Saturday, September 7, 2013

1 soldier hurt in Maguindanao highway bomb blast

From Rappler (Sep 8): 1 soldier hurt in Maguindanao highway bomb blast

An improvised explosive device (IED) exploded while another one was successfully diffused along the national highway in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao early morning Sunday, September 8.

At least one soldier was hurt. He sustained shrapnel wounds to the knee.
Datu Paglas municipal administrator Teng Madidis said his teenage nephew was the first to notice a suspicious item while jogging at Sitio Malindog, Brgy Dawato at around 5:30 am Sunday.
He immediately reported to the local miliatiamen’s detachment what he saw and believed as a bomb, which he said was a “mortar-like” item with wires attached," said Madidis, who is also a resident of Datu Paglas.
Troops from the army and the Citizen Armed Force Geographic Unit (CAFGU) immediately checked and secured the area upon receiving the report but the first bomb exploded after a few minutes.
Another bomb was found when additional personnel from the Army Explosive Unit scoured the site. Bomb experts sucessfully diffused the 2nd IED.
Col Edmundo Pangilinan, commanding officer of the 601st brigade said initial investigation indicates that the culprits targeted soldiers who were responding to the bomb.
The road, which borders Maguindanao and North Cotabato, was opened to the public again at around 7 am.
A week ago, one person was killed and another was arrested in the same area during a joint-CIDG-police and army entrapment operation against suspected bomb and gun-runners operating in Central Mindanao.
High-powered homemade Barrette sniper guns and IEDs were recovered from the group identified to be from the Tamengkong criminal syndicate, which is said to be involved in illegal arms trade.

1 soldier hurt as home-made bomb explodes on Tacurong-Davao Highway

From InterAksyon (Sep 8): 1 soldier hurt as home-made bomb explodes on Tacurong-Davao Highway

A soldier was wounded at 6 a.m. Sunday after a home-made bomb exploded some 200 meters from an Army detachment on a portion of the Tacurong-Davao Highway in Barangay Madidis, Datu Paglas in Maguindanao.

Army Corporal Edwin Lumufer who was getting a banana leaf to be used for his and his unit’s breakfast was hurt.

Tacurong-Davao Highway was also closed for several hours.

Initial reports indicated that the bomb was hidden among tall leaves by the roadside.

The wounded soldier was brought to the hospital.

It is not known who exploded the bomb and why.

Traffic in the area later returned to normal.

MNLF, gov't looking for solutions to groups' domain issues

From the Philippine Star (Sep 7): MNLF, gov't looking for solutions to groups' domain issues

Leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are now cooperating on how to address the nagging concerns besetting the former rebel group’s domains in Mindanao, officials said Saturday.

The joint ARMM-MNLF peace and development efforts are supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, according to Marlon Dedumo, supervising chief of OPAPP’s press bureau for Mindanao.

Senior officials of the MNLF, which signed a final peace pact with government on September 2, 1996, held Thursday an initial brainstorming session with ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman in Cotabato City, where they discussed strategies on how to improve living conditions in former rebel enclaves, now protected by the 17-year accord.

ARMM’s executive secretary, Laisa Alamia, said the meeting was an offshoot of last week’s Senior MNLF Leaders’ Forum in Zamboanga City, which was jointly organized by OPAPP and Hataman’s office.

The forum led to the signing by participating MNLF officials of a manifesto reaffirming their continuing recognition of their 1996 peace accord with government.
The signatories also stated in the document their desire for a peaceful exhaustion of all possible solutions to misunderstandings on the implementation of the peace agreement, through its on-going tripartite review involving combined officials from Malacañang and ARMM, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The three-way evaluation process started in 2007 and had, so far, resulted to the  acknowledgement of “42 consensus points” on how to improve the truce, based on five parameters – education, regional security, political representation of the Moro communities, natural resources, and Sharia justice system.

`Open to MNLF’

Senior MNLF officials who attended last week’s forum in Zamboanga City, among them Abu Amri Taddik, former Sulu Gov. Yusoph Jikiri, and Abebakrin Lucman, an erstwhile ARMM regional information director, also stated in their manifesto their continuing support to the tripartite review of the peace agreement.

Hataman, who was elected ARMM governor last May 13, after serving as caretaker of the autonomous region from December 22, 2011 until his election as the area’s duly-mandated chief executive, said he will task local government units to help in the implementation of socio-economic projects for former MNLF combatants.

