Saturday, August 24, 2013

Commentary: 'Morong 43' continues to unravel

Posted to  the anti-communist Citizens Anti-Crime and Terrorism Information and Operation Network (Aug 24): Commentary: 'Morong 43' continues to unravel

By Paul Gutierrez

Published : Saturday, August 24, 2013 00:00 ...

MORE than three years after the mass arrest by the military of the so-called ‘Morong 43’ on February 6, 2010, this story continues to unravel in favor of the AFP’s position that those arrested were not innocent “community health workers” as claimed by the suspects and some human rights group.

A belated bulletin from the Phil. Army states that last August 9, a firefight in Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Bulacan, resulted to the death of three rebels with one of them, Ramon ‘Ka Mandy’ dela Cruz, turning out to be a member of the Morong 43.

If my counting is right, 202nd Brigade chief, Col. Ivan Samarita, dela Cruz would be the third (or fourth?) member of the group KIA (killed in action) by government troops after they were ordered release by Pres. Aquino on December 10, 2010.

If I am not mistaken, the others were previously killed by soldiers in separate clashes in Batangas and Mindoro months after they were given back their freedom with DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima primarily in the forefront of the campaign for their release.

If the good secretary was among those hoodwinked into believing the innocense of the Morong 43 and which made her influence Pres. Noy’s decision, we cannot say anymore at this point.

Obviously, however, it is one political act of Pres. Noy where the nation’s security was compromised but for the continuing vigilance of our troops.

In other words, this was one decision where the commander in chief was proven wrong and his soldiers were proven right.

Why? Because I know for a fact that Pres. Noy was fully briefed about these “characters” he was about to release back then but he proceeded to do so nevertheless.

At dahil si P-Noy ang “bosing” kaya “tameme” na lang ang ating mga sundalo, hehehe.

TFZ holds bomb awareness seminar for fast food chain

From the Zamboanga Today (Aug 24): TFZ holds bomb awareness seminar for fast food chain

Upon the request of a nationally known fast food chain located at OK Department store, TFZ commander Colonel Andrelino Colina spearheaded the other day a bomb awareness seminar for some of their managers and employees.

The seminar was held in one of the local branches of the said fast food chain along Rizal Street, Zone IV.

Colina said the series of seminars on bomb awareness being conducted by military bomb experts is part of their preventive measures against bomb attacks in some parts of Mindanao.

Colina said the coordination of the local police office and other law enforcement agencies creates a much better environment for the enforcement units to impose measures to safeguard the city from terrorism activities.

Colina confirmed that the recent bombing incidents in some provinces in Mindanao triggered a shock wave on all people including authorities.

“With reference in the Cagayan de Oro City bombing, we have seen the devastation it created which we can’t afford to allow to happen here,” Colina said.

According to him, the awareness seminar requested by the said establishment for their employees can contribute much to the prevention of possible bomb attacks.

Colina expressed elation on the huge number of attendee during the seminar.

Folks insist JI terrorists nowhere in Maguindanao

From the Daily  Zamboanga Times (Aug 23): Folks insist JI terrorists nowhere in Maguindanao

Assertions that a Malaysian member of the Jemaah Islamiya is hiding in Maguindanao is just as worst as the oft-recurring flashfloods and armed conflicts in the province, local officials said.
Members of the business sector already called on the MILF’s peace panel to censure Von Al-Haq for having insinuated that Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, is being coddled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which is led by Ameril Umrah Kato, somewhere in Maguindanao.
Al-Haq, who is spokesman of the MILF-styled Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, and National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia were both reported recently as having floated the idea that Marwan could be hiding somewhere in province, being provided sanctuary by the BIFF.
“We’re not protecting the BIFF. It’s an organization that deserves condemnation. It’s the immediate and deeper implications of an insinuation done by someone from the MILF to the local economy and to the (GPH-MILF) ceasefire agreement that makes us sad,” lamented a Moro engineer, who is involved in government projects in the second district of the province.
An ethnic Maguindanaon trader, who operates a hardware store in  Datu Odin Sinsuat town, said Al-Haq’s having been quoted in a recent published report saying he has information that Marwan could be in Maguindanao was a total violation of the communication protocols bilaterally set by the government-MILF joint ceasefire committee.
The government and the MILF, under the July 1997 agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, are to issue statements on security concerns and tactical activities of rebel and military forces in potential flashpoint only through the joint ceasefire committee, which is comprised of representatives from the rebel group, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces.
Members of the provincial board and other local officials were, however, virtually diplomatic and more cautious in their interpretations of the issue, confident it can be ironed out in the “proper forum” through peaceful dialogues.
Provincial board member Bobby Katambak, a practicing human rights lawyer, said barangay officials and the municipal peace and order councils in the 36 towns in Maguindanao “can best tell” if there are foreign terrorists in the province.
He said Maguindanao Gov Esmael Mangudadatu already directed local executives to validate insinuations by certain national officials that Marwan is in the province.
“It’s been two weeks now and there has not been any confirmation yet so far. There were also groups of farmers and community organizations asked to help and not one has ever confirmed that this Malaysian JI member is in the province,” Katambak said.
Katambak said the efforts to validate the reported presence of Marwan in the province is not to embarrass or belittle the sources that floated such idea, but to cushion its impact to the local economy and to allay apprehensions by the public on possible government offensive to flush him out, which is feared to cause dislocation of the local communities.
A mayor, who asked not to be identified, said pointing to Maguindanao as a possible sanctuary for foreign terrorists is just as worst as the flashfloods and the man-made calamities that often hit some areas in the province.
“We support the peace process, the peace talks between the government and the MILF just as we support the efforts of improving the economy of the province. Our people were devastated with the reports that there is a Malaysian JI member in their midst. It’s just as devastating as abandoning their homes either due to a man-made, or natural calamity,” seconded a Moro cleric, Ustadz Ameerodin Alih of Datu Blah town.
Muslim traders in Maguindanao’s adjoining Datu Piang and Shariff Aguak towns were saddened by the report that Marwan is in the province, something for them so “unrealistic” and detrimental to what they describe as now “improving economy” in their municipalities.
“The spokesman of the MILF seemed to have forgotten that under their ceasefire agreement with the government, they are to help find criminals and terrorists and pluck them out of the areas covered by the ceasefire accord,” said a Moro rice and corn grains trader.
The trader who asked not to be identified said the Visayan buyers of his merchandise in General Santos City have stopped providing him with cash advances for the procurement of grains after reading the report on the alleged presence in Maguindanao of Marwan.
Marwan was said to have trained in fabrication of home-made bombs in Peshawar, Pakistan and in Kandahar Afganistan.
A senior official of the League of Mayors in Maguindanao said such scenario is not just preposterous, but unfounded as well.
“It is impossible for our constituent-barangay officials not to detect the presence of any foreign terrorist in any part of the province. No one from them will ever allow the peace process to be derailed by any presence of foreign terrorists in their communities,” the league official said.
The spokesman of BIFF, Abu Misry Mama, told reporters that coddling a terrorist like Marwan, is against the revolutionary policies of their organization.
“We in the BIFF only bomb military positions. We don’t do bombings to kill innocent people,” Mama said in halting Filipino.
Intelligence units of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police command could not confirm the presence of the Malaysian bomb-maker in the province.

