Sunday, October 27, 2013

Davao Occidental: Mindanao’s 27th province

From MindaNews (Oct 27): Davao Occidental: Mindanao’s 27th province


Voters of Davao del Sur will not only vote for their barangay chair and seven councilors on Monday, they will also vote “yes” or “no” to the creation of the province of Davao Occidental.

If ratified, Davao Occidental, which will comprise the municipalities of Santa Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani, will be Mindanao’s 27th province.

Pursuant to Republic Act 10360, the law creating Davao Occidental, its capital will be in Malita town.

Davao Occidental will be carved out of Davao del Sur’s 14 towns and one city. At present, Davao del Sur has two legislative districts: District 1 comprising Digos City and the towns of Bansalan, Hagonoy, Magsaysay, Matanao, Padada and Sta. Cruz; and District 2 comprising the towns of Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Malalag, Malita, Santa Maria, Sulop, Sarangani and Don Marcelino.

When residents of Davao del Sur approve the creation of Davao Occidental, the five-town Davao Occidental will have a lone legislative district “to commence in the next national and local elections” or 2016 while the nine-town and one-city Davao del Sur will also comprise a lone legislative district.

But RA 10360 provides that the incumbent representatives of the present Davao del Sur “shall continue to represent their respective legislative districts until the expiration of their term of office.”

The second district is the turf of the family of the incumbent governor Claude Bautista. The Bautistas have been dominating politics in the present eight-town district with his father and brothers serving Congress since 1987 and as mayor of Malita.

Claude is the second Bautista to be elected governor. The first was Benjamin Bautista, Jr., who was elected vice governor in 2001 and assumed the post of Governor when then Governor Reynerio Llanos died in October 2002. Bautista, Jr. was elected governor in 2004.

The  Bautistas’ father, Benjamin Bautista Sr., was mayor of Malita town in the 1960s and served as Assemblyman from 1978 to 1984 and as Representative of the second district from 1987 to 1998.

Franklin, the incumbent governor’s brother, served as Representative from 1998 to 2001 followed by Claude form 2001 to 2007.

Instead of running for a third term in 2007, Claude ran for governor of Davao del Sur but lost to then reelectionist Governor Douglas Cagas. In 2013, Bautista won against Douglas’ son, Marc Douglas.

Franklin was the second district’s representative from 2007 and is completing his third term.

The governor’s brother, Franklin and then Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas, were the principal authors of then House Bill 4451, which proposed the law creating the province of Davao Occidental.

MILF: BTC holds fifth regular session

From the MILF Website (Oct 27): BTC holds fifth regular session

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) held its fifth regular session on October 23, 2013 at the Session Hall of the BTC office at the Fourth Floor of  Elena V Co Building, Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue, Cotabato City.
Earlier and on the same venue, the BTC also received as special guests two eminent international personalities, Dr. Urlich Karpen and Dr. Peter Koeppinger, both German political scientist and experts on the role of local governments in Ministerial, Decentralized and Federal Systems with focus on lessons for the Bangsamoro. The two international personalities were resource persons at the seminar on the same topic the previous day.

They also expressed their pleasure and honor being guests of the BTC and expressed optimism that the commission will succeed in its work to produce the future political entity as model of pluralism in this part of the Mindanao.

Among the agenda of the main session was the finalization of the membership of the committees earlier formed to undergo their assigned task in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

It can be recalled that the body decided during their third session in Tagaytay City back in May to create five working committees with the correponding chairmen as follows:

a-     Committee on Political Autonomy – Commissioner Robert Alonto
b-     Committee on Fiscal Autonomy – Commissioner Raissa Jajurie
c-     Committee on Basic Rights – Commisioner Asani Tammang
d-     Committee on Justice – Commissioner Hussein Munoz and
e-     Committee on Transitory Provisions- Commissioner Johaira Wahab

Prior to the said finalization of committee membership, Chairman Mohagher Iqbal made a briefing of the Commission on the current status of the peace negotiations. He confided that the 41st Eploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur held recently was a tough and hard bargaining as the two panels were tied to the most contentious issues on power sharing and normalization. He said power sharing is the meat of the negotiation.

