Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Misuari: Professor Nur "Maas" Misuari is doing well

Posted to the Nur Misuari Facebook page (Sep 4):  Professor Nur "Maas" Misuari is doing well

[Admin #7] Alhamdulillah! All praise is due to Allah alone. Our beloved Chairman of the MNLF, Professor Nur "Maas" Misuari is doing well and on his usual activities of meeting his ground commanders and discussing current issues with the his top leaders.

This is contrary to the unverified reports that our beloved Chairman of the MNLF, Professor Nur "Maas" Misuari is "seriously ill"

We seek the Creator of all beings, to grants him more strength and strong faith, Ameen Ya Rabbal Alameen! — at Bud Datu, Indanan, Sulu.

Bangsamoro Youth Affairs of ARMM conducts Young Leaders’ Round Table Discussions on FAB

From the MILF Website (Sep 4): Bangsamoro Youth Affairs of ARMM conducts Young Leaders’ Round Table Discussions on FAB

Moro youth leaders in Central Mindanao held round table discussions to determine and agree what they can do in popularizing the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).
The activity was also aimed at gathering critical issues among and between youth of ARMM and was held on Friday, August 30 at Pagana Restaurant, Cotabato City dubbed as “Young Leaders’ Round Table Discussions on FAB” facilitated by the Coordinating & Development Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (CDO-BYA) of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

CDO-BYA Executive Director Anwar A. Upahm says that the program was in support to the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process and in line with the commemoration of ‘International Day of Peace’ this September.

“Because most of the tragic events in the past coincidentally took place in the month of September, here in the Philippines this was the month in 1972 when Martial law was declared by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos that brought havoc to the lives of Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.” “This was also a month that shocked humankind when ‘9/11 terror attack crumbled the World Trade Center in New York City, USA,” Upahm elucidated.
“We’re in the situation right now that we knew we’ll be part of the solutions in finding long lasting peace especially in Mindanao,” Upahm said.

He added that the youth in ARMM comprises 56 percent of the total population that can make a difference for the popularization of FAB towards the realization of the establishment of Bangsamoro government if their skills and knowledge are maximized.

Lawyer Laisa M. Alamia, the Executive Secretary of the Office of the Regional Governor in ARMM was the guest speaker and delivered a message to the youth.

“Why we need to discuss and understand the FAB and its implications to you as youth? Because you will be the next leaders who will lead the future Bangsamoro government,” Atty. Alamia said.

“We need professionals to govern the government and the prerequisite of this is to have a good quality of education,” she added.

“But because of war [Moro] youth was not given a chance to become productive,” Atty. Alamia lamented.

“Look at Malaysia, they have invested more on education; they prioritize scholarships and youth were send to study abroad in Europe, United States to acquire appropriate knowledge and then they returned to their country and help build Malaysia,” Atty. Alamia said.

“Let us help put-up a constituency building for Bangsamoro and to do this we need CSOs, Youth, and the Local Government Units,” Atty. Alamia said furthered.

Executive Secretary Atty. Alamia revealed that the present leadership of ARMM under Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman has initiated data collection and analysis in ARMM provinces in the field of Human Resource capacities of ARMM employees, Agriculture, Education, e-Road mapping, and among others which will be stored in a database for future use.

On the other hand, the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) National President Rahib L. Kudto presented before the participants the summarized inputs on FAB and its annexes.

Executive Director Upahm said that “to move forward, we will continue and expand this activity to other areas covered by the ARMM for the popularization of the FAB.”

The organizers said that among the target outputs of the series of round table discussions on FAB are: to gain support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress; and to gain or increase public support to the proposed territory once a plebiscite is held for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.’-round-table-discussions-on-fab

NPA denies using poison on explosives

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 5): NPA denies using poison on explosives

The New People’s Army on Thursday denied accusations that it used poison in the explosives that triggered a blast in Compostela Valley last Tuesday which left seven soldiers injured.

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokersperson of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command, said the accusations were “malicious” and “wildly concocted” by the military.

“To insinuate that the NPA is engaged in a highly criminal biological and chemical warfare is, indeed, pure invention. NPA Red fighters have been using in the last four decades, guerrilla warfare weapons, such as but not limited to, command-detonated explosives made up of traditional, non-biologically toxic ingredients,” he said in a statement.

“The bacteria and poison are not found in the NPA bombs, but in the AFP headquarters, camps, detachments and in the AFP echelons itself,” he added.

On Wednesday, the military accused the communist rebels of putting poison on explosives in Tuesday’s attack, saying that they found traces of human feces and snake venom in the wounds of the soldiers.

“We found it on the wounds of the soldiers during examination and treatment yesterday [Wednesday] morning. It will aggravate the effect of landmines,” Lieutenant Victor Dato, medical officer of Camp Panacan Station Hospital said.

The soldiers wounded in the landmine blast were identified as: First Lieutenant Marvin Gammad, Sergeant Jonny Nacion, Privates First Class Ryan Dumagat, Sosito Palmera, Rechie Cabag, John Russel Veran and Reynold Yula.

No evidence for sedition case vs Misuari: police

From ABS-CBN (Sep 3): No evidence for sedition case vs Misuari: police

The sedition case against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari for declaring independence is still pending due to lack of evidence, the chief of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police said.

"So far the officer in charge of the Sulu [provincial police office] and the [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] there don't have the evidence yet to support the charges. Investigation is still ongoing," ARMM police regional director Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes said in a press conference on Monday.