Misuari: Photo -- MNLF, Karawan Forces — at Karaawan, Jolo Sulu, Bangsamoro

Posted to the Facebook page of Nur P. Misuari (Aug 24): Photo: MNLF, Karawan Forces — at Karaawan, Jolo Sulu, Bangsamoro

Left disavows text about Monday 'uprising,' blames military

From InterAksyon (Aug 24): Left disavows text about Monday 'uprising,' blames military

Leftist groups on Saturday cautioned people against being taken in by a text message making the rounds that portrays Monday’s Million People March to demand the scrapping of the pork barrel system as an attempt to bring down the government and accused the military of mounting a campaign to derail the protest.

“There is a malicious text message circulating that is being made to appear as coming from the Left,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

“The text claims that August 26 is about bringing down the government via an uprising,” Reyes said. “This is clearly a desperate scare tactic being used to foil the broad people's unity on August 26.”

“We denounce this malicious SMS,” he said. “We denounce the intrigues and psywar (psychological warfare) coming from the military agents of the Aquino regime. Only they stand to benefit from these intrigues.”

The message says: “Ibagsak ang rehimeng US-Aquino, berdugo at magnanakaw na pahirap sa mamamayan! Sa Aug26 sa Luneta ang simula ng pag-aalsa, diretso sa Malakanyang (Down with the US-Aquino regime, executioner and thieving oppressor of the people! August 26 at the Luneta is the start of the uprising, on to Malacanang)!”

The Left regularly appends the United States when referring to various administrations, including the incumbent, in keeping with its assertion that the Philippine government is a puppet of the American government.

The Million People March grew around a post on Facebook that was picked up by netizens and various organizations.

According to organizers, the mass action, billed as “inclusive and non-partisan,” has no centralized leadership.

Philippine rebels free captive army soldier

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 24): Philippine rebels free captive army soldier

A government soldier held captive by communist rebels in the southern Philippines has been freed Saturday to a local politician, who helped secure the freedom of the prisoner.

The soldier, Private First Class Rodello Canada Arigonan, who was captured August 4 in Compostela Valley province, was released to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte after the soldier’s family appealed for help.

The details of the release of the soldier were not immediately known, but the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command was quick to say that the rebels freed the prisoner due to mounting public pressure.

The military said the rebels seized the off-duty Arigonan in the village of Langgam in Maco town.

It said the soldier, who is also an electrician, was working on a neighbor’s house when he spotted a group of men digging holes on the road. The men turned out to be rebels, according to Col. Angelito de Leon, commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade.

He said the rebels also detonated landmines in Mabini town where troops pursued Arigonan’s captors.

De Leon also denied an NPA statement which claimed that 11 soldiers were killed and wounded in a raid by rebels on an army headquarters in Mabini town.

“We have already alerted our units including the communities upon learning that the NPA plan to bury more landmines. This is why no one was hurt in that explosion contrary to the bloated statement of NPA spokesman Daniel Ibarra that we have 11 casualties,” he said.

Daniel Ibarra, a spokesman for the NPA forces in Compostela Valley Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Committee, said the soldier was captured during a rebel raid on the headquarters of the 71st Infantry Battalion in the village of Pangibiran in Mabini town. Ibarra said11 army soldiers were killed and wounded in the attack.

Ibarra said the attack was in retaliation to the killings of Eddie Canon, who was a municipal coordinator of the Anakpawis party list group, and Ramil Lintas, a motorcycle taxi driver. Both were allegedly snatched and killed in May by members of the Military Intelligence Battalion under the 101st Infantry Brigade on suspicion they were rebels.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, has acknowledged Duterte’s efforts in securing the safe release of the soldier. He said Arigonan will undergo a routine debriefing before being reunited with his family. 

“In our campaign to win the peace, local government units play a major role in achieving this. Our soldier will undergo the usual procedure after his release – medical check-up, debriefing,” he said.

Cruz has repeatedly accused the NPA of human rights violations and kidnappings of innocent civilians and soldiers in the restive region. He said they recorded at least 16 landmine attacks and 24 kidnapping incidents since early this year.

“These are serious human rights violations. You could see how the communists defy the CARHRIHL and how the National Democratic Front turned its back on these issues by keeping silent. The NDF should be compelled to explain to the public all these violations,” he said.

CARHRIHL refers to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law which the communist group was a signatory.

Karapatan insists 'Morong 43' are health workers

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 24): Karapatan insists 'Morong 43' are health workers

Filipino human rights group Karapatan on Saturday maintained the members of the so-called Morong 43 are all health workers and not communist rebels as the military claimed.

This after the military said that one of 43 health workers had been killed in a clash with security forces in Bulacan province in Luzon Island.

