Tuesday, July 9, 2013

CPP: Aquino’s termination of peace talks has worsened AFP’s disregard for humanitarian law—CPP

From the CPP Website (Jul 9: Aquino’s termination of peace talks has worsened AFP’s disregard for humanitarian law—CPP
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said that by terminating peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Aquino regime has further emboldened the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the conduct of its brutal war of suppression and worsened its disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law.

The CPP said the recent armed encounter between the troops of the 31st Infantry Battalion and a unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Juban, Sorsogon shows how the AFP completely disregarded the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) when it proceeded with the summary execution of three NPA fighters even after they have already been rendered incapable of fighting and defending themselves.

According to field reports, Frankie Joe Soriano (Ka Greg Bañares), Christine Puche (Ka Nel) and Ted Palacio (Ka Gary) were already unarmed when they were attempting to retreat from the main battle area. “They should have been accosted, detained and treated as prisoners of war in order to protect their rights under the CARHRIHL and international humanitarian law, but were instead fired upon with utter impunity.”

The CPP pointed out that the NPA strictly adheres to international rules governing armed engagements to protect the rights of civilians as well as combatants who have been rendered hors de combat (incapable of fighting) as a result of sickness, wounds or any other cause.

“Just last June 28, NPA fighters exhibited its adherence to the CARHRIHL and its own internal rules when it collected, assisted and treated the wounded police officers who were injured when the Red fighters of the NPA Leonardo Pacsi Command ambushed a training unit of the PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion in Tadian, Mountain Province.”

“In stark contrast to the NPA’s respect for human rights and humanitarian law, the AFP has been exhibited utter disregard of rules and has shown its impunity in carrying out summary executions, torture and other forms of brutalities in the course of the conduct of its Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression,” said the CPP.

“In terminating peace negotiations with the NDFP and without explicit commitment to the agreements, the Aquino regime is virtually telling the AFP not to be encumbered by the CARHRIHL and carry out its war of suppression with all-out brutality and impunity,” pointed out the CPP.

“The CPP maintains that the CARHRIHL is a crucial agreement that must be respected as a body of rules which govern the conduct of the civil war with the aim of guaranteeing the rights of the civilians and people protected under international humanitarian law,” pointed out the CPP. “The more the armed conflict rages, the more important the CARHRIHL becomes.”

“By terminating peace negotiations, the Aquino regime wants to render the CARHRIHL useless.”

The CPP reiterates its position that formal peace negotiations must proceed on the basis of the principles set forth by The Hague Joint Declaration and after compliance by of previous agreements, including the CARHRIHL as well as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).


PH warship leaves San Diego

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 9): PH warship leaves San Diego

Deputy Consul General Daniel Espiritu officially sent off BRP Alcaraz (PF-16) during the 52nd US Naval Base ceremony in San Diego California on July 5, according to the official DFA Facebook page.

The newly acquired Hamilton class cutter of the Philippine Navy under the Philippine-U.S. Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program is captained by Captain Ernesto Baldovino.

BRP Alcaraz has 14 officers and 74 crew members. The ship is currently on its way to Guam and is expected to arrive in the Philippines on August 3.

BRP Alcaraz was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer during World War II. It is a sister ship is BRP Gregorio del Pilar, another Hamilton class cutter.

According to Deputy Consul Espiritu the new vessel is a “modest addition to the naval arsenal of the Philippines.”

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Price and Consulate Information officer Cesar Angeles was present during the ceremony.

The vessel came from Charleston, South Carolina and arrived in San Diego on June 28.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz had been undergoing sea trials off the waters of South Carolina in the past few months, which included testing the main weapon of the cutter, a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon. The BRP Alcaraz also carres a Harpoon anti-ship missle system.


Top CPP-NPA official surrenders In Mindanao

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 10): Top CPP-NPA official surrenders In Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY – A ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) voluntarily surrendered to Army authorities in Southern Philippines on Tuesday, Army’s Public Affairs Office (PAO) in Southern Mindanao reported on Wednesday.

PAO Officer Capt. Raul Villegas identified the alleged surrendered top communist official as Narciso Pulbos Ruben, alias “Ka Jason”, secretary of guerilla-Front Committee 34 of the CPP-NPA-NDF Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

The voluntary surrender of “Ka Jason” was assisted by some highland people and local officials in Compostela Valley (ComVal) province, including the immediate members of his family.

“He is now under debriefing by field unit in ComVal,” at the headquarters of the 25th Infantry Battallion, said Capt. Villegas.

According to PAO Officer the motive of “Ka Jason’s” surrender is hardship in the mountains for the past several years and wanted to re-join his family and lead a productive life.

“He really wanted to help the government by way of asking his other comrades-in-arms who are still suffering the hardship in the mountains to come down and join the peace and development program of the government,” added Capt. Villegas.

Capt. Villegas said the surrender of “Ka Jason” is a blow to the communist movement in Southern Mindanao region.

“His surrender is a negative factor to the underground movement in the area and another strategic gain of the government’s anti-insurgency drive,” added the PAO Officer.


Kato’s fighters nix truce

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 10): Kato’s fighters nix truce

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters renewed its attacks on Tuesday despite the military’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire in deference to the Ramadan, as the rebel forces detonated two improvised explosive devices they planted under the Magaslong bridge in Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said that the explosion did not seriously damaged the 30-meter long bridge.

“The bridge is still intact. The bombs were planted underneath the bridge,” Hermoso said.

He said the explosion occurred around 11:30 a.m.

Engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways immediately went to the area to check on the bridge after the explosion.

“The engineers assessed that only light vehicles may pass the bridge for the meantime while portions of it that were damaged are undergoing repairs,” Hermoso said.

Hermoso said local officials and residents of Datu Piang and nearby towns condemned the BIFF attack, especially since it came a day before the Muslims worldwide observed the Holy Month of Ramadan.

“This recent act of the BIFF is strongly condemned by the people, businessmen, and local government of Datu Piang and adjoining communities as ‘Haram’ (forbidden) especially that the Holy Month of Ramadan is about to start,” Hermoso said.

Meanwhile, the military said it ended its operations against the BIFF because it did not want to the clashes to continue to when the Ramadan begins today.

The start of Ramadan was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and the Darul Iftah or Islamic House of Opinion have moved it because there was still no new moon sighted as of Monday.

“The operations of the Armed Forces was only for a limited time. They have ended the operations because of the start of Ramadan,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

The military earlier confirmed that an Army officer and four enlisted personnel were killed during weekend clashes between government troops and the BIFF led by Ameril Umbra Kato.

The military also cited unconfirmed reports of 18 BIFF members killed and eight civilians wounded.

In his message to mark the Islamic month-long fasting, President Benigno Aquino III said Ramadan “allows not only for contemplation and atonement but also for (Muslims) to be more mindful of the Prophet’s teachings.”

