Friday, June 7, 2013

Another Sulu gunman charged for waging war against the King

From the Star Online (Jun 7): Another Sulu gunman charged for waging war against the King

KOTA KINABALU: Another member of the Sulu gunmen involved in the Lahad Datu intrusion in February was charged in the High Court in Tawau on Friday with waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Totoh Hismullah was charged under Section 121 of the Penal Code for waging a war against the Agong and Section 130(A) of the Penal Code for his involvement in terrorist activities before Justice P. Ravinthran.

With the charging of Totoh, a total of 31 people, including Malaysian Special Branch policemen Kpl Hassan Ali Basri, have been charged for various offences in connection with the Feb 12 Sulu intrusion that was put down in early April.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Ghani Patail, who headed the prosecution team, told reporters that all suspects have appointed lawyers save one, who will have a lawyer appointed by the court soon.

He said Totoh's case will be transferred to the High Court in Kota Kinabalu High Court, as with the prevoious cases.

He said the case involving Kpl Hassan will be heard on June 24 while cases for the rest of the suspects will be brought up from June 27.

Meanwhile, defence lawyer James Tsai, who was appointed to represent the Philippines government, said they are representing 24 accused.

Tsai also said an application by lawyer Datuk N.Sivananthan to join the team would be heard by the Kota Kinabalu High Court on June 12.

Former Navy chief now heads National Coast Watch Council

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 7): Former Navy chief now heads National Coast Watch Council

Executive Director of the National Coast Watch Council Alexander Pama
Former Philippine Navy chief Alexander Pama is now executive director of the National Coast Watch Council, MalacaƱang announced Friday.

The council was created in 2011 by President Benigno Aquino through Executive Order No. 57 to formulate strategic policies to address the country’s maritime security challenges.

On paper, Pama is an undersecretary in the Office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

Aquino signed his appointment papers on May 31, but this was made public by MalacaƱang only on Friday.

Pama held the rank of vice admiral as commander of the Philippine Navy when he retired last December 21 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56. He was replaced by Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano.

It was under Pama’s watch when the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a refurbished US Coast Guard cutter, was commissioned into the Philippine Navy amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Gas leak, not bomb, caused Two Serendra blast — Mar Roxas

From GMA News (Jun 7): Gas leak, not bomb, caused Two Serendra blast — Mar Roxas

Mar Roxas says Two Serendra blast not due to bomb

Interior and Local Govt. Sec. Mar Roxas said a bomb did not cause the explosion at Two Serendra condominium in Taguig City on May 31. The blast killed three people. , GMA News

A gas leak, and not a bomb, is the most likely cause of the May 31 explosion at the Two Serendra condominium building in Taguig City that killed three people, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II announced Friday, citing a report from an interagency task force that investigated the incident.

"The explosion is most likely to have been caused by combustion or reaction of chemical substances," Roxas said. "In view with the foregoing, the blast was consistent with a gas explosion, most likely LPG (liquefied petroleum gas)."

The source of the gas leak, however, has yet to be determined and is the subject of an ongoing investigation, Roxas said.

"May mga teorya kung saan nangyari yung leak, pero 'di pa conclusive," he said. "Kaya mas mabuti na imbes na mag-speculate kami (ng) kung anu-ano na 'di kami nakakasiguro, mas mabuti masinop pero sigurado kaysa nagmamadali pero mali."

Roxas said no "unrealistic deadlines" would be imposed on investigators working to determine the leak's source. "Nakita naman po ninyo within the week masinop at kumpleto, exhaustive ang trabaho na isinagawa ng inyong mga imbestigador," he pointed out.

Dr. Carlos Primo David, who was among those tapped for the investigation, also said the explosion was consistent with the characteristics of a gas explosion, which are the following:

  • Minimal post-explosion residue
  • No blast cratering
  • Instantaneously dissipated flame
  • Minimal charring
  • Powerful and widespread pressure wave
  • Almost instantaneous explosion
Roxas made the announcement at a press briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday, a week after the incident occurred.

'Person of interest' cleared

The result of the investigation virtually cleared Angelito San Juan, the person who rented the condominium unit where the blast took place, as it noted that there was nothing suspicious in his behavior hours leading to the incident.

"Di na kami gaano ka-interesado (sa kanya)," Roxas said, referring to the earlier "person of interest" tag on San Juan.

