that  Aquino is not supporting the Sulu Sultanate on the Sabah issue saying the President is protecting his family’s legacy of dropping the claim of the Philippines on Sabah.

Idjirani meanwhile said the Sultanate’s RSF fighters who are still holed-up in Lahad Datu in Sabah under the command of Agbimmudin Kiram will no longer return to the Philippines. Agbimuddin and some 200 RSF fighters landed in Lahad Dati from Sulu last February 12.

The NBI recommended the filing of illegal possession of firearms and violation of election gun ban and Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code or inciting to war against  Kiram and the 38 suspected members of the RSF who were arrested as they were attempting to enter the Philippines from Sabah last March.

The NBI said evidence showed the Kirams in Sulu and their relatives and supporters in Taguig City “had planned (the incursion) as early as November 2012.”

The NBI report, which was submitted to the office of DOJ director Martin Mendez for review last May 21, detailed how the Kirams plotted what investigators called an “adventure” to supposedly demonstrate their territorial claims over Sabah. Mendez, however, refused to give details of the report.

The NBI report said Kirams and their supporters should be indicted for inciting  war with Malaysia, which had triggered clashes between the sultanate’s army and Malaysian authorities that killed several people and which also jeopardized the country’s ties with its neighbor.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there is extraterritorial jurisdiction to investigate Kiram and his group under a provision of the Revised Penal Code, which applies the penal law on some crimes committed outside Philippine territory.

The NBI, however, concluded that former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, Council for Philippine Affairs secretary-general Pastor Saycon, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari, and former media man Waldy Carbonell had no role in the incursion as alleged in earlier reports.

There was no sufficient evidence to prove that any of the four financed or helped the Kirams to bring their armed followers to Sabah, according to the report.

US official urges Phl, China to strike a 'compromise'

From the Philippine Star (Jun 5): US official urges Phl, China to strike a 'compromise'

Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command attend a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Wednesday, June 5, 2013. AP PHOTO/VINCENT THIAN

A US fleet commander pressed on Wednesday for a compromise between rival countries over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, said in a visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that the US will not tolerate any of the claimants that include China and the Philippines to seize control of the islands.

"We will oppose the change of status quo by force by anyone," Locklear said, without mentioning any specific country.

Whether or not the claim is based on international laws such as the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which the Philippines has been citing, Locklear added the US aims to resolve through a "code of conduct" to potentially solve the issue "peacefully."

Chinese Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, however, has said in a television interview that China's navy has been preparing to surround Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal with warships and fishing vessels to secure their fisherman's activities in the area.

Related story: Chinese general reveals 'strategy' for Panatag takeover

Similarly, President Benigno Aquino III said in a speech before the Philippine Navy that the Philippines will defend the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"Our message to the world is clear: what is ours is ours, and we will repel any and all attempts to claim what is ours, and defend ourselves against any form of aggression," he said.

On Wednesday, a Filipino military official  said that other Chinese-owned vessels breached the Philippine borders near Ayungin Shoal, a disputed area, off Palawan Island.

Related story: 3 more Chinese ships spotted  at Ayungin Shoal

Locklear, meanwhile, added that the US will not side with any nation staking its claim over the oil-rich territories in seeking the code of conduct, as this will set "boundaries" to maritime officials' activities.

He nevertheless said tensions were unlikely to escalate  because the countries "understand this could be a long process, they understand restraint."

Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also expressed their interest in the territories.

Previously, the Philippines has sought the US' counsel in resolving the matter, while Beijing wanted to bilateral negotiations to resolve the issue.

US Pacific command chief to visit Phl

From the Philippine Star (Jun 5): US Pacific command chief to visit Phl

Amid fresh tensions in the West Philippine Sea, the chief of the United States (US) forces in the Asia Pacific is set to meet with Philippine officials to discuss defense issues in the region.

A US Embassy statement said US Pacific Command chief Admiral Samuel Locklear III is expected to visit Manila on June 6 to 7 to tackle security matters with his Philippine counterparts.

“During his visit, Admiral Locklear will consult with defense officials in the Philippine government on a range of common security challenges,” the US Embassy said without elaborating.

Locklear is expected to meet with Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Officials could not tell the agenda of the talks. Locklear’s visit will not be open to the media.