“May your prayer and fasting evoke a deeper and more profound connection with your heritage and faith, inspire discipline, restraint, and generosity of spirit; and help guide you towards becoming greater embodiments of harmony and social justice,” Aquino said.

“I wish you a solemn and meaningful Ramadan; may this event foster greater understanding and cooperation among our varied faiths, and guide the Philippines towards lasting peace and progress,” the President added.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer earlier assured the public that the operations against Kato were cleared with the MILF through the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

“All of the law enforcement actions that the military has taken are coordinated with the CCCH. We do not want that this would embroil the government and the MILF,” she said.

A military source said Kato was “posturing” to disrupt the peace talks, which have reached a critical stage as both panels were set to finalize the three remaining annexes for the peace accord.


5 injured in Cotabato City blasts

From MindaNews (Jul 10): 5 injured in Cotabato City blasts

Five persons were hurt in two explosions Tuesday night on the eve of Ramadhan, the second happening nearby half an hour later while bomb disposal personnel were investigating the first.

Senior Superintendent Rolen Balquin,city police director said the first explosion took place at around 8:40 p.m. along Manara St. in front of the residence of the Chin family followed by another blast at 9:10 p.m. in a  popular KTV bar, Cafe Florencio,along Sinsuat Avenue, Rosary Heights 7.

Five persons were seen being rushed out of the blood-splattered front gate of the KTV bar to the nearby Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in a police car.

Police said a grenade launcher was fired at the rooftop of the building.

The wounded victims were identified as  Aileen Coquia, Lolong Delos Reyes, Winnete Guerra, waiter James Bryan Fernando and bar manager Reynaldo Pascua.

Experts from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team (EODT) found fragments from an M-79 grenade launcher in the twin blasts.

Muslims condemned the series of attacks on the eve of Ramadhan, the Islamic month of fasting that began Wednesday. The city is predominantly Muslim.

Appeals for a quiet observance of Ramadhan were aired over Facebook.

Monday night at around 11 p.m .residents reported to the police in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao a suspicious-looking package near a gasoline station in Barangay Tamontaka, according to Maguindanao Police director Senior Superintendent Rodelio Jocson.

EODT personnel rushed to the area but the package contained no explosive.

The area where the package was left is located a few meters from the bridge that separates the city from Maguindanao.


Islamic scholars call for release of Bansil sisters from Abu Sayyaf

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 9): Islamic scholars call for release of Bansil sisters from Abu Sayyaf
A group of ulama (Islamic scholars) here called on Sulu officials to help secure the release of the Bansil sisters, who were abducted some two weeks ago by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Jolo, Sulu.

Ustadz Jaafar Ali, board member of the National Ulama Council of the Philippines (NCUP), also said Nadjoua Bansil, 39, and her sister Linda, 36, should be freed unconditionally by the group that has been holding them hostage since June 22.

The Bansils were filming a documentary on the Sulu Sultanate when snatched in Patikul town.

Several persons have been invited for questioning over their disappearance but information on the progress of the case has come in trickles.

Ali lamented that efforts by relatives of the victims, and concerned fellow Muslims, to reach out to the Abu Sayyaf have not yielded positive results so far.

“They could not establish a direct contact with the kidnappers but influential leaders of Sulu could intervene and secure their safe release,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer here.

Ali also took a shot at the Abu Sayyaf, also known as Harakatul Islamiyyah and has been claiming to champion the cause of Islam, as it has been targeting the very people who have been making contributions for the advancement of the faith.

Like their father, the late Aleem Abdulbassit, the siblings were known to espouse moderate Islam, in stark contrast with the Abu Sayyaf’s extremist view, he said.

When it was founded by Abdurajak Janjalani in the late 1980s, the Abu Sayyaf vowed to become a thorn in the neck of non-Muslim settlers and staged kidnappings here and there.

But Ali immediately believes that kidnapping in itself, regardless of who the victim was, is un-Islamic.

The NCUP has consistently denounced the Abu Sayyaf’s activities as these could not be found in any Islamic books.

Even from Koranic verses on Jihad, most Muslim scholars agreed that the Abu Sayyaf’s activities strayed.


More patrol boats for Coast Guard

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 10): More patrol boats for Coast Guard

Aside from the 15 patrol boats it expects to get from Japan and France in late 2014 or early 2015, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) plans to acquire a 52-meter vessel from an unnamed country, the PCG announced Tuesday.

Cmdr. Armand Balilo, also chief of the PCG public affairs office, said the vessel would be “second-hand but in very good condition.”

“The project has been approved for negotiation by the DOTC. But there’s no timetable yet for the purchase of the patrol boat,” he said. The Coast Guard is a Department of Transportation and Communications-attached agency.

Balilo did not go into detail.

But on the patrol boats from France, he said “the government is wrapping up talks with its French counterpart.”

“We’re hoping delivery of the new boats would be made late next year or early in 2015,” he said.

Last month, the National Economic and Development Authority approved the procurement of the French patrol boats.

In October 2012, the PCG announced it was buying the patrol vessels—one 82-meter craft and four 24-meter boats—for around 90 million euros ($116 million or P5 billion).

Earlier, Balilo said the new patrol boats would be deployed throughout the archipelago and not just to areas of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) being contested by the Philippines and China.

The Coast Guard, he said, currently had only nine working patrol boats.


Captured top Samar NPA leaders arrive in Catbalogan City

Just posted to the Samar News (Jul 1): Captured top Samar NPA leaders arrive in Catbalogan City


CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityRecently arrested Samar NPA Leaders, Juan Paolo Rodrigo Verzosa, aka Cocoy; and his wife, Grace A Verzosa, aka Lennon arrived in Catbalogan City today. They were immediately brought to the Samar Police Provincial Office for proper documentation and processing. After which, they were taken to Samar Provincial Hospital for Physical and Medical examination.

It can be recalled that the NPA couple were arrested by joint elements of the PNP Catbalogan City and the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army last June 28, 2013 at Brgy. Fortuna, Marikina City by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court of the 8th Judicial Region for Robbery with Homicide.

In an interview, Juan Paolo Verzosa admitted that he started to be part of the NPA machinery during his college days at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He met his wife while doing documentaries as part of his academic requirements in UP. Juan Verzosa became a full-time member of the Samar Provincial Party Committee of the New People’s Army as Intelligence Officer. On the other hand, Grace Verzosa became a member of the NPA Staff Reproduction Bureau of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee.

After the legal procedures and documentation shall have been complied with by the Samar Police Provincial Office, the NPA couple will be handed over to the Regional Trial Court in Catbalogan City where they will be facing criminal charges for the crime of robbery with homicide. At present the couple are already detained at Samar Provincial Jail.