"Kung suspect siya, sasabihin kong suspect siya. Di ko sinabing suspect dahil 'di nga siya suspect," he added.

In an interview on GMA News TV's "News to Go" before Roxas' press conference, San Juan's legal counsel Raymond Fortun said he hopes his client will be cleared of any association with the blast.

"Hindi siya person of interest. Ang una kasing pumapasok sa isip ng tao kapag sinabing person of interest ay suspek. Lumiliit na yung tsansa na yung pagsabog ay dahil sa bombing. Kung hindi po ito bombing si Angelito San Juan ay hindi pwedeng maging bomber," he said.

"Basta sana ang lalabas sa resulta ng ibestigasyon ay ma-clear ang kliyente ko. Basta maging maayos ang imbestigasyon. Satisfactory and fair," he added.

Ayala Land

Roxas declined to answer questions on possible sanctions on Ayala Land Inc., the property developer of Two Serendra.

"I won't go into speculation," Roxas said. "I think right now all we are prepared to say is gas explosion ito. Kung bakit nangyari ito--negligence, incompetence, fraud o ano pa--'di pa namin sinasabi. Ang masasabi lang namin ay likely gas explosion."

There was no immediate reaction from Ayala Land Inc., the property developer of Two Serendra.

The results of the investigation confirmed the eerie similarities between the Serendra blast and the 2007 explosion in Glorietta Mall, another Ayala property, that killed 11 people.

A government fact-finding panel concluded in 2011 that the 2007 tragedy was caused by a methane gas leak, but Ayala insisted for years that it was a bomb, citing traces of the chemical compound RDX, a bomb ingredient. After dogs failed to sniff bomb traces in Serendra last weekend, probers are once again exploring the possibility of a gas leak.

Roxas, at Friday's briefing, said the conclusion was reached after the interagency task force conducted a probe which covered the following: K-9 unit walkthrough, Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) probe, Southern Police District-Explosives and Ordnance Division (SPD-EOD), National Capital Region Police Office-EOD (NCRPO-EOD), Taguig police EOD, SOCO swabs, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) post-fire investigation, and National Bureau of Investigation EOD (NBI-EOD) post-blast investigation.

He noted that there was no presence of bomb residue in each method used to reach the conclusion.
A few days after the incident, investigators had already been focusing on a possible problem in the building's centralized LPG piping system as the cause of the powerful blast.

On June 1, Roxas said K-9 units did not find any bomb traces when they scoured the area.

At that time, however, he said investigators had not yet ruled out the possibility of a bomb as the cause of the explosion.

MILF: Leadership and Management Training Course held at Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat

From the MILF Website (Jun 7): Leadership and Management Training Course held at Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat

A three-day Leadership and Management Training Course were held last June 3-5, 2013 at the coastal municipality of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. The training course was jointly conducted by the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and Social Welfare Committee (SWC), Biwang Provincial Committee.
The activity was aimed at strengthening organizational approaches and strategies in support to the MILF and GPH programs in conjunction with the ongoing peace process. It was attended by about 60 officers from the municipal, provincial and executive committee of the Biwang Social Welfare Committee with six representatives from each standing committees.

The opening program commenced with the reading of Qur-anic verses by Sarah Talipon followed by Sheikh Mohammad Asraf Guiapal, Chairman, Committee on Da’wah {Islamic Call and Ideology) who delivered the welcome address. He expressed his appreciation for the activity and considered it as a feasible strategy in building successful nation. “Knowledge and skills on leadership and management is vital in the administration and management of institutions and an important tool to develop people.” he said.

Professor Esmael A. Abdula, member of BLMI steering Committee and KDFI senior training adviser lectured about leadership. He mentioned the most cited skills of effective leaders and managers; effective communication, verbal of non-verbal (including listening); stress and time management; managing individual decisions; recognizing and influencing others; delegation; vision and goal setting; self-awareness; teamwork; conflict resolution and mediation.

In conclusion, he related to the participants the revival of Moro nationalism that started in1962 which in later years (1968) resulted in the formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and in1977, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was born and became the forerunner of Bangsamoro struggle for elf-determination. . The participants were not able to hold their tears and made a deep solemn vow to learn and enhance leadership capabilities through adapting world leadership standards.