“The doors to the seat of the ARMM’s executive department in Cotabato City are wide open to all members of the MNLF,” Hataman said via text message Saturday.  

Alamia said the ARMM government is keen on pushing socio-economic growth forward in MNLF enclaves in the autonomous region through OPAPP’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program, which has social welfare, health and livelihood components.

Project funds available

Alamia said they want to fuse together the efforts of all agencies and support offices involved in projects meant to address underdevelopment in many MNLF communities.

The ARMM government has been helping OPAPP implement the PAMANA’s Camp to Communities, or “C2C” project, whose funding for 2014 had been integrated into the autonomous region’s budget for the same fiscal year.

“The `C2C project’ will help transform these once conflict-stricken areas into peaceful and productive communities,” Alamia said.

The adverse impacts of the 30-year bloody conflict between the MNLF and the government, which started in the early 1970s, are blamed for much of the socio-economic problems condoning poverty in many parts of ARMM.

“These are what the regional government and Malacañang are now trying to address through bilateral interventions,” Alamia said.

The national government, Alamia said, has earmarked P1.4 billion, up to P2.6-billion, for PAMANA projects for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Warrant server shot in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 7): Warrant server shot in Basilan province

Motorcycle gunmen shot a policeman in an attack Saturday in Isabela City in the restive province of Basilan in the southern Muslim autonomous region, officials said.

Officials said SPO1 Rudy Trumata, assigned with the warrant section, was heading home on a motorcycle when he was attacked by the gunmen who were tailing him on a motorcycle in the village of San Rafael.

The assailants escaped after the shooting.

“The victim sustained gunshot wounds on the different parts of his body and was rushed to Basilan Community Hospital for medical treatment,” said Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman.

Huesca said police are investigating the motive of the attack and the identities of the gunmen.

RPM-P backs guv on closure agreement

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Sep 7): RPM-P backs guv on closure agreement

THE Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPM-P) has expressed agreement with the stand of Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. in pressing the government to fulfill its promise for the signing of a closure agreement with the rebel group.

In a statement sent to the media, the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Bongcayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) said that, "We welcome the statement of Governor Alfredo Marañon on the direct interest of the province of Negros Occidental for the signing of the Closure Agreement between the RPM-P/RPA/ABB and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines."

Victorino Sumulong, spokesperson of the RPA-ABB, said: "The peace talks of the RPMP/RPA/ABB as an armed rebel group with the GPH has the main issue of the armed conflict as the focal point of the process."

He added that in the 2000 Peace Agreement signed with the Estrada administration, it entered into the basic condition of cessation of hostilities in keeping with its firm commitment to uphold the overwhelming interest of the people for peace and development and repudiate the “war strategy” of the CPP-NPA."

Slow pace

This peace agreement, according to the RPA-ABB, is a way of resolving the matters on development projects for specific communities gravely affected by the armed conflict in the past, civil and political rights of its members and the security of its officers and men so that it can come into the final agreement for it to effectively pursue the non-violent path of struggle reforms for social justice, peace and development.

"We, therefore highly appreciate Governor Marañon’s concern on the slow pace for the signing of the Closure Agreement that will be the final phase of the Peace Agreement between the RPMP/RPA-ABB and the GPH. The long-wait of our group has been wrought with not a few challenges and demanded much sacrifice from us in sweat and blood," the statement added.

Marañon, earlier, expressed his frustration over the delay.

He was also speaking in behalf of the RPM-P/RPA-ABB members, who have been waiting for the closure of the peace talks since last year.

Local true efforts

Sumolong further said: “But we are one with our democratic and sincere government counterparts in the peace talks from the national government down to the local level with the civil servants and the military forces within them in saying that the work for peace is at times more difficult than making war. We had to contend with the impact of the crisis and power play not only at the national level of political leadership of the government but also at the local level. We have to contend with the sincerity and political will of government leaders and officials especially because of the difficult process of changing traditions of power play with the democratic value of tolerance and upholding humanitarian value of healing and reconciliation.”

He added that their members, "have to contend with the aggressive CPP-NPA who professes to fight for the interest of the poor and the oppressed but use all-out and indiscriminate violence to achieve its political objective of overthrowing the government. Because of this, for countless times, we have to internally confront questions and doubts of our members on the correctness of pursuing the peace process."