Chairman Iqbal also mentioned Bangsamoro waters as another ticklish issue because the importance of waters is inseparable to the Bangsamoro identity such that the Tausug denotes people of the current, Meranao stands for people of the lake and Maguindanao speaks of people of the flooded plain which are all connected to the reality of water.

The chairman also recalled the reminder of some members of the House of Represntatives, Congressmen Pangalian Balindong, Rufus Ridriguez and Jesus Sacdalan who visited during the 40th Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur and expressed their desire for the BTC to submit the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law in January of 2014. The said reminder was reiterated again by another House member, Congressman Rofolfo Bisazon during the 41st Exploratory Talks held recently. 

The next day, October 24 was devoted to Committee meetings that exhaustively deliberated on the status of the works of each committee. The different committee chairmen and members deliberated exhaustively on the current work thus far.

Earlier the outline of the BBL was taken on plenary where every Commissioner actively participated in deliberations of the planned basic law but with reservations on the yet to be finished annexes on power sharing and normalization.

Government, MNLF to review peace deal

From the Manila Times (Oct 27): Government, MNLF to review peace deal

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) headed by Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo has held two-day discussions with the senior leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by MNLF vice chairperson Jimmy Labawan to review and propose recommendations and mechanisms on the peace pact reached on September 2, 1996.

The review results will be tackled in the coming tripartite meeting to be held in Indonesia on the second week of November.

The two-day consultative meetings were organized by Labawan and were attended by various state chairpersons of the MNLF from the group’s 50 state areas in Southern Mindanao.

False beneficiaries

 During the discussions, the MNLF state chairpersons lamented that they were not the true beneficiaries of the Southern Philippines Peace and Development projects that were facilitated by the previous Opapp leadership.

They said that the name of the MNLF was used in the project but the realty is that the MNLF combatants were not the real beneficiaries of the project that was funded by the Economic Livelihood Assistance Project of the United Nation and Development Program.

Danny Salisipan, secretary of the Selatan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee of MNLF in the Soccsksargen area, said that the real combatants were left out of the project and the actual beneficiaries were those merely claiming to be members of the MNLF.

Inheriting problems

 The same problems encountered by other various state chairmen were expressed during the consultation proper.

Montalbo, however, appealed for understanding, reasoning that he has just been assigned to his post at the Opapp.

“I’ve just inherited what was left by the previous Opapp officials but all of what you have reported to us will be taken up and surely it would be addressed by the present administration,” Montalbo said.

A top MNLF state commander, Johnny Sia of the Soccsksargen area, also said that not a single centavo was received as compensation for their work as security forces in the region at the height of the implementation of the projects of the Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development.

Ustadz Pendi Colano, chairperson of the MNLF wing from Region XII (Soccsksargen), concurred that they did not benefit from any of the projects of the previous Opapp administration, the recommending agency of the government for the release of funds to beneficiaries.

No hand in Zambo siege

 Meanwhile, Sia revealed that MNLF chairperson Nur Misuari had no hand in the recent Zamboanga siege, as Misuari’s position was to maintain a defensive position and not to confront government forces.

Labawan also said that the MNLF hierarchy advocates genuine and peaceful autonomy and not armed confrontation.

Lawyer Bong Parcasio, who served as legal counsel of the MNLF central committee, proposed to Montalbo the creation of an independent fact-finding commission to look into the Zamboanga siege.

Montalbo urged the participants in consultations to submit their proposed recommendations as early as possible so that these could be included in the coming Government of the Philippines-MNLF tripartite review in Indonesia.

One vital proposal, which Opapp and MNLF have agreed on is to schedule a formal discussion with the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on their claim on five provinces as embodied in the 1996 peace accord.

New sultan to press claim on Sabah

From the Manila Times (Oct 27): New sultan to press claim on Sabah

DATU Esmail D. S. Kiram, 72, the new sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB), who took over the reins from the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd, vowed to continue the fight to regain Sabah from Malaysia, according to Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesman of the sultanate.

