Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bomb defused at State College

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 15): Bomb defused at State College

Kidapawan City, Cotabato — Bomb experts defused an improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned from a 60-mm mortar ammunition which caused panic at a a state-run college in the municipality of Arakan in North Cotabato yesterday morning.

Senior Inspector Rolly Oranza, local chief of police, said the IED was found at 7 a.m. inside a plastic box planted near the flag pole in front of the administration building of the Cotabato Foundation College for Science and Technology (CFCST).

Security guard James Ramos discovered the suspicious-looking package and reported it to school authorities for an immediate evacuation of students and teachers.

Two hours later, operatives of the Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the Philippine Army were able to defuse the explosive, Oranza said.

The investigation on who planted the IED considers a group of CFCST scholars, many of them orphans, who held a rally calling for the ouster of the school president as possible suspects, Oranza said.

“Investigations are still ongoing. We want to dig deeper on this case,” he added.
“This was the first bomb threat in this school and it happened inside the campus. We know there are problems inside the CFCST but we have yet to find out if the IED recovery has something with the previous incident,” said Oranza.

After the bomb was rendered safe, classes have resumed at the CFCST, reports said.


Soldier dies; NPA leader captured

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 15): Soldier dies; NPA leader captured

Santiago, Agusan del NorteAn Army soldier was killed and a New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla commander captured in separate encounters that broke out last Monday in the hinterland areas of Palo 9 and Palo 8, respectively, in Barangay Poblacion 1, this town.

Supt. Martin M. Gamba, spokesman of the Police Regional Office 13 (PRO13), identified the slain Army soldier as Private First Class Rey A. Pastrana of 29th Infantry Battalion (29th IB).

Meanwhile, the identity of the captured commander of the Sanga Samahang Partido Platoon, Front Committee 16-A of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee, has been withheld by authorities.

“The first encounter happened at 7:15 a.m. in Palo 9 while the second gunbattle followed around 8 a.m. in nearby Palo 8,” Gamba said.

Gamba said the military believes that several NPA rebels were killed or wounded in both clashes.


MILF: KDFI conducts joint peace forum

From the MILF Website (Oct 14): KDFI conducts joint peace forum

The Kalilintad Development Foundation, Inc. (KDFI) and Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College conducted a joint peace advocacy forum held at the Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College, Paglas, Maguindanao on Sunday October 6, 2013.
The peace forum was initiated by Abdulaziz B. Talib and attended by hundreds of participants from the sectors of professionals, women and youth. It aims to update stakeholders on the current status of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Speakers came from the Committee on Information, Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and Mr. Wahab Guialal, Research Officer of BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal.

Mr. Guialal gave updates on the peace talks between GPH and the MILF. He emphasized the significance of the four annexes that will complete the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) in order for the BTC to start crafting the Basic Law (BBL). He lamented that the panels failed to agree and sign any of the two remaining annexes during the 40th Exploratory Talks at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last September 9-19, 2013.

But Mr. Guialal expressed his optimism that a breakthrough shall be reached in the succeeding talks. He recognized the sincerity of both panels in pursuing the negotiation and sign the final peace deal before the end of 2013. The head of the secretariat of the MILF Committee on Information-Central Committee compared the proposed Bangsamoro Region with the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which failed to fully address the marginalization of the Moros and their sentiments towards the government.

Samin Unti,  BLMI Administrative Officer underscored the essence of advocacy for all stakeholders and urged them to monitor and be aware on the progress of the peace talks. Nasrullah Muhammad, the HRDC Point man to the MILF presented the roadmap of the agreement. He emphasized that the road to realizing real peace is very difficult because there are challenges encountered along the way. Every step is a struggle for everyone so that the aspiration for the realization of Bangsamoro can be achieved. He stressed that the path towards self-determination is not easy and there is no straight path to attaining lasting peace. One has to work hard and make sacrifices.

Professor Esmail Abdula, member of the BLMI Steering Committee and Education Department of KDFI synthesized the inputs given by the speakers. He also delved on the pre-colonization, colonization and the neo colonization period of the Bangsamoro where he said the Moro history started from 13th century to the present situation. The sacrifices of the Bangsamoro forebears shall not be wasted and the next generation shall harvest the fruits of their sacrifices. He also stressed that the MILF leadership needs to develop future leaders for the Bangsamoro.