PRWC/CPP: Ang Bayan Editorial--The Aquino regime's treachery

Ang Bayan editorial posted to the PRWC blog (Jul 9): The Aquino regime's treachery

Ang Bayan
July 09, 2013

For the past three years under the US-Aquino regime, an unprecedented number of American warships and combat planes have entered and exited the Philippines, also with unprecedented frequency. US warships dock in Subic, Manila and other Philippine ports practically on a weekly basis.

Every day, American soldiers are a constant presence all over the country, with their ships docking or sailing and their planes taking off or landing whenever and wherever they want.

To justify the US military forces' unlimited access to Philippine waters and air space, American and Philippine  military officials invoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), slapping these two documents in the Filipino people's faces.

Nonetheless, Aquino and the US government are not content with the number of US soldiers and combat vehicles enjoying free and frequent ingress and egress in the Philippines. In accordance with the US' desire to maintain a more permanent presence in the Asia-Pacific, especially in the Philippines, the Aquino regime has been preparing facilities in Subic and other ports for the US military's use.

Aquino has been pushing to grant the US the right to conduct operations from and run facilities in the Philippines. To circumvent the provisions of the 1987 constitution that ban the establishment of foreign facilities and military bases, Aquino misrepresents these as Philippine facilities made available for use by the US military and its allies.

With such plans, the US and Aquino are obviously dissatisfied with the fact that ships, submarines and other nuclear-capable US war ships are already able to come and go as they please. They are not content with the Philippines' current role as an outpost for rest and recreation, repairs and resupply.

They want to enhance the Philippines' status as a vast naval outpost in the Asia-Pacific by restoring the US military's basing privileges in the Philippines. Marking the extent of his puppetry, no less than Aquino has led the way in rationalizing the grant of basing privileges as part of the "military alliance" between the US and the Philippines.

What Corazon Aquino failed to do in 1991, her son Benigno III now wants to accomplish. In 1991, the first Aquino regime failed in its bid to extend the Military Bases Agreement (MBA), which was set to end after 50 years of existence. Aquino now wants to grant basing privileges to the US military even without a treaty. Aquino allies are currently riding on this as a pretext to push for the amendment of the 1987 constitution, in order to once and for all get rid of provisions barring foreign military bases.

The Aquino government is completely at the beck and call of US imperialism and in the service of US world military strategy. In exchange for Aquino's full support, the US has been buttressing his regime politically and militarily, actively intervening in the country's politics to ensure the Aquino government's stability. US media and political experts have also been assiduously guiding the course of the Aquino regime.

To justify growing US military presence, both the US and the Aquino regime have been whipping up conflicts on the Spratly Islands and other land formations in the South China Sea that have been the subject of disputes among the Philippines, China and other countries. Since 2011, the US has intensified its military presence in the Asia-Pacific and established military bases and other military arrangements in northern Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam up to Japan and South Korea.

Its aim is to encircle China and make sure that trade routes like the South China Sea and Malacca Strait remain under US control. The US' growing presence in the Asia-Pacific has been provoking China to enhance its military strength and act more aggressively in defending its national interest.

The growing US military presence in the Asia-Pacific runs counter to the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people. It is exacerbating military and diplomatic tensions and preventing the peaceful resolution of the disputes regarding the Spratlys and other islands in the South China Sea.

Granting the US military complete freedom to enter and leave and station troops, equipment, war ships and combat planes in the Philippines comprise unmitigated trampling by the US of Philippine independence and sovereignty.

The Aquino regime is committing treason against the Filipino people, going to the extent of leading efforts for the US military to lord it over the country. In acceding to the US government's desires, the Aquino regime has ceded the country's right to blaze its own path and has bound the Philippines and its foreign policy to US designs. Every time Aquino complies with US military directives, he surrenders the Philippines' right to adopt a position of non-alignment or non-intervention should international conflicts erupt.

The Filipino people must take a stand for national independence. They must act to put a stop to and resist the Aquino regime's treachery in completely ceding Philippine sovereignty to its American imperialist masters. They must resist Aquino's plans to restore to the US the privilege of basing and stationing troops, equipment and other facilities for their war materiel. They must advance the struggle to abrogate the VFA, the MDT and all other unequal treaties that run counter to the people's interests.

It is highly ironic that Aquino's plans to grant greater basing privileges to the US military are being executed as the Filipino people prepare to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of the great patriotic leader Andres Bonifacio on November 30.

In conjunction with this celebration, it is but right for the people to intensify their struggle for national liberation and put an end to the rule of puppet leaders who surrender the country's sovereignty and patrimony.


Breakaway Moro rebels continue attacks

From ABS-CBN (Jul 9): Breakaway Moro rebels continue attacks

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have continue their attacks on government troops in Maguindanao. One soldier was injured in the latest encounter. - ANC, Prime Time, July 9, 2013


2 blasts rock Cotabato City Tuesday night

From GMA News (Jul 9): 2 blasts rock Cotabato City Tuesday night

Cotabato City police on Tuesday said that nearly two simultaneous blasts rocked the city during the night.

In an interview with GMA News Online, Resty Paghubasan, radio operator for the Cotabato City Police Office, noted that the first blast happened in front of a funeral home located in Mañara St. around 8:15 p.m.

More than one hour later, another explosion rocked Cotabato City, this time, in front of Café Florencio in Sinsuat Avenue.

There no reported fatalities, though Paghubasan said there were unconfirmed reports that some people were hurt in the explosion.

The police investigation is still on-going, the police officer added, with investigators yet to determine the explosives used in the blasts.


