Thursday, July 18, 2013

2 rebels captured, soldier slain in Bataan encounter

From the Sun Star-Pampanga (Jul 17): 2 rebels captured, soldier slain in Bataan encounter

CAMP OLIVAS -- Two rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) were captured while a soldier was killed during an encounter in Barangay Liyang, Pilar, Bataan over the weekend.

In a report, Senior Superintendent Audie Atienza, Bataan police provincial director, identified the fatality as Private First Class Arnel Padilla, a member of 24th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

Atienza said the captured NPA rebels were not immediately identified.

He said that government troops encountered 15 heavily armed men believed to be NPA rebels while conducting a combat operation at said barangay. The firefight lasted for 10 minutes.

However, during the rebels’ withdrawal, two of them were captured by government troops.

Atienza said government troops scoured the mountainous areas of Pilar, Orion and Bagac but failed to find the fleeing rebels.

At the same time, Atienza has ordered Bagac Police to establish a checkpoint to prevent the possible exit of the rebels.

Pinoy evacuees from Sabah pegged at 20,000

From the Philippine Star (Jul 18): Pinoy evacuees from Sabah pegged at 20,000

Filipino refugees from Sabah hit 20,000 as evacuations continue even as the tension between Malaysian forces and members of the Sultan Royal Army had subsided.

Commodore Isabelo Gabor, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM), said the fleeing Filipino refugees have been arriving by bancas and motorboats to several islands of Tawi-Tawi province near the border of Sabah.

“Continuous ang arrival galing sa Sabah,” Gabor said citing reports from the Naval Task Force 62 based in Tawi-Tawi.

Gabor assured that all of the evacuees are being assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bongao town for processing.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reported that more than 18,400 evacuees have already been processed since the Sabah crisis erupted February when 235 followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, led by his brother Agbimuddin, camped in Lahad Datu to state their claim over the Sabah territory.

The CHR-ARMM has been tasked to monitor and document the complaints of abuses of the evacuees against Malaysian authorities.

Atty. Bong Ballaho, CHR-ARMM regional director, said the number of evacuees based on last June’s monitoring is believed to have already climbed to about 20,000.

“The number of evacuees was only based on the records that landed on the official ports, but there are also small ports where the other evacuees directly landed and were not processed or listed. So the number might have reached already to 20,000 evacuees,” Ballaho said.

Ballaho said the continued evacuation of Filipinos from Sabah could also be the result of the cycle of crackdown by Malaysian authorities since the tension between the followers of Sultan Kiram and Malaysian forces calmed down.

He said Malaysian anti-illegal alien law implemented in 2002 continued and undocumented aliens were given brief period of amnesty to leave or be arrested.

Ballaho said they have received reports of abuse as some of the Malaysian authorities were trying to exact money from the evacuees who opted to stay.

“Pinagkakakitaan na nila ang evacuees,” according to Ballaho.

AFP won't suspend general based on anonymous complaint

From the Philippine Star (Jul 18): AFP won't suspend general based on anonymous complaint

The military will not slap a preventive suspension on the general accused of using soldiers in building his three-storey residential house in Taguig.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said they could not suspend Brig. Gen. Dante Costes, the subject of the allegation, based on an anonymous letter.

“We have to look into the letter, investigate, find out and then the investigators will be the one to determine what recommendation to make,” Zagala said.

“We have to take into consideration that there must be due process and we also have to take into consideration that the complainant filed an anonymous letter. We must verify the contents of the anonymous letter,” he added.

Related: AFP general using soldiers as construction workers?

Zagala said those who wrote the letter of complaint against Costes should not fear any reprisals if their accusations are true.

“What we want to emphasize here is correct any wrongdoing, If there is any wrongdoing, they (complainants) should not be afraid,” Zagala said.

“We should look at the investigations as a means to fix the wrongdoing, find out the truth and make the necessary corrections,” he added.

Costes, the chief of the Communication, Electronics Information System Service-Armed Forces of the Philippines (CEISSAFP), has been accused of using soldiers assigned to his office to build his house at the AFP Officers’ Village in Taguig.

