Monday, June 10, 2013

Deles enumerates NPA human rights violations

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): Deles enumerates NPA human rights violations

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles has enumerated some of the recent human rights violations committed by the New People’s Army (NPA) which she termed as “shameful, cruel and senseless violence” as the victims were mostly civilians.

Deles made the statement in reaction to a news report attributed to Diego Wadagan, NPA Agustin Begnalen Command based in Abra, who said that a prospect of signing a peace agreement with the present administration is bleak, citing the 'salleged failure to implement an accord on respect for human rights.

The 44-year insurgency in the country is being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).

The peace talks between the government and the CPP/NPA/NDF has been on-and-off the past four decades.

“The Philippine Government has always been open and committed to bring peace to our land, through peace talks with all insurgent groups,” Deles said

“Failing that, we shall pursue peace through other means that would effectively bring peace to our people through peaceful means,” she said, adding that “this involves peace and development programs guided by a strict regime of respect for human dignity and human rights, even as government defends itself and its citizens from the violence inflicted by armed rebel groups.”

Deles emphasized that “it is the government’s obligation to defend its integrity and sovereignty and its citizens from parties that seek to overthrow it and harm its populace.”

“But when we react accordingly, the communist rebels quickly and conveniently accuse us of human rights violations,” Deles pointed out.

She said that the rebels are harping on propaganda, but added “we trust that our people can see through the propaganda line of the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

The rebels accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of alleged human rights violation in connection with the air strikes staged by the military in Malibcong, Abra on May 30 and 31 that injured two teenagers.

Deles said that the “AFP has not denied that there were air strikes and Mayor Benido Bacuyag of Malibcong has verified that there were no civilian casualties. If the NPA insists that two teenagers were injured, could it be that they were not civilians but NPA child soldiers?

“While the CPP-NPA-NDF has been quick to blame the GPH (Government of the Philippines) for human rights violations, it has its own shameful violations against civilians,” she said.

Deles enumerated the atrocities committed by the NPA such as the recent ambush-killing of eight off-duty police officers in Alacapan, Cagayan using improvised explosive devices (IEDs); their massive extortion campaign on political candidates during the last elections; the ambush-killing of 27 civilians in La Castellana, Negros last January; the attack on the Good Friday procession in Butuan City last March; the ambush of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona that killed two of her bodyguards in April; the grenade attack on a fiesta in Paquibato, Davao City that wounded 50 civilians in September 2012; and the assassination of Vicente Ferrazzini in Davao City in 2005.

According to Deles, these “are only some examples of the cruel and senseless violence inflicted by the NPA on non-combatants.”

“It is unfortunate that after 22 difficult years of trying to achieve peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF, the talks are again in another prolonged impasse,” she said.

But Deles said “we have realized that the tortuous and protracted pace of the peace talks has been designed by the CPP-NPA-NDF precisely to make the process protracted, and in fact, unending, while, without conceding anything to government, it harvests for itself as many concessions as it can in terms of virtual international recognition and the release of their detained comrades.”

“We are therefore bringing the peace talks back to its core intent of ending the violence against our people and attaining a just and lasting peace,” she said.

“To do this, there is a need for a new approach under which the community and other peace stakeholders should play a pivotal role. And on this rests our hope and belief that peace will, sooner than later, reign in our land,” Deles concluded.

New classrooms give hope to Patikul children

From GMA News (Jun 10): New classrooms give hope to Patikul children

Students of Kaunayan Elementary School will not have to endure attending classes in obsolete, poorly-ventilated and over-crowded classrooms this school year. On May 27, two days after the clash between the Philippine Marines and the Abu Sayyaf Group in the nearby barangay Tugas, the six newly constructed classrooms and a library were inaugurated and turned over to the school principal Dalma Indanan.

It all started with Indanan's dream of providing a decent school building for the children studying in this school, which was constructed in the 1940s.

In January, Indanan sought the help of Lt. Col. Antonio Mangoroban, commanding officer of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-6 (MBLT-6), in rebuilding the classrooms. Mangoroban himself saw the miserable state of the school when he visited the site. "I admitted to the principal that building schools is beyond my mandate but I told her that the Philippine Marines is one with them in their dream of providing decent facilities to the children of Kaunayan," he said.

Tabang-tabang para sa Kaunayan

“Nag-tabang-tabang kami upang mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang mga bata,” narrated Indanan. “Tabang-tabang” is a Tausug word which means “bayanihan.”

Moved by the stories of Indanan about the condition of Kaunayan, Mangoroban went beyond his mandate and decided to respond to the simple request of the principal. "A dream remains a dream unless someone actually steps in to make the dream a reality."

Acting as the convenor of the Kaunayan community, he consulted the teachers, parents, religious and political leaders about the possibility of renovating the classrooms. "We made a pact to each other that we, as a community, will help make this dream a reality on a condition that each of the stakeholders will cooperate in the project."

Mangoroban admits that there was apprehension about whether the project would come to fruition because of the history of conflict in the area. "There will always be doubts in our quest of giving a good education to the children of Patikul, especially [as] the peace situation has been a problem here in Patikul for many years now and also because of the promises that the villagers have received that remained merely promises. However, we stood firm and moved forward towards achieving this goal – all for the children of Kaunayan," he continued.

Klasrums ng Pag-asa Tungo sa Kapayapaan

Meanwhile, the “Klasrums ng Pag-asa Tungo sa Kapayapaan” Project was initiated by Atty. Angelo Valencia of The Entire Nation (TEN) Moves in Barangay Pansul (also in Patikul) and also in Barangay Tulay in Jolo town. TEN Moves is a social campaign to raise funds for the construction of public school classrooms across the nation. During the turnover of the new classrooms in Pansul last March, Mangoroban got to meet Valencia wherein he mentioned to the latter the project in Kaunayan.

Seeing that Kaunayan needed help, Valencia did not hesitate to give the proposal a go-signal saying that helping the children of Patikul is a way of giving back to the community. "It is imperative that we level the playing field. These kids were like you and me in a time past. We got to where we are not because of a name, an influence or a pedigree – we got here because of our teachers and the education they gave us, we have the moral duty to pay it forward," he said.

After three weeks, the official construction began. Mangoroban formed a workforce composed of 25 skilled Marine soldiers from MBLT-6 for the construction of the building. "Nasaksihan ko kung paano nagsakripisyo ang mga marino upang maitayo ang mga klasum na ito. Their commitment and dedication to serve the community cannot be questioned. Most importantly, we got to earn the trust of the villagers of Patikul. Parang barkada na ng mga marino yung community. The parents of the kids offered their help without us even asking for it," he said.