He initially gave Sulu police until Wednesday to file charges against Misuari.

Delos Reyes said they are having a hard time gathering evidence against Misuari, noting that MNLF members and supporters have not been involved in any untoward incident following the official's declaration of independence.

"Wala naman, there are statements naman na nagsasabing this will be a peaceful endeavor...kaya siguro nahihirapan din kami kasi wala namang public uprising," he said.

PHL says China expanding territory before code of conduct takes effect

From GMA News (Sep 4): PHL says China expanding territory before code of conduct takes effect

China's planned occupation of a disputed shoal in the South China Sea is aimed at expanding its territory ahead of a regional agreement governing maritime rules, the Philippines' top diplomat said on Wednesday.

The Philippines believes China has jeopardized peace and stability in Southeast Asia with its latest incursion, said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and he urged Southeast Asian neighbors to speed up talks on a binding code of conduct (CoC) that will govern behaviour in the sea.

The Philippines will be filing a diplomatic protest against China after it discovered concrete blocks on the Scarborough Shoal which Chinese ships have been occupying since April last year, he said.

"We think that China is trying to stay ahead of the CoC, " del Rosario told Reuters in an interview in his Manila office. "We think that they have an assertion agenda that they are trying to complete before they are able to sit down and negotiate a CoC."

"There are some sectors that believe China's delaying action on the CoC is a strategic procrastination on their part ... because the CoC looks forward, not back."

Tension over the South China Sea, one of the world's most important waterways, has risen as China uses its growing naval might to assert its extensive claims over the oil- and gas-rich sea more forcefully, fueling fear of a military clash.

Four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vietnam and the Philippines, have overlapping claims with China. Taiwan also has claims over the entire sea.

"This kind of activity places the region in jeopardy in terms of peace and stability," del Rosario said.

"If the Philippines is the target of China today, another country could be the target tomorrow. So this should be considered as a regional issue."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday he had "no information" about the latest Philippine accusation of an incursion on the shoal.

'Larger challenge'

China and the Philippines accuse each other of violating a 2002 declaration of conduct, a non-binding confidence-building agreement on maritime conduct signed by China and ASEAN.

Del Rosario said the latest Chinese activity in Scarborough Shoal, about 125 nautical miles off Luzon, was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, where fresh surveillance pictures were shown.

"If we looked back to what they did in Mischief Reef, this could very well be a repetition of what happened there," he said, adding the latest incursion was "a significant and larger challenge" for the country.

In February 1995, the Philippines discovered a cluster of huts in half-submerged Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, 130 miles (210 km) off its coast. Several years later, the shelters which China had said were meant as a resting place for fishermen, had been turned into a multi-level concrete fortress.

Philippine officials said the concrete pillars and blocks in Scarborough Shoal appear to have been dropped from an aircraft, describing them as possible material for permanent structures.

It could be the first case of occupation of an uninhabited feature in the South China Sea since the 2002 code was signed.

Snake venom, human feces found in landmine shrapnel that wounded 7 soldiers in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Snake venom, human feces found in landmine shrapnel that wounded 7 soldiers in Compostela Valley

Doctors assigned to the Eastern Mindanao Command revealed that landmine shrapnel that wounded seven soldiers in Sitio Lantawan, Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley Province Tuesday were laced with snake venom and human feces.

This was revealed by Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Alberto Caber.

He said that these noxious substance were detected by Camp Panacan Station Hospital medical officer Lt. Victor Dato during examinations of the wounds sustained by the seven soldiers.

Caber added that the wounded soldiers were injected with "potent antibiotics" to counter the infections caused by these substance.

Caber said that infections caused by these items are deadly.

"These findings further aggravates the NPAs' violation of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by both the Government and National Democratic Front on March 16, 1998," he added.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, Eastern Mindanao Command chief, called on all communities to unite in condemning the rebels continued use of landmine and poisonous substance in their projectiles and fragments.

“This is a gross violation of human rights. This type of warfare shows the true nature of the NPAs as they want to kill people slowly. I hope that no civilians will become victims of this foolishness," he stressed.

Two teaching staff abducted in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): Two teaching staff abducted in Basilan

Unidentified men snatched at gunpoint two teaching staff of a local foundation in Lantawan, Basilan Wednesday night.

Initial reports identified the victims as Frederick Banot and Cherden Masong, both staffers of the Charity Children Foundation, Inc., which is based in the locality.

The two were hurriedly put on board two small boats locally known as “jungkung” which sped off towards an unknown direction around 7:30 p.m. in Sitio Wharf Pangasaan, Barangay Tairan in Lantawan town.

Philippine Army finds human feces, snake venom in wounded soldiers’ wounds

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 4): Philippine Army finds human feces, snake venom in wounded soldiers’ wounds

The Philippine military on Wednesday said it found traces of human feces and snake venom on the wounds of soldiers wounded in a landmine explosion set off by communist rebels in Mindanao.

Capt. Alberto Caber, chief information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command, quoting the findings, said the presence of feces and venom on the wounds of the soldiers are deadly to the victims.

The soldiers were wounded in a recent attack by the New People’s Army in Compostela Valley province.

