Wednesday, December 4, 2013

US rebalance to Asia beneficial

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 4): US rebalance to Asia beneficial

The Philippines needs support from the United States in order to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

In a speech after receiving his award from the Ateneo School of Government as Professorial Chair for Public Service and Governance, Del Rosario also said the country stands to benefit from the US rebalance to Asia, a move that is not only limited to defense and security cooperation but also encompasses economic arrangements and greater people-to-people exchanges.

He said Philippine-US relations have reached new heights and that this broadening and deepening relations is being positively viewed in the context of the US rebalance toward Asia.

Del Rosario hopes to see the increased rotational presence (IRP) framework agreement between the two countries completed at the earliest possible time.

He said the IRP is the policy which increases the presence of US forces in Philippine territory and is meant to support the development of a minimum credible defense posture through capability-building and combined activities.

He said it also entails high-impact, high-value joint exercises focusing on maritime domain awareness, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
“The IRP is premised on mutuality of benefits and is in full accord with the Philippine Constitution,” he said.

He said several issues remain to be agreed upon after four rounds of negotiations on the IRP framework.

Del Rosario said the Philippines already benefitted from the overwhelming and timely provision of resources by the US in search, rescue and relief operations in areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda.

He noted that over 50 aircraft and ships, including over 1,000 marines and US soldiers, provided direct assistance on the ground to save countless lives.

“The immediate and comprehensive support of the US on humanitarian assistance and disaster response highlights the areas of cooperation included in the IRP framework,” he said.

Suspected NPA rebel killed in CamSur clash

From GMA News (Dec 5): Suspected NPA rebel killed in CamSur clash

A suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed Thursday morning in an encounter with government troops in Camarines Sur, military officials said.
In a report, Capt. Mardjorie Panesa, public affairs officer of the Army's 9th Infantry Division, said troop from the 49th Infantry Batallion led by Lt. Howard Ardedon engaged more or less seven insurgents in Barangay Sinuknipan in Del Gallego town around 4:30 a.m.
"Firefight lasted for about 5 minutes, afterwhich the enemy withdrew to a northwest direction," Panesa said.
For his part, Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, 9th ID spokesperson, said at least one suspected rebel was killed in the encounter.
Panesa identified the killed rebel as Bicol regional committee operations commander Rene Rabulan Briones alias "Singkit" or "Arjun."
He added that government troops recovered a caliber .45 pistol, a shotgun, two laptops, and two backpacks from the suspected NPA rebels.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The outlawed group has been fighting government troops since 1969.

Abu Sayyaf member in Schilling abduction face raps

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 4): Abu Sayyaf member in Schilling abduction face raps

Jeffrey Schilling AFP FILE PHOTO
 The National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday filed criminal complaints before the Department of Justice against a suspected Abu Sayyaf member involved in the abduction of American national Jeffrey Schilling in 2000.
Facing complaints for kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention is Nijal Pajiran a.k.a. Abdurahman and Abu Kudama. He was arrested by the NBI’s Counter-Terrorism Division last November 14 at Sitio Sinoropan, Barangay (village) Licomo, Zamboanga City.

A warrant for his arrest was issued by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.

He is facing a separate kidnapping case for the abduction of members of Jehovas’ Witness on Aug. 20, 2002.

Pajiran is currently detained at the NBI.

He was slapped with the new case after a former Abu Sayyaf member, now under the Witness Protection Program, said he was one of those who guarded Schilling.

Video: Jordanian journalist: I escaped Abu captors

From ABS-CBN (Dec 5): Video: Jordanian journalist: I escaped Abu captors

WATCH: Jordanian journalist 18 mos after abduction

[Video report: Atyani reveals he escaped from his Abu Sayyaf captors]

 Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani revealed that he managed to escape from his Abu Sayyaf captors in Sulu.

An Al Arabiya News Network report earlier said the kidnappers handed over Atyani to the local governor's office on Wednesday night.

But speaking to ABS-CBN News, an emaciated Atyani, the Southeast Asia bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, said he finally managed to escape after failing in his pervious attempts.

"This time they were really too busy and I noticed that before the sunset, between about 2 o' clock and 6 o' clock, they were very busy. They go to the nearest town market and a good number of them is out of the place and there is no security. The security is only imposed around my hut at night. And so I've been observing this the last few days and I was able to know the directions. Some of them helped me to know the directions, some of the kidnappers," Atyani said.

Atyani, a Dubai-based journalist known for interviewing Osama bin Laden months before the September 11 attacks, was taken hostage in Jolo with his two Filipino crewmen in July 2012 while filming a documentary on the bandit group.

The Filipinos were freed in February this year. The two said no money had changed hands. They said they were separated from the Jordanian five days after they were taken captive.

Atyani is scheduled to be transported to Zamboanga City today after going through medical check-up and stress de-briefing in Patikul, Sulu.

Senior Inspector Kris Conrad Gutierrez, Patikul Police spokesperson, said Atyani was found by authorities wandering along a road in Barangay Igasan on Wednesday evening.

"We asked him his name and he told us he's Bakr Atyani," Gutierrez told ANC. "We brought him directly to the hospital for a medical check-up and he is still there until now."

Gutierrez explained they were not able to ask Atyani whether he was released or had managed to escape.

"We prioritized his health and his doctors advised us not to talk to him because his blood pressure shot up and needed to be stabilized. For now, he is undergoing stress de-briefing," he said.

"He is now able to talk and stand up, and his mood has lightened up."

Atyani now weighs about 50 kilograms, a significant drop from his 85 kg weight at the time he was abducted, Gutierrez said.

The Abu Sayyaf group was founded with seed money from bin Laden's Al Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang.

Previous kidnapping cases involving the Abu Sayyaf have involved large ransom payoffs, which local authorities euphemistically call payments for "board and lodging".

Military and police sources had previously said the Abu Sayyaf had demanded millions of dollars in ransom, though neither Atyani's family nor employer would confirm this.

US Special Forces have been rotating through Jolo and other parts of the southern Philippines for more than a decade to train local troops battling the group, which is on Washington's list of "foreign terrorist organisations".

Philippine authorities say Abu Sayyaf gunmen are believed still to hold a number of foreign as well as Filipino hostages, including two European birdwatchers and a Japanese treasure hunter.

In March, the gunmen freed Australian Warren Rodwell after 15 months in captivity. Philippine negotiators said his family had paid a $100,000 ransom.

Rodwell was seized in December 2011, and his captors had initially demanded $2 million for his safe release.

MILF: Public consultations on Bangsamoro Basic Law to be increased

From the MILF (Dec 4): Public consultations on Bangsamoro Basic Law to be increased

More consultations with the people are set to be conducted as another memorandum of agreement was inked November 30 by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the Conciliation Resources, a member of the International Contact Group (ICG) for the GPH-MILF peace negotiations.
Around 160 public consultations targeting 7280 persons would be spearheaded by 8 organizations which have partnered for the project formally named Building Peace in Mindanao through Public Participation in Governance.

BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, who signed the agreement in behalf of the Commission, expressed hopes that the planned dialogues and advocacy activities would lead to a deeper understanding of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the drafting of which is the primary function of the BTC. And as coordinating and conducting public consultations is also another major function of the commission, he stressed that the agreed public engagements would be in furtherance of the said function of the commission.

Before the formal signing rites, several commissioners made queries into the details of the proposed consultations --- its goals, coverage, methodology and feedback mechanism. Each of the 8 project partners presented its designated tasks in the overall design of the project.

The project partners include MindaNews, Bangsamoro Leadership & Management Institute (BLMI), United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), Mindanao Business Council, Mindanao Association of State Colleges & Universities (MASCUF), Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization (TLWOI), Nisaa ul Haqq Fii Bangsamoro and The Asia Foundation (TAF) as associate partner.

Chairman Iqbal noted that the conduct of public engagements presents a challenge to the Commission considering the timeline and resources. He therefore expressed appreciation to the Conciliation Resources for extending assistance in reaching out the grassroots of Bangsamoro and even non-Bangsamoro communities. 