Idjirani said that the new Moro royal leader will be officially known as Sultan Esmail Kiram 2nd.

Kiram 2nd said that he would continue the family’s struggle for peace and economic development, including the fight to reclaim Sabah through peaceful means.

He said the repossession of Sabah through peaceful means has been his stand since he was young.

“Even from the beginning, during the time of my father as Sabah administrator, Sultan Punjungan Kiram, I was the one tasked to go to Sabah,” he added.

He said that they have to fulfill the last decree of the late Sultan to continue the fight to regain Sabah from the Malaysian government.

In February this year, hundreds of followers of the Sultanate of Sulu sailed to the disputed territory to press its claim led by the sultan’s brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram.

Kiram 2nd said that he accepts the position of sultan wholeheartedly.

Idjirani said there was no hindrance to the younger Kiram’s succeeding his elder brother because it was assured by the sultanate’s “strict adherence to the law and order of succession.”

“Everybody accepts the law and order of succession in the sultanate,” he said.

He added even the crown prince, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, had already made known his stand that he will observe the succession’s law and order.

Two NPA rebels killed in Ifugao firefight

From the Manila Times (Oct 27): Two NPA rebels killed in Ifugao firefight

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET: Two alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were believed killed while two others were wounded in a clash with government troopers in Asipulo town in Ifugao on Sunday.

Soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (501 IB), while refusing to name the two slain rebels, reported that they recovered M16 and M14 rifles after the firefight that lasted for 30 minutes.

Military authorities said that troopers encountered about 10 fully armed NPA guerillas, believed to be under the leadership of the NPA-Ifugao leader Casimiro Binayon at Sitio Hikot, Barangay Camandag in Asipulo town at about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday while conducting their usual patrol.

Army Col. Roger Salvador of the 501 IB said that government troops would continue to pursue the rebels in the area.

“The AFP is always here to deal with those who threaten the peace and security with violence, and they would always be ready to serve and die if necessary,” he claimed.

The military official, however, added, “The rebels are all encouraged to lay down their arms and surrender to the government and avail of the benefits being offered for their voluntary surrender.”

“Those who would surrender with arms would be given the needed capital to start a normal and peaceful life through the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] Guns for Peace Program remuneration package and the livelihood assistance from the Comprehensive Local Integration Program to support their families and become productive members of their communities,” Salvador stressed.
Recent months saw a rise in NPA activity in the province after decades of dormancy as shown by the recent attacks on government forces.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a decades-long armed struggle for the establishment of a socialist state in the Philippines.

North Cotabato completes P25-M road project

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 27): North Cotabato completes P25-M road project

The concreting of a 2.5-kilometer dirt road to service remote villages in Arakan, North Cotabato has been completed. Early in the week, Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza officially opened the road that connects Sitio Napanlahan in Poblacion to Barangay Dallag, both located in Arakan town.

Sitio Napanlahan is among the remotest areas in Poblacion where vast hectares of lands are used for growing rubber, banana, and other high-value crops.

Arakan Mayor Rene Rubino said the road concreting project is a ‘dream come true’ for many farmers in two villages.

Our farmers from these areas have a difficult time transporting their products to the town center. Many of their products, especially when rains come, would just rot along the road because no vehicles could enter the area,” he said.

Mendoza said the P25 million project was funded by the money they received after being awarded this year the ‘Seal of Good Housekeeping’ by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Sulu votes

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 27): Sulu votes

Jolo, Sulu — Top political leaders in the two provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) yesterday foresee a peaceful and orderly Barangay election today in their respective provinces.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, ll yesterday said the election for Barangay chiefs in his province is expected to be peaceful and orderly.

Gov. Tan said reports reaching his office indicated that  no rebels faction has adopted any plan to disrupt the voting today in the entire province. A similar report was also  extended to him by the military, saying that no group is out to disrupt the voting exercise today in the 410 barangays  located  in the 19 towns comprising Sulu province.

Rep. Habib Tupay Loong (1st District, Sulu)  also reported that many of those running for Barangay chiefs and kagawads position in his district  are mostly  unopposed.