Locklear’s visit follows his attendance at the recently-concluded Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where he met with security officials from the region.

Last week, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to its Mutual Defense Treaty with Manila, which is embroiled in a territorial row with China.

Hagel made the commitment during a meeting with Gazmin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue.

The Defense department has welcomed Hagel’s statement and is hopeful that the US would continue backing efforts to maintain freedom of navigation in the region.

“We look forward to the continuous and more active role of the US in contributing to the freedom of navigation in the region,” Defense department spokesman Peter Galvez told The STAR in a recent interview.

Tensions in the West Philippine Sea mounted last month after China deployed three ships around the Ayungin Shoal, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines has protested China’s illegal deployment of vessels within its territory in violation of the international law.

The protest, however, fell on deaf ears as China continued to send ships and vessels around the shoal, which is 105.77 nautical miles from Palawan.

Latest monitoring by Philippine authorities revealed that at least three Chinese ships are still in the area.

China’s intrusion is not limited to the Ayungin Shoal as Chinese ships continue to patrol the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, a Philippine-owned area located 124 nautical miles from the nearest base point in Zambales.

MILF rebels won't give up armed struggle yet

From the Philippine Star (Jun 5): MILF rebels won't give up armed struggle yet

KUALA LUMPUR — The leader of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group says it won't give up its armed struggle until a final peace settlement with the government is reached.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a preliminary peace pact last October in a breakthrough toward ending more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and held back progress in the resource-rich but poverty-wracked southern Philippines. Negotiations, however, still face hurdles in the areas of power, revenue and wealth-sharing by the two sides.

Rebel leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told a conference in Malaysia on Wednesday that any delay will set back peace efforts and that his group's armed struggle will continue until a final pact is reached.

PA to launch 'Project Shoebox'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): PA to launch 'Project Shoebox'

In line with the national government's commitment to rehabilitate Typhoon "Pablo" victims in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, especially the children, the Philippine Army (Wednesday announced it will be launching its "Project Shoebox" Thursday.

This will take place at PA grandstand in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

A total 40,000 shoeboxes, containing basic school supplies and personal care items, will be distributed to impoverished children living in the two above-mentioned provinces.

This is aside from the 10,000 additional shoeboxes that will be distributed to various elementary schools in marginalized areas in Metro Manila.

Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, PA spokesperson, said that "Project Shoebox" was first conceptualized by the officers and men of the 4th Light Armor Battalion, based in Camp Nakar, Lucena City, in February 2012.

Under this program, basic school supplies and other personal care items were distributed to selected elementary schools in the locality.

Joining the PA in this endeavor are the Department of Education, Sigma Alpha Sorority- UP Los Baños Chapter, National Bookstore Foundation and 2GO Express.

Through the support of the said groups, Project Shoebox has already reached 93 schools from Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol Regions benefiting 16,246 indigent students.

“Illiteracy or ignorance is another battle that we, the men in uniform, could wage war on. For this reason, the PA is fully supporting the project to heighten the dimension of helping the youth who are future leaders of this country. Not only will this project help and encourage the children to go to school, but it has also become a facility of convergence among different groups and individuals towards attaining a noble cause,” PA chief Lt.Gen. Noel A. Coballes said.

After the launching ceremony, the shoeboxes will be transported to North Harbor Pier in Manila by 2GO Express which offered its forwarding services free of charge.

The shoeboxes will be picked up by the Army’s 10th Infantry Division prior to their distribution to the intended elementary schools.

PN, the only other user of Cyclone-class patrol ships

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): PN, the only other user of Cyclone-class patrol ships

Not many people are aware of it.

But the Philippine Navy is the only other operator of the Cyclone-class patrol ships which were constructed and commissioned by the United States Navy between 1992 and 1994 for coastal and surveillance missions.

The Philippine version of this speedy patrol ship is the BRP Mariano Alvarez (PS-38) (ex USS Cyclone) which was transferred to the PN in January 2004.

It was the first vessel of the 10 unit Cyclone class ships.

The ship was rechristened BRP General Mariano Alvarez (PS-38) on March 8, 2004, in honor of a revolutionary general in the Philippine war of independence against Spain.

The BRP Mariano Alvarez is at present assigned to the PN's patrol force.

