Thursday, August 29, 2013

Army to help in securing Oro with ‘Bayanihan’ teams

From the Mindanao Gold Star Daily (Aug 30): Army to help in securing Oro with ‘Bayanihan’ teams

THE army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade and city hall will launch today the so-called “Bayanihan Alert for Peace and Development” or BAPD in six barangays of the city.

Mayor Oscar Moreno, City Peace, Development and Security Council co-chair Ariel Hernandez, 403rd Brigade commander Col. Francisco Pabayo; and 403rd Brigade operations officer Maj. Michael Rey Reuyan are expected to grace the signing of the “pledge of support and commitment” in a simple ceremony at the City Tourism Hall.
BAPD teams would be fielded to six barangays based on the agreement.

Pabayo said the deployment of the BAPD teams is an offshoot of the July 26 Kyla Bistro’s deadly bombing at the Rosario Arcade in Limketkai Center that killed eight people and hurt over 40 others.

Each BAPD team will set up temporary stations in barangays Bugo, Carmen, Consolacion, Cugman, Lapasan and Macabalan.

“BAPD is one of the Army’s non-traditional roles geared towards helping the marginal sectors by assisting local government units in the delivery of basic services, projects and programs in rural and urban areas,” said Pabayo. “It is a multisectoral approach of putting the welfare of the community at the forefront. Social mobilization for peace, security and development must start in the community, particularly at the barangay level.”

Indonesian firm bags P4-b Navy supply deal

From the Manila Standard Today (Aug 30): Indonesian firm bags P4-b Navy supply deal

The Department of  National Defense on Thursday declared an Indonesia company as winner of  a P4-billion contract to build two multi-role vessels for the Philippine Navy.

The Bids and Awards Committee  chaired by Efren Fernandez, Assistant Secretary for Personnel, said that PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) was the “lone eligible bidder” with a bid price offer of P3,863,999,520.

The ship is designed to transport a battalion or 500 soldiers as well as logistics. It must be equipped with a helipad and medical facility for disaster response, according to documents obtained by the Manila Standard Today.

Other firms that bought bid documents include a joint venture between Astartez Defense and Rescue Solution Co. and Coastal Industries PTE. LTD.; PROPMECH Corporation; Daewoo International Corp. (Daesun – Republic of Korea); Larsen and Toubro (India); Stone of David Tactical Equipment Co.; STX Off-Shore Shipbuilding Co. (Korea); Keppel Philippines Marine, Inc.; and PT Citra Shipyard.

Except for STX and Citra, all the rest were present during the opening of bidding documents but did not submit their bid envelop, giving only PT PAL and Daesun the chance to vie for the bidding.

The BAC did not say why the other bidders withdrew.

DFA: 2nd round of PHL-US talks to focus on joint military programs

From GMA News (Aug 29): DFA: 2nd round of PHL-US talks to focus on joint military programs

The second round of talks in Pentagon on Friday (Manila time) between the US and the Philippines over the US forces' increased rotational presence in the archipelago will focus on joint military programs. 

In a joint statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense said the Philippine panel will “push for joint activities with the US that will boost maritime security and maritime domain awareness, and improve humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”

During the first round of talks, Manila and Washington vowed to maintain freedom of navigation within the Philippine territory and expand American military presence in the Philippines.

The Philippines has accused China of endangering Asian peace and maritime commerce through Beijing's claims over most of the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippine's exclusive economic zone, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Main elements to be discussed

Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Bantino, one of the members of the Philippine Panel, said “The types of activities that we want to do with the US will be threshed out in our talks.”

“As we discuss these, we want to stress again to our counterparts that any framework agreement must be consistent with our Constitution and there should be mutuality in benefits,” Bantino also said in the joint statement.

Other “main elements” in the framework that would still be discussed include: implementing arrangements, prepositioning of supplies and materiel, security, ownership, protection of the environment, utilities and communications, procedures, resolution of disputes, and duration and termination.

The Philippine panel is composed of Batino, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta and Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop.

On the other hand, the first round of talks in Pentagon last August 14 was met with anti-US protest actions in Quezon City and Manila.

Earlier, feisty Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the government must secure Senate approval before the Philippine government to take actions to increase the presence of American troops in the country.

"The Senate's concurrence is indispensable. To the Department of Foreign Affairs, do not try any tricks. I am right here," the senator said.

Phl, US resume talks on troops' presence

From the Philippine Star (Aug 29): Phl, US resume talks on troops' presence

The Philippines and the United States (US) resume Friday the negotiations on a policy allowing increased rotational presence of American troops in the country.

The second round of talks between the US and Philippine panels  will be held at the US Department of Defense in Pentagon, Washington, DC.

Philippine panel member Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino said they hope to have a general discussion on the types of activities to be undertaken by Filipino and American troops.

He said negotiators are expected to continue discussing matters touched during the first round of negotiations last Aug. 14.

“As we discuss these, we want to stress again to our counterparts that any framework agreement must be consistent with our Constitution and there should be mutuality in benefits,” Batino said.

During the first round of talks, the two panels discussed key features of the agreement like the working title, preamble, objectives and scope of discussions that would give US troops and equipment temporary access to Philippine military camps.

Officials claim that providing temporary access to US troops will help the country achieve what they called “a minimum credible defense.”

Other elements to be included in the agreement are the implementing arrangements, prepositioning of supplies and materiel, security, ownership, protection of the environment, utilities and communications, procedures on the resolution of disputes, and duration and termination.

The Philippine panel is led by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta and is composed of Batino, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III and Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop.

The US panel, meanwhile, is led by State Department senior negotiator for military agreements Eric John and composed of  State Department Attorney Advisor Elizabeth Jones, Brig. Gen. Joaquin Malavet, and Capt. Greg Bart.

The Philippines and the US have adopted a policy of increased rotational presence amid China’s efforts to shore up its presence in the West Philippine Sea, the subject of a territorial row in the region.