The 10th Infantry Division in Davao City said Ramon dela Cruz was slain along with two other gunmen while fighting on the side of the New People’s Army rebels in the village of Kabayunan in Dona Remedios Trinidad town.

It said the 43-year old Dela Cruz was among those captured in February 6, 2010 in Morong town in Rizal province. His parents have confirmed the identity of the slain rebel.

Called the “Morong 43,” the military said members of the group were captured by soldiers while manufacturing improvised explosives. The Morong 43 denied the accusations and said they were only conducting health training and seminar in the village when security forces arrested them.

President Benigno Aquino ordered the release of the Morong 43 after rebels demanded the government to free the health workers before it can resume stalled peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

In December 2010, photos of the Morong 43 have surfaced on the Internet. The pictures posted by a military official who uses the alias “Peace Builder” on the social networking site Facebook showed some of them conducting first aid training with NPA rebels.

Along with the photos was a statement saying that five of the Morong 43 admitted to be members of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging a bloody secessionist war for decades now.

But Karapatan said the military’s continued insistence that the Morong 43 are  members of the NPA is but an attempt to justify the crime they committed against the health workers.

Cristina Palabay, Secretray-General of Karapatan, accused the military of torturing the health workers.

“Nothing justifies torture and illegal arrest,” Palabay said. “We stand by our previous statements that the Morong 43 are community health workers who, in 2010, were illegally arrested, detained and tortured. The military’s continued insistence that they are members of the NPA is but an attempt to justify the crime they committed against the health workers.”

Palabay said they have yet to confirm whether Dela Cruz was really killed in the clash or not.

“Whether Dela Cruz joined the NPA after his release or not is his personal choice. That does not in any way change the facts of the case. The military illegally arrested, detained and tortured the 43 health workers,” she said.

On April 4, 2011, six of the Morong 43 members charged former President Gloria Arroyo, through a civil suit, for physical and psychological torture and other forms of human rights abuses before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.  And on May 4, 2012, they also filed criminal charges against those involved in the illegal arrests and torture at the Department of Justice.

“We are not surprised that until now the military never tires with their assertion that the Morong 43 are NPA members. It’s the only way they think they can come out clean of the violations they committed. But as things are under the Aquino government, some of them even got promoted to higher ranks in the military,” Palabay said.

The military also linked Karapatan and its allies to the NPA.

3 killed in clash in southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 24): 3 killed in clash in southern Philippines

Three people were killed in a clash between communist rebels and government forces in Kiblawan town in the southern Philippine province of Sarangani, officials said Saturday.

Officials said New People’s Army rebels attacked a military detachment that killed a pro-government militia Romeo Marila.

Pursuing troops clashed with rebels and killed two gunmen who were only identified as Anting Peayay and Victor. Soldiers also recovered two weapons from the slain gunmen.

“The pursuit operation was our measure to protect our own forces from further attacks. That detachment has been subject for harassment since early this year,” Colonel Marcos Norman Flores, commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“We always abide in any undertakings in the communities in pursuit of peace and we will ensure that those who creates chaos will face the full force of the law,” he said.

The NPA has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.

GPH-MILF 39th Exploratory Talks underway in Kuala Lumpur; observers attending

From the MILF Website (Aug 24): GPH-MILF 39th Exploratory Talks underway in Kuala Lumpur; observers attending

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panels 39th Exploraratory Talks is underway in Kuala Lumpur with four Mindanawon members of the House of Representatives, Mindanao civil society groups and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) attending.
The formal talks started at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, August 22 and to end on the 25th.

This is the first time in the 16-year history of the peace talks between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that observers from various sectors are represented. “We are also joined in today’s Opening Ceremony by an unprecedented number of observers – a glowing affirmation that we need the whole village to build peace,” GPH peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said as reported by MindaNews..

It is the first time since 2001 that civil society representatives from Mindanao are attending the GPH-MILF peace talks in Kuala Lumpur as observers.

OBSERVERS. Representatives from Congress, Mindanao civil society and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission are in Kuala Lumpur as observers in the GPH-MILF peace talks that resumed Thursday: From left, former Ambassador Akmad Sakkam and Johaira Wahab of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, Mary Ann Arnado of Mindanao Peoples Caucus, Dean Talib Benito of the Transition Commission and Salic Ibrahim of C-CARE (Photo by MindaNews).

Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur and Reps. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Jim Hataman of Basilan and Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato are also present. Rep. Sacdalan arrived at noon on the opening day.

The panels are negotiating the last of two annexes on power-sharing and normalization that would complete the comprehensive peace pact. The parties signed the annex on transitional arrangements and modalities on February 27 and the annex on wealth-sharing on July 14, MindaNews also reported.

Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez attended the closed-door opening rites along with five members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and  three representatives from Mindanao’s civil society — Patricia Sarenas, chair of the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (Mincode); Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus; and Salic Ibrahim, chair of the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, Inc.

The BTC members who attended the opening rites are former Ambassador Akmad Sakkam; Johair Wahab, former chief legal counsel of the GPH peace panel;  Froilyn Mendoza, aTeduray who co-founded the Téduray Lambangian Women’s Organization, Inc. (TLWOI);  Talib Benito, Dean of the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City and former Isabela City councilor Pedrito Eisma.  All five were nominated to the BTC by the GPH. The BTC is mandated to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will govern the future Bangsamoro Region.

Sarenas told MindaNews at the end of the session at 10:25 a.m.  that they have been allowed as well to attend the sessions of  the joint technical working group  on Normalization and  the Special Team  on power-sharing.

Sarenas quoted Malaysian Facilitator, Dato’ Tengku Abd’ Ghafar bin Mohamed, as saying civil society groups are “important people who are the bridge between the (peace) process and the people.”

In Mindanao, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman issued a five-paragraph statement reiterating his administration’s “all-out support to the Mindanao peace agenda.”

“We made a covenant, that we will step down in case of a peace deal – and this will always be our standing principle,”  Hataman said as quoted by MindaNews.