The other commissioners who witnessed the signing were Froilyn Mendoza, Akmad Sakkam, Asani Tammang, Pedrito Eisma, Abdulla Camlian, Said Sheik, Raissa Jajurie, Ebrahim Ali and Melanio Ulama.

Kristian Herbolzheimer, Director of Philippine Program, signed the instrument in behalf of Conciliation Resources. Based in the United Kingdom, it is an independent organization that provides practical support to help people living in the midst of conflict, prevent violence and build peace.

Last October 17, a similar agreement was entered into by and between the BTC and the Mindanao Civil Society Organization Platform for Peace (MCSOPP), a grouping of at least 120 organizations and networks which also aim to generate massive public support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

US pivot to Asia means empowering people – envoy

From the Manila Times (Dec 4): US pivot to Asia means empowering people – envoy

Ambassador David Carden

Ambassador David Carden

The United States (US) envoy to Asean said the “pivot to Asia” was less about increasing its military presence in the region and more about empowering people.

 Ambassador David Carden said the US military’s rebalancing toward Southeast Asia “is an aspect of America’s engagement that has been in place for a very long time.”

“The Seventh Fleet has not just shown up in the South China Sea and has not been missing in action in the Asia Pacific. It’s been here. It’s been here for a long time,” he said during an interview with a handful of journalists, including a representative from The Manila Times. Carden was in the country for a host of meetings, including the opening of the Asean Youth Summit in Makati City on Tuesday.

He said the US priority in the region was to empower people, adding that a more prosperous region would benefit not only American interests but the rest of the world.

“The pivot of the United States to Asia and the Asia Pacific is really a pivot to people, empowering people to find a future together and with us,” he said.

Carden traced the present foreign policy to US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who highlighted four freedoms in his 1941 State of the Union Address—freedom of expression, religion, fear, and economic freedom. Carden paraphrased from a biography about Roosevelt that quoted the late president as saying that the entire world should have freedom of speech and of religion.

That policy was echoed by the current US president, Barack Obama, in a taped video message that was played at the opening of the Asean Youth Summit.

“Prosperity and peace in the Asia Pacific means more opportunities for all of us, including the United States,” Obama told the delegates. “And I want to make sure that we’re building that future together.”

Carden outlined the broad scope of America’s engagement in the region—including issues like emergency response to natural disasters like that from Super Typhoon Yolanda (or Haiyan by its international codename); environmental issues, like climate change; fighting human trafficking and the illicit wildlife trade; pandemic preparedness and responsiveness; anti-corruption campaigns; and food and water security.

“There’s almost no end to the number of ways in which the United States is engaged,” the ambassador said, adding that was borne out of the recognition of the importance not only of Asean but also of Asia as a whole, including China.

Carden said the world was even more connected today than in Roosevelt’s time—and not just in terms of trade.

Today’s pandemic in Asia, for instance, may be the threat to New York tomorrow, he explained.

“I think that we have to recognize that what is good for the world is also good for us [Americans],” Carden told the Filipino journalists, adding: “The reality was that there were things in Asean that directly affected US interests.”

Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional bloc of 10 countries that includes the Philippines.

Optimistic about the Philippines

 Turning his attention to the country, Carden said, “I’m quite, I would say, optimistic about the Philippines and its position in terms of moving forward.”

“I’m very encouraged by President [Benigno] Aquino’s efforts to manage corruption, his approach to governance,” he said. “And I think you’re doing a lot of exciting things in education.”

The main development in education is the passage of Republic Act 10533 earlier in July. In brief, the new law reforms the basic education system, stretching the years of schooling to 12 years to match the present global standard.

The US seems keen on encouraging young Asians to participate in regional developments and events.

At the Asean Youth Summit, President Obama announced the launching of the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative. In his video message he said, “Your generation will define the Asia Pacific for generations to come.”

Carden underscored that point, saying the country and the rest of Asia need to do more—particularly in implementing the new policies—in the area education.

Besides education, the Philippines and its neighbors need to do more in further improving governance and addressing social inequities and income disparities.

Carden said he was particularly concerned about the widening gap between rich and poor as measured by the Gini coefficient.

Earlier in April, a study published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) reported that the income gap has been worsening despite the rapid economic growth in several countries in the region, like the Philippines.

Citing reports from The World Bank, the ISEAS study reported that the Gini coefficient of the Philippines as of 2006 was 44.04 percent. The World Bank website shows the Philippine Gini coefficient has improved somewhat to 43 percent as of 2009.

A ratio of 1 or 100 percent means maximum inequality. A society with full equality will have a ratio or index close to zero.

To address the inequality issue, the ISEAS study recommends reforms in education to level the economic playing field.

Carden would likely agree. He said the Philippines and other countries in Asia need people who are trained to participate.

He said the US was doing its part by offering opportunities for Asians to study in the US through the Fulbright program, scholarships for women scientists, and other similar initiatives.

Carden, a lawyer by training and profession, was appointed to his post in 2011. Since then, he said that he has logged some half million miles crisscrossing the region, where he hopes to be known later on in life as the best friend of Southeast Asia.

Army commander's relief sought

From the Philippine Star (Dec 4): Army commander's relief sought

The cut timber flitches, called “tablon” here, policemen seized more than a week ago from soldiers, on board Army trucks, in Alamada town in North Cotabato are now impounded at the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in the province. John Unson

Local executives are seeking the relief of the Army's 6th Infantry Division  commander following the foiled attempt last week by his subordinates to  sneak out lumbers from a protected forestland in Alamada town in the province.

The commander of 6th ID, Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz, is due to retire by April 2014, according to his subordinate-officers in the division.

Local officials told reporters, during the other day’s inter-agency provincial peace and order council meeting in Kidapawan City, that the Lawaan flitches, called “tablon” in the vernacular, which policemen intercepted more than a week ago while being hauled from Alamada to Midsayap town in North Cotabato, was only about one-fourth of the total volume of lumbers the soldiers, led by Captain Sarcon Anggui, were to deliver somewhere in the province.

“We have been receiving information that there were about 11 truckloads of lumbers the soldiers were to smuggle out. Fortunately, they were intercepted by policemen in Alamada even before they could bring out the illegal forest products,” one of the local officials, who asked not to be identified, said.

An escort of Anggui, Cpl. Unting Guiabel, was shot in the leg by a policeman for refusing to yield when they were flagged down for inspection, while on board the two Army trucks carrying the lumbers.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, inspector-general of 6th ID, had told Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City that they are now wrapping up their investigation on the incident.

The seized forest products are presently impounded at the compound of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office at the town proper of Midsayap in the first district of the province.

A renowned peace advocate and environmentalist, Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr., director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said residents of Alamada should demand a probe on the smuggling attempt by a “third party” comprised of representatives from independent cause-oriented groups, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and local government units in North Cotabato.

“This is a very serious concern. This should be investigated by an impartial body as soon as possible,” Mercado said.

Mercado said the investigation being initiated by the 6th ID on the controversy is solely for the purpose of determining the culpability of the soldiers involved in the smuggling attempt.

Hermoso had said they will file administrative cases against Anggui and his men for their offense.

“There must be a parallel effort to unmask who could be providing protection to the illegal logging activity in the area where the forest products were harvested, and why were soldiers involved. There are many questions that hang above our heads,” said Mercado, who is involved in various  projects complementing the Mindanao peace process.

Local executives in North Cotabato are convinced Anggui and his men would not haul the seized forest products from Alamada to Midsayap without an “order” from a certain superior.

The lumbers were cut  from timbers harvested illegally from a public land in Alamada, which is reportedly being claimed by relatives of a retired Army officer.

Gov't to spend P480M to upgrade Navy, Air Force facilities in Spratlys

From the Philippine Star (Dec 4): Gov't to spend P480M to upgrade Navy, Air Force facilities in Spratlys

The government is planning to spend almost P480 million to upgrade the Air Force and Navy facilities in Pag-Asa Island, one of the areas occupied by the Philippines in the disputed Spratlys region.

Defense department data showed that the project costs P479.75 million and would be undertaken through public bidding.