The military’s Inspector General is now investigating the allegations.

The investigation stemmed from an anonymous but detailed letter which detailed how Costes supposedly used soldiers as his engineers.

In the letter, a group of “concerned citizens” claimed that Costes had tapped his 2nd Group Commander, Lt. Col.  Arthur Pulmano, as his construction engineer and a certain Lieutenant Commander Dela Cruz as deputy engineer.

They claimed that sergeants assigned in CEISSAFP had been designated as construction foremen.

“For now sir, we could no longer depend on anybody here at our unit to look after our welfare. Even the command’s Provost Marshal the command Inspector General are doing nothing to address and stop these anomalies. We are hoping that this illegal practice within the military service is soon addressed,” the letter read.

“Is it right for the soldiers to abandon their mandated military tasks to serve the personal interest of Gen. Costes as his construction workers?” they added.

The “concerned citizens” said the military leadership can verify their allegations by sending a team to the AFP Officers’ Village in Taguig.

Zagala said Costes has expressed readiness to face the investigation and to explain his side on the issue.

American pastor laments ‘military harassment’ in Mindanao disaster areas

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 18): American pastor laments ‘military harassment’ in Mindanao disaster areas
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Americans joining a four-day international solidarity mission to disaster areas in Mindanao said they were appalled by the “military harassment” suffered by people even in communities worst-hit by Typhoon Pablo last December.

The Rev. Frank Wulf, a pastor of the United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California, said they would pressure the US government to stop sending military aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines because they observed that civilians were being made to suffer in communities with a heavy presence of soldiers.

Peace efforts boosted

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 18): Peace efforts boosted

 The Army’ s 3rd infantry Division will increase its operational tempo against the armed New People’s Army in Negros and Panay, and enhance its Bayanihan activities to foster the culture of peace, its new commander, Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, said.

Upon assuming the 3ID command on Tuesday, Balabad said the increase in operational tempo is to further reduce the armed capability of the NPA even if the peace and order situation in the region has improved, compared to previous years.

He said in the past several months, he noted an increase in non-traditional military activities geared towards providing livelihood opportunities to residents in the hinterland areas.

Baladad, who replaced Brig. Gen. Jonas Sumagaysay as 3ID chief, said the lack of livelihood opportunities are among main problems in Western Visayas, that contributed to the insurgency problem.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes ordered Baladad to continue the efforts of his predecessors, including Sumagaysay, while also noting the marked improvement in the peace and development campaign of the 3ID in the region.

Coballes said he is leaving it to Baladad if he will initiate some changes in the campaign against the NPA in the region. He, however, advised Baladad to sustain the momentum against the communist rebels.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines claimed in a statement that the number of NPA red fighters with high-powered rifles is about to reach the 10,000 levels in the next few years.

The CPP statement was issued in reaction to public admission by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that it has failed to make a dent on the strength of the NPA. The AFP, however, downplayed its failure by understating the strength of the NPA at “over 4,000” members from the supposed base number of 4,384 when the AFP launched its Oplan Bayanihan campaign on January 1, 2011.

“Clearly, the AFP cannot counter the fact that, over the past years, the NPA has steadily grown in strength,” the CPP said.

Rebel to receive P60,000 for surrendering in Surigao Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Rebel to receive P60,000 for surrendering in Surigao Del Sur
The New People's Army (NPA) rebel, who voluntarily surrendered to the 4th Infantry Battalion's 36th Infantry Battalion Wednesday afternoon,will receive at least P60,000 for the firearm he surrendered under the “Guns for Peace” program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Lt. Col. Leo Bongosia, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified on Thursday the surrendered rebel as 18-year-old Gilbert Daging Meniano, a team leader of Squad 1, Platoon 1 of Guerrilla Front 30.

Meniano surrendered to 36th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Joseph Norwin D. Pasamonte around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The latter unit is based in Barangay Dayo-an, Tago, Surigao Del Sur.

Meniano surrendered one M-4A1 Carbine rifle, and a magazine loaded with 19 bullets.

The former was forced to surrender due to sheer fatigue, lack of food and the fact that the rebels told his parents that he died during a clash with the military.