One with government

"We are in unison with the governor in calling to do more work than talk and his display of concern is in the proper perspective because more than 70 percent of the armed forces of the RPMP/RPA/ABB are based in Negros Occidental. The contribution to the 'peace and order' and subsequent improvements on the economic development of all the provinces where there has been cessation of hostilities of the under the 2000 Peace Agreement has been acknowledged by all the stakeholders of peace," the statement further added.

The group admitted that, "...much need to be done not only for the signing of the Closure Agreement, but more importantly in the implementation of its provisions. And indeed, the local government units especially the provincial governments have very important roles. One of this is on providing for settlement sites of the different armed units of the RPA-ABB being one of the major provisions that would address the socio-economic reintegration and security issues of the members."

Lead responsibility

However, the statement said, we protest the unwarranted arrest of our three members in Silay as the circumstances surrounding the incident were clearly not in consonance with the guidelines on cessation of hostilities of the 2000 Peace Agreement that we continue to observe and on which the on-going talks and preparations for the signing of the closure agreement is based. This incident does not serve well the shared interest of the government and our organization to come into the final closure agreement.

"We call on the provincial government and other local government units to more actively partake in the process to fast track the signing of the Closure Agreement especially on concerns and issues of the provisions within their mandate and coverage," the statement said.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles said she understands the impatience of the governor over the delay in the signing of the closure agreement.

Deles said that she will find time to visit Marañon.

When asked for comment, the governor said that he expects good news from Deles she comes to visit him.

The RPM-P/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade began their peace talks with the government in December 2000.

57 rebels in EV availed reintegration program since 2012-OPPAP

From the Leyte Samar Daily Express (Sep 6): 57 rebels in EV availed reintegration program since 2012-OPPAP

Since the implementation of Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) in 2012 in the three Samar provinces, 57 former members of the rebel group, the New People’s Army, availed of the program.

Of this number, 45 of them came from Northern Samar while six each came from Samar and Eastern Samar provinces, Ecel Bantilo, CLIP-Visayas area coordinator of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP).

Bantilo also said that documents are now underway for 17 other former rebels avail Social Integration Program which saw 600 former rebels all over the country availing said program.

Immediate assistance, livelihood assistance to include firearm remuneration assistance worth about P100,000 or more are given to rebels who would surrender to the government with their firearms, added Bantilo.

She added that an evaluation committee handles the reintegration of former rebels before they could avail of the program under CLIP.

Fear for their lives and lack of knowledge about the program were the reasons cited by Bantilo why there were only few former NPA members have so far availed the reintegration program of the national government.

Bantilo added that they at the OPPAP are thankful for the support of the local government units for the sustainability of the implementation of the CLIP. She, however, asked them to enact an ordinance to institutionalize the program as they are the one that will implement it.

The OPPAP will only provide financial support to them in carrying out the program, she said.

Of the three Samar provinces, only Northern Samar has enacted such ordinance.

Tabara has faith in PNoy sincerity

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 7): Tabara has faith in PNoy sincerity

BRGY. LOCOTAN, Kabankalan City –The Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade is hopeful that, despite the failure of two previous administrations, their closure peace agreement will be signed within the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

RPMP chairperson Veronica Tabara also said yesterday that the Aquino government has shown its political will and sincerity for a peaceful resolution of all armed conflicts in the country.

Tabara, alias Inca, was the wife of the slain RPM-P founder Arturo Tabara.

The RPM-P and its armed wing, RPA-ABB, a breakaway faction of the New People's Army, entered into peace talks with the government in year 2000.

Tabara, who attended the groundbreaking of the P37 million farm to market road in this barangay, one of resettlement areas of the RPA-ABB members and their families in Negros Occidental, admitted that there were political factors beyond their control, and even on the government's end, that led to the delay in the signing of the peace agreement supposed to be completed in four-years.

They are, however, happy that the implementation of various projects stipulated in the peace agreement have finally started, although the closure agreement has yet to be signed by the President, she said.

The RPM-RPA-ABB, has 716 members as profiled by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process. They possess more than 700 firearms and explosives.

OPPAP Undersecretary Ma. Cleofe Sandoval said the closure agreement with the RPM-P/RPA-ABB will be a “showcase” to other rebel groups, as it will prove that the government is sincere in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict.

