Thursday, December 12, 2013

Barangay chairman in Zamboanga del Norte abducted

From ABS-CBN (Dec 13): Barangay chairman in Zamboanga del Norte abducted

A barangay chairman in Zamboanga del Norte was abducted on Thursday evening.

Sibuco Mayor Bong Edding said Barangay Paniran chairman Cecile Alas-as was forcibly taken by a group of armed men at around 9 p.m.

Edding said the suspects fled with Alas-as on board a pump boat.

Meanwhile, a fishing boat owner only identified as "Cynthia" was also abducted in Sitio Palid, Barangay Magdaup, Ipil town at around 10 p.m. Thursday.

Police said the victim, who hails from Dipolog City, was forcibly taken by about 8 men near the shore of Sitios Saruk-Saruk and Palid.

Soldiers recover 163 NPA landmines in Agusan del Sur - military

From InterAksyon (Dec 13): Soldiers recover 163 NPA landmines in Agusan del Sur - military

An Army file photo shows what the military says are NPA landmines

Government troops recovered a stash 163 landmines apparently assembled by the New People’s Army in Agusan del Sur, the military said Friday.

Captain Alberto Caber of the Eastern Mindanao Command described what the soldiers discovered in Sitio Mampait, Barangay Kauswagan, Loreto town as a “regional NPA landmine factory.”

“A generator was also recovered. (Some) residents in (the) said barangay reported the site where the landmines were kept by the NPA,” Caber said.

The military has regularly accused the communist rebels, who often use command-detonated explosives in ambushes, of violating international humanitarian laws that ban the use of landmines.

However, the rebels have countered that the ban covers only contact-detonated devices, or those that explode when pressure is applied to them, and not command-detonated explosives.

Nur Misuari – no ‘show’ at OIC meeting

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Dec 12): Nur Misuari – no ‘show’ at OIC meeting

DFA photo of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's Conference of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Conakry, Guinea.

Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front, and his delegates did not attend the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's Conference of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Conakry, Guinea, contrary to claims made by his spokespersons Absalom Cerveza and Emmanuel Fontanilla.

“Until the end of the 40th CFM, neither Nur Misuari nor his representative appeared, a high ranking official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

“The wrong information given by the MNLF spokesperson is a strong indication that he (spokesperson/s) is simply shooting from the hips, and probably does not have direct contact with Misuari or his immediate circle,” the official said.

A hold-departure order has already been imposed in Misuari since September following the Zamboanga City siege of MNLF elements loyal to Misuari in September which led to the death of more than a hundred people. He has already been charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity.

OIC dismayed over Misuari's Zambo attack

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, OIC Secretary-General, was also dismayed on the attack perpetuated by Misuari's loyalists in Zamboanga City.

Ihsanoglu said that Misuari made a “wrong move” when he resorted to violence in trying to assert his cause, a source said.

According to the source, İhsanoğlu expressed his dismay during a closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the 40th Council of Foreign Ministers.

n its draft resolution, the OIC urged Ekmeleddin and its Peace Committee on Southern Philippines  “to exert their efforts in order not to allow these unfortunate events to derail the peace process.”

The OIC expressed concern over the violence.

It also “calls upon member States and Islamic relief organizations to help generously in the efforts of relief and reconstruction operation in order to allow the quick return of the many thousand displaced people to their homes and to compensate the victims,” the resolution read.

Philippine troops raid explosives factory

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Dec 12): Philippine troops raid explosives factory

Google Maps of Loreto town in the southern Filipino province of Agusan del Sur. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine troops raided an explosives factory of the communist rebel group New People’s Army and recovered over 160 landmines in Agusan del Sur’s Loreto town, officials said.

Officials said troops were guided by intelligence provided by civilians in the town that led to the seizure of the explosives in the village of Kauswagan.

Soldiers also recovered a generator set used by rebels in the manufacture of explosives, according to Army Captain Alberto Caber, chief information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Caber said the factory was empty when troops arrived. Caber also quoted a villager as saying that “We do not want the NPA here because they only bring us sufferings. We want a peace in our village.”

