Thursday, October 17, 2013

MILF: Moro leaders air sentiments to LGU Gensan in a peace forum

From the MILF Website (Oct 17): Moro leaders air sentiments to LGU Gensan in a peace forum


Moro leaders in General Santos City aired the sentiments of the Muslim constituents during the peace forum with the city officials stressing that peace will be realized “when there is justice, equity and no discrimination against the Muslims.”
The Peace Forum held at Venue 88 Convention Hall in this city on October 10, 2013, was attended by Moro leaders, City Councilor Jeng Cagal, City Administrator Atty. Arnel Zapatos, and City Police Director Senior Superintendent Froilan Quidilla provided a venue to discuss on how cooperation with Muslim communities will strengthen peace in town.

“We, the Muslim, are natives in this town, yet we seem to be treated like second class citizens,” Esmael Mutalib, Chairman of the Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi Association in Gensan (SUBATAGEN), lamented.

He said Muslims in the city are left behind in terms of social, political and economic development.

“People here seem to forget that Gensan is part of Moroland. We have been here in our homeland since time immemorial but we’re treated like strangers,” Mutalib, also a prominent Tausog leader, further lamented.

Mutalib related the difficulty for Muslim job seekers to get hired in private companies due to discrimination. “Our job applicants are told ‘tatawagan ka lang namin (we will just call you up)’ but that is it, their applications are trashed,” he explained.

He also noted that some hospitals refuse to release cadavers of hospitalized Muslim until bills are settled. “We hope the city government can look into this because Muslims must be buried within 24 hours,” he explained.

Mutalib also said that there are Muslims who are disapproved by lending firms or appliance stores to avail their products.

Datu Alimudin Hassan, Raja Muda of Sugoda Buayan, noted that Muslims in the city are participative in activities inclined to peace. He said that the Muslims want harmonious relationship with the Christian Settlers and Indigenous People (Blaan).

Professor Isnira Baginda from Mindanao State University disclosed the insensitivity of some police or security personnel in establishments while checking customers’ belongings using bomb-sniffing dogs.

“Our bags or clothes should not be touched nor sniffed by dogs which Muslims consider dirty like swine,” she explained. “The inspection should be done manually,” she suggested.

She also asked if the city government can do something to persuade mall owners to put up Musallah “prayer area” for Muslim shoppers.

Gacal responded that they will look into the possibility of coming up with an ordinance that will address discrimination.

He announced that the City Council has already deliberated in their session the restructuring of the Office on Cultural Communities Affairs, an institution under the Office of the City mayor that will handle concerns of the Muslims.

The city councilor suggested for another forum specifically to discuss issues and concerns of the Muslims.

Zapatos said there will be programs for the Muslim communities through the said office.

He thanked the Muslim leaders for their support to peace. “We always look forward for your participation in peace dialogues,” he added.

Police Community Relations Group Director Chief Superintendent Sonny David, Chief of the Police Community Relations, also graced the affair.

He said “Respect and understanding are key to peace” and added that the national headquarter will back up the maintenance of good relationship among the people.

Quidilla enjoined Baginda to be the resource person for orientation of his policemen on cultural sensitivity.

There are reports that some Muslim job applicants changed Islam as their religion to other Christian denominations in their resume and use Christian when applying for work in malls.

CPP/NPA: NPA-Rizal did not field candidates and won’t participate in barangay election

Posted to the CPP Website (Oct 17): NPA-Rizal did not field candidates and won’t participate in barangay election
Macario Liwanag (Ka Karyo)
NPA Rizal Provincial Operations Command (Narciso Antazo Aramil Command)

Today, October 17, 2013, is the last day of filing of candidacy for Barangay officials.

Most of those who filed their candidacy are ward leaders of rival political dynasties in the country. Only few of those wanting to be elected will truly serve the people in their barangays. This election would be a proxy war between rival political dynasties to solidify their hold in the barangay in preparation for the 2016 election. As in the past elections, the coming barangay election will be no different from others. It will be ruled by the power of 3 G’s (goons, guns, and gold).