Sandoval who shared the sentiments of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. who expressed his frustration over the delay, said “We are trying to make sure that all areas and aspects of the peace agreement are clean and clear”, before it is signed.

She added that the improvement of farm-to-market roads in this remote barangay, will not only benefit the RPA-ABB members and their families, but its entire population.

The changing of the name of the RPA-ABB armed group to KPP, or Brotherhood for Social Progress, is in line with the goal of the government to transform the group into a legitimate socio-economic and political organization.

Gov't kicks off projects at RPA settlement site

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 7): Gov't kicks off projects at RPA settlement site

The development of a Peace and Development Community (PDC) site in Negros Occidental, identified by the former rebel armed group, kicked off yesterday even as the peace closure agreement between the government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (Tabara- Paduano wing) is still under review by President Benigno Aquino III.

Earlier, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and some stakeholders, including the RPMP-RPA-ABB , expressed their frustration over the delay in the signing of the closure agreement.

Undersecretaries Maria Cleofe Sandoval and Luisito Montalbo of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process yesterday led the groundbreaking ceremony of a P37 million farm to market road in Brgy. Locotan, about 49 kilometers away from the Kabankalan City proper that used to be among the conflict-affected communities in southern Negros.

Two other identified PDCs in Negros Occidental are located in the hinterland barangays of Cadiz and San Carlos cities, with documents to start their development now in process, Sandoval said.

Other PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) projects of OPPAP at the Brgy. Locotan resettlement site of the former RPMP-RPA-ABB members, are the construction of a 1.1 kilometer water system with a budget of P3.5 million, electrification (5.1 kms) worth P2.5 million, day care centers –P4 million, and health and social facilities – P3 million.

To ensure sustainability of the projects, Sandoval said they will be turned over to the local government units concerned, for management and maintenance.

She also thanked Marañon and Mayor Isidro Zayco for their all-out support to their peace and development-related activities.

Joyce Wendam, who represented Larry Nacionales, regional director of the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas, yesterday turned over a P18.5 million check to Zayco, for the concreting of the 7.4 kilometer farm-to-market road in the barangay.

The PDC site in Brgy. Locotan, Kabankalan City, has a total land area of 179.64 hectares, with a population of 930.

Col. Jon Aying, 303 rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Supt. Calixto Mabugat, Kabankalan police chief, who represented Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, urged the residents to protect the project site.

DENR regional technical director Levino Duran said they will provide employment to former RPA-ABB members, as protectors of the environment in the area.

Representatives of various government agencies, including the Diocese of Kabankalan, also signed a manifesto to support the peace and development efforts of OPPAP in the area.

Veronica Tabara, RPM-P chairperson, yesterday said that she and OPPAP also recently led the launching of a similar PDC site in Panay.

Ex-MILF official: Khilafa Islamiyah does not exist

From the Philippine Star (Sep 8): Ex-MILF official: Khilafa Islamiyah does not exist

Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao, the group tagged behind the July 26 bombing at the Limketkai Mall in Cagayan de Oro City does not exist, according to Eid Kabalu, the former spokesman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Kabalu said Khilafa means “vicegerent of God” and that some may just be reviving this concept although the group does not exist.

He said the name of the prime suspect in the Cagayan de Oro bombing, Usman Hapids, may not be a name of a person as he noted that Hapids is a term that means “someone well-versed in the Koran.”

The former MILF official said some people might be exploiting the situation and wanted to propagate a new group to mislead the public.

He confirmed the existence of a certain Usman, whom authorities found out to be connected with the al-Qaeda. He said Usman was captured previously but had escaped.

“Usman may have companions in other groups. There is suspicion that he has linkages with Jemaah Islamiyah,” Kabalu.

“It’s logical he has companions because he is popular, being hunted by the authorities,” he said.

A joint team of the Armed Forces, Philippine National Police and the MILF was recently dispatched to the borders of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao to verify the presence of foreign jihadists. The team found nothing.

NPA says cop involved in drugs dealing and newsman’s murder

From the Bicol Today (Sep 6): NPA says cop involved in drugs dealing and newsman’s murder

The killing of a policeman by New Peoples Army (NPA) hit men was confirmed by the rebel group operating in this province after a communique was released to the media. The policeman was also tagged as one of those who took part in the killing of an activist leader and newsman in 2005.

