Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BIFF kills Army officer

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 9): BIFF kills Army officer

An Army captain was killed Tuesday in a fierce firefight against  50 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters   in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan, the military said.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang identified the officer as Capt. Harold Camazo, 31, commanding officer of the 11 Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Ranger Regiment.
The unit is under the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

“He was killed while he and his troops were conducting clearing operations against the terrorist groups,” Cabangbang said.
Camazo was a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy “Sanlingan” Class 2005. He was a native of Magsaysay, occidental Mindoro.

On Monday, three Abu bandits were killed in an encounter with Army forces in Barangay Mebak in Sumisip town.
The bandits were led by Juhair Aliman alias Botong Ivo.


Photo: Basing instinct

From the Manila  Standard Today (Oct 9): Photo: Basing instinct


Members of the Kalikasan People’s Network For the Environment express their sentiment against the US ‘rebasing’ or use of military bases in the Philippine during a press conference held in Quezon City on Tuesday. MANNY PALMERO


Jakarta pledges support to end peace pact review

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 9): Jakarta pledges support to end peace pact review

Indonesia has committed to help the Philippine government end the tripartite review process on the 1996 final peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in the wake of a three-week siege in Zamboanga City, President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday.

As this developed, Aquino said a new case for illegal possession of explosives will be filed against MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari for the standoff that left more than a hundred people dead.

The MNLF attacked Zamboanga City amid government efforts to end the review process, which the rebels interpreted to be a termination of the entire peace process.

“They reiterated their dedication to help us finish the review process, which is one of the things that was asked for by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Aquino said after meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa at the sidelines of the leaders’ summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation here in Nusa Dua.

Indonesia is the current chairman of the OIC-Peace Committee on the Southern Philippines which brokered the 1996 FPA and is facilitating the tripartite review process.

The MNLF had lamented that it had been left out of the peace process with the government focused on negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  Misuari also declined to join the Transition Commission that would draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Misuari was earlier charged with violations of the International Humanitarian Law. State prosecutors are also reviewing the testimonies against Misuari for rebellion and sedition charges.

Aquino said the government is still investigating reports that someone may have financed the Zamboanga City siege.

“I am not confirming that there is a financier, just to be clear. What I know is that the people who were arrested either said they were promised P10,000 pesos or they were given P10,000 plus a rifle,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca of the Police Regional Office 9, said they had arrested Abduraquib Hussien y Kurais,  an alleged ntelligence officer of Nur Misuariís MNLF faction.

Hussien was arrested at around 4:16 p.m. on October 5 in Puerto Princesa.

Senior Police Officer 2 Mario Rule Lafuente of Police Station 6 documented the arrest while Insp. Nathaniel Malamo Florenso of the regional Public Safety Battalion 3 (RPSB3) led the operation.

Lafuente said Hussien admitted to being an MNLF member loyal to Misuari.

Huesca said Hussien was still under processing to find out if he was among MNLF fighters who joined Habier Malik and other commanders during the siege that lasted for almost three weeks of intense fighting with government forces.

The siege resulted to the death of at least more than 200 persons, mostly MNLF fighters, soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians caught in crossfire.

Malik, who served as Misuariís ground commander, remained missing.

‘Semantics’ tie down talks on wider US access to PH

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 9): ‘Semantics’ tie down talks on wider US access to PH

Manila and Washington are now ironing out the “semantics” of the framework access agreement which would allow more American troops, aircraft and ships to temporarily pass through the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday.

Aquino said he will discuss the language concerns when he meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday in Manila.

“Perhaps in any negotiation, we are always tied down by semantics – the words that are actually used to convey the thoughts,” he said in an interview during the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit here in Nusa Dua.

The summit ended with the 21 APEC member-economies agreeing to implement responsible macroeconomic policies while shunning protectionism to offset the slowing global economic growth.

“We will implement prudent and responsible macroeconomic policies to ensure mutually reinforcing effect of growth and to maintain economic and financial stability in the region, and prevent negative spillover effect,” the APEC leaders said in the eight-page Bali Declaration.

Aquino said 1increasing trade barriers will only stifle further the recovery of the global market.

“Of course there are common areas of concern. Agriculture is a concern by everybody – how do you improve your agriculture sector but at the same time maintain a liberal trade policy which increases the market?” he asked.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for his part, said APEC economies must increase intra-region trade.

He also stressed the importance of accelerating physical, institutional, and people-to-people connectivity among APEC members.

APEC member-economies account for more than 3 billion people and over half of global gross domestic product.

Aquino left Bali on Tuesday afternoon for Brunei where he will attend the Leaders’ Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He will be back in Manila on Thursday, in time for his meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry the day after.

In Manila, Kerry would represent US President Barack Obama, who was forced to cancel his four-country Asian swing because of the shutdown of the federal government.

Aquino said he does not expect any hardline stance from either side on the access agreement negotiations.

“The Philippines and the United States are friends. There will be give and take, then hopefully we will come to that document that represents the meeting of minds of both countries,” he said.

Aquino said both sides would like to ensure that the final document would address all the concerns and anxieties over the increased rotational presence of US troops.

