Thursday, November 14, 2013

Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit arrested in Zambo City

From GMA News (Nov 14): Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit arrested in Zambo City

A suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit implicated in the 2002 abduction of members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Sulu was arrested Thursday in Zamboanga City, the Philippine National Police said. 

In a statement, Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokespserson of PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, identified the suspect as Ustadz Nidhal/Nijal Pajiran alias Abdurahman and Abu Kudama.

Mayor said elements of the Police Provincial 9, Special Action Group, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Center Transnational Crime and supported by Presidential Anti-organized Crime Commission arrested Pajiran in Barangay Tictapul in Zamboanga City.

At the time of his arrest, Pajiran was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a Pasig Regional Trial Court for a kidnapping and serious illegal detention with random case in connection with the August 2002 abduction of Jehovah's Witnesses members in Patikul, Sulu.

The PNP statement said Pajiran is currenly under the custody of the Regional Intelligence Division, Police Provincial Office 9.

Sulu abduction

In August 2002, six members of the Jehovah's Witnesses were abducted by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf while selling cosmetic products in Patikul, Sulu.
Based on witness accounts, two of those abducted were beheaded by the kidnappers while in captivity. The victims were rescued in Sulu in April 2003.
During court proceedings on the kidnapping case filed in relation to the incident, at least eight Abu Sayyaf members denied involvement in the abduction, some even claiming that they were illegally arrested. 
Last February, the Department of Justice ordered the release of 18 men arrested for the kidnapping, citing insufficient evidence connecting them to the crime. 

Marines boost disaster-relief mission in Philippines

From the Marine Times (Nov 13): Marines boost disaster-relief mission in Philippines

Relief Effort Continues In The Philippines After T

Aid workers disembark a V-22 Osprey as they arrive to assist survivors in an area devastated by Typhoon Haiyan on Tuesday in Leyte, Philippines. (Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

The Marine Corps’ presence in the Philippines is poised to surge as more aircraft and personnel — including members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit — are rushed from Japan to assist in the recovery effort following last week’s devastating typhoon.

Four more MV-22B Ospreys departed Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Wednesday, officials there said in a news release, raising to 12 the number of Marine aircraft assigned to what’s been branded Operation Damayan, Tagalog for “help in time of need.” There are eight Ospreys and four KC-130J Hercules, both capable of hauling people, equipment and supplies.

Additionally, two dock landing ships, the Germantown and Ashland, have departed mainland Japan for Okinawa, where elements of the MEU will embark, said Sgt. Ben Eberle, a spokesman with Marine Corps Forces Pacific. It’s not immediately clear how many Marines will get on those ships or which of the MEU’s units will be represented.

The 31st MEU, which includes about 2,200 personnel, has a host of capabilities and routinely trains for humanitarian-assistance missions, said Capt. Garron Garn, a spokesman for the unit. As an air-ground task force, the MEU’s inventory includes a variety of helicopters, smaller seagoing vessels and nearly 200 ground vehicles — among them 30 7-ton all-terrain trucks, which would be able to drive through flooded roads and transport supplies to areas that remain cutoff or difficult to access.

Beyond aviation and logistics assets, all MEUs have a 1,000-man infantry battalion. It remains to be seen whether the top Marine commander in the Philippines, Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, thinks infantry personnel will be needed.

There have been reports of looting and gunfire in some of the areas hit hardest by the storm, and on Wednesday, Philippine security forces exchanged gunfire with an armed gang after a mob overran a rice warehouse in Tacloban, which experienced some of the storm’s worst devastation. The crowd triggered a wall collapse that killed eight people while others left with thousands of sacks of grain.

Marines deployed into similar conditions after a powerful earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. There, U.S. troops carried unloaded weapons, with their ammunition easily accessible but kept out of sight.

The Germantown and Ashland are part of the Navy’s Ampbious Squadron 11. Speaking in Washington, Gen. John Paxton, the Marine Corps’ assistant commandant, said operational and maintenance issues would keep a large-deck amphibious assault ship — the landing helicopter dock Bonhomme Richard is part of the squadron — from joining the relief effort.

“We had a challenge just to get the two [dock landing ships] out of Okinawa, to get them down to the Philippines,” he said. “We can’t get the big deck down there.”

The work continues

On Wednesday, the 270 Marines and sailors already in the Philippines are expected to move military assessment teams into the hard-hit city of Tacloban, officials said. They also will continue evacuating Filipinos displaced by the storm and ferrying workers and supplies.

So far, more than 129,000 pounds of food, water and other supplies have been delivered to those in need, and hundreds of people who lost their homes were relocated to Manila, the capital.

U.S. military officials are sending personnel to Manila to check on “pre-positioned” equipment the Marine Corps keeps there, such as water purification units. Chuck Little, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said they don’t believe anything was damaged in the storm, and such gear may prove helpful as relief efforts continue.

In addition to the Marines and sailors already on the ground, eight MC-130s assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines are being used for airlift, according to a news release. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has authorized $10 million to support Operation Damayan.

Kennedy, who commands the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, promised a response effort akin to the widely praised U.S. relief mission after the 2004 Asian tsunami, when fleets of helicopters dropped water and food to hundreds of isolated communities.

“You are not just going to see Marines and a few planes and some helicopters,” Kennedy said. “You will see the entire Pacific Command respond to this crisis.”

Typhoon Haiyan: the Philippines' communist insurgency explained

From The Telegraph (Nov 13): Typhoon Haiyan: the Philippines' communist insurgency explained

Philippine army officers have reported attacks by communist rebels from a little-known insurgency on aid convoys trying to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan: the Philippines' communist insurgency explained

Soldiers and residents look at the devastation from a military aid supplies distribution truck in Tacloban city. Photo: REUTERS

The communist insurgency that has troubled the Philippines for decades is now at its lowest ebb but continues to rumble on.

It has often been relatively ignored by the world compared to an insurgency in the semi-autonomous Mindanao province in the Muslim south, but over the years has proved just as deadly and disruptive.
Reports from areas affected by Typhoon Hainan that New People’s Army rebels attacked aid convoys will have touched a raw nerve in Manila. Most attacks have been brief, with attackers fleeing after soldiers return fire but the threat of violence is impeding the delivery of aid and causing burials to be delayed.
But the government has often declared that the insurgency was on the verge of being eradicated.
The rebellion’s roots lie in the Second World War and peasant militias that fought the Japanese. After independence from the United States was granted in 1946, pockets of resistance built up against the new but fragile central government, with many groups embracing communism as the ideology spread across the world.

The Communist Party of the Philippines formed a military wing, the NPA, which began an insurgency in earnest in the late 1960s, when it became more Maoist in tendency following the Sino-Soviet split.