Caber said the use of landmines by rebels is already a violation of an international treaty and of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian law signed by rebels themselves in 1998.
Military Findings

Lt. Victor Dato, a medical officer assigned in Camp Panacan Station Hospital, said the feces and snake venom found on the wounds of soldiers are deadly to the victims. “We found it in the wounds of the soldiers during examination and treatment. It will aggravate the effect of landmines (sic),” Dato said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Dato said the bacteria found in the wounds of the soldiers were enterobacter cloacae and streptococcus agalacteiae which is common in the human intestines.

“This proves that the NPA contaminate these landmines with human or animal feces. We have already had patient who is a former NPA member and attested to this practice when making landmines,” he said.

“Even more daunting is how one of the patients, who was seemingly stable and all of a sudden entered (sic) a state of shock. We found his leg to be in a severe state of infection, with blackening flesh. A similar pattern was exhibited by another landmine victim who died recently, whose flesh quickly deteriorated and blackened despite heavy antibiotic treatment and this effect is no longer as a result of the fecal bacteria, but possibly a deadlier venom ingredient,” he added.


Maj. Jake Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division, said the NPA attack was inhuman.

“This is no longer the act of a human being. This is simply inhuman. The risk to innocent lives of these landmines has just been increased exponentially by what has been discovered in these findings. We should all condemn the NPAs’ use of landmines to pressure the NPA to finally respect the ban on these inhuman devices,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, the regional military chief, has condemned the continued of use of landmines by the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“This is a gross violation of human rights. This type of warfare shows the true nature of the NPAs as they want to kill people slowly. I hope that no civilians will become victims of this foolishness,” Cruz said.


The NPA, which is fighting for the establishment of a communist state in the country, has strongly denied the military allegations.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command, branded the military’s claim as “malicious and wildly concocted propaganda.”

“The New People's Army Southern Mindanao Regional Command vehemently denies the malicious and wildly concocted military propaganda that NPA explosives were contaminated with poison and bacteria.

To insinuate that the NPA is engaged in a highly criminal biological and chemical warfare is, indeed, pure invention,” he said in a separate statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the NPA fighters have been using - in the last four decades - guerrilla warfare weapons, such as but not limited to command-detonated explosives made up of traditional, non-biologically toxic ingredients.

He said rebel forces used command-detonated explosives on the government soldiers and not pressure-type landmines that are banned by international laws as insisted by the military.


“Obligado and other spin doctors at the Eastern Mindanao Command are desperate to reverse the tide of revolutionary guerrilla warfare, so desperate, that they have to copy methods used by the US imperialist military strategists in its current war against Syria,” Sanchez said.

“By alluding that the NPAs are terrorists who hatch bombs and weapons of mass destruction in chemical and biological forms, Obligado and Eastern Mindanao Command propagandists are copycats to the Obama government that is now justifying its military occupation in Syria by accusing the Assad regime of engaging in chemical weapons attack,” he added.

Sanchez said the NPA are people's soldiers, girded with firearms confiscated from enemies and with bombs made out of cheap materials.

“Obligado and the military spin doctors are daydreaming that they can sweeten the image of the fascist Oplan Bayanihan by demonizing the NPA and the revolutionary struggle. Three years into the US-Aquino regime, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is nowhere smooth, soft and pro-people in the eyes of the peasants, workers and the millions of Filipino masses,” he said.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is thoroughly exposed as the protector, coddler, running dogs of the US imperialist mining and other big business, bureaucrat capitalists and landlords,” he said. “The bacteria and poison are not found in the NPA bombs, but in the AFP headquarters, camps, detachments and in the AFP echelons itself.”

Bautista, 48 other ranking AFP officials confirmed

From ABS-CBN (Sep 4): Bautista, 48 other ranking AFP officials confirmed

The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) today confirmed 49 ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), including military chief Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista.

Also confirmed were Alan R. Lugas as Lt. General; and Nicanor E. Dolojan, Leo Cresente M. Ferrer, Benito Antonio T. de Leon, Danilo M. Servando and Gregorio Pio R. Catapang Jr. as Major Generals.

Confirmed as Rear Admirals were Roberto V. Santos and Philip L. Cacayan while Edgar L. Abogado was confirmed as Vice Admiral.

The CA also confirmed as Brigadier Generals: Lysander A. Suerte, Aurelio Baladad, Isagani P. Silva, Glorioso V. Miranda, Jet B. Velarmino, Conrado V. Parra, Eliseo P Posadas, William P. Turalde, Orlando E. de Leon, Ricardo P. Visaya, Dante Costes, Luis C. Vinoya Jr and Bobby Calleja.

Confirmed as commodores were Reynald L. Yoma, Nodolfo V. Tejada and George F. Catameo.

Twenty colonels and three Navy Captains were also confirmed.

The commission deferred the appointment of Col. Eduardo Ano because Senator Sergio Osmena III, who wanted to ask more questions, could not make it to the hearing.

Ano is being tagged in the disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos, who has been missing since 2007.

BIFM: Be Careful Brother Bangsamoro

Just posted to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) Website (Aug 31): Be Careful Brother Bangsamoro

The BIFM leadership has recently released its message to the Bangsamoro on the creation of BUMPER FORCE in lieu of the Task Force. This is designed for minimizing the encounter between AFP and BIFF and coupled with the implementation of normalization as provided under the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement.

         Here under are the following statements translated from Maguindanaon to English version:

1- BIFM has no intent to hurt Bangsamoro masses or any group that opposes (fight against) the colonial government of the Philippines;

2- BIFM has neither intention nor its desire to create any group serving as Bumper Force between the BIFF and AFP and other government forces.