Tausug kids have dreams, too

Having lived their whole life in a place known for insurgency and violence is surely not easy for the schoolchildren of Patikul. But this reality does not stop them from dreaming. "Kahit magulo po dito sa amin sa Patikul, sanay na po kami sa ganitong sitwasyon. Patuloy lang po kaming nangangarap na makapagtapos ng pag-aaral. At sana po pagdating ng araw ay maging mapayapa po ang bayan namin," Grade 6 student Chrestin Valmores said.

Sharnilla Hawari, a Grade 6 student and consistent honor student, dreams of becoming an architect. "I want to build schools and houses when I grow up," she said. Sharnilla sees the importance of having new classrooms in their school. "Mas gaganahan na po kaming mag-aral dahil dati, sira-sira po ang klasrum namin at butas yung mga bubong. Ngayon pong may bagong klasrum na kami, mas makakapag-aral na kami nang mabuti," she smiled.

Mersaida Mohammad, Grade 5 honor student, dreams of becoming a nurse. "Gusto ko pong maging nurse dahil ako po ang nag-aalaga sa tatlo kong nakababatang kapatid. Nasa Saudi po ang mama ko para magtrabaho. Si papa naman po, ay gabi na nakakauwi dahil din po sa trabaho. Gusto ko pong bigyan ang pamilya ko ng magandang buhay," she said.

Indanan is grateful that her dream for Kaunayan is now a reality. "With the Klasrums ng Pag-asa, the commitment to realize education for all solidifies the inherent value of basic education not only for the individual development but also for the overall social development of the children of Sulu. I sincerely thank the efforts of all sectors in giving the Patikul kids a quality education. With the construction of the new classrooms, the children of Kaunayan will now have a conducive place to learn , an essential factor for them to succeed in life," she said.

On June 29, the Klasrums ng Pag-asa in Barangay Tuup, Patikul, Sulu will be inaugurated.
Reprinted with permission from

Moro group conducts Bangsamoro Solidarity Advocacy in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 10): Moro group conducts Bangsamoro Solidarity Advocacy in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) conducted the “Consultation and Dialogue on Bangsamoro Unity and Solidarity” at the MDRRM Center in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat on May 28, 2013.
The activity is part of Mindanao Solidarity Project 2, led by CBCS, a group of various Moro civil society organizations, in partnership with Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD).

Its primary objective is to build the foundation for greater unity, solidarity and cooperation among leaders of the Bangsamoro fronts and religious, traditional and political sectors in preparation for the transition process.

Around 54 participants which included representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, religious group, academe, women and youth joined the gathering.

Abdulbasit “Bobby” Benito, Project Officer MSP 2, CBCS discussed the overview of the CBCS and Mindanao Solidarity Project 2.

He explained that CBCS envisions a solution that is transformational. “A leader cannot convince his follower to be good if he himself is not, thus he must have self-transformation,” he pointed out.

Benito added that it should be followed by relational transformation-building trust and strong relationship between the leaders and followers.

“Third is cultural transformation such as tolerance or dialogical.”

“The last one is structural system which can be answered thru the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB)- changing the structural system into political power,” he elaborated.

Mike Kulat, CBCS admin officer, explained why there is a need for solidarity building among the Bangsamoro.

“There are different sad realities of the Bangsamoro state of affairs that will be a hindrance in reaching Bangsamoro governance,” he divulged.

Kulat mentioned ethnicity and geographical divides, organizational or grouping divergence- MNLF, MILF, Moro Civil Society Organizations, traditional leaders, religious leaders and moro political leaders and diversity of goals, interest and perceptions.

He further elucidated that Bangsamoro unity to be realized, everyone should carry out Islam as the unifying religion, common and shared history, acceptance of Bangsamoro as identity, unified Bangsamoro (political aspiration), substantial power and authority to exploit and manage resources within their ancestral lands.

Kulat, a staunch advocate of peace, added, “freedom to shape the political landscape, and liberty to practice and develop their own way of life, culture, values, traditions and beliefs are also important.”

Mengka Alim, President of Mindanao Alliance Social Services said, “Leaders should always think the sake of the grassroots of the society because they are the reasons why we are striving for peace.”

“In order to have peace in Mindanao, let us call everyone to accept the Bangsamoro. Everyone should be united and follow the world or Allah (SWT),” Ustadz Abdulrahim Nawal, from the religious and traditional leaders sector said.

The audience agreed to replicate similar activity this June and July to five barangays involving grassroots community members as participants towards unified and strong Bangsamoro people working together for the realization of its aspiration.

Lambayong Municipal Mayor Florante L. Agduma who expressed support to the activity and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro as solution to Mindanao problem graced the affair.

3 killed in Maguindanao clan war

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): 3 killed in Maguindanao clan war

Three persons were killed in two separate but related shooting incidents in a remote village here Sunday, police said today.

Senior Insp. Harry Gubat, police chief of Parang, Maguindanao, said the shooting was triggered by a long standing and deeply rooted family feud involving Muslim families in Barangay Sarmiento, Parang, Maguindanao.

Killed were Rahis Abu and Madrigal Ayunan who were taking coffee early Sunday morning when two men riding tandem on a motorbike shot them without provocation.

The two died on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of the body.

After ensuring the two have died, the suspects, both sporting crash helmets apparently to conceal their identities fled heading toward nearby Sultan Mastura town, also in Maguindanao.

Twelve hours later, at about 6 in the evening Sunday, Mohayden Mohammad Macasasa was inside a makeshift public market when shot by still unidentified gunman in the head in what police said was a retaliatory attack.

Macasasa, a tricycle driver, was rushed to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.

Gubat said the suspects in the second shooting incident were relatives of the two victims in the early Sunday morning shooting.

Gubat said the protagonists were relatives and related by blood and by affinity who were all keeping personal grudge against each other, known among Muslims as "rido" or clan war.

To prevent the escalation of family feud, Gubat said he deployed peacekeeping forces in Barangay Sarmiento were the feuding families live.

16-day display of PHL flag caps 115th anniv of Independence

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): 16-day display of PHL flag caps 115th anniv of Independence

The 16-day display of the Philippine flag, attended by much fervor and a sense of patriotism, winds up on June 12, the 115th anniversary of Philippine Independence.

Displaying the country's tricolors from May 28 has become part of a revered tradition and culture of this multi-ethnic, multi-lingual country of nearly 100 million people from Batanes to Tawi Tawi.

Sometime in the latter part of the 1960s, a young correspondent, covering a news event in Sulu, saw this as the country's national anthem was played in front of the capitol.

When the anthem was played by the military band, coinciding with the brisk hoisting of the Philippine flag, the correspondent immediately realized the indivisibility of this one nation as every Muslim and Christian in the audience stood at attention.