MindaNews said in a follow-up report that, an air of optimism marked Thursday’s opening of the four-day talks between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)  on power-sharing and normalization,  with both parties  looking forward to “put to sleep” what GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer describes as “the infamous devil in the details and awaken the angel of creativity and compromise.”

However, it said that sources from both parties do not expect a signing in this round of talks but are hoping that the contentious issues are resolved so they can move forward. Malaysian Facilitator, Dato’ Tengku Abd’ Ghafar bin Mohamed told MindaNews the parties are “working on the language” of the annexes and are expected to bring back the drafts their respective principals.

MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal said that the last of two of four annexes “must be settled and fixed now.” When agreed and signed, it will complete the comprehensive peace agreement.

Wearing his other hat as chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC),  Iqbal appealed to the GPH and MILF to “fast-track their negotiation and, without delay, sign the remaining two annexes and finally the comprehensive peace agreement.”

Iqbal said the BTC “cannot write the Bangsamoro Basic Law in its wholeness” unless the annexes and the comprehensive peace pact are signed.

“We cannot afford to delay the completion of the peace process. We must act now before it is too late,” Iqbal said in his statement at the opening rites held behind closed doors.

Ferrer said the signing of the Annex on Wealth-Sharing on July 13, the toughest round since the parties signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012 in Malacanan, was generally positively received and that while there were questions and commentaries, they were not so serious as “to throw out or render unviable any single part of the Annex.”

She said the signing “dispelled the doubts that a comprehensive agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF in our lifetime, under this administration, in 2013, can be done.” Ferrer acknowledged that the path to the two other annexes “is strewn with various types of landmines.”

 “But through their grievous deeds, these entrepreneurs of violence and mayhem have only succeeded in isolating themselves from the rest of the people.  Bombings, sniping, and various forms of indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations and objects such as bridges have no place in the moral order that we are instituting in our country and our communities.” “In this round, we will prove that we have not been waylaid by these groups’ destructive, desperate ways,” she said.

Iqbal said the answer to the spoilers is to “finish the remaining issues and sign the comprehensive peace agreement.” “Once the agreement is sealed, it would be very difficult for them to destroy it,” he said. Iqbal paid tribute to the MILF and GPH negotiators who had passed away in the last 16 years of the peace process and those who had fallen ill. He mentioned some names in his opening statement.

“Why I am making this narrative? It is simple! I just wanted to stress the need to finish this process soon. Any further delay is not only taking a toll on the very people whose lives are heavily invested in the peace process but more seriously, the various spoilers and enemies of peace are given the chance to spread their venom and to jump on our failures to stop dead the peace process on track. It appears nowadays that there is a conspiracy of all these anti-peace forces against us. This comes in various forms and uses diverse tactics to advance their evil agenda,” he said.

Signing the comprehensive agreement, he said, will not only stop the spoilers on their track but also strengthen the partnership between GPH and MILF so they can “proceed to consolidate the gains of the peace process and strengthen the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and Bangsamoro Transition and set up the Bangsamoro government by 2016. Once the Bangsamoro is set up, “the problems that we are encountering now will gradually be eased out and those still opposing or fighting the government will be deprived of legitimacy and of popular support.”

Iqbal said that as soon as the annex on power-sharing is settled, “we can pour all our remaining stamina on normalization, an issue that is not too difficult to overcome by willing and committed peace partners.

Ferrer said the President has repeatedly expressed his commitment to ensure the roadmap to get the Bangsamoro set up by June 30, 2016 is followed.  She said the panels will do their share by completing the last annexes.

“Let us show that we are ready to put to sleep the infamous devil in the details and awaken the angel of creativity and compromise,” she said.

She said she knows there will be more challenges ahead and that “in fact, things might still get worse before things get better “ as this has been the experience in most post-conflict settings. “

This is my objective view, not a pessimistic stance. But it is an appraisal that is imbued with the determination that we shall overcome,” she said as quoted by MindaNews.

On August 23rd, Mindanews also quoted House Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong and two other Mindanawon representatives sent here by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to sit as observers in the GPH-MILF peace talks are hoping that the remaining annexes on power-sharing and normalization would be signed soon so that the Bangsamoro Basic Law can be “finished as soon as possible.”

“We will try to do our best to craft this law. We need this. We want peace as soon as possible,” Balindong, representative of the 2nd district of Lanao del Sur told MindaNews after the opening rites at the Palace of the Golden Horses on Thursday.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said they “want the two annexes finished this month or next month” so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) can draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law and submit to Congress by December.

“We will have to fast-track this,” Rodriguez told MindaNews on Friday morning.
He said Congress can act on the draft law from January to March, before Congress goes on break.

“We want to have peace in Mindanao. We have to hurry up,” said Rodriguez.

OBSERVERS FROM CONGRESS. House Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong (right) with Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (left) and North Cotabato Rep. Jesus Sacdalan are in Kuala Lumpur as observers in the GPH-MILF peace talks. (Photo by MindaNews)) Not in the picture is Rep. Jim Hataman.

He said Speaker Belmonte sent him, Deputy Speaker Balindong and North Cotabato Rep. Jesus Sacdalan to observe the talks.

Rodriguez said coming here is “very good” as it gave them an opportunity, among others, to see the basic text of the annexes, the positions of the parties, which issues “need more consensus” and whether the provisions conform with the Constitution.

CPP/NPA: Civilian victims of extrajudicial killing by troops 2nd IBPA in Guinobatan, Albay

Posted to the CPP Website (Aug 23): Sibilyan, biktima ng ekstrahudisyal na pamamaslang ng tropang 2nd IBPA sa Guinobatan, Albay (Civilian victim of extrajudicial killing by troops 2nd IBPA in Guinobatan, Albay)

Florante Orobia
NPA Albay Provincial Operations Command (Santos Binamera Command)

Mariing kinokondena ng Santos Binamera Command ang ekstra-hudisyal na pamamaslang (EJK) kay Adan Cantar, sibilyang magsasaka ng tropang 2nd IBPA. Binaril-patay si Adan Cantar sa kanyang bahay sa Brgy. Sinungtan, Guinobatan, Albay nitong alas-7 ng gabi, Agosto 22, 2013 ng tatlong armadong tropang militar. Ang bahay ng biktima ay halos 1 kilometro lamang ang layo mula sa tropa ng PDT, 2nd IBPA sa parehong baranggay.