Operationally, the ship is capable of accelerating from stop to 35 knots (65 kilometer per hour) in under three minutes, then move from full ahead to 15 knots (28 kilometer per hour) astern in 60 seconds.

In high-speed, hard-over turns, the vessel barely heeled as the automatic stabilizers engaged.

In PN service, the BRP Mariano Alvarez is armed with one Mark 38 Bushmaster 25 mm cannon, one Mark 96 stabilized Bushmaster 25 mm cannon with Mark19 Model3 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, four M2HG Browning 12.7 mm .50 caliber machine guns and two M-60 7.62 mm machine gun.

2 alleged members of Sulu Sultan's security forces post bail

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): 2 alleged members of Sulu Sultan's security forces post bail
Two of the 38 alleged members of the Sultanate of Sulu's Royal Security Forces have already posted bail.

Court records show Alhabsi Bantunan and Ernesto Sambas posted an P82,000 bail each for their temporary liberty.

Bantunan, Sambas and 36 others are facing charges for violation of Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code for inciting to war and giving motives for reprisals, illegal possession of firearms and violation of the election gun ban.

The Tawi-Tawi Regional Trial Court has reduced the bail for the accused by 50 percent from P164,000 to P82,000 each.

The 38 suspects were the first batch of alleged supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu in connection with their alleged intrusion in Sabah where clashes erupted last March in an attempt to reclaim the disputed territory.

They were intercepted in three separate incidents off the seas of Tawi-Tawi by the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Firearms were allegedly confiscated from the suspects.

The suspects were transferred from the naval facility in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi detention facility.

PAF's Fokker plane suffers flat tire while about to take off

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): PAF's Fokker plane suffers flat tire while about to take off

A Fokker plane of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) suffered a flat tire while about to take off at the Manila International Airport Wednesday morning.

Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, PAF spokesperson, said the incident occurred at around 6 a.m. prior to the plane's departure for Landingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.

The F-27 was supposed to carry personnel who will inspect the airfield there.

Okol said the aircraft was taxing along the runway when the pilots noticed an unusual forward movement of the aircraft.

Upon inspection, the crew noticed the plane's flat tire.

"The crew alerted the tower and the maintenance team from the 220th airlift wing, removed the aircraft by towing it back to the hangar. The aircraft cleared the runway by 8:30 a.m.," Okol said.

NPA rebel killed, two high-powered guns seized in Northern Samar encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): NPA rebel killed, two high-powered guns seized in Northern Samar encounter

Troopers from the 8th Infantry Division's 63rd Infantry Battalion have killed a New People's Army (NPA) rebel and seized M-16 automatic rifles during an encounter in Barangay Poponton, Las Navas town, Northern Samar Tuesday.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, 8th Infantry Division spokesperson, said that the soldiers were conducting security patrols when they chanced upon the rebel force.

In the issuing firefight, government forces killed one NPA fighter and seized the two M-16 automatic rifles.

The rest of the rebels immediately fled shortly afterwards.

“After our election duties, we continue our primary mission to protect the people. This is the constitutional mandate of the Armed Forces of the Philippines so we cannot afford to waste time,” 8th Infantry Division Major Gen. Gerardo T. Layug said.

“Our mission and goal is to make the Island of Samar a manageable conflict and development-ready area just like Biliran, Bohol, Leyte and Southern Leyte. We are determined to do this to serve the people of Samar so we can attain a just and lasting peace.”

JJSC delegates visit PN headquarters in Manila

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): JJSC delegates visit PN headquarters in Manila

Highlighting the strong relations between the country and Japan, delegates from the Japan Joint Staff College (JJSC) headed by Lt. Gen. Tsugio Ishinopaid a visit to Philippine Navy (PN) headquarters in Roxas Boulevard, Manila Wednesday.

Ishino, JJSC commandant, also paid a courtesy call on the PN flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis M. Alano.

The JJSC visit to PN headquarters is part of the former's study tour to the Philippines.

It is an integral part of the JJSC Curriculum (Overseas Tour) which aims to enhance their understanding on the national stability of countries in Asia-Pacific Region and likewise to enhance bilateral relations.

The delegation arrived to the Philippines last June 2, 2013.

Their visit will include courtesy calls on the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of Philippines, National Defense College of the Philippines and other Major Services Chiefs.