Military records made available to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner showed that more than over 120 people were killed and 325 wounded from hundreds of landmine explosions set off by the NPA in the region, a known stronghold of the rebel group.

General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, who heads the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the unabated use of landmines by the NPA is a gross violation of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian law which the rebel group was a signatory.

Cruz praised troops and the villagers for the capture of the factory.

“This is the biggest NPA landmine factory discovered so far. Indeed, the timely recovery of NPA landmines by our troops saved lives of innocent civilians,” he said.

Cruz accused the rebels of continuously putting the lives of innocent people in grave danger by deploying landmines in areas frequented by civilians.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been fighting for decades to overthrow the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the largely Catholic country.

Army denies rebels killed four soldiers, seized guns in Talakag

From the Mindanao Gold Star Daily (Dec 12): Army denies rebels killed four soldiers, seized guns in Talakag

CAMP Evangelista yesterday denied that New People’s Army rebels were able to get high-powered firearms and killed four soldiers when they raided a police auxiliary outpost in Talakag, Bukidnon early this month.

Capt. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, said there is no truth to reports that the rebels took away nine high-powered firearms from the outpost in Barangay Miarayon, Talakag town.

Neither did the rebels kill four soldiers during the attack in the village around 3 am  Dec. 1, Uy said.

Uy said the NPA attack was staged and as a result, two helpless civilians and a militiaman were killed.

Uy said two of the victims were Germiña Yanda and her son Jonnel, and Eddie Gawahan, a militiaman.

He said the military determined that the attack was staged by some 20 rebels and a manhunt was immediately launched by government troops.

Uy also said the Talakag police under Chief Insp. Al Abanales filed on Monday three counts of murder against the rebels.

NPA Front Guerrilla 68 spokesman Allan Juanito told local radio that the attack resulted in the seizure of nine high-powered firearms and the killing of four soldiers and a militiaman.

Juanito said the firearms taken were two Carbines, Garands, four shotguns, a caliber .45 pistol and an improvised gun.

Meanwhile, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan condemned the killing in Talakag town, calling it “senseless and clear violations of the dignity of the person and the persons in community.”

He noted that one of those killed was a five-year old boy.

In a statement, Cabantan said the cold-blooded killing of defenseless and unarmed people was meant “to sow fear to provoke disunity and chaos among people living in peace.”

“They meant to inflict not only fatal wounds but also psychological trauma to annihilate the slightest resistance against them,” the bishop said.

On Dec. 1, armed men stormed Sitio San Abel, Barangay Miarayon in Talakag town and shot the victims, the statement said.

Local media reports said that the perpetrators hogtied nine men and gathered the women, children and elderly at the plaza.

“In front of people, two men were shot dead, and fatally wounding a pregnant woman. A boy aged five years old sustained a wound from a stray bullet,” the statement said.

After the shooting, about 36 families fled to Miayaron proper, where 12 of the evacuees sought refuge at the parish convent.

The bishop said that children were traumatized, adults are worried, and many got sick and needed debriefing.

On behalf of the Diocese of Malaybalay, Cabantan appealed to the perpetrators of the killings to “submit themselves towards the way to peace. The key to peace is peace itself.”

He also called on the local government leaders and law enforcers to pay attention to the victims, “whose freedom had been cut-off by living in fear.”

“We appeal to all to help restore peace and order in their communities,” Cabantan added.

Quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the bishop cited that “peace involves complete commitment. Peace is with God, with oneself, with neighbors and all creation.”

“True peacemakers are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions: personal, communitarian and transcendent. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life,” the bishop said.

Cabantan said “those who opt for violence will always harvest violence.”

“Radical commitment to peace does not mean inaction but it entails a total commitment to genuine human values,” he added.

New Navy choppers under testing

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 11): New Navy choppers under testing

Three of the five AW109 “Power” helicopters acquired by the Philippine Navy from the Anglo-Italian firm AugustaWestland have been delivered to the country for testing.

