Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gov't troops foil suspected NPA firearms, ammo delivery

From the Philippine Information Agency  (Nov 5): Gov't troops foil suspected NPA firearms, ammo delivery

Troops of the  Philippine  Army and  Philippine National  Police  on Sunday  apprehended   two persons  suspected of  delivering   high-powered   firearms   to New People’s  Army (NPA) combatants  in  T’boli town, this  province.

PSupt  Jemuel Siason, acting T’boli  police chief,  said  recovered from the  suspects  were  4 AK-47 rifles, 15 long  magazines  loaded  with ammunitions,  326 live ammunitions  for AK-47        and 106 ammunitions  for M-14  rifles

Also  in their  possession  were  subversive  documents, including  an  assault  plan of a  target  area where a  police detachment is located.

Siason  pointed  out, the  rebels  could possibly have planned  to attack  an armory.

“Based  on  intelligence  reports  the suspects, although  living in  Tulunan, North Cotabato and  Norala, this  province, originated  from  Compostela Valley area,”  Siason  said.

He alleged,  still based on  gathered intelligence  information, the  two were  members of the  NPA’s Regionwide Area  Committee.

In a separate  report,  Capt. William Rodriguez, spokesperson of the  1002nd  Brigade,  recounted that  elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion,  4th Maneuver Company of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB)  and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA)-12  acted  upon an intelligence  report  that  said  NPA operatives  will  be   transporting  firearms from Tulunan, North Cotabato.

An unnamed  reliable source, he said, indicated that  a red Mitsubishi Lancer with plate number PGF 172   will be  used for this  purpose.

The  combined forces conducted a joint checkpoint operations at 2:00 at vicinity Barangay Centrala, Surallah, South Cotabato.

At around  4:00  p.m. the subject vehicle passed by aforesaid checkpoint but did not stop despite being flagged-down by the law enforcers.

Government troops, onboard military and PNP vehicles, immediately conducted pursuit operations and successfully apprehended said vehicle at Barangay Sinolon, T’boli, South Cotabato after a 5-minute car chase,  Rodriguez said.

On  March  20, this  year,  at least  15 NPA combatants  attacked  a  community police assistance  center (COMPAC)  sa  Barangay Sinolon. Two  civilians  and  a  police  officer  were  wounded in the incident.
Lieutenant Col. Shalimar Imperial, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said that the remaining NPAs in T’boli and Lake Sebu, mostly coming from other provinces, are already desperate of their failed recruitment effort in the area.

He said that the NPAs already resorted to using the lure to handle high-powered weapons to recruit.

He added the  rebel  group is now  focusing on the members of the indigenous community in far-flung areas, particularly the out-of-school youth.

Imperial urged the NPAs to return to the folds of the law and accept the amnesty program of the government so that genuine peace and stability will finally reign in these far-flung areas.

On  September 16,   19 NPA surrenderees received initial cash assistance amounting to P10,000 each from the Provincial Government of South Cotabato and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Livelihood assistance worth P50,000  each was already handed down by OPAPP to the provincial LGU and will soon be released to the former rebels once they have already undergone the required livelihood training this month of November to prepare them to be integrated to the mainstream of society.

Indigenous people abandon armed struggle

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 6): Indigenous people abandon armed struggle

Some 101 household members of the indigenous people of the Tribu Bukidnon in Barangay San Agustin, Isabela town abandoned the armed struggle and vowed to become a peaceful community.

Tribe members pledged, October 31, as part of the Indigenous People’s Month celebration to exercise non-violence in their community as IP Tribal Chieftain Jacinto Dadlis turned over the red flag of the New People’s Army to Governor Alfredo Mara?on Jr.

At the turn-over, Daldis expressed they do not seek violence anymore instead, they want to go on with their lives practicing and enriching their culture and tradition as a tribe.

“We trust and lift our hope to the government that’s why I decided to turn over the flag instead of burning it,” Daldis said in the dialect.