“Their language is geared to support the request for budget when they go to Congress. Their language might be perfect in an American manner of speaking English but might be construed differently through a Filipino mind,” the President added.

In an earlier interview in Manila, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said the final outcome of the access agreement will not result in permanent basing rights for Washington, but would instead use a new model of ìmilitary-to-military cooperation befitting two great allies and partners.î

Aquino said he would also discuss with Kerry the ongoing shutdown as well as Washington’s future plans in Syria.

“We will also ask their intentions in elsewhere where we have an interest; for instance, Syria is hot on topic. We still have citizens in Syria. We as an ally would want to know their intentions so that we can prepare our citizens for any eventuality,” the President said.


CPP supports calls for release of UP professor

From the CPP Website (Oct 8): CPP supports calls for release of UP professor

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) expressed support for the demand of human rights groups, youth groups, teachers and scientists calling for the release of UP professor Kim Gargar, who is presently being detained in the Davao Oriental Provincial Jail in Mati town.

Professor Gargar was taken into custody last October 1 by soldiers of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Cateel, Davao Oriental, near an area where they encountered a unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) several hours earlier. The military claims Gargar was arrested with an M-16 rifle, “landmines” and so-called subversive documents.

The UP professor denied all charges against him by the AFP. In interviews, he asserted that he has been in Compostela Valley since late June to carry out a six-month resource mapping to develop a reforestation program with the aim of rehabilitating the areas devastated by typhoon Pablo in December 2012. Gargar said his research effort is in coordination with the Panalipdan environmental group and the Balsa Mindanao disaster relief network.

Professor Gargar is the Networking Officer of the Center for Environmental Concerns–Philippines and a PhD candidate in Chronobiology in the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in The Netherlands. He finished his masteral education in Physics at the University of the Philippines, and BS in Physics, magna cum laude, at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology in 2000.

“The CPP supports the call for the release of Professor Gargar and the return of all his scientific notes, digital files, research and personal materials. His continued detention prevents him from conducting his research work for the people of Compostela Valley and will only serve the big mining companies that do not want to be bothered by demands for reforestration and rehabilitation,” said the CPP.

“Professor Gargar’s detention underscores the grave injustice in Philippine society where the big plunderers of the environment and the people’s money enjoy their high-style living while those who choose to serve the people and defend their land and resources are made to rot in jail.”

“The arrest and detention of Professor Gargar reminds us of the growing number of cases of wrongful arrests and killings by the reactionary armed forces victimizing civilians which the AFP have accused as being members of the NPA,” said the CPP.

Recently, the AFP was compelled to release Rolly Panesa, a security guard employed by the Megaforce Security. Panesa was arrested by the AFP in October 5, 2012 and accused as being “Benjamin Mendoza” whom the AFP claimed to be a leader of the CPP in the Southern Tagalog region. He was severely tortured and detained for nine months and was released only last September.

In November 15, 2010, troops of the 19th IB shot at the team of distinguished botanist Leonardo Co killing Co and his two companions Ronino Gibe and Policarpio Batute.

In February 16, 2012, elements of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, 1st Infantry Battalion and the 59th Infantry Battalion fired at forest hunters in Magdalena, Laguna killing two residents and wounding three. In October 18, 2012, soldiers of the 27th IB killed pregnant mother Jovy Capion and her two sons age 13 and 8.

“In these and numerous other cases of killing or arresting ordinary civilians, the AFP invariably claim that they encountered members of the New People’s Army,” said the CPP. “They make grand declarations that those arrested or killed are leaders of the CPP or NPA as if these justify their fascist crimes.”

“The all-out support extended by Aquino to the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression has emboldened the fascist soldiers to wage all-out war in the countryside with complete disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law.”


DND receive P665.6 million worth of DAP

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): DND receive P665.6 million worth of DAP
The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday admitted that it has received P665.6 million worth "Disbursement Acceleration Program" (DAP) funds during fiscal year 2011-2012.

"The DAP fund was released to the DND for the different programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly for the procurement of equipment and spare parts, on-base housing, and repair, renovation and rehabilitation of different facilities. Majority of the amount released to the DND was allotted to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Presidential Security Group (PSG)," it said in a statement.

The PAF received a total of P397.3 million from the 2011-2012 DAP fund.

This amount was used for on-base housing facilities, procurement of communication equipment and the implementation of the PAF’s various projects.

The projects include allocation of resources for search and rescue requirements, base facilities and equipment, and the repair, renovation and rehabilitation of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) facilities in Lipa, Batangas.

The AETC is the principal training institution of the PAF and is responsible for the education of soldiers, officers, and pilots of the Air Force.

While the PSG also received P248.3 million which was used for the PSG’s communication enhancement project.

This includes the laying-out of the necessary backbone for the communications systems to be used, the repair of building and barracks, the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) equipment at the Malacañang Complex, and the upgrade of the PSG’s communications equipment from analogue to digital with a secured encryption capability.

The PSG’s communication enhancement project was approved and funded by the Department of Budget and Management in December 2011.

The PSG enhancement project commenced in January 2012.


AFP, NCMF inks MOA for peace programs

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): AFP, NCMF inks MOA for peace programs

Sharing a common interest for peace and development in Muslim Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NMCF) on Tuesday inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) dedicated to establishing programs for peace, reconciliation, and reunification in the region.