Prior their visit to the PN headquarters, the delegation held a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park.

The latter is an international tradition rendered by leaders and dignitaries during their state visit to foreign countries as a gesture of honoring the respective national heroes.

Educational tours made by foreign military students such as this, prove the good working relations, camaraderie and healthy interactions with foreign armed forces with the aim of knowledge exchanges in organization, culture and history of different countries.

JJSC delegates are expected to depart from the Philippines this coming June 7.

Soldiers capture wounded rebel in bus

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): Soldiers capture wounded rebel in bus

Government troops captured a wounded member of the New People’s Army (NPA) on board a passenger bus during a checkpoint at Sitio Logdeck, Barangay Amor Cruz, Laak in Compostela Valley Monday night.

Col. Buanaventura Pascual, commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade said that elements of the 72nd Infantry Battalion were conducting a checkpoint in the area when they flagged down a bus and arrested Jonathan Bustamante alias “Ka Natnat”.

Pascual said Bustamante, with forest bushes wounds all over his body, immediately confessed to be a communist rebel and that he was among those who previously engaged in series of armed encounters in Laak areas.

He said the rebel also admitted to have hid his issued AK47 Automatic Rifle at Sitio Cogon, Barangay Baluarte, also in Laak.

Pascual said the firearm was recovered in the area in a follow-up operation by members of the 60th Infantry Battalion.

He said the establishment of checkpoint was triggered by a report of concerned civilian passenger about the presence of suspicious personality aboard the bus.

“The checkpoint further allows the possible interception of withdrawing NPAs in the area during the successful implementation of Internal Peace and Security Operation (IPSO) last May 31, in response to the timely information provided by the constituents of the area,” he said.

Soldiers killed in Surigao firefight named

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): Soldiers killed in Surigao firefight named

The military released Wednesday afternoon names of the Army soldiers killed and wounded in a clash with the New People's Army (NPA) in Surigao del Sur on Tuesday.

Maj. Leo Bongosia, spokesperson of the army's 4th Infantry Division, identified the fatalities as Privates Noli U. Oco, Nhel Anjelou B. Dalid,and Nelson V. Batonghinog, all of the Army's 29th Infantry Battalion based in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Wounded was Pvt. Denise J. Quinto, also of the Army's 29th IB.

Bongosia said that the fatalities and the wounded remained in the forested area in the mountainous terrain 20 kilometers west of San Agustin town in Surigao del Sur.

He said the bodies of the Army soldiers were retrieved only Tuesday evening after the running gunbattle subsided nine hours later.

According to Bongosia, the firefight started 9:00 a.m. Tuesday when elements of the army's 29th IB stumbled on an NPA rebel training camp deep into the forest of San Agustin.

He said the wounded and those who were killed stepped on improvised explosive device.

The military's helicopter gunships failed to land in the area to pick the bodies and the wounded due to the thick forest cover, Bongosia added.

He said the Army soldiers overran the NPA training camp with an estimated capacity of 100 people equipped with obstacle courses and five makeshift kitchens.

As of 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, the military is still in the area on a clearing operations while a team has pulled out to bring the fatalities and the wounded to the San Agustin town proper, Bongosia said.

Mulanay police commended for anti-insurgency feat

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): Mulanay police commended for anti-insurgency feat

Members of the Mulanay police force were commended and awarded the “Medal of Merit” early this week after the traditional flag raising ceremony at the Provincial Capitol here.

Mulanay Police Station chief Police Chief Inspector Romulo Albacea led the roster of the Philippine National Police Medal of Merit awardees in recognition of their exemplary feat during their anti-insurgency operations.

Mulanay police officers were cited for their outstanding services together with the 74th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army during the Barangay F. Nananiego checkpoint and surveillance operations in Mulanay, Quezon on December 21, 2012.

The anti-insurgency feat led to the successful arrest of allegedly five members of the “CNN”, the acronym for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front guerrilla unit in the Southern Quezon-Bondoc Peninsula.

The counter-dissident operations also confiscated an explosive device, a cal. 22 Rifle, a hand grenade, two long magazines for M-16 Rifle with 37 live ammunitions, a magazine cal. 45 with 7 ammunitions, seven blasting caps, four cellular phones, subversive documents with mapped plan and sketches of the zero target and personal belongings.