The project will be bankrolled by the Armed Forces Modernization Law of 1995 and is now being studied by security officials.

Details of the project were not immediately available.

Sources, however, said the multi-million project would cover the upgrade of naval facilities and the repair of the eroding airstrip.

The project is expected to improve the military’s monitoring capabilities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the subject of a territorial row in the region.

Pag-Asa Island is part of Kalayaan Island, a fifth class municipality in Palawan.

The Philippines has constructed a town hall, a 1.3-kilometer airstrip, a naval station, a health center and a kindergarten school at Pag-asa Island.

The Defense department earlier bared plans to spend P313-million to construct vital facilities at a naval detachment in Oyster Bay facing the West Philippine Sea.

The project would involve the building of pier, harbor and support facilities at the Palawan-based detachment.

The construction of the pier and harbor costs P237.12 million while the building of support facilities will require P76.49 million.

Oyster Bay is located about 160 kilometers from the Spratly Islands, the subject of a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

The Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan claim either part or the entire Spratly Islands, which is said to be rich in oil.

China has been building structures in disputed areas to assert its territorial claims, raising concerns among other claimants.

It has built a military garrison in the Mischief Reef or Panganiban Reef, one of the areas being claimed by the Philippines. Mischief Reef is located about 130 nautical miles off Palawan and has been occupied by China since 1995.

China initially built structures on stilts at the reef, supposedly to provide shelter for fishermen but these were later on converted into a military garrison with powerful radars.

China has also installed a powerful radar station in Subi Reef near Pag-asa Island.

Feuding clans in Sulu reconcile

From the Philippine Star (Dec 4): Feuding clans in Sulu reconcile

Two feuding Tausog clans in Sulu locked in a decade-old bloody clan war reconciled Tuesday through the intercession of the police and local officials.

Several members of the rival Sahidi and Ukang clans, armed with assault rifles and shoulder-fire 40-millimeter grenade launchers, were killed in previous hostilities that also repeatedly caused the dislocation of innocent villagers in Barangay Danag in Patikul town.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said leaders of the two families- Pinon Sahidi and Hadji Barri Ukang- signed a peace pact in Jolo, capital town of Sulu, in the presence of Gov. Abdusakur Tan II and other local officials.

The two groups last figured in hostilities immediately after the October 28 barangay elections, where both pitted candidates for elective positions in the barangay governments in Danag and surrounding districts.

The two clans, whose bitter rivalry was sparked by territorial disputes and political differences, also agreed to help the police maintain law and order in the areas rocked by their past encounters.

Delos Reyes said the Sahidi and Ukang clans were hesitant to agree to an amicable settlement of their long-time dispute at first, but eventually conceded through the efforts of the provincial governor and Sulu’s vice-governor, Hadji Abdusakur Tan, Sr.

Leaders of both sides agreed to reposition their forces away from each other and help the police and the Patikul local government unit address peace and security concerns in Barangay Danag through peaceful dialogues.

China gives no ground to Biden in air zone dispute

From the Philippine Star (Dec 5): China gives no ground to Biden in air zone dispute

Giving no ground, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden traded strong arguments Wednesday over China's contentious new air defense zone, with no indication of progress toward defusing a situation that is raising anxieties across Asia and beyond.

Though Biden made clear the deep concern of the U.S. and other countries during the 5 ½ hours of talks — themselves highly unusual for an American vice president and Chinese president — Xi vigorously made his case, too, for China's declaration of new rules concerning a strip of airspace more than 600 miles long above disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The U.S. worries that China's demand that pilots entering the airspace file flight plans with Beijing could lead to an accident or a confrontation spiraling dangerously out of control. Now it is up to the Chinese to take steps to lower tensions, and "it's a question of behavior and action," said a U.S. official, who briefed reporters on the private talks.

The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Though Biden expressed no disappointment in public remarks, the outcome of his visit was not what the U.S. might have hoped for.

A day earlier, the vice president had stood shoulder to shoulder in Tokyo with the leader of Japan, China's regional rival, pledging to raise Washington's concerns with Xi directly. But as he arrived in Beijing, an editorial in the state-run China Daily charged Washington with "turning a blind eye to Tokyo's provocations," warning that Biden would hit a dead end should he come "simply to repeat his government's previous erroneous and one-sided remarks."

Late Wednesday in Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called China's announcement of the zone "destabilizing" and complained that it had come "so unilaterally and so immediately without any consultation."

"That's not a wise course of action to take for any country," Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference.

Neither Biden nor Xi mentioned the dispute as they appeared briefly before reporters at the end of their first round of talks. But in private, the issue came up at length at the beginning and again near the end of the long-planned meeting, senior Obama administration officials said.

The typically upbeat Biden appeared subdued as he reflected on the complexity of the relationship between China and the U.S., two world powers seeking closer ties despite wide ideological gulfs they have as of yet been unable to bridge.

"This new model of major-country cooperation ultimately has to be based on trust, and a positive notion about the motive of one another," Biden said, flanked by top advisers in a resplendent meeting room steps away from Tiananmen Square.

The calibrated public comments played down the deep strains permeating the relationship between the world's two largest economies.

Earlier, however, Biden told Chinese youngsters waiting to get visitor visas processed at the U.S. Embassy that American children are rewarded rather than punished for challenging the status quo, an implicit criticism of the Chinese government's authoritarian rule.

"I hope you learn that innovation can only occur where you can breathe free, challenge the government, challenge religious leaders." Biden said.

Xi, for his part, stuck to the script — at least in public. The Chinese leader touted the benefits of closer U.S.-China ties as he laid out "profound and complex changes" underway in Asia and across the globe.

"The world, as a whole, is not tranquil," Xi said.

Behind closed doors, Xi made his own case for why China's action to establish the air zone is appropriate, said the U.S. administration officials, who weren't authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity. Xi listened earnestly as Biden presented his own arguments, the officials said, but it was unclear what impact there might have been.

The simmering dispute over the tiny islands and the airspace above them has trailed Biden throughout his weeklong trip to Asia. After meeting with China's premier and speaking to business leaders Thursday, he will fly to Seoul in South Korea — another neighbor whose air defense zone now overlaps with China's.

American officials say as far as Washington is concerned China's newly claimed zone doesn't exist, and the U.S. military has flown B-52 bombers through it to drive the point home. But U.S guidance to commercial pilots to abide by the airspace rules has rankled Japan and other allies, who urged the U.S. to stand firm against China as Biden headed to the region.

The Obama administration sees China's move as part of a broader strategy to solidify its claims to territory as the country asserts its power more vigorously in the region. Wary that nationalist sentiments in China may preclude Xi from backing down now that he's established the zone, Washington has sought to persuade Beijing to quietly refrain from enforcing it, nullifying it in practice if not in deed.

"Xi has no room on this, at least right now," said Victor Cha, who headed Asian affairs for the White House National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration.

"Maybe the space will come later in terms of enforcement of the zone, but now they are butting heads on the issue, and the Chinese see us as carrying too much of Japan's water."

The U.S. has also urged China not to implement new zones over other disputed territories, as China has already claimed it has the right to do. Defending such actions, Chinese officials point out that other countries including Japan and the U.S. have similar defense zones over their lands.

Japan and China both claim the islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. takes no position but recognizes that Japan administers them. China is entangled in other disputes as well, including a long-running argument with the Philippines over islands in the South China Sea.

Tensions between the U.S. and China were temporarily glossed over earlier when Biden arrived here for an elaborate welcoming ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao greeted his American counterpart with an elaborate honor guard and a military band that played the two countries' national anthems, as Biden and Xi stood together on a platform above the massive hall's marble floors and crisscrossing red carpets.

Report: NSA tracks billions of cellphones daily

Posted to the Philippine Star (Dec 5): Report: NSA tracks billions of cellphones daily

The National Security Agency tracks the locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those belonging to Americans abroad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of "tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad" annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the newspaper said in a report on its website.

Such data means the NSA can track the movements of almost any cellphone around the world, and map the relationships of the cellphone user. The Post said a powerful analytic computer program called CO-TRAVELER crunches the data of billions of unsuspecting people, building patterns of relationships between them by where their phones go.