We are condemning the malicious lies being peddled by the forces of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) headed by its chief, Lt. Gen. Caesar Ordoyo that the NPA forces in Rizal Province are fielding candidates in the Barangay Election to control the remote areas in the province. These are nothing but red baiting and false accusation against candidates who are government critics and are supportive of victims of military abuses and wrongdoings.

The NPA in Rizal, as member of revolutionary organization does not believe in elections being undertaken by the reactionary government. It is definitely not participating in this exercise and will not field any candidate in any barangay in Rizal province.

While we do not believe in reactionary election such as the coming barangay election, we will respect the rights of the people to participate in this exercise. We will ensure that no candidates will violate policies of the revolutionary government in conducting campaign inside revolutionary territories. All NPA units in the province including people’s militias are tasked to actively implement the said policies and have orders to penalize those found to be violating them. We therefore call on candidates and their supporters to follow the said policies to avoid inconveniences in their campaign.

The AFP-PNP forces in the province will surely used the election time to penetrate revolutionary territories, spread poisoned black propaganda against the revolutionary movement and attack the revolutionary forces. Under the guise of maintaining peace and order, they will conduct intelligence gathering, combat operations and electioneering activities to have their favored candidates be elected to further their evil scheme against the people under the counter insurgency plan OPLAN BAYANIHAN. They want to use every means to defeat the revolutionary movement including using barangay officials.

But Gen. Ordoyo of SOLCOM and his henchmen in the 2nd ID-PA led by Ge. Del Rosario, in the 16th IB-PA led by Col. Tolentino, will surely be dismayed once election time comes because the people who are fed up of military abuses will reject candidates being favored and supported by them. The people knows who among the candidates are lackeys of the corrupt AFP-PNP. The people will surely frustrate them and instead of kowtowing to the wishes of the AFP-PNP, the people will continue supporting and strengthening the revolutionary movement in the Province of Rizal and in the entire country.

Misuari, Malik, et al barred from leaving PH

From ABS-CBN (Oct 18): Misuari, Malik, et al barred from leaving PH

The Bureau of Immigration has placed Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari and 3 others on its lookout bulletin after they were charged with rebellion over the siege of Zamboanga City.

Aside from Misuari, the other 3 are Ustadz Habier Malik, Bas Arki and Assamin Hussin.

The BI denied that Misuari has already left the country. All 4 suspects have pending warrants of arrest and are barred from leaving the Philippines.

The Department of Justice earlier filed charges of rebellion and violations of international humanitarian laws against Misuari, Malik, and 63 others in connection with the recent siege on Zamboanga City.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court granted the DOJ's request for the transfer of the MNLF men's trial from Zamboanga City to the Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

Philippines to buy 12 South Korean fighter jet

From ABS-CBN (Oct 18): Philippines to buy 12 South Korean fighter jet

The Philippines and South Korea have agreed to fast-track the process for the Philippines to buy 12 lead-in fighter jets as part of the Armed Forces modernization plan.

The Philippine government is allotting P18.976 billion for the purchase of these 12 brand new jets that would primarily be used to train pilots and increase the capability of the military to patrol the country’s borders.

“Meron tayong tinatapos both in their laws and our laws, ‘yung sa procurement. Medyo napakahaba nung mga details eh. Pero bottom line, both sides agreed to try and expedite the arm purchase and their delivery of these planes,” President Aquino said Thursday.

Aquino and his South Korean counterpart, President Park Geun-hye witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on defense cooperation.

Peter Galvez, spokesman for the defense department, earlier said the Philippines is eyeing FA-50s manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries.

The Air Force decommissioned F-5s in 2005, leaving the country without lead-in fighter aircraft to address external threats, such as in the West Philippine Sea.

More bidders mean more capable designs, weapons - DND official

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): More bidders mean more capable designs, weapons - DND official

With 11 shipbuilding firms expressing interest in the Department of National Defense (DND)'s P18-billion frigate program, DND spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez on Thursday expressed hope that the country will get the best possible ships and armaments for the Navy.

"Hopefully, we get the best quality and more capabilities for the budget we have," he added.

