Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gov't cuts shorter route to peace with free circumcision, medical outreach

From the Philippine Star (Sep 5): Gov't cuts shorter route to peace with free circumcision, medical outreach

A worker of the provincial government of Maguindanao distributes medicines to residents of Kabuntalan town that availed of Wednesday's medical-dental outreach mission in the area. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Soldiers and members of a medical outreach team from the provincial capitol have just cut a shorter route to peace that is far from being bloody and destructive.

Medical teams from the Army’s 68th Infantry Battalion, the 5th Special Forces Battalion, and health workers from the office of Maguindanao’s provincial governor circumcised on Wednesday 83 Moro boys, more than 20 of them already adolescents, as part of an outreach mission in flood-stricken communities in Kabuntalan town.

The outreach mission was initiated for a humanitarian purpose, as its main objective, and to show to local folks the government’s sincerity in its peace overtures with Mindanao’s Moro sectors.

“It’s a two-pronged outreach mission, aimed at serving Kabuntalan residents as a regular program of the provincial government and, second, to complement President Aquino’s peace initiatives for underdeveloped Moro communities,” explained Lynette Estandarte, chief budget officer of the provincial government.

A total of 2,412 villagers, who have just returned to their homes from evacuation centers after having been displaced by last month’s flashfloods that hit Kabuntalan, also availed of free medical and dental services provided by teams that helped facilitate the outreach mission.

The patients went home bringing with them medicines for various ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, skin diseases, and respiratory infections, supplied by the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

“I am thankful to the provincial government for the free circumcision of children here in Kabuntalan. Five of my grandchildren availed of it. They were also supplied with free antibiotics to prevent their cuts from getting infected,” 65-year-old Mokamad, a farmer, said in Maguindanaon vernacular.

Soldiers also gave 59 villagers free haircuts during the day-long outreach mission in a makeshift barber shop, while a military band played Filipino folk music on a deck of a 6x6 truck parked nearby.

Wednesday’s humanitarian mission of Mangudadatu’s office in Kabuntalan, located in the first district of Maguindanao, was a regular monthly activity of the governor since he was elected to office in 2010.

Estandarte said the governor’s multi-faceted health, education, and social welfare projects are also aimed at helping promote the cordiality among Maguindanao’s local communities and the provincial government.

The provincial government has provided free medical and dental services to a total of 67,349 people in far-flung villages in continuing outreach missions in Maguindanao since July 2010.

A grade six pupil, Salik, 12, said he is grateful to the organizers of the humanitarian project.

“My brother and I were circumcised for free. Our parents cannot afford the cost of circumcision in a private medical clinic or hospital because my father is only a fisherman and we have not even recovered yet from the sufferings caused by the recent floods that hit our village,” he said in Filipino.

NPA rebels kill retired cop in Sorsogon

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 6): NPA rebels kill retired cop in Sorsogon

A police crack team has been formed to hunt down members of the New People’s Army responsible for the killing on Wednesday of a retired policeman at his residence in Our Ladies Village in Barangay Pangpang, Sorsogon City, a report reaching the Philippine National Police on Thursday said.

The NPA’s Celso Minguez Command, in a press statement on Thursday, claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of retired policeman Jungil Dichoso Escalante, 45.

Escalante was at his residence at around 9:30 a.m. when three armed men barged in and shot him at close range, killing him instantly, said Inspector Malu Calubaquid, PNP-Bicol spokesperson.

Investigators recovered from the crime scene four empty shells and two slugs  from a .45-caliber pistol.

Calubaquid, quoting Carla Lascano, a witness and a neighbor of the victim, told police investigators that Escalante was having a conversion on his cell phone when fired at by the suspects.

The witness  said that after the shooting, the suspects, who were all about 25 years old, of small build, between 5’ 4″ and 5’ 5″  in height, took Escalante’s .45-caliber pistol before they fled on the retired policeman’s motorcycle.

It was not clear why Escalante had his firearm at hand at that time.

Samuel Toledo, spokesperson of the Celso Minguez command, claimed in the press statement that Escalante was killed for his “crimes against the people,” specifically for the alleged killing of people tagged as supporters of the communist movement.