While the Philippines and US have yet to finalize the activities to be covered by the deal, officials have vowed to push for activities aimed at improving security and disaster response capabilities.

Militant groups have criticized the Philippine government for adopting the increased rotational presence policy, saying this would violate the country’s sovereignty.

Critics also raised concerns that the access agreement would reduce the Philippines into “a “giant weapons depot for the US forces.” They also believe that the US would not side with the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China.

Negotiations, however, have given assurances that the talks would be guided by the principles of strict compliance with the Philippine Constitution, laws, and jurisprudence, Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops in Philippine territory, non-exclusivity of use of facilities by the US side, and mutuality of benefits.

AFP chief confirms new militant group in South

From the Philippine Star (Aug 29): AFP chief confirms new militant group in South

Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has confirmed the existence of a small group of Islamic militants known as Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao in Central Mindanao.

Speaking before the Manila Overseas Press Club forum in a Makati City hotel Tuesday night, Bautista described this emerging militant group as spoilers of the peace process in Mindanao.

“This Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao is only a small group and they are spoilers of the peace talks,” Bautista said.

He said a joint operation has been mounted by the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to “neutralize members of this group.”

However, Bautista did not directly confirm the direct role of the Muslim militant group in the recent series of bombings in Mindanao that claimed 16 lives. Eight were killed in powerful blasts in Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato in the past two months.

There were intelligence reports that the Khalifa Islamiyah Min-danao, composed mainly of young Muslim militants, is taking its orders from their Jemaah Islamiyah handlers and trainers who are still operating in Mindanao.

The group has reportedly allied with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of Ameril Umbra Kato, which is also opposed to the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF.

“These are lawless elements and we are one with the MILF in going after them,” said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan.

Without going into specifics, Tu-taan said the military and MILF have mounted a joint operation to prevent these lawless elements from further conducting any acts of violence with the goal of bringing them before the bar of justice.

Police have tagged the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao in the Cagayan de Oro bombing, and have filed charges against one of its suspected members.

The existence of the militant group was uncovered two years ago but authorities just dismissed it.

Hunt for rebels on after fresh ambush

From the Sun Star-Davao (Aug 29): Hunt for rebels on after fresh ambush

TROOPS belonging to Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) launched on Wednesday a pursuit operation against suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA), who attacked their men on August 27.

Killed in the attack was Matrinillo T. Enot, a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), while wounded was Private First Class Calid B. Alo, both detailed at the Army's 72nd Infantry Battalion under the 10th Infantry Division.

Captain Alberto Caber, chief of Eastmincom's Public Information Office (PIO), in an email to Sun.Star Davao on Thursday, said the incident happened around 3 p.m. Tuesday on Km. 16 in Barangay Casoon in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.

He said Enot and Alo, on board a motorcycle, where on their way back to their base camp when suspected communist rebels attacked them.

The NPA Comval Davao Gulf Sub Regional Command is believed to be behind the attack.

Lieutenant Colonel Elmer Aterado, chief of 25th Infantry Batallion, said Alo and Enot were in civilian clothes and unarmed when the rebels attacked them.

He added that such move is another deliberate violation against human rights committed by the NPA.

Aterado added that Enot succumbed to several gunshot wounds while Alo sustained to a gunshot wound on his left shoulder. Alo was brought to Tagum City Hospital for medical treatment.

"Our troops are simply protecting the community from illegal activities of the NPA such as extortion in the area. A joint military and police pursuit operation against the NPA is now ongoing," Aterado said.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, Eastmincom commander, extended his sympathy to the bereaved family of Enot.

Cruz also directed all units under his command to remain vigilant in carrying out peace and development initiatives in the region.

MILF still validating reported emergence of new militant group

From the Gulf News (Aug 29): MILF still validating reported emergence of new militant group

A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) official said they are validating reports over the emergence of a new militant group in Southern Philippines.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator in talks with the government, told Gulf News in a text message that they are still trying to verify information that a new armed group has surfaced in the Central and Northern Mindanao region. Asked if the group has ties with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Iqbal said: “We are still validating (this report).”

A local Islamic group, which calls itself the Khilafa Islamiah Mindanao (KIM) had owned up to the bombing of the Kyles Bistro in Cagayan de Oro City last July 26.

The blast, which took place during the evening when people are having their pre-weekend time off and relaxation at the Limketkai Centre mall, killed eight people including two doctors, several health professionals as well as a local politician. Nearly 50 people were injured in the explosion.

Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Francisco Uyami was quoted in reports as confirming that the group, the KIM, was indeed responsible for the attack and that charges are being filed against one of its suspected leaders, Usman Hapids.

Uyami said that according to information they received, the previously unknown group has 40 members.

For his part, Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said both the government and the MILF are bound by an agreement to hunt down lawless elements as it could jeopardise peace negotiations.

“We are one with the MILF in going after lawless elements, most specially those involved in act of terror,” Tutaan said.

The MILF and the government has established a body — the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group — to go after elements that could spoil the peace process.

September talks

Last Sunday, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF ended the 39th round of formal exploratory talks, resolving several issues on the two remaining annexes on power sharing and normalisation.

In a joint statement, the parties said they have achieved “substantial progress in the discussions towards finalising the Annexes on Power Sharing and Normalisation to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).”

“During the four-day meeting, the Parties worked towards the resolution of some of the most crucial issues,” they stated.

Both sides agreed to meet again in September 2013.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer described this round of talks as difficult to conclude since the agenda covered two annexes.

“We knew that negotiating on the power sharing annex will be as hard as that on the wealth sharing annex so we feel relieved having come to better understanding on the principles of intergovernmental relations,” she said. “Because we have settled fiscal matters in the wealth sharing Annex, it was easier for us to agree on related items in the power sharing annex.”

The MILF and the Manila-based government’s quest for a final agreement to end the Moro conflict in Southern Philippines started in 1999 during the administration of President Joseph Estrada.