In Tuesday's signing ceremony held at the General Headquarters Conference Room at AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, both AFP and the NCMF agreed to launch four initial peace and development programs that will resolve the RIDO conflict, address ‘gun culture’, and promote a culture of peace in Muslim Mindanao.

The four initial programs are Bayanihan for Peace, Reconciliation, and Healing; Peace Radio; Muslim Youth Leadership Camp; and Enhancement of Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity Awareness among AFP personnel.

Both parties will also create a technical working group that will formulate, plan, implement, and monitor said activities.

“The Bangsamoro Peace Process has brought the hope in bringing the conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front at a responsible end. Additionally, spoilers are still attempting to distract the Bangsamoro Peace Process, but the AFP shall remain supportive and in a vigilant watch to make sure that these spoilers are neutralized,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista said.

The MOA was signed Bautista and NCMF Secretary Honorable Mehol K. Sadain.

“This MOA comes at an opportune moment when it seeks to plant the seeds of accord and unity in the midst of discord. This signing comes at a moment when we have the recent problem in Zamboanga City,” Sadain said.

NCMF is a government agency under the Office of the President and mandated to provide assistance to Muslim Filipinos; monitor and evaluate programs; and undertake studies for policy formulation.

“We, at the NCMF, welcome this MOA as we also welcome the participation of our brothers and sisters in uniform in the peace process and in healing the wounds caused by the conflict,” he added.


Citing plot to bolt North Cotabato bombing suspect, cops bring him to Manila

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): Citing plot to bolt North Cotabato bombing suspect, cops bring him to Manila

Police in Midsayap, North Cotabato has transferred a suspected bomber to Manila to pursue the charges against him as doing it here was risky, a police officer said.

Supt. Renante Delos Santos, Midsayap police chief, escorted Monday the suspect, Abdulagani Malang Abas, 42, along with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Manila where he will be subjected to inquest proceedings.

Delos Santos said Army and police intelligence information showed that Abas’ companions have planned to bolt him out of the municipal detention cell following his arrest on Saturday.

Abas, who claimed he was a “habal-habal (passenger motorcycle)” driver, was arrested by alert civilians after he left a box of durian fruit that contained an improvised explosive device along a busy street in Midsayap.

Delos Santos lauded the public, the alert civilians in particular, for their vigilance which led to the foiled bombing attempt along Quezon Avenue in Midsayap where a bus and passenger van terminal was temporarily located.

Abas claimed a woman hired him to bring her to the bus terminal from Barangay Agriculture, also in Midsayap.

He said upon arrival, the woman whom he did not personally knew, left and told him she would just buy something nearby.

But the woman did not show up, Abas said, forcing him to left the box at the roadside fronting the Hill Park Inn and Restaurant. At this point, civilians confronted him why he left the box at a busy street and what it contained.

When village watchmen noticed something extra heavy in the box, they suspected it to be an improvised bomb and they alerted the police.

Bomb experts using bomb sniffing dogs confirmed it was an IED and detonated it while Abas was brought to police office for investigation.

He denied he owned the bomb and insisted the woman owned it.

Citing intelligence information, Delos Santos said the IED was to be brought to Cotabato City through the Weena Bus plying the Davao-Cotabato City route.

The IED was fashioned from 60 mm mortar with battery operated mechanical clock as trigger mechanism.

Midsayap had been the site of recent atrocities perpetrated by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) blamed by military on the rash of bombings in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Before the foiled bombing attempt, the BIFF had attacked six outskirt villages of Midsayap capped by the hostage taking of 13 public school teachers who were later released after being used as human shields.

Delos Santos appealed to residents to continue their vigilance as the town remains in the target list of lawless elements.


Army soldier injured in an encounter with NPA rebels in Tapaz, Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): Army soldier injured in an encounter with NPA rebels in Tapaz, Capiz

A member of the Philippine Army has been wounded following an armed skirmish with several members of the New People's Army (NPA) early Monday night at the boundary of Barangays Nawayan and Tacayan in Tapaz, Capiz.

Major Ray Tiongson, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, said the encounter has wounded Private First Class Ricky Llorico but he was declared in safe condition after he was immediately treated for a bullet that scraped his left foot.

Tiongson said the government forces was having an internal security patrol operation after they received an information from concerned residents on the presence of armed rebel group in the said barangays.

The insurgents fired upon the patrolling government troops after which a brief firefight between the two groups erupted that wounded PFC Llorico in the process.

The military said several of the rebels were believed wounded as traces of bloodstains were found by pursuing government troops in the scene of the encounter.

The army soldiers immediately conducted hot pursuit against the fleeing rebels who retreated deeper into the mountains of Tapaz.


Defense department to acquire new frigates more capable than Hamilton-class cutters

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): Defense department to acquire new frigates more capable than Hamilton-class cutters

The two-brand new frigates which the Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring for P18 billion is definitely more superior and heavily armed that the two Hamilton-class cutters in Philippine Navy (PN) service.

In an interview with PTV-4's "Good Morning Boss" program, Commodore Jose Renan C. Suarez, the PN's Patrol Force commander, said these ships are equipped with radar, sonar, and electronic warfare systems and can engage airborne, surface and underwater threats simultaneously.