Spread through most parts of the country, it was strongest in the central and southern islands. Tens of thousands of civilians, army troops and rebels have died in the conflict.

The NPA was strongest in the 1980s, growing as an alternative to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and peaking as a force after he fled in 1986.

A determined counter-insurgency operation launched by President Cory Aquino, coupled with an internal split, crippled the organisation and cost it many of its supporters in the early 1990s, but by the turn of new century it had regrouped.

It remains active, especially in mountainous and neglected areas. Philippine press reports are still dotted with incidents involving the NPA – a remote shootout with troops that claims a handful of lives; a village chief murdered for failing to cooperate; a soldier or two kidnapped by a rebel commander. Heavy machinery for government infrastructure projects is periodically found burned or destroyed, in order to deter Manila’s reach.

But the rebels are undoubtedly in decline. There are nearly as many news items announcing small groups declaring the fight is over and accepting government rehabilitation projects.

The military aims to make Samar, one of provinces badly hit by the typhoon, rebel-free by the end of next year. The NPA’s presence there is already described as skeletal.

In October, the commander of the 802nd Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division declared that rebel numbers in Leyte province – the worst affected - were down to a mere 40, operating in hilly terrain.

But areas once dominated by rebels remain flooded with weapons, and it only takes a few men with a gun to spread panic among the hungry and the desperate, and to make life difficult for aid agencies.

Japan to send 1,000 men to the Philippines

From ABS-CBN (Nov 15): Japan to send 1,000 men to the Philippines

Japan's defense minister said on Friday preparations are underway to send up to 1,000 troops as well as naval vessels and aircraft to the Philippines to help with disaster relief following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

The deployment could be Tokyo's biggest since World War Two.

"We have three ships, including the Ise, berthed in Kure and loaded with aid and helicopters. Whichever way we are preparing a mission of 1,000 people and as soon as they are ready, we will discuss with the Philippine government on what actions to take," Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters.

The significantly expanded mission comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to ease limits on the military imposed by Japan's postwar, pacifist constitution, and cope with the challenges of China's growing influence in Asia.

A Ministry of Defense official said the government was considering sending three naval vessels including the helicopter carrier Ise, currently in Kure, near Hiroshima city.

The mission could be bigger than Japan's relief efforts after the 2004 tsunami devastated Indonesia's Aceh province.

Japan has already donated $10 million in aid to the Philippines and sent a 25-strong emergency medical relief team as well as 50 troops.

Japan invaded the Philippines in World War Two and scattered fighting continued until Tokyo's surrender in 1945. But Philippine officials have said their nation does not share the concerns of others in Asia, notably China and South Korea, about Japan's military past.

The Philippines, like Japan, a strong ally of the United States, has also said it views Japan as a counterweight to the increasing regional role of China.

Air Force: We can get everyone out of Tacloban

From ABS-CBN (Nov 15): Air Force: We can get everyone out of Tacloban

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is willing to take everyone out of Tacloban, but typhoon survivors need to be patient and wait for available aircraft and flights.

In an interview on DZMM, PAF spokesperson Col. Miguel Okol said the Air Force has limited number of planes and trips.

He was told of complaints from survivors in Tacloban. Several people were separated from their families, while some said they have been waiting for a few days and yet, they were still not allowed to leave.

Each C-130 plane can take around 120 to 130 passengers, and priority is give to those who are injured, sick or disabled, children, and the elderly.

"Kung maraming C-130, wala nang pinipili," Okol added.

As of present, the Philippines has three C-130 cargo planes. The US sent 9 C-130 planes, Australia sent 2, Indonesia sent another 2, while Singapore deployed one.

Several countries have also sent helicopters to be used for relief operations.

However, due to limitations of both the Tacloban Airport and the Villamor Air Base, only a limited number of planes can use the airport at any given time.

Okol also said each plane's turnaround depends on how fast relief goods can be taken out, and how fast passengers can get in the plane.

He assured the victims that the Air Force will consider all the complaints received and will improve the system of transporting people out of Tacloban.

US carrier starts typhoon relief ops as Aquino comes under fire

From GMA News (Nov 15): US carrier starts typhoon relief ops as Aquino comes under fire

A US aircraft carrier "strike group" started unloading food and water to the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines on Thursday, as President Benigno Aquino faced mounting pressure to speed up the distribution of supplies.
While relief efforts picked up, local authorities began burying the dead—an important, if grim, milestone for a city shredded by one of the world's most powerful typhoons and the tsunami-like wall of seawater believed to have killed thousands.
"There are still bodies on the road," said Alfred Romualdez, mayor of Tacloban, a city of 220,000 people reduced to rubble in worst-hit Leyte province. "It's scary. There is a request from a community to come and collect bodies. They say it's five or 10. When we get there, it's 40."
Many petrol station owners whose businesses were spared have refused to reopen, leaving little fuel for trucks needed to move supplies and medical teams around the devastated areas nearly a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck.
"The choice is to use the same truck either to distribute food or collect bodies," Romualdez added.
The nuclear-powered USS George Washington aircraft carrier and accompanying ships arrived off wind-swept eastern Samar province, carrying 5,000 crew and more than 80 aircraft, after what strike force commander Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery called a "high-speed transit" from Hong Kong.
It is moored near where US General Douglas MacArthur's force of 174,000 men landed on October 20, 1944, in one of the biggest allied victories of World War Two.
"Operation Damayan" started with the George Washington and two cruisers taking up position off Samar to assess damage and provide logistical and emergency support such as fresh water.
Ships carried 11 pallets ashore—eight containing 1,920 gallons of water and three containing food—at Tacloban airfield. Several pallets of water were taken to Guiuan, home to home to 45,000 people, which was also badly hit by the storm.
The carrier moved some fixed-wing aircraft ashore to make more room for the helicopters on the flight deck.
"One of the best capabilities the strike group brings is our 21 helicopters," Montgomery said in a statement. "These helicopters represent a good deal of lift to move emergency supplies around."
Britain also said it would send a helicopter carrier, HMS Illustrious, to help in the relief effort. Japan was also planning to send up to 1,000 troops as well as naval vessels and aircraft, in what could be Tokyo's biggest postwar military deployment.
Outside Taclaban, burials began for about 300 bodies in a mass grave on Thursday. A larger grave will be dug for 1,000, city administrator Tecson John Lim told Reuters.
The city government remains paralyzed, with an average of just 70 workers compared to 2,500 normally, he added. Many were killed, injured, lost family or were simply too overcome with grief to work.
The government was distributing 50,000 "food packs" containing 6 kg (13 lb) of rice and canned goods each day, but that covers just 3 percent of the 1.73 million families affected by the typhoon......