Bansil sisters now on 17th day in captivity in Sulu

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Jul 9):  Bansil sisters now on 17th day in captivity in Sulu
Former Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali yesterday strongly  appealed to the kidnappers of the Bansil sisters Nadjoua and Linda to release them “unconditionally for humanitarian reasons,”  as a  gesture to the month of Ramadan, a 30 day fasting period for the Muslims all over the world.
Sahali said the two sisters Nadjoua, 39, and Linda, 36,  indie filmmakers, have not done anything wrong to them when they visited Patikul, in Sulu.
The Bansil sisters, now on their 17th day in captivity as kidnap victims,  traveled to Sulu on June 19 with the sole purpose of working on a documentary film  on the “life and struggle” of its poor coffee farmers.
They were snatched on June 22  by armed men belonging to the Abu Sayyaf group  in Barangay Liang, Patikul, Sulu while their were on their way back to Jolo, the capital town of Sulu.
“I appeal to them for humanitarian sake to release the victims unconditionally since these people have not done anything wrong to them. They should release them. They have their own families and their  loved one are expecting them this Ramadan season to be at home with them,” Sahali said.
“Kindly release them to their families,” the former governor appealed to the captors.
“Today is suppose to start the month of Ramadan. This is the day where all Muslims throughout the world will start to fast for 30 days. This is a blessed month and for the Muslims  this is the month where every believer is performing their duties as  Muslim,” Sahali said.
This is the month that Muslims have to fast during the day, seeing  and doing bad things, these are against  the Muslim faith. In this  time, all Muslims must concentrate  in  their faith. These can be found the Qur’an  and writings of Ulamas. I enjoined everybody, to fast during the month of Ramadan. This is an obligation that every Muslim have to follow. By  observing these, it will become a peaceful month.  Don’t do wrong to others as  ordered by God. As an elder man. I  appeal everybody to observe the month of Ramadan as every Muslim does all over the world,” Sahali said.
Linda’s and Nadjoua’s father, Abdulbasit Bansil, is from  Datu Piang, Maguindanao and studied as scholar at Al-Azhar University. His  contemporaries at Al-Azhar University included Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) founder Dr. Salamat Hashim (of Maguindanao) and Ustadhz Abdulbaqi Abubakar (of Sulu), a highly respected senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and grand mufti (top Islamic religious leader) of Region 9.
Relatedly, a concept paper written by Nadjoua about their planned documentary titled “Kahawa Armalite” for Tausug coffee farmers showed it is “about a journey of farmers and evolution of coffee in a war-torn Sulu and how coffee farmers manage to adapt and survive up to recent times, left with no choice but to ‘armalite’-pick their coffee beans in order to survive.”
“Kahawa” is an Arabic  word for coffee.
Nadjoua lamented that Sulu’s coffee, though “known to be one of the best in the world,” still has not gained wider popularity and a bigger market.
“There has been an initiative to intensify or improve (coffee) farming in this part of Mindanao, however, sustaining a market is still a struggle due to the emerging and re-emerging conflicts,” said Nadjoua before they were kidnapped in Sulu.
She said the coffee industry in Sulu has two main brands, Royal Sulu Coffee and Cafe de Sug, which is supplied to one of the international coffee shop chains.
She said “Cafe de Sug made an advisory in their website that the coffee delivery was disrupted due to the Sabah standoff.”
“It is evident that when conflicts arise in the area, the coffee delivery is halted, however in this documentary we will not delve in these coffee (shop) chains and products, but (we) will focus more on the ordinary lives of farmers who till the land and make all these possible,” said Nadjoua.

IEP: UMMAH Latest Update (Jul 9)

From the Islamic Emirate of the Philippines (IEP) Facebook  page (Jul 9): UMMAH Latest Update

Last night BIFF attacked the enemy out post in Mamasapano, Datu Piang, six were killed, from the six, one is a lieutenant.

 One simba tank was destroyed, no mujahid is reported As-Shaheed.

... This morning our BIff brothers have planted an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Magaslong Bridge in Dato Piang on the way to dulawan, this caused a major damage on the bridge, thus, heavy loaded vehicles can hardly cross over the bridge, so the tanks of the enemies can't pass through to the dulawan, datu piang area for reinforcement. This is a major disadvantage on the part of the enemies war strategy. Insha'ALLAH

Supplementary : (here are the names / count of those Infedel AFP soldiers who were killed from last nights' BIFF operation against the enemies in Damabalas)

- Lt. Flores 68th IB
- two Corporal from 68th IB
- one squadron from from 7th IB

We have not yet confirmed if they were killed in an ambush or were exploded with IED.

We will be updating the UMMAH for more Fresh and Accurate news. Insha'ALLAH

Please make Du'a for our Honorable Mujahideen and don't forget to give everything that you can give in support to The Honorable Defenders of our DEEN.

Don't forget to take part in spreading the NEWS Of the UMMAH.

 Hit Like and Share, Let the Muslim know the reality of the UMMAH Today, because the Infedels are hiding the TRUTH!

JazakumuLLAHu Khairan Katheeran Wa BarakumuLLAHu Fiqkum


Maguindanao town mourns loss of 'soldier-son'

From the Philippine Star (Jul 9): Maguindanao town mourns loss of 'soldier-son'

Classmates of the slain 1Lt. Gerald Flores, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 2009, offer prayers for their fallen comrade, who was killed in an attack Saturday by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao, while inside a C-130 plane that brought his remains to Guimaras, his homeplace

Residents of North Upi, Maguindanao are mourning the loss of an “adopted soldier-son” who had actively participated in local projects meant to propagate unity among the area’s Moro, Christian and indigenous communities while assigned in the area.

North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang, an ethnic Teduray chieftain, said he has asked his constituents to pray for 1Lt. Gerard Flores, one of the six Army fatalities in last Saturday’s deadly attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Pikit, North Cotabato and Saidona town in this province.

“He had a good rapport with the people in North Upi. We will miss him,” Piang said.

Subordinates of Flores, who belonged to the Alpha Company of the Army’s 68th Infantry Battalion, said the officer seemed to have premonitions something was to happen to him because he kept telling them, a week before he perished, to be good soldiers, to be respectful of their superiors and be responsible parents despite being  an unmarried man.

Flores, who graduated from the Philippine Military in 2009, and his companions were dispatched early Saturday to Barangay Ganta in Saidona to check the heavy presence there of BIFF bandits mulcting money from villagers.

As they approached a strategic spot in Barangay Ganta, where BIFF forces were holding out, Flores took the lead and ordered his men to trail at least 15 meters behind, so that they can maneuver to safety if they are suddenly attacked.

Even before Flores and his men could reach a rice field they were to clear, bandits set off a roadside bomb fashioned from a live 81 MM mortar, killing Flores and two soldiers behind him, Privates First Class Jessie Pauig and Reynante Arubio.

Friends of Flores in Maguindanao’s hinterland North Upi town, where he was last assigned,  said he was a very jolly person, who had been friendly to the local Muslim and Christian communities.

Lt. Col. Marceliano Teofilo, commanding officer of the 6th IB, said subordinates of Flores were surprised with his strange behavior days before he got killed in action.

Teofilo said Flores gave his newest pair of combat uniform and “shiniest” boots as a “token” to a subordinate, an enlisted soldier, who was his classmate both in elementary and high school somewhere in Guimaras.

“He borrowed an old combat boots and wore an old uniform when he was sent to the operation where he was killed,” Teofilo said.

A close friend of Flores, Clinton Colcol, who works at the human resources division of the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, said Flores would call his parents  as often as he could.

“In fact he did not have plans of getting married yet because he wanted to help his parents. He told us how poor they were in Guimaras,” Colcol said.

Subordinates of Flores told The Star he was a brave officer, who never retreated from fierce encounters.

“He saw extensive action when we were sent to Camp Omar last year to clear the area from BIFF occupation and hoist the Philippine Flag there,” an Army sergeant, who asked not to be identified, said.