The frigates will be equipped with anti-ship and anti-air missiles and a main gun capable of firing 120 rounds per minute aside from a torpedo system.

At present, the Hamilton-class cutters in service are only armed with a 76-mm main gun which can fire 60 to 80 rounds per minute.

Suarez said the new ships are part of the PN's "Navy Frigate Program" from 2013 to 2017.

He added the frigates are designed with numerous upgrades cycle to ensure that they will remain relevant and competitive against new vessels coming in line.

Suarez said these ships will greatly enhance the navy's capability to defend the country's vast maritime territories.

He added these ships will also greatly aid the two Hamilton-class cutters in service, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), in their patrol and monitoring work once commissioned at the PN.

He said plans are also afoot to upgrade the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz to make them more capable in their maritime domain awareness mission.


Militiamen, civilians foil attempt to topple NGCP tower in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): Militiamen, civilians foil attempt to topple NGCP tower in North Cotabato

Alert civilians and militiamen prevented what could have been another sabotage of Mindanao's power situation after a man tried but failed to topple down a steel transmission tower in North Cotabato Monday afternoon.

Capt. Antonio Bulao, speaking for the 602nd Infantry Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said a man attempted to topple down National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Transmission Tower No. 126 in Barangay General Luna, Carmen around 4:00 p.m.

The man whose identity is still being verified used a hacksaw to cut one of the four legs of Tower 126 but fled when responding militiamen arrived.

An NGCP statement said the tower tilted and slightly affected the transmission of 138-KV power to Kabacan NGCP substation from Kibawe sub-station.

Following the incident, militiamen were deployed near NGCP steel towers.

The line provides power to North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. It has been experiencing power outages due to bombing of Tower 141 in Kabacan about two weeks ago.

Vicente Baguio, speaking for the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco), said the cooperative had been receiving erratic power supply from NGCP due to load curtailment being imposed by the power firm.

Due to load curtailment, Cotelco member consumers have been experiencing six- to seven-hour power outages daily.

Compounding the problem was human and nature activities beside power lines that caused power to trip and eventually brownout.

Baguio appealed to members consumers living near steel tower and power lines to help prevent power interruptions.

He said trees should not be allowed to grow near power transmission lines because they automatically trigger power to trip once they touch the power lines.


Joint Army, PNP personnel arrest suspected ranking CPP-NPA female commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 8): Joint Army, PNP personnel arrest suspected ranking CPP-NPA female commander

Joint operatives of the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Army and the intelligence community arrested at dawn Tuesday an alleged ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Bais City, Negros Oriental.

An initial report from the PNP said Nilda Bertulano, alias Frea, was arrested during a checkpoint at the crossing of Barangay Tamisu in Bais City around 4:10 a.m. Tuesday, said PNP OIC provincial police director Supt. Alet Virtucio.

Bertulano, an alleged “amazon” or female red fighter of the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, is wanted for cases of rebellion (Case No. 3344) and murder (Case No. 4311-C) filed at the Regional Trial Court 6th Judicial Region Branch 60 in Cadiz, Negros Occidental.

Court warrants for her arrest were issued by Executive Judge Renato Munez, according to Supt. Virtucio.

Bertulano was on board a motorcycle traveling to Mabinay, Negros Oriental, when she was flagged down at a checkpoint and arrested.

Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, disclosed that Bertulano is allegedly the commander of the Front Operational Command of the Larangan Guerilla 1 of the NPA based in northern Negros.

She is also the alleged secretary of the provincial white area committee, a term used for front groups of the CPP-NPA, said Brig. Gen. Patrimonio.

Details as to the rebellion and murder charges against Bertulano were unavailable as of this posting.

She is now detained at the Bais City police station.

Brig. Gen. Patrimonio said Bertulano is in the military’s watch list of suspected NPA members.


After raid, PH eyes new charges vs Misuari

From Rappler (Oct 8): After raid, PH eyes new charges vs Misuari

MISUARI. Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari inspects his armed followers in one of the group's camps in Indanan, Sulu. AFP file photo

MISUARI. Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari inspects his armed followers in one of the group's camps in Indanan, Sulu. AFP file photo

Three days after the police raided the home of Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City, President Benigno Aquino III announced that the rebel leader faces a new case — illegal possession of explosives, which is a non-bailable offense.

Aquino told reporters on Monday, October 7, after the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia, that the new charges will be on top of the rebellion raps already filed against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman.
Police earlier recommended the filing of rebellion and sedition charges against Misuari for allegedly inciting his followers to attack Zamboanga City. The three-week siege left at least 139 dead and 266 wounded.
On October 4, when authorities raided Misuari's home in Zamboanga City, they said they seized prohibited devices, including components of an improvised explosive device (IED), Monotom bombs, ammunition of mortar, and MNLF subversive documents.
"Ni-raid iyong bahay dahil sinasabi nitong si [MNLF spokesman Emmanuel] Fontanilla ay hindi raw bahay ni Misuari pero pagka-tagal-tagal ng parang doon siya nakatira pag nasa Zamboanga City," Aquino said. (Misuari's home was raided, and despite Fontanilla's denials that this belongs to Misuari, it turns out he stays there whenever he is in Zamboanga City.)
"May nahanap na mga pinagbabawal na bagay. Bubunutin ko sana iyong telepono ko pero iniwan ko sa Maynila... para precise sana. I think the new case will be illegal possession of explosives which is non-bailable also," the President added. (Police discovered prohibited items during the raid. The details are all in my cell phone, but I left it in Manila.)