As the NSA doesn't know which part of the data it might need, the agency keeps up to 27 terabytes, or more than double the text content of the Library of Congress' print collection, the Post said. A 2012 internal NSA document said the volumes of data from the location program were "outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store" it, the newspaper said.

The program is detailed in documents given to the newspaper by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. The Post also quotes unidentified NSA officials, saying they spoke with the permission of their agency.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment on the report.
The DNI's general counsel, Robert Litt, has said the NSA does not intentionally gather bulk location data on U.S. cellphones inside the U.S. — but NSA Director Keith Alexander testified before Congress that his agency ran tests in 2010 and 2011 on "samples" of U.S. cell-site data to see if it was technically possible to plug such data into NSA analysis systems. Alexander said the information was never used for intelligence purposes and that the testing was reported to congressional intelligence committees. He said it was determined to be of little "operational value," so the NSA did not ask for permission to gather such data.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and two other lawmakers have introduced an amendment to the 2014 defense spending bill that would require intelligence agencies to say whether the NSA "or any other element of the intelligence community has ever collected the cell-site location information of a large number of United States persons with no known connection to suspicious activity, or made plans to collect such information."

Alexander and other NSA officials have explained that when U.S. data is gathered "incidentally" overseas, it is "minimized," meaning that when an NSA analysts realize they are dealing with a U.S. phone number, they limit what can be done with it and how long that data can be kept.

Rights activists say those measures fall short of protecting U.S. privacy.

"The scale of foreign surveillance has become so vast, the amount of information about Americans 'incidentally' captured may itself be approaching mass surveillance levels,'" said Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program.

"The government should be targeting its surveillance at those suspected of wrongdoing, not assembling massive associational databases that by their very nature record the movements of a huge number of innocent people," said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

No Christmas parties for all 8th Infantry Division units

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): No Christmas parties for all 8th Infantry Division units

As the country mobilizes all of its available resources to put right the damages caused by Supertyphoon "Yolanda", the 8th Infantry Division has ordered all its personnel to forego the traditional Christmas party in respect to the thousands of people killed, injured and rendered homeless by the weather disturbance in the Eastern and Western Visayas.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, 8th Infantry Division spokesperson, said that they will instead focus on helping on the ongoing relief and rehabilitation works in Leyte and other areas of their command.

The military outfit in the forefront of the government relief efforts in Tacloban City, Leyte, helping in the clearing, repair, distribution of relief items and handing out of medical care to the displaced victims.

Soldier hurt, 50 families flee as Army clashes with NPA in NorCot

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Soldier hurt, 50 families flee as Army clashes with NPA in NorCot

A soldier was wounded while three NPAs were seriously hurt when government forces clashed with communist guerillas in the hinterlands of North Cotabato Wednesday, authorities here said.

The clash erupted at about 1 p.m. which also forced about 50 families to flee their homes.

Lt. Nasrullah Sema, speaking for the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion, said the NPAs were using complete Army uniforms when they entered the village of New Baguio, Makilala, North Cotabato and harassed civilians

One soldier was wounded, Sema said, adding that the communist guerillas fled with their three wounded comrades deep into the forest.

He said village officials alerted the Army about the presence of the NPAs.

Eddie Buencosa, Makilala disaster risk reduction and management council officer, said the affected families were from Barangay Tambis, Barangay New Baguio, Makilala where elements of the 57th Infantry Battalion and NPAs clash at about noon Wednesday.

Buenacosa said the local government of Makilala is now attending to the needs of the displaced families who fled to nearby villages.

Sema said residents tipped off the Army about the presence of soldiers believed to be responsible in the ambush last October of government forces that left nine soldiers and para military personnel killed.

Sema said before the skirmishes Wednesday have been calling for the removal of soldiers in Barangay Baguio.

“They want us out of the village because they sympathize with the NPAs,” Sema said in response to calls for the re-position of the military.

“Our operation continues,” Sema said.

Sema said that communist sympathizers wanted the Army out of the village so they can continue mulcting farmers of their newly harvested products.

Abu Sayyaf abductors free Jordanian journalist

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 5): Abu Sayyaf abductors free Jordanian journalist

Veteran Middle Eastern TV reporter Baker Atyani, undergoes medical checkup following his release from one-and-a-half years of captivity in Jolo, the capital of the island province of Sulu in Southern Philippines late Wednesday Dec.4, 2013. Baker Atyani, a Jordanian national who met and interviewed Osama Bin Laden and his aides in Afghanistan months before the Sept.11, 2001 attacks and now Al-Arabiya’s TV Bureau Chief for Southeast Asia based in Jakarta, was doing a story of the island, a hotbed of Muslim militants about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila, when kidnapped June 12, 2012, with his two Filipino crew on a restive Jolo island where militants are active, officials said. AP

Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani was released by his Abu Sayyaf abductors in Patikul, Sulu, Wednesday morning, after 18 months in captivity, police said late Wednesday.

Brig. Gen, Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, confirmed the release of Atyani in the village of Igasan in Patikul shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

“We are having problems in communication here. We’ve been trying to relay the good news about Atyani,” Cenabre told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone, in explaining the delayed announcement.

“We found him walking along the road… he’s lost some weight,” Chief Inspector Chris Gutierrez told Agence France Presse in a telephone interview from the southern port of Zamboanga.

Gutierrez said the police patrol did not see any of Atyani’s kidnappers, and there was no firefight.

Atyani was immediately took him to the Integrated Provincial Hospital, according to Cenabre. Cenabre did not say how and why Atyani was released by his captors Wednesday morning.

Atyani, a Jakarta-based reporter with the Pan-Arabic Al-Arabiya News Channel (he is bureau chief for Southeast Asia), was kidnapped with two Filipino crew members while on news coverage in Sulu on June 12, 2012. In February the militants released the two crew members, who said they were separated from the Jordanian on the fifth day of their captivity.

The Dubai-based broadcaster Al-Arabiya said in a statement Wednesday that he was handed over to the Filipino authorities by the kidnappers.

“The Philippine authorities are now responsible for ensuring his safe return to his family in Jordan,” the broadcaster said.

Jordanian foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah al-Rafie said Atyani was taken to a hospital in Jolo after being freed on Wednesday afternoon, according to a statement to Petra state news agency.

She thanked the Philippines government for “efforts” that resulted in his release.

“Concerted efforts that lasted for 18 months led to the release of Al Arabiya correspondent Baker Atyani held in captivity under militant groups in the Sulu Islands in the Philippine province of Mindanao,” the Al-Arabiya posted in its website, quoting the Al Arabiya News Channel.

It stated that sources said the kidnappers handed over Atyani to the local governor’s office Wednesday evening and that the Philippine authorities will secure his return to Jordan.

“There will be more details released later, but for now there is an overwhelming feeling of joy and relief that our colleague Baker will finally be re-joining his family and re-joining us,” an editor inside the channel said.

Cenabre said Atyani has been suffering from high blood pressure.

He added that the journalist would be picked up by a private plane on Thursday morning.

“He might be brought to Manila or elsewhere, we don’t know yet the details,” Cenabre said.

The Abu Sayyaf group was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang.

US Special Forces have been rotating through Jolo and other parts of the southern Philippines for more than a decade to train local troops battling the group, which is on Washington’s list of “foreign terrorist organisations”.

The Philippine authorities say Abu Sayyaf gunmen are believed still to hold a number of foreign as well as Filipino hostages, including two European birdwatchers and a Japanese treasure hunter.

Dutchman Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra of Switzerland were abducted in the Tawi-Tawi island group near Jolo in February last year, while Amer Mamaito Katayama of Japan was abducted on the island of Pangutaran near Jolo in July 2010.