CPP/NPA: NPA engages no chemical-biological warfare, but in people’s guerrilla war

Posted to the CPP Website (Sep 4): NPA engages no chemical-biological warfare, but in people’s guerrilla war

Rigoberto Sanchez
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Merardo Arce Command)

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. 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.

The seven AFP troops who were hurt in a bomb blast in Pantukan yesterday were hit by command-detonated explosives and not the falsely reported pressure-type bombs that are banned by international laws like the Ottawa Treaty.

Major Jake Obligado and other spin doctors at the Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP 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. By alluding that the NPAs are terrorists who hatch bombs and weapons of mass destruction in chemical and biological forms, Obligado and EastMinCom 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.

Not long ago, the military also outrageously said the NPA landmines distribution in the whole region have been systematized by way of color coding per province.

The NPA are people’s soldiers—girded with firearms confiscated from the enemy and with bombs made out of cheap materials— who face the logistically-superior but politically-inferior corrupt-laden, fascist, anti-people AFP.

Obligado and the military spindoctors 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 AFP is nowhere smooth, soft and pro-people in the eyes of the peasants, workers and the millions of Filipino masses.

The AFP is thoroughly exposed as the protector, coddler, running dogs of the US imperialist mining and other big business, bureaucrat capitalists and landlords.

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

CPP: CPP rejects AFP fecal-brained psywar line that NPA smears explosives with human waste

From the CPP Website (Sep 5): CPP rejects AFP fecal-brained psywar line that NPA smears explosives with human waste

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) flatly rejected as “baseless, desperate and fecal-brained” the psywar claims made by officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the New People’s Army (NPA) smears explosives with human feces.

The AFP made these pronouncements yesterday after claiming that soldiers wounded in an NPA attack Tuesday morning in Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley were tested positive for bacteria commonly found in the human gut.

“The purpose of explosives detonated on command is to momentarily stun and immobilize the enemy, thereby enabling the guerrillas to maintain the initiative in battle and maximize the employment of tactical superior firepower, and not to subject anyone to bacterial infection.”

“Any medical practitioner knows that open wounds, especially if not treated promptly, can be infected with bacteria, especially those that cause tetanus,” said the CPP.

“A medical doctor interviewed on national television also explained that the intestinal bacteria allegedly found by AFP doctors in shrapnel extracted from the wounded soldiers have limited life spans outside of the gut and are harmless unless ingested.”

“The AFP has resorted to such base psywar propaganda in the desperate hope of depicting the NPA as using ‘bacterial weapons’ and in violation of international humanitarian law (IHL),” said the CPP.

The CPP reiterated that under IHL and the Ottawa conventions against land mines, the guerrilla forces of the NPA are allowed to employ command-detonated explosives as a legitimate weapon in waging revolutionary war.

PH recalls envoy to China

From the Manila Times (Sep 5): PH recalls envoy to China

Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio was called home by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario for “consultations” amid the slew of controversies involving the Philippines and China.

Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said Basilio will return to Beijing “in the next few days.”

“She was called for consultations . . . [regarding] overall PH-China relations,” he told reporters.

The envoy was seen with del Rosario at the Foreign Affairs department’s head office in Pasay City (Metro Manila) on Thursday. Sources said she has been in the country since Tuesday.

She was called back to the home office a few days after del Rosario arrived from Beijing for the China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Special Meeting.

There, the Foreign Affairs secretary apparently learned firsthand that President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s planned trip to China on September 3 for the 10th China-Asean Expo (Caexpo) will not push through because Beijing was not prepared to receive the President.

China had said that Aquino was not invited to the event.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin revealed that China committed “fresh violations” in the contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The military spotted concrete blocks at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which would mean that Beijing plans to build facilities there.

Del Rosario said the Philippines will file a diplomatic protest against China.

The DFA chief was at the House of Representatives on Thursday to present his department’s budget before the House Committee on Appropriations.

“We’re framing an appropriate diplomatic protest, hopefully in the next few days. It is a substantive piece of information that we can tag on to our arbitration case and have it work positively for us,” he told reporters.

Support for peace event advocated

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 5): Support for peace event advocated

The government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) have called for greater public support for the observance of the national peace consciousness month this September.