Shiek Moidjoddin K. Talusob, KDFI Executive Director dealt on the Role of Women in Islam. He said, “Women in Islam are tasked to perform social responsibilities that would support Islamic type of governance”. He emphasized that men are responsible in running nation-states.

Nasrullah Muhammad, MILF point man to IMT- HRDC had contextualized conflict transformation that can push forward the Bangsamoro right to self-determination. He emphasized that transforming conflict into peace is a very sensitive issue because most conflict are principled-based. He told the participants that there is no difficulty in achieving peace if people will act in unison in supporting peace initiatives.

Before the end of the two-day activity, Kimboy, Chairman of Biwang Provincial Political Committee assured the women participants of his support to their  responsibilities and undertakings.

US ROTC cadets on cultural visit to PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): US ROTC cadets on cultural visit to PHL
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday welcomed a US Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) contingent participating in the ongoing Philippines-United States Cultural Understanding Language Program (CULP).

Philippine Army chief-of-staff Brig. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino received the delegates.

Under the auspices of the State Partnership Program, the AFP and the Guam National Guard conducted the CULP in the principle of improving the cultural immersion and awareness, building language proficiency, broadening humanitarian assistance and enhancing the English language skills of the participants from host nations.

Selected ROTC cadets from the Philippines and the US joined the program which started on June 3 and will conclude on June 25.

Participants shall also visit selected major services camps, ROTC units, renowned national historical landmarks and museums in the country.

Pinoy troopers to stay put on Golan Heights for now - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): Pinoy troopers to stay put on Golan Heights for now - AFP

Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights in Syria will remain in the area until a decision is reached by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista made this announcement on Friday after noting that peacekeeping commitments are made by the DFA to the United Nations. The issue about the return of Filipino troopers came after the wounding of one of their peers, victim of indirect fire on Thursday.

"It's a foreign relations issue and we submit to whatever the decision is going to be," he added.

Bautista also stated that the AFP has already submitted its security review to the DFA regarding the Philippine commitment to the United Nations regarding Golan Heights in wake of two abduction incidents involving Filipino peacekeepers earlier in the year.

"You can never remove risk in the (Golan Heights) that's why they are there to prevent (further) conflict," the AFP chief replied when asked if the posting in Syria is risky.

Bautista also said the military is prepared to carry out its mandate despite of casualties.

"We are committed to perform our mandate and we lay our lives on the line whether it be here or somewhere else," he pointed out.

Bautista added that risk in Golan Heights, Syria is very manageable, adding that the Philippines had faced even tougher conditions when it deployed around 8,000 Filipino soldiers during the Korean War.

"There was combat then and yet we deployed our people," he stressed.

A Filipino peacekeeper was wounded after indirect fire hit Camp Ziouni in Golan Heights, Syria around 7:45 a.m. (Syrian time) Thursday.

The soldier, who sustained shrapnel wounds in the right ankle, is a member of the 6th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights.

Major Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, said that the injured soldier is now in stable condition.

He added that the incident took place as Syrian government and rebel forces clashed some three to four kilometers away from Camp Ziouni.

The latter base is the logistic base of the UN Disengagement Observer Force.

Zagala said that the AFP is constantly monitoring the situation in the area even as he stressed that the safety and well-being of all Filipino peacekeepers is the military's priority.

AFP chief mum on meeting with PACOM commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): AFP chief mum on meeting with PACOM commander

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista remains silent on what was discussed during his meeting with Pacific Command (PACOM) commander Adm. Samuel Locklear Friday.

This took place at AFP main headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Also present was Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

He declined to answer questions on whether the country's ongoing maritime tiff with China over Panatag and Ayungin Shoals were among the topics discussed.

"This meeting is just to get us to know each personally, a media release will be later given," Bautista stressed.

Army donates books, computers to 5 elementary schools in Northern Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): Army donates books, computers to 5 elementary schools in Northern Samar

Dubbed as “Books for Peace,” the 20th Infantry (We Lead) Battalion, Philippine Army (PA) in partnership with the Department of Education ()DepEd) in Northern Samar turned over books and computers to Curry Elementary School located in an interior village of Lope de Vega, Northern Samar on Thursday.

After an hour walk in an almost four kilometers unpaved road to Brgy. Curry proper, the turnover of two sets of desktop computer complete with printers and accessories and 120 assorted books and magazines followed the short program at the Curry Elementary School.