Lt. Rommel Rodriquez said three AW-109s were delivered to Villamor Airbase in Pasay City last Sunday.

Two of the helicopters are now at Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite for testing, while the third helicopter will be flown to Cavite Thursday.

Rodriquez said the helicopters will be placed under the control and supervision of the Naval Air Group after its commissioning scheduled within the month.

The delivery is part of the P1.33-billion contract signed by the Navy with AugustaWestland early this year for three AW109 Power maritime helicopters plus two options.

Rodriguez said the aircraft will complement the patrolling and monitoring capability of the Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates.

The remaining two helicopters are expected to be delivered during the first quarter of 2014.

The helicopters will be used for a wide range of naval missions including economic zone protection, surface surveillance, SAR and maritime security.

Following the signing of the contract for the purchase of the helicopters in March, an official of AgustaWestland said they are delighted that the Philippine Navy has selected the AW109 Power as part of its armed forces modernization program.

The official said AW109 Power’s multi-role abilities and high performance will provide the Philippine Navy with an enhanced maritime operational capability.

The AW109 Power is a three-ton class eight seater helicopter powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines with FADEC. The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW109 Power has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

The AW109 Power’s superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW109 Power to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW109 Power and AW109 LUH helicopters have been ordered for commercial, para-public and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

PH warship deployed to patrol West PH Sea, guard Malampaya

From Rappler (Dec 12): PH warship deployed to patrol West PH Sea, guard Malampaya

MOST CAPABLE: Philippine Navy's BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

CAPABLE: Philippine Navy's BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

As regional tension rises because of China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), Philippine warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) was deployed on Thursday, December 12, to the Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom).

Wescom is in charge of securing the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), Sulu Sea, Palawan, and the Kalayaan Group of Islands (Spratlys).

Wescom chief Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda said it's a "routine mission." He reiterated that the military supports a peaceful resolution to the territorial disputes.

There are fears that China will build a similar ADIZ over the West Philippines Sea although Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said it's still "speculative" at this point.

Japan is also seeking the support of ASEAN countries to "jointly express some kind of political message on freedom of overflight and navigation on high seas." READ: Japan looks ASEAN backing on China at summit)

Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Gregory Gerald Fabic said Alcaraz is at Wescom to guard "critical infrastructures."

"PF 16 will be deployed in Wescom area of operations to include Kalayaan Group of Islands and some parts of the West Philippines Sea. PF 16 will be safeguarding critical infrastructures in Palawan like the Malampaya gas platform," said Fabic.

Fabic said Alcaraz and its twin ship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar are really intended for the West Philippines Sea. They are the navy's most capable warships and were acquired partly using funds from Malampaya.

Alcaraz was earlier deployed for its maiden mission to Tacloban City to assist in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations. (READ and WATCH: Maiden voyage of PH's most capable warship)

Del Pilar is still in Tacloban City.

3 naval choppers arrive from Italy

Three brand-new naval choppers designed to patrol the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) arrived from Italy this week. Two more are scheduled to arrive early next year.

Italian aircraft manufacturer AgustaWestland won the contract to supply the Philippine Navy 5 AW109 Power helicopters for P1.33 billion. The same manufacturer recently won a P3.4 billion contract to supply the Philippine Air Force 8 attack helicopters. (READ: Air Force gets 8 new attack helicopters)

"The naval choppers were designed to go with Philippine warships BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar. In general terms, they are meant to patrol our maritime borders," Philippine Fleet spokesman Lt. Junior Grade Rommel Rodriguez told Rappler.

Alcaraz and Del Pilar have a helideck for shipborne helicopter operations, allowing the Philippine Navy to patrol wider areas at sea.

The commissioning rites for the naval choppers are expected within the month.