As this developed, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) sought the convergence of the two peace processes involving the MNLF and the MILF as agreed in 2011 by their leaderships with backing from the Organization Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to flesh out the Philippine government’s vow for “inclusive” peace negotiations in Mindanao.

Seemingly unmindful of Professor Nur Misuari’s declaration of a “Mindanao Republik,” MNLF pioneer leaders belonging to a group called Senior Leaders Forum (SLF) passed a resolution urging the government to infuse the issues of unimplemented provisions of their 1996 agreement with the state with its peace process with MILF.

“We welcome the proposal to achieve a more comprehensive and inclusive political solution to the Bangsamoro problem through convergence of the two peace processes involving the MNLF and the MILF,” said the resolution signed by SLF officials led by Yusop Jikiri, presiding chairperson.

In separate statements, the government panels for the MILF and the NDF-NPA-CPP talks urged the Moro and leftist groups, as well as the public, to support the observance of the 10th National Peace Consciousness Month this September.

“We join the rest of the peace-loving Filipinos in the celebration. It is in this time of the year when we hark back to the milestones our people have collectively built in pursuit of a just and lasting peace in Mindanao and the rest of the country,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) quoted statement of the panel for the MILF as saying.

The statement added that “This is also an opportune time to reflect on what has made these gains possible and what still needs to be done to realize our peace goals. Behind every triumph was a peace constituency who were there with us, encouraging, praying, and taking steps to ensure that the GPH-MILF peace talks will move forward.”

The panel also appealed to “more Filipinos” to rally “the making of yet another milestone” with the imminent signing of the GPH-MILF Comprehensive Agreement this year.

The government and MILF panels are scheduled to meet this month and resume discussions on the annexes on normalization and power sharing that, together with the completed Annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, and Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, and the signed Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, will comprise the Compact Agreement.

AFP investigating claims that rebels used 'bio-weapon' in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): AFP investigating claims that rebels used 'bio-weapon' in Compostela Valley
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday revealed that it is still investigating the reports that New People's Army (NPA) rebels allegedly used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) tainted with snake venom and bacteria reportedly extracted from human waste.

"Our explosive ordnance disposal experts said that this is possible as shrapnel can be immersed in certain toxins before being packed into IEDs," AFP public information office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

However, he said they will still get an opinion from the AFP surgeon general to determine whether the rebels used toxins or bacterial agents in their IEDs which exploded and wounded seven soldiers in Sitio Lantawan, Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley Province last Tuesday.

The wounded soldiers were given "more potent antibiotics" after military doctors found out that some of the fragments that wounded them were laced with snake venom and bacteria from human feces.

Zagala also assured the public that the AFP has sufficient medical resources to deal with this should the rebels decide to make it a habit of using IEDs laced with suspected noxious substances.

Add'l rotational presence of US military is national policy and not security threat, Rep. Biazon says

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): Add'l rotational presence of US military is national policy and not security threat, Rep. Biazon says

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon on Thursday cautioned the House Appropriations Committee not to approve the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to an executive session to divulge the progress of additional rotational presence of the United States military presence.

Biazon, chairman of the House committee on National Defense and Security said that executive session is not granted by any individual but it is being decided by the committee as a whole.

“We want first to hear from DFA what are the reasons why they are asking for an executive session with Congressmen. Mr. Chairman, they (DFA) should lay first the reasons and must convince the committee that their information have something to do with national security,” Biazon told the committee Vice Chairman Emil Ong, who already committed to DFA that they will guarantee the executive session.

Rep. Ong is already asking members of the committee to register their names if they are interested to join the executive session.

The veteran legislator reminded the committee not to railroad the request until after the DFA can prove that there is a need because national security is at stake.

This started when Biazon asked the DFA panel that is making a budget presentation at the House of Representatives to identify some salient agreements that they have entered into or about to enter with the US government on the issue of additional rotational presence of US military in the country.

DFA Assistant Sec. King Soreta refused to give details but he failed to lay down the predicates that there is such a need of executive session.

After Biazon explained that executive session should be approved by the committee and not by any individual, Ong immediately rephrase his statement and claimed that executive session will happen only after the committee approval.

Soreta cannot answer Biazon who is asking if there is a change in national policy because US soldiers can have access to the former bases in the country such as Clark and Subic.