Probe on terrorists’ presence under way in South

From the Manila Times (Aug 29): Probe on terrorists’ presence under way in South

COTABATO CITY: Representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the government and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) have launched verification on reported presence of foreign terrorists-linked militants in Central Mindanao.

Officials said the search initially focused on Camp Ka-raraw, a suspected training hub of militants linked to the Jeemah Islamiah (JI) terrorist group, lying on the border of Barira, Maguindanao; Butig, Lanao del Sur; and Alamada, North Cotabato.

Governors Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza of North Cotabato and Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur have reportedly issued statements expressing cooperation in efforts to rid their provinces of terrorist elements.

The on-site verification involves 120 representatives from the MILF, the government and IMT, a multi-national body overseeing the peace process, military authorities said.

Alleged trainees at Camp Kararaw, numbering around 50 with ages from 16 to 23 and belonging to a group they called Ghurabah, are reportedly fighting for total Islamic governance under the principle of Khilafah, and opposed to the MILF-GPH negotiations for democratic autonomy.

According to Muslim clerics, Khilafah is an ideology practiced during the governance of the four caliphs of early Islam, during which full-blown Shariah Law was in force.
Khilafah militants believe that “everyone working for [democratic or monarchic] government is non-believer [of Islam] . . . even if they are imams, teachers or leaders,” an Arab scholar said in an emailed message to a Muslim Filipino journalist.

The crises in Egypt and Syria were partly triggered by militants espousing Khilafah ideology who have penchant in killing people opposed to their cause, the source said.

A freshman student from Lanao del Sur, who claimed to have undergone one training session at Camp Kararaw, told The Manila Times that Ghuraba militants had boasted about staging some of the recent attacks in Marawi City and nearby areas.

One of the group-admitted attacks was the killing in Cagayan de Oro City last February of an American citizen named Michael Alan Turner, a pioneering search engine optimization (SEO) service provider based in the Philippines, the source said.

He said the Marawi City attacks included the ambush-slay of two soldiers in Army patrol vehicle at the Mindanao State University campus on August 9, 2012; the earlier killing of two soldiers visiting at a local Land Transportations Office; and the recent killing and torching of a professor and his assistant at an Internet café in the same school campus.

Ghuraba militants were also behind the killing late last year of a soldier guarding the house in Marawi City of Coco Rasuman, organizer of a busted local pyramid scam in Lanao areas, said the source, who asked not to be named for obvious reason.

An Islamic scholar operating a madrasah in Lanao del Sur had confirmed the emergence of a group of young Khilafah advocates voicing out their “extreme” principles inside mosques even in the presence of political leaders they bluntly accused as kafir (disbelievers).

CPP/NPA: NPA intensifies enemy harassment, advances anti-feudal struggle

Posted to the CPP Website (Aug 28): NPA intensifies enemy harassment, advances anti-feudal struggle

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

The Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub Regional Command- New People’s Army has resumed its enemy harassment campaign to combat preparations for the anti-people biofuel, palm oil and mining projects in Agusan and Compostela Valley boundaries.

Red fighters belonging to the Guerilla Front 3-NPA ambushed yesterday, August 27, a military detachment of the 72nd Infantry Battalion in Barangay Casoon, Monkayo, with one Cafgu killed and a cadreman wounded. A day before, on Monday, another team exploded a capto blast in another detachment of the 60th IB in Barangay Katipunan, Laak town.

The 60th IB expands its area of coverage from Davao City to Davao del Norte to Agusan boundaries as it joins forces with the notorious 26th IB, the army unit responsible for the abuses of peasants and Lumads in Loreto town, Agusan del Sur. Its Reengineered Special Operations Team, deceptively called Peace and Development Teams, along with elements of the 72nd IB continue to conduct psychological warfare against the masses and abuses to pave the way for the large-scale biofuel, palm oil and mining projects.

These active NPA tactical offensives are meant to protect the gains of the anti-feudal campaign in the countryside of Agusan and Comval boundaries.

The masses and the revolutionary forces are persevering in advancing the agrarian revolution in these areas. In the last couple of years and more so in recent months, advances in the struggle for land reform are gaining momentum—successes which the enemy are seeking to reverse. Village-level anti-feudal struggles are gaining ground and reactivating thousands of mass activists and revolutionary mass organizations. The collective work and communal work in the farms have benefited thousands of peasant and Lumad families in Agusan.

Filipino gunmen intrude Malaysia, take 9 fishermen

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 29): Filipino gunmen intrude Malaysia, take 9 fishermen

Suspected Filipino gunmen intruded into Sabah near the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi and seized 9 fishermen, but freed all of them after learning they were Muslims, reports said Thursday.

Reports said the gunmen, numbering about 10, posed as fishermen and hijacked a boat off Semporna town and used the vessel to seize other fishermen.

Malaysian authorities have blamed Filipino pirates in the daring intrusion this week despite tight security in the areas surrounding Sabah. And the latest intrusion showed the inability of Malaysian security forces to protect its territories against foreign attacks.

The New Straits Times quoted Deputy Superintendent Mohd Firdaus Francis Abdullah, the district police chief, as saying the gunmen told the fishermen that they would be brought to the southern Philippines, but released them after learning they are Muslims.

The gunmen spoke in Tausug, a dialect used in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu provinces in southern Philippines.

“When the gunmen asked the fishermen what their religion was, the fishermen claimed they were Muslims. The armed group then decided to turn back and when they saw another fishing boat, the fishermen were asked to jump into the sea,” the police official said, adding the armed men left the area while the fishermen swam to the other boat before being taken to the mainland where they lodged a police report.

Datuk Mohammad Mentek, the Eastern Sabah Security Command Director-General, said the gunmen had nothing to do with forces of the Sulu Sultanate which intruded Sabah this year and clashed with Malaysian forces.

“We believe the group has nothing to do with the intrusion by gunmen from Sulu. They are just pirates,” he told the New Straits Times.