“KDFI is a non-government organization, registered at Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) and to date had trained hundreds of Moros for advocacy works. Moreover, it engages in various programs for the benefits of the tri people commencing with rigid workshops on human rights”, said Shiekh Moidjodin Talusob, Executive Director of the foundation.


MILF: GPH, MILF stress need for just, acceptable solutions to the Bangsamoro problem

From the MILF Website (Oct 15): GPH, MILF stress need for just, acceptable solutions to the Bangsamoro problem

Sharing the same resolve to complete the annex on power sharing during the 41st formal talks held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from October 8-12, 2013, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stressed the need to ensure just and acceptable solutions to address the decades-old conflict in Mindanao, the Mindanao Examiner reported on October 10, 2013.
During the parties’ opening ceremonies for the exploratory talks in the Malaysian capital, GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer reiterated the importance of due diligence in coming up with viable solutions to the Bangsamoro problem.

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

“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.”

On the same note, Iqbal underscored that the agreement that will be forged by both sides should be “acceptable to our people and will lead to solving to Bangsamoro question.”

“Short of this, our efforts would be in vain,” he added.

Power-sharing deal

Coronel-Ferrer remarked on the possible “closure of at least one of the two remaining Annexes,” which are on normalization and power sharing.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, in his opening statement, proposed to “finish the two remaining annexes especially on power sharing.”

These two annexes, together with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in October 2012, and the Annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, and Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, will form part of the Comprehensive Agreement which the GPH and the MILF panels aim to sign within the year.

Prof. Coronel-Ferrer also stressed the need to address public’s impatience and doubts which have been driven by the “rise in violence perpetrated by those who want this process to fail.”

“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,” she said.

“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."
Inclusive peace

Iqbal said that the gains of the GPH-MILF peace process will benefit the entire Bangsamoro and the country as well.

“The fruit of this current endeavor will redound to everybody, including MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front),” he stated.

“This is the reason that we have appealed to our brothers in MNLF to support the MILF, or at least not stand on the way, and give us chance to succeed.”

Joining the panel of observers in the talks is Congressman Rodolfo Biazon and members of the International Contact Group. Presidential Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles, Cong. Teddy Broner Baguilat, Jr., and other members of the Cabinet and Congress are expected to arrive later this week, said the report.


Sulu sultanate presses for Sabah bid

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 16): Sulu sultanate presses for Sabah bid

As the Muslim community celebrates Eid’l Adha, the Sultanate of Sulu, the Islamic Tausug state that ruled over many islands in southern Philippines, vowed never to abandon its territorial claim over Sabah.

Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate’s spokesman and secretary-general, said they have  to fight for their rights over Sabah after the Aquino administration abandoned its claim on the territory, which Malaysia controls as its 13th state.

“The claim of the Sultanate of Sulu over Sabah through the Government of the Republic of the Philippines  is now abandoned by the Philippine government. In view of that, the Sultanate is compelled to pursue independently the claim, acting on its historic and legal rights over Sabah,” Idjirani said from the residence of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Maharlika Village, Taguig City.

On February, Kiram sent his brother, Raja Muda (crown prince) Agbimuddin Kiram to Sabah, along with 200 fighters to revive the sultanate’s long-standing claim over the resource-rich Sabah.

The intrusion prompted the Malaysian military to launch offensive operations to flush out Kiram’s armed followers. A total of 68 members of the sultanate’s Royal Security Forces (RSF) and 10 Malaysian policemen and soldiers were killed in the series of clashes.

Seven months after the cessation of hostilities, the RSF in Sabah has grown to 1,600 men, backed up by volunteers from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), according to Idjirani.

“The continued presence of Raja Muda in Sabah is now the Sultanate’s assertion by itself of their sovereign and proprietary rights over the territory,” Idjirani pointed out.
The RSF, Idjirani said, remained in Lahad Datu, maintaining a defensive stand to avoid further clashes with the Malaysian security forces.

“They were continuously repositioning in controlled areas to avoid an encounter with the Malaysian forces, which is in compliance with the previous call of the United Nations for sobriety,” the sultanate official added.

The sultanate’s presence in Sabah, Idjirani stressed, also hopes to prove to the international community that Malaysia does not respect international agreements as in the case of the Manila Accord of 1963.

The 1963 agreement was signed by the Philippines, Indonesia, then Federation of Malaya and the Sulu Sultanate in July 31, 1963 wherein the three signatory-states agreed to recognize the Sulu Sultanate’s claim over Sabah and peacefully solve the dispute in the UN.