Camp Omar, located at the borders of Maguindanao’s Guindulungan, Datu Saudi and Datu Unsay towns, was where the renegade Saudi-trained cleric Ameril Ombra Kato established the BIFF in late 2011 and renounced the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


AFP to continue pursuit of Sayyaf despite Ramadan

From the Philippine Star (Jul 9): AFP to continue pursuit of Sayyaf despite Ramadan

Marines and military forces will continue their pursuit of Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu despite the  observance of fasting period of Ramadan, an official said Tuesday.

“The on-going operation will not affect the observance of the Ramadan as it is only directed against the lawless elements and bandit group of the Abu Sayyaf,” said Col. Jose Joriel Cenabre, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade and Task Force Sulu.

The marine commander also assured the public that military operations have been surgical  and intelligence-driven to avoid affecting  civilian areas.

Cenabre said they  remain on alert for any possible attacks that militants might  stage to take advantage of the religious event and commit atrocities while residents of the province are observing Ramadan.

The marine official said Abu Sayyaf members even launched roadside bombing attack on a marine convoy that hurt two soldiers who were providing routine security to medical and civic program for villagers in Patikul town.

"They (Abu Sayyaf group) are viciously attacking even soldiers conducting community programs,” Cenabre said.

Muslims in the country will officially start Wednesday the observance of Ramadan, the month-long period of fasting, according to Sheikh Abdulwakil Tanjilil, Deputy Mufti for Western Mindanao and Palawan.

Meanwhile, Cenabre confirmed there were sightings of the two captive Filipino sisters, who are indie-film makers, in the custody of the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu.

“There were sightings but the location of the victims kept on changing because the Abu Sayyaf group holding them is very mobile,” Cenabre said.

Cenabre also confirmed that negotiations have been on going to free the victims Linda and Nadjoua Bansil without monetary consideration.

Various non-government organizations and civil society groups and Muslim religious groups in Sulu and Western Mindanao have been appealing to  the Abu Sayyaf group to free the victims they seized last June 22.


MILF upset about military offensive in Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Jul 9): MILF upset about military offensive in Mindanao

A senior Muslim rebel leader whose group is currently engaged in peace talks with the central government protested a recent military offensives against a rebel splinter group in the south, citing the displacement of local people and the disruption of the upcoming Muslim holy month.

Ghadzali Jaafar, vice chairman for political affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told a local radio today that his group coordiated with soldiers from the 6th Division, but said his group disagreed with the confrontations, citing local residents will be severely affected as the month-long fasting is about to commence.

"The peace talks is also about to resume. We told our counterparts it's very hard for the people to observe their fasting inside evacuation centers," he said.

 Around 5,000 people have been displaced due to the weekend' s clashes.

Jaafar said some of their forces in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato were dragged in the hostilities. He did not elaborate.

More than 80 Muslims rebels under the 300-strong Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have been killed in clashes with Philippine soldiers ahead of the resumption of peace talks aimed at ending a decades-long rebellion, a military officer said Monday.
He said the government side suffered only 6 fatalities since the skirmishes broke out on Saturday.

The fierce gun battle occurred Saturday after the group of Ameril Umbra Kato, a former senior MILF official who was expelled in 2011, launched attacks against state security forces, sparking heavy fighting that resulted in the fall of two rebel strongholds.

Abu Misry, Kato's spokesman, however, denied reports about the number of their fatalities, adding that their offensive against government troops would continue.

"We demand their pull out in Maguindanao," he told a local radio station.

Jaafar said they are monitoring the situation on the ground and they are ready to extend help to the military to prevent the conflict from escalating.

The 12,000-strong MILF, which is observing a ceasefire, is to resume negotitions with the government in Malaysia on Monday. It has wageda guerrilla war for a sepertate Islamic state in the Southern Phillipines since the 1970s.


ARMM attends to 3,000 families displaced by Army-BIFF skirmishes

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): ARMM attends to 3,000 families displaced by Army-BIFF skirmishes

More than 3,000 families have been displaced by the weekend fighting involving renegade Moro rebels and government forces in Maguindanao and government relief agencies are attending to their needs, an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) official said on Tuesday.

The displaced families were from the towns of Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Piang, both in Maguindanao, and the scene of heavy firefight between Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The BIFF, led by foreign trained Islamic preacher Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato, has about 1,000 armed followers who on Saturday and Sunday, launched simultaneous attacks, including roadside bombing, against the military that resulted in the death of six government troops and 18 rebels.

Lawyer Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao(ARMM), said validation on the evacuees is ongoing and being undertaken by representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

Alamiya explained that the validation is a process ahead of the distribution of relief goods to displaced families.

Many of the displaced individuals were farmers and ordinary folks who are now housed in public schools and village centers. Some stayed in their relatives in nearby villages.

At least six civilians were hurt during Army offensive aimed at flushing the guerrillas responsible in the series of attacks against government forces.

Major General Romeo Gapuz, 6th Infantry Division chief, had announced Monday the military had called off the offensive in deference to the start of fasting month on Wednesday.

Earlier, the military said the BIFF was hell bent on derailing the resumption of peace talks between Manila and the MILF in Malaysia. The talks began Monday in Kuala Lumpur.

The BIFF is opposed to the grant of genuine autonomy to the Bangsamoro people and vowed to push for the establishment of an Islamic Independent state in southern Philippines.


BIFF sets off bomb but failed to destroy Maguindanao bridge

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): BIFF sets off bomb but failed to destroy Maguindanao bridge

Members of a renegade Moro rebel group tried but failed to blow up a bridge in Maguindanao Tuesday dawn, the Army here said.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said suspected elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Tuesday dawn set off an improvised bomb fashioned from two 81 mm mortar with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

The bomb, trapped underneath a bridge in Barangay Magaslong, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, went off prematurely and did not destroy the bridge, according to Hermoso.

Mayor Genuine Kamaong of Datu Piang said the explosion that occurred about 5:30 a.m. had created thin cracks on one of the bridge's feet and its surface bed.

However, after thorough inspection by government engineers, the bridge was declared passable to four wheel vehicles with not more than three tonnage.

The bridge connects Datu Piang to other parts of Maguindanao and Cotabato City and would have affected movement of the military hardware and business activities in Datu Piang, a fourth class municipality with about 49,971 population as of 2010.

Hermoso said the bombing was clearly a retaliation by the BIFF for the losses it suffered during the series of skirmishes with government forces last Saturday and Sunday in Maguindanao and in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Six soldiers, including an Army first lieutenant and 25 guerrillas were killed during the fighting.

The fighting also displaced some 3,000 families who are about to start the fasting month of Ramadhan where they fast from sunrise to dusk without taking any food, water and even sex.

Hermoso said he was saddened by what the BIFF had done not to the military but their co-Muslims who were ejected out of their homes at the time of fasting month. The affected people are the same people the BIFF vowed to promote and protect, he said.