Navy transports 2,500 Tacloban evacuees to Cebu

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 15): Navy transports 2,500 Tacloban evacuees to Cebu

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Friday announced that one of its logistic vessels, the BRP Dagupan City (LC-551), is now enroute to Cebu City with 2,500 evacuees from "Yolanda" ravaged Tacloban City.

The ship left the Tacloban City Pier around 12: 05 p.m. Thursday and is expected to arrive in Cebu City by 1:00 p.m. Friday.

Upon arrival in Cebu City, the evacuees will then be processed, fed, treated and housed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other relief agencies, Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

He added that the BRP Bacolod City (LC-550), which is docked at the Tacloban City Pier, will also transport a similar number of evacuees once it had finished unloading relief goods and other cargoes Friday.

BI verifying reports of Misuari’s stay in Indonesia

From the Philippine Star (Nov 14): BI verifying reports of Misuari’s stay in Indonesia

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is verifying reports that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari had stayed in Indonesia and has left for the Middle East.

BI officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison said they would ask Indonesia’s immigration agency to confirm if Misuari had fled their country.

He said the BI would find out if Misuari used Indonesia as a jump off point to the Middle East.

Unconfirmed reports said Misuari used an ancient maritime route to get to Southern Sulawesi from Mindanao.

He is reportedly in the Middle East and has reunited with his family. However, the reports did not mention where in the Middle East was he staying.

“We can have it checked in our records but most likely, his name would not appear as no immigration officer would allow him to leave,” Mison said.

Misuari is included in the BI’s Look Out Bulletin (LOB) and is reportedly a subject of an arrest warrant in connection with the Zamboanga siege.

Sulu sultanate to pursue Sabah claims through diplomatic means

From the Philippine Star (Nov 14): Sulu sultanate to pursue Sabah claims through diplomatic means

The successor of the Sultanate of Sulu said yesterday that their claims on Sabah would continue, but through diplomatic and legal approach.

Esmail Kiram II, who succeeded his late brother Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said he would not encourage bloody means in pursuing their claims unlike what happened in February when at least 200 members of the sultanate army holed themselves out in Lahad Datu.

The late Kiram earlier said his brother Agbimuddin and his group went to Lahad Datu to peacefully pursue their claims on Sabah, but were reportedly forced to defend themselves against the alleged hostile actions of the Malaysian forces.

Kiram said the hostility of the Malaysian forces against his brother’s group had ceased.

He did not say whether Agbimuddin is still hiding in Sabah or has returned to the country.

Another Indian trader kidnapped in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Nov 14): Another Indian trader kidnapped in Maguindanao

Gunmen disguised as soldiers kidnapped an Indian investor in Parang town on Wednesday night, the second Indian trader abducted in Central Mindanao since October 31.

Chief Superintendent Noel delos Reyes, regional police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, identified the kidnapped merchant as Krishan Singh Arora, 54.

Arora was abducted at the premises of a supposedly tightly-guarded seaside Eversun plywood factory in Barangay Sarmiento in southwest of Parang.

The trader was trying to reopen the factory after having been abandoned for about a decade now by its original Korean owners due to management problems.

“His abductors were wearing camouflage uniforms,” Delos Reyes told reporters.

Arora has been staying at the Eversun compound since he acquired control of the property several months ago.

Local officials said Arora was trying to organize a local group to operate the plywood factory.

Delos Reyes said the kidnappers arrived at the Eversun compound 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, took him at gunpoint and disappeared in pitch darkness.

“The Parang municipal police received a call telling about the incident at 9:20 p.m. of Wednesday,” Delos Reyes said.

Barangay Sarmiento is about four kilometres from the town proper of Parang, where the ARMM’s regional police headquarters is located.

Arora was snatched just 13 days after gunmen kidnapped in nearby Cotabato City Indian businessman Mike Khemani.

Khemani operates a department store in Cotabato City, the Sugni Superstore, which has branches in Kabacan town in North Cotabato and in Kidapawan City.

Khemani’s abductors first gunned down his bodyguard and wounded another before they spirited him to a riverside area using a black getaway car.

Nothing has been heard since about the whereabouts of Khemani and his captors.

China’s paltry Philippines aid hurting reputation

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 14): China’s paltry Philippines aid hurting reputation

A man looks over near the front page of a Chinese newspaper showing a photo of the typhoon damage in the Philippines and the white characters on blue which reads “U.S. and Europe hype up Chinese aid to Philippines as ‘Not Generous’ “, at a newsstand in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. The outpouring of international aid to the Philippines makes China’s contribution for typhoon relief look like a trickle – and that won’t help Beijing’s campaign to win over neighbors with its soft power. AP

The outpouring of international aid to the Philippines makes China’s contribution for typhoon relief look like a trickle — and that won’t help Beijing’s campaign to win over neighbors with its soft power.

The world’s second-largest economy has pledged less than $2 million in cash and materials, compared to $20 million provided by the United States, which also launched a massive military-driven rescue operation that includes an aircraft carrier.

Another Chinese rival, Japan, has pledged $10 million and offered to send troops, ships and planes. Australia is giving $28 million, and even Swedish furniture chain Ikea’s offer of $2.7 million through its charitable foundation beats China’s.

China’s reluctance to give more — driven by a bitter feud with Manila over overlapping claims in the South China Sea — dents its global image at a time when it is vying with Washington for regional influence.

“China has missed an excellent opportunity to show itself as a responsible power and to generate goodwill,” said Zheng Yongnian, a China politics expert at the National University of Singapore. “They still lack strategic thinking.”

The decline of American influence in Asia, with China filling the vacuum, has been predicted for years. Asian nations have become increasingly dependent on China’s booming economy to purchase their exports, and Chinese companies are increasingly providers of investment and employment.

Yet, China lags far behind the U.S. in the sphere of soft power — the winning of hearts and minds through culture, education, and other non-traditional forms of diplomacy, of which emergency assistance is a major component.

Despite Chinese academics’ frequent promotion of soft power, Chinese leaders don’t really get it, said Zheng. Instead, they continue to rely on the levers of old-fashioned major-nation diplomacy based on economic and military might. “They still think they can get their way through coercion,” Zheng said.

China’s donations to Philippines include $100,000 each from the government and the Chinese Red Cross, and it is sending an additional $1.64 million in tents, blankets and other goods.

Meanwhile, the USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived off the Philippine coast Thursday, and 1,000 troops were expected on the ground in the disaster zone by the end of the week. U.S. planes and choppers carried in supplies and flew out survivors. “We are operating 24-7,” Marine Capt. Cassandra Gesecki said.