“Malaysia is a mere administrator of Sabah as the issue is still pending resolution in the UN since 1962,” Idjirani said.


Source of Zambo rebel guns probed

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 16): Source of Zambo rebel guns probed

Authorities are tracing the source of firearms used by Moro National Liberation Front rebels to determine if they came from the government armory or were sold by soldiers and police.

Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, spokesman of police regional office 9, said during the week of Sept. 9 when the siege of Zamboanga began, a government soldier driving a van was stopped at checkpoint and yielded three M-16 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

About 60 guns recovered during encounters have been examined mostly with tampered serial numbers. They included M-16 and M-14 rifles, M-203 with grenade launchers, M-60 machineguns, caliber .30 machineguns, caliber .45 pistols and a World War II M-1 carbine.

About 260 firearms are in the custody of police retreived from main encounters  in the villages of Rio Hondo, Mariki, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Kasangyan.

Huesca said one high-powered firearm in mint condition, however, was registered in the name of a policeman in Pagadian City.


OIC official calls for resumption of peace talks after Zambo siege

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 16): OIC official calls for resumption of peace talks after Zambo siege

The secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, expressed deep concerns over the growing number of persons displaced in the wake of the recent violence in Zamboanga City, reportedly numbering more that 120,000 children, women and the elderly, whose homes and properties were lost to destruction and fire during those tragic events.

The Secretary General called on the Aquino administration to expedite action in addressing the consequences of the events by compensating the losses and rehabilitating the displaced to their homes and lands.

Ihsanoglu also appealed to OIC member states and Islamic charitable organizations and institutions to provide necessary assistance to their brothers in Zamboanga who have now become homeless.

Ihsanoglu pointed out that these incidents are the outcomes of non-implementation of all the provisions of the peace agreement signed by the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He also stressed the need to return to the negotiating table for solutions to the issues pending between the two sides which can bring about comprehensive peace and security in Zamboanga.

On Sept. 14, the OIC had already expressed concern at escalation of violence in southern Philippines where government troops have been battling gunmen of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The violence broke out a new between the government forces and the MILF gunmen, who advocate independence of Mindanao island from the mainland of the nation.

Ihsanoglu expressed, in a statement, deep concern at re-eruption of the violence in cities and areas on Mindanao, condemning waste of “innocent souls,” and calling for calm and restraint to pave way for political efforts to resolve the issue.

He expressed concern at failure of the political process to reach a settlement to the crisis, called for resumption of the peace talks and implementation of a peace accord, crafted in 1996.

The Aquino administration signed a framework peace accord with the MILF in October 2012, however, it was rejected by other Islamic groups. It stipulated establishing self-rule in Mindanao by 2016, but affirmed the government authority over policies of defense, security, foreign and monetary affairs.

Armed wing of the front, which groups some 12,000 gunmen, is one of the largest secessionist factions in the country. It has waged a bloody campaign for independence since 1969, resulting in violence that has claimed more than 120,000 lives.

On May 20, 2010, Ihsanoglu carried out contacts with the leadership of the MNLF and MILF to enhance coordination between the two fronts and unite their ranks for the peace and development of the Bangsamoro people.

The secretary general promised to render any needed assistance for the holding of this meeting.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday said it has already spent around P150 million, mostly in fuel, during the Zamboanga City siege laid by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Nur Misuari last month.

AFP vice chief of staff Lt. Gen. Alan Luga said that the military expenses of about P150 million was more on fuel for the C130s.

“This is expensive because the flights of our C130s were massive... actually the huge cost was the aircraft flight, the fuel,” said Luga, who estimated the military expenses in Zamboanga City at P300 million during a budget hearing.

Aside from fuel, the military also spent in medicines and hospitalization of soldiers and additional food items.

“That (P300 million) was initial (estimate) but later on we re-computed and it was less than that, about 50 percent of that because we counted the ammunition,” explained Luga.

Luga said the estimated P150 million was as of yesterday.

However, Luga stressed that the utilization of the Air Force’s C130s “optimized” the military operation in Zamboanga and lessened the cost compared to using chartering aircraft.

According to Luga, the estimated P150 million military spending in Zamboanga City excluded ammunition and other war materiel.

The AFP’s number two man said that the figure could still go up as clearing and mopping up operations are still ongoing in Zamboanga City.