In this photo taken on Monday June 11, 2012 veteran Middle Eastern TV reporter Baker Atyani, poses by the sea wall in Jolo, the capital of the island province of Sulu in Southern Philippines during his taping of his story of the island, a hotbed of Muslim militants about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila. AP

What Went Before: PH-China territorial dispute

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 5): What Went Before: PH-China territorial dispute

After more than 17 years of fruitless bilateral consultations with China, the Philippines filed a motion for arbitration in a United Nations tribunal in January as it sought a peaceful solution to its territorial dispute with Beijing over territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In its submission, the Philippines asked for the nullification of China’s so-called nine-dash-line claim, which encompasses almost all of the South China, including parts within the West Philippine Sea, the waters within Manila’s 327-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On Jan. 26, President Aquino, talking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, cited two separate incidents of Chinese harassment of Philippine fishing boats at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) off the coast of Zambales province.

China has rejected the UN proceedings, citing its “indisputable sovereignty” over the territory but the case has progressed despite Beijing’s refusal to participate in the arbitration.

In September, President Aquino canceled a planned trip to China for a trade fair in Nanning after Beijing reportedly required the withdrawal of the arbitration case as a condition for the trip.

On July 11, nearly six months after the Philippines filed the complaint, the five-member tribunal tasked to deliberate the case met and drafted the rules of procedure to govern the proceedings.

On May 10, the Philippines protested the presence of a fleet of Chinese fishing boats, accompanied by patrol vessels at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Reef), which lies 196 km from Palawan province, well within the Philippine EEZ.

Ayungin Shoal is a strategic gateway to Reed Bank, believed to be rich in oil and natural gas. Beijing says the shoal is part of the Spratlys, a group of 250 islets spread over 427,350 square kilometers, claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

Last year, from early April to mid-June, Chinese and Philippine ships faced off with each other at Panatag Shoal after Chinese vessels stopped the Philippine Navy from arresting alleged Chinese poachers.

There had been nearly 50 bilateral consultations between China and the Philippines from April 2012 when tensions rose between them over the disputed Panatag Shoal.

US pullout from typhoon relief a poser

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 5): US pullout from typhoon relief a poser

US Air Force 535th Airlift Squadron crew aid a handicapped typhoon victim into a tightly packed C-17 aircraft for an evacuation at the airport in Tacloban City on Nov. 18, 2013. An Inquirer source privy to the US efforts in the storm-battered Eastern Visayas said Wednesday, Dec. 4, it was “too good of a coincidence” that the Americans ended its work in the Eastern Visayas, and eventually folded up the Joint Task Force (JTF) 505 a week after the arrival of China’s modern hospital ship Peace Ark. AP

Did China’s arrival trigger the United States pullout from its Supertyphoon “Yolanda” relief support efforts in the Eastern Visayas?

An Inquirer source privy to the US efforts in the storm-battered region said Wednesday it was “too good of a coincidence” that the Americans ended its work in the Eastern Visayas, and eventually folded up the Joint Task Force (JTF) 505 a week after the arrival of China’s modern hospital ship Peace Ark.

“The US spent more effort coming in and has not yet maximized utilization of their efforts when they decided to pull out,” observed the source, who requested anonymity.

The source, who took part in the coordination of the foreign militaries’ efforts in the Eastern Visayas, said that a US Landing Craft Air Cushion and Landing Craft Utility with military trucks were supposed to distribute relief goods in Eastern Samar but eventually, “they never got off the ships.”

The source also said that on board an LHT was a US Marine battalion that was supposedly going to be deployed to Basey and Macabot in Western Samar with a Philippine Marine battalion counterpart.

“But the US Marines never made it ashore,” the source said because the JTF 505 had been deactivated.

The source also said that China’s Peace Ark had been treating a number of patients.
But because of its sheer size, the hospital ship could not dock in Tacloban City’s port, which resulted in a “double handling” of the patients, which means they would have to be flown to the hospital by helicopter.

The source described the arrival of the US in the Eastern Visayas days after the powerful storm as “a game changer” as the government was clearly overwhelmed by the massive destruction brought by Yolanda.

The US was about to begin its relief operations in the towns of Guiuan, Hernani and Borongan in Eastern Samar when the JTF 505 was “disestablished,” the source said.

A statement from the US Embassy on Tuesday did not give a clear explanation on why the JTF 505 had folded up.

PHL ignores Chinese envoy remarks on China air defense zone

From GMA News (Dec 4): PHL ignores Chinese envoy remarks on China air defense zone

China may set air zone in disputed regions

Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing gestures as she answers questions from reporters at Philippine Red Cross headquarters in Manila on Monday. Ma said it is the sovereign right of her country to establish a new maritime air defense zone over the East China Sea and replicate the move over another disputed region. US on Tuesday urged China to lower tension in the disputed Asian region. AP Photo/Aaron Favila

The Department of Foreign Affairs has shrugged off a remark by China’s envoy to the Philippines who said that Beijing has a right to set up another air defense zone in areas where it claims to have sovereign jurisdiction.

In another bold move to assert its territorial claim, China recently imposed an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, the site of a group of islands it is disputing with Japan.
The US, Australia, Japan and the Philippines refused to recognize the zone as it fueled fears that a similar move may be established in the South China Sea – a resource-rich disputed body of water called West Philippine Sea by Manila.
“We view this as a hypothetical circumstance which does not merit our comment,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing said “where and when to set up the new air identification zone is within the decision of the Chinese government” and depends on the “actual needs and ability of China.”
Beijing said all aircraft entering China’s zone must first seek permission from Chinese authorities, warning that defensive measures will be taken against violators.
Manila called it an impediment to freedom of civil aviation.
“We would like to reiterate that the establishment of the ADIZ in the East China Sea by China transforms an entire air zone into its domestic airspace, infringes on the freedom of flight in international airspace and compromises the safety of civil aviation and national security of affected states,” Hernandez said.
“We have called on China to ensure that its actions should not jeopardize regional security and stability.”
Washington has advised American carriers to comply so as not to jeopardize the safety of passengers.
Competing claims to the South China Sea, a strategic waterway believed to be sitting atop huge gas and oil deposits, by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have sparked occasional violence and now regarded as a potential regional flashpoint for armed conflict.

China’s persistent incursions and massive claim to the South China Sea, including areas that are within the West Philippine Sea, has prompted Manila to challenge Beijing’s assertion before an international tribunal.

China refused to join the arbitration, saying the basis of Manila’s arguments are groundless.

PHL to submit pleading on sea dispute with China before UN tribunal in 2014

From GMA News (Dec 4): PHL to submit pleading on sea dispute with China before UN tribunal in 2014

The Philippines will submit to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal next year a formal statement regarding China’s claim of sovereignty over territories in the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario said Tuesday.

Del Rosario said the Philippines will file its Memorial—or written pleading—before the Netherlands-based tribunal despite China’s refusal to participate in the arbitration proceedings that formally began last July.

“[Regarding] the status of the arbitration, the Arbitral Tribunal has adopted the rules of procedure and decided that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague shall act as the Registry in the proceedings. Again, China refused to participate in the proceedings… The Philippines will submit its Memorial by 30 March 2014,” del Rosario said in a lecture held at the Ateneo de Manila University.

The Foreign Affairs secretary gave a public lecture after being awarded the 2013 Metrobank Professorial Chair for Public Service and Governance.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez earlier said that proceedings at the Arbitral Tribunal will carry on with or without China’s response.

Del Rosario said the tribunal’s decision will be legally binding on all parties and will not be appealable.

The Philippines sought arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) last January to try to declare as “illegal” China’s nine-dash claim, which covers almost all of the South China Sea, including sections that have been declared as the West Philippine Sea.

China has resisted Manila’s move to let a UN body intervene in the disputes, saying the Philippines’ case was legally infirm and carried unacceptable allegations.

Del Rosario said arbitration is the Philippines’ “last resort” to resolve its long-standing territorial dispute with China after political and diplomatic solutions have failed.

He said arbitration is an “open, friendly, and durable solution” that will benefit all the parties involved in the territorial feud.

“For China, arbitration will define and clarify its maritime entitlements. For the Philippines, arbitration will clarify what is ours, specifically our fishing rights, rights to resources and rights to enforce laws within our Exclusive Economic Zone. For the rest of the international community, the clarification of maritime entitlements will assure peace, security, stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea,” he said.