“Most of them are running unopposed  in this Barangay election  in my district because Gov. Tan and  myself had talk to those  who wanted to run,  to  consider their plan  and allow those  in the position to  complete their term of office, which they also agree,” Loong explained.

NPA frees barangay exec

From the Philippine Star (Oct 27): NPA frees barangay exec

The New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas who snatched six barangay officials and a civilian volunteer officer in Loreto town, Agusan del Sur last Thursday released one of their captives to send their demands to the authorities.

Barangay councilor Ma. Gina Bantuasan of the village of Sabud conveyed the rebels’ demands to Mayor Dario Otaza.

Bantuasan told the crisis committee, which Otaza heads, that the rebels want the deactivation or resignation of the 50 new members of the government militia, and the pull-out of a team of Army soldiers involved in the community peace and development efforts in the town.

The committee was unfazed by the rebels’ demands and decided to continue with the combat operations against the NPA.

The committee expressed confidence that the military forces would be able to catch the rebels who kidnapped the barangay officials.

Control over gov’t money sparking violence in barangay polls – political analyst

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 27): Control over gov’t money sparking violence in barangay polls – political analyst

“Too much barangay election-related violence. What’s with these small people? Is government money really worth all the trouble? And to the lowest levels. Ugh.”

This was disgusted observation made by Muntinlupa resident Joseph Dechavez, after days of being bombarded with reports of shooting across the country involving candidates for barangay (village) office.

Dechavez’ observation is a widespread one. With the barangay being the smallest government unit, isn’t it all much ado about nothing?

To answer this question, political analyst and Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) head Ramon Casiple underscored the disparity of what has been “in theory” and what has been in practice.

For instance, under the Local Government Code, the barangay chair should receive not even a salary, but only an honorarium of at least P1,000; the barangay councilors only at least P600 each.

But in reality: “The prize is big: Internal Revenue Allotment, a regular budget, corporate taxes. The barangay has an income. That’s what makes it attractive,” Casiple said, in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.

Another big disparity between what is stated in law and what is in practice: Partisanship.

“In theory, the law says [barangay elections] should be nonpartisan,” Casiple said, referring to a provision in the Omnibus Election Code barring candidates to represent or receive aid from any political party.

“But in reality, they’re important to mayors. That’s where the fight is. If you hold the barangay, it’s a ready-made machinery for ward leadership. It has become a fight by ordinary politicos,” Casiple said.

Casiple said this partisanship has translated the “perks” otherwise not stated by law, granted by higher government units. Off the top of his head, Casiple cited, as example: “Here in Quezon City, all barangay captains are given a car. “

The local government code lists only sparse benefits for barangay officials—a Christmas bonus, insurance coverage, free medical care in public hospitals, free tuition for their children, civil service eligibility, and a preference in appointment to any government position after their term.

Casiple said cases of partisanship could be reported as election violations to the Commission on Elections or the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Casiple recalled a time when the barangays weren’t so politicized. “Before the 1950s, barangay officials weren’t elected. They were like homeowners’ associations, formed based on only consensus,” Casiple said.

“But in the 1970s, during the dictatorship of [former] President Ferdinand Marcos, the barangay system became his channel to control the communities,” Casiple said.

Despite the barangay system’s faults, Casiple still underscored the importance of a “basic unit of government who will deal with immediate problems” in the community.

“The mandate of a basic [government] unit as first responders is important. If you remove it you’d have to invent another system,” he said.

A system going straight to a higher office would end up overloading the local government unit and affecting efficiency, he noted. “The barangay system was precisely set up to break up [government functions] to be more manageable,” Casiple said.

But since there have been moves in Congress, recently, to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan, “our position is if you’re going to review the SK system, include the barangay system as well,” Casiple said.

He added that according to the local government code, the systems’ effectiveness should actually be reviewed every 10 years.

Dechavez maintained all the fuss would be for naught—especially for ordinary citizens. “Not voting,” he told the INQUIRER. “Not worth the trouble.”