The Datu Piang Chamber of Commerce and Industry condemned the attempt to blow up the bridge because it could have tremendous effect on the economic activity of Datu Piang when Muslims are preparing to commence fasting month.

Following the skirmishes last weekend and the bombing attempt in Datu Piang, Senior Supt. Rodelio Jocson, Maguindanao police director, on orders of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu, has ordered the deployment of Maguindanao PNP Public Safety Battalion along portions of Cotabato-Gen. Santos highway to prevent roadside bombings.

Major General Romeo Gapuz, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, had announced the Army had unilaterally suspended operations against the BIFF but its forces remained on alert during the fasting month which starts Wednesday.

Gapuz also appealed to the general public to report any sightings of BIFF members so they can be addressed even before they could carry out atrocities against civilians and military personnel.


New Nolcom chief vows to prioritize campaign vs non-traditional security threats

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): New Nolcom chief vows to prioritize campaign vs non-traditional security threats

Newly installed Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Major General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. will prioritize campaign against "non-traditional security threats" such as climate change and illegal logging.

Catapang, during his briefing Monday with newsmen after formally assuming the top post as overall commander of the armed forces in North Luzon, said that as the country and the world face environmental degradation and severe climate change "we need the full support of the public in preserving our environment,"

"It is better to be friendly to the community than to create enemies to achieve this goal," he said.

Likewise, he vowed to make this sprawling camp an environment-friendly by planting fruit-bearing trees and boosting its vegetation programs, being the source of vegetable supply of the thousands of soldiers stationed here.

"We will further propagate the vegetables farming and the "Hardin ng Lunas" that have already started inside this camp," he said.

Catapang said he is eyeing a partnership between the military and communities in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Cordillera regions against "non-traditional security threats," naming them as climate change, transnational crimes, global terrorism, and maritime security.

"We need to strengthen our bayanihan against non-traditional security threats to continue the climate of peace and enrich economic development in the area," he said.

He said that as far as insurgency is concerned, most of the provinces in Regions 1 and 3 except Bulacan have been declared as peaceful and ready for development.

"The challenge lies in Regions 2 and the Cordillera. My target is for all provinces within the Nolcom area of responsibility to have such declaration before I step down," he added.


Maguindanao's battle-tested Army battalion has new chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Maguindanao's battle-tested Army battalion has new chief

A battle tested Army battalion based in Maguindanao has new commander in the person of Colonel Roy Galido who replaced Colonel Bernie Langub.

Galido, PMA Class 1981, assumed office Sunday in turn over ceremonies presided by Major General Romeo Gapuz, 6th Infantry Division chief.

Galido used to lead the Army's 40th Infantry Battalion based in Aleosan, North Cotabato.

The turn over rites was held at 38th IB headquarters in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Langub, an ordnance expert, was assigned as chief of the 6th IV Division Training School which will be transferred to Barangay Semba where the 38th IB base.

In turn, the 38th IB will be moved inside Camp Siongco to serve as its camp battalion unit. The 38th IB handles operational and administrative control over Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

The 38th IB will serve as security unit of the 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division which covers the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and part of Sultan Kudarat.

This unit will also provide perimeter security of Cotabato City and the Awang Airport located beside the 6th ID headquarters.


AFP Corps of Professors needs new members

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): AFP Corps of Professors needs new members

The Office of the Dean, Corps of Professors of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is currently recruiting interested applicants to join the Corps of Professors in the AFP.

At present, the Corps of Professors is recruiting interested AFP personnel and outsiders who are qualified to teach the following fields: Biology, Chemistry, Economics, English/Communication Skills, Environmental Science, Filipino, History, Information Technology/Computer Science, Law/Practical Science, Literature/Humanities, Mathematics/Engineering, Physics, Research/Directed Studies, Sociology, and Statistics.

Lt. Col. Leo E. Bongosia, spokesperson of the Army’s 4th ID, said that interested applicants must satisfy the following qualifications; (1) must be in the upper 25 percent in the overall class standing in all career courses attended, with no failing grade, (2) preferably an honor graduate, and (3) preferably with Masters Degree in their academic discipline.

The Corps of Professors, AFP is a military faculty at Philippine Military Academy since its establishment on August 1941, but by Executive Order 292 (1987), made the Corps of Professors an Administrative Service of the AFP thus making the CoP one of the major branches of service in the AFP where its members can now be assigned to other AFP units.

For more details, interested and qualified applicants may visit the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1, 4TH Infantry “Diamond” Division, Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City not later than July 11, 2013, Bongosia added.

He said qualified applicants may be assigned to teach and conduct instruction at the Philippine Military Academy and other Education Training Units (ETUS) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


Govt wary of sensitive Mindanao situation in going after BIFF, Palace says

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): Govt wary of sensitive Mindanao situation in going after BIFF, Palace says

Malacanang said the military coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through the ad hoc joint action group to ensure that the peace talks will not be affected by the recent violence in Mindanao.

The ad hoc joint action group is an effort of both the government and the MILF that seeks to interdict and isolate lawless elements that take refuge in or near MILF communities.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the military operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was done in the very limited time frame—only three days, she said in a media briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday.

“Nagpaalam sila for the operations particularly because merong ibang miyembro ang BIFF that may have been hiding in some areas kung saan may mga miyembro ng MILF. So iniiwasan nila ang mga ganitong pangyayari,” Valte said.

“We’ll leave it to the AFP spokesperson to give you more details on the progress of the three days… I checked with Colonel Ramon Zagala kanina and tapos na ‘yung operations primarily dahil magsisimula na ang Ramadan.”

The MILF said some of their fighters were affected by the military operations and the Muslim group also voiced opposition against the offensives considering the onset of Ramadan.

Clashes between government forces and members of the BIFF started over the weekend and the military said it had captured the BIFF stronghold in the villages of Damalabas in Datu Piang and Ganta in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, all in Maguindanao.

The military reported at least 30 casualties in the side of the BIFF and five in government forces.

The BIFF, led by Ameril Umbra Kato, is a splinter group of the MILF, which is talking peace with the government.

Kato figured in several attacks on communities, including one in 2008 following the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the MILF.

The group also staged simultaneous attacks against the military and civilian communities in August 2011.


DND in the market for 8 attack choppers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): DND in the market for 8 attack choppers

Defense Dept. spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez Tuesday confirmed the Philippines is in the market for eight brand new attack helicopters.

He said the acquisition process has been ongoing since last year.

Galvez said this upgrade project has a budget of P3,441,460,000 and will be sourced from the General Appropriations Act and the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund of 2000.

The helicopters must have full night operation capability and complete weapons systems aside from integrated logistics support package.