Galvez said that having 11 bidders participating in this program will ensure that interested shipbuilders will be offering the best designs in their portfolios.

Earlier, 11 firms have expressed their interest to participate in the DND's frigate program.

These companies are Piriou Naval Services, Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures), Thyssenkrupp Marine System, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, Damen Shipyards, Fincantieri, STX France SA, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Inc., Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd., DCNS France and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd.

The frigates will be the most heavily armed vessels in Philippine Navy (PN) service.

Technical specifications obtained by MaxDefense: Philippines, a blogsite for Philippine defense related matters, revealed that the ships, at minimum, will be armed with:

-76-mm gun at forward section with target tracking radar and/or electro-optical target acquisition and fire control computer;

-one stabilized secondary gun;

-four . 50-caliber machine guns;

-primary and secondary guns shall be integrated to combat management system;

four surface-to-surface missile launchers, minimum 50km range, active homing seeker and ECCM capability;

-surface-to-air missile launching system, minimum quadruple launcher, minimum 6km range, IR or semi-active homing seeker, with ECCM and/or IR CCM capability; and

-anti-submarine torpedoes, minimum range 2km, minimum depth 500m, with acoustic countermeasures capability, two triple launchers (one on each side).

With these armaments, the ships will capable of engaging any aerial, surface and sub-surface threats that may intrude in Philippine territory.

At present, the most potent weapon system in PN service is the 76mm Oto Melara main gun and Mark 38 Model 2 25 mm "Bushmaster" auto-cannon fitted in the Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates and Emilio Jacinto class patrol vessels.

Earlier, PN Patrol Force head Commodore Jose Renan C. Suarez said that the two frigates will be the most capable yet in Philippine service due to its capability to detect and engage airborne, surface and underwater threats simultaneously.

Suarez said that these ships are part of the PN's "Navy Frigate Program" which has a timeline of 2013 to 2017.

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

Suarez said that these ships will greatly enhanced PN's capabilities to defend the country's vast maritime territory.

Army, Navy water sanitation teams check on Masbate water supply

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): Army, Navy water sanitation teams check on Masbate water supply

Water sanitation teams, deployed by the Philippine Army and Navy arrived in Masbate Thursday to help in the ongoing relief efforts in the quake-stricken provinces of Central Visayas.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, PN spokesperson, said the Navy contingent is headed by Ensign Daryl Tabang.

He added that they are still checking with the Army regarding the name and head of its contingent.

After checking on the water supply situation in Masbate, Fabic said that the Navy team will then proceed to Cebu via roll-on/roll-off vessel, with their equipment to be transported by the BRP Tagbanua (AT-295).

The units are equipped with a water purifier capable of producing 32,000 gallons of pure water an hour.

Troops pursuing rebels who chopped down rubber trees in Surigao Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): Troops pursuing rebels who chopped down rubber trees in Surigao Del Sur
Units from the Eastern Mindanao Command Thursday were pursuing a New People's Army (NPA) band who chopped down the newly planted rubber trees owned by Bacolod Upland Farmers Association (BUPA) in Sitio Cagburao, Brgy Bacolod, Cagwait, Surigao Del Sur early this week.

The 15 rebels also uprooted around 7,000 seedlings in a nearby rubber nursery.

This was in retaliation for BUPA's refusal to give in to the NPA's extortion demand, military sources in Manila said.

With this senseless attack, rubber farmers in the area are requesting the military to protect their plantations and communities against the rebels.

Part 4, Article 4, Section 4 of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law prohibits both the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (NDF) from attacking civilians and their properties.

This is another human rights violation by the NPAs, the sources said.

On Sept. 1, the NPAs burned a multi-million Standard Rubber Development Corporation (SRDC) in Barangay Taluntalunan, Makilala, North Cotabato and killed the manager thru use of landmines.

On June 18, the NPAs took responsibility for the raid at a rubber tree plantation in Km 8, Barangay Hawilian, Esperanza town in Agusan Del Sur that killed five security guards.

Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III condemned this criminal act of the NPAs.