Aquino in Japan, eyes 10 patrol boats

From Rappler (Dec 12): Aquino in Japan, eyes 10 patrol boats

President Benigno Aquino III arrived in Japan on Thursday, December 12, to receive US$287 million in loans that will fund patrol boats, among others, in the face of disputes over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Aquino III flew to Japan primarily to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Commemorative Summit in Tokyo.

On the sidelines of this summit, Aquino will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday, December 13, in a working lunch meeting.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the two leaders will witness the signing of the Exchange of Notes on 3 matters:

• a post-disaster standby loan worth JP¥ 10 billion (approximately $100 million)

• a loan for multi-role response vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard worth JP¥18.732 billion (approximately $187 million)

• the revised route schedule for the Philippines-Japan Air Services Agreement


In a statement on Thursday, Aquino thanked Japan for extending $20.5 million in aid to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines.

Tunay nga po, na sa panahon ng taimtim nating pangangailangan, ipinaramdam nila: Hindi tayo nag-iisa. Ito po ang mga dibidendo ng marangal at mahusay nating pakikitungo’t pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating mga kaalyado’t kaibigan,” Aquino said. (Truly, at a time of dire need, they made us feel we're not alone. These are the dividends of our dignified and excellent relationship with allies and friends.)

Abe, who visited the Philippines in July, pledged to boost the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard.

It is an “image-building” move on the part of Tokyo, said Japanese Studies expert Lydia Yu Jose. (READ: Japan PM's visit to PH: 'Image-building.)

Aquino said he and Abe will also discuss a possible defense treaty. (READ: PH, Japan to discuss possible defense pact.)

Their meeting comes in the face of a new threat from China.

This is China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which requires aircraft to provide their flight plan, declare their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication, or face “emergency defensive measures.”

The zone covers Tokyo-controlled islands – known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China – where ships and aircraft from the two countries already shadow each other.

In a statement, the DFA said the ADIZ "transforms the entire airzone 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."

"The Philippines calls China to ensure that its ADIZ preserves regional security and stability," the DFA added.

Japan has also voiced concern over the ADIZ. (READ: Japan warns of 'unpredictable events' over China's new air zone.)

Philippine Navy has 3 new helicopters from Italy

From ABS-CBN (Dec 12): Philippine Navy has 3 new helicopters from Italy

The Philippine Navy has taken delivery of three of five brand-new helicopters it bought from Italy for P1.33 billion.

Philippine Fleet spokesman Lt. Junior Grade Rommel Rodriguez said yesterday the three units of AugustaWestland (AW-109s “Power”) helicopters were turned over to his unit last Sunday for testing.

“All the three AW-109s were delivered at Villamor Airbase, Pasay City. Two of the helicopters flew to Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite for testing. The one remaining is flying to Cavite today,” Rodriguez said.

Navy pilots and air crewmen who undertook a six-month training at Cesto Calende in Italy early this year flew them to Sangley.

The helicopters would be placed under the control and supervision of the Naval Air Group.

Another two aircraft, the armed version, are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2014.

Rodriquez said the three AW-109s would be commissioned in time for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 78th anniversary on Dec. 21.

The helicopters will be based on the Navy’s BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and sister ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Both frigates, which the government acquired from the United States, can accommodate two helicopters – one at the hangar and the other on the helipad.

The AW-109s are fitted with a forward looking infrared camera and night vision equipment, making it ideal for nighttime search-and-rescue missions, Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

The sensors installed in forward-looking infrared cameras and other thermal imaging cameras use detection of infrared radiation emitted from a heat source (thermal radiation) to create a “picture” assembled for video output, Fabic said.

The AW-109 “Power” helicopter is a three-ton class eight-seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

7th Infantry Division to plant 3,500 saplings in honor of AFP's 78th founding anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): 7th Infantry Division to plant 3,500 saplings in honor of AFP's 78th founding anniversary

With the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) celebrating its 78th founding anniversary this Dec. 21, the Nueva Ecija-based 7th Infantry Division announced that it will plant 3,500 fruit and hard wood trees in honor of the occasion.