Despite the ongoing tension, del Rosario said the Philippines continues to maintain a healthy and “mutually beneficial” relationship with China.

“Our dispute in the West Philippine sea is not the sum total of our relations,” he said.

Philippines earmarks P480M for Spratlys upgrade

From ABS-CBN (Dec 4): Philippines earmarks P480M for Spratlys upgrade

The Philippines has earmarked 479.75 million to upgrade airstrip and naval facilities in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Philippine Department of National Defense said Wednesday.

A security official, who requested anonymity, told reporters that the funds will be set aside to improve the infrastructure on Thitu Island.

Known locally as Pag-Asa, Thitu Island is the seat of government of Kalayaan -- a town of about 95 islands, cays, shoals and reefs that the Philippines claims in the disputed Spratly archipelago.

Thitu Island is the Philippine military's main outpost in the chain of islands, shoals, atolls and cays being contested by China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Philippines has maintained a small, largely symbolic military presence on five occupied islets, two sand bars and two reefs since the 1970s.

The island has a regulated population of about 300, including civilians.

The Philippines has protested over China's actions to gain control of the South China Sea.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday said Manila has "undertaken many efforts" to engage China peacefully and settle the territorial and maritime disputes.

The Philippines brought the territorial dispute to an U.N. arbitration tribunal last January.

US slams unilateral destabilizing acts in Asia

From the Philippine Star (Dec 4): US slams unilateral destabilizing acts in Asia

The United States slammed yesterday “unilateral actions” in disputed territories as regional tension remained high over China’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) above islands also claimed by Japan.

David Carden, US ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, reiterated that the United States does not take sides in maritime territorial disputes in the region. What the US wants, Carden reiterated in a meeting with a small group of journalists, is the peaceful resolution of disputes based on international law and through existing processes.

Carden, however, emphasized, “Clearly, when unilateral actions are taken, which is already destabilizing, then that is not being a good partner.”

He welcomed China’s engagement with ASEAN in many aspects, but at the same time supported the Philippines’ move to take the dispute over the West Philippine Sea to international arbitration.

China has refused to participate in the United Nations arbitration process, which will be based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Philippines is seeking a definition of its maritime entitlements.

This developed as the new commander of troops securing the West Philippine Sea vowed yesterday to protect the country’s interests in the area, promote peace and development in Palawan, and secure the Malampaya energy projects.

 Speaking at his assumption of command, Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda said the Palawan-based  Western Command (WESTCOM) serves as the forefront of the Armed Forces in safeguarding Philippine interests in the vastness of Palawan and the Kalayaan Group of Islands.

“I will pursue my new responsibility with similar fervor and intensity as I have in my previous command,” he said.

“I stand before you today with confidence that whatever challenges that may confront us, the Western Command will respond with the same resolve as it has done over the past years.”

Kalayaan, a fifth class municipality in Palawan, is located on Pag-Asa Island, one of the country’s regime of islands and reefs in the disputed Spratlys.

The Philippines has constructed a town hall, a 1.3-kilometer airstrip, a naval station, a health center and a kindergarten school on Pag-Asa Island.

Deveraturda supervised the relief efforts in the Visayas during the height of Typhoon Yolanda.

He vowed to adhere to the government’s policy of resolving the West Philippine Sea dispute peacefully.

“What the President said was very clear,” he said. “It should be resolved by peaceful means so we will continue to support that.”

Deveraturda succeeded Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, now chief of the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.

He was commander of the Cebu-based Central Command when Yolanda left more than 5,000 people dead.

Deveraturda was a former chief of the Air Force’s 570th Composite Tactical Wing based in Palawan and commander of the Air Force’s 2nd Division.

He also served as Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for plans, chief of the Modernization Program Management Office and commander of the Air Force’s 15th Strike Wing.


The Philippines and the US are now preparing for next year’s Balikatan war games.
In a statement, acting Army spokesman Capt. Anthony Bacus said the final site survey and planning conferences would be held this month to thresh out the details of the joint exercises.

“The conduct of these preparatory activities aims to finalize the exercise dates, venue, exercise concept, logistical requirements and other details necessary for the successful conduct of Balikatan 2014,” he said.

The site survey involving the inspection of possible training sites will be held from Dec. 2 to 6 in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

Planning conferences will be made in Makati from Dec. 9 to 13.

Organizers have yet to determine the exact date of the drills, but the event is expected to start in May.

Preparations for Balikatan are moving even as the talks between the Philippines and the US on the increased rotational presence have hit an impasse.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin previously said one of the issues being threshed out is the access of Filipino troops to temporary US facilities. Negotiators are also addressing differences on the wording of the agreement.

The two countries adopted a policy of increased rotational presence amid China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.

The policy is also expected to pave way to new activities similar to the Balikatan, in line with the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.

Leading the Balikatan final site survey team are   Army Col. Glorivine Dida and Maj. Anthony Williams of the US Army Pacific 25th Infantry Division.

Soldiers in Depredations Against Farmers in Southern Negros

From the Negros Daily Bulletin (Dec 4): Soldiers in Depredations Against Farmers in Southern Negros

Soldiers belonging to a unit of the 47th IB, which is deployed in Southern Negros, and who have been out on a series of military operations against the NPAs, forced a farmer in Tapi Village, Kabankalan City, to strip stark naked and took footage of him, using a video camera. The incident happened November 17, said Felipe Levy Gelle.

In an interview with DYRL’s "Tungkaron Ta Ini" program, yesterday the farmer identified himself as Billy Laga who owns a small farm in the area. He said he was working in his farm when the soldiers who belong to a 47th IB unit, composed of a number of men he could not identify, forced him to undress and in the buff took footages of his body concentrating on his sexual organ.

An embarrassed Laga covered his sensitive genitals but the soldiers forced him to remove his hands.

One of the soldiers who talked to him said he could profit from his incidental encounter with the soldiers if he admitted he was an NPA member. If he does so, he could get as much as P50,000 in army largesse.

After undressing the farmer, soldiers ridiculed him and ordered him not to return to his farm anymore.

Aside from their abusive conduct against him, soldiers also committed a series of human rights abuses during their operation in the hinterland areas of Kabankalan City.

This also took place after an encounter which wounded a soldier took place and a unit of the NPA guerilla, September 21 Movement’s Felipe Levy Gelle, said, during the "Tungkaron Ta Ini" interview.

CPP/NDF: Kabataan, itakwil ang rehimeng US-Aquino at ibagsak ang bulok na sistema (Youth, reject the US-Aquino regime and overthrow the corrupt system)

Posted to the CPP Website (Nov 30): Kabataan, itakwil ang rehimeng US-Aquino at ibagsak ang bulok na sistema (Youth, reject the US-Aquino regime and overthrow the corrupt system)

Ma. Laya Guerrero
Kabataang Makabayan


[Video: KABATAANG MAKABAYAN: Lightning Rally, Nov 28, 2013, Manila
Sa lungsod at kanayunan at saanmang sulok ng bansa, ipinagdiriwang natin ngayon ang ika-49 na taon ng pagkakatatag ng rebolusyonaryong Kabataang Makabayan (KM), kasabay pagdiriwang ng ika-150 kaarawan ni Andres Bonifacio, dakilang lider ng Katipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino ng 1896.

Pinagpupugayan natin ang mga kasapi at lider ng bawat balangay ng KM at sumasaludo sa paglalaan ng araw na ito sa mga paggunita at pagpupugay hindi lamang sa KM kundi maging kay kay Andres Bonifacio, sa ibat ibang paraan mula sa paglulunsad ng mga pulong-pagaaral hinggil sa rebolusyon at lipunang Pilipino, mga pangkulturang pagtatanghal at pagdiriwang, raling-iglap, operation pinta at operation dikit at iba pa.

Kasama sa ating mga aktibidad ang pagaalay ng parangal sa mga martir ng KM at pambansa demokratikong pakikibaka, sa kanilang maningning na ambag na patuloy na inspirasyon sa atin sa pagsusulong ng digmang bayan. Ibinubudyong natin sa araw na ito ang nagpapatuloy na demokratikong rebolusyong bayan na hindi natapos ng Rebolusyong 1896.