More than 300 MNLF followers of Misuari, led by Ustadz Habier Malik, occupied at least six barangays in Zamboanga City last Sept. 9, sparking a 20-day sporadic clashes with about 5,000 government forces deployed in the area.

The MNLF fighters took about 200 civilians as hostages.

The government declared the siege over last Sept. 29 after 195 hostages were rescued.
A total of 208 MNLF fighters were killed, along with 20 soldiers, including three junior officers; five policemen and 12 civilians.

More than 10,000 residential structures were burned down, displacing about 100,000 people.


MNLF rebels await jail transfer

From Business World (Oct 15): MNLF rebels await jail transfer

The 24 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) detainees who surrendered to the city’s former police chief during the standoff last month are still under the jurisdiction of the local Philippine National Police, the chief inspector of the city reformatory center said yesterday.

Major Julius Arro said his office is still waiting for a “commitment order” from the Supreme Court before it would turn over the detained MNLF fighters to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

These rebels are facing a rebellion case in connection with the three-week attack in the city by MNLF fighters belonging to Misuari faction on Sept. 9.

“While we are waiting for the commitment order these 24 rebels detained in our facility are for safekeeping only, and they are still under the supervision of the police,” Mr. Arro told reporters. “For their safety, this has been the agreement with the Philippine National Police and Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II of the Department of the Interior and Local Government,” he added.

The 24 MNLF fighters surrendered to former city police Chief Jose Chiquito M. Malayo during the standoff.

The Department of Justice has filed a case of rebellion against MNLF founder Nur Misuari, Ustadz Habier Malik and 59 others in connection with the Zamboanga standoff.

Last week, the local government has filed a petition to transfer the hearings of the case outside the city due to security concerns.

“It is a security threat on the lives of the people. The desire of the people of Zamboanga is to transfer the trial,” Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said noting Zamboangueños are still traumatized by the intense hostilities that occurred daily for over three weeks.

“We cannot just remove this nightmare in one sitting,” she added.

Mr. Arro said that the suspected MNLF members are being held in a separate detention cell. “Their food allowances are provided by the police,” he said. “They [MNLF detainees] are also given the right to receive visits but only limited for the immediate family,” Mr. Arro added.


PH, South Korea to sign defense cooperation MOU

From ABS-CBN (Oct 15): PH, South Korea to sign defense cooperation MOU

President Aquino is expected to arrive in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday for a two-day state visit.

He will be meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House or the presidential palace where the two leaders would discuss regional and bilateral issues ranging from political dialogue, defense cooperation, to trade and investments relations, official development assistance, consular and labor cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation between the two countries will be signed by their respective defense ministers.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the agreement will cover a wide range of cooperation from exchange of visits by military personnel and experts to humanitarian assistance and international peacekeeping activities.”

The agreement is designed to help the Philippines improve its defense capabilities including the protection of its territory.

Aquino will be honored with a state dinner Thursday night.

On Friday, Aquino will visit the War Memorial and receive a recognition on behalf of his father Ninoy Aquino who served as a Manila Times correspondent covering the Korean War.

The Philippines was a member of the US-led 16-nation coalition that defended the Republic of Korea against the invasion of North Korea during the Korean War in the 1950s.

“So practically I would say that the Koreans treat us as blood brothers because of the tremendous help that we have given to them especially during the Korean war and the rehabilitation of Korea immediately after the war. So the visit of the President would be highly significant in the sense that the two Presidents will be exchanging this renewal of commitment to mutually help each other," said Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Luis Cruz.

The Aquino family also had a connection with one of South Korea’s former Presidents. In Boston, the Aquinos had met Kim Dae-jung in Boston during their exile in the 1980s.

On Friday afternoon, Aquino will then speak before the Korean business community and meet with businessmen and invite them to invest in the Philippines.

Before leaving for Manila on Friday night, Aquino will be speaking before the Filipino community in Seoul.

Trade between the Philippines and South Korea reached US$7.408 billion in 2012.
Korea is also a major source of Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Philippines and the country’s top source of tourists.


Palawan trains more rangers for Tubbataha

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): Palawan trains more rangers for Tubbataha

Nineteen personnel from the Philippine Navy (PN) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) graduated Monday from a three-day Comprehensive Training for Marine Park Rangers (MPRs) at the Apolinario Jalandoon Naval Station in this city.