He said that the public is entitled to know the details of the agreement since DFA is claiming that it is not a treaty and does not need Senate concurrence.

Biazon reminded the DFA panel that he sees no security threat on the agreement and “this is just a plain national policy.”

He even cited that treaties should be made if the agreement is permanent, political in nature and there is a change of national policies.

China insists sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): China insists sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal

China on Thursday insisted it has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal, which continues to be guarded by its surveillance ships, amid fears that Beijing will start building structures in the disputed area.

“Huangyan Island is China's inherent territory,” Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Hua said in a statement quoting China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

Huangyan Island is China’s name for Scarborough Shoal -- a U-shaped rock formation with a sprawling lagoon teeming with rich maritime resources.

The shoal, called Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc by the Philippines, falls within Philippine territory as mandated by international law.

It is located 124 nautical miles from Masinloc town in Zambales and 472 nautical miles from China’s nearest coastal province of Hainan.

Philippine officials said the sighting of concrete blocks at the shoal’s lagoon can be a prelude to Chinese construction of structures, similar to what Beijing did to Mischief Reef, a rich fishing ground within Philippine territory off South China Sea that came under China’s control in 1995.

Manila said the presence of the concrete blocks inside the shoal is a violation of a 2002 non-binding accord on the South China Sea. The pact calls on all claimants to exercise restraint, stop occupation of new territories and prevent them from building new structures.

China’s statement, however, did not clearly address the Philippine allegations in detail, merely saying: “What the Philippines said is untrue.”

The shoal, it added, is “within China's legitimate rights and interests and beyond dispute.”

“Given the current situation, Chinese government ships maintain routine patrol in the waters off the Huangyan Island to safeguard the sovereignty over the Huangyan Island and keep order in relevant waters,” it added.

Manila and Beijing figured in a dangerous standoff in the area last year. The stalemate temporarily ended when President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered Philippine vessels facing off with Chinese ships to withdraw due to bad weather.

China never left the area and even roped off the entrance to the shoal to prevent Filipino fishermen access and shelter to its vast lagoon.

As tensions spiked anew between the two Asian nations, Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio was called home for consultations.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Basilio was a resource person during a consultation meeting in Malacanang on the South China Sea issue.

“She was asked to come home for consultation and she will return (to Beijing) for the next few days,” Hernandez. “We do that to get more information about our different areas in our relations to other countries.”

The Philippine government has adopted the name West Philippine Sea for parts of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway where a bulk of the world's trade pass and believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.

Analysts feared the competing claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Taiwan, could spark a military conflict in the region.

China claims the waters nearly in its entirety, citing historical entitlements as the basis for its huge claim.The Philippines challenged this claim before a United Nations-linked arbitral tribunal, where a resolution is pending.

China has formally notified the tribunal that it will not participate in the legal proceedings, saying Manila’s case was legally infirm and carried unacceptable allegations.

NPA rebels gun down ex-cop in Sorsogon City

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): NPA rebels gun down ex-cop in Sorsogon City

Police operatives are hunting down the New People's Army (NPA) rebels who shot dead a retired policeman on Wednesday at his residence in Sorsogon City, the Philippine National Police here reported Thursday.

Inspector Malu Calubaquid, PNP Bicol spokesperson, identified the victim as former Police Officer 3 Jungil Dichoso Escalante, 45, married.

Calubaquid said the incident took place around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the victim's residence at the Our Lady’s Village, Barangay Pangpang. Three NPA rebels shot the victim at close range, killing him instantly.

Investigators recovered from the crime scene four empty shells and two slugs from a .45-caliber pistol.

Calubaquid said a witness told police investigators that the victim was talking to someone on his cellphone when killed.

The witness said the suspects took the victim’s .45-caliber handgun and motorcycle before fleeing.

The NPA Celso Minguez Command, in a press statement, admitted responsibility for the killing of Escalante who was allegedly involved in the killing of supporters of the communist movement.

Calubaquid said the remains of Escalante lies at the Labalan Funeral parlor in Sorsogon City.

6 NPAs killed in Army air and ground assault in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): 6 NPAs killed in Army air and ground assault in North Cotabato

At least six communist rebels were believed killed in air and ground assaults launched by the military in North Cotabato against New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels who torched a rubber processing plant.