The NPA Celso Minguez Command (CMC) on Thursday, September 5, said in a statement the assassination of policeman Jungil Escalante on Wednesday morning in this city was a “revolutionary justice” inflicted on him for being involved in “illegal drugs dealing” and on the murder of activist leader-media man Ricardo “Ding” Uy in November 18, 2005.

Samuel Guerrero, CMC spokesman, said Escalante was already tried by the revolutionary court and found guilty. “His (Escalante) neighbors filed complaints against him for illegal drugs dealing and he was also  involved allegedly in the killing of Uy when he served in the military death squads under the government’s counter-insurgency program.

In a related development, Provincial Police Director Romeo Ranara in an interview with radio DZRS on Thursday doubted the NPA’s claim, saying the police is still validating the report. He also said Escalante never had the chance to be placed under due process as practiced by the legal courts.

Escalante was shot dead by a gunman backed up by 2 companions Wednesday morning at Barangay Sampaloc, this city. his gun was taken away by the assassins.

2 ASG men arrested in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 7): 2 ASG men arrested in Sulu

Troopers from the 2nd Marine Brigade have successfully arrested two suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members during operations in Barangay Pansul, Patikul, Sulu Friday morning.

These men were identified as Salih Madjam alias "Undag Dami" and his brother Kinang Madkam alias "Tinman Dami".

Col. Jose Johnriel Cenabre, 2nd Marine Brigade commander, said the ASG men were nabbed around by 6:30 a.m. by elements of the 11th Special Operations Platoon led by 2nd Lt. Michael A. Loon

He added that Loon's group was conducting law enforcement operations when the two were apprehended.

Seized from the suspects was an M-1 Garand rifle and 10 rounds of ammunition

The two were positively identified by the civilian community as members of the group of ASG sub-leader Juhurim Hussien, the same group believed to be involved in series of kidnappings of civilians in Sulu.

Hussien's group is also responsible for series of ambush/attacks of military personnel who are providing security to peace and developmental initiatives in Sitio Lumbaan, Barangay Buhanginan, Sitio Bulabog, Barangay Bunbun, Sitio Tubig Magtuh, Barangay Panglayahan, all in Patikul town.

11th IB distributes 4,155 school packs to indigent children

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 7): 11th IB distributes 4,155 school packs to indigent children
The 11th Infantry Battalion and the National BookStore Foundation distributed 4,155 school packs to indigent children in Guihulngan and Isabela, Negros Occidental recently.

Each set of school packs contained four notebooks, ballpen, pencils, sharpener and eraser.

The items were distributed to Barangays Buenavista, Magsaysay, Nagsaha, Mandi-I, Hinakpan, Luz, Linantuyan in Guihulngan City and Barangays Sikatuna, Sebucawan, Libas and San Agustin, Isabela town.

Distribution of these school materials are part of the 11th Infantry Battalion's “Handog Para saKapayapaan, Karunungan Para sa Kabataan” program.

Lt. Col. Wilfredo V. Isaac, 11th Infantry Battalion commander, said Saturday the project is part of its development initiatives particularly in securing the future of the youth in partnership with various stakeholders under the "Bayanihan" campaign of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

ARMM, MNLF leaders join hands to address issues of 1996 peace accord

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 7): ARMM, MNLF leaders join hands to address issues of 1996 peace accord

Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are now cooperating with leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on how to jointly address the nagging issues besetting MNLF.

The issues are related to the 1996 peace agreement between them and the government, ARMM officials announced Saturday.

According to Marlon Dedumo, supervising chief of the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process press bureau in Mindanao, OPAPP is supporting the joint ARMM-MNLF peace and development efforts.

Senior leaders of the MNLF met Friday with representatives of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman during which they discussed the final peace agreement and the provisions which are yet to be fully implemented to the letter and spirit.

Lawyer Laisa Alamia, ARMM chief of staff, said the meeting was held after the Senior MNLF Leaders’ Forum in Zamboanga City, also jointly organized by OPAPP and Hataman’s office.

Alamia said the forum led to the signing of a manifesto by senior MNLF leaders reaffirming their continuing recognition of their 1996 peace accord with government.

The leaders expressed their desire for a peaceful exhaustion of all possible solutions to misunderstandings on the implementation of the peace agreement.