It was not immediately known whether the gunmen were members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, blamed for past kidnappings in Sabah.

2nd round of talks for IRP slated Aug. 30

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): 2nd round of talks for IRP slated Aug. 30

The Dept. of National Defense on Thursday announced the second round of negotiations between the Philippines and the United States for the framework agreement on the increased rotational presence (IRP) of American troops and military equipment in the country will be held Aug. 30 (Philippine date) in Washington D. C.

Both sides are expected to build on the progress made in their initial meeting on Aug. 14 at DND headquarters in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

The proposed framework agreement is expected by the Philippine side to bolster the country’s external defense, improve disaster response and increase joint military training and exercises, said DND Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, chair of the Philippine panel of negotiators.

In the first round of consultations and negotiations, the two sides discussed salient features, such as the working title, preamble, objectives and scope of the discussions that will give US troops and defense equipment temporary access to Philippine military camps — an arrangement that will help the country achieve a minimum credible defense amid territorial threats and boost plans to modernize the armed forces.

Other main elements of the negotiations, which both sides agreed to include in the framework agreement, are the implementing arrangements, prepositioning of supplies and materiel, security, ownership, protection of the environment, utilities and communications, procedures, resolution of disputes, and duration and termination.

Batino said the Philippine panel hopes to have a general discussion on the types of activities which both Filipino and American troops can undertake together.

“The types of activities that we want to do with the US will be threshed out in our talks,” he added.

“As we discuss these, we want to stress again to our counterparts that any framework agreement must be consistent with our Constitution and there should be mutuality in benefits.”

The Philippine panel earlier said it would push for joint activities with the US that will boost maritime security and maritime domain awareness, and improve humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

The former is composed of Batino, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta and Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop.

PHL to acquire 2 mini-helicopter carriers

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): PHL to acquire 2 mini-helicopter carriers

With the ability to carry three helicopters apiece, the two strategic sealift vessels being eyed for the Navy, can now be considered as mini-helicopter carriers.

This was after a Dept. of National Defense supplemental bid bulletin revealed that the two ships, each weighing 7,300 gross register tons, are capable of carrying two helicopters at it flight deck and another at its enclosed hangar area.

"(SSVs must have)helideck capacity for two 10-ton helicopters (based on Sikorsky Black Hawk) (while) enclosed hangar for another 10-ton helicopter (also based on Black Hawk)," it added.

With the capability to carry three helicopters, the SSVs has the capacity to conduct long range patrol and conduct rescue work aside from transporting emergency supplies during times of calamity.

The DND supplemental bid bulletin also said that the two ships must have a beam of 21 meters and a propulsion system consisting of two diesel engines coupled to two controllable pitch propellers giving it a minimum speed of 13 knots and a maximum of 16 knots.

It should also have a cruising range of 7,500 nautical miles and a crew of 100 to 130 officer and men.

The SSVs must be also capable of carrying two landing craft mechanized/utility at floodable well decks, two RHIB or LCVP on boat davits

It must also have room or space to carry 500 fully equipped soldiers.

The SSVs must be also equipped with navigation, surface and air search radars, electronic warfare suite, electro-optical fire control system and combat management systems

It must be armed with one main gun between 40mm to 127mm in caliber and two 30 mm automated cannons and between four to six light machine guns.

DND bidding and awards chair Undersecretary Efren Q. Fernandez earlier said the ships have an approved budget contract of P4-billion.

The money will be sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

It will use to improve the transport and lift capabilities of the Philippine Navy.

The SSVs program is expected to be completed within two years time.

PAF to acquire modern flight simulators

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): PAF to acquire modern flight simulators

To further improve the flying skills of its pilots, the Philippine Air Force announced that it will acquire modern flight simulators.

Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, PAF spokesperson, declined to comment on what exact aircraft type the equipment will be imitating.

He added that flight simulators are a great help in pilot training as it is cost effective.

"You merely have to plug it in, not unlike trainer aircraft where you have to factor fuel cost and other consumables," Okol stressed.

And unlike trainer planes which require "down time" for maintenance and repair, flight simulators can be used repeatedly by trainee pilots until they get the hang of their lessons especially on the ones dealing with in-flight emergencies.

At the moment, Okol said that the PAF operates flight simulators for helicopters, transport and turboprop aircraft.

A flight simulator is a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies, for pilot training, design, or other purposes.

It includes replicating the equations that govern how aircraft fly, how they react to applications of flight controls, the effects of other aircraft systems, and how the aircraft reacts to external factors such as air density, turbulence, wind shear, cloud and precipitation.

Flight simulation is used for a variety of reasons, including flight training (mainly of pilots), the design and development of the aircraft itself, and research into aircraft characteristics and control handling qualities.

163 cops in Region 12 complete special counter-insurgency training

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): 163 cops in Region 12 complete special counter-insurgency training

General Santos City -- The Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 is preparing for the deployment of 163 newly-trained policemen on counter-insurgency operations to various police units in the region.

Senior Insp. Benjamin Mauricio, PRO-12 public information officer, said the policemen completed on Wednesday a mandatory 45-day special training on counter-insurgency operations through the regional police’s training school in this city.

The newly-trained policemen will be initially assigned to the regional police’s public safety battalion (RPSB-12), he said.

PRO-12’s operational area covers the entire Region 12 that comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Dubbed Modified Special Counter–Insurgency Operations Unit Training (SCOUT) II, the official said the training program is part of the continuing efforts of the Philippine National Police to enhance the capability of local police units addressing insurgency problems.

He said the newly-completed training is part of the series of personnel enhancement initiatives lined up this year by the PRO-12.

“The SCOUT training, which is mandatory to all PNP personnel, focuses on the development and instilling proper discipline and character in our work and basic operations, especially in dealing with insurgencies that might occur anytime in the most unexpected situation,” Mauricio explained.