3- BIFM rejection on the creation of Bumper Forces on the war between AFP or any government forces and BIFM is that this is not a GRUDGE but it is a JIHAD FIE SABIY LILLAH;

4- As a true Bangsamoro, let us put in our minds and plant deeply in our hearts that this armed struggle shall continue forever unless our ultimate objective is achieved because we can not agree that the Philippine government shall forever continue its corrupt practices and oppression in our homeland.;postID=2527780790184536837

Cotabato governor condemns NPA atrocities

From MindaNews (Sep 4): Cotabato governor condemns NPA atrocities

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza condemned Wednesday the latest attack launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Makilala town, citing the terror it sowed among residents in the area.

“We condemn this act to the highest degree. We consider this atrocity part of the terrorism launched by a particular group where some 700 workers of the rubber processing company in Makilala and their families had become collateral damages,” said Mendoza during her weekly radio program “Serbisyong Totoo” aired over dxND.

Mendoza said the atrocities in Makilala perpetrated by the NPA rebels also killed a civilian and a soldier and caused the displacement of families (see related story: 80 families flee, soldier killed as AFP, NPA clashed in NorthCot) from four sitios (hamlets) in Barangay Cabilao, a village adjacent to Barangay Talun-Talunan where the torching incident of the rubber processing plant of the Standard Rubber Development Corp. (Standeco) took place.

The NPA attack in Makilala was the third in the province since August, the governor said.

On August 19, the NPA rebels torched the heavy equipment of Sumifru Philippines, Inc. in Matalam town, she said.

A week later, the communist guerillas also burned a heavy equipment used in a road construction project of the Department of Agriculture-12 in Arakan town.

“These attacks have affected our efforts to sell the tourist spots of North Cotabato to local and foreign tourists,” said Mendoza.

Makilala hosts the 2.3 kilometer zipline, reputedly the longest zipline in Asia.
In Arakan town, efforts have been underway to construct rice terraces, similar to the one in Banaue in Ifugao.

Tourist arrivals in Alamada town due to the majestic Asik-asik waterfalls have also increased dramatically since it was discovered last year.

“We’ve been trying hard to generate employment because of our existing tourist spots.

 We’re also into developing our tourism potentials. But these NPA atrocities have become a challenge to my administration and to the local government units,” she stressed.

Also, the NPA attacks in North Cotabato have caused so much damage in terms of capital investments, Mendoza said.

The cost of the facilities and heavy equipment destroyed by the NPA rebels was estimated at P40 million.

Mendoza also castigated Ka Efren, spokesperson of NPA Front 72, who said they burned the facilities of Standeco because of the firm’s alleged monopoly of the province’s rubber industry.

The NPA rebels have yet to react to the pronouncement of Mendoza.

The Standeco owns the biggest processing mill in the province, according to Mendoza.

This does not mean, however, that Standeco monopolizes the pricing of the rubber products, she added.

Mendoza noted there are many factors why rubber prices declined since 2012, one of them the law of supply and demand.

If demand is low and supply is high, prices naturally tend to go down, she said.

“Also, it has been a challenge to the rubber industry in North Cotabato to produce quality products that could compete with those produced from Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia,” Mendoza said.

472 cops undergo Internal Security Operation Unit Enhancement Training

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): 472 cops undergo Internal Security Operation Unit Enhancement Training

Almost 500 cops from Region 4 or Southern Tagalog will undergo a 45-day training to further enhance their capability in counter-terrorism operations, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

PNP Director for Operations Police Director Alex Paul I. Monteagudo said that a total of 472 police officers started their Internal Security Operation Unit Enhancement Training in Police Regional Office 4A in Camp Melencio De Sagun, Trece Martires City, Cavite on Wednesday.

Participating in the training are selected personnel from the regional and provincial maneuver forces in Calabarzon composed of 275 from the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB), 37 from Cavite Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC), 53 from Laguna PPSC, 55 from Batangas PPSC and 52 from Quezon PPSC.

Monteaguado said that the next 45 days will be a challenge to the participants, but the rigorous training will mold them to become a better officers and law enforcers.

He added that the training also sharpens one's mind, strengthens camaraderie, and builds harmonious relationships with fellow police officers and the community as a whole.

He clarified that the manner of the PNP ISO training is not designed to develop killing machines, but to make the trainees withstand all pressures at extreme conditions.

The PNP official said that the trainees will be trained on how to become physically fit and mentally awake despite time over pressure imposition. The standard set forth for them is aimed to come up with highly disciplined, effective and efficient PNP member.

Also present during the event were PCSupt Vicente Loot, Director of PNP Training Service and PCSupt Jesus Gatchalian, Officer-in-Charge of Police Regional Office 4A.

Last August, the PNP and AFP signed Joint Letter Directive No. 03-2013 placing peace and security operations in the provinces of Laguna, Batangas and Cavite the primary responsibility of the PNP, after these provinces were classified under the law and order problem category and have been cleared of insurgency.

For the past years, the level of communist insurgency in these provinces has decreased, particularly in Batangas where the security situation remains relatively peaceful as the insurgents’ armed capability to launch major tactical offensives has been contained.

Accordingly, peace and security responsibility in these three provinces will now be assumed by the PNP with the Armed Forces of the Philippines assisting in internal security operations including the suppression of insurgency.