Rommel Edaño, Quezon Provincial Administrator assisted by the Quezon PNP acting Provincial Director Police Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos presented the awards.

Speaking to Provincial Capitol employees and the awardees, Edaño congratulated the honorees and the entire Quezon police organization for their efforts to maintain peace and order.

The provincial administrator also expressed optimism that the awards ceremony will not be the first and the last for provincial peace and order and security achievers’ rites at the Capitol.

Provincial Director Carlos also extended his commendation and congratulations for the police force with the PNP Medal of Merit as the symbol and proof of the grateful police organization and community’s acknowledgement on the uniformed personnel’s extraordinary accomplishment.

Lucero to be laid to rest June 8

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): Lucero to be laid to rest June 8

Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero, the 1st Infantry Division commander who died of an apparent heart attack Sunday, will be laid to rest at the "Libingan ng Mga Bayani" in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City this weekend.

"Brig. Gen. Dan Lucero will be laid to rest at the 'Libingan ng Mga Bayani', Fort Bonifacio on June 8 (Saturday) around noon," Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said.

He added necrological services for the late officer will be held Friday night.

"His body will remain at the Mortuary Chapel of the 'Libingan ng Mga Bayani' until burial on said date," Cabangbang added.

Lucero's remains arrived at the "Libingan ng Mga Bayani", Taguig City around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Lucero's body was ferried by a C-130 cargo aircraft from Pagadian City around 8: 30 a.m.

Full military honors were given to the former 1st Infantry Division commander.

Prior to this, the body of the deceased was placed at the "Tabak" Chapel in Kuta Major Cesar L Sang-an, Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

This is the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division, the unit the deceased commanded before his death.

Lucero had just finished diving off Tuluran Beach, Tukuran, Zamboanga Del Sur when he complained of dizziness and collapsed around 1:55 p.m.

He passed away at the Mendero Hospital in Pagadian City.

The deceased, 53, a member of Philippine Military Academy "Matikas" Class of 1983, appointed to head the 1st Infantry Division only last April 22.

He headed the 1002nd Infantry Brigade before assuming command of the latter unit.

As former battalion commander based in Basilan, Lucero led the assault against the Abu Sayyaf in May 2001 for kidnapping more than 20 Filipino and foreign tourists from Dos Palmas in Palawan.

Palace: Gov't forces effectively decimated numbers of terrorists in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 5): Palace: Gov't forces effectively decimated numbers of terrorists in PHL

Malacanang Wednesday said government forces have effectively reduced the number of terrorists in the country in view of the latest Country Reports on Terrorism issued by the US Department of State citing Mindanao as a "terrorist haven."

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, in a press briefing, said the US report was "part of their being prudent as someone who would like to protect their citizens here."

"We are aware of the presence of Abu Sayyaf (in Mindanao). It is not a secret. But our Armed Forces (of the Philippines) have effectively decimated their numbers," he stressed.

"The Abu Sayyaf is more or less a bandit group already," he added.

With regards to the New People's Army, which was earlier tagged by the US as a terrorist group, Lacierda said these lawless elements "have been reduced to a kidnap-for-ransom group."

"That’s the status right now, and we continue to pursue lawless elements in the country," he said.

While citing its "strong counter-terrorism cooperation" with the Philippines, the United States noted that Mindanao remains classified as a "terrorist haven" due to the presence of the al-Qaida linked Abu Sayyaf, which the US had tagged as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA also remain on the terror list.

In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism released this week, the US Department of State, however, lauded the Philippines' continuing pressure on known terror groups, saying that its efforts in the last decade "have been successful at isolating and constraining the activities of domestic and transnational terrorists."

The report also noted successes, including the June 21 arrest of a suspected Abu Sayyaf member involved in the 2001 abduction of US citizens Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero.

A group of 14 Abu Sayyaf members were earlier sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for the kidnapping and deaths of Sobero, Martin Burham and Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap.

The US also noted a police operation that resulted in the death of suspected Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah member Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar on Dec. 14, who was known to be carrying a bomb in his backpack at the time.

The report also noted the continuing implementation of the country’s Internal Peace and Security Plan, which facilitates a military-to-civilian shift in internal security operations.