According to the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO), the training for the 19 PN and PCG personnel was designed to equip law enforcement personnel for future assignment to the park with better understanding of their role in marine conservation, particularly as they comprise the first line of authority in the Tubbataha Reefs.

This is in a bid to ensure the strict protection of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP).

Clarifying and giving value to the role of MPRs in the park has increased the personnel’s appreciation on the critical role they play in the conservation of the Tubbataha Reefs, the TMO said.

Students from the Western Philippine University (WPU) also participated in the training as observers.

Their participation, the TMO said, aimed at providing the youth with better understanding of the importance of Tubbataha and its role in providing for the food security of Filipinos as well as inspired them to pursue a profession in marine conservation.

The annual training, the TMO said, is being conducted through the financial support from the Coral Triangle Support Partnership through the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and in-kind support from the Philippine Navy.


Navy units in Central Visayas alerted for disaster relief missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): Navy units in Central Visayas alerted for disaster relief missions

In wake of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Central Visayas early Tuesday, the Philippine Navy (PN) announced that it has placed its Naval Forces Central Command on high alert for possible disaster rescue mission in the affected areas.

"Naval Forces Central Command is (now) on high alert and (has) activated its disaster risk reduction teams (DRRTs) with DRO equipment and sea vessels for deployment in areas affected by the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu," Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

He also added that PN reserve units in Bohol are now attending to the victims of the quake and helping in the ongoing rescue efforts in the areas isolated by the landslide.

"Likewise, the 82nd Marine Brigade of the Naval Reserve Eastern Visayas were deployed to the Basilica De Sto. Nino Cebu," Fabic stressed.


AFP deploys HADR units to quake-battered areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): AFP deploys HADR units to quake-battered areas

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it has deployed humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) unitsto Central Visayas which was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake Tuesday morning.

Two helicopters were deployed to augment the 2nd Special Forces Battalion currently conducting disaster response operations in Tagbilaran, Bohol, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

He added that four M-35 trucks with 50 military personnel were also deployed to Cebu City to assist in debris clearing, particularly in the partially collapsed Basilica Del Sto. Niño.

Two more rescue helicopters from the 505th Search and Rescue Group, Philippine Air Force are expected to be deployed tomorrow.

Zagala said that the AFP Central Command in Mactan is closely coordinating with the provincial government executives of Bohol and Cebu; and National and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils for additional deployments of military personnel and equipment to assist in HADR efforts.

Meanwhile, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said the 82nd Marine Brigade of the Naval Reserve Eastern Visayas has already arrived at Basilica Del Sto. Niño in Cebu to start rescue and clearing work.


SC upholds constitutionality of Anti-Terror Law

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): SC upholds constitutionality of Anti-Terror Law

The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition assailing the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, better known as the Anti-Terror Law.

In an en banc decision, the SC granted the petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General.

The SC reversed and set aside several orders of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court that cleared the way for the petition for declaratory relief filed by the group of human rights lawyer Harry Roque with the RTC against the law.

The RTC earlier issued orders denying the motion to dismiss filed by the OSG ruling that the court did not pass upon the constitutionality of RA 9372 and that the petition of Roque's group was properly filed.

The OSG filed another petition, however, it did not get a favorable ruling from the RTC.

This prompted the OSG to take the case to the SC.

In its ruling, the SC said the RTC "exceeded its jurisdiction when it ruled that private respondents' petition had met all the requisites for an action for declaratory relief."

"Consequently, its denial of the subject motion to dismiss was altogether improper," the SC added.

"[I]n the same light that the court dismissed the SC petitions in the Southern Hemisphere cases on the basis of, among others, lack of actual justifiable controversy (of the ripening seeds of one), the RTC should have dismissed private respondents' petition for declaratory relief all the same," it said.

The SC dismissed in 2011 a similar petition against the Anti-Terror Law saying "petitioners did not even allege with any modicum of particularity how respondents acted without or in excess of their respective jurisdictions, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction."

The SC had it that RA 9372 is a penal statute and does not even provide for any appropriation from Congress for its implementation, while none of the petitioners had alleged any direct and personal interest in the implementation of the same.


AFP deploys humanitarian assistance and disaster response units to Cebu, Bohol

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): AFP deploys humanitarian assistance and disaster response units to Cebu, Bohol

The Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) units following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the provinces of Cebu and Bohol at 8:20 this morning, Oct 15.

Two helicopters were deployed to augment the 2nd Special Forces Battalion currently conducting disaster response operations in Tagbilaran, Bohol.