Matapos lumaya sa kuko ng kolonyalismong Espanyol, ang Estados Unidos ay lumusob at sumakop sa atin na kumitil sa batang republika ng Pilipinas at pumatay sa mahigit isang milyong Pilipino.

Nagpapatuloy ang hindi direkta o neokolonyal na paghahari ang Amerika sa lahat ng aspeto ng lipunang Pilipino. Nagdidikta ito sa lahat ng patakaran ng reaksyonaryong gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa ilalim ng mga papet na rehimen na naluklok sa poder mula ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig at pinangungunahan ni B.S. Aquino sa ngayon.

Ipinagkakait ng imperyalistang Estados Unidos sa pamamagitan ng papet na gobyerno at mga lokal na naghaharing uring panginoong-maylupa at malalaking komprador ang katarungang panlipunan, tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon sa mamamayang Pilipino.

Kaya higit kailanman, kailangang padagundungin ang mensahe na nagpapatuloy at ibayong sumusulong ang rebolusyong Pilipinong pambansa demokratiko, at may sosyalistang perspektiba sa pamumuno ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas. Mula pa sa aral na ipinamana nina Andres Bonifacio, isinisiwalat nito na armadong lakas at paglaban ng mamamayan lamang ang magtitiyak na makakamtan ang pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya.

Labanan ang papet, kriminal at anti-mamamayang gobyernong Aquino

Sa gitna ng kalamidad na mga nagdaan, napatunayan ng sambayanan na hindi kailanman magkakalinga ang rehimeng US-Aquino sa mga kababayan nating hinagupit ng Yolanda at iba pang sakuna. Higit sa 10 milyong mamamayan ang nakababatid nito ng pinagtiis sila sa gutom, uhaw at pagtangis sa delubyong dala ng Yolanda at ng kriminal na kapabayaan ni Aquino bago at matapos ang bagyo.

Ilang milyong mamayang Moro at mamayan sa kanayunan ang tuwirang nakakaalam sa teror at pananalasa sa karapatang pantao ng rehimeng Aquino sa todo-giyera nitong pagwasiwas ng kontra-rebolusyonaryong panunupil sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan?

Ang mga kabataan ay napupoot sa katiwalian ng gobyerno at lansakang pagnanakaw sa gitna ng malawak na kahirapan at pagdurusa ng mamamayan, sa pagkapapet at pagsuko sa pambansang dignidad sa imperyalistang US na amo nito. Napopoot ang kabataang Pilipino sa pagyurak ng gobyernong Aquino sa karapatang magtamasa ng kabataan at mamamayang Pilipino ng edukasyon at serbisyong sosyal tulad ng serbisyo sa kalusugan at paninirahan.

Imbes, patuloy ang pagtatanggol ni Aquino at kanyang mga alyado sa PDAF, DAP at inilulusot ang mga kontratang pagkakakitaan niya at iba pang anyo ng pagnanakaw sa kabang-bayan. Binabarat at sinasagad pababa ang sahod ng mga manggagawa, pinapalayas at marahas na dinidemolis ang kabahayan at kabuhayan ng maralitang lungsod, kinakamkam ang lupain ng mga magsasaka upang bigyang katiyakan ang super-tubo ng mga malalaking dayuhang kapitalista, mga lokal na komprador at panginoong maylupa, at mga kaanak at kroni ni Aquino.

Halimaw ang rehimeng Aquino at ang mga galamay nito ay pahirap at nakalingkis na sumasaid sa dugo ng mamamayang Pilipino.

Kabataan, kumilos at magbalikwas laban sa bulok na sistema

Sa gitna ng pagdalamhati at galit dahil sa malawakang pinsala at pagkitil ng buhay ng mga kababayan natin sa mga kalamidad, itaas natin ang kapasyahang labanan ang magnanakaw, kontra-mamamayan at papet ng US na gobyernong Aquino.

Nararanasan natin ang mas matinding hagupit ng rehimeng US-Aquino. Ang kolektibong paglaban ang pinakamaasahang pansalag sa delubyong hatid nito. Kailangang ang bawat kabataang makabayan ay magkaisa at pagibayuhin ang pagmumulat, pago-organisa at pagpapakilos laban sa rehimeng US-Aquino at bulok na sistemang panlipunan.

Kailangang isiwalat ang totoong aping kalagayan ng sambayanang Pilipino sa kuko ng imperyalismo, burukrata-kapitalismo at pyudalismo at ang papel ng kasalukuyang rehimeng US-Aquino sa pagpapanatili nito. Kailangang ipalaganap na ang tanging daan para maibsan at wakasan ang malakolonyal at malapyudal na lipunang Pilipino ay sa pamamagitan ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan na may sosyalistang hinaharap. Sa gabay ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, isinusulong natin ang pagtataas ng digmang bayan sa antas ng pagkakapatas sa reaksyunaryong lakas ng estado.

Tungkulin ng rebolusyonaryong kilusang kabataan estudyante na itayo at magambag para palakasin ang daan-daang pambansa demokratiko at progresibong mga organisasyon ng kabataan at mga aping sektor at uri. Sila ay dapat magaabot sa mas malawak na mamamayan para kumilos at silaban ang pagaalsang bayan laban sa naghaharing rehimeng US-Aquino at bulok na malakolonyal at malapyudal na sistema.
Kailangang magsikhay ang KM sa pagpapalawak at pagbubuo ng pinakamaraming balangay. Itransporma natin ang mga KM bilang sirkulo ng mga pagaaral sa lipunan at rebolusyong Pilipino at mga dakilang aral ng Marxismo, Leninismo at Maoismo.

Ibandila natin ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan sa lahat ng pagkakataon at pagpopropaganda sa masa. Ipalaganap natin ang Kampanyang Ka Roger Enlistment at laksang pag-ambag sa kanayunan at pagpasapi sa ating Bagong Hukbong Bayan.
Laksang pagkaisahin at kolektibong pakilusin ang kabataan at mamamayan para sa rebolusyonaryong pagbabago. Ang kinikimkim na galit ng kabataang Pilipino at sambayanan, ay nararapat na kolektibong itransporma sa organisado at tuloy-tuloy at papalaking mga pagkilos. Ang pagsambulat nito ay makapangyarihang unos pampulitikang yayanig sa reaksyunaryo pangkating US-Aquino at sa bulok na sistemang ipinagtatanggol nito.

At tulad ng makasaysayang papel ng kabataan, nanawagan ang KM na maglingkod at sumanib ang kabataang Pilipino sa kanayunan at sa armadong hukbo ng mamamayan. Nanawagan ang KM sa kabataang Pilipino na mag-ambag ng talino at lakas para sa pagtatayo ng muog ng rebolusyon sa kanayunan at binhi ng gobyerno ng mamamayan, sa pagsusulong ng tunay repormang agraryo, at pagsanib sa tunay na hukbo ng sambayanan, ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan.

Tapos na ang panahon na tayo ay tinatakot lamang ng kasalukuyang mapang-aping sistema ay magdudulot ng kawalang pag-asa at katiyakan ng kinabukasan ng kabataang Pilipino at sambayanan. Itransporma ang poot sa kolektibong pagkilos! Tanging sa pakikibaka ang pag-asa! Kabataang Pilipino, imulat ang kaisipan, paglingkuran ang aping sambayanan, sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!

Mabuhay ang ika-49 anibersaryo ng Kabataang Makabayan!
Mabuhay ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan sa pamumuno ng PKP!
Ibagsak ang bulok na sistema sa ilalim ng imperyalismo, pyudalismo at burukrata-kapitalismo!
Kabataang Pilipino, sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!
Mabuhay ang CPP-NPA-NDFP!