Govt open to talks with Kiram successor — Palace

From GMA News (Oct 27): Govt open to talks with Kiram successor — Palace

MalacaƱang on Sunday indicated it is open to talks with the successor of the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, saying its approach to peace in Mindanao is based on institutions and not personalities.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr., in an interview on government-run dzRB, said: “Ang posisyon ng pamahalaan, walang pinepersonal diyan. Wala naman sinisino sapagka’t institutional ang approach natin diyan. At pagpili ng kanilang pinuno ay sarili nilang pasya yan at hindi pinaghimasukan ng ating pamahalaan."

Datu Esmail Dalus Strattan Kiram, 73, had been selected as the new sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. He is the younger brother of Jamalul Kiram, who died last week.

A report in the Manila Bulletin said Datu Esmail Dalus Strattan Kiram gained the post under the law and order of succession in the sultanate.

It also quoted Sulu sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani as saying the new leader will be officially known as Sultan Esmail Kiram II.

The report also quoted Kiram II as saying he will pursue the Sabah claim through peaceful means.

Before his death, the elder Kiram had commanded his followers to continue efforts to “repossess” Sabah. His followers had engaged Malaysian forces in a standoff and later in clashes in Sabah earlier this year.

“Institutional at hindi personal ang approach ng ating pamahalaan (Our approach to dealing with them is institutional and not personal),” Coloma said.

Comelec: Military, police to serve as poll tellers in ARMM

From GMA News (Oct 27): Comelec: Military, police to serve as poll tellers in ARMM

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that it is prepared for the barangay elections on Monday, Oct. 28, despite security concerns in Mindanao, reported Balitanghali on Sunday.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in the report that police officers and soldiers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) area have been trained as Board of Election tellers to supplant teachers who, out of security concerns, declined to perform their usual duties.

Military and police personnel, excluding incumbent officers, will temporarily serve as barangay officials if a failure of elections occur.

In other parts of the country, units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were deployed on Sunday to inspect their school assignments, to detect possible threats before Monday.

Despite the gun ban imposed during the entire election period, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson P S/Supt. Wilben Mayor disclosed last week that more election-related violence has been recorded in this year's polls than in the 2010 elections.

Liquor ban

Jimenez also reminded the public of the liquor ban from Oct. 27 to 28.

“Pwede pong magbenta ng alak sa DOTC-certified establishment... Pero kung sabihin na pupunta ka ng convenience store at sasabihin mong foreigner ka, bebentahan ka, paglabag po 'yun para sa tindahan,” he said.

Jimenez reminded voters to head to voting stations early, since the polls close at 3 p.m.

“Pero pagka-nandun na sila ng alas-tres, maaari po silang pabotohin hanggang sa matapos sila. Pero 'pag bagong dating ka after 3 o'clock, 'di na po kayo pagbibigyan,” he said.

“Mano-mano ang halalan kaya ayusin natin ang pagsulat ng pangalan para mabasa ng tama nung ating mga board of election tellers,” he added.

Army to help Baliaga prepare defense in Burgos kidnapping case

From GMA News (Oct 27): Army to help Baliaga prepare defense in Burgos kidnapping case

Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are prepared to help Maj. Harry Baliaga, who will be arraigned on Nov. 12 on charges in connection with the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007, a top Army officer said Sunday.

Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes of the Army said on Sunday that Baliaga will receive help in preparing his defense because he is a member of the Army and presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

“Lahat naman ito [accusations] may presumption of innocence di ba, unless proven guilty... we presume na hindi siya guilty unless proven by court,” he said.

The Army is also prepared to reimburse Baliaga's bail money amounting to P40,000, which he posted on Oct. 25 to gain temporary liberty.

The bail was posted to the Quezon City court that ordered Baliaga's arrest last Oct. 21, after finding probable cause against the army officer.

“Talagang sinasabihan naming magpost ng bail, 'yung suko, baka mamali naman kayo...hindi nagtatago yung mama... Everybody who is accused and not yet guilty sa korte can post bail,” said Coballes

"[Ang] tinutulong namin sa kanya is for him to make his proper defense kung ano yung pwede niyang gawin... pwede namin syang i-guide kung anong pwedeng maganda, but the rest will come from him," he added.