Meniano’s parents were very happy to see their son alive, and were also thankful to the military and tribal communities in the locality who helped in the safe surrender.

Meniano is now under custodial debriefing and papers for the financial assistance is underway.

Palace welcomes UN tribunal decision to hear PHL, China on territorial issue

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Palace welcomes UN tribunal decision to hear PHL, China on territorial issue

Malacanang welcomes the decision of the United Nations tribunal to go ahead and hear the case of the Philippines against China on territorial issue.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, in a press briefing Thursday, said the Philippine government always maintained that it has legal basis to bring the case before the arbitral tribunal.

"Certainly, this is a step that we welcome and we hope that this will be resolved in an expeditious manner," he said.

Lacierda said part of the issues that are going to be handled by the arbitral tribunal will be issues on jurisdiction.

"Knowing that we filed it in the arbitral tribunal, we have already anticipated that the issue on jurisdiction will be raised. And, therefore, our lawyers -- both the Solicitor General and the other lawyers involved -- are fully cognizant of that particular issue," he said.

The Philippines decided to take the legal action against China after exhausting all other means to peacefully settle their disputes in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea which Beijing claims is part of its historical sovereign territory.

The Philippines is seeking to halt Chinese incursions into its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and to invalidate China’s nine-dash line claim to the waters, which the Philippines has repeatedly described as an "excessive declaration" of maritime territory.

"We have always stated that the relationship with China is multi-faceted. Our relationship with China should not be on the basis of this particular situation that we are confronted with right now. We have cultural, we have trade, we have several levels of exchange that we certainly can continue with China," the Palace spokesman said.

3rd ID chief says military to sustain pressure on NPA in Negros

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): 3rd ID chief says military to sustain pressure on NPA in Negros

The newly-installed commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Western Visayas has committed to sustain pressure against the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Island.

“We will apply physical pressure (on) the NPA through focused military operations coupled with enhanced Bayanihan team activities,” Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad said in a press statement on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Baladad took over the helm of the 3rd ID from Brig. Gen. Jonas Sumagaysay, who was appointed acting commander, following the retirement of Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr.

Baladad said he aims to further increase the operational tempo of the 3rd ID to accomplish its goals and objectives this year and in the coming year.

The Army official said he also “aims to make Negros more peaceful and more conducive for development by sustaining the pressure on the NPA in the area to reduce their armed capability.”

Baladad was previously assigned deputy chief of staff for operations whose office leads the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan.”

“We will continue to deliberately engage with the stakeholders in order to foster culture of peace that will renounce armed violence. The problems in our society cannot be solved by purely military solution. Let us work together and unite all our efforts in winning the peace in this part of the country,” Baladad further said.

NPA rebel surrenders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): NPA rebel surrenders

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City -- A member of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebel surrendered to the army’s 36th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division in Dayo-an, Tago, Surigao del Sur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lt. Col. Leo S. Bongosia, spokesperson of the army’s 4th ID, said that Gilbert Daging Meniano alyas Jack, 18, a team leader of squad 1, platoon 2, of Guerrilla Front 30 surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Norwin D Pasamonte, commanding officer of 36th Infantry Battalion based in Brgy Dayo-an, Tago, Surigao del Sur.

Meniano surrendered one M4A1 Carbine rifle, and one long magazine tacked with 19 live ammunition, Bongosia said.

Bongosia said that hunger, running, and hiding as a fugitive of the law drove Meniano to surrender.

During the initial investigation, Meniano also disclosed that the NPAs told his parents that he was killed in one of the encounters with the military, Bongosia added.

Bongosia said that Meniano could no longer stand the deception and lies that the NPA, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), peddles in an effort to gain people’s support.

Meniano’s parents were very happy to see their son alive, and were also thankful to the military and tribal communities in the locality who helped in the safe surrender, Bongosia said.

He said that Meniano was undergoing custodial debriefing as the military was preparing all the documents for the release of financial assistance for Meniano to start a new life.

Bongosia said that Meniano will receive at least P 60,000 under the “Guns for Peace” program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the surrendered firearm.