This will be planted at the vast camp area of Fort Ramon Magsaysay, the main base of the unit.

Major Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri said the tree planting activity already started Dec. 11 and will continue until all 3,500 saplings are planted.

Aside from this, the 7th Infantry Division will conduct a bloodletting program in collaboration with Philippine National Red Cross with the aim of collecting at least 40,000 cc of blood.

Through this way, Iriberri said the 7th Infantry Division will join the rest of the military in simply celebrating the 78th anniversary of the AFP.

AFP chief fetes troopers for life-saving efforts during 'Yolanda'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): AFP chief fetes troopers for life-saving efforts during 'Yolanda'

Two 3rd Infantry Division troopers were feted by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista for saving lives in Western Visayas during the onslaught of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" last November 8.

The troopers are from the command's 12th CAFGU (Cadre) Battalion.

Awarded with the Bronze Cross Medal are Capts. Aristotle Cuaton and Julius Pablo for acts of heroism involving risk of life in the conduct of disaster rescue operations during the height of "Yolanda".

3rd Infantry Division spokesperson Major Ray Tiongson said that the two officers were in the area even before the onslaught of the super typhoon.

He added that Cuaton and Pablo are members of the 3rd Infantry Division disaster response units tasked to oversee the government's forced evacuation programs.

In Barangays Navitas, Albasa and Badio in Numancia town, Aklan, Cuaton together with his men evacuated initially around 2,536 residents in the morning of November 8.

Though some people would never leave their houses and properties, Cuaton, upon returning in the area, managed to convince another 898 residents especially the old, women and children since it was very dangerous to stay in their place near the coast.

Noontime of November 8, "Yolanda," with its destructive strength, devastated houses and structures aside from toppling trees and electrical posts that posed clear and present danger to the lives of the evacuees.

There are several times that they need to be transferred to a safer area due to flooding and falling debris. With confidence and determination, Cuaton effectively moved them to a safer area until Yolanda left.

About an hour after the storm, Cuaton was informed that some indigenous people (IP) in Barangay Laguinbawa, Numancia town, Aklan need to be evacuated due to flash flood.

Cuaton was able to rescue 42 IPs from that very dangerous situation.

Meanwhile, Pablo also faced danger and risked his life when his team evacuated 2,875 residents of Barangay Laserna in Kalibo, Aklan.

Initially, the evacuees were placed at the ABL Sports Complex in Kalibo, Aklan.

With the killing strength of "Yolanda", Pablo took the initiative to transfer the evacuees to Northwestern Visayan College which is a more secure area, and stayed there until the storm passed.

Bautista personally awarded the medal to the two officers assisted by 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad.

“We also acknowledge the efforts of the local government units of Aklan for working hand-in-hand with us before, during and after the calamity. In the spirit of Bayanihan, let us work together and continue to extend our hands in helping the people affected by the tragedy,” Baladad said.

MILF says initial agreements with national gov't transparent, open to public scrutiny

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): MILF says initial agreements with national gov't transparent, open to public scrutiny

A successful peace agreement should be open to public scrutiny, including those who are pessimistic about it, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said Thursday.

With that premise, the MILF which is nearing completion of the Mindanao peace process with the national government, said it is confident the power sharing agreement forged last Sunday can stand and will survive constructive criticism from honest minds and from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The MNLF had earlier warned that the power sharing agreement might trigger fresh armed hostilities in southern Philippines.

In an editorial posted on its website the day after one of the most contentious issues was signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the MILF said: “Modesty aside, the annex on power-sharing is a class of its own. It can be open for scrutiny and we are optimistic that honest minds will have difficulty criticizing it."

The MILF admitted that the annexes of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was "not a perfect agreement because there had never been a perfect agreement in all times.

However, it said there are always "oppositors" who would be the fault-finders.

"They (fault-finders) are the breed that never sees good things in life, because they see the world as ugly and unfit for living," it said.