He said it was also in line with PNP Director General Allan Purisima’s adopted competency initiatives for police personnel.

“This training was purposely created to allow police personnel to serve and better protect our communities, especially those in the far-flung areas where threat groups are present,” he said.

Senior Supt. Randolf Delfin, PRO-12’s directorial staff head, appealed to the the region’s community stakeholders “to guide, support, and build a good partnership with the PNP as force multipliers.”

“The PNP, as what we have sworn, should serve and protect the people. And to do this, the organization designed the SCOUT to prepare its members for the battles they might encounter,” he said.

He urged the region’s police officers to “open our minds to further educate ourselves for the betterment of our service.”

Delfin added that the regional police has lined more trainings that will help make every police officer efficient, responsible and effective public servant.(

NPA rebels burn 3 heavy equipment in Masbate

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): NPA rebels burn 3 heavy equipment in Masbate

New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Wednesday night set on fire three heavy equipment at a construction site in an upland village of San Fernando town in Ticao Island, Masbate, a Philippine National Police (PNP) official said Thursday.

Inspector Malu Calubaquid, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said a band of communist guerrillas attacked at about 7 p.m., Wednesday, a heavy equipment pool at Sitio Puro, Barangay Buenavista, an upland village some 12 kilometers from the town proper.

Calabaquid quoted a report from the San Fernando Municipal Police Office (SFMPO) that said a group of NPA dissidents raided the equipment pool and set on fire a steam roller, a bulldozer, and a payloader owned by engineer Alejandro Lim Jr., the contractor of a road construction project in the village.

In a phone interview, Calabaquid, however, could not tell the type of road project that is being implemented there and what agency or local government entity is doing it.

Merien Esber, Masbate provincial government spokesperson, said in a phone interview that they had not yet received a report from the SFMPO regarding the incident but, she said, they would check with the provincial engineering office whether there is an on-going road construction being implemented there.

Calabaquid said police investigators ruled out the extortion angle as behind the burning of the heavy equipment.

Ticao Island in Masbate is consists of the towns of San Fernando, Batuan, Monreal and San Jacinto.

China dispute 'acid test' for int'l law – Carpio

From Rappler (Aug 29): PH-China dispute 'acid test' for int'l law – Carpio

The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China will be an "acid test" for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday, August 29.

Either the case will see the rule of law prevailing – and thus render the international law relevant – or it will be ignored by any party that will resort to using military might to resolve the issue.

"The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China is an acid test to the very survival of UNCLOS – whether the Rule of Law will govern the oceans and seas of our planet, or whether the rule of the naval cannon will prevail," Carpio said in a speech to the Philippine Bar Association.

His speech talked about the ongoing dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The Philippines elevated the dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in January this year.

Carpio likened China's means of asserting its sovereignty over the disputed areas to the methods employed by ancient powers.

"If left to stand, China’s claim will bring the world back to the turbulent maritime era 400 years ago, when nations claimed the oceans and seas and maritime claims were settled through the naval cannon, not through the Rule of Law," he said.

China will start bullying trend

He said that based on international law, there is nothing "historical" or "right" about China's claim, and that no one, aside from China, "recognizes, tolerates or acquiesces in" to the claim.

If the Chinese claim is upheld, Carpio said it will be "the beginning of the end for UNCLOS," saying other naval powers will follow China's lead and take away territory from less powerful states.

"Legal scholars on the law of the sea all over the world are keenly watching the outcome of the Philippines’ arbitration case," he said.

Arbitration 'wise move'

The decision by the Philippines to bring the dispute to the international tribunal was a wise move, because it negates China's military advantage - and is also the "only viable option" for the country, with a weak military.

Aside from the struggle to uphold international law, the dispute is also an "inter-generational struggle" for our territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"After securing a favorable ruling from the arbitral tribunal, our generation must still win over world opinion and convince the Chinese people that they will become a rogue nation if their Government continues to violate international law," he said in his speech.

"The world must explain to the Chinese people that the 9-dashed line claim is contrary to international law. No nation can claim the oceans and seas as its own. That is why it is necessary for the Philippines to first secure a ruling from an international tribunal that the 9-dashed line claim is contrary to international law," Carpio added.

Carpio's speech came as the Philippines prepares to welcome US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is on a tour of Southeast Asia, part of the US' public relations drive bannering its "pivot" to Asia.

On Thursday, Hagel, in a meeting in Brunei, warned fellow defense ministers in Asia that the maritime incidents and tensions in the disputed waters in Asia will increase the risk of a dangerous international confrontation.

China has faced increasing accusations of bullying tactics in asserting its claim to nearly the whole of the strategic South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by several Southeast Asian countries.

Elsewhere, Tokyo and Beijing have played cat and mouse in the East China Sea over disputed islands. Japan earlier this week scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese government plane approached airspace Japan claims as it own.

Hagel is set to arrive in Manila from Bandar Seri Bengawan Thursday evening. He also visited Malaysia and Indonesia earlier this week.

China cancels invite to Aquino

From Rappler (Aug 29): China cancels invite to Aquino

 China changed its mind last minute in inviting President Benigno Aquino III to the 10th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, China on September 3.

"The President has decided not to proceed to CAEXPO taking into consideration China's request for the President to visit China at a more conducive time," Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez said on Thursday, August 29.

Only on Wednesday, August 28, President Aquino announced he was going to China for the Expo. Malacañang has started working on the visas of reporters who were to join the trip.

READ: Aquino is going to China

Manila and Beijing are caught in a territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea.) The Philipppines lodged a protest before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

READ: Hearings on PH, China dispute begin

"On the part of the Philippines, we will continue to abide by our principled position that bilateral relations can advance despite differences," Hernandez said.

Philippine government officials earlier said it was China that invited Aquino to personally attend the CAEXPO, where the Philippines will be the "country of honor."