Relief efforts promote US interests in Asia, say experts

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 14): Relief efforts promote US interests in Asia, say experts

The US military’s relief efforts in the storm-ravaged Philippines will save lives, but also illustrate how humanitarian operations promote Washington’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region, experts said on Wednesday. AFP FILE PHOTO
The US military’s relief efforts in the storm-ravaged Philippines will save lives, but also illustrate how humanitarian operations promote Washington’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region, experts said on Wednesday.

The rapid deployment of US naval ships, cargo planes, helicopters and troops to the Philippines after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”) underscores America’s growing emphasis on disaster relief missions.

These are seen as a strategic tool, allowing the United States to exert “soft power” through means usually tied to “hard power,” according to a report released on Wednesday by Ely Ratner of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration.

“Having assets in the region allows the United States to provide aid assistance in ways that augment US leadership and legitimacy in Asia,” the report said.

The Pentagon’s version of “disaster diplomacy” evolved after the Cold War, with US officials adopting a broader approach to forging security ties with other states.

A pivotal moment came in 2004, when a massive tsunami in Asia led both Jakarta and Washington to set aside differences over human rights, permitting the US military to deliver major logistical aid.

“The scale and scope of that was so enormous and overwhelming that it really overrode the political tensions that had been building between the two countries and had kept relations at a low level,” said Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

No strings

The military aid effort, similar to the current elaborate operation in the Philippines, showed Indonesia that the Pentagon’s humanitarian help came “with no strings attached” and was truly “selfless,” Auslin told AFP.

The episode “helped put US-Indonesia relations on a completely new trajectory,” he said.

Defense ties with Indonesia gradually improved afterward, with cooperation on maritime security and peacekeeping. And in August, the Pentagon announced the sale of eight Apache attack helicopters to Jakarta.

US forces stepped in to assist Japan after that country’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami, steadying relations between the allies after strains over the American’s military’s presence on Okinawa.

The recent disasters are “tragedies that no one wants to happen,” but humanitarian operations and related exercises are also a way of cultivating trust, Auslin said.

“There are a lot of countries that want to have better relations with the United States but are wary of having an open alliance,” he said.

Building ties

Taking part in humanitarian exercises offers a way to build ties with the US military without antagonizing China, he added.

Officials believe the disaster relief drills are also a way of opening the door to better dialogue with China’s army, which is taking part in talks in Hawaii this week focused on humanitarian operations.

In annual “Balikatan” exercises between the US military and the Philippines, the scenario in the past two years has been a disaster resembling the crisis now unfolding in the country, said a senior Marine Corps official.

“This is a classic example of why we need to be forward deployed and forward engaged, why we conduct theater security cooperation, why we establish these relationships,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

Key priority

Pursuing humanitarian assistance, including training and joint exercises, has been a “key priority” in Asia and elsewhere for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his predecessors, said Pentagon spokesperson George Little.

“The speed with which US forces are able to respond to [Supertyphoon Yolanda] highlights the importance of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises we carry out regularly in the Asia-Pacific,” Little told a news conference on Tuesday.

The price tag for the relief missions is miniscule compared to combat operations, and the Pentagon in a budget document called them “low-cost, nonobtrusive and highly effective.”

NPA Member nabbed in Misamis Occidental

From the Manila Times (Nov 14): NPA Member nabbed in Misamis Occidental

POLICE intelligence operatives arrested on Wednesday a female member of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a remote village in Sapang Dalaga, Misamis Occidental.

Reports at the Philippine National Police operations center in Camp Crame identified the NPA rebel as Nida Cahanap, who belonged to a group operating in Western Mindanao.

Cahanap was arrested by combined elements of Regional Intelligence Division 10 and Sapang Dalaga Municipal Police station on Wednesday at Barangay Masubong in Sapang Dalaga.

Ex-general in P11-M suit runs to High Court for aid

From the Manila Times (Nov 14): Ex-general in P11-M suit runs to High Court for aid

Former Armed Forces Gen. Lisandro Abadia appealed before the Supreme Court to stop the Sandiganbayan from enforcing its decision that ordered the forfeiture of his P11.26-million assets.

In a 19-page petition for certiorari, the former chief of the Armed Forces asked the High Court to stall the execution of Sandiganbayan’s decision, which found that his P11.26-million asset was ill-gotten.

In a copy sent to the Sandiganbayan third division, Abadia told the High Court that his evidence for defense must be taken notice once more for the review of the anti-graft court’s ruling.

In June, the anti-graft court’s third division resolved that the P11.26-million worth of properties in Abadia’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of the former general indeed came from nowhere but illegal means.

The Office Ombudsman alleged that Abadia and his late wife Violeta failed to declare the sale of a lot in 1992 worth P2.55 million. His reported amount of cash for that year jumped from P4.44 million to P8.1 million.

The Ombudsman said that in 1990, the couple had a net worth of P3.11 million, P3.78 million in 1991, P6.48 million in 1992, and a sharp increase to P13.61 million in 1993.

State prosecutors said that the net worth of Abadia from 1986 to 1993 only amounted to P2.63 million. Subtracting his P2.77-million family expense during the same years, it would yield a negative P136,876.01 as his disposable income.

When this amount is added to Abadia’s net worth for December 1986 worth P2.21 million and the proceed from the sale of his lot in Bicutan worth P280,000, this yields P2.35 million.

“The amount of P2.35 million subtracted from the net worth of Abadia as declared in his SALN for 1993 [at] P13.61 million yields P11.26 million as unexplained wealth,” the court ruled.

Abadia said that his 1993 SALN was faked, but, “he could not explain to the satisfaction of this court how.”

The anti-graft court magistrates also noticed that the Ombudsman’s 1993 SALN of Abadia is a certified true copy while his is only a mere photocopy.

After losing legal battle at the anti-graft court, Abadia elevated the case to the Supreme Court and asked top jurists to review his case.

“The execution of the [Sandiganbayan] decision . . . will most likely work injustice to the petitioner,” Abadia said.

He added that should the Supreme Court render a ruling in his favor, lack of a temporary restraining order may make the High Court ruling “ineffectual or nugatory.”

He sought for a restraining order to halt the execution of the Sandiganbayan decision and was willing to post an injunction bond.

Britain sends biggest navy ship to Philippines

From the Manila Times (Nov 14): Britain sends biggest navy ship to Philippines

Britain is to send the biggest ship in its fleet to the Philippines to help with relief efforts following Super Typhoon Haiyan, Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday.

“I can announce Britain is sending the carrier HMS Illustrious to help with #TyphoonHaiyan,” Cameron, who is heading to a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, said on his official Twitter account.