Quoting community leaders, 1st Lt. Nasurallah Sema, spokesman of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, said village officials claimed the rebels had more than six fallen comrades whom they carry as they fled by nightfall Wednesday.

Villagers in Talun-Talunan, Makilala, North Cotabato were obviously mad at communist rebels who torched the Standard Rubber Development Corporation (Standeco) rubber processing plant Sunday night which cost P20 million and rendered more than 700 rubber workers jobless.

It was the worst NPA attacks in North Cotabato’s multinational firms who provided employment to the locals.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou TaliƱo-Mendoza said the farm workers displaced by the NPA attack have no way but let their children stop from their schooling since they have no other source of income, or any alternative livelihood needed to sustain their families.

“The real victims of the atrocity were the families, the children of the affected workers,” said Mendoza.

Sema said the military launched air and ground assaults against 50 guerrillas sighted in the village of Kabilao, also in Makilala.

A soldier was killed when the NPA set off a roadside land mine near Barangay Kabilao.

”We have information they suffered heavy casualties from the two day punitive action,” Sema said, adding that the masses are no longer supporting the NPA.

In a statement, the NPA claimed responsibility for the burning of rubber plant.

The Makilala municipal peace and order council members have branded the burning of the rubber processing factory in Barangay Talun-Talunan as a “crime against humanity,” something they have never experienced before.

PA, Malaysian Army training exercises start Thursday

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): PA, Malaysian Army training exercises start Thursday

The Philippine Army announced it is hosting the 14th series of the Training Activity Land MALPHI (MalaysiaPhilippines) which formally started at the Peacekeeping Operations Center, Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac Thursday.

This is a yearly bilateral exercise between the PA and the Malaysian Army.

Involving 70 Filipino personnel and 40 Malaysian soldiers, this training exercise aims to enhance the interoperability of both armies, and strengthen the long standing professional relationship and cooperation between the two.

This cooperation in training and exercises has proved to be beneficial to the organization and to the country as a whole as it involves the exchange of military know-how between the participating countries, and goes beyond, through the conduct of peace and development initiatives.

The previous training exercises focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

This involves trainings in post calamity rehabilitation and development.

Gracing Thursday's opening ceremony as guests of honor and speakers were PA vice commander Maj. Gen. Essel C. Soriano and Lt. Gen. Dato’ Seri Panglima Hj Ahmad Hasbullah bin Hj Mohd Nawawi, deputy chief of the Malaysian Army.

The training exercise will last until Sept. 16.

Palace remains open for peace talks with leftist rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): Palace remains open for peace talks with leftist rebels

The Palace reiterated that the Aquino administration remains open to continuing the peace discussions with the leftist rebels but they must show some goodwill and sincerity.

“May National Peace Consciousness this month. Ang position ng ating pamahalaan ay bukas tayo sa peace process. Ang kailangan natin sinseridad,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

Peace discussions with the communist rebels have not gained much momentum because of many disagreements on both sides.

The rebels accused the government for its failure to implement an initial accord on respect for human rights in addition to other violations.

The government panel negotiating peace with the NPA said it may resume peace talks with the insurgents if they agree on a new negotiating framework. Government negotiators added that the NPA should have a clear agenda for ending violence and bringing peace in the country.

Malacanang also condemned this week the NPA’s reported use of landmines particularly in an attack in Compostela Valley on Tuesday that injured seven soldiers.

The military claimed that the rebels had used poison-laced explosives in the attack.

Asked if the government will consider declaring the NPA a terror threat, Lacierda said he is leaving the decision at the hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the national security adviser.

The use of non-command-detonated explosives is banned by international laws like the Ottawa Treaty.

The military accused the NPA of using landmines laced with poison based on evidence military doctors discovered from the wounds of soldiers.

Reports indicated that doctors found traces of human feces and snake venom in wounds of the seven soldiers wounded during Tuesday’s attack.

104th IB deployed to rescue abducted teachers in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): 104th IB deployed to rescue abducted teachers in Basilan

Troops from the 104th Infantry Brigade were deployed Thursday to rescue the two teachers abducted by still unidentified persons in Sitio Pangasaan, Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan Wednesday evening.