PH to China: Be a ‘responsible nation’

From Rappler (Jul 18): PH to China: Be a ‘responsible nation’

Turning the tables on China in their latest word war, the Philippines on Thursday, July 18, said the rising superpower has “no choice” but to subject itself to international law to show it is "a responsible nation."

“To be accepted as a responsible nation, China has no choice,” said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez in a statement on the two countries’ dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“It must show to the international community its respect for the rule of law, including the mechanism of arbitration, which is being pursued by the Philippines to clearly define respective maritime entitlements in the South China Sea,” Hernandez said.

The DFA spokesman made these statements in reaction to his Chinese counterpart, Hua Chunying, who hit the Philippines for supposedly changing its “attitude and approach” toward their territorial row.
It is the Philippines’ second statement in its latest exchange with China, which began after the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the DFA of lying in Belgium about their dispute.

The DFA on Monday, July 15, already released an 8-point statement to belie the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s claims.
Their exchange comes as the designated arbitral tribunal, last July 11, began to hear Manila’s case against Beijing.

'China can end this'
In his statement on Thursday, Hernandez added there is one way to end the maritime dispute between the two countries.

China can end this South China Sea dispute by defining what the core issue is. China claims indisputable sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea through its 9-dash line claim, which is an excessive claim that is in gross violation of international law,” Hernandez said.
He noted this “is the core issue” stressed by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings in Brunei.

In those meetings, “testy exchanges” reportedly ensued between Del Rosario and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. Del Rosario did not deny this.
China, however, has consistently rejected arbitration to settle the West Philippine Sea dispute. It has instead pushed for bilateral negotiations, something that the Arroyo administration resorted to but failed, as far as the Aquino administration is concerned.

Key to success
Since China has objected to arbitration, how then can the Philippines succeed in this process?

In a paper on the West Philippine Sea row, researchers from the University of the Philippines (UP) said the Philippines can bring the dispute before an international tribunal “if the other concerned state/s agree to do so.”
"The success of the arbitration thus depends upon whether or not the arbitral tribunal will find that China impliedly and validly consented to the arbitration previously” upon its ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), according to a primer by UP’s Aileen Baviera and Jay Batongbacal.

“This could have major implications on the future of the SCS disputes, because to date none of the other States parties to the dispute have been similarly inclined to expressly submit themselves to the jurisdiction of an international tribunal,” Baviera and Batongbacal said in the primer published by the UP Asian Center and the newly established UP Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
The Palace, for its part, on Thursday asserted it has “legal basis” to bring its case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, however, said the Philippines’ relationship with China “is multifaceted” and involves factors like culture and trade.
“Our relationship with China should not be on the basis of this particular situation that we are confronted with right now,” Lacierda said.

Rights group raises alarm over arrests, abductions ahead of SONA

From InterAksyon (Jul 18): Rights group raises alarm over arrests, abductions ahead of SONA

Former political prisoner Aristedes Sarmiento greets wellwishers after he and other detainees known as the 'Tagaytay 5' were released in August 2008, two years after their arrest. In background is his fellow detainee, poet Axel Pinpin. Sarmiento was again arrested in Lucban, Quezon on July 16 on a non-bailable murder charge, the human rights group Karapatan said. (photo from

The human rights group Karapatan on Thursday raised the alarm over a spate of arrests and abductions of activists in the days leading to President Benigno Aquino III’s state of the nation address on Monday.

On July 16 Aristedes Sarmiento, one of the so-called “Tagaytay 5” arrested in August 2006 for allegedly being communist rebels and released two years later after rebellion charges against them were dismissed, was again arrested at the home of village chief Julianita Lagaya in Lucban, Quezon on a non-bailable murder charge.

Karapatan said Sarmiento was taken to Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna where authorities at first denied his presence only to finally present him to his family around midnight when they demanded that a certification be issued that he was not there.

In Bataan, Karapatan chair Marie Enriquez said a farmer and a tricycle driver “abducted” on July 11 with two farmers by troops of the Army’s 703rd Infantry remain missing.