4 rebels captured; guns, explosives recovered

From Rappler (Sep 7): 4 rebels captured; guns, explosives recovered

Four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members were captured after a gun battle with Army Scout Ranger troopers Friday, September 6, in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The arrest of the 4 suspects who confessed to be NPA members, also yielded an M14 assault rifle with a magazine containing ammunition, two hand grenades, 7 backpacks with jungle hammocks and personal belongings, medical kit, food items and “subversive documents,” regional military spokesman Major Rey Tiongson said.

The 3rd Scout Ranger Company troopers headed by SSgt. Rehum Magno were conducting a security patrol in Sitio Hinobaan, Barangay (village) Plagatasanon, Guihulngan City, when they encountered about 20 NPA rebels at Friday noon.

The 15-minute gun battle led to the capture of the 4 NPA members identified as Jessie Abing alias Gamay, 26, of Brgy Nasunggan, La Libertad; Thomas Isugan alias Edel, 19, and Ricardo Ricanillo, 37, residents of Brgys. Buenavista and Linantuyan, Guihulngan City, respectively, and, Dandy Demerin, 18, of Brgy Camandag, La Castellana, Negros Occidental.

Tiongson said Army rangers were conducting community security patrol to check on the reported presence of armed groups in the place, when they were fired upon by the NPA. This prompted troopers to fire back and a firefight ensued.

The NPA rebels, however, later withdrew towards northeast and southeast directions, leaving behind their 4 comrades, he added.

Tiongson said the 4 rebels were treated humanely and apprised of their rights, while being accompanied to a safer place. They are now in jail, after they were subjected to medical examinations.

Brig. Gen Aurelio Baladad, 3ID commander, commended the troops for their professionalism and observance to human rights and rule of law.

“We intensify our Bayanihan operations and we ensure that our soldiers are more responsible, determined and focused towards the accomplishment of [their] mandated mission without violation of any law,” said Baladad.

He also acknowledged the effort of the community for reporting the presence of NPA rebels who he said are threatening civilians in the area.

The NPA has been waging a 44-year Maoist armed campaign that killed at least 30,000. The military estimates the guerrillas' ranks at about 4,000 fighters, down from a peak of roughly 26,000 in the 1980s, reported Agence France-Presse.

Peace talks between the government and the NPA have collapsed.

OPAPP: Peace agreement with Negros rebels spurs Aklan tourism; signing of closure pact to push dev’t through PAMANA

From the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) (Sep 7): Peace agreement with Negros rebels spurs Aklan tourism; signing of closure pact to push dev’t through PAMANA

Ibajay, Aklan – The boom in the tourism industry of Aklan was the major peace dividend that resulted from the peace agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade  (RPM-P/RPA/ABB) in 2000, according to Governor Florencio T. Miraflores.

“Because of the Peace Agreement, Aklan became insurgency-free. Nawala ang gulo, karahasan, murder, at iba pa. Nagkaroon ng peace and order. Dahil dito, umayos ang turismo sa ating lugar. Sa nakalipas na sampung taon, wala pang insidente [ng gulo at karahasan] (Because of the Peace Agreement, Aklan became insurgency-free.

There were no more skirmishes, violence, murder, etc. Peace and order was established. As a result, tourism became successful. In the past ten years, there were no incidents of violence),” Miraflores said during the groundbreaking ceremony and launching of Cabugao farm-to-market  road project held recently in this town.

“Ang arrivals ng turismo sa ating lugar ay umakyat sa 1 million at ito ay nagbibigay ng karagdagang P1.2 bilyong budget sa probinsya (Tourist arrivals increased to 1 million which contributed to additional P1.2 billion in the provincial budget,” he added.
He also urged the community and local officials to work together for continued peace and development in Aklan.

“Dapat tulung-tulong tayo na maging successful ang proyektong ito. Sa pamamagitan ng localized peace agreements, hangad kong maging model na settlement sites sa buong bansa ang mga communities dito sa Aklan. (We must all work together.

Through localized peace agreements, it is my aspiration that settlement sites here in Aklan become model communities that will be emulated nationwide),” Miraflores stated.

In his message, Director Alex Umpar of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process explained that the provision of settlement sites is one of the major strategies for the economic mainstreaming of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB, particularly its Tabara-Paduano Group (TPG) faction, under the GPH-RPM-P/RPA/ABB Closure Agreement.