But a question remains: How many of the population are familiar with the specifics regarding the flag, despite the annual public display for 16 days, called National Flag days?

The national flag, displayed with the blue field on top in times of peace, and with the red field on top in times of war, is a horizontal bicolor with equal bands of blue and red, and with a white equilateral triangle based at the hoist side.

In the center of the triangle is a golden yellow sun with eight primary rays, each containing three individual rays.

At every corner of the triangle is a five-pointed golden yellow star.

The flag is horizontally divided into two basic colors -- royal blue and scarlet red -- with a white equilateral triangle based at the hoist side.

At the center of the triangle is a golden-yellow sun with eight primary rays, each containing three individual rays, and at each corner of the triangle is a five-pointed golden-yellow star.

The flag's length is twice its width, which translates into an aspect ratio of 1:2. The sides of the white triangle are equal to the width of the flag.

Each star is oriented such that it points towards the tip of the vertex at which it is located.

The flag's colors are specified by Republic Act 8491 in terms of their cable number in the system developed by the Color Association of the United States.

The Philippine flag, designed in 1897 by Emilio Aguinaldo while he was in exile in Hong Kong, is unique.

It can indicate a state of war when the red field is displayed on top, or on the observer's left when the flag is displayed vertically, with the white equilateral triangle at the top end.

According to official sources, the white triangle stands for equality and fraternity; the blue field for peace, truth, and justice; and the red field for patriotism and valor.

The eight primary rays of the sun represent the eight provinces which declared a state of war as soon as the first revolt was initiated in the 1896 Revolution of independence from Spain, and placed under martial law by the colonial government.

The eight provinces were Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas.

The three stars represent the three major geographical divisions of this Southeast Asian archipelago: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

Some have noted that the symbolism given in the 1898 Proclamation of Philippine Independence differs from the current official explanation.

One school of thought says the white triangle signifies the emblem of the Katipunan.

This is the secret society that opposed Spanish rule which was ushered in by Fernando Magallanes in 1521 until the Spanish armada was beaten by the troops of U.S. Admiral George Dewey in 1898.

Another school of thought says the flag's colors celebrate the flag of the United States as a manifestation of Philippine gratitude for American protection against the Spanish during the Philippine Revolution.

Still another says that one of the three stars represents the island of Panay, not the entire Visayan islands.

Historians say it has been common since the 1960s to trace the development of the Philippine flag to the various war standards of the individual leaders of the Katipunan.

This was a pseudo-masonic revolutionary movement that opposed Spanish rule in the Philippines and led the Philippine Revolution.

But while some symbols common to the Katipunan flags would be adopted into the iconography of the Revolution, historians say it is inconclusive whether these war standards can be considered precursors to the present Philippine flag.

The first flag was sewn by Marcela Marino de Agoncillo with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad (a niece of reformist leader José Rizal).

Agoncillo's remains are interred at the Dominican-run Sanctuario del Santo Cristo in San Juan City.

The flag, while it was displayed in battle on May 28, 1898, was formally unfurled during the proclamation of independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite.

The flag was first flown with the red field up on Feb. 4, 1899 to show that a state of war existed.

Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans two years later in Palanan, Isabela, and swore allegiance to the United States.

The defeat of the Philippine Republic ushered in American colonial rule which made the display of the Philippine flag an illegal move by the Sedition Act of 1907.

This law was repealed on Oct. 30, 1919. With the legalization of the Philippine flag, the cloth available in most stores was the red and blue of the flag of the United States, so the flag from 1919 onwards adopted the navy blue color.

The Philippine Legislature passed Act. No 2928 on March 26, 1920, which legally adopted the Philippine flag as the official flag of the Philippine Islands.

Up until the eve of World War II, Flag Day was celebrated each year on October 30, commemorating the date the ban on the flag was lifted.

On March 25, 1936, following the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in the previous year, President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive Order No. 23 which provided for the technical description and specifications of the flag.

The flag was once more banned with the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines beginning in December 1941, to be hoisted again with the establishment of the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic of the Philippines.

During ceremonies in October 1943, Emilio Aguinaldo hoisted the flag with the original Cuban blue and red colors restored.

The flag was initially flown with the blue stripe up, until President Jose P. Laurel proclaimed the existence of a state of war with the Allied Powers in 1944.

The Commonwealth government-in-exile in Washington, D.C. continued to use the flag with the American colors, and had flown it with the red stripe up since the initial invasion of the Japanese.

With the combined forces of the Filipino and American soldiers and the liberation of the Philippines in 1944 to 1945, the flag with the American colors was restored.

This flag was hoisted when Philippine independence was restored -- not granted, as some historians say -- on July 4, 1946.

In 1985, President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the colors of the flag restored to the original blue and red of the Cuban flag.

But this act was reversed after the largely peaceful Catholic Church-backed People Power Revolution removed Marcos from power.

For the 1998 centennial of the proclamation of Philippine independence, the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (RA 8491) was passed, changing the shade of blue to royal blue.

The flag, often referred to as the tricolors -- although there are actually four colors: white, blue, red, and the gold yellow of the sun and stars -- is flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning.

Upon the official announcement of the death of the President or a former President, the flag should be flown at half-mast for 10 days.

It should be flown at half-mast for seven days following the death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The flag may also be required to fly at half-mast upon the death of other persons to be determined by the National Historical Institute, for less than seven days.

The flag shall be flown at half-mast on all the buildings and places where the dead was holding office, on the day of death until the day of interment of an incumbent member of the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Senate or the House of Representatives, and such other persons as may be determined by the National Historical Institute.

Under the law, when the flag is flown at half-mast, it should be first hoisted to the peak for a moment then lowered to the half-mast position.

It should be raised to the peak again before it is lowered for the day.

The flag may also be used to cover the caskets of the dead of the military, veterans of previous wars, national artists, and outstanding civilians as determined by the local government.

In such cases, the flag must be placed such that the white triangle is at the head and the blue portion covers the right side of the casket.

The flag should not be lowered to the grave or allowed to touch the ground, but should be solemnly folded and handed to the heirs of the deceased.

It is prohibited to deface or ridicule the flag, to dip the flag as a salute, or to add additional marks of any nature on the flag.

It may not be used as a drapery, festoon, tablecloth, as a covering for objects, or as part of a costume or uniform.

Several commercial uses of the flag are prohibited, including using the flag as a trademark or for commercial labels or designs.

It is forbidden to use the image of the flag on merchandise, or in any advertisement.

It also may not be used as a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles;

The flag may not be displayed horizontally face-up, or under any painting, picture or platform.