Enriquez said the missing farmer, Manuel Pacaira, was last seen in an army truck that drove out of the headquarters of the 24rth Infantry Battalion and headed for Pilar town. The tricycle driver was not identified.

Another farmer seized with the two missing, Josue Ortiz, is detained at the Balanga City jail after he was charged with illegal possession of firearms.

Enriquez noted that the 24th IB was involved in the abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, and the arrest, detention and torture of Raymond Manalo, a witness in the case filed against those accused of the students’ disappearance.

On June 28, Enriquez said Juan Pablo Versoza, a member of Alay Sining UP Diliman, and his wife Grace were illegally arrested in Marikina City through a warrant that listed only aliases.

She said the names of the couple were inserted in the warrant only after they were arrested.

Enriquez said the string of arrests and abductions “may be the start of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' escalation of its terror attacks against the people after it has admitted that Oplan Bayanihan is a failure.”

Arrested activist tagged ‘high-value target’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 17): Arrested activist tagged ‘high-value target’

ACTIVIST Aris Sarmiento in a photo collage posted by poet and fellow activist Axel Pinpin in his Facebook account. COURTESY OF AXEL PINPIN

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna —Political activist Aristides “Aris” Sarmiento, who was arrested by a police and Army team on Tuesday, is considered a “high-value” target by government forces that tagged him as a ranking official of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Southern Tagalog region.

Sarmiento, 55, has been tagged as secretary of the NPA unit that operates in central and south Quezon, according to Col. Alex Capiña, head of the Army’s 201st Brigade in Quezon.

“He is a high-value (target and his arrest) will result in a leadership vacuum and cause demoralization,” Capiña said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Sarmiento, accused of using the aliases Ka Liling, Nikki and Kaka in the rebel movement, was arrested by a team of Army and police intelligence agents at the house of a village official in Lucban, Quezon.

Sarmiento’s eldest daughter, Roma, said her father left home in Calamba City, Laguna, on Monday to meet a friend and former Lucban Mayor Moises Villaseñor.

From Quezon, Sarmiento was taken to Camp Vicente Lim, the regional police headquarters in Calamba City, on Tuesday. He was taken back to Quezon on Wednesday to appear in court in Gumaca, which had ordered him detained in Lucena City.

The warrant that led to his arrest was issued on May 31 by Judge Napoleon Matienzo of the regional trial court branch 62 in Gumaca, who recommended no bail.

Sarmiento and four others—Felicardo Salamat, Arnold Albarillo, Cecilia Mondia and Amito Aballe—were charged with murder.

A copy of the warrant, however, did not show any more details of the alleged murder, Roma said.

Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) police director Chief Supt. Benito Estipona failed to give further details of the murder charge when pressed by the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Sarmiento studied agriculture in the University of the Philippines Los Baños in the 1970s. He later worked as a consultant to nongovernment organizations and local politicians, according to Roma.

On April 28, 2006, Sarmiento and four other peasant activists were arrested in Tagaytay City, Cavite, and charged with rebellion. They were collectively referred to as “Tagaytay 5,” and were accused of plotting to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

In August 2008, or after 28 months in detention, the celebrated case ended with victory for the Tagaytay 5 when Judge Edwin Larida Jr. dismissed the charges against them and ordered their release.

“We’ve already said before that our father is not an NPA member. They’re again accusing him of being one,” Roma said in a phone interview.

She said the family is worried about her father’s condition in jail.

Axel Pinpin, also one of the Tagaytay 5, condemned Sarmiento’s arrest. He said the Army is using trumped-up charges to link legitimate Left organizations to the underground Left.

The militant Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement (SBPM) condemned the arrest of Sarmiento.

“It is ironic that while an international activity for human rights is taking place, new cases of political persecution are happening,” Pedro “Tata Pido” Gonzales, SBPM spokesperson, said in a statement.

Gonzales demanded the immediate release and dropping of the “fabricated” murder charge against Sarmiento.

Since Monday, SBPM members and representatives of international human rights organizations have been conducting a fact-finding mission and helping victims of human rights violations in Quezon.