Bombing of NPA camp was to explode IEDs intended for advancing government troopers -PROCOR

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Bombing of NPA camp was to explode IEDs intended for advancing government troopers -PROCOR

The bombing of a New People's Army camp in Sagada was not an "over kill" but was in order to clear the mine-laden area where advancing government troops were about to proceed to overrun the enemy camp.

Police Senior Superintendent Dave Limmong, Police Regional Office in Cordillera (PROCOR) public information officer, said that based on the post-battle assessment, the bombing was not an “over kill” as others perceived the operations, but to clear the assault point from the improvised explosive devices (IED's) laid by the rebels against the special police combat team.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), assisted by concerned government troops in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) attacked the camp when the NPA in that area posed as imminent threat not only to the welfare of the residents, but also to assure the peaceful holding of the barangay elections this October.

Other local officials view the successful raid of an NPA camp as a means to protect the improving tourism industry of the town which offers the tourists beautiful caves, and the relics of the 18th century European culture through the Spanish colonizers and missionaries.

Limmong said the bombings were precise that they noted no casualty among the NPA and the government troopers.

Two policemen of an elite PNP force was seriously wounded during the initial encounter. Both survived and were duly assisted by the government.

”Clearing our region from the remnants of the communist insurgency is part of of our mission to assure an honest, peaceful, orderly and credible barangay elections, and protect the people the interest of the people who themselves as for help from the government that the rebels would not stall the on-going economic and social activities in the region,” said Limmong.

”In fact, the PROCOR is now ready to implement night patrols and checkpoints for the government campaign to fully implement gun control while a political exercise is about to be conducted,” he said.

Limmong added that the barangay elections in October which shall be done manually “needs to be guarded against any political violence especially when firearms could be used by the local political protagonists,” he added.

Gov’t, MNLF strengthen partnership for development thru PAMANA joint committee

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Gov’t, MNLF strengthen partnership for development thru PAMANA joint committee

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) have agreed to create a steering committee that will oversee the implementation of PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program.

In a forum organized here by the ARMM regional government last Sunday, around 50 senior MNLF leaders discussed with ARMM and OPAPP officials how to advance development programs in the MNLF communities.

The collaboration is in line with the agreement reached by the government and the MNLF during their meeting last July 2011 in Solo City, Indonesia to develop a “workable partnership at appropriate levels” to pursue ARMM reforms which the ARMM regional government has taken on.

For this, the regional government engaged the MNLF through the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Joint Partnership for Development.

PAMANA, which is the government’s program and framework for peace and development in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas in the country, targets to spur economic developments in the MNLF communities.

Under the program, senior leaders of the MNLF will identify the type of socio-economic interventions needed in the MNLF communities, while line agencies of the ARMM will implement the projects with OPAPP acting as the oversight body.

The said joint steering committee will include representatives from MNLF, ARMM, OPAPP, local government units, and civil society organizations.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman explained to MNLF leaders that this initiative is “tailor-fit” for the MNLF communities, and it is the role of the MNLF to lead the identification of the projects and its beneficiaries.

“We will make sure that this collaboration of the regional government of ARMM, OPAPP, and MNLF will bring positive impact to the MNLF communities,” he said, adding, “This has to be a convergence effort.”

Hataman suggested that MNLF leaders should create a steering committee among themselves to help them in the planning process and the identification of the projects.

“This is to empower the senior leaders of the MNLF. All of the projects will pass through the constituted MNLF senior leaders’ forum,” he said.

For his part, OPAPP Undersecretary Jose Lorena, who was invited to the event along with OPAPP Assistant Secretary Howard Cafugauan who introduced the general context of PAMANA, said that the senior leaders of the MNLF serves as the consultative body for the purposes of pursuing partnership both in the implementation of the programs and projects of PAMANA.

Cafugauan presented the details of the PAMANA program implementation to the body.

“We are really happy for this golden opportunity to be with you as this will strengthen not only the partnership of all our brothers, but the partnership of the MNLF, ARMM, and the national government through OPAPP,” he told the MNLF senior leaders during the forum.

“We are committed to bring further the relationship to bridge the gap, if there is any, between MNLF and with the other elements of the Bangsamoro people,” he said.

In response, Muslimin G. Sema, chair of the MNLF’s Central Committee, in a speech read by Abdul "Kong" Sahrin, secretary general of the MNLF central committee, said: “It is encouraging that the Philippine government is inclined in maintaining a mechanism of dialogue as we have agreed upon in the Bandung Meeting in 2012 as a means to preserve a partnership status pursuant to the Solo City understanding.”

“We are looking forward to whatever they bring forth for us in this occasion with the optimism that, whatever it is, it’s towards the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement,” he added.

Government peace panel urges CPP to end violence in the countryside

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Government peace panel urges CPP to end violence in the countryside

The government peace panel chaired by Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla urged the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to end violence in the countryside in order that peace aspired by all Filipinos will be realized.

In an open letter entitled, “Listen to our people,” on the occasion of the Peace Month of September, the government peace panel said that it shares the urgency of ending the armed violence to give way to development especially in conflict-affected areas which are the poorest and most deprived communities in the country.

“We join our people in reminding the CPP that armed violence has no place in a society where there is ample democratic space for everyone to peacefully pursue reforms and contribute to social change,” the government peace panel said.

The government insisted on building peace instead of violence, stressing that the CPP must listen to the plea of the people.

The GPH peace panel also said that instead of aggressive statements, both parties must lay down their ideas on the table and come up with meaningful consensus that will end the armed hostilities.