NPAs' refusal to participate in peace talks just an excuse to continue committing atrocities - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): NPAs' refusal to participate in peace talks just an excuse to continue committing atrocities - AFP

The refusal of New People’s Army (NPA)'s Agustin Begnalen Command operating in Abra in the ongoing peace talks is just an excuse for the rebels to continue committing atrocities, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, AFP spokesperson said "It is just a matter of trying to give an excuse to the atrocities being by the NPAs especially in the area."

Tutaan was referring to the several violent incidents wherein the NPAs attacked several communities like those of the DOLE plantation in Bukidnon; the Paquibato, Davao incident where they threw a grenade injuring 18 civilians, the ambush of Mayor Ruthie Guingona in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.

"These are the forms of human rights violations. But the greatest human rights violation is the cover up of their extortion activities and probably that this is the reason why (Agustin Begnalen Command spokesperson Diego Wanagan and the other spokespersons) are saying they don’t want to participate in the peace talks," he added.

The AFP spokesperson also theorized that the peace talks will lead to peace and prosperity in the country and this would result in the collapse of the rebels power base

"The AFP is always giving primacy to the peace process. This is included in our Internal Security Peace Program 'Bayanihan'," he stressed.

Aquino administers mass oath-taking of AFP officers in Malacañang

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): Aquino administers mass oath-taking of AFP officers in Malacañang

President Benigno S. Aquino III administered the mass oath-taking of the 49 newly-appointed generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces in a simple ceremony in Malacanang Monday.

The Chief Executive was joined by Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and the AFP high-ranking officials when he inducted the AFP generals at the Heroes Hall.

Among those who took their oath before the President at the Heroes Hall were: Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista, AFP Chief of Staff; Vice Adm. Edgar Abogado, Philippine Military Academy Superintendent; Lt. Gen. Alan Luga, AFP Vice Chief of Staff;

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the Western Command; Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, commander of the Central Command; Lt. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, commander of the South Luzon Command; Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino, commander of the Naval Education and Training Command;

Maj. Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer, Senior Military Adviser for the Government of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Panel; Rear Admiral Philip Cacayan, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, AFP; and Maj. Gen. Benito Antonio de Leon, commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, Philippine Army.

The President also inducted into office Maj. Gen. Danilo Servando, commander of the Army Support Command; Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., commander of the 7th Infantry Division, PA;

Maj. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, commander of the 3rd Air Division of the Philippine Air Force (PAF); Rear Admiral Jesus Millan, Chief of Naval Staff, Philippine Navy; Rear Admiral Leopoldo Alano, commander of the Naval Sea Systems and Support Command;

Maj. Gen. Richard Siga-An, Air Force Inspector General, PAF;

Maj. Gen. Crisologo Nayve; DCS for CEIS, J6, AFP; Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, commander of the 6ID, PA; Maj. Gen. John Bonafos, commander of Special Operations Command; Brig. Gen Felix Castro, ADC, 9ID, Philippine Army.

Also sworn in were Brig. Gen. Jet Velarmino, CS, PA; Maj. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, commander of the AFP Headquarters and Headquarters Service Command; Brig. Gen. Romeo Labador; commander of the 801st Infantry Brigade, PA;

Comm. Nodolfo Tejada, commander of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, PN; Brig Gen. William Turalde, commander of the ARC, PAF; Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, ADC, 4ID, PA; Brig. Gen Conrado Parra Jr, Wing Commander of the 570th CTW, PAF;

Brig. Gen. Luis Vinoya, chairman of the PA BAC2; Brig. Gen. Dante Costes, commander of CEISSA AFP; Brig. Gen. Bobby Calleja, commander of 203rd Infantry Division, PA.

Brig. Gen. Eliseo Posadas, Chief of ODR, DND; Brig. Gen. Orlando de Leon, Commander of the 2MBDE, PMC; Commodore George Catameo, AJ9, AFP; Brig. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr., Wing Commander 15th Strick Wing, PAF; Brig. Gen Ademar Tomaro, Commander, 602nd, INF BDE, PA;

Brig. Gen. Quirino Calonzo, commander of the AFPRESCOM; Commodore Antonio Habulan Jr. commander, NFEM, PN; Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of 302nd INF BDE, PA; Brig. Gen. Marian Aleido, TJAG, AFP;

Brig. Gen. Wilfredo Bonilla, AIA, PIA

Brig. Gen. Romeo Gan, ADC, 6ID, PA; Brig. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, ADC, LAD, PA; Commodore Joel dela Cruz, commander, SERVFOR, PF, PN; Commodore Franco Sebastian Pan, DC, SOLCOM, AFP;

Commodore Ronald Joseph Mercado, Commander, ACF, PF, PN; Brig. Gen. John G. Estoesta, DC, 3AD, PAF, Brig. Gen. Oscar T. Lactao, chief of AFPCC, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Castillo, AFIA, PAF and Brig. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of 701st INF Brigade, PA.

AFP hits rebels' propaganda vs troops

From the Philippine Star (Jun 10): AFP hits rebels' propaganda vs troops

The military on Monday scored the New People’s Army (NPA) for supposedly resorting to propaganda to cover up its atrocities and denied conducting air strikes in Abra.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said the atrocities of the insurgents, not the actions of soldiers, are making it hard for the peace talks to proceed.

“This is just a matter of covering up the atrocities they (NPA) have done. We have seen this in the past several incidents where they attacked civilian communities,” Tutaan said.

“It (prospects of the peace talks) is dim because of the NPA’s continuing violence… We have to sit down, talk peace but let us not undertake any form of violence most especially against civilians,” he added.

Tutaan also claimed that ground troops in Abra were only given “close air support” and that no air strike was conducted as claimed by the rebels.

“It’s not even a form of aerial bombardment. It is a release, it is what we call close air support against those armed men of the NPA,” he said.

The Army field commander based in Abra, however, used the term “air strike” in his report to Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

In a text message, Brig. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, chief of the Army’s 503rd brigade, said he had been informed by Malibcong, Abra MayorBenido Bacuyag that “there was no civilian casualty as a result of the air strike.”

Despite the seemingly contradictory reports, Tutaan, said the operation was only a close air support, which he described as the delivery of two rockets to mark an area.

“This is to allow the troops on the ground to be able the focused military operation,” he said.

Media reports have quoted NPA local spokesman Diego Wadagan as saying that the chances of peace talks with the government are dim due to the abuses of the military.

The NPA also accused the military of conducting an air strike in Malibcong on May 31 that injured two minors.

Military officials, however, denied that their recent operations in Abra had harmed civilians and dismissed the NPA claim as propaganda.

Gov't blames leftist rebels for stalling peace process

From the Philippine Star (Jun 10): Gov't blames leftist rebels for stalling peace process

The government blamed the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) for the collapse of the peace talks, a senior government official said today.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, in a news briefing, "We would like to have a peace agreement with them but it is not us which is the stumbling block to the peace process."