He directed all military units in the area to be vigilant and to ensure the safety of the farmers and their crops.

Navy ships carrying relief supplies, rescue teams in Bohol

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Navy ships carrying relief supplies, rescue teams in Bohol
The Philippine Navy (PN) announced that three of its ships, carrying much needed relief supplies and emergency personnel, have arrived at the quake-devastated province of Bohol Friday morning.

Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Navy spokesperson, said that the ships are the BRP Carlos Albert (PG-375), BRP Abraham Campo (PG-396) and BRP Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140).

Fabic said the fourth ship BRP Bagobo now enroute to Bohol with a six-man disaster response and rescue team (DRRT) -one officer and five enlisted personnel - from Naval Forces Southern Luzon and a M-35 truck carrying a water filtration system.

BRP Bagobo is expected to arrive in Bohol late in the afternoon after leaving Cebu at 1:35 a.m.

He added the BRP Carlos Albert left Cebu for Tubigon, Bohol around 2:47 a.m. Friday while BRP Abraham Campo left Cebu for Tagbiliran around 2:29 a.m on the same day.

The two ships arrived at their destinations around 8:00 a.m. while BRP Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo arrived at Tubigon Pier, Bohol around 2:15 a.m.

Now helping in rescue-and-relief efforts in Tagbilaran City, Bohol is the 15-man (one officer and 14 enlisted personnel) DRRT of Naval Forces Central

Fabic said two more Navy ships, the BRP Alfredo Peckson (PG-372) and DF-339, are on stand-by in Cebu for loading and delivery of emergency supplies.

CMO vital to AFP image says West Philippines Sea spokesperson

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): CMO vital to AFP image says West Philippines Sea spokesperson

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY -- Marine Col. Edgardo Arevalo, spokesperson for the West Philippines Sea (WPS) issues and concurrent commander of the Philippine Navy’s civil military operations (CMO) group, cited the importance of the CMO to the image of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the turnover of command of its unit in Palawan Thursday.

The Civil Military Operations Unit-West (CMOU-West) turnover ceremonies Oct. 15 at the Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon in Puerto Princesa City, was just a "small, insignificant event" for many military officials, but Arevalo said he made sure he will personally attend because "small units like this are those which make up the image of the entire AFP."

Arevalo bestowed to the outgoing CMOU-West commanding officer, Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Stanlee Vince Gonzaga, a military merit award for his “actual participation and valuable services rendered as Commanding Officer, CMOU-West from 26 July 2011 to date.”

The merit award was given to Gonzaga who was “imbued with high sense of responsibility and dedication to duty, commitment to service in aid of peace and development activities in the area of the CMOU–West.”

Arevalo said Gonzaga carried out accomplishments in consonance with the Bayanihan Concept of Philippine Navy’s Sail Plan 2020 Strategic objectives, in trekking the “Tuwid na Daan” programs of President Aquino, and in compliance with seven missions of the Philippine Navy.

"Gonzaga was instrumental to the success of various activities participated in by his unit such as Civic Action Programs to include Layag Lakbayan Program of Palawan, Show the Flag Missions, ENCAP and feeding programs. He also facilitated COMREL activities, such as collection of used clothes and cash donations intended for typhoon victims, and distribution of brand new computer sets to different schools in the province through “Books for Peace Program” of Rotary Club Loyola Heights Chapter, and participating as lecturer in the "Love + Peace = Lapis" Education for Peace Program of the Junior Chamber International Puerto Princesa Peacock Inc.

Various environmental protection programs participated during his tour of duty in support to address internal security operations, Gonzaga also facilitated the Information Support Affairs (ISA) activities through distribution of leaflets propaganda materials, film showing and by conducting Information Drive concerning “Role of Youth in Nation Building” to different high schools and universities in Palawan.

Aside from the military merit award, Gonzaga also received a Command Plaque from the Naval Forces West, a citation award from the 6th Civil Relations Group of the Civil Relations Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and a special commemorative edition memento from local newspaper The Palawan Times.

"By these achievements, Gonzaga earned distinct credit not only for himself and the Philippine Navy but also for the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a whole.