“We continue to believe that if we listen to our people’s aspirations and act accordingly, lasting peace is still possible inspite of stumbling blocks in the peace process. Our people deserve no less,” the GPH peace panel said.

Earlier, Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said that the government panel is only waiting for its counterparts on the CPP to continue the talks.

She said the government continues to respect the rights of their negotiators under the Joint Agreement for Security and Immunity Guarantees.

Bomb explosion kills one in Zamboanga del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Bomb explosion kills one in Zamboanga del Sur

The authorities are conducting thorough investigation to identify the man found dead in an explosion site in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, the police said Wednesday.

This, as the police authorities are inclined to believe that the man, whose head and arms were blown off, could be the carrier of the bomb that may have prematurely exploded.

The explosion occurred around 9:35 p.m. Tuesday along the national highway of Barangay Tapodoc, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, according to Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) information officer Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca.

Huesca, citing reports from the field, said the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion’s explosive ordnance demolition (EOD) and Labangan policemen have recovered another unexploded bomb while sifting through the site of the explosion during a post-blast investigation.

Huesca said the recovered unexploded bomb is a cellular phone-triggered explosive with a 60-milimeter mortar shell as the main charge.

The EOD conducted disruption procedure on the recovered bomb, according to Huesca.

He said the body of the unidentified man was found around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday some 15 meters away from blast site by telecommunications giant firm’s technicians who repaired the communication cables damaged by the bomb explosion.

He said the Labangan police command is conducting a “follow-up investigation to possibly identify the victim and the possible participation” as well as and the motive of the incident.

Davao court acquits JI’s wife of illegal bomb charges

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 4): Davao court acquits JI’s wife of illegal bomb charges

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) here on Wednesday has absolved the wife of a suspected Jemaah Islamiyah of bomb charges due to insufficient evidence.

In a decision, RTC Branch 14 Presiding Judge George Omelio granted the demurrer to evidence filed by accused Annabelle Nieva Lee, wife of suspected Malaysian terrorist Mohd Noor Fikrie Bin Abd Kahar through her lawyer Atty. Ben Jerome Tesiorna.

Lee was standing trial to the crime of illegal possession of explosives after a backpack containing an improvised explosive device was found in their possession.

Court records showed that the couple checked in at Sampaguita Tourist Inn located along Mt. Mayon Street, this city bringing with them the bomb but the police and the intelligence community were alerted of their presence, thus, an operation was launched at around 7:00 p.m. on December 14, 2012.

Kahar was shot dead when he was about to evade the authorities who accosted them at the hotel lobby. He even raised a cellphone telling the authorities that a bomb will explode should they proceed in arresting him.

Kahar then grabbed the backpack from his wife and ran towards the People's Park where he was cornered and shot dead.

During the bail hearing, the wife asserted that she is not aware of her husband’s illegal activities.

After assessing the arguments, the court ruled that the evidence of the prosecution is not sufficient to deprive the woman of his right to bail thus, she was allowed to post P200,000 bail.

The bail was even reduced to P100,000 but still the woman was detained at the Naval Intelligence and Security Group Eastern Mindanao in Camp Panacan, since she have no money to pay the bail.

After the bail resolution, Lee’s lawyer opted to file a demurrer to evidence asserting that the evidence of the prosecution is insufficient to convict the woman to the offense charged, thus, there’s no need for them to present evidence for her defense.

China put up 75 blocks in Scarborough

From Rappler (Sep 4): China put up 75 blocks in Scarborough

'PRELUDE TO CONSTRUCTION:' A second navy reconnaisance flight shows China has placed 75 concrete blocks. DND photo

'PRELUDE TO CONSTRUCTION:' A second navy reconnaisance flight shows China has placed 75 concrete blocks. DND photo

A second reconnaisance flight by the Philippine Navy shows China has placed at least 75 concrete blocks in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales.

"There are approximately 75 concrete blocks scattered in a 2-hectare area in the northern portion of Bajo de Masinloc. Each block would be approximately 2 feet by 2 feet," defense spokesperson Peter Galvez told reporters on Wednesday, September 4.

"These are blocks. They can be easily dropped off from any platform," Galvez added. "These can be used to be platforms or foundations. That is why we said earlier it can be a prelude to any form of construction," he added.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin initially reported 30 concrete blocks based on a reconnaisance flight conducted August 31. Galvez said it's possible all 75 were there as early as the first reconnaisance flgiht but were not monitored.

Three Chinese coast guard ships are also circling the shoal.

READ: China starts construction in Panatag

[Video: China put up 75 concrete blocks in Scarborough]

Bajo de Masinloc has been renamed Panatag. It is located 124 nautical miles from Zambales, within the country's 200-NM exclusive economic zone. China claims practically all of South China Sea.

Panatag is a rocky sandbar, but its location holds huge political and economic significance. Located in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), it is a strategic staging area for military operations. Scientists are also optimistic about the area’s potential oil resources.

"We are coordinating with the DFA for our necessary action," said Galvez. He said the government does not want a "repeat" of what happened to Mischief Reef, now occupied by the Chinese.

"It's in the interest of the country that it doesn't happen that way," Galvez said.

Defense officials would not say if there are fresh instructions given to the Philippine Navy given the development. MalacaƱang called a full Cabinet meeting.

"We have to stay on track with what our government is doing right now," said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief Lt Col Ramon Zagal

"As far as the AFP is concerned, our task there is to monitor activities in the area. We did that. We transmitted such information to pertinent government agencies," said Zagala.