The leftist rebels have blamed the Aquino administration for the stalled peace talks as they reportedly claimed that the prospect of forging a peace pact under the current government was bleak.

They also slammed the government for the failure to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl), which the Philippine government and the NDF, the political wing of the CPP-NPA, signed in 1998.

But Lacierda said that it was the leftist rebels who have been violating the pact on respect for human rights.

Lacierda also recalled that it was CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison who earlier proposed for a ceasefire with the government, but later withdrew his proposal.

"We were very happy with it (Sison's proposal). Suddenly, they withdraw that offer of cessation of hostilities. So it's not us who's stopping it," he explained.

Peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF bogged down last February following Sison's withdrawal of his proposal for a truce. The Aquino government is now developing a "new approach" to end the more than four decades armed struggle by the leftist rebels.

4 Sinos facing gun raps arraigned today in Ilocos

From the Philippine Star (Jun 10): 4 Sinos facing gun raps arraigned today in Ilocos

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines  – Four Chinese nationals arrested last month for possession of unlicensed firearms are set to be arraigned today in Ilocos Norte.

The arraignment of Lei Guang, Dang Hoi Yin, Lui Xin Fen and Dennis Min Co was initially slated last Thursday but was reset for today as they had no interpreter.

This prompted the Ilocos Norte prosecutor’s office to ask the police to provide an interpreter for the Chinese, who they charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violation of the existing gun ban before the Bangui regional trial court. 

The respondents though have pending motions to hold the arraignment in abeyance and quash the charges filed against them.

Senior Superintendent Jeffrey Gorospe, Ilocos Norte police spokesman, said they also have a pending motion before the provincial prosecutor’s office to transfer the trial from Bangui town to Laoag City due to security reasons.

“It will be safer for the suspects if (their) case will be tried and heard in Laoag,” he said.

Gorospe said the four Chinese were arrested last May 28 after their vehicle yielded three MP5 submachine guns, a Pietro Beretta pistol, a 40-caliber rifle, two .45-caliber pistols, a 9-mm Glock pistol, eight grenades, and an improvised explosive.

Before their arrest, the four reportedly figured in a commotion where they broke beer bottles, triggering a car chase with responding lawmen until they were intercepted in a checkpoint along the national highway in Barangay Davila, Pasuquin town.

The Laoag City regional office of the Bureau of Immigration is also mulling to file charges against the four Chinese after they were found to have no visas and other pertinent travel documents.

Ambush of farmers hampers return of evacuees in MNLF enclave

From the Philippine Star (Jun 10): Ambush of farmers hampers return of evacuees in MNLF enclave

The fatal ambush of two farmers in Matalam, North Cotabato by suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels has stymied efforts by local officials to return evacuees from the area, forced out by MILF attacks since last month.  John Unson

The fatal ambush of two farmers in Matalam, North Cotabato by suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has hampered the efforts of local officials to bring evacuees to their home in an enclave of the Moro National Liberation Front.

The victims, Toto Manial and Eddie Buisan, were killed while trying to  return to the area to check on their abandoned farms.

Manial and  Buisan, were on their way to the MNLF stronghold in Barangay Marbel in Matalam when suspected MILF rebels blocked their path and shot them with assault rifles.

Local officials said the incident worsened the apprehensions of evacuees  in the municipal government of Matalam, which has been trying to convince these evacuees to  return to the MNLF camp in Barangay Marbel. Marbel has been attacked three times by MILF rebels recently.

“The ambush incident made the restoration of normalcy in Barangay Marbel become complicated. It escalated the reluctance of evacuees to return there,” said Captain Tony Bulao, spokesman of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, which has jurisdiction over Matalam and surrounding towns.

Bulao said witnesses have pointed to two MILF commanders, Ali Mansur and Salonga, as having led the ambush of Manial and Buisan.

Bulao said the rebels even mutilated the cadaver of Manial using machetes.

The hostilities between the feuding MILF and MNLF groups in Barangay Marbel, a government recognized “peace and development community” started before the May 13 elections.

The conflict erupted when local MNLF forces prevented MILF members from outside to attend a peace forum in Barangay Marbel with their guns and in their uniforms.

Datu Dima Ambil, the MNLF’s most senior leader in Barangay Marbel, said there was “good faith” in their request for MILF forces  to refrain from  carrying their guns and wearing their uniforms  in attending the gathering.

The MILF forces refused the request and fought the local villagers in a series of running gunbattles instead.

The spate of MILF-MNLF encounters in Barangay Marbel dislocated close to 6,000 villagers, who were forced to relocate to neutral areas for fear of getting trapped in the crossfire.

Local officials have accused the MILF of reneging on a low-level truce brokered last May 23 by North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza as a start for the provincial government’s  preparation for the gradual return of evacuees.

Barangay officials said the MILF forces, instead of repositioning away from Barangay Marbel as agreed, even established checkpoints, looted and occupied abandoned houses of MNLF members.

Cop injured in Zamboanga blast

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 10): Cop injured in Zamboanga blast

A cop was wounded following an explosion at the compound of a police station in Zamboanga Sibugay Sunday evening, police said on Monday.

Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, Region IX police spokesman, said the explosion happened at the parking area of the Malangas Police Station located at Barangay (village) Poblacion Malangas in Zamboanga Sibugay around 8:15 p.m., wounding Senior Police Officer 1 Editho Talison.

Huesca said Talison was doing something with his motorcycle when the blast occurred near a police patrol car that was also parked in the area.

Talison was hit and sustained a blast injury at the right portion of his back.

Huesca said investigations were being conducted, adding that authorities have yet to identify the suspect behind the attack.

10 AFP officers feted at 2013 TOPS award

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun10): 10 AFP officers feted at 2013 TOPS award

Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr.

A senior officer from the Philippine Army’s Special Forces who led noteworthy feats against insurgents topped this year’s list of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS).

Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr. is one of the 10 commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who received the award from Metrobank Foundation and Rotary Club of Makati Metro at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.

Brawner, currently the chief of Plans, Policies and Programs Division of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at Camp Aguinaldo, was recognized for his “numerous successful operations against insurgency.”

As a young platoon leader in 1991, he led the capture of one of the most wanted men in Nueva Ecija, Efren Evangelista, a rebel leader with a P40,000 bounty on his head.

During his stint as battalion commander of the Army’s 2nd Special Forces in Bohol from 2010 to 2012, he also led the capture of the province’s most wanted drug suspect.

He was also in command of the troops that recovered firearms, explosive devices and vital documents from rebel camps in Eastern Visayas and Caraga region.