CPP/NPA: AFP sa Central Negros Padayon sa Ila Linubid nga mga Kabutigan

Posted to the CPP Website (Nov 29): AFP sa Central Negros Padayon sa Ila Linubid nga mga Kabutigan

JB Regalado
NPA Central Negros Front Operations Command (Leonardo Panaligan Command)
 Lubos ginapanginwala sg Leonardo Panaligan Command – New People’s Army (LPC-NPA) Central Negros ang isa naman ka linubid nga kabutigan sg AFP, 11thIBPA Bravo Coy nga may enkwentro sa tunga sg AFP kag NPA sa Barangay Pitogo, La Libertad, Negros Oriental sadtong Nobyembre 24, 2013, alas 5:00 sg hapon.Sa interview sa Bombo Radyo sadtong Nobyembre 25, 2013, halos indi mauntat ang paghinambog ni Maj. Gargar sg 3ID PA angot sa amo kuno nga enkwentro kun diin may isa (1) nga napatay kuno sa NPA, nakakumpiska sila sg 1 Carbine, 1 M16, subersibong dokumento kag mga backpacks. Kag ini kuno nga engkwentro nagtapna sa mahimo paglunsar sg NPA sg military action panahon sg gindiklarar sg CPP-NPA-NDF nga ceasefire.

Base sa inisyal nga pagpang-usisa sg NPA sa natabuan sg engkwentro, engkwentro ato sa tunga sg AFP kag possible mga grupo sg “Panatikong Greenan” ukon, sa tunga mismo sg mga AFP nga nagaupod sg mga “Greenan” panahon sg ila operasyon.

Antes ang hitabo, Nobyembre 22, 2013, Biyernes nag adlaw, may masobra 100 ka katapu sg AFP ang nagaoperasyon sa mga bukiran sg La Libertad, Binalbagan, Guihulngan kag Isabela. Sa pila ka kolum nga ini sg AFP, may 15-19 ka katapu sg “Greenan” ang nagaupod sa pagsulod sa kalasangan sg Sabado. Kag pagka-Dominggo natabo ang engkwentro.

Ang mga “Panatikong Greenan” nga pumuluyo nga gintukod sg AFP panahon ni Cory Aquino para sa kontra-insurhensya o batuk sa rebong kahublagan. Tubtob karon, padayon ini ginatukod, ginapalig-on o ginasuportahan sg Gobyerno sg Pilipinas kag mga LGU katulad ni Limkaichong sa La Libertad.

Indi bala lapas ini sa probisyon sg Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) nga nagadumili sa pagpa-armas kag pagpaupod sa mga sibilyan panahon sg military operation?

Ikaduha, ang pagmentinar sa mga “Greenan” isa ka maayo nga negosyo sg pipila nga may kaangtanan sa AFP kag LGU, katulad ni Retired MSgt. SoreƱo nga suportado sg mga Limkaichong. Sila ang naganegosyo sg armas kag “anting-anting” sg mga panatiko nga ginapapati nga paagi sa ila “anting-anting” indi sila madutlan sg bala.

Mabaskog ginakundenar sg rebong hublag ang engkwentro nga nagtuga sg kamatayon sg isa (1), pagsamad sg tatlo (3) ka AFP, perwisyo kag kakugmat sa pumuluyo.
Gusto lamang magka “Pogi Points” ang mga desperadong AFP dira sa ila “ama kg amo” nga ang La Libertad hilway sa NPA. Gani nanari-sari nga black propaganda kag psywar batuk sa NPA ang ila ginapalapnag.

Ginaengganyo sg rebong hublag ang pamilya sg mga biktima nga magsampa sg nagkaigo nga mga reklamo agud mahatagan sg hustisya ang mga biktima. Andam ang rebong hublag sa pagbaton o pag-asister sa inyo.

Sa grupo sg mga “Panatiko”, handa makig-abyan sa inyo ang rebong hublag, handa makig-istorya agud makigbuligay sa inyo. Wala sg polisiya ang rebong hublag nga halitan kamo, ilabe na kun kamo ang napilitan lang sa pagpatapu.

Sa mga may krimen sa pumuluyo kag hublag nga mga panatiko, andam gihapon ang rebong hublag sa pagpakig-istoryahanay sa inyo. Apang, kun sa pihak sg aton pag-istorya – hanay sa pag-amigohay, magpadayon kamo sa paghimo sg krimen batuk sa rebong hublag, indi magpangduha-duha ang NPA sa pagpatuman sg pamatbat sg Rebolusyonaryong Korte sg Pumuluyo.

Bungkagon ang grupo sg mga panatiko!
Pabayron ang Armed Forces of the Philippines kg Government of the Philippines sa pagpaarmas sa pumuluyo!

CPP/NPA: Successful attack against the operating troops of the 5th IB

Posted to the CPP Website (Nov 28): Successful attack against the operating troops of the 5th IB

Magno Udyaw
NPA Mountain Province Provincial Operations Command (Leonardo Pacsi Command)
The Leonardo Pacsi Command (LPC)-NPA Mountain Province again launched a successful attack against the operating troops of the 5th IB Philippine Army (PA) in the afternoon of 28 November 2013. The light artillery troops stationed with 2 Howitzer cannons at Lake Danum, between Sagada and Besao, Mountain Province were fired at by a sniping team of the LPC.

This offensive was carried out to drive out the fascist forces and to protect the people of the Mountain Province and Abra from the indiscriminate bombings which the Philippine Army is fond of doing as part of their desperate moves against the New People’s Army. Sagada residents were victims of such bombings last month, as in the past when it was the people of Tubo, Abra who suffered such traumatic experience.

One element of the Philippine Army was seriously wounded in the sniping attack conducted by the LPC while other elements incurred injuries as well. There were no casualties on the side of the NPA. Earlier on November 16 and 17, NPA units also inflicted 2 attacks on the 50th IB PA combat troops somewhere in Baclingayan, Tubo, Abra. Three (3) PA soldiers were wounded while there were no casualties on the side of the NPA.

Wide-scale combat operations of the joint forces of the 50th IB PA and Regional Police Safety Battalion (RPSB)-CAR have been escalating since 13 November. At the same time, the number of human rights violations has also increased. Most condemnable is the irresponsible shooting of 2 residents of Bangaan, Sagada who were mining in the area of Baclingayan, Tubo. After being shot by the fascist forces, the two civilians were held hostage with their hands tied. Another youth was held hostage in Belwang, Sadangga. Several residents, including 2 minors and a foreign national, were traumatized by the military pointing their guns at them while driving them away from their farms and workplaces. The continuing militarization of Sagada, Besao, Sadangga and Bontoc since September of this year have been causing economic dislocation as the people have been prevented from tending to their farms, gardens, mines, hunting grounds and irrigation systems.

The Leonardo Pacsi Command-NPA, the entire revolutionary movement and the peoples of the Cordillera condemn the blatant disregard and violations of the socio-economic and political rights of individuals and communities. We hold accountable the commanding officer of the 50th IB PA Lt. Col. Richard Sibayan and the RPSB-CAR Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong, as well as their superiors in the 503rd Brigade and 5th ID.

Moreover, we condemn the continuing military operations to suppress the struggle of the Cordillerans against the plunderous onslaught of multinational large-scale mining and energy corporations in connivance with compradors and bureaucrats in the Aquino government, who are in turn being served by the mercenaries in the AFP and PNP. In order to ram through their economic greed and political tyranny, they are employing all means including deception, dirty maneuverings and militarization that victimizes the same people whom they have sworn to serve.

All units of the NPA, along with the numerous units of the people’s militia in the Mountain Province, will continue these attacks on reactionary troops. All members of the revolutionary movement will surely defeat the onslaught of militarization under the guise of Oplan Bayanihan.

We call on the people to mobilize and drive away military presence in Lake Danum, Kin-iway in Besao, Guinaang in Bontoc, Abew in Sadanga and in the numerous CAA detachments spread all over the 10 municipalities of the Mountain Province.

We call on the Mayors and other LGU officials to revoke the duplitious Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) they have signed with the 50th IB PA as such an agreement only serves as license for the military and police to conduct military operations and disregard civilian authority with impunity.

Stop the widespread military operations in the Mountain Province and Abra!
Oppose the building of military fortifications in Lake Danum and Kin-iway!
Punish the human rights violators in the 50th IB PA and RPSB!
Advance the struggle of the national minorities for the right to self-determination!