Armed Forces chief Gen Emmanuel Bautista revealed up to 5 Chinese ships continue to circle Philippine-occupied shoals Ayungin (Second Thomas) and Panatag (Scarborough).

AFP: Up to 5 Chinese ships circling Ayungin, Panatag

Bautista said the armed forces' policy is to avoid confrontation, recognizing that the arbitration before the UNCLOS is the country's primary strategy to resolve the conflict.

Taiwan to spend $100M on work at disputed Spratlys

From InterAksyon (Aug 29): Taiwan to spend $100M on work at disputed Spratlys

Taiwan plans to spend more than $100 million to build a dock big enough for warships in the disputed Spratly islands, a legislator said Thursday, as other claimants strengthen their regional military presence.

The plan submitted to parliament Thursday by the coastguard would cost Tw$3.4 billion ($112.4 million). Sources said the spending is expected to be approved.

The dock will be an upgrade on the existing pier at the Taiwan-controlled island of Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratlys. It is scheduled to become operational in 2016.

"National security authorities have decided to expedite the project as the other countries in the region have been increasing their naval and air force deployment in the past few years, further complicating the issue," legislator Lin Yu-fang said in a statement.

Once it is completed, large supply ships and even naval frigates will be able to berth, said Lin, a legislator from the ruling Kuomintang party who sits on parliament's defense committee.

The current pier caters only to small patrol boats.

Once the dock work is completed the runway on Taiping will be extended, Lin said. Taiwan built a 1,150-meter (3,800-foot) runway on Taiping in mid-2006, despite protests from other countries with claims to the disputed island group.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim all or part of the potentially oil-rich Spratlys.

All claimants except Brunei have troops based on some part of the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which have a total land mass of less than five square kilometers (two square miles).

Overlapping claims in the South China Sea are seen as a potential military flashpoint, and there has been a series of disputes in recent years.

The Philippines and Vietnam have been strengthening their military deployment in the sea after complaining that China is becoming increasingly aggressive in asserting its own claims.

Philippines given until March next year for submissions against China's nine-dash line claim

From InterAksyon (Aug 28): Philippines given until March next year for submissions against China's nine-dash line claim

Shown is China's nine-dash map indicating its claim over waters that are within the Philippines' territory.

The Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague has given the Philippine government until March 30, 2014 to make all its submissions on the case it brought against China for the latter’s nine-dash-line claim over vast waters in the South China Sea, it was learned Wednesday.

In its first procedural order dated August 27, 2013, the tribunal also instructed the Philippines “to fully address all issues, including matters relating to the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal, the admissibility of the Philippines’ claim, as well as the merits of the dispute.”

The order set the initial timetable for the arbitration and adopted its own Rules of Procedure.

Before adopting the Rules of Procedure and timetable, the Arbitral Tribunal provided both parties copies of the draft Rules of Procedure for comment.

On July 31, the Philippines submitted comments on the draft. On August 1, China addressed a Note Verbale to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in which it reiterated its position that “it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines” and stated that it was not participating in the proceedings.

The Philippines filed the case on January 22 this year. China responded on February 19 with a diplomatic note to the Philippines rejecting any participation to the case. China has always insisted that territorial disputes must be resolved bilaterally.

“The Arbitral Tribunal will determine the further course of the proceedings, including the need for and scheduling of any other written submissions and hearings, at an appropriate later stage, after seeking the views of the Parties,” it said.

The order followed the first meeting of the members of the tribunal on July 11 this year, where the body also decided to set out the course of action in case one of the parties does not appear in the proceedings.

“In the first Procedural Order, the Arbitral Tribunal formally adopts the Rules of Procedure and fixes 30 March 2014 as the date on which the Philippines should submit its Memorial,” the order said.

The Rules of Procedure

The Rules of Procedure, which supplement those contained in Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), set out the procedures on communications, language, publicity, organization of hearings, consideration of objections to the body’s jurisdiction, requests for provisional measures, and the appointment of experts to assist the Arbitral Tribunal.

The Rules of Procedure that the Permanent Court of Arbitration will serve as the registry in the proceedings.

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana. The other members are Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany.

The Philippines is questioning China’s “nine-dash line” as basis for its sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea and refers to them as the West Philippine Sea.

China, which insists on a bilateral solution to the conflict, rejected the arbitration in February, saying the Philippines’ case was legally infirm.

Along with 161 other countries, both the Philippines and China are signatories to the 1982 accord allowing them to seek legal remedy on territorial disputes.

Aside from the Philippines and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims over the resource-rich waters.

Filipino gunmen abduct Malaysian fishermen near Sipadan

From InterAksyon (Aug 29): Filipino gunmen abduct Malaysian fishermen near Sipadan

Gunmen from the Philippines briefly abducted 11 Malaysian fishermen this week near the internationally renowned scuba diving destination of Sipadan Island, officials said Thursday.

The incident late Tuesday highlighted continued security concerns along the coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, which was wracked by a bloody incursion by Islamist guerrillas from the adjacent southern Philippines earlier this year.

The 11 armed men were believed to be bandits or smugglers from the Philippines, said Mohamad Mantek, an Immigration Department official who oversees police and army security in eastern Sabah.

The southern Philippines has for years been plagued by lawlessness and Islamic insurgency.

The Star newspaper said the gunmen, armed with shotguns and pistols, first kidnapped a Malaysian fisherman and ordered him to guide them to Mabul Island.

"We do not know (the abductors') intention," Mohamad said.

Mabul has a number of resorts frequented by international visitors destined for nearby Sipadan and the area has seen previous kidnappings, including of foreign tourists.

On discovering there was a military outpost on Mabul, the gunmen turned back towards Philippine waters and abducted another group of Malaysian fishermen along the way, but soon released all of them.

Malaysia has ramped up security in the region in the wake of this year's deadly incursion.

More than 200 heavily armed followers of the Sulu sultanate landed in eastern Sabah in February, claiming it for their leader and reviving a centuries-old dispute over Sabah's sovereignty.