Aquino said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also went to Zamboanga City on October 4 to oversee the cases being prepared against Misuari.

Hunt continues

Meanwhile, the hunt for Misuari continues. Authorities also have yet to locate Habier Malik, the commander who led the Zamboanga attacks.
"Our security forces are currently determining the exact position of Mr Misuari and once determined then they willl – and once the warrant is on our possession, we will serve the warrant for the arrest of Mr. Misuari," Aquino said. 
Authorities are also investigating reports that MNLF sub-commanders received a "substantial" amount of money amounting to "several millions each," the President said.
But Aquino refused to confirm whether certain personalities indeed financed the siege.
"If we are determining that kind of lead, we will just tell you once we already have a warrant of arrest," Aquino said. "But as of now that [the case] is not strong yet, it's like we're saying, 'Hey, you still have a chance to escape."
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago earlier accused Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is currently facing plunder charges for misuing lawmakers' funds, of financing the Zamboanga attack to divert the public's attention away from the pork barrel scam.

Indonesia vows help in dealing with MNLF

From Rappler (Oct 8): Indonesia vows help in dealing with MNLF

Described as a “constant friend” by the Philippine president, Indonesia vowed to help the Philippine government resolve its issues with the rebel group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, in turn, invited Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to visit the Philippines. Yudhoyono proposed visiting the Philippines in 2014, Aquino told reporters Monday, October 7.

“They have been a very constant friend. I can even attest to the fact that Indonesia as a people, during my mother’s time, was helping us already address the issue with MNLF,” said Aquino, the son of former president Corazon Aquino.

“So imagine how many decades have passed and they are still here,” he said. “They haven’t gotten tired of helping us and they have, in fact, reiterated their desire to continue helping us as far as that aspect is concerned.”

Aquino met with Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Indonesia. He met with other world leaders, such as Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, whom he also invited to visit the Philippines.

PH, Indonesia on MNLF

Indonesia brokered the successful peace talks between the Ramos administration and the MNLF, which led to the signing of a peace deal in Jakarta in September 1996.
It is currently hosting talks to review the agreement's implementation.

Indonesia, in fact, called for a peaceful resolution of the MNLF's Zamboanga siege last September.

Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari, had repeatedly said Indonesia should serve as a 3rd-party mediator to resolve the Zamboanga conflict. The Philippine government, however, had clarified the MNLF didn't formally request Indonesia to intervene in the crisis.

Indonesia also heads the peace committee of the Organization on Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The OIC also condemned the violence in Zamboanga City.


China may smother West PH Sea agenda at East Asia Summit

From InterAksyon (Oct 8): China may smother West PH Sea agenda at East Asia Summit

China will likely exploit the absence of US President Barack Obama at a major Asian regional summit this week to brush off attempts to focus on the South China Sea dispute as Beijing continues to bolster its influence over the strategic waterway, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

Any substantive progress in resolving the dispute is unlikely at the East Asia Summit beginning in Brunei on Wednesday and tensions between China and other claimants to the oil- and gas-rich sea will likely linger, analysts, senior regional officials and diplomats said.

The conflicting claims over the South China Sea has pit an increasingly assertive Beijing against smaller Asian nations that look to support from the United States.

The row is one of the region's biggest flashpoints amid China's military build-up and the US strategic "pivot" back to Asia.

Washington says it is officially neutral but has put pressure on Beijing and other claimants to end the dispute through talks. It insists all parties refrain from force and do nothing to impede sea-lanes that carry half the world's shipping.

Obama was scheduled to bring up the South China Sea at the Brunei summit, but he canceled his tour of Asia because of the impasse over the government shutdown in Washington. Secretary of State John Kerry will represent him.

"Overall, it is hard to see how the US can voice these concerns as forcefully and with the same authority without the president there," said Carl Thayer, a South China Sea expert at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra.

"And without Obama, I'm not sure other supporting nations will want to step out in front on this issue, either."

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia claim parts of the sea, but China says its territory is marked by a "nine-dash line" that encompasses almost all of the waters.

Except China and Taiwan, the other claimants are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is hosting the East Asia Summit in Brunei.


Already this week, China has launched a thinly veiled broadside against intervention by the United States in the dispute.

"The involvement of countries not in the region will only complicate this issue and is not beneficial to improving mutual trust in this region," said Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin. "But there's nothing we can do if people want to talk about it as we cannot muzzle them."

Beijing ultimately wants to settle disputes in the South China Sea through one-to-one negotiations with individual claimants and not multilaterally - a strategy that plays to China's strengths as an emerging superpower with a growing navy and substantial economic and trade leverage over many smaller Asian neighbors.

There have been recent signs, however, of a subtle and sophisticated shift in Beijing's engagement over the sea.

Earlier this year, Beijing agreed to hold tightly choreographed talks with ASEAN on a code of conduct for disputes in the South China Sea, in what Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa described as "important progress."