The Army chief also said that Baliaga remains in his assignment under the Office of the Army's Adjutant General, but in a "less sensitive" position.

"Nandidito naman 'yun sa amin, nagtatrabaho sa opisina namin... We presume na hindi siya guilty unless proven by court, " said Coballes.

Burgos, son of the late press freedom fighter Jose Burgos, was abducted in Ever Gotesco Mall on April 28, 2007.

The Court of Appeals last March 18 pointed to Baliaga as being "responsible" for Burgos' "enforced disappearance." The same ruling held the AFP and Philippine National Police accountable for the abduction.

In September, the Department of Justice cleared six ranking military and police officers of charges, but recommended filing criminal charges against Baliaga.

3rd Infantry Division vows to ensure peaceful barangay elections in Western Visayas

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 27): 3rd Infantry Division vows to ensure peaceful barangay elections in Western Visayas

Officers and men of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is based in Camp Peralta, Jamindan Capiz, on Sunday vowed to do everything in their authority to ensure that Monday's barangay elections in Western Visayas will be peaceful and credible.

“The Philippine Army here in Western Visayas remains as instrument of peace and works hand in hand together with the PNP and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in order to ensure an honest, secure, fair and peaceful conduct of 2013 barangay elections. Likewise, we will remain apolitical and non-partisan during the conduct of elections,” 3rd Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad said.

Since the start of the election period, the Army together with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Comelec have been performing its mandate under the Regional Joint Security Coordinating Center (RJSCC) in implementing election laws.

Security measures include the conduct of chokepoints and checkpoints and necessary procedures were also set in order to ensure the safety of the voters.

Baladad said that troopers have been deployed several days before the actual conduct of elections in order to monitor and prevent any plans of the CPP-NPA in the far flung barangays.

“We will not allow any group to influence and undermine the electoral process. The AFP and the PNP will remain vigilant and steadfast to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections,” Baladad stressed.

“We call on all the candidates, civil society organizations, religious groups and the citizenry to be more vigilant in preventing violence and exercise their right to suffrage free from any influence, threat and intimidation,” he concluded.

PNP on 'full alert status' for barangay polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 27): PNP on 'full alert status' for barangay polls

The Philippines National Police (PNP) have placed all units on "full alert" for Monday's barangay (village) elections, Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP-PIO chief said.

In a phone interview on Sunday, Sindac stressed that all their men have been on "full alert" since 6:00 a.m. on Friday. This means the highest level of readiness in all police offices and units nationwide to intensify election security efforts for the barangay polls.

The highest alert condition will remain in effect until after election security operations had been completed.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will deploy 9,000 police officers to secure the barangay elections in the metropolis this coming Monday,

Sindac said that these operatives will ensure that the barangay elections in Metro Manila's 16 cities and lone municipality will be peaceful.

Sindac said under "full alert" all unit commanders were reminded to secure all PNP camps and offices, vital installations, economic key points and places of convergence of people, and perform election-duties competently and objectively.

Under "full alert" status, leaves of absence are cancelled and all personnel are required to report to their duty stations.

The thousands of police officers deployed in Metro Manila will keep tight watch on the 10 areas declared as "hot spots" by the NCRPO.

These areas are Barangay 503 in Manila; Barangay 87 in Caloocan; Barangay Wawang Bato, Valenzuela; Barangay Maharlika in Taguig; Barangay Pineda, Pasig; Barangay Pio Del Pilar, Makati; Barangay Sto. Domingo, Quezon City; Barangay Catmon, Malabon; and West Navotas and North Bay Boulevard in Navotas.

On Monday, Filipinos will troop to polling centers to elect their village officials.

Only AFP units involved on poll security for barangay polls on 'red alert'

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 27): Only AFP units involved on poll security for barangay polls on 'red alert'

The Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) clarified on Sunday that only units directly involved in election security for Monday's barangay elections are on "red alert".

AFP deputy public affairs office chief Major Angelo Guzman said on his Twitter account the "red alert" went into effect at 8:00 a.m Sunday.