The former is a field unit of the 1st Infantry Division.

Col. Carlito B. Galvez, 104th Infantry Brigade commander, identified the victims as Frederick Banot and Cherden Masong.

Both were forcibly taken by unidentified armed men in their boarding house around 7:30 p.m.

The two were dragged to waiting speedboats which then fled towards southwest direction.

The two victims are members of the Charity Children Foundation, a Catholic non-government organization engaged in missionary effort to help the Badjao and Yakan children in Basilan.

Galvez also dispatched Wednesday night the 14th Special Forces Company to conduct seaborne checkpoint in the municipal water of Maluso, Basilan.

Likewise, intelligence operatives were also deployed to monitor the coastal areas of Lantawan, Maluso and Hadji Muhtamad for possible enemy hideouts.

Coordination with leaders of Moro National Liberation Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and local government officials of Maluso and its adjacent municipalities was also conducted for possible identification of the group.

Soldier killed, 6 others wounded in clash with rebels in North Cotabato

From InterAksyon (Sep 5): Soldier killed, 6 others wounded in clash with rebels in North Cotabato

One soldier was killed and six others were wounded in an encounter with members of the New People’s Army Wednesday in Makilala, North Cotabato.

The fatality was identified as Sergeant Arnold Vigo of the 57th infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company, said battalion spokesman Lt. Nash Sema.

Sgt. Vigo headed the team that went to Barangay Cabilao to verify the presence of some 30 members of the NPA Guerrilla Front 72 headed by Felix Armodia.

The encounter lasted about an hour, said Sema.

Guerrilla Front 72 is said to be behind the burning of a rubber plantation in Makilala last Sunday. A worker was killed and another was injured in the incident.

At the same time, North Governor Lala Mendoza condemned the burning of some P25 million worth of property of the Standard Development Rubber plantation in Barangay Talun Talun.

Suspected ASG men seize two teachers of charity organization in Basilan

From InterAksyon (Sep 5): Suspected ASG men seize two teachers of charity organization in Basilan

Two teachers of a foundation helping poor children in Sitio Pangasaan, Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan, are the latest victims of the Abu Sayyaf's kidnapping operations.

Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade based in Basilan City, said  victims Frederick Banot and Cherden Masong were abducted at around 8 p.m.   Wednesday by armed men believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

They were seized from their boarding house and taken in a speedboat that fled southwest.

The two are teachers and members of Charity Children Foundation, a Catholic nongovernment organization doing missionary work for the Badjao and Yakan children in Basilan Province, Galvez said.

Galvez deployed the 14th Special Forces Company to conduct seaborne checkpoint in the municipal waters off Maluso, Basilan Province. Intelligence units were also dispatched to monitor the coastal areas of Lantawan, Maluso and Hadji Muhtamad Municipalities, all in Basilan province, for possible enemy hideouts.

The military is coordinating with  leaders of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and local government officials of Maluso and its adjacent municipalities for possible identification and location of the group, he said.

Charity workers seized in Philippine province

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 5): Charity workers seized in Philippine province

Gunmen have seized two teachers working for a Catholic charity foundation in the restive province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines, officials said on Thursday.

Officials said the gunmen raided the staff house of the Charity Children Foundation in the village of Tairan in Lantawan town late on Wednesday and abducted Frederick Banot and Cherden Masong.

Members of the Special Forces, who were alerted by the abductions, pursued the raiders, but did not catch up with them.

“The victims were forcibly taken by the gunmen and dragged them to waiting speedboats and fled under cover of darkness,” Capt. Jefferson Somera, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said Brig. Gen. Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, a regional army commander, also ordered troops to track down the hostages and their captors and to help police authorities in providing or securing charitable workers in the province.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abductions, but Abu Sayyaf rebels and bandits are actively operating in the province and have been previously blamed for many kidnappings for ransom and killings.

The foundation helps in various programs aimed at uplifting the lives of ethnic Badjao and Yakan tribes in Basilan, one of five provinces under the autonomous region.

Both the provincial and regional governors and the local town officials have not issued any statement about the raid and the unstable peace and order in Basilan, just several nautical miles from Zamboanga City.