The IPs acknowledged the significant role of the Bayanihan Teams in the area as an eye-opener.

A tribe member said that through the soldiers’ constant dialogue, visibility, and efforts in listening and resolving their issues, coupled with the delivery of basic services, all they realized the flawed ideology inculcated by the New People’s Army to them.

There is indeed a government; we were used and blinded” shared one of the IPs whose name is withheld for security reasons.

Meanwhile, Mara?on expressed his appreciation for the Tribu Bukidnon for deciding to return in the mainstream.

In return, the provincial government offered for the construction of Grades 1 and 2 Public Classroom, construction of public road for Sitio Mahupaho, Hanging Bridges crossing the three (3) rivers and Water pipe needed for four villages linking from one house to another.

303rd Infantry Brigade Commander, Col. Jon N. Aying said that in celebrating and commemorating the Indigenous People’s Month, we remember the richness of our ancestors’ culture and tradition.

“This is like going back to our roots and that is our moral values. We, in the military are optimistic that in some areas of the Province the state of normalcy is possible to achieve”

Aying said.Mara?on urged the IPs to continue their way of living nurturing their ancestral domain culture.

Eastern Mindanao Command units on alert for 'Yolanda'

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 6): Eastern Mindanao Command units on alert for 'Yolanda'

With super typhoon "Yolanda" forecast to enter the Philippine territory Thursday morning, the Eastern Mindanao Command announced it has place all its its air and sea assets on alert for possible disaster relief rescue operations.

"All available air and sea assets (of the Eastern Mindanao Command) are on stand-by alert for possible disaster relief rescue operations," said command spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber.

"Yolanda" is expected to traverse westward across Regions 4A, 4B, 5 6, 7, and 8 until it exits the Philippine Area of Responsibility sometime Saturday evening to Sunday morning.

Abu Sayyaf militants abduct 2 workers

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 6): Abu Sayyaf militants abduct 2 workers

Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants have abducted two employees of a telecommunications company in the southern Philippines, the latest captives by a ransom-seeking group that still holds other hostages, including two European tourists, officials said Wednesday.

Marine Col. Jose Cenabre said three men were traveling on motorcycles after inspecting a cellphone transmission facility when they were stopped by about 10 Abu Sayyaf gunmen Tuesday in mountainous Patikul town in Sulu province.

One of the three managed to escape while they were being dragged into the jungle.

Marines looking for the gunmen and their victims later took into custody a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant for questioning, Cenabre said by telephone from Sulu, a predominantly Muslim province about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila.

Government troops normally provide security for workers involved in infrastructure projects, but the abducted men did not ask for military escorts, he said.

Although weakened by years of military setbacks, the Abu Sayyaf group remains a security threat and holds several hostages, including two European birdwatchers and a Jordanian journalist.

Such abductions are far fewer today than the numerous kidnappings that terrorized Sulu and outlying provinces in the early 2000s.

Rebels to get P100,000 for guns

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 6): Rebels to get P100,000 for guns

Eleven members of the New People’s Army Yunit Militia who gave themselves up to the Army’ 11th Infantry Battalion, and surrendered 17 firearms as well explosives, are expected to receive P100,000 this month, its Civil Military Operations officer, 1Lt. Von Ryan Gomez, said yesterday.

Eight of the 11 former rebels who are residents of Brgy. Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla surrendered 13 firearms, that included seven 357 magnum revolvers, a .45 caliber pistol, .38 caliber revolver, four shotguns, 41 live ammunition and three magazines of .45 caliber pistols.

Two other former rebels from Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, also surrendered two M72 anti-tank weapons, 12 rifle grenades and 60mm mortar ammunition, military records show.

Their surrender came several days after a rebel amazon, whose identity is also being withheld by the military, surrendered M-16 and M-14 rifles to the 11thInfantry Battalion. Under the AFP Guns for Peace Program. She received P90,500 cash in exchange for the high-powered firearms she surrendered.