Navy Lt. Junior Grade Eduard Pablico took over Gonzaga’s post.

DSWD, IOM, Army Engineers to build bunkhouses for Zambo evacuees

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): DSWD, IOM, Army Engineers to build bunkhouses for Zambo evacuees

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in partnership with the International Office for Migration (IOM) and Army Engineering Brigade will start the construction of bunkhouses at the Mayor Joaquin F. Enriquez, Jr. Memorial Sports Complex in this city.

The sports complex located in Barangay San Jose-Cawa-Cawa, west of this city, is the biggest among the evacuation centers and houses the largest number of families displaced by last month’s standoff.

DSWD Regional Director Zenaida Arevalo said that a total 21 bunkhouses will be constructed at the sports complex.

Arevalo said the bunkhouses can provide temporary shelters to at least 400 families. Each room of the structure could accommodate 10 to 15 persons.

Arevalo said that evacuees “who already have no more place to stay” will be given priority or will be the first ones to be accommodated at the bunkhouses.

She said they will be spending at least P10 million for the construction of the bunkhouses at the sports complex since each unit costs P516,000.

She disclosed that there are still 2,000 families housed at the sports complex, mostly from the adjoining barangays of Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Rio Hondo and Mariki.

Armed men harass Maguindanao villages; residents, voters flee ahead of election

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): Armed men harass Maguindanao villages; residents, voters flee ahead of election

On the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy for barangay elections, gunmen separately attacked two Maguindanao villages that displaced about 300 persons, the Army here said Friday.

Speaking for the Army's 602nd Infantry Brigade, Captain Anthony Bulao, said the first armed men, believed to be members of the 108th based command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked the village of Bagoenged, Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

"They were looking for former village chair Kamad Andoy with whom they were locked in a long standing feud triggered by local politics," Bulao said.

Quoting report from the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, Bulao said nobody was hurt in the strafing incident but it sent residents fleeing.

Andoy lost in his bid for the mayorship of Pagalungan in the May 2013 elections. Andoy is reportedly running for village chairman anew.

As the Army and police were responding to the strafing incident, the group of Sanday with about 50 armed followers, fled to the Liguasan marshland.

Just as the group of Sanday was fleeing, another band of MILF members, led by a Commanders Badawi and Bigkog, arrived and strafed houses while others fired their guns on the air in the village of Kudal, also in Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

The second group was also looking for Andoy, Bulao said.

This forced civilians of Barangay Kudal to flee to nearby barangays.

Bulao said the harassment appeared to have connections with the village polls scheduled on October 28.

“The harassment could be masterminded by some aspirants to displace supporters of rival candidates in the village election so they could not vote,” Bulao said, adding that the military has sent peacekeeping forces in the area.

The GPH-MILF ceasefire panel had been informed about the incident for their intervention and prevent escalation of the conflict, Bulao said.

The provincial office of the Commission on Elections is yet to issue comments whether to hold the balloting as scheduled or delay it following the displacement of voters.

Mindanao peace stakeholders remain positive, patient over GPH-MILF talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Mindanao peace stakeholders remain positive, patient over GPH-MILF talks

Peace stakeholders in Mindanao remain positive and patient on the progress of talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF), a top MILF leader said here.

Speaking to newsmen Thursday, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent head of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), noted that the talks is “working” despite the arduous discussions on annexes on power-sharing and normalization during the five-day session of the GPH-MILF peace panel that started last Oct. 8 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Even the panels have a positive attitude on the matter, as peace is the only way we should do it,” he said.

Iqbal said the panels are optimistic to forge a final peace pact on or before the end of 2016.

The MILF leader’s statement came after the Tuesday signing of the BTC with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with various civil society organizations (CSOs) in Mindanao at the BTC office here.

The MOA signing intends to involve the CSOs in the conduct of public consultations in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a mechanism that would replace the organic act that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The ARMM comprises the Muslim-dominated provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-tawi, Sulu and Basilan, which will be all included in the MILF-proposed Bangsamoro entity that would replace the old autonomous region.