NPA issues ‘arrest warrants’ vs. 8

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 17): NPA issues ‘arrest warrants’ vs. 8

The New People’s Army revolutionary court in Negros Island has issued warrants of arrest for its eight suspects in the killing of Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles, who includes Ilog Vice Mayor John Paul Alvarez, and also summoned his father, former Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., for questioning.

It is also calling on the people to provide the NPA information that will help in the speedy arrest of the suspects, Juanito Magbanua II, NPA Apolinario Gatmaitan Command spokesperson, said in a one-page statement distributed to the media yesterday.

The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command has ordered all the NPA units under its command to launch police operations for the arrest of the Ilog vice mayor, Revolutionary Proletarian Army members Rustom Puro, Marvin Salve, Jessie Daguia, Eddie Fortunado, Alejandro Capunong and Gerald Tabujara, and Ilog government employee Emmanuel Medes, as alleged principal suspects in the killing of Arles, Magbanua said in the statement.

However, the former vice governor yesterday said that, as far as he and his son, John Paul, are concerned, the charges against them have already been dismissed by the DOJ.
“There is no need for warrants of arrest, we are just in our houses,   we are not in hiding,” he also said.

The former vice governor and his son, along with the others named by the NPA, have repeatedly denied involvement in the killing of Arles.

The DOJ late last year dismissed the charges filed against Genaro and John Paul Alvarez, and Cauayan Vice Mayor Jerry Tabujara for the murder of Arles for “insufficiency of evidence”, but recommended the filing of a case against the seven others.

The seven are Gerald Tabujara, Salve, Puro, Capunong, Daguia,  Fortunado and Medes.

Arles was killed in Barangay Manalad, Ilog, while driving home at about 6:30 p.m. on April 24, 2012.

Magbanua said the NPA arrest operation was ordered by the regional people’s court that is the highest revolutionary court on Negros Island after it had reviewed the decision of the Southwest Negros people’s court based on a special report submitted by the NPA Armando Sumayang Jr. Command.

The revolutionary court is summoning the former vice governor to answer allegations that he knew of his son’s plan to kill Arles and his alleged move to prevent justice from being carried out, Magbanua added.

The former vice governor has denied committing such acts.

The revelations of witnesses and evidence the NPA gathered point to John Paul Alvarez as the mastermind and financier of the RPA men who carried out the killing of Arles, Magbanua alleged.

The NPA investigation shows that the motive for the killing of the judge is that the Alvarez family considered him a threat to their political dominance in the sixth district, because his son, Philip Arles, ran for Congress, and on suspicion that he had a part in the filling of corruption charges against John Paul Alvarez with the Ombudsman, Magbanua claimed.

Philip Arles lost to Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, daughter of the former vice governor, in the last two elections by wide margins.

They were also angry at Judge Arles for his show of sympathy and support for poor farmers and fishermen seeking justice against land- grabbing, mining, and the fascist military in the sixth district, the NPA alleged.

The NPA also said it is laughable and disgusting that the DOJ dismissed the murder charges against Genaro and John Paul Alvarez, and Jerry Tabujara, but charged the seven other suspects.

It shows that the government’s system of justice favors the rich and powerful, the NPA alleged.

China hits PH 'smear job' during ASEAN meet

From ABS-CBN (Jul 17): China hits PH 'smear job' during ASEAN meet

A Chinese official on Tuesday scored the Philippines for refusing to resolve a territorial dispute through bilateral means and for seeking international arbitration to resolve the conflict.

In a statement, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said Beijing stays committed to solving the territorial dispute through bilateral negotiations "in accordance with relevant regulations of international law and the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea."

"We regret that the Philippines stated that it has become impossible to continue bilateral discussions with China, and are dissatisfied with its refusal to diplomatic negotiation and closure of the door to dialogue. We are firmly opposed to the Philippines' indifference to China's lawful rights and interests and legitimate concerns as well as its willful act of pushing for international arbitration," Hua said.

Hua said China and the Philippines earlier reached a consensus to resolve bilateral disputes through negotiation. The official noted that the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Philippine National Oil Company signed an agreement for joint marine seismic undertaking on certain areas of the South China Sea, which later included Vietnam.