Gomez said the government is paying P45,000 to P60,000 for M-16 or M-14 rifles,and P1,000 to P5,000 for low-powered firearms.

He added that the AFP Guns for Peace Program played a significant role in encouraging rebels to surrender their hidden guns.

Last week, three more members of the NPA Yunit Militia in Isabela, Negros Occidental, received P5,000 for surrendering four homemade firearms to the 11th Infantry Battalion.

For light machine gun (M173, M60, M1919, Minimi, Ultimax), the cash equivalent ranges from P93,000 to P214,000, sub-machine gun (Aug Styr, Colt M653, M3, UZI, MK9 and HK MP5) P35,000 to P150,000, military records show.

The 30 caliber machine gun has a cash equivalent of P95,000 and heavy machine gun P388,000.

Negrense Army general peacemaker in Mindanao

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 6): Negrense Army general peacemaker in Mindanao

Lt. Gen., Rey Ardo, who is retiring from the military service on Nov. 9, was instrumental in the signing of the framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government.

Ardo, who is from Fabrica, Sagay City, ends on Saturday more than 35 years of military service, as commanding general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command.

Ardo was reportedly popular in the Central Mindanao provinces for his community projects supporting the GPH-MILF talks, while serving as chairperson of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) coordinating committee for the cessation of hostilities between the AFP and MILF, and later as commanding general of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

“The Mindanao problem is best addressed through diplomatic, `convergence-type resolution,’ an approach that has to involve all sectors. It cannot be won by guns and bullets alone,” Ardo said.

The 6ID supervises three Army infantry brigades in Central Mindanao, including that of the 602nd Infantry Brigade headed by Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, that is stationed in Carmen, North Cotabato.

Tomaro, who is from Brgy. Tapi, Kabankalan City, also helped Ardo in the realization of the MILF-GRP framework agreement, military records also show.

Ardo said the nagging Moro issue is best resolved through "convergence" of diplomatic efforts by local sectors, leaders of Moro fronts, the political communities and local government units in Moro-dominated areas.

Local leaders and peace activists from Mindanao asked MalacaƱang to replace Ardo with an officer who has a record of peace-building in communities covered by the 1997 ceasefire accord between the government and the MILF.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the AFP Western Command, has been named as his successor. Both are members of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1981.

Ardo, who commands the entire AFP units in Western Mindanao, called on the 6ID soldiers to continue pursuing peace while resolving security problems in Moro areas through traditional conflict-resolution practices.

On Monday, President Benigno Aquino III conferred on Ardo a Distinguished Service Star, in recognition of his exemplary leadership in handling the Zamboanga crisis last month.

DND chief hopeful that impasse in IRP talks will be resolved

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 6): DND chief hopeful that impasse in IRP talks will be resolved

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Wednesday admitted that there is an impasse between the Philippine and American panels' ongoing talks regarding the Framework Agreement for the Increased Rotational Presence (IRP) but expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved.

"I don't think the talks will collapse, I am very optimistic that the issue will be resolved," he added.

The issue Gazmin was referring to was the fact that the US panel wants to limit the Philippines access to the temporary facilities that the Americans will construct in the country once the IRP is signed or ratified.

The Philippine side wants equal access.

He added that this matter is currently under negotiation as all aspects of the IRP should be beneficial to the country in the long run.

"Eventually, (we are hoping) that both parties will come to an understanding," Gazmin stressed.

American and Filipino negotiators, on the fourth round of talks for the Framework Agreement on the Increased Rotational Presence (IRP), have admitted to encountering some "gaps" during the course of their two-day meeting in Manila last Oct 1 and 2.

PA says 5 soldiers in Zamboanga City looting incident still detained

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 6): PA says 5 soldiers in Zamboanga City looting incident still detained
The Philippine Army (PA) on Wednesday announced that the five soldiers involved in a looting incident in Zamboanga City during the height of the 20-day crisis are still detained and under investigation.