"Red Alert status takes effect 8:00 a.m. today to all AFP units directly committed in election security duties," he said.

On Monday, Filipinos will troop to polling centers to elect their village officials.

AFP assures non-partisanship this coming barangay elections

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 27): AFP assures non-partisanship this coming barangay elections

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday assured the voting public that its forces is not taking any sides in the coming barangay elections.

"The AFP is non-partisan in the conduct of this political exercise," AFP public information office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

And despite of untoward incidents that have marred Philippine elections in the past, he said that the military will do its best to ensure that the barangay elections will be orderly and peaceful.

"Our elections in the past have always been marred by untoward incidents. The Comelec (Commission on Elections), PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP will ensure the safety of all candidates, voters and BEIs (Board of Election Inspectors); ensure that they will be able to perform their right to suffrage; ensure that their votes will be protected and counted," Zagala pointed out.

"The AFP and PNP are closely coordinating thru the JPSCC or Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center. On election security, the PNP plays the lead, while the AFP is support," he stressed.

Zagala also added that the AFP will remain vigilant against spoilers to this democratic exercise especially the New People's Army, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter, Abu Sayyaf Group and other threat group affected areas.

"The AFP deployed augmentation forces in Masbate and National Capital Region for election duties while contingency forces are available for rapid deployment for any untoward incident that may occur," he added.

Zagala stated that effective 8:00 a.m. Sunday, "red alert" status took effect to all AFP units directly committed to election security duties.

"This status will take effect until 8:00 a.m. of Oct. 29. Field commanders may extend the red alert status depending on the situation in their area of responsibility," the AFP public information office chief stressed.

Army soldiers deployed in Sicogon Island

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 27): Army soldiers deployed in Sicogon Island
Some 80 members of the Philippine Army has been deployed in Sicogon Island off Carles, Iloilo to maintain peace and order in Monday's barangay polls.

The development of army soldiers in Sicogon Island was made based on the request of Carles Election officer Cirilo Zerrudo due to the prevailing tense atmosphere in the island.

Iloilo Provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) Supervisor Atty. Elizabeth Doronila said the presence of army soldiers in the island does not mean that the three barangays in Sicogon Island are under Comelec control.

Sicogon Island is composed of barangays Alipata, Buaya and San Fernando.

Earlier, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor also ordered the deployment of police force coming from the Iloilo Police Provincial Office to maintain peace and order situation in the island.

He said the police officers will remain on standby as long as the volatile situation continue to persist.

The deployment of police personnel came after armed men reported to be henchmen of the Sarrosa clan harassed families living in affected villages in barangays San Fernando, Alipata and Buaya who will be displaced by the multi-billion development project to be undertaken by the Sicogon Development Corporation in the island.

It was learned that the Sarrosa family owns vast tracts of land in affected villages in the three barangays.

AFP units on red alert for barangay polls

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 27): AFP units on red alert for barangay polls

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday placed all its units on red alert for Monday's barangay (village) elections.

AFP deputy public affairs office chief Major Angelo Guzman made this announcement on his Twitter account.

"Red Alert status takes effect 8:00 a.m. today to all AFP units directly committed in election security duties," he said.

On Monday, Filipinos will troop to polling centers to elect their village officials.

Military, police field more personnel, as election violence more than doubles

From InterAksyon (Oct 27): Military, police field more personnel, as election violence more than doubles

Election-related violence more than doubled leading to tomorrow’s barangay elections, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor said 51 cases of poll-related violence had been logged since the campaign period started on September 28.
Twenty-two people had been killed, including eight barangay councilors and three barangay captains. At least 24 people were injured in similar attacks.
Mayor said poll-related violence is higher for this year’s barangay elections compared to 25 cases in 2010, but is half of the 101 cases during the 2007 polls.
The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have deployed more troops in 6,200 “priority areas" across the country.
Starting 8:00 a.m. today, the AFP declared a red alert. The PNP had declared a similar alert two days ago starting 6:00 a.m. With the highest alert levels in place, all leaves of absence are cancelled, with soldiers and the police obliged to report back to duty.
Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, head of the PNP Public Information Office, said, “All systems go ang mga pulis, sa lahat ng lugar, hindi lang sa priority areas.”