Catholic priest Fr. Robert Layson, a convener of the civilian-led Mindanao People’s Caucus, said the involvement of CSOs to the peace process only shows transparency in the GPH-MILF negotiations as earlier emphasized by the talking parties.

“Peace is not just given, it should adhere to the principle of ‘ownership’ otherwise it would be futile," he said.

PH, S.Korea forge defense cooperation pact on PNoy's first day in Seoul

From InterAksyon (Oct 17): PH, S.Korea forge defense cooperation pact on PNoy's first day in Seoul

President Benigno Aquino III and Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye witness the signing of a defense cooperation agreement between their respective defense chiefs: Manila's Voltaire Gazmin and Seoul's Kim Kwan-jin. (PLDT powered by SMART) Photo by: Benhur Arcayan / MalacaƱang Photo Bureau

SEOUL – The Philippines and South Korea forged an agreement on defense cooperation Thursday, hours after President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived in this capital on a state visit--the first head of state to do so since Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye assumed office.

Aquino and Park stood as witnesses as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Korea Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Cooperation in the Field of Defense during the Signing of Agreements at the Blue Room.

President Aquino is the first leader to undertake a state visit to Korea since President Park took office in February this year. Korea is one of the Philippines’ major investment and trade partners. Last year, bilateral trade amounted to US$ 7.408 billion, according to a statement by Malacanang Palace.

Aside from being an important source of investments and official development assistance, Korea remains the country’s top source of tourists, reaching more than a million in 2012 or nearly a quarter of total tourist arrivals to the Philippines.

300 flee as MILF, followers of Maguindanao village chief clash

From InterAksyon (Oct 17): 300 flee as MILF, followers of Maguindanao village chief clash

Around 300 families fled their homes in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao after clashes broke out between fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and followers of a village chieftain Thursday.

The fighting at the boundary of Pagalungan and Pkiti, North Cotabato broke out Thursday morning after men of the MILF’s 108th Base Command, led by Buto Sanday, allegedly strafed the home of Kamed Andao, the chairman of Barangay Bagoenged, Colonel Tony Bulao, spokesman of the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said.

The violence had spread to nearby Barangay Kudal and tension was still high in the area Friday, Bulao said.

Authorities are still trying to find out what triggred the hostilities.

Rebels raid plantation in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Oct 17): Rebels raid plantation in Southern Philippines

Communist rebels have destroyed a rubber tree plantation after farmers rejected extortion demands in the southern Philippine province of Surigao del Sur, the army said on Thursday.

It said some 15 New People’s Army rebels swooped down on the village of Bacolod and chopped off trees and uprooted thousands of seedlings. The farmers belong to the Bacolod Upland Farmers Association, according to Captain Alberto Caber, an army spokesman.

He said the farmers sought help from the army and asked for deployment of patrol in the area to protect them from future rebel attacks.

“I thought they are pro-poor. Why did they chopped-off the future source of our livelihood? Why do they attack civilians and our simple properties?” Caber quoted one of the farmers as allegedly saying.

Caber accused the rebels of human rights violations. “This is another human rights violation of the NPAs,” he said.

He said Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, also condemned the targeting of civilians by rebel forces and that he ordered troops to intensify the operation against the NPA, which is fighting for a separate communist state.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA about the accusations of the military.

Last month, rebels also raided a Communist rebels raided a rubber processing plantation owned by the Standard Rubber Development Corporation and killed its manager before torching the facility in North Cotabato province also in southern Philippines. The SRDC is one of the largest producer and exporter of natural rubber in the Philippines.

Rival Moro rebels end armed conflict as Army offers help to rebuild Moro communities

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): Rival Moro rebels end armed conflict as Army offers help to rebuild Moro communities

Rival Moro rebels in North Cotabato have come to terms and agreed not to use violence in resolving whatever misunderstanding that stand between them, officials said.

Habib Guiabar, chair of the local monitoring team in North Cotabato, said leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) both agreed to silence their guns and “always” use the diplomatic means of resolving long standing land dispute that triggered sporadic skirmishes in the past in interior villages of Matalam and Kidapawan City.