(Santos Binamera Command strongly condemns the extrajudicial killing (EJK)  civilian farmer Adam Cantar by troops of the 2nd IBPA. Adam Cantar was shot dead  by three armed troops in his home in Brgy. Sinungtan, Guinobatan, Albay at around 7 pm, 22 August 2013. The house of the victim is just 1 km away from the troops of the PDT [Peace and Development Team], 2nd IBPA in he same village.)

Ang Brgy. Sinungtan ay isa sa ‘11 upland baranggays’ ng bayan ng Guinobatan na dalawang taon ng saklaw ng Peace and Development Team Operation (PDT) ng 2nd IBPA. Ang PDT ay ang bagong katawagan sa dating operasyong RSOT sa ilalim ng anti-mamamayang Oplan Bayanihan. Mula Hulyo 2011, sa pagsimula ng PDT operations ng 2nd IBPA sa Albay, naitala ang maraming kaso ng mga “human rights violations”, kasabay na ang mga pamamaslang, pambubugbog at pananakot laban sa mga sibilyang mamamayan ng Guinobatan.

(Brgy. Sinungtan is one of  '11 upland barangays' in the town of Guinobatan which for two years (has endured the presence) of the Peace and Development Team (PDT) 2nd IBPA. The PDT is a new term for RSOT [Re-engineered Special Operations Team] under the anti-people Oplan Bayanihan. From the beginning of operations of the 2nd IBPA PDT in Albay in July 2011, there have been many recorded cases of "human rights violations" in conjunction with killings, beatings and threats against the civilian population of Guinobatan.)

Matatandaang si Adan Cantar ay isa sa mga biktima ng “human rights violations” ng PDT. Isa siya sa lumahok sa ‘dialogue’ na kinondukta ng LGU Guinobatan sa Brgy. Sinungtan noong Agosto 2011 para diumano’y dinggin ang kanilang mga reklamo laban sa 2nd IBPA at sumama rin siya hanggang sa mga rally at iba pang pagkilos para ipanawagan ang pagpapalayas sa PDT Operations ng 2nd IBPA. Isa siya noon sa tinakot, pinagbantaan at inakusahan ng 2nd IBPA na ‘NPA supporter’ diumano.

(Remember that Adam Cantar is a victim of the "human rights violations" of the PDT. In August 2011, he participated in 'dialogue' that was conducted by the LGU (Local Government Unit] in Brgy. Sinungtan, Guinobatan to hear complaints against the 2nd IBPA and he also went to a rally and other actions to demand the ouster  of the PDT Operations of the 2nd IBPA. He was one of those harassed, threatened and accused by 2nd IBPA of being an alleged 'NPA supporter.')

Komon sa mga biktima ng ekstra-hudisyal na pamamaslang ng tropang AFP-PNP sa buong bansa ang naging biktima muna sila ng pananakot at pinaratangan na "NPA supporter’ bago paslangin. Ganito rin ang naging kaso ng mga naunang biktima ng EJK ng PDT, 2nd IBPA sa Guinobatan, Albay na sina Dante Osma ng Brgy. Sinungtan at Brgy. Kgwd Ely Oguis ng Brgy Cabaluaon.

(It is common for victims of extra-judicial killing by the AFP-PNP across the country to have (also) first been victims of intimidation and to have been accused of being "NPA supporters' before their massacre. This was the case of the earlier victims of EJK by the PDT, 2nd IBPA, Dante Osma of Brgy. Sinungtan and Brgy. Kgwd Ely Cabaluaon Oguis of Brgy. in Guinobatan, Albay)

Malinaw sa mamamayang Albayano ang mga krimen ng PDT Operations ng 2nd IBPA. Bistado na ang kasinungalingan ni Lt. Col Andrew Costelo, tagapagsalita ng 2nd IBPA, na buong pagmamayabang na pinagtatakpan pa ang krimen ng kanyang mga kabaro sa AFP. Wala pa ni isang sundalo ng 2nd IBPA ang naparusahan sa kanilang krimen.

(Obviously Albayanos (people of Albay) know  the criminals from the PDT of the 2nd IBPA. (They) now see through the lies of Lt. Col. Andrew Costelo, spokesman of the 2nd IBPA..... None of the soldiers of the 2nd IBPA have (ever) been punished for their crimes.)

Mamamayang Albayano, higit na pahigpitin ang pagbabantay laban sa mga abuso sa karapatang-pantao ng tropang 2nd IBPA!

(Albayanos, be vigilant against the human rights abuses by troops 2nd IBPA!)

CPP/NPA: NPA warns of more operations in Agusan vs. abusers of revolutionary policies on environment, ancestral domain

Posted to the CPP Website (Aug 23): NPA warns of more operations in Agusan vs. abusers of revolutionary policies on environment, ancestral domain

Aris Francisco
NPA Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Sub-region Sub-regional Command

More punitive actions shall be meted out by the New People’s Army to the reactionary armed forces and capitalist invaders in Loreto and other towns in Agusan del Sur to defend the masses from encroachment, human rights atrocities and dislocation.

It is only proper and rightful on the part of the Lumad Manobos and peasant masses to stand up and defend themselves against the onslaught of landgrabbing and plunder of their ancestral lands. That they shield their families from the abuses of the Philippine Army and evacuate to safer sanctuaries like Davao City reflect their independent tenacity and militant struggle to defend what is rightly theirs. As they expose the gross neglect and reactionary stance of civilian authorities like Gov. Eddiebong Plaza and Mayor Dario Otaza, they are rightfully holding the latter accountable for the torture, intimidation, and reign of terror perpetrated by the enemy.