Canadian military advance team lands on Panay Island

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 14): Canadian military advance team lands on Panay Island

manila bulletin

THE CANADIANS COME TO PANAY’S AID – Canada has dispatched the Canadian Armed Force’s Disaster Response Team in a humanitarian mission to come to the aid of survivors of the super typhoon Yolanda which ravaged parts of Panay Island. (Tara Yap)

Foreign aid for survivors of category-five super -typhoon Yolanda which ravaged parts of Panay island last November 8, has come with the presence of a Disaster Assistance Response team from the Canadian Armed Forces.

The 43-man team, headed by its commander, Major Andrew Starkey, landed at Iloilo Airport yesterday.

Starkey said they came on a humanitarian mission bringing food, water, medicine, and equipment.

“We’re the advance party,” Starkey said. “We’re here to set up and get established.”

The team will initially plot out particular areas on the island where the team will focus its attention. To recall, the northern parts of Panay Island, particularly northern Iloilo and Capiz provinces, were the most heavily devastated by the super typhoon. Aklan and Antique provinces were also badly hit.

Starkey said another group, about 100 others also from the Canadian Armed Forces, will be coming in at a later date.

The Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), formed in June, 1966, is a unique organization created to deploy to a crisis situation ranging from natural disasters to complex humanitarian emergencies anywhere in the world. The military team, which responds to requests for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, deploys quickly into a crisis area, bridging the gap until members of the international community arrive to provide long-term help.

Starkey yesterday said his team particularly specializes in medical care and water purification.

Meanwhile, Department of Social Welfare and Development regional director for Western Visayas, Evelyn Macapobre said over P10-million worth of relief goods have already been distributed to super typhoon Yolanda survivors in the region.

She said as of Novembre 13, some 46,000 family packs have been distributed to victims in highly devastated areas of Panay Island particularly northern Iloilo and Capiz province.

Each family pack, consisting of three kilos of rice, six noodles and seven canned goods, is good for a family of five, can last for a maximum of two days.

Macapobre urged for more volunteers to repack relief goods and hasten deliveryof these to typhoon victims.

While majority of these relief goods are transported on board government trucks, some are airlifted via helicopter.

Brigadier General Arnold Quiapo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade, said the priority for airlift operations are coastal and mountainous villages that cannot be reached by boats or trucks.

The relief goods have been sent to Iloilo and Capiz as well as Aklan, Antique and Negros Occidental provinces.

Various non-government organizations have also been conducting their own relief operations and have been delivering food and water to Yolanda’s victims directly.

Mindanao Trust Fund to support 6-year development plan for Bangsamoro

From the Business Mirror (Nov 14): Mindanao Trust Fund to support 6-year development plan for Bangsamoro

The multidonor Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) would give P21.3 million to the initial phase of developing conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, with a Moro guerrilla-formed development agency to lead a joint effort of government and international donors.

A briefer on the Bangsamoro Development Plans presented during the signing of a partnership agreement with different parties on Wednesday said  the fund would be taken from the MTF and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
“The MTF proposes to provide technical and financial assistance of P21.3 million [estimated at $479,000] to the Bangsamoro Development Agency [BDA] to lead an inclusive needs assessment and planning process for the BDP,” the briefer said.
The needs assessment would form the main output of the transitional development phase of the plan covering the period 2014-2015. This would serve as the baseline information for the actual reconstruction and development of areas affected by decades of armed conflict between Moro guerrillas and the government military.
The assessment would contain the information from the agreed seven major key areas: accelerated economic growth and development; human values and social development; priority infrastructure and logistic support; agriculture and fisheries; environment, natural resources and ecology;  good governance and public administration; and just peace and enhanced security.
“These major key areas would require the involvement and active participation of experts and consultants in order to elicit the most viable, just and responsive tools and mechanisms that will ensure a far better program implementation and fund utilization aimed at providing maximum benefits to the Bangsamoro constituency,” the briefer said.
While the BDA would implement the plan, it would be helped by a steering committee composed of representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp), the National Economic and Development Authority, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Regional Planning and Development Office, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, World Bank, Jica and the United Nations.
“The MNLF was also invited to join the steering committee,” the briefer said.
The entire Bangsamoro Development Plan would be coordinated by “a multidisciplinary team composed of international, national and Bangsamoro consultants formed through the collaborative efforts of the BDA, the Opapp, the World Bank and the Jica.
Windel Diangcalan of the BDA told reporters at the side of the ceremonial signing of the partnership agreement that the development plan was part of the MTF program on the reconstruction and development side.
“This plan would be the road map of development for the areas formerly affected by the armed conflict, as well as the areas proposed to be included in the new Bangsamoro entity,” he said.
As the MTF has promised to support the operation cost in the development phase covering the period 2016-2020, he said that initial phase on needs assessment would be done through consultations “to ensure that the development would have really an ownership stake from among the Bangsamoro residents.
“We will build on existing literature on the current economic development activities, with livelihood as a very important and crucial component of the plan,” he said. The funding would be coursed through the non-governmental group Mindanao Land Foundation.
The BDA was established immediately after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front agreed in 2001 to start implementing the rehabilitation phase of conflict-affected areas even as the talks were still going on.
The MTF was established in 2005 as a depository of foreign donations reserved for the reconstruction of Mindanao as soon as parties to the conflict would be able to sign a comprehensive peace agreement.

CPP/NPA: Kasinungalingan ng 31st IB ukol sa Labanan sa Matnog, Sorsogon

Posted to the PRWC blog site (Nov 13): Kasinungalingan ng 31st IB ukol sa Labanan sa Matnog, Sorsogon (31st IB lies about the Battle of Matnog, Sorsogon)

Ka Samuel Guerrero
Celso Minguez Command - NPA-Sorsogon
Nobyembre 13, 2013

KASINUNGALINGAN ang ipinangangalandakan ni 31st IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Beerjenson Aquino na ang nakasagupa nilang iskwad ng BHB sa Barangay Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon nitong Nobyembre 12 ay nakapwesto para tambangan ang mga tropang militar na patungong Visayas para magsagawa ng relief operations sa mga lugar na sinalanta ng bagyo.

Ang totoo, abala ang naturang iskwad gerilya sa pagdidirihe sa mga organisasyong masa sa lugar para paghandaan ang paghagupit ng bagyo alinsunod sa direktibang inilabas ng pambansang pamunuan ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas noong Nobyembre 6. Nakabase sila sa Balocawe mula pa noong Nobyembre 7. Nanatili ang iskwad gerilya ng BHB sa lugar upang mamahagi ng bigas sa baseng masa na sinalanta ng bagyo.

Kinubkob ng tropang 31st IB ang iskwad gerilya ng BHB nitong Nobyembre 12, ganap na alas-singko ng umaga. Magiting na nag-alay ng buhay sa labanang ito sina Ka Weng at Ka Ebor, mga Pulang mandirigma ng BHB.