Now with 24 years in service, Brawner graduated as Number 2 from the Philippine Military Academy “Makatao” Class of 1989. He also has nine relatives in the service.

As a soldier, Brawner said he considers his stint in Bohol as his most memorable experience as a soldier as he was able “to directly contribute to the maintenance of peace in Bohol, Leyte and Cebu and the reduction of insurgents in Samar and Leyte.”

The officer also partnered with US-based non-government organization, Vaccines for the Philippines, in the construction of a medical clinic and birthing center and two-classroom school building in Bohol that benefited the residents who needed to travel for more than an hour just to get to the hospital and school.

Brawner also served as AFP spokesperson in 2009.

“Itong recognition is not just for us na nanalong taon na ito but for the whole AFP. Dahil sa award na ito pinapakita ng civilian sector, private sector how much they appreciate the sacrifices of the soldiers so that we can enjoy the democracy we have now,” he told reporters after the awarding ceremony.

“We feel proud, we feel honored, but at the same time we feel humbled. Personally, naniniwala ako na every award, every promotion comes from the Lord. And so we want to bring back that glory to the Lord. We’d also like to thank Metrobank Foundation and Rotary Club of Makati Metro for the this award,” he said.

The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers of 2013: Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., Chief Master Sergeant Rogelio Mendoza, Technical Sergeant Ferdinand Baladjay, Captain Vicente Cejoco, Technical Sergeant Dante Berganio, Hospitalman Third Class Sergs Estropigan, Lieutenant Colonel Moises Micor, Master Sergeant Alverto Pesebre, Technical Sergeant Nolito Tumesa and Major Daneck Dang-awan. PHOTO COURTESY OF AFP

Other TOPS awardees include Hospitalman Third Class Sergs Estropigan of the Philippine Navy, currently assigned at the Naval Diving Salvage Unit 1 of the Philippine Fleet, for his “exemplary sense of volunteerism, courage and perseverance” as technical diver and chamber operator of the search and rescue team, when he helped locate two missing pilots of the ill-fated SF-260TP plane that crashed near Mariveles in Bataan last year. He was also part of Task Force Kalihim to late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, wherein he was one of the two divers that retrieved the body of Robredo.

Lieutenant Colonel Moises Micor, Director of the Directorate for Aircraft Maintenance and Management of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Logistics, was instrumental during the onslaughts of Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front in Mindanao in 2001. Metrobank noted that his flight, despite a seriously damaged aircraft, was “very instrumental” in the camp defense of 104th Brigade and Camp Budatu where he assisted in the extrication of casualties of the beleaguered members of the First Scout Ranger Battalion.

Other awardees were Chief Master Sergeant Rogelio Mendoza, Command Sergeant major at the Training and Doctrine Command at Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac; Technical Sergeant Ferdinand Baladjay, Company First Sergeant of the 2nd Light Reaction Company at Special Operations Command in Nueva Ecija; Captain Vicente Cejoco, Deputy Commander of the Communications, Electronics and Information Systems Service; Technical Sergeant Dante Perganio of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 in Sulu; Master Sergeant Alberto Pesebre of the Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Management and Reserch Division of the Intelligence Service at Camp Aguinaldo; Technical Sergeant Nolito Tumesa, First Sergeant at the 410th Maintenance Wing at Clark Air Base; and Major Daneck Dang-awan, Evangelical Chaplain at Naval Inter-Faith Worship Center at Naval Station Jose Francisco at Fort Bonifacio.

The final board of judges that selected this year’s winners was chaired by Justice Adolfo Azcuna, Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy. Members of the final board were: Alfredo Pascual, President of University of the Philippines System; Melito Salazar, President of Management Association of the Philippines; Most Rev. Florentino Cinense D.D., Bishop Diocese of Tarlac; Tina Monzon Palma, Program Director of Bantay Bata 163 Sagip Kapamilya; Amina Rasul Bernardo, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy; and His Excellency Ivo Sieber, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation.

The TOPS awardees were given a cash prize of P300,000 and a specially designed trophy from the Metrobank Foundation. They will also be honored together with the winners of the Search of the Outstanding Teachers and Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service at Metrobank’s anniversary in September.

The Metrobank Foundation and the Rotary Club of Makati Metro annually hold the search for TOPS “to honor the gallant men and women of the Armed Forces who go beyond expectations, and to highlight their achievements and efforts toward nation building and development.”

Communists’ refusal to have ceasefire stalled peace talks—Palace

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 10): Communists’ refusal to have ceasefire stalled peace talks—Palace
The government “is not the stumbling block” to the peace process, Malacañang said Monday after communist rebels blamed government officials for the bleak prospects of a peace agreement.

Secretary Edwin Lacierda said the government has always acted in good faith when dealing with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines or its military arm, the New People’s Army, but this wasn’t reciprocated.

Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, recalled for instance that the government had pushed for a ceasefire, a move rejected by the Communist Party of the Philippines, and followed international conventions on the conduct of warfare with the rebels.

We have already proven our provenance when coming to a peace agreement. We would like to have a peace agreement with them but… it is not us which is the stumbling block to the peace process,” he said in a Malacañang briefing.

NPA rebel commanders in Abra province had expressed skepticism that a peace agreement would be forged with the Aquino administration to end the decades-old Maoist insurgency.

They claimed that the human rights violations committed by the government troops in clear breach of the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl) have made negotiations for such an agreement difficult, they claimed.

The rebels singled out the military’s counter-insurgency program, “Oplan Bantay Laya,” as the main factor for the rise in human rights violations in communities.

For instance, the May 31 air strikes by the military that hit rice fields and residential areas in villages of Lat-ey and Alligang in Malibcong, Abra, wounded two minors, aged 13 and 17, the Abra Human Rights Alliance said.

Negotiations have been stalled since 2004.

Lacierda disputed the rebels’ claims, adding that for one, government troops never used landmines, unlike rebels who have and would likely continue to do so.

“I think if you look at the history or rather several news reports, several years back, we have not used landmines; we have not violated Carhrihl,’’ he said.

“Number two, in the last proposal of NDF Chairman Joma Sison, he asked for ceasefire; we were very happy with it. Suddenly, they withdrew that offer of cessation of hostilities. So it’s not us who’s stopping it,” he added.

The NPA has come under fire for using landmine in the May 27 ambush of a truckload of policemen in Cagayan that left eight policemen dead. They were en route to a medical examination when waylaid by the rebels, who detonated the landmine before opening fire.

Lacierda said the formal peace process with the rebel group was “stymied’’ by the latter’s insistence on the release of captured rebels as a precondition for the resumption of talks.

Signed by both panels in 1995, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or Jasig guarantees NDF members, consultants and staff who work with the negotiating team immunity from arrest.