"Remember not too long ago, the idea of having any process going on the code of conduct was anathema to China. But now they are where we want them to be in terms of consultations," he told Reuters on the sidelines of another regional summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.

But with Beijing restricting talks to low-level consultations rather than formal negotiations, some diplomats say China may be giving the appearance of dialogue without committing to anything substantive.

The Philippines, which has locked horns forcefully with China over disputed territory, says it had looked for support from its traditional ally Washington for substantial progress on the code of conduct.

"They (the United States) want the code of conduct to be concluded expeditiously but it's really all up to China," said Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

"I'm hopeful but I can't be sure how this is going to move forward. We're going to have to wait and see."


1 killed, 2 wounded as NPA, Army clash in Capiz

From InterAksyon (Oct 8): 1 killed, 2 wounded as NPA, Army clash in Capiz

A suspected member of the New People’s Army was killed, while another rebel and a soldier were wounded in a series of firefights Monday in the town of Tapaz, Capiz.

Maj. Ray Tiongson, spokesman of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, identified the fatality as “alias Pastor,” a resident of Lambunao, Iloilo.

Wounded and subsequently captured was Roland Diaz, allegedly a member of Batong Sentro de Grabidad (SDG) Platoon of the Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay (KR-P).

“Diaz who was wounded in the encounter has a standing warrant of arrest for murder issued by the Regional Trial Court in Mambusao, Capiz,” Tiognson said.

Private First Class Ricky Llorico was shot in the leg.

Both Llorico and Diaz were airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

Tiongson said troops from the 61st Infantry Battalion first encountered more or less 40 rebels at 6:55 a.m. Monday at the boundary of Barangay Nayawan and Barangay Tacayan.

The firefight lasted three hours before the rebels withdrew toward Sitio Malabo, Barangay Wright and Barangay Buri. No casualty was reported.

Another clash broke out around 11:45 a.m. as troops pursued the retreating rebels.
The casualties on both sides were incurred during the 45-minute encounter.

Lieutenant Colonel Victor Llapitan, 61st IB commander, said they had prevented the rebels from setting up a tactical camp.


Instead of Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Manila, Palace says

From InterAksyon (Oct 8): Instead of Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Manila, Palace says

United States Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit the Philippines, a presidential spokesperson said on Tuesday, days after President Barack Obama was prompted to cancel his trip to Manila due to the US government shutdown.

Malacañang is now preparing for Kerry's visit later this week, Deputy Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters in a daily press briefing.

“The secretary of state is attending in the stead of the US President, and coordination continues among the agencies who are involved in the visit,” she said.

Obama was supposed to be in Manila on October 11 to 12 upon the invitation of Mr. Aquino to discuss US-Philippine relations.

The US chief executive has cancelled his trip due to the shutdown of the US government which is now on its eight day since October 1.

"And I understand that President Obama has told President Aquino that: ‘please tell Secretary Kerry as well and I am quite sure that it will reach him’. So the President will also discuss some concerns that we have with Secretary Kerry," Valte said.

Besides the Philippines, Mr. Obama earlier also called off his trip to Malaysia so that he could better deal with the government shutdown, which transpired after the US Congress failed to reach a compromise on the health care reform.


Alleged MNLF intelligence officer nabbed in Zamboanga

From InterAksyon (Oct 8): Alleged MNLF intelligence officer nabbed in Zamboanga

An alleged intelligence officer of the Moro National Liberation Front was arrested in Zamboanga City, police announced belatedly on Tuesday.

Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, spokesman of Police Regional Office 9, said concerned civilians tipped authorities off to the suspect, Abduraquib Hussien y Kurais.

Hussien was arrested around 4:16 p.m. on October 5 at the Puerto Princesa area by personnel of Regional Public Safety Battalion 3 led by Inspector Nathaniel Malmo Florenso.

Police said Hussien allegedly admitted to being a member of the MNLF member loyal to founder Nur Misuari.

“We recovered from him his identification card showing that he is a member of the MNLF-Misuari faction, having a position of deputy chief (of) intelligence. He also yielded a lot of different kinds of IDs, wristwatch, Nokia cellular phone, passport, disposable lighter, black wallet containing different foreign currencies, and ATM visa,” Senior Police Officer 2 Mario Rule Lafuente Lafuente of Zamboanga police station 6 reported.

Huesca said authorities are still investigating Hussien to determine if he was among the fighters who joined Misuari lieutenant Habier Malik and other MNLF commanders in the almost month-long standoff with government forces, which claimed the lives of more than 200 people and displaced more than 100,000 city residents.


Army captain killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf, BIFF in Basilan

From InterAksyon (Oct 8): Army captain killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf, BIFF in Basilan

Army Capt. Harold Camazo

An Army captain was killed Tuesday as he led his troops in a fierce firefight against more than 50 members of the Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan, the military said.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said Captain Harold Camazo, 31, “was killed while he and his troops were conducting clearing operations against the terrorist groups.”

Camazo, a member of Philippine Military Academy “Sanlingan” Class 2005, commanded the 11 Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Ranger Regiment.
He was a native of Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro.