While the peasant masses and national minorities struggle to defend their ancestral domain, Red fighters are determined to raise its capability to launch more and bigger tactical offensives against the enemies of the people.

Operatives belonging to the Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub regional Command-NPA have launched series of ambuscades against elements of the 26th Infantry Battalion and the 76th IB under the 4th Infantry Division-AFP since July to punish them for serving as goons to Loreto Mayor Otaza and his capitalist masters. The punitive actions, in the form of command detonated explosions and sniping operations have yielded to date 27 casualties in the Philippine Army and bagani paramilitary forces.

On July 27, the NPA harassed a team of soldiers in Binucayan, Sitio Onion twice during dawn time and in the afternoon; 2 soldiers belonging to the 76th IB and one paramilitary bagani were killed. On August 1, the NPA ambushed using a capto explosive in Barangay Pangkat hitting a military truck km40, killing four and wounding eight elements of the 26th IB. Since July 28 to August 7 in Brgy. Sabud Mansanitas, the soldiers were sniped by the NPA seven times wherein four 26th IB soldiers were killed and two were wounded. On August 8 at 6am, the NPA ambushed the 26th IB soldiers in Barangay Kauswagan, killing five and wounding one.

The NPA abides with the strict command and regulations of the People’s Democratic Government to thwart any AFP unit from entering guerrilla zones and prevent these troops from spewing tyranny and committing the worse forms of atrocities to the people. Red fighters follows orders to seize all opportunities in order to mete out blows against the fascist troops and punish them for bringing in companies that violate the policies and laws of the revolutionary government. The NPA undertakes punitive operations against notorious enemy elements, despotic businessmen and landlords, and known civilian assets—some of whom are under cover of business or government entities.

The entry of palm oil and large-scale mining companies in Loreto violates the policies set forth by the revolutionary government on environmental protection, against plunder of the country’s remaining natural resources and defense of ancestral territories. It directly contravenes the land reform program of the People’s Democratic Government.
As peasants and Lumads wallow in abject poverty in Loreto and other towns in Agusan del Sur, capitalists are salivating over its untapped resources for palm oil and mining wealth. The world’s leading palm oil magnate New British Palm Oil Limited is eyeing 36,000 hectares covering 11 villages in Loreto. Last year, individual agents for bugang and biofuel investors have approached Lumads and attempt to obtain their ancestral lands. The sharks offered to rent out ancestral lands for a fee of P35,000 for every hectare, covering a period of 25 years. Simple math would show that the lowly peasant or Lumad owner would only earn P1,400 a year or a measly P117 a month or P4 a day.

The masses are not fooled and can see through these wildly exploitative schemes. They, who have suffered from Typhoon Pablo and the continuing neglect of the US-Aquino regime, realize that these quick-money maneuvers are hugely disadvantageous. They realize that no genuine development can be had by the biofuel, palm oil plantations, nor in natural gas mining—projects that are heavily endorsed by the local reactionary government.

Indeed, true development is only within reach for the thousands of peasants in Loreto and in the countryside under the agrarian revolution program of the People’s Democratic Government. The NPA intensifies the armed struggle as the people advance the agrarian revolution. It is in direct contrast to the military’s so-called peace and development programs and the local government’s red carpet treatment for capitalist investors.

Thus, it is only through the people’s democratic revolution, not the military’s peace and development nor the pseudo development programs of the local government that can truly change the lives of peasants and Lumads in Loreto and elsewhere in the countryside.

The main content of the revolution is the fulfillment of the peasants’ demand for land and eradication of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation. Drastically reducing land rent, eliminating usury, free distribution of land and promoting productive cooperation-—these are activities that the 26th IB and 76th IB, paramilitary and the local reactionary government cannot surely do. Letting peasant associations function as cooperatives and mutual aid groups and permitting peasants to freely develop their own farms while cultivating communal farms are alien concepts in the so-called peace and development program of Oplan Bayanihan.

Thus, any pledge on the part of the military and the local reactionary bureaucracy in Agusan to give the peasants peace would merely be deceptive. The military and Mayor Otaza are intent in dismantling people’s organizations and structures that protect and serve the interest of the masses. Mayor Otaza himself has vowed to destroy the farms of the masses and wipe out the NPA during his term. In the face of an extremely militarist and arrogant bureaucracy, and by further exploiting and oppressing the masses, the reactionary state merely foment people’s resistance and revolutionary tide.

(sgd.) Aris Francisco
Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub Regional Command

US defense chief here next week

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 24): US defense chief here next week

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet with President Benigno Aquino III next week to discuss the ongoing negotiations for increased presence of American soldiers in the Philippines, the US Department of Defense said in a statement released Friday (Saturday in Manila).

Hagel will also be meeting with his counterpart, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario during his two day visit on August 29-30.

The agreement that would pave the way for more US troops to be stationed in the Philippines and give them access to the military facilities is being presented to Filipinos by the Philippine government as a deterrent to China’s increasing presence in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China sea that the Philippines claims to be within its exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines and China continue to be locked in a territorial dispute, particularly over Panatag Shoal off Zambales province and the Ayungin Shoal in the Kalayaan Island Group or Spratlys.

According to the US statement, Hagel will talk to President Aquino, Gazmin, and Del Rosario “about ongoing negotiations for a framework agreement that would allow US forces to operate on Philippine military bases and in Philippine territory and waters to help build Philippine armed forces capacity in maritime security and maritime domain awareness.”

The US had maintained a military presence in the Philippines from the colonial era right up to the time the Philippine Senate voted against extending the military bases agreement in 1991.

Hagel is currently in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first stop prior to his weeklong, four nation tour of  Southeast Asia for a meeting of defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei.

Hagel will be in Manila on August 29 and 30.

The Philippines and United States began negotiations on the increased presence of US soldiers in the Philippines two weeks ago. US troops are currently maintaining a presence in the Philippines under the two countries’ visiting forces agreement.

The new agreement being hammered out would not include operational details so as not to compromise national security, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said.