After a nearly month-long standoff, Malaysian armed forces moved in to clear out the dug-in guerrillas. Dozens died in the drama.

In 2000, members of the Abu Sayyaf also took 21 hostages at Sipadan, including 10 tourists from Europe and the Middle East.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: CA orders release of security guard accused of being 'CPP officer'

From InterAksyon (Aug 29): MISTAKEN IDENTITY: CA orders release of security guard accused of being 'CPP officer'

The Court of Appeals has ordered the release of a security guard who the military arrested last year and accused of being a ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

In its August 27 decision, the CA’s Fifth Division said it was “convinced that this is a case of mistaken identity” as it granted the writ of habeas corpus sought by the family of Rolly Panesa and ordered the warden of the Security Intensive Care Area of the Metro Manila District Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa to free him.

The decision could open the military to countercharges by Rolly Panesa, who was arrested by the military and police in Quezon City on October 5 last year and who the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been insisting is Benjamin Mendoza, the alleged CPP leader in the Southern Tagalog region.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers, which has been representing Panesa, said it would “support our client’s longstanding plan to file countercharges against those who have practically destroyed his life beyond repair as impunity shall simply continue if there is no accountability.”

“The arrested and detained person, Rolly Mira Panesa, is not the same person as ‘Danilo Benjamin Mendoza’,” the CA said.

It said Panesa, a native of Negros Occidental who is in his 40s, “is not and does not look like 61 years old,” which is Mendoza’s age, the decision said. “He is a simple security guard and not a high-ranking officer of the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army).”

 “This Court will not further want to hold in detention a person who is not Danilo Benjamin Mendoza, accused of rebellion, murder, frustrated murder, etc.,” it added.

(Click here to view the CA decision)

The CA decision came about two weeks after the AFP handed out rewards for the capture of rebel leaders, including P5.6 million for “Mendoza,” which prompted the human rights organization Karapatan to accuse the military of running an “organized racket” of bounties for fake rebels.

Karapatan and the NUPL also accused the military of torturing Panesa severely, releasing photos soon after his arrest showing the security guard’s badly battered face and other injuries.

The 23-page decision indicated that most of the evidence presented by the military actually helped demolish its claims against Panesa.

Aside from this, the appellate court also said the police had lied when it claimed that the informants who had identified Panesa as Mendoza “were with them before and during the arrest” of the security guard.

The only time the informants saw Panesa, said the court, was in a room at Camp Vicente Lim where the security guard was placed by himself.

This, said the CA,“corrupted the identification procedure with impermissible suggestion,” an “illegal procedure,” that “suggested and implanted on the minds” of its “informants” that the man they were asked to identify was “Mendoza.”

On the other hand, it said that the operations manager of the security agency Megaforce “was straightforward in testifying that he personally knows Rolly Panesa as a pro-guard/pioneer guard of Megaforce, having been in their employ since 1995” and also submitted records of Panesa’s Social Security and Pag-IBIG contributions.

In its statement, the NUPL, while welcoming the decision, lamented “the long drawn-out and tedious legal proceedings that Panesa had to undergo just to simply prove that he is not what the military says he was and despite overwhelming evidence to establish his identity.”

“If there is any classic example of justice delayed and justice denied, this no doubt fits the bill,” it said. “Nothing indeed will bring him back all those times lost and the damage wrought on his reputation, not to mention the agony and ordeal he and his family went through.”

The NUPL also reiterated its demand for government to do away with the list of “terrorist personalities and communist leaders” used by the Departments of National Defense and of Interior and Local Government, which it had been used as “the basis to arrest, detain and torture people on false charges or, worse, disappeared or killed.”

It also called for the prosecution of those responsible for handing out the reward for the capture of what the CA has now ruled was the wrong person.

DND to buy 3 flight simulators

From the Philippine Star (Aug 29): DND to buy 3 flight simulators

The Defense department will acquire three units of flight simulators for P246.43 million to hone the skills of Air Force pilots.

Defense Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez said the project would “allow pilots an almost full sensory experience that can aid in improving flight instruction, enhancing proficiency.”

Fernandez, who heads the Bids and Awards Committee, said the simulators would also minimize risks associated with emergency procedures training, reduce accidents and lessen operational and maintenance costs.

Conducting training through simulators is less costly than using air assets, which will require fuel.

The Defense department is now inviting companies to join the bidding to be held on September 19.

The acquisition will be conducted through open competitive bidding as prescribed by the implementing rules of the procurement law. The funds for the project will come from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act Trust Fund.

The deadline for the submission of bids will be on September 19 at 10 a.m. The bids will be opened and will be examined by the Bids and Awards Committee on the same day.

Late bids and those that are higher than the approved budget of P246 million will be rejected.

The qualified bidder that offered the lowest price would advance to the post-qualification phase to determine if its offer suits the needs of the Air Force. The bidder must satisfy all requirements before it can be declared the winner.

Interested firms may buy bid documents for the project worth P50,000 from the Bids and Awards Committee Secretariat in Camp Aguinaldo.

The Defense department will hold a pre-bid conference on Sept. 5 to provide prospective bidders more information about the project.

The Air Force has about five simulators in its inventory.

Bid documents opened for P4-B acquisition of 2 Navy vessels

From InterAksyon (Aug 29): Bid documents opened for P4-B acquisition of 2 Navy vessels

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday opened bid documents for the acquisition of two brand new, multi-purpose transport vessels for the Navy worth P2 billion each, but only two of nine interested bidders showed up.

A multi-purpose vessel is designed for transport for a battalion of soldiers as well as for logistics, with helipad and medical facility on board. It can also be used for disaster response.

The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), chaired by Efren Fernandez, Assistant Secretary for Personnel, presided at the proceedings the BAC Conference Room in Camp Aguinaldo.