MILF: BDA holds orientation on Tahderiyya for Sulu-Tawi-Tawi RMO’s

From the MILF Website (Nov 14): BDA holds orientation on Tahderiyya for Sulu-Tawi-Tawi RMO’s

The United Nation Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) sponsored the Bangsamoro Development Agency’s (BDA) orientation seminar on phase 2 Tahderriya component staff on Friday, November 8, 2013 @ Lavinna Hotel, Zamboanga City.
The orientation was aimed for the following: Present the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) mandate and strategic direction, and its programs; Share highlights of the 4th program cooperation agreement (PCA4) and its other two (2) programs components such as: Child protection component (CPC) and water, sanitation and health (WaSH); Level off with BDA and its development partners regarding the current program partnership/engagement; Discuss community organizing principles and steps in line with the program implementation, and present the monitoring and evaluation tools and database management among others.

Two BDA officials highlighted the objectives of the seminars to the participants from the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi who seem to need adequate knowledge and information regarding their respective tasks which the BDA central office expects in order for them to discharge quality wise their respective responsibilities. BDA Sulu Provincial Coordinator, development catalysts and staff with counterpart from the province of Tawi-Tawi composed the ten (10) participants who were also reminded of Islamic values in dealing with people in their localities and with BDA officialdom.

BDA Regional Manager Hadji Gapor M. Ahmad handled the first three parts of the orientation about “Understanding BDA”, PCA4 and its components; and “CO Principles and Steps” which took him nearly three (3) hours to finish. In his more lengthy part of orientation made later, Kharim M. Amil – Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, BDA Central management office explained in details the importance of monitoring and evaluation, its cycle, data and information diagram, BDA – UNICEF program structure, M & E term of reference, RMO’s data and report processes, indicators and outputs.

The whole day affair started @ 8 o’clock in the morning and ended @ 5 o’clock in the afternoon.’s

CPP: Ceasefire declaration to concentrate on rehabilitation work in Yolanda devastated areas

From the CPP Website (Nov 14): Ceasefire declaration to concentrate on rehabilitation work in Yolanda devastated areas

CPP Central Committee
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-CC) hereby formally issues this ceasefire declaration to all concerned commands of the New People’s Army (NPA) and people’s militias in areas devastated by the recent supertyphoon Yolanda. Concerned NPA units have, as a matter of course, ceased offensive operations since November 9. This ceasefire declaration will remain in effect up to 2359 hours of 24 November 2013.

This ceasefire declaration covers the following regional commands of the NPA:

Eastern Visayas Regional Command
Panay Regional Command
Central Visayas Regional Command
Negros Island Command
Respective regional commands are also to transmit this ceasefire declaration to the concerned provincial commands of the NPA, namely:

Masbate Island Command
Palawan Island Command
Mindoro Island Committee
Based on their assessment of the extent of the devastation of the recent supertyphoon in their areas of responsibility, the respective regional commands can extend the effectivity of this ceasefire declaration in their areas of concern, while other regional commands of the NPA can issue similar or limited ceasefire declarations in areas within the scope of their operations.

In line with standing policy and with the CPP’s call for calamity-related mobilization, the abovementioned NPA units have in fact already shifted their mode of operations even before supertyphoon Yoland hit land on November 8. This ceasefire declaration, thus, is a positive declaration of the practical mode shift already in effect.

Until the aforementioned expiration of this declaration, all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military operations against the armed units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other paramilitary and armed groups attached to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

While this ceasefire declaration is in effect, all units of the NPA and people’s militias shall remain in active defense mode. They will, however, remain ever militant and vigilant to the encroachment and hostile movements of the AFP within the territory of the people’s democratic government. The people demand that the AFP cease its offensive operations under its Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression. The CPP denounces the AFP for using the calamity relief operations as cover for its combat and surveillance operations within and outside the areas of devastation. The Filipino people urges the AFP to withdraw its combat units from within the guerrilla zones and demand that relief operations be carried out by civilian agencies.

With this ceasefire declaration, all local and international relief organizations are assured of safe passage through and into the calamity-affected guerrilla zones. The masses and their revolutionary organizations and governmental committees within the guerrilla zones are ever ready to help facilitate the distribution of emergency supplies to the people, giving priority to the injured, children, nursing mothers, single parents, pregnant women, the elderly, the handicapped and other vulnerable individuals.

This ceasefire declaration seeks to underscore the need to focus the attention of concerned NPA units and its Red fighters, as well as all units of the people’s militias to the immediate task of assisting the hundreds of thousands of people, especially small and landless peasants, farm workers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples and the unemployed masses in the poor coastal and mountainous areas whose homes and sources of livelihood have been severely ravaged by supertyphoon Yolanda and who suffered deaths in their families and vast losses in property. Except for the small urban area in Tacloban City, the majority of the areas devastated by the supertyphoon are poor agricultural and fishing communities.

Since November 8, all NPA companies in the concerned areas have trained their efforts at helping the people rebuild their houses, recover farm animals, help harvest root crops for food, rebuild infrastructure for sourcing drinking water and facilitate the distribution of emergency supplies. The people in the guerrilla zones have carried out organized efforts to carry on with economic and commercial activity through their mass organizations, barrio revolutionary committees, local CPP branches, people’s militias and their people’s army.

The CPP calls on all its forces, all progressive and democratic organizations, relief agencies, doctors and health workers, agricultural experts and others who are willing to lend their expertise to coordinate with the revolutionary organizations in the guerrilla zones to help the people recover swiftly from the devastation and resume their normal lives.

CPP: Denounce the US military for using tragedy to justify increased warships deployment—CPP

From the CPP Website (Nov 14): Denounce the US military for using tragedy to justify increased warships deployment—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the US government for using the grave human tragedy wrought by the recent supertyphoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) in order to justify its operations to further increase the presence of its military warships and armed troops in the Philippines.

“The US government is engaged in disaster interventionism, exploiting the supine state of the Philippines after it was struck by supertyphoon Yolanda, in order to justify its deployment of armed, nuclear-powered and interventionist military warships and armed troops in the Philippines,” said the CPP. “The CPP and the Filipino people denounce the Aquino government for shamelessly welcoming the US military troops with open arms.”

Citing news reports, the CPP pointed out that the US has deployed to the Philippines no less than six warships including US flagship aircraft carrier USS George Washington, that has with it at least 80 jet fighters as well as war helicopters and 5,000 naval soldiers. It will be accompanied to the Philippines by the USS Antietam, USS Cowpens, USS Mustin, USS Lasses guided missile cruisers and the USS Charles Drew supply ship. Meanwhile, the British government is also sending the HMS Daring warship and a Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft.