Philippine negotiators have explained having a framework agreement was necessary as military activities are not specified in the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The DFA has explained the need for an increased presence of US troops to have “a minimum credible defense posture… to enhance maritime domain awareness and develop a deterrence capability.”

“This can be accomplished through high-impact and high-value joint exercises which promote interoperability and capacity building that will also bolster humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” it said.

The Philippine government maintains that its new defense policy is not for a basing agreement for the US military which the Constitution prohibits.

2 rebels surrender in Saranggani

From the Philippine News Agency: 2 rebels surrender in Saranggani

Tired of fighting, two members of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to troopers of the 72nd Infantry Battalion, a field unit of the 10th Infantry Division, in Malugon, Saranggani last Aug. 22.

Belated reports from Capt. Raul Villagas, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the surrendered rebels as Jun Calatao Balungan, 27, and Efren Ambong, 43.

Both men surrendered to military two .30-caliber Springfield rifles, 13 rounds of ammunition and a fragmentation grenade.

Villegas said that two men are members of the NPA's Yunit Militia operating in Sitio Consolacion, Barangay Banahaw, Malugon town.

The rebels said they got tired of fighting for the rebel movement whom, they said, at times operated just like a bandit group.

Elite Army group opens mini-library for orphans

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Elite Army group opens mini-library for orphans

Davao City -- The military contingent tasked to keep the city safe from terrorism continues its community outreach program by providing a mini-library at the Bucana Learning Center in Barangay 76-A here.

Col. Casiano Monilla, commander of the Task Force Davao, thanked sponsors who helped realized the project for the orphans.

Among the donors is the Bagong Kulturang Pinoy (BKP), a non-government organization based in San Diego, California which donated hundreds of books. BKP-California's mission is to develop a reading culture among Filipino children in poverty stricken areas in the Philippines.

Several civic-minded individuals and business institutions also shared their resources for the book shelves, carpets, school supplies and slippers intended for the young beneficiaries of the project.

The shelves were carefully designed by the soldiers with plastic slides to protect the children from getting hurt in getting reading materials.

Lt. Colonel Roberto Rivas, deputy commander of the TF Davao, urged the children to maintain the habit of reading and to be persistent in their studies despite the hardships in life.

He stressed that aiming high will lead the children to finish their respective courses in 20 years.

Isabelita Aquilan, purok leader of 76-A Bucana, thanked the army and donors for the mini-library which, she said, will be open to Christians and Muslims alike.

“I believe that this project will be a great help especially to the children whose parents are imprisoned and still in the correctional. This Mini-library is open to all Muslim and Christians and there’s no discrimination to non-Muslims, because we are all equally created in the eyes of Allah," Aquilan said.

Army studying Nor Cot officials' request to return 57th IB to 6th ID

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): Army studying Nor Cot officials' request to return 57th IB to 6th ID

The military's 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division is still studying the request of North Cotabato provincial officials reverting the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion to its mother unit the 6th ID.

An official of the 6th ID privy to the request said Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, 6th ID chief, is still studying the request and had consulted higher headquarters.

Currently, the 57th IB based in Makilala, North Cotabato, is under the operation and administrative control of 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Malungon, Saranggani province.

The 1002nd brigade is under the 10th Infantry Division which is based in Davao City and headed by Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo.

North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza and the provincial board, had asked the military leadership to transfer operation and administrative supervision of the 57th IB, under Colonel Noel dela Cruz, to the Army's 602nd Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato "for easy and faster coordination in addressing security issues."

The 602nd brigade is one of the three component brigades of the 6th ID.

Known as New Peoples' Army nemesis in North Cotabato because of its aggressive tactical operations against communist guerillas mulcting multinational firms in North Cotabato, the 57th IB was placed under the jurisdiction and control of the 10th ID from the 6th ID as it forms part of the operating unit hunting down communist guerillas while units under the 6th ID will focus on peace and development initiatives.

Threats in areas of coverage of the 6th ID had been reduced due to the on gong peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

With the 57th IB moved to coverage of 10th ID, it relinquish some of its areas to the Army Special Forces Battalion now stationed in the towns of Carmen, Kabacan, Matalam, President Roxas, Arakan, Antipas, Tulunan and Mlang.

Mendoza said the letter request was also forwarded to the office of Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin.

Colonel dela Cruz said his unit is ready all the time whenever and wherever it will be deployed.

AFP, USAF chiefs ink joint vision statement affirming MDT

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 24): AFP, USAF chiefs ink joint vision statement affirming MDT

The chiefs-of-staff of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Armed Forces (USAF) has signed a joint vision statement affirming their commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) last Aug. 22.

Signatories were AFP chief-of-staff Emmanuel T. Bautista and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey for the US. The signing took place in Washington D.C.

The statement follows the Manila Declaration of 2011, signed by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert Del Rosario and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, manifesting both countries’ desire to affirm and maintain the robust defense and security relations.

It is also the highlight of General Bautista’s week-long visit to the US from Aug. 18-25.

Under the joint statement, the two military institutions will continue its mutual defense cooperation to “address broad regional and global challenges, including maritime security.”

It will also seek to jointly resolve modern security concerns like climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and transnational crimes.

Moreover, the two armed forces seek to promote regional stability through bilaterally and multilaterally through institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations “to strengthen the Southeast Asia security environment in a manner that protects the interests of all who value unimpeded commerce transiting through the maritime domain.”

“We are committed to the principles upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we subscribe to a rules-based approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas by peaceful means, within the framework of international law including those reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention,” the statement added.

The AFP and USAF, in the vision statement, also expect “increased rotational and temporary presence” of US military forces in AFP-controlled facilities that will pave the way for a “robust, balanced, and responsive security partnership manifested in mutually beneficial bilateral military training, exercises and operations.”