Recipients of the donations were Curry and its nearby school, San Miguel Elementary School.

Curry village chairman Eduardo Banez and San Miguel chair Dionesio Saludario both thanked the 20th IB saying this was the very first time their respective schools received such generous gifts that will truly make a difference in their pupils’ lives.

Teachers-in-charge of the recipient-schools, Ms. Ana Rose Calawagan of Curry and Mary Flor Bocboc of San Miguel, also expressed their appreciation for the generosity in support of their pupils’ education.

20th IB commander Lt. Col. Noel Vestuir, on the other hand, thanked the Rotary Club of Loyola Heights in Manila which made the donation possible.

The club’s commitment to provide better and accessible education especially to the poor according to him is incredibly helpful in reaching their goal in the army which is anchored in their so-called “Internal Peace and Security Plan-Bayanihan.”

This, he further said is their guide towards addressing the concerns in the barangays while performing their mandate of protecting the entire populace within their area of responsibility (AOR).

Aside from Curry and San Miguel Elementary Schools, other schools to avail of this “Books for Peace” Project of 20th IB are Magsaysay Elementary School in Lope de Vega, Trojillo Elementary School in Bobon and Happy Valley Elementary School in San Isidro, all in Northern Samar Province.

Navy provides skills training to youths in Zambo

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): Navy provides skills training to youths in Zambo

Forty two youths from the west coast barangay of San Roque completed a 50-day free skills training to help them find better jobs.

The free skills training was conducted through the initiative of the Philippine Navy’s Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and barangay officials of San Roque.

The skills training started last April 15 and completed June 6, according to NFWM commander Commodore Isabelo Gador.

Gador said the training courses include Basic Computer Literacy, Basic Electricity, and Basic Oxy-Acetelyne Cutting/Welding Course conducted onboard BRP-Dagupan City (LC551).

He said 24 of the 42 participants finished Basic Computer Literacy, 11 Basic Electricity, four on Arc welding and three on Oxy Acetelyne Cutting/Welding Training.

Gador has encouraged the participants to practice and put to good use the skills they learned from the Navy as well as the values they gained with the Sailors and Marines during the training.

He said the conduct of the training is in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) shift from “all out war” to “Bayanihan” concept in consonance with the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) of the national government.

He said they intend to expand to conduct of such kind of training to other communities to be able to accommodate more students to build a good working environment “among the people in our area of responsibility.”

Army sends peacekeepers after Moro clans clash in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): Army sends peacekeepers after Moro clans clash in North Cotabato

Government forces were deployed in the borders of this town and Pikit, both in North Cotabato after rival armed group clashed Thursday leaving two persons wounded, authorities said.

Several families were also displaced as armed Moro factions clashed over control of huge track of lands.

A high school student named Anwar Esmael and Rafani Sahban, a member of government militia, sustained bullet injuries in the clash. Village officials rushed them to the hospital in nearby Midsayap town.

Police said the victims were trapped in the middle of shooting war Thursday night between the group of local Commanders Nasser and Kuyo and that of the local militia in Barangay Langayen, Aleosan and Barangay Dunguan, Pikit, both in North Cotabato.

SPO4 Herberto Paculanang, deputy chief of the Aleosan PNP, said soldiers belonging to the 7th Infantry Battalion and 40th Infantry Battalion were deployed to serve as peacekeepers in the village of Dungguan.

Pikit local officials were trying to convince warring Moro clans to settle their dispute amicably.

Paculanang said the clashes were triggered by long standing land dispute involving village officials and an armed group affiliated with Moro rebel groups.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is talking peace with the Philippine admitted that family feud or "rido" was one of the threats to the Mindanao peace process.

Serendra 2 blast not caused by a bomb -- DILG chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 7): Serendra 2 blast not caused by a bomb -- DILG chief

The May 31 blast which rocked the Serendra 2 Condominium in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, was not caused by a bomb, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas announced on Friday.

Roxas said that forensic teams failed to unearth or find traces of any bomb components in the area of unit 501-B of the Two Serendra building where the blast occurred that killed three persons and left five others wounded.

Roxas added that combustion or simultaneous ignition of varied materials or gases seem to be the likely cause of the incident.