The RPM-P/RPA/ABB is a breakaway group of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front. RPM-P/RPA/ABB split in 2007, and the TPG now pursues a Closure Agreement and prepares for its eventual transformation into a socio-economic, unarmed organization.

“With the aim of putting a proper and peaceful closure to this peace track, the government is aiming to sign a closure agreement with the RPM-P/RPA/ABB to ensure that the signed Peace Agreement of 2000 will be fully implemented and with finality. We hope that the signing will be done by the end of this year,” Umpar explained.

PAMANA as mechanism

Part of the component of the closure agreement is the social and economic reintegration of RPM-P/RPA/ABB members as well community peace dividends through the establishment of Peace and Development Communities (PDC) or settlement sites. PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) is the primary mechanism being utilized to deliver these components of the agreement.

In Aklan, a settlement site and three community development sites have been identified. The one-kilometer farm-to-market road from Brgy. Regador to Brgy. Cabugao worth P5 million is one of the approved PAMANA projects in the area.
The PAMANA interventions are determined based on the profiling of needs of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB TPG members matched with available and feasible options in the area. This serves to support livelihood and enterprise development and community-based impact projects.

Veronica Tabara, national representative of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB TPG, expressed high hopes that through the Closure Agreement and PAMANA, peripheral communities and vulnerable sectors will also benefit from the development and growth of Aklan.

“Sa pamamagitan ng kasunduang pangkapayapaan at ng PAMANA, umaasa kami na higit pang pagbabago ang makakamit sa mga komunidad at sa buhay ng mga dating rebelde. Sa pamamagitan ng socio-economic reintegration, ang mga former rebels ay magkakaroon ng produktibong buhay at makakaambag sa pambansang ekonomiya. Nakasalalay ang pag-unlad ng settlement sites sa mga infrastructures katulad nitong farm-to-market road (Through the closure agreement and PAMANA, we are hopeful that greater improvement will be attained in the communities and in the lives of former rebels. Through socio-economic reintegration, former rebels will have productive lives and will be able to contribute to national economy. The development of settlement sites largely rely on infrastructures like this farm-to-market road,” she said.

PAMANA is the national government’s program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, and conflict-affected and vulnerable communities, ensuring that they are not left behind. A complementary track to peace negotiations, the program is anchored on the Aquino administration’s strategy of winning the peace by forging strategic partnerships with national agencies in promoting convergent delivery of goods and services, and addressing regional development challenges in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas.

OPAPP: GPH Panel Statement on the Arrest of Ms. Loida Magpatoc, Alleged NDF Consultant under JASIG (Media Statement)

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 7): GPH Panel Statement on the Arrest of Ms. Loida Magpatoc, Alleged NDF Consultant under JASIG (Media Statement)

MISS LOIDA MAGPATOC, the alleged head of the Far South Mindanao Committee of the CPP-NPA, was arrested on July 28, 2013. Her arrest was on the basis of an outstanding warrant for robbery with double homicide and damage to properties issued in 2004 by Judge Zenaida Placer of the Regional Trial Court Branch 7, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.  She is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa. 

She is not covered by the JASIG.

The Letter of Acknowledgement which she allegedly holds, explicitly refers to one Puri Feleo, and there is no proof that Ms. Magpatoc and Ms. Feleo are one and the same person.

The GPH Panel remains faithful to its commitment under the JASIG to release all verifiable JASIG-covered detained NDF personalities, meaning all those in the JASIG list who are identified by their real names and others who have been duly identified as consultants to the NDF Panel.  However, since the NDF did not deposit the actual photograph of Miss Magpatoc in the bank vault in The Netherlands as required under the JASIG Supplemental Agreement to identify their consultants using aliases, there is no way to verify such claims to JASIG coverage.

To date, the GPH has released the following NDF personalities under proper court proceedings as part of confidence-building measures: Jovencio Balweg, Maria Luisa Purcray, Edwin Brigano, Glicerio Pernia, Randy Malayao, and Jaime Soledad (who was re-arrested in May 2012 due to double murder charges ). To our disappointment, three (Pernia, Purcray and Brigano) of these NDF personalities have returned to active underground activities. With respect to the remaining 12 alleged NDF Consultants, whom Mr. Jalandoni also demands to be released, their names do not appear in the JASIG list.  Hence, they are not covered by the Agreement.