"However, it is regrettable that over recent years, the Philippines has changed its attitude and approach in handling the issue, gone back on its consensus with China, broken its commitment in the DOC, cast aside the framework of dialogue upheld by a majority of countries, refused to cooperate, aggravated the situation and set off the incident of the Huangyan Island by harassing Chinese civilians with warships, casting a shadow over China-Philippine relations and peace and stability of the South China Sea," Hua said.

The official noted that the Philippines "publicly criticized China during the recently held ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meetings, regardless of the consensus among ASEAN countries, and thus was reasonably refuted by China."

"It is difficult for China to understand how could the Philippines continue to play up the issue of the South China Sea, distort the facts and smear China."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier accused China of increased militarization in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), saying Beijing’s tactics were a threat to peace in the region.

Del Rosario issued a statement after a People’s Daily report warned of a “counterstrike” if the Philippines continued to provoke China in the West Philippine Sea.

Del Rosario has said China’s position to settle the dispute on a bilateral basis is not correct because there are at least four other ASEAN claimants to the various areas of the South China Sea, “and so we believe that a multilateral approach is the way to do this.”

China lays claim to nearly the entire South China Sea and the islands that are also being claimed by Japan in the East China Sea.

The area, delineated by the so-called nine-dash line of China, covers over 100 islets, atolls and reefs.

The Philippine claim in the Spratly Islands covers eight islands and reefs.

Aside from the Philippines and China, the Spratlys is also being claimed in whole or in part by Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

Army to shift to territorial defense

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 17): Army to shift to territorial defense

Nolcom chief Catapang says troops ready to defend PH vs China aggression
The military’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) is shifting its operations from internal security to territorial defense in 2014, focusing on the Luzon coastlines amid disputes over marine boundaries in Southeast Asia, the new Nolcom chief said on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. revealed the new thrust two weeks after he assumed leadership of the AFP command, which operates in the Ilocos, Cagayan, Cordillera and Central Luzon regions.

Nolcom has jurisdiction over the Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal in Zambales, which is being claimed by China. President Aquino has publicly stated that his administration would give the United States and Japan wider access to Philippine bases to protect the country’s territory.

Gas rich

Also in Nolcom’s area of concern is the gas and mineral-rich Benham Rise off northeastern Luzon.

Nolcom oversees the 5th and 7th Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Army, 1st Air Division of the Philippine Air Force and the Naval Forces Northern Luzon of the Philippine Navy.

Replying to questions the Inquirer sent to him by e-mail, Catapang said he would begin to “integrate the capability of major services operationally controlled by Nolcom in conducting joint operations so that we can transition from internal security operations to territorial defense.”

He said the responsiveness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is adjusting to a “very globalized world [where] the threats to our national security will likewise be global.”

“Of course, we have to protect our 7,100 plus islands against global threats such as terrorism, climate change, international crimes and maritime security, plus protect our interest in exclusive economic zones,” he said.

2013 target

By the end of 2013, Nolcom should have declared the four regions “peaceful and ready for further development,” he said.

As of June, Nolcom had assessed the insurgency in the four regions as having been “reduced to a very minimal level,” which would allow it to shift priorities next year, Catapang said.

He said remnants of the New People’s Army (NPA) that killed nine policemen in two recent ambushes in Luzon are being hunted down.

He described as “desperate moves” the rebel attacks on policemen on May 27 in Cagayan where eight policemen were killed, and on July 28 in Tadian, Mt. Province, where a policeman was killed among more than 90 officers who were jogging in the mountains.

Core competency

“In the absence of a clear headway toward a negotiated peace settlement between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA remnants will [fight] to survive,” Catapang said.

He said the attacks were meant “to highlight that there are still NPA remnants and spoilers that can sow fear in the area.”

The police would take the lead role in internal security operations, with the AFP providing support role, he said.

“We will not give up our core competency in fighting the remnants of the NPA to maintain our skills for guerrilla warfare,” he said, clarifying that the Scout Rangers and Special Forces would focus on military operations. “This will free our infantry battalions to train for territorial defense,” he said