Four M-35 trucks with 50 military personnel were also deployed to Cebu City to assist in debris clearing, particularly in the partially collapsed Basilica Del Sto Niño.

Two more rescue helicopters from the 505th Search and Rescue Group, Philippine Air Force are expected to be deployed tomorrow.

The AFP Central Command in Mactan is closely coordinating with the provincial government executives of Bohol and Cebu; and National and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils for additional deployments of military personnel and equipment to assist in HADR efforts.


'Santi' causes P46-M in damages to 2 Northern Luzon Command bases

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): 'Santi' causes P46-M in damages to 2 Northern Luzon Command bases

Two major bases of the Northern Luzon Command has sustained P46-million worth of damages due to the inclement weather caused by Typhoon "Santi" over the weekend.

Major Emmanuel Garcia, acting Northern Luzon Command spokesperson, said that these camps are Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac.

Fort Magsaysay, which houses the 7th Infantry Division and the Special Operations Command sustained P32,074,000 worth of damage.

While Camp Servillano Aquino, which is the main base of the Northern Luzon Command, suffered damage amounting to P14,028,650.

Garcia said other major camps like Clark and Basa Airbase in Pampanga and Camp Tecson, headquarters of Scout Rangers in Bulacan, also had minor damages. But figures on the damages were not immediately available.

Tarlac and Nueva Ecija were the hardest hit provinces of Typhoon "Santi".


Former rebels in Negros Occidental avail P4.5M in cash, livelihood aid from gov’t

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): Former rebels in Negros Occidental avail P4.5M in cash, livelihood aid from gov’t

A total of P4.555 million in cash in exchange for firearms and livelihood assistance have been received by former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Negros Occidental, military records show.

The 82 rebel returnees, who surrendered since last year, received the assistance through the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP)and Armed Forces of the Philippines “Guns for Peace” Program.

All in all, the rebels turned over seven M-16 rifles and two M-14 rifles.

The surrender of these NPA rebels is part of the significant gains cited by the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in their efforts to win the peace in Negros Occidental.

Col. Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd IB, said these are the gains of their unit and of the provincial government in the Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) from last quarter of 2012 up to the present.

Aying also noted the arrest of key personalities of the NPA’s Komite Rehiyonal- Negros (KR-N), including Reniel Cellon, Mary Jane Magkilat, Greg Tuayon, Sara Alvarez, Fermin Vaflor, and Anecita Rojo and recently, Nida Bertulano.

They are detained in different jails and are undergoing trial for various criminal cases, he said.

Aying said several NPA members were killed and wounded in various encounters between government troops and various NPA fronts.

“There is no pleasure in fighting against our fellow Filipinos. At the end of the day, we still belong to one race, one nation. We should not be fighting against each other,” Aying mused.

The 303rd IB also has the custody of confiscated firearms, including five M-16, one M-14, and one AK-47 rifles, three caliber .45 pistols, three shotguns, one cal. 22 Pistoland, and assorted homemade guns.


Army to deploy more troops to Neg Occ as 120 villages listed as poll areas of concern

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 15): Army to deploy more troops to Neg Occ as 120 villages listed as poll areas of concern

A total of 120 villages in Negros Occidental are included in the roster of election areas of concern in the Oct. 28 barangay elections released Tuesday by the Provincial Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC) here.

The final list was agreed upon by officials of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Army in the province during the JPSCC conference held at the conference room of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO).

Of the 120 barangays, 85 were identified as immediate areas of concern while 35 barangays were identified as less areas of concern.

During the Oct. 28 elections, the areas of operation of the police, Army, including the para-military unit CAFGU, and the Provincial Public Safety Battalion and the Bacolod City Police Office are divided into four zones.

These include the First and the Second Districts under Zone 1; Third and Fourth Districts and Bacolod City under Zone 2; Fifth District under Zone 3; and Sixth District under Zone 4.

Col. Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said 300 newly-hired army soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division will be deployed to Negros Occidental.

Provincial Elections Supervisor Jessie Suarez, meanwhile, warned the candidates not to engage in premature campaign otherwise they will face possible disqualification.

“Do not test us,” Suarez warned them.

Suarez said that COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. is very strict and election personnel are under orders to monitor comprehensively the conduct of the barangay elections.

“We have disqualified candidates for violation of the COMELEC rules. This should be a lesson to barangay election candidates,” Suarez said.(