The AFP believes that the joint vision statement manifests the desire of the Filipino people, who share deep historical and cultural ties with Americans, to resolve peacefully regional security concerns as we reinforce our strong national interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

Isabela tribeswoman missing from cathedral sanctuary; rights workers suspect military abduction

From InterAksyon (Aug 24): Isabela tribeswoman missing from cathedral sanctuary; rights workers suspect military abduction

A member of the indigenous Aggay of Isabela who had been given sanctuary by the Social Action Center of the St. Ferdinand Cathedral in Gamu town went missing under mysterious circumstances Friday and human rights suspect she was abducted by security forces.

The Cagayan Valley office of Karapatan said staff of the SAC discovered footprints in the garden in front of their office around 7:30 a.m. Friday and realized that Bikas Magtanggol of San Mariano town was missing.

Magtanggol was last seen 10 p.m. the previous night when she went to her room at the SAC.

She had been staying there since June 25, when she posted bail for charges of homicide and illegal possession of explosives and ammunition filed against her by authorities who accuse her of being a New People’s Army member who joined an ambush on the military in 2011, her lawyer, Catherine Salucon said.

Magtanggol was arrested on July 1, 2011.

The SAC had provided her shelter while her case is being heard. Salucon said the prosecution is scheduled to present its last witness on September 12.

Karapatan’s Mildred Abiva, explaining why they believe state forces responsible for Magtanggol’s abduction, said: “Who would have any motive to abduct Bikas if not the elements of the state security forces.?”

She noted that the headquarters of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division is a mere five- to ten-minute ride from the SAC office.

‘Not with us,’ says PNP

Senior Inspector Calixto Labang, Gamu chief of police, told Northern Dispatch that tanod (watchmen) of Barangay Upi saw Magtanggol at the Upi  junction as they made their rounds late at night on August 22 and brought her to the police station.

However, he added, police officers took her back to Upi junction because she
 supposedly said she wanted to go to San Mariano and they had no reason to hold her.

Labang also said police again checked on Magtanggol at the junction but found only her belongings, including a copy of the order for her release issued by the court. He said this was when police learned she was out on bail and in the custody of the SAC.

5th ID deputy commander Colonel Ricardo Jalad said abducting people is not part of the army's rules of engagement and challenged Karapatan to file a complaint with the police if they have proof she was seized by the military.

Manila, Washington ink 'security cooperation' ahead of next round of framework agreement talks

From InterAksyon (Aug 24): Manila, Washington ink 'security cooperation' ahead of next round of framework agreement talks

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey welcomes AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista in Washington DC. (photo courtesy of AFP headquarters)

A security cooperation agreement was formalized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States on Thursday, ahead of a second round of talks between Manila and Washington for a framework agreement covering increased rotation of American forces in the Philippines.

A joint statement announcing the security cooperation, dated August 22, was signed by AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista and US Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(Click here to read the security cooperation agreement)

The agreement affirms the Manila Declaration of 2011 that strengthens the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.

The United States and the Philippines have vowed to maintain freedom of navigation in a Southeast Asia increasingly beset by maritime territorial rows, the two military allies said.

The military chiefs of the two countries made the pledge in the United States on Thursday as their governments held talks on expanding the American military presence in the Philippines, their joint statement said.

"We share a common interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, and transit of people and goods across the seas," said Philippine military chief General Emmanuel Bautista and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We resolve to... strengthen the Southeast Asia security environment in a manner that protects the interests of all who value unimpeded commerce transiting through the maritime domain, while deterring those who would restrict it or act in a manner that might place it at risk."

The Philippines has been looking to the United States for military and political support as part of efforts to protect its claims to South China Sea waters from an increasingly assertive China.

Both generals called for a "rules-based approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas by peaceful means - within the framework of international law".

Though the statement did not mention China, the Philippines has accused Beijing of endangering Asian peace and maritime commerce through its claims over most of the South China Sea, including areas close to the coast of the Philippines.

While the United States has insisted it does not take sides in the dispute, it has been seeking to rebuild its military footprint in the Philippines, a military ally since 1951, as part of President Barack Obama's strategic "pivot" to Asia.

"We expect a robust, balanced and responsive security partnership... (through) mutually beneficial bilateral military training, exercises and operations, provided by an increased rotational and temporary presence of US military forces operating from Armed Forces of the Philippines-controlled facilities," the statement said.

The allies held talks in Manila on August 14 to draw up rules for temporary deployments of more US forces and military assets in the Philippines.

The negotiations are scheduled to resume in Washington before the end of the month.
The Philippines had hosted tens of thousands of US soldiers at two bases near Manila, but they were forced to leave in 1992 after the Philippine Senate voted to end their lease contracts amid strong anti-American sentiment.

A new agreement in 1999 allowed US troops to return to the Philippines for joint military exercises every year.

US special forces have also been rotating through the southern Philippines since 2002 to help local soldiers who are fighting Islamic militants.

In the newly signed cooperation agreement, the Philippine and American militaries also pledged to work for enhanced cooperation for:
  • Creating greater interoperability through mutually beneficial and iterative engagements of aligned forces
  • Enabling faster response to contingency requirements such as natural or man-made disasters
  • Allowing for the responsible provision of resources
  • Improving the capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines facilities to support additional capabilities
  • Enhancing the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as outlined in the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanhian
  • Establishing a joint force posture that assures freedom of navigation and provides for the common defense of each nation's sovereign territory

3 die in attack on Davao del Sur Army detachment

From InterAksyon (Aug 24): 3 die in attack on Davao del Sur Army detachment

A militiaman was killed when gunmen fired at an Army detachment in Davao del Sur and two of the alleged attackers were killed during hot pursuit operations mounted by government forces, the military said Saturday.

Captain William Alfred Rodriguez, spokesman of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said militiaman Romeo Marila was shot in the head “when lawless armed men” fired at the detachment in Sitio Aliong, Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan town.

As soldiers went after the attackers, he said, they killed “lawless armed men … identified only by their aliases as Anting Peayay and Victor” and recovered two rifles.

Brigade commander Colonel Marcos Norman Flores said the detachment had been a target of harassment since January.

“[Police investigators are] still in the area conducting investigation while the troops have already coordinated with the local government unit and the community in order to provide appropriate assistance to those who died,” he said.