He said the priority areas include the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and some parts of Regions 1,5, 7, 8 and 12 where there are reports of intense political rivalry among candidates.
Mayor said the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) gun bank has netted 554 violators, including five policemen, five soldiers, three members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and five government officials.
The bulk of gun ban violators however were civilians at 516, followed by security guards, 20.
At least 452 assorted firearms, 68 grenades, 289 explosives, and 3,870 assorted live ammunition were confiscated from gun ban violators.

Election officer, police escorts hurt in Masbate ambush

From InterAksyon (Oct 27): Election officer, police escorts hurt in Masbate ambush

An election officer, two police personnel, and a civilian survived an ambush Tuesday after their convoy attended a consultation in Barangay Parina, Palanas, Masbate.

The surprise attack took place “at around 11:18 a.m...prompting a gun battle that lasted for 20 minutes,” the Masbate Police said, adding that convoy members were heading toward Palanas police station. 
They had just finished having a dialogue with Parina Barangay Captain Reynaldo Atibagos and other candidates, Senior Inspector Antonio Dino, officer in charge of the Police Community Relations of the Masbate Provincial Police Office, said.
The perpetrators withdrew to an unknown direction after military reinforcements arrived, Dino added. 
Initially, communist New People’s Army rebels were thought to be behind the ambush, Dino said.
However, Dino said investigators were also not discounting the possibility that ambush could be members of a private armed group (PAG).
Those injured include election officer Merlinda F. Alvarez, Police Officers 1 Benito Bailon, and PO1 Wilbert Pultino, and Joey Villaruel.
Of the convoy members, only Senior Insp. Baltazar Valenzuela, OIC of the Palanas Municipal Police Station, was unhurt. 

Army helps cover bail bond of officer in Jonas Burgos abduction, forced disappearance

From InterAksyon (Oct 27): Army helps cover bail bond of officer in Jonas Burgos abduction, forced disappearance

The Philippine Army has provided financial aid to Major Harry Baliaga to help cover his bail bond after he was ordered arrested in connection with the 2007 abduction and involuntary disappearance of peasant-activist Jonas Burgos.
“We can always help him because he is a member [of the Armed Forces of the Philippines]. He can refund the money to us,” Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes said on Sunday.
Baliaga was identified by one of the witnesses during the abduction of Burgos on April 28 by alleged military personnel inside a restaurant at the Ever Gotesco Mall located along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Burgos has never been found and the military continued to deny it was behind the abduction.
Coballes said Baliaga continues to work as staff of the office of the Army’s Adjutant General.
“He needs to work. There is what we call presumption of innocence. He has the right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty by the court,” Coballes said.
The general said he got assurance from Baliaga he would not escape and ready to face and defend himself in trial.
“We told him to post bail so he can prepare his legal defense for trial,” Coballes said, adding the Army will provide legal counsel for Baliaga if he asks for it. 

Armed men kidnap reelectionist barangay captain in Lamitan City

From InterAksyon (Oct 27): Armed men kidnap reelectionist barangay captain in Lamitan City

A re-electionist barangay chairman in Barangay Tandung Ahas, Lamitan City, Basilanas was abducted by armed men on Sunday morning. 
Alrusdi Kasim Jainul was kidnapped at around 9:45 a.m. when he and members of his group were on their way to Isabela City, provincial police director Senior Superintendent Mario Dapilloza, citing a report of a certain Absal Addin. 
Jainul’s group was onboard a vehicle when the armed blocked their way on the portion of the Isabela-Lamitan (Baluno) highway, Dapilloza said, adding that Addin reported the incident to the police at around 10:01 a.m. 
“A black van together with two motorcycles carrying 6 persons blocked Jainul’s vehicle. Jainul was forcibly taken at gunpoint and [the group] fled toward the direction of Isabela City proper. The case is still under investigation,” Dapilloza said.