On Monday, three Abu Sayyaf gunmen under the command of Juhair Aliman alias Botong Ivo were killed in an encounter with Army troops in Barangay Mebak, Sumisip town.


Negros 'NPA commander' arrested in Bais City

From InterAksyon (Oct 8): Negros 'NPA commander' arrested in Bais City

Alleged NPA commander Nilda Natan (photo courtesy of Armed Forces of the Philippines)

The military in the Visayas said it arrested Tuesday an alleged commander of the new People’s Army in Bais City, Negros Oriental.

Major Ray Tiongson said Nilda Bertulano, alias Frea, was arrested around 4 a.m. at Crossing Tamisu.

Bertulano was facing an arrest warrant for rebellion and murder filed before the Regional Trial Court 6th Judicial Region Branch 60 in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

“(She was arrested) while onboard a motorcycle going to the Mabinay, Negros Oriental area (and) was brought to the police station in Bais City for proper disposition,” Tiongson said.

He said surrendered rebels identified Bertulano as the commanding officer of the Front Operational Command of Larangang Gerilya 1, the NPA unit responsible for various attacks in Central Negros, one of which led to the death of Lieutenant Archie Polenzo of the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Cadiz City in April 2010.

“She was also involved in the (burning) of (a) transloading station on March 16, 2008 in Barangay San Jose, Toboso, Negros Occidental where two cranes, four prime movers and a ten-wheeler truck of Victorias Milling Corporation in Lopez Sugar Central were burned by the NPA,” Tiongson said.

“Last November 2, 2008, Bertulano was among the NPA members who raided the La Libertad PNP station in Negros Oriental, where they carted away five M16 rifles, uniforms and personal belongings of the police personnel,” he added.


Philippine military shells MILF bases despite truce deal, peace talks

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 8): Philippine military shells MILF bases despite truce deal, peace talks

The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group negotiating peace with the government has accused the military on Tuesday of attacking its forces in the southern province of Basilan.

Von Al Haq, a rebel spokesman, said troops fired cannons on MILF positions in the village of Ulitan in Ungkaya Pukan town. He said troops, under Colonel Carlito Galvez, attacked several rebel bases sparking a firefight.

He said it was not the first time that Galvez, commander of army forces in Basilan province, targeted the MILF which has signed a cease-fire agreement with the Aquino government to allow peaceful negotiations aimed at ending decades of bloody fighting in the southern Philippines.

“The military attacked our forces again and fighting erupted because of the military assault,” Al Haq said.

It was not immediately known if there were casualties in the fighting, but the army said the military operation targeted the Abu Sayyaf, a small, but the most notorious rebel group blamed for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the troubled province.

Just on Monday, the army said troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf rebels headed by Juhair Aliman in Basilan and killed two fighters, but two soldiers were also slain in the violence. It said the operation was launched to freer the circumferential road from lawless elements.

But Al Haq said the military operation was launched against the MILF in the guise of pursuing Abu Sayyaf rebels. “As in the past cases, military operations were directed at the MILF in the guise of running after the Abu Sayyaf. We have bases in Basilan and these bases are protected by the cease-fire agreement, but spoilers of peace are targeting us. The military violated the cease-fire accord,” he said.

The MILF said military shelling also hit civilian communities and villagers have fled to safer areas.

Abbas Salung, chairman of the MILF Cease-fire Committee based in Basilan province, said he sought an immediate ceasefire with the military, but “it would seem the Colonel Galvez was recalcitrant.”

“We could not understand why the attack was irresponsibly conducted against our forces and the shelling not being stopped. The government forces assaulted our troops and bombarded civilian communities. These are utter violations of the government and MILF ceasefire accord and agreement on the civilian protection, human rights and international humanitarian laws by Philippine Army troops,” Salung said.

He said Galvez has undermined the cease-fire accord. “This is not the first time that Colonel Galvez undermined the cease-fire accord and the primacy of the peace process between the government and MILF,” Salung said.

The MILF said it will file a protest with the government cease-fire body against Galvez.


OPAPP: Opening Statement of GPH Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the 41st GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks

From the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) (Oct 8): Opening Statement of GPH Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the 41st GPH-MILF Formal Exploratory Talks

Thank you very much, Tengku. Assalamu alaikum. On behalf of the Government delegation, members of our panel, Former Secretary Senen Bacani, Undersecretary Yasmin Busran-Lao, Undersecretary Chito Gascon, members of our legal team, and our secretariat. Allow me to extend our salutations to our Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Datu Abdul Ghafar bin Tengku Mohamed, whose barber I must commend for his very young and fresh look. And of course the secretariat headed by Madame Che Kasnah.

Our MILF counterparts in the panel led by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Datu Abdulla Camlian, Datu Antonio Kinoc, Atty. Raissa Jajurie, we are missing Professor Abhoud Linga who is on hajj, and Brother Bobby Alonto who we hope will get well very soon from his back problems; the other members of the MILF panel; the Head of Secretariat, Brother Jun Matawil; lawyers; and other members of the technical working groups and Transition Commission.