Funds for the project will be sourced from the P75-billion fund approved by President Benigno Aquino III for upgrading the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Earlier, nine firms had expressed interest to join the bidding, but seven withdrew and only two appeared Thursday: Daewoo International Corp. (Daesun – Republic of Korea) and PT PAL Indonesia (Indonesia).

Those who withdrew were: Astartez Defense (Philippines), Rescue Solutions JV with Coastal Industries Ptd Ltd (Singapore/ Vietnam), PROPMECH Corporation, Larsena and Toubro (India), Stone of David Tactical Equipment Co., STX Off-Shore Shipbuilding Co. (ROK), and Keppel Philippines Marine, Inc. (Philippines).

 The bids panel, after an executive session, had reportedly disqualified Daesun for non-compliance with certain technical specifications. A Daesun representative said they manifested an intent to file a motion for reconsideration.

At posting time, the BAC had yet to open PT PAL’s bid documents.

A 2-page document from Stone of David Tactical Equipment Co., meanwhile, showed why it withdrew from the bidding. The August 29, 2013 letter, addressed to Fernandez, was signed by president-CEO Jocelyn U. Magcale, and listed these reasons:

• The official response of the DND BAC to the numerous procedural and technical inquiries made were either vaguely stated or was inclined, conveniently, towards “function of design” which was to be borne (risk, cost, timeline) by the Suppliers. It must be noted that the Navy’s SSV design (SSV being a renamed project for the former Multi-Role Vessel Project) may most likely have been lifted from the patented designs of Daesun (Makassar) and PT PAL (Banda Aceh);

• The payment schedule of 15-75-10 percentages within a time frame of three years places the Suppliers in a tempting position of conveniently taking the 15% of the ABC (roughly P600 million) and possibly reneging on the contract implementation, considering that blacklisting as penalty is merely for a period of one year. The possibility of the supplier folding up after taking the 15% advance payment would result in severe opportunity and capability loss for the DND-AFP.

•  Lastly, cost of project cannot be justified merely by the given payment schedule. In previous participation in several DND-AFP-PN projects, there were necessary incidental expenses in contract implementation which affect, or are additional to, cost in manufacturing, 1.e. Shipping, insurance, Fuel, Oil and Lubricants for the conduct of tests and trials, among others. The general description of the project lacks defined performance parameters for test and acceptance of various systems, sub-systems, equipment, tools and special tools and even the design/general arrangement diagrams itself ---this subjects the project acceptance to risk in unwarranted delay and penalties.

Such realities are observed by the fact that the design of the vessel is not yet adequately covered by clearly defined Philippine Navy doctrines, hence, its officers are not first-hand qualified for conducting test and acceptance procedures. Most often, interpretation of test parameters in other projects are affected by personal preferences.

NPA rebels torch road building equipment in Masbate

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 29): NPA rebels torch road building equipment in Masbate
Communist rebels set on fire heavy equipment at a road construction site in an upland village on the island of Ticao  in Masbate province on Wednesday, a Philippine National Police  official said Thursday.

Inspector Malu Calubaquid, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said in a telephone interview that a group of New People’s Army rebels attacked at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday a heavy equipment pool owned by a private contractor in Sitio Puro, Barangay (village) Buenavista, located some 12 km from the town proper of San Fernando.

Ticao Island is made up of the municipalities of San Fernando, Batuan, Monreal and San Jacinto.

The rebels set on fire a steam roller, a bulldozer, and a pay loader owned by Alejandro Lim Jr., the contractor of a government road construction project in the upland village,  Calabaquid said, citing a report from the town police station.

Calabaquid in a phone interview however could not say what type of road project was being implemented there and what agency or local government entity was carrying it out.

Calabaquid said investigators suspected that extortion might be behind the burning of the heavy equipment.

Cafgu member killed in Northern Samar encounter

From the Sun Star-Tacloban (Aug 28): Cafgu member killed in Northern Samar encounter

A MEMBER of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) based in a Northern Samar town was killed by communist rebels while he was serving as escorts to personnel of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Community Environment and Natural Resources (Cenro).

Killed on August 24 was militiaman Marlon Rebadulla, who was hit at his right breast, said Captain Amado Gutierrez, information officer of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City.

The encounter took place around 2:30 p.m. in Barangay San Jose, about three kilometers away from the town center of Las Navas, identified by the military to be one of the towns in Northern Samar the New People’s Army (NPA) operates.

Gutierrez said that Cafgu members, led by Senior Sergeant Delfin Mallanta, were providing route security to personnel of the DAR and Cenro on their way to Barangay San Miguel, also in Las Navas town, when they were attacked by the rebels.

Captain Gene Orense, spokesperson of the 803rd Infantry Brigade based in Catarman, said the two personnel from DAR and Cenro were about to attend a consultative meeting in San Miguel related to agrarian reform program and environmental issues when the attack happened.

San Miguel was about 10 kilometers away from the ambush site.

Orense said while the group, who were on foot, was traversing along Barangay San Jose, a group of about 30 rebels fired at them, resulting in a 20-minute firefight.

No civilian was injured in the encounter.

Gutierrez said the government troops recovered one hand grenade and M-16 rifle.

He said the Cafgu members belong to the 52nd Infantry Battalion, which is the main group of militiamen based in the region but were assigned under 63rd Infantry Battalion based in Catubig, Northern Samar.

2 cops hurt in rebel ambush in Mt. Province

From InterAksyon (Aug 29): 2 cops hurt in rebel ambush in Mt. Province

Two policemen were wounded in an ambush by New People’s Army guerrillas in Sagada, Mt. Province Thursday morning.

Superintendent Davy Vicente Limmong, spokesman of the Cordillera regional police office, said the 7:40 a.m. ambush on the boundary of Barangay Saguid, Sagada and Barangay Mainit, Bontoc triggered a firefight that lasted for several minutes until the rebels withdrew as government reinforcements arrived.

The wounded policemen, who Limmong declined to name until their families are informed, were airlifted to the Baguio General Hospital in Baguio City.