Under the agreement, however, holders of a safe-conduct pass should not engage in criminal activities, such as terrorism and extortion or hostile acts against the government for the duration of the pass’ effectivity.

Lacierda reiterated that the talks were stalled because of disagreements on the verification of the status of 14 rebels that the NDF wanted released.

The floppy disk containing the names of the 14 had been stored in a vault in the Netherlands. A Dutch bishop opened the vault in the presence of government and NDF representatives, and they found the file corrupted.

Lacierda said the CPP-NPA proposed a new list, but the government rejected this since there’s no assurance the new list would carry the names of individuals on the original list.

“The formal process has been stymied because of the insistence on the JASIG list which turned out to be non-existent. They put it in a diskette which has been corrupted. So when it was the turn for both parties to be present before the Dutch bishop opened the vault, it turned out to be a diskette instead of a list of aliases vis-à-vis their real names and their pictures,” he said Monday.

On the rebels’ rejection of localized peace talks, Lacierda said:  “I think Secretary Ging Deles also mentioned that when there are peace zones, the locals would always have primacy because it’s their community that is being affected.’’

“If they refused it for what reason…  it goes to show the intent of the rebels if they want to really seriously push through peace. We have always been open. We have always stated our position, not subject to conditions,” he added.

PH acquires another ship from US to boost naval fleet

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 10): PH acquires another ship from US to boost naval fleet
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. on Sunday saw off the BRP Ramon Alcaraz from Charleston, South Carolina, on its journey to its new home port in the Philippines.

Cuisia challenged the crew of the Alcaraz, named for a Filipino World War II hero, to live up to the ship’s namesake.

“As you know, there are some tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and this may put you in harm’s way, but there is no doubt that you will perform your duty of protecting Philippine territory if needed,” Cuisia told the 88 officers and crew of the Philippines’ newest naval asset at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston.

“We do not want to see a confrontation and we are hoping that diplomatic efforts would ease these tensions. We are for peace and for the stability of the region, but at the same time we are prepared to defend what is ours,” Cuisia said, referring to the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

The Alcaraz, a 115-meter decommissioned US Coast Guard ship that the Philippines acquired last year, underwent $15.5-million (P620 million) refitting and refurbishment and sea trials in May.

It is expected to arrive in the Philippines in the first week of August, the Philippine Embassy in the United States said.

The Hamilton-class weather high endurance cutter had served as the US Coast Guard’s USCGC Dallas for four decades before it was turned over to the Philippine Navy under the Excess Defense Article Military Assistance Program of the United States.

“We look forward to the Alcaraz joining its sister ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. We look forward to further upgrading the capabilities of the Philippine Navy,” Cuisia added.

AFP disputes NPA claims on ‘air strikes’ in Abra

From the Philippine Daily  Inquirer (Jun 10): AFP disputes NPA claims on ‘air strikes’ in Abra
The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday disputed claims by the New People’s Army that the reported military “air strikes” in Abra recently violated human rights.

“What they failed to say was that these particular operations were legitimate,” Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office, told Monday.

Zagala clarified that no “air strikes” happened in Abra as the guerrillas claimed. He said the military used “close air support” in the operations.

“There were five encounters between the AFP and NPA in two days, two on May 30 and three on May 31. The use of close air support is a military option, so we used it,” he said.

He said they sent close air support to Gacab village in Malicbong, Abra on May 31 using MG520 attack helicopter, which delivered two rockets.

The operation led to the recovery of a firearm, he added.

“That tool is available to the AFP to combat them (communist rebels). We will not hesitate to use it against them,” Zagala said, adding that because of the close air support, they were able to recover an M16 rifle, confirming the presence of armed men in the village.

Diego Wadagan and Tipon Gil-ayab, NPA spokespersons in Abra and Kalinga respectively, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they will never participate in localized peace talks.

Wadagan said the government’s counterinsurgency campaign, the Oplan Bayanihan, had resulted in more rights violations in communities where the military was operating.

They claimed that the prospect of forging a peace agreement with the Aquino administration is bleak, citing the government’s failure to implement an initial agreement on respect for human rights.

“They don’t want to participate in peace talks. Why? What’s your reason? You don’t want to be dismembered? You want to show a united front? Violence is never the answer,” Zagala said.

He explained that military operations are done for “security and stability” in the area, “because there is a presence of NPA [and the rebels are] disrupting the peace,” he said.”

Zagala also denied the claims of Wadagan that two civilians were wounded in the Abra “air strikes.”

“We asked Mayor Benido Bacuyag of Malibcong to verify if there were any casualties. There was none. Those casualties must be theirs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan, AFP spokesperson, told reporters that the NPA rebels were releasing “fabricated” information to make it appear that the AFP is violating human rights.

He also described the NPA allegations as “cover ups” for their extortion activities.

NPA: Peace hopes dim

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 10): NPA: Peace hopes dim

FIRING LINE Guerrillas of the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, form an assault line during a visit by journalists to their camp at an undisclosed place in the Cordilleras. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON
As far as communist rebels in the Cordilleras are concerned, the prospect of forging a peace agreement with the Aquino administration is bleak, citing the government’s failure to implement an initial accord on respect for human rights and recent air strikes that left two teenagers wounded.

“We are always open to the resumption of peace talks, but it’s the government that has made [this difficult] as it continues to commit rights abuses against the people. This is the policy that was carried on by the Aquino administration from the Arroyo administration, through its Oplan Bantay Laya,” said Diego Wadagan, spokesman of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Agustin Begnalen Command operating in Abra.

In an interview with the Inquirer at an NPA upland camp last month, Wadagan lamented that the government had failed to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl), which was signed by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in 1998.

According to the Philippine government website,, the Carhrihl is the first of four substantive peace agenda items that will constitute the final peace settlement with the NDF to end the 44-year insurgency. Carhrihl, it said, “seeks to uphold principles of human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of armed conflict.”

Wadagan said the government’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, had resulted in more rights violations in communities where the military was operating.

For example, the Abra Human Rights Alliance (Ahra) blamed the military for wounding two minors, aged 13 and 17, when it launched air strikes that hit rice fields and residential areas in the villages of Lat-ey and Alligang in Malibcong, Abra, on May 31.

“We condemn these air strikes that hurt civilians and destroyed their sources of livelihood. Even in times of armed conflict and counterinsurgency operations, the military is bound by international human rights instruments and the Carhrihl to void endangering the lives and dwellings of civilians,” Ahra said in a statement.

Aside from failing to address rights abuses, the government refused to recognize the political authority of the NDF in the peace process, said Tipon Gil-ayab, spokesman of the NPA Lejo Cawilan Command operating in Kalinga.