Documents obtained by the Philippines News Agency suggested: "These helicopters shall be capable of performing close air support during day and night, and navigate safely during inadvertent instrument meteorological condition.

"Furthermore, they shall be equipped with armaments and avionics system highly suitable for said flying operation conditions.

"The guiding principles for this project shall be based on affordability and sustainability while conforming to the requirements of our Air Force in furtherance of accomplishing its mission."

Bidders should have completed, within 10 years from the date of submission and receipt of bids, a contract similar to the project.

"Delivery of the goods is required within a period of 540 calendar days from the opening of the letter of credit. Bidders should have completed, within 10 years from the date of submission and receipt of bids, a contract similar to the project," the documents stated.


BRP Ramon Alcaraz to boost patrol abilities in Philippine waters -- Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 9): BRP Ramon Alcaraz to boost patrol abilities in Philippine waters -- Palace

Amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Malacanang on Tuesday said that Philippines war ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which is expected to arrive first week of August, will boost capabilities of authorities patrolling the country's waters.

"It's (BRP Ramon Alcaraz) a step in the right direction in terms of upgrading our hardware, our capabilities, and that this will certainly be a boost to our patrol abilities," said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in a press briefing on Tuesday.

"As you know, as an archipelago medyo mahaba po ‘yung talagang kailangang i-patrol ng ating Navy, so this will be a good addition to the Philippine Navy," she added.

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

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.

Meanwhile, Valte said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has sent three Philippine Navy officers to the United States last week to join the crew of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz and document its journey from San Diego to the Philippines.

The team is composed of Commander Gilbert O. Pacio, Navy Lieutenant Marineth Riano Domingo, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Errol N. dela Cruz who are all Public Affairs officers.

As part of the project -- in partnership with the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) -- Valte said, the group will share, through blogs and social media, their experiences aboard the newest ship of the Philippine fleet.

Their articles will be uploaded through a live blog on the official website of the Philippine Navy (http://www.navy.mil.ph/alcaraz/) and the blog of Lt. Jg. dela Cruz (http://allaboutedelacruz.com/), one of the officers recording the journey.

Aside from the blogs, people may follow the official Twitter accounts of the BRP Alcaraz (@BRPRamonAlcaraz), Philippine Navy (@PN_Speak), the AFP (@TeamAFP), and the account of Lt. dela Cruz (@erroldelacruz).

Updates on the BRP Alcaraz may also be read through the official Facebook pages of the AFP (www.facebook.com/armedforcesofthephilippines), the Navy (www.facebook.com/philippinenavy), and the Facebook account of the ship (www.facebook.com/pages/PF-16-Ramon-Alcaraz/533450743369095).

The Official Gazette’s Twitter (@govph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/govph) will likewise share onboard updates on Alcaraz.

"We encourage everyone to follow the updates on the BRP Alcaraz -- the first of the Navy's ships to be named in honor of a Philippine Naval officer -- and learn about the life and experiences of the members of the Philippine Navy," said Valte.


Court convicts Army officer in Al-Barka fiasco

From Rappler (Jul 9): Court convicts Army officer in Al-Barka fiasco

A military court on Tuesday, July 9, found a former battalion commander guilty of neglect in the 2011 Al-Barka fiasco in Basilan that led to the killing of 19 of his troops.

Declared guilty of violating Article of War 97 (neglect prejudicial to good order and military discipline) was Army Lt Col Leo Peña, former commander of the elite 4th Special Forces Battalion that was behind a fatal attack in Al-Barka, Basilan on Oct 18, 2011.

A general court martial said Peña will be punished with a two-year suspension from his command, a two-year freeze in promotion, and a reduction in rank by 200 files.

Until his involvement in Al-Barka, Peña was one of the Special Forces' rising stars.

READ: Fiasco in Basilan

The court martial decision will be subject to approval by the Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen Emmanuel T Bautista.

Peña was in court at Camp Aguinaldo when the verdict was read. Asked to comment, Peña told reporters: "Dito ako natumba, dito di ako babangon." (This is where I fell, this is where I will recover.)

The court found him not guilty, though, of the charge of violating Article of War 84, or misuse of military resources.

Peña was given the chance to defend himself during the trial, but his presentation was not made under oath, according to court sources. It was not clear why.

The Al-Barka fiasco led to the killing of 19 soldiers, one of the biggest blunders in Philipppine Special Forces history. In October 2011, the SF deployed a team of soldiers undergoing scuba training to Al-Barka, a stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The rebels mounted a counter-attack that practically wiped out the Army troops and triggered calls from within the military for government to suspend talks with the MILF.

President Benigno Aquino III however stood his ground and proceeded with the talks. Peña's conviction comes as both sides resume talks in Kuala Lumpur.

READ: Gov't, MILF hope for a breakthrough

In January this year, a court martial also convicted Col Aminkadra Undug, commander of the Special Forces training school that approved the trainees' deployment. Undug was also found guilty of violating Article of War 97. Bautista upheld the verdict on Undug.

Two other Army officers implicated in the fiasco —Col Alex Macario and Lt Col Orlando Edralin — were acquitted last Oct 30, 2012.


PH Navy's newest ship blogs, tweets journey

From Rappler (Jul 9): PH Navy's newest ship blogs, tweets journey

SOCIAL SHIP. The BRP Alcaraz has its own Twitter and Facebook account to allow netizens to follow its journey from San Diego to the Philippines. Photo from BRP Alcaraz's Facebook page

SOCIAL SHIP. The BRP Alcaraz has its own Twitter and Facebook account to allow netizens to follow its journey from San Diego to the Philippines. Photo from BRP Alcaraz's Facebook page

Ever wondered what the life of a Philippine naval officer was like?

Now you can follow some crew members – as well as the Philippine Navy's newest ship BRP Alcaraz – on social media.

As part of a joint project between the Philippine Navy and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sent 3 of its Navy officers on board the BRP Alcaraz to document its journey from San Diego, California, to the Philippines.

Com Gilbert Pacio, Navy Lt Marineth Riano Domingo, and Lt Jr Grade Errol de la Cruz have been tasked to document its travel for Filipinos to experience.

How do they plan to share the trip? Through blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts.

The 3 officers will upload articles through a live blog of the Philippine Navy's website, as well as the personal blog of De la Cruz. Netizens may also follow the official Twitter accounts of the BRP Alcaraz, the Philippine Navy, the AFP and De la Cruz. The ship also has its own Facebook account.

On Tuesday, July 9, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte encouraged Filipinos to follow the online updates on BRP Alcaraz "and learn about the life and experiences of the members of the Philippine Navy."

The BRP Alcaraz's Facebook page said it left the port of Naval Station San Diego around 8 am on Saturday, July 6 enroute to Hawaii. It had originally come from Charleston, South Carolina, where it was modernized. Its crew members also stayed there for over a year to train on how to use its equipment, before sailing to San Diego, where it stayed for 8 days.