The CPP further pointed out that aside from the warships that are sailing from Hong Kong and elsewhere, US armed personnel and equipment were already prepositioned in Manila and other parts of the country indicating the continuing presence of armed US troops in the national capital. There are also news reports indicating that the facilities of the Tacloban airport have been taken over by the US military. The US military has also taken advantage of the disaster in order to gain access to the Mactan airport and seaport which has long been a subject of negotiations for increased US rotational presence in the Philippines.

Over the past three years since declaring its “Asia pivot”, the US government has been increasing its “rotational presence” in various countries in the Asia-Pacific region resulting in the militarization of territorial disputes and diplomatic relations among countries in the region and in outright violation of the territorial sovereignty of the Philippines and other countries.

“The US government is militarizing disaster response in the Philippines, in much the same way that the US militarized disaster response in Haiti in the 2010 earthquake,” said the CPP. The high-handed presence of US armed troops in Haiti has been widely renounced. The US government has since maintained its presence in Haiti.

“The Filipino people seek and welcome international support in the face of the terrible devastation brought about by Yolanda in a wide corridor across the Philippine islands,” said the CPP. “However, though devastated, the Filipino people has preserved their sense of national dignity and will continue to defend their sovereignty against foreign military interventionism.”

“What the disaster victims need urgently are food, water and medical attention, not US warships bringing in emergency rations to justifty their armed presence in Philippine sovereign waters,” pointed out the CPP. “If the US government were really interested in providing assistance to countries who have suffered from calamities, then it should increase its funds to civilian agencies that deal in disaster response and emergency relief, not in fattening its international military forces and taking advantage of the people’s miseries to justify their presence,” added the CPP.

Thai military to send aid to typhoon-hit Philippines

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): Thai military to send aid to typhoon-hit Philippines

Thailand's armed forces will airlift medical assistance and supplies to Typhoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan)-stricken Philippines, local media reported on Thursday.

Currently, people in the Philippines are in urgent need of medical aid, Supreme Commander Gen Thanasak Pratimakorn was quoted by the Nation newspaper as saying.

Financial assistance is also being offered, he said.

According to the latest update from the government of the Philippines, the typhoon has claimed 2,357 lives across the country.

Other countries including China and Australia are also offering assistance to the Philippines.

USAF installs runway lights at Tacloban Airport for night time humanitarian operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): USAF installs runway lights at Tacloban Airport for night time humanitarian operations

The United States Air Force (USAF) has installed runway lights at Tacloban Airport which now makes it capable for night time humanitarian missions.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the USAF saw the importance of having runway lights during these times and installed them on Wednesday night.

The installation of the runway lights made it possible for the USAF to launch at least 10 flights to Tacloban City using its C-130 cargo plane and brought relief goods all the way from the US.

CAAP said Tacloban Airport is open to C-130 planes on humanitarian mission even as it is only limited to Airbus A320 planes.

PAF gets new Chief-of-Air Staff

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): PAF gets new Chief-of-Air Staff

Philippine Air Force Major Gen. Edgar Fallorina, formerly the 1st Air Division commander, was appointed PAF Chief-of-Air Staff (CAS) on Thursday.

He replaced Major Gen. Wilfredo Ona, who is now the PAF vice commander.

The joint change of chief office ceremony was held at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. Presiding was PAF chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz.

AFP to ask personnel to donate one-day of their meal allowance for 'Yolanda' victims

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): AFP to ask personnel to donate one-day of their meal allowance for 'Yolanda' victims

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday announced it will ask all military personnel to donate one day of their meal allowance to help the still struggling victims of super typhoon "Yolanda".

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, said that military personnel have already done this to help the victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Central Visayas last Oct. 15.

"Since this is also a devastation, that can also be proposed, that soldiers will voluntarily give up one day of their meal allowances to help," he said.

Zagala clarified that donation is voluntary but stressed that such move will find very little resistance among the soldiers.

The AFP public affairs office chief said the military is still focused on humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations.

PNP tracks down Indian businessman snatched in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): PNP tracks down Indian businessman snatched in Maguindanao
Cops are hot on the trail of an armed group who stormed on Wednesday night a mothballed plywood factory in Barangay Sarmiento, Parang, Maguindanao, and snatched an Indian executive involved in the buy-and-sell of old machines at the plant.

P03 Ariga Andag, Parang police sub-station commander, identified the abducted businessperson as Kristian Singh Aurora, 54, who was seized at his staff house inside the decrepit Eversun plywood plant situated near the Polloc port area.

Initial investigation revealed that 10 armed men entered the 106-hectare Eversun compound around 8:45 p.m. and took the businessman at gunpoint.

“The trader and his two private bodyguards together with three staff house workers were all taken by surprise. The abductors then tied them all up before fleeing with Aurora in tow,” Andag said.

He noted that one of the caretakers managed to free himself from the ropes some 30 minutes later and called for help.

Andag said that they still trying to determine if the armed band exited the compound “by sea” using the proximate Moro Gulf.

The Eversun firm, once owned by the Hong Kong-based K.C. Chong Company, ceased operation in the mid-90s due to financial constraints.

Phil. Navy ship to carry more than 2,000 families from Tacloban to Cebu Thursday

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): Phil. Navy ship to carry more than 2,000 families from Tacloban to Cebu Thursday

More than 2,000 families or over 3,000 individuals are set to leave Tacloban City for Cebu noontime Thursday.

This, while relief and disaster operations are going on in places affected by super typhoon Yolanda Friday last week.

Lt. Sam Servano said that Philippine Navy ship BRP Dagupan City (LC551) will go back to Cebu City from here for replenishment of relief goods and decided to ferry for free Tacloban people who would like to temporarily leave this city, as passengers.

LC551 arrived in Tacloban City Saturday night, bringing thousands of bottled water and food items from Cebu.

Philippine Navy troops also undertook water retrieval operations in this typhoon-devastated city along with other troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that a C130 plane of the Philippine Air Force and one of the US Air Force are also ready to bring people from this city to Cebu and Manila free of charge.

He added that the Philippine Coast Guard likewise expressed willingness to ferry passengers leaving Tacloban.

Roxas said the AFP ships and plane will prioritize as passengers those who are injured and in need of medical assistance.

The DILG chief believed that target destinations Cebu and Manila are ready to accommodate people from this city.

He also assured that the full force of the government is ready to ensure the safety of typhoon victims who opt to stay in Tacloban.

PAF airlifts 3,696 civilians from Tacloban to Cebu, Manila

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): PAF airlifts 3,696 civilians from Tacloban to Cebu, Manila

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has airlifted at least 3,696 civilians from Tacloban City in Leyte to Cebu and Manila since last Saturday.