"Our government is pursuing a peaceful solution through arbitration. The AFP will follow whatever the leadership of our government says, especially our commander-in-chief," Zagala added.

The Philippines has lodged a protest against China before the UN's International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

DND photo

CA panel puts nomination of ISAFP chief on hold over Burgos case

From InterAksyon (Sep 4): CA panel puts nomination of ISAFP chief on hold over Burgos case

The defense panel of the bicameral Commission on Appointments on Wednesday deferred anew action on the nomination of Gen. Eduardo M. Ano as chief of the Intelligence Service-Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) on questions related to the Jonas Burgos abduction, but approved those of 48 other officers, led by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Also recommended for confirmation by the CA plenary, at a hearing of the CA's defense committee, was the nomination of Gen. Aurelio Baladad, which was earlier opposed by human-rights groups and a physician who was among the so-called Morong 43 group of health workers, arrested and tagged as communist rebels, but ordered freed by the court.

After lengthy grilling of the objectors by members of the CA's defense panel, the contingents from both Senate and House unanimously moved to send Baladad's nomination to plenary. They said they were not satisfied that he had any direct participation in the Army-backed, special police operations that led to the arrest---and torture, as the detainees claimed---of the Morong 43. Lead opposer Dr. Alexis Montes, who said he suffered torture that included electrocution, had impleaded Baladad among several officials he sued before the Office of the Ombudsman, the QC Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals.

In the case of General Ano, the CA defense panel did not call to the stand the chief opposer, Edita T. Burgos, mother of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos. But the panel noted the written manifestation of Sen. Serge Osmena III reserving the right to throw questions at General Ano to clarify his alleged role in the Burgos abduction on April 28, 2007, which Mrs. Burgos has pinned on the military. On the basis of the Osmena reservation, the panel deferred further action on the general's nomination until next hearing.

In the course of the hearing, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV read into the record the preliminary text of a Department of Justice resolution, received Sept. 4 in the morning at the CA, dismissing the criminal complaint for arbitrary detention against Ano in the Burgos case. Trillanes asserted that such dismissal removed a crucial peg from Mrs. Burgos' objection to the general's confirmation.

FOCUS | Pinoys on Pagasa island learn to live in shadow of intruders

From InterAksyon (Sep 4): FOCUS | Pinoys on Pagasa island learn to live in shadow of intruders

Three Chinese ships passing in the distance, but clearly discernible to the locals on Pagasa island, are a constant reminder to the Filipinos of how vulnerable they are to foreign intrusion. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LGU, KALAYAAN ISLAND GROUP

Whenever teachers lead their pupils in singing "Lupang Hinirang" in class at the tiny Pagasa Elementary School in the municipality of Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in Palawan, the moment truly stirs them: because their unique location pits them up close, each day, with foreign ships that could end their freedom any time.

Like most of the 500 or so Filipinos who call the KIG home, the two teachers and 30 students have learned to live with the prospect of seeing the strangers just a few hundred meters away--on days they feel like it, the Chinese intruders create the impression they are preparing to move in on the tiny clutch of islands that the Philippines still holds on to in the West Philippine Sea.

Eugenio Bito-onon, local chief executive of the KIG, said there are times when Chinese ships stop just 4 to 5 kilometers west of Pagasa and then maneuver as if they are moving toward the island. It's obviously a scare tactic that the Filipinos on Pagasa island have learned to live with, but it has an unsettling effect just the same.

“Our constituents there [have taken] some photographs of these incidents that have happened many times already, every time the Chinese are coming [to] and leaving Ayungin, one of our reefs in the KIG," Bito-onon said in a phone interview.

But, he added, the local populace is used to this situation, as the Chinese boats have been behaving as such for the longest time---giving the tiny islands a "close shave."

Fewer than 500 civilians, excluding military personnel deployed on the KIG, live in Pagasa, which is the center of KIG’s local government unit. The island has a dilapidated runway and was converted into a naval station of the Philippine Navy.

An elementary classroom is being used by less than 30 pupils with two teachers, one employed by the LGU and the other one by the Department of Education (DepEd). “Our first classroom was donated by retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban. Our second classroom from another donor  . . .  will soon rise beside the first one.” Bito-onon declined to name the second donor "for the meantime."

The mayor plans to employ one more teacher.

He said the local community is used to the sight of the Chinese boats. And, if any one of these boats suddenly decides to land, "as visitors" the Chinese will be met by the locals, he said.

“If they want to visit us, we will welcome them as visitors. We are not supposed to be fighting with them, actually," he said.

The mayor recalled one close brush with Chinese boats last May 15, when they were sailing around the vicinity of Ayungin reef on the MV Queen Seagull, enroute to Balabac A Chinese Navy ship harassed them.

The mayor was asleep in the boat, and his companions recounted to him what happened that time. "We were tailed for about an hour until we passed by Ayungin where a big unidentified boat was anchored. At close range one cannot see the vessel number. Their spot light was glaring, and it was hard to see. From Ayungin we headed towards Balabac, and then made a turn there. They didn't do anything to us, except tail us," said Bito-onon.

One boat was about 30-40 meters away from the Filipino group.  It kept nipping at their heels, as if creating the impression that it would never let go.

Two weeks ago, Bito-onon returned to Pagasa and was even more shocked and disgusted: several Chinese naval, maritime, and fishing vessels were illegal gathering giant clams, black corals and other precious marine resources in Ayungin.