“Now that the Carhrihl is not being implemented, how can the peace talks move forward under this administration?” Gil-ayab said.

Stalled talks

The government panel negotiating peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF earlier announced that it may no longer resume formal talks, which had been stalled for 22 months, unless the government and the NDF agree on a new negotiating framework.

The Inquirer, since Friday, had been trying to reach officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) for updates on the peace talks with communist rebels but did not get a response as of Sunday.

On its website, however, the Opapp reported that it had conducted basic orientation seminars on Carhrihl for the military in 2012.

In an article posted on the Opapp website last month, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF should have a clear agenda for ending violence and bringing peace.

“Peace talks should have a clear relation to the reduction, if not the cessation, of hostilities that can be felt by the people right away. We have sensed a disconnect between the peace table and the situation on the ground, so that more and more people have become skeptical about the peace process,” the article quoted Deles as telling the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) during a forum in Makati City in early May.

New approach

In that same article, Deles said a new approach in pursuing peace talks would not involve the government panel in local peace processes.

“Local people have primacy over how they want peace to happen in their areas,” she said.

She cited the concept of “peace zones” in Sagada, Mt. Province, and Tulunan, North Cotabato, as examples of how locals can be instrumental in promoting peace in their communities.

But Wadagan and Gil-ayab told the Inquirer that the CPP-NPA-NDF would never participate in localized peace negotiations.

In a statement last week, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights group Karapatan, said the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) had called on the Aquino administration to hold human rights violators accountable and to continue peace negotiations.

“We call on the parties to resume the negotiations based on their previous agreements to earnestly, patiently and sincerely address and comprehensively resolve the underlying social, economic and political reasons for the armed conflict and resistance,” the IADL said in its May 27 resolution.

US sub’s visit reminds Aetas of bases days

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 8): US sub’s visit reminds Aetas of bases days

THE USS ASHEVILLE, a Los Angeles-class submarine, docks in Subic on Saturday. The US sub has a top speed of 32 knots underwater. It has its home port in San Diego, California. ROBERT GONZAGA/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—While Aetas watched on the sidelines, the US submarine USS Asheville docked here on Saturday to replenish provisions.

Some of the Aetas said it was like old times, as the submarine crew disembarked for rest and recreation at the former American naval base.

“There was a time when we could roam inside the [US naval] base, and go in and out without IDs (identification cards). But others needed an escort or an ID to get in here,”  Rommel Abueng recalled. This was because the Americans respected the Aetas, he said.

Abueng was with a group of Aetas as well as employees who stood in front of the administration building of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to await the arrival of an official delegation from Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão was received by President Benigno Aquino in Malacañang on Wednesday prior to the President’s state visit to Burma (Myanmar).

Curious tribe

But when the US submarine arrived at Subic Bay, most of the Aetas and employees rushed to the Alava Pier here to watch two tugboats guide the US vessel to the dock. The USS Asheville (SSN 758) and the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), which assists the undersea vessel, will stay in Subic for a few days for routine port calls.

Abueng said the Americans used to consult their elders and men of the villages, asking to be taught about jungle survival. The requests sometimes came from the US Marines, he said. “We taught them how to survive in the jungle because we live there,” he said.

Because of these engagements, some of the Aetas learned to speak fluent English, he said. Whenever the American soldiers encountered them at the base before the 1990s, they gave the Aetas food and candies.

The bases were pulled out in 1991 and the Aetas’ privileges were lost with them, Abueng said. He said the Aetas had to find work in the business community that  replaced the Americans in Subic.


An Aeta woman said her village still interacted with the Americans whenever they were in Subic. “But now we sell them our handicraft  … They bring [these products] home as souvenirs,” she said.

A statement from the American Embassy said the port call of the two vessels would “highlight the strong historic community and military relations between the Philippines and the United States.”

While in Subic, the Frank Cable and the Asheville will refuel and receive supplies, and  the crew will undertake community service in nearby areas, the statement added.

The US submarine, named after the city of Asheville in North Carolina, was commissioned in 1991. It is 91 meters long and has a top speed of 32 knots underwater. The USS Frank Cable was commissioned in 1980. It is nearly 200 meters long and has a crew of 1,500.

Palace spokesman belittles word of Kirams on Sabah issue

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 10): Palace spokesman belittles word of Kirams on Sabah issue
Malacañang on Monday advised the camp of Jamalul Kiram III to stop speculating about their alleged extradition to Malaysia in connection with the Sabah crisis in February.

“That’s just a claim,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said in a Malacañang briefing. “Let’s wait for an official statement from us. I don’t want to dignify any statement coming from the Kirams.”

Lacierda also refused comment on how the country could apply the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Malaysia to extradite Kiram. He said he did not want to speculate on a statement from Kiram.

In a briefing in Taguig City, Kiram divulged a government plan to extradite him to Malaysia in connection with the arrival of his brother and armed followers by boat in Sabah to press the sultanate of Sulu’s claim to the state.

Kiram claimed the information came from a “reliable source in government.’’

The crisis was triggered by the incursion of Agbimuddin Kiram and armed followers into Lahad Datu town in Sabah in February.

The conflict led to the deaths of more than 70 people, mostly Kiram’s followers, and sent thousands of undocumented Filipinos fleeing the state.

After violence erupted between Malaysian forces and Kiram’s followers in March, President Aquino ordered key Cabinet officials to conduct a comprehensive study of the centuries-old claim to Sabah.

Lacierda said he had yet to confirm from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima if the President had been furnished a copy of the National Bureau of Investigation’s report on the incident.

“Wait, there is an investigation, and I am not privy to the investigation report itself or what the content of the investigation is,” he said over the possibility of conspiracy in the incursion. “So I cannot speculate on what the reports or what the content of the report will be or is.”

As violence escalated in Sabah in early March, Mr. Aquino spoke of the alleged involvement of an Arroyo administration official in the conspiracy, and said the cases were being “built up’’ against the culprits.

Former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, former Tarlac Representative Jose Cojuangco and his wife Margarita, and Moro National Liberation Front had been implicated as financiers of the Kirams’ excursion into Sabah. They strongly denied this.

The President indicated that the Kirams and the conspirators would face charges later.

“Let’s start with this: does the Constitution sanction any armed force beside the Armed Forces of the Philippines? Is there not a provision against armed groups? They are obviously by definition an armed group. They call themselves a particular name, and there is allegedly some connivance by certain members of the previous administration in the formation of this, which is in violation of the Constitution and various other laws of the land,” he said then.

He also cited the penalties of the Revised Penal Code for4 inciting to war. “When an armed group goes into an area administered by a different nation, can that not be considered an act of war by some of our citizens?” he added.