Many of these evacuees stayed temporarily at the Mactan Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City and temporary shelters in Cebu City.

Lt. Col. Marciano Jesus Guevara, spokesperson of the PAF Second Air Division, said those who need immediate medical attention were given priority in the airlift.

Guevara said they continue to deliver relief goods to Eastern Visayas, especially Tacloban City, six to seven times a day using two of PAF's three operational C-130 cargo planes.

The evacuees were airlifted on their return trips to Cebu.

Guevara also said at least eight foreign commercial and military aircraft carrying food packs, medicines, tents, blankets and water-purifying machines arrived at the Mactan Airbase in Lapu-Lapu City.

Guevara said two C-130 cargo planes from Taiwan and C-17 Globemaster from Australia arrived in the airbase Wednesday.

“The humanitarian aid we received is overwhelming. The sympathetic gesture of the international community gives us high spirits," he said.

Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said 588 tons of relief goods from Europe are expected to arrive in Cebu.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the ports of Tacloban City and Ormoc City are operational.

Ports in the cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan in Samar; San Isidro and Allen in Northern Samar; Baybay City, and Hilongos in Leyte; and Maasin City, Southern Leyte are also operational again.

But the ports in Borongan City and Guiuan in Eastern Samar; Isabel and Palompon in Leyte; and Naval, Biliran have no communications.

Partnership agreement between Mindaland, Bangsamoro signed in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): Partnership agreement between Mindaland, Bangsamoro signed in Davao City

A Program Partnership Agreement for the Bangsamoro Development Planning (BDP) was signed in Davao City on Wednesday among the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Mindanao Land Acquisition, Housing and Development Foundation Inc. (MinLand) and the World Bank.

“The BDP is a six-year development plan that aims to provide a medium- and long-term vision and strategy for the recovery and development of the Bangsamoro area,” BDA chairman Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan said.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairperson Al Haj Murad directed Dipatuan to initiate the BDP in support of the Transition Committee in line with the provisions of the Framework on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

The BDP, which will run from 2014 to 2020, will be implemented in two phases by a multidisciplinary team of national, international and Bangsamoro consultants.

Phase 1 will include the two-year Transitional Development Plan to be implemented from 2014 to 2015. This would lay out the directions for existing and planned interventions of the government and development partners in the Bangsamoro areas.

Dipatuan said Phase 1 is expected to lead to the Integrative Report which will contain needs assessment based on the seven major key areas of the BDP: accelerated economic growth and development; human values and social development; priority infrastructure and logistic support; agriculture and fisheries, environment, natural resources and ecology; good governance and public administration as well as peace and enhanced security.

“BDP aims to build peace and institutions in order to create jobs, justice, security and sustainable human development in the Bangsamoro and adjacent regions,” he said.

The World Bank has been tasked to manage and administer the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) while the MinLand is a Trust Fund Recipient (TFR), along with the Community and Family Services International (CFSI).

“All funds of the Program are channeled through CFSI and MinLand to the community’s bank account for implementation of projects identified by the community either for infrastructure or economic activity,” Dipatuan said.

He said the multi-donor MTF is supported by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the WB, the Canadian Development Agency, Australian Agency for International Development and the government of New Zealand.

4 soldiers distributing relief goods in Capiz injured in vehicular mishap

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): 4 soldiers distributing relief goods in Capiz injured in vehicular mishap

Four Army soldiers were injured when the 6X6 military truck they were riding sideswiped a leaning electric post in Barangay Ondoy, Ivisan, Capiz.

Lt. Col. Christopher Sabit, commander of the 61st Infantry Battalion, 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division (3ID), Philippine Army, identified the injured as S/Sgt. Edwin Juaneza, S/Sgt. Sammy Lapidez, Sgt. Bernardo Vijar and Cpl. Jessie Alegria.

Sabit said the four Army troopers suffered injuries mostly on their heads after the support bars of the long-bed military truck hit the leaning electric post of Capiz Electric Cooperative that was damaged by the strong winds at the height of super typhoon Yolanda.

The Army soldiers on board the military truck came from Cuartero, Capiz where they distributed relief goods to typhoon victims. The accident happened as they were on their way back to the 3ID headquarters in Camp Macario Peralta, Jamindan in the same province.

The injured soldiers are now in stable condition after they were given immediate medical treatment at a private hospital in Roxas City.

The 61IB commander Sabit also said that some road networks that were rendered impassable the past few days after the typhoon devastation are now passable for all types of vehicles.

These road networks include the Tapaz-Iloilo, Sigma-Roxas, Sigma-Passi-Iloilo, Roxas-Dumalag and Iloilo-Barotac Viejo-Carles routes.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is actively involved in the government’s humanitarian effort in helping typhoon victims that sometimes cost them their lives due to enemy atrocities while doing their noble job in times of calamity.

In Northern Iloilo, mobs of hungry victims poked guns on soldiers of the Philippine Air Force and volunteers while distributing relief goods in Isla Gigantes of Carles, Iloilo only to get the needed food stuff to feed their starving families.

The Iloilo provincial government also appealed to victims of calamity to exercise sobriety and refrain from scrambling for relief goods and leave the distribution of the food stuff to the personnel of authorized government entities.

Petty crimes are now on the rise in Northern Iloilo as hungry people steal food to fill their empty stomach while rising prices of prime commodities was reported as unscrupulous traders take advantage of the situation.

Gasoline is sold at exorbitant prices per liter while chainsaw operators demand higher charges of at least P500 for every tree they could cut blocking the road.

Typhoon-affected towns particularly in Northern Iloilo are not completely reached by the relief efforts of the Iloilo provincial government due to problems in transportation.

3 NPA rebels in Agusan surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): 3 NPA rebels in Agusan surrender

Three NPA fighters bringing along with them their high powered firearms have surrendered to the military here on Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Jose Leonard B. Gille, commander of the army’s 26th Infantry Batallion, said that the surrenderers, two of them minors, decided to leave the underground movement after realizing that they rebels only feed them empty promises.

Gille identified the surrenderers as Librado Salintao AKA FREDIE 17 years old, MEDICS of Sandatahang Yunit Pamproganda 1, Guerilla Front 34, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), Ryan Salintao Agsubo 20 years Old and Rongie Tawide Salintao AKA RONGIE 17 years old belonging to the same Guerilla Unit operating in Kasapa 1, Lapaz, Agusan del Sur.

The NPA rebels also turned over high powered firearms: An M16 rifle, a Garrand rifle and an AK 47 rifle with ammunitions, Gille said.

Gille also promised to extend all economic benefits to the rebel returnee as soon as possible while appealing to other communist rebels in the rebel-infested province of Agusan del Sur to rejoin the mainstream society and live normal lives.