The five are now being held at the Army Custodial Center at PA headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

"Though the PA is serious in employing due sanctions and punishment to erring personnel, it still believes that the five Army personnel are still entitled to due process and the benefit of a fair investigation," Army deputy public affairs chief Capt. Anthony Bacus said.

At present, the investigating team is in the process of interviewing witnesses before it can conclude the investigation and determine the culpability of the accused soldiers.

Bacus added that it shall also seek legal opinion from the Army’s Judge Advocate General Office.

"If there exists probable cause that would warrant the filing of administrative cases against the five, then the case shall be referred to the General Court Martial," he stressed.

As a matter of procedure and for security reasons, the PA decided not to disclose yet the names of the accused.

"The PA maintains that it would not tolerate any acts perpetrated by its personnel that will affect the integrity and reputation of the entire institution. If proven guilty, the accused shall be dealt with proper sanction accordingly," Bacus pointed out.

Guided by the Army Transformation Road map, the PA continues to implement institutional changes to ensure, among others, discipline among the troops.

Arrested bomber transported to Manila

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 6): Arrested bomber transported to Manila

One of the country’s most wanted men nabbed by the operatives of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM) was flown to Manila on Wednesday following his presentation before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 here.

Chief Supt. Joe Wilson Denamarca, CIDG-ARMM director, identified the arrested bomber as Kaharudin Lakman Silungan alias Commander Tata Dagada, a long-wanted bomb-maker hiding in Maguindanao.

Silongan was tailed by agents while on board a multicab vehicle in Esperansa, Sultan Kudarat, around 9:00 a.m. Tuesday and later arrested in Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Accordingly, Silongan is listed as the country’s 17th most wanted person with a bounty of P1.5-million on his head.

Silongan is linked behind the series of bombings in Mindanao in 2007 that included a blast incident in this city.

The suspect is also facing charges of murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder with case number 551-2007 before Judge Rogelio Narisma of RTC Branch 23.

Due to this, he was presented to Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista who made his commendation to the apprehending CIDG operatives.

Silongan is an expert bomb-maker hired by various terror groups in the region.

The arrested suspect was immediately transported to Davao City for a flight to Manila.

Denamarca explained that Silongan is a high-risk criminal and needed to be transferred for detention at the maximum Bicutan prison facility in Taguig City.

PH-US NEGOTIATIONS | Language, equal benefits, equal access hound panels

From InterAksyon (Nov 6): PH-US NEGOTIATIONS | Language, equal benefits, equal access hound panels

After nearly a century of cozy defense partnership, the United States and its former colony the Philippines are apparently finding it’s not that easy to update the terms of endearment as they negotiate an accord expanding US access to the former host of its largest military bases in Asia.

Choice of word or language, equal benefits, and equal access are among the difficult hurdles facing Philippine and United States panels that have thus far met four times, with a fifth meeting still with an unknown schedule.

The panels are working to craft a framework agreement that would give American forces greater access to Philippine military facilities, a notion that has riled nationalists but is seen to be supported by pragmatists who see the US as still the best buffer against perceived Chinese aggression in the region. They reckon that with the Philippine defense modernization program still in fits and starts, an arrangement with the lone superpower could provide some security blanket, literally.

“It is at the stage where there is negotiation. So, it’s a give and take process. Right now, we have not agreed on the issues raised which we call the language. Dun pa lang ay may mga problema na ng konti," Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in an interview.

Both panels had already met four times since negotiations started last August in the Philippines. The chair of the Philippine panel, Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, said “Wala pang definite date,” when asked about the fifth meeting.
Batino said negotiations were concentrated “on some core provisions” to ensure the country will not be at a disadvantage.

The other members of the panel are Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta, Defense Assistant Secretary Raymond Jose, and Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan.