It will make stops in Hawaii and Guam, before it is expected to arrive in the Philippines in the first week of August.

BRP Alcaraz is the first Navy ship named after a Philippine Naval officer, Commander Ramon Alcaraz. According to the Navy website, Alcaraz was the commanding officer of the Q-Boat during World War II and was treated as a hero for dropping 3 Japan fighter planes.

The BRP Alcaraz "is the newest acquisition of the Philippine Navy under the Excess Defense Article Military Assistance Program of the US. It is a 378-foot Hamilton-class weather high endurance cutter decommissioned by the US Coast Guard that had undergone retrofitting and refurbishment worth P620 million," said its Facebook page.

Valte said its arrival to the Philippines amidst tensions in the West Philippine Sea is "a step in the right direction in terms of upgrading our hardware, our capabilities, and...will certainly be a boost to our patrol abilities."


Bombs fail to topple Maguindanao bridge; BIFF denies responsibility

From InterAksyon (Jul 9): Bombs fail to topple Maguindanao bridge; BIFF denies responsibility

Map showing Datu Piang, Maguindanao and Pikit, North Cotabato, where skirmishes broke out between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter and the military over the weekend.

Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were accused of bombing a bridge in Datu Piang, Maguindanao on Tuesday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

But a spokesman of the rebel group, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, denied responsibility for the two improvised explosive devices that went off underneath the 30-meter Magaslong Bridge at around 11:30 a.m.

The bombs failed to destroy the bridge, although its foundations were weakened.
Engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways immediately checked the structure and "assessed that only light vehicles may pass the bridge for the meantime while portions of it that were damaged are undergoing repairs," Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said.

"But the bridge is still intact," Hermoso added.

Contacted by phone, the BIFF's Abumisry Mama denied they were behind the bombing. He suggested that the military may have staged the incident.

"We can't do that to our fellow Muslims here in Datu Piang," Mama said.

"We received information that four armed men, Tagalog-speaking (and) wearing camouflage clothes dropped by the area before the explosion happened," he added.

Datu Piang Mayor Genuine Kamaong condemned the bombing, calling the perpetrators "economic saboteurs."

"Imagine if that bridge collapsed, that would ruin the business cycle here. The people who cross that bridge will suffer," Kamaong said.

The bombing of the bridge comes on the heels of weekend clashes between BIFF fighters and government troops in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, with the military saying six soldiers had died while claiming to have killed 80 rebels.

At least 5,000 residents of affected villages also fled to avoid being caught in the fighting, which left at least seven civilians wounded.

6th ID commander Major General Romeo Gapuz accused the BIFF of harassing civilian communities over the past two weeks.

He said these incidents prompted them to ask the Adhoc Joint Action Group set up by the government and MILF permission to mount “surgical and intelligence-driven operations” against the BIFF.

The breakaway group’s known lairs are near or within MILF-controlled communities.
However, Gapuz said the AHJAG only gave them three days, which lapsed Saturday.

"We [stopped] the operations because Ramadan is already (about to start). The only clearance given to us by the joint panel is three days to conduct law enforcement operations. So we have to abide by that so as not to derail the peace process," Gapuz said.

However, he said they were not relaxing their guard.

"We are prepared for that while we’re abiding (by) rules and regulations on the ground in connection with the peace process, especially customs and traditions in relation to Ramadan," he said.

Gapuz also clarified the reports on BIFF casualties, saying the figure was based on information from civilians who claimed to have seen the dead rebels.

Originally, the military said they had counted 18 BIFF fatalities.

Gapuz estimated the BIFF to have a regular force of 200 fighters.


MILF accuses Manila of influencing international development partners

From the Mindanao Examiner blog (Jul 9): MILF accuses Manila of influencing international development partners

MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim and Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front has accused Manila of trying to slow down development supports it is receiving from various international organizations and countries supporting the peace process in Mindanao.

Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF’s chief peace negotiator, has expressed grave concern over how the Aquino government is trying to exert influence in an effort to slow down international support to the rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

“We express our grave concern over the reported government's changing policy on our relations with development partners and the GPH instruction to these development partners to slow in their engagements with the MILF,” Iqbal said during Monday opening of the three-day peace negotiations in Kuala Lumpur.

He said there engagements are essential for the success not only of the conclusion of the peace talks, but more importantly of the implementation of the peace accord that both panels may sign.

“Given the short period of the transitions for the MILF and the continuing delay in the completion and signing of a comprehensive peace agreement, it become even more urgent that the MILF receives technical assistance, capacity development, development planning and resource mobilization to insure that when it takes the reign of government it is able to deliver and meet the expectations of the Bangsamoro people. It is our firm conviction that a strong MILF is good for the peace-making in Mindanao, not otherwise,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal said the long delay in the resumption of the peace talks have generated so much negative speculations and restlessness among some MILF members. “It is not good to hear these, but they were all expressed loud and clear. To many, the impression is that there is an impasse of the peace talks,” he said.

The MILF has earlier rejected a government draft on wealth-sharing in the proposed Muslim homeland, saying it was not what the rebel group is expecting.

Iqbal said there was only a sigh of relief after the Malaysian facilitator Tenkgu Dato AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed arrived in Manila last month to talk to key government officials and MILF leaders to hasten the peace process. He said the two peace panels declared its commitment to solve the Moro problem.

He said MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim also wrote a letter to President Benigno Aquino and reiterated his unwavering commitment to resolve the conflict peacefully. But Murad also informed Aquino of the growing frustration of the people and some members of the MILF as a result of the delay of the talks.

Iqbal said the President replied at Murad’s letter, but the content of the letter was not made public. “The President responded positively to the letter. But I am so sorry I cannot disclose the content of the letter because I don’t have the mandate to do so. Our chairman did not allow that copies be made except one that is intended for the Facilitator for the record of the Malaysian Secretariat,” he said.

He said the peace talks are now in the critical stage and warned that “there are many spoilers who are waiting in ambush.”

“As a negotiator for more than ten years, I have learned a lot of hard lessons. My experience tells me that there is no easy part of any real life negotiation. For this reason, I know that the road ahead of the current peace talks is still full of humps and bumps. But this is no reason to cause the failure of these talks. Sincere and committed partners in peace process will always find creative formula to get through any differences. If they don’t find one, this means one of the parties or both of them change policy from solving the conflict to not solving it,” Iqbal said, “truth is that too much pressure is building against us, especially on government. The civil society organizations way back home has already sounded the clarion call that we wake up and finish the process.”

He said a recent summit on the Bangsamoro peace talks held in Davao City called on the government and MILF to “sign the peace agreement now because time is running out.”

The MILF is fighting for decades for self-determination in Mindanao.