Taking this as a cue, the military in North Cotabato have shifted strategies from peacekeeping to community rebuilding to hundreds of civilians displaced by the MILF-MNLF fighting in the province. Incidentally, most of the displaced families are either related by blood and by affinity with the warring Moro fronts.

Brigadier General Ademar Tomaro, commander of the Army’s 603rd Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said the feuding MILF and MNLF forces, whose encounters in recent months left more than eight persons dead and dislocated some 2,000 villagers, agreed to settle their differences peacefully through the intercession of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza.

“My recognition goes to the town mayors Mlang, Matalam, Kabacan, and Kidapawan City for helping the provincial governor and the 603rd Brigade resolve the long time disputes between forces of the MILF and MNLF in the province,” Tomaro told reporters.

Dima Ambel of the MNLF and Kagui Abas Bayan of the MILF’s 108th Base Command had signed a peace covenant detailing the disengagement of a total of 1,300 guerillas in the embattled farming enclaves to hasten the return of evacuees.

The peace covenant signing took place on a significant day where Muslims celebrate Eid’l Adha, the Islamic feast of sacrifice, at the Matalam municipal gymnasium.

The peaceful settlement of misunderstanding between rival MNLF and MILF forces was also made successful with the participation of respected Muslim leader, former Rep. Jimmy Matalam, who is revered as the “grand datu” of Moro communities in North Cotabato.

According to Tomaro, the Army is now focus on helping the local government units facilitate the reconstruction of affected villages.

Army augmentation force in Pangasinan for barangay polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): Army augmentation force in Pangasinan for barangay polls
Some 50 soldiers from the 702nd Philippine Army battalion have arrived in Pangasinan as of Thursday as part of the quick response forces (QRF) formed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the October 28 barangay polls.

Provincial Election Supervisor Marino Salas said the newly arrived augmentation force at the Army camp in Binmaley were given orientation on their roles as peace-keepers during the barangay elections in Pangasinan.

Salas said some 50 more soldiers were expected to arrive to boost their number to 100 in the coming few days until the barangay elections

There are 24 barangays in 10 towns and cities of Pangasinan earlier tagged by the police as areas of concern during the barangay polls.

Among others, the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) augmentation force will lend their support to some 2,000 policemen scattered all over Pangasinan to conduct checkpoints to prevent the movement of firearms which might be used to harass people during the polls.

Salas recalled that for the May 2013 local and national elections, a total of 250 army personnel were deployed in Pangasinan to maintain peace and order.

Salas said he requested for augmentation force from the AFP as the barangay election is more intense than the past national election since this is grassroots level politics and the protagonists are neighbors and even relatives.

Apart from helping the police in conducting checkpoints, the soldiers will also secure a large number of polling precincts and members of the board of election tellers who will be on duty during the election.

“We are short of policemen considering the big number of precincts that we have, so we asked the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Salas said.

SC grants DOJ's request for transfer of venue of cases vs. MNLF rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): SC grants DOJ's request for transfer of venue of cases vs. MNLF rebels

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted the request of the Department of Justice for the transfer of venue of the cases against suspected members of the Moro National Liberation Front Misuari faction that took siege of Zamboanga City.

According to SC Public Information Office Chief and Spokesman Atty. Theodore O. Te, the request of Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano requesting for a change of venue was endorsed to the SC en banc which approved the transfer of venue from Zamboanga City to the appropriate Regional Trial Court of Taguig City.

Arellano earlier filed a motion for change of venue before the Zamboanga City RTC to transfer to Metro Manila or to any court in Visayas for a more secure environment for the witnesses.

He stressed they filed a motion only for the MNLF commanders who led the siege in some barangays in Zamboanga City.

The Zamboanga City RTC has already issued warrants of arrest against MNLF founding chair and erstwhile Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Nurulaji "Nur" Misuari and MNLF commander Habier Malic, and 63 other MNLF leaders and members for the case rebellion and violation of the international humanitarian law, and other crimes against humanity, in connection with the standoff in Zamboanga City.