He denounced the illegal activities of the Chinese and urged the national government to do something before the reef is completely destroyed. Bito-onon revealed plans for the Filipinos to put up a marine farm in the area.

A Marine detachment is house in an abandoned LST in the area, but the soldiers cannot do anything to apprehend or drive out the intruders.

And so, the locals live each day on guard, in this tiny clutch of islands that are like pearls strewn on the Philippine sea--close to nature's bounty. Their town stands for "Freedom" and their island for "Hope." Two precious, abstract commodities that they know could be snatched any time, if they ever forget how close they are to intruders.....

Philippines says it finds more Chinese blocks on reef

From InterAksyon (Sep 4): Philippines says it finds more Chinese blocks on reef

The Philippines said Wednesday it had spotted more concrete blocks allegedly installed by China on a small group of reefs and rocky outcrops within Filipino territory in the South China Sea.

Aerial surveillance discovered about 75 blocks scattered on a section of the Scarborough Shoal, said defence department spokesman Peter Galvez.

"These can be used for platforms (or) foundations, that is why we said earlier this could be a prelude to any other form of construction," he told reporters.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected the Philippine allegations.

"What has been said by the Philippines isn't true. Huangyan Island is China's inherent territory," Hong told state television CCTV in an interview, using the Chinese name for the shoal.

"In accordance with the constitution, Chinese government ships maintain routine patrols in waters of Huangyan Island to safeguard our sovereignty over Huangyan Island and to maintain order of relevant waters. That is China's legitimate right and interest and it is beyond dispute."

The Philippines had earlier released an aerial photograph taken Saturday of what it said were about 30 concrete blocks at Scarborough.

A second surveillance flight on Monday photographed more blocks scattered over a two-hectare (4.9-acre) section of the shoal, said Galvez, who did not release the newer photograph.

It was unclear whether the extra blocks were newly laid or were missed by the earlier sweep, he said.

He declined to speculate on whether Manila thought the Chinese would actually build structures there.

Galvez said any construction would violate a 2002 non-binding agreement between China and its Southeast Asian neighbours to refrain from actions or hostile acts that could inflame tensions in the flashpoint region.

China claims most of the South China Sea, including waters close to the coasts of its neighbours.

Scarborough Shoal is about 220 kilometres (135 miles) off the main Philippine island of Luzon, within the country's internationally recognised exclusive economic zone.

The outcrop is about 650 kilometres from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese land mass.

Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have competing claims to parts of the sea, and the rivalries have been a source of tension for decades.

The Philippines engaged China in a tense standoff at the shoal in 2012.

Manila has said the Chinese had effectively taken control of the shoal by stationing vessels there and preventing Filipino fishermen from going there.

In January the government asked a United Nations tribunal to rule on the validity of the Chinese claims to most of the sea.

China has rejected the move, but has said it wanted to solve the dispute through bilateral negotiations with concerned parties.

Foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez said Wednesday diplomats were trying independently to confirm the surveillance photos before lodging an official diplomatic protest.

"Jointly with the (defence department), we are committed to look at ways to appropriately address the issue," he told AFP.

US soldier helps injured Filipino man in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 4): US soldier helps injured Filipino man in Southern Philippines

An unidentified US soldier has come to an aid of a Filipino man who lost consciousness after fell from a motorcycle taxi on Wednesday in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

The Filipino, Vincent Amet, was rushed to hospital by his companions after he failed to regain consciousness.  The US soldier – who was with several American troops in two civilian vehicles - was in the area when the accident occurred.

The soldier helped carry the victim to a safe area and immediately left before locals, curious with what happened started to flock to the scene. The victim’s companions said they were not able to thank the American soldier, but praised him for helping the man.

US troops are deployed in Zamboanga City and other parts of the southern Philippines to train Filipino soldiers in fighting terrorism. The soldiers belong to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, numbering about several hundreds.

They are also active in humanitarian and engineering works, among others during their six-month stint in the southern region where local security forces are battling the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, as well as communist and Moro rebels.

An unidentified US soldier helps carry an injured Filipino man who fell September 4, 2013 from a motorcycle taxi in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Bomber killed by own IED in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 4): Bomber killed by own IED in Philippines

A suspected bomber was killed after an improvised bomb he was transporting exploded in Zamboanga del Sur province in southern Philippines, officials said Wednesday.

Officials said policemen, who were inspecting the site, recovered an improvised bomb assembled from a 60mm mortar and rigged to a detonator and a cell phone, not far from the dead man’s decapitated body in the village of Tapodoc in Labangan town.

The bomb was found at a rice paddy near the highway late Tuesday and safely disrupted, according to Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman.

“The identity of the man is still unknown and police are investigating this case,” he said.

It was not immediately known whether the man, whose head and arms were blasted, was a member of a rebel or terrorist group. The man’s body was clad in black shirt and a pair of black and green tactical shooter pants.

The southern Philippines have been hit by a spate of bomb attacks in recent months that had killed and wounded dozens of civilians.

Just recently, police also killed a suspected gunrunner Nadzir Mongkas and captured his companion Rajib Giyaludin in an operation in the restive region.

Giyaludin allegedly confessed to buying and selling guns and improvised explosives to various groups and individuals in the southern Philippines.

Police photos show the decapitated body of the unidentified bomber and the area where the explosion occurred. (Mindanao Examiner)