Heading the US panel is Eric John, a senior negotiator for Military Agreements of the State Department who was also among the negotiators in the formulation of the PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Gazmin dismissed speculations the negotiation might collapse because of some disagreements on certain proposed provisions.

“There are indeed issues they want but which we don’t. Certain things we want but which they reject. We will keep talking till we reach an agreement,” Gazmin said. “I don’t think it will collapse. I am very optimistic na mare-resolve din yung mga issues. Siyempre, medyo mabigat sa umpisa but eventually magkakaroon ng prosesong magkakaintidihan ‘yan. Kaya nga nine-negotiate natin e. Everything should be beneficial to the Philippines, that is the major idea,” he added.

The idea of giving greater access to American forces into Philippine soil cropped up because of the expanding presence of Chinese vessels in Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS)--in Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag or Scarborough Shoal) in Masinloc, Zambales and Ayungin Reef in Kalayaan Island Group, Palawan.

2 Globe Telecom contractors seized in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Nov 6): 2 Globe Telecom contractors seized in Southern Philippines

A group of gunmen seized two Filipino contractors working for Globe Telecom in the southern Philippines, police said Wednesday.

Police said an operation was launched to search for technician Nasri Abubakar, 40, and broadband antenna installer Dennis Aluba, 30, who were both abducted in the village of Latih in Sulu’s Patikul town. A third contractor, Aquino Hadjula, escaped abduction and reported the incident to a marine base in the town.

"We are still searching for the victims and we still don’t know what is the motive behind the abduction or whether the Abu Sayyaf was involved in this," Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, the provincial police chief, told regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said the victims - of QTel Company based in Zamboanga City - were travelling on a motorcycle when gunmen stopped them. Hadjula escaped on another motorcycle while gunmen were firing on him.

It was unknown why soldiers failed to detect the presence of gunmen in the village. There was no immediate statement from the town mayor Kabir Hayudini about the latest abduction.

Yoly Crisanto, head for Globe Corporate Communications, said the incident was very unfortunate.

She said the two victims are technical staff of QTel which was tapped by Nippon Electric Company to set-up network transmission requirement in the area as contractor of Globe.

"We have assisted our sub-contractor QTel in reporting the incident to the military. Globe will cooperate fully with the authorities as necessary. We empathize with the families of the victims and we are hopeful for their safe recovery," Crisanto said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Just last month, suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen also seized a hardware store owner, Archie Hablo, in Patikul town. The 29-year old Hablo, whose family owns the Sincere Enterprises in Jolo town, was travelling on a motorcycle with his brother Miko when gunmen, who were in a jeep, blocked their path and seized the businessman.

Hablo’s brother managed to run and escape and reported the incident to authorities.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several Filipinos and foreigners kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi province and Sulu. The Abu Sayyaf rebels have been largely blamed for many ransom kidnappings in the southern region.

False text messages trigger panic in Zamboanga school

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Nov 6): False text messages trigger panic in Zamboanga school

Frantic parents rushed Wednesday to a school to fetch their children after receiving text messages alleging that a new fighting between security and rebel forces erupted in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

The text scare disrupted classes in Talon-Talon village. School officials tried to calm down the children as parents panicked by the reports which turned out false.

The text message said the fighting broke out in the neighboring village of Mampang where an oxygen explosion earlier killed a worker.

One woman also rushed to the school to get her child and told the other about the fighting which triggered panic among other parents.

“The report is negative. There is no fighting and there is no truth to the report,” policeman PO2 Nurail Fajal told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said the only incident in Mampang was the accidental explosion of an oxygen cylinder which killed one worker. “That’s the only report we have in Mampang where one person was killed (in the oxygen cylinder blast),” he said.

Authorities have previously warned the public against spreading unverified text messages which can cause panic and fear. This after three weeks of fighting between troops and Moro National Liberation Front rebels in September left over 400 people dead and wounded.