The state members of the International Contact Group (ICG): Mr. Ahmet Doğan, from Turkey and not Egypt; Mr. Tom Phipps from the United Kingdom; and who will be joined by Mr. Hirotaka Ono-san I believe, from Japan; and somebody from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia here. The ICG NGOs: Ali Saleem of Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD); Dr. Sudibyo Markus of Muhammadiyah; our warm welcome to Signor Alberto Quattrucci, Secretary-General of the Community, as Tengku said we will call the organization because of the very hard way to pronounce the rest of the name (Community of Sant’Egidio); and certainly the only rose among the ICG thorn, Emma Leslie of Conciliation Resources.

We are very happy to have with us today Congressman Rodolfo Biazon from Muntinlupa.  Congressman Biazon joined the Government Negotiating Team in our tour of Spain last year to learn more about autonomous arrangements in Navarra and examine intergovernmental relations between Madrid and Spain’s various regions.

If we were a class in that educational tour, we can say that Congressman Biazon was the A-student, the one who eagerly raised questions and seriously engaged the discussants from the different government offices in Navarra and Madrid. Expect therefore that because Congressman Biazon will sit quietly for now as observer, he will have many questions for all of us outside of the formal sessions.

We trust also that given his wide range of experience in the Marines, as defender of President Aquino against the coup plotters in 1989, and later served as her AFP Chief of Staff, and many years as legislator thereafter, he will be an articulate and passionate advocate of this process and the future Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Congressman Biazon, we will count on you to be our voice in Congress.
Later this week, we will be joined by one more member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Teddy Broner Baguilat Jr., as well as Presidential Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles and perhaps one or more Cabinet secretaries and another Congress official to witness, In Sha Allah, the closure of at least one of the two remaining Annexes.

We regret that the ex-officio member of the GPH Panel, Secretary Mehol Sadain, Chair of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos is unable to join us in this round because of his paramount duty as Amerul Haj of this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca.

And so it has come to pass that we are now on the 41st round of Formal Exploratory Talks between the Government and the MILF.

Going by the June 2013 survey results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), a good 70 percent of Filipinos still believe a peace agreement between the GPH and the MILF is possible. However, only one-half of those people who continue to believe actually expect it to happen soon by or before 2016.

It is evident from these survey results that the key question to many people following up this negotiation is not so much IF we will have a peace agreement, but WHEN.

After the WHEN question, there are the even more difficult WHAT IF questions. Just to give you a survey of the “what if” questions we have received during our various consultations:

-          WHAT IF for some intent, malicious or otherwise, a case is filed in the Supreme Court against the agreements and actually prospers?

-          WHAT IF the Transition Commission is unable to finish a draft law by early-2014? Will Congress have enough time to work on it, when budget deliberations start once again next year, and who knows what other pork or other corruption controversies arise in Congress?

-          WHAT IF the President fails to muster enough support in Congress for this urgent bill?

-          WHAT IF Congress mangles the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted by the Transition Commission?

-          WHAT IF some of the ARMM provinces do not join the Bangsamoro political entity?

-          WHAT IF traditional politicians end up capturing the Bangsamoro in 2016 and thereafter? Will the MILF accept the election results?

Those who have asked the WHEN and WHAT IF questions do so, not just out of impatience, but of genuine concern for the success of the process.

This impatience and the concern are also driven by the rise in violence perpetrated by those who want this process to fail.

From July to September, the GPH Panel Secretariat documented more than 50 cases of attacks initiated by the BIFF on civilian installations, communities, and military outposts.

The Abu Sayyaf and other criminal groups collaborated in some of these attacks, and instigated their own as well, such as the bombing in Cagayan de Oro City.  However, these did not match the scale of armamentation that we saw in the September siege of Zamboanga City by a faction of the MNLF.

In contrast, the ceasefire between the Government and the MILF remains steadfast with zero hostilities and increased cooperation in preventing untoward incidents and containing criminal activities.

This alone is good reason for all those concerned about peace in Mindanao, WHY, why it is important to pursue this process between the GPH and the MILF: so that this temporary ceasefire becomes permanent, and in becoming permanent, the other, better things become possible; and so that those who continue to take the path of violence will be isolated, and the rest who commit to peace will coalesce to bring about a broad consensus on the way forward.

We, the negotiating partners present here and the friends of this process in the room, will need to steadfastly work together to foil the many WHAT IFs. We carry a great burden borne out of equally great expectations.

We know that it will require a lot of hard work, the appropriate strategies, the effective mechanisms and collaborative approaches, at the soonest possible time.

Allow me to borrow words of wisdom from a higher source to help us in our task.
As my husband knows very well, I am not a very prayerful person. But the First Reading in last Sunday’s mass awed me as a message so fitting for this, our journey
With your indulgence, allow me to lift excerpts from the reading. It starts aptly with a lament over the man-made suffering around us.

How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.

And this is the Lord’s answer:

For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of  faith, shall live.

(Holy Bible, 1:2-3; 2:2-4)

 “The rash one has no integrity,
but the just one, because of faith, shall live.”

Indeed, if it has taken us a long while to put down in words and phrases in the Annexes, it is because we want to guarantee the integrity of the outcome.

We need to ensure the justness of the solutions we are adopting for one and all, so that with the faith of our fellow Filipinos, this agreement will live and let live the hopes for less strife, good governance, harmony, cooperation and a better life among the Bangsamoro and the whole country.

Padayon! Mabuhay!