“This is a world of imperfection, and as such, one has to struggle in all spheres of life so as not to achieve Utopian perfection in this life but to install justice to every collective human endeavor and relationship. The Annex on Power-Sharing is one such product of struggle,” the MILF statement said.

The biggest Moro rebel movement in southern Philippines seeking recognition of its right to self determination, said the signing of the annex was made possible through the joint efforts and dedication of of GPH-MILF peace panels, the third party facilitator, the international community and civil society organizations.

With the power-sharing already agreed upon, the GPH and MILF panel of negotiators are left with the annex on normalization or decommissioning of MILF forces.

"We expect to have the annex on normalization signed by early 2014," Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said.

Jaafar stressed that the peace process between them and the MILF had been transparent from the very beginning "to avoid the mistakes in previous peace deal in southern Philippines."

In the power-sharing deal, a Bangsamoro ministerial officials will be named and among themselves will choose a chief minister who will lead the Bangsamoro government.

Under the Bangsamoro Framwork Agreement, a 50-member legislative assembly will be formed that will constitute the Bangsamoro ministerial government.

Muslimin Sema, chair of the bigger and more politically active faction of the MNLF, has warned the power sharing agreement was a violation to the Constitution which states that the government should be unitary and not parliamentary or ministerial.

Chief government peace negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer denied the initial agreement with the MILF was in anyway a violation of the Philippine Constitution.

Armed men torch heavy equipment in Agusan del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): Armed men torch heavy equipment in Agusan del Sur

 Seven unidentified heavily armed men burned a heavy equipment on Wednesday night at Avillage along the highway of Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur.

Reports from Agusan del Sur Police Office said that at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday at Purok 3, Brgy. Canayugan, Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur, a unit of Michigan Payloader owned by a certain Danny Cullantes, a resident of T. Calo St., Butuan City was burned by about seven unidentified persons armed with firearms of unknown caliber.

Bayugan City Police led by its chief PSupt. Gerry O. Ratunil responded to the burning alarm and proceeded to the said place. During the police investigation, the driver of the said heavy equipment identified as Enrique Albores Espana, who slept at a nearby bunk was awakened by the suspect and was ordered to have the equipment be maneuvered backwards towards an open space.

Then and there, without any warning, the suspects poured a gallon of gasoline on the payloader and burned it. While the heavy equipment was on fire, some of the suspects pointed their guns on the burning heavy equipment and fired.

They then fled towards unknown directions after the incident claimed some of the witnesses. Elements of the 23rd IB, Delta Company PA led by 1st Lt. Calope, based at Brgy. Noli, Bayugan City are now conducting a hot pursuit operation against the fleeing suspects.

UPDATE: Cop killed, 3 others wounded in Bukidnon NPA attack

From MindaNews (Dec 12): UPDATE: Cop killed, 3 others wounded in Bukidnon NPA attack

KIBAWE, Bukidnon – A policeman was killed while three others were wounded when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas stormed the police station of Kibawe town in southern Bukidnon early on Thursday.

Killed during the 20-minute firefight was SPO3 Rodelfin Alonzo, who was supposed to retire next year. Wounded were PO3 Junar Juban, PO2 Elizar Lacoste and PO2 Jonerey Maniego.

Juban was hit in the ribs while Lacoste was wounded in both legs, and both were recuperating at the municipal hospital in Kibawe. Maniego asked to be confined in a hospital in Maramag, his hometown.

Kibawe police officer-in-charge SPO3 Ian Minoza said the rebels seized six M-16 armalite rifles and three 9mm pistols.

He said only eight policemen including himself were on duty at the time of the attack.
Kibawe had 28 police personnel including the late Alonzo, he said.

The attack damaged a television set, computers and other equipment inside the police station. Some bullets from the rebel side landed on the walls of the municipal engineering office beside the station.

Supt. Edgar Daniel Jr., commander of the police’s Regional Public Safety Battalion in Region 10 said the rebels rode in four vans and three pickups, five of which were impounded outside the police station.

“We’re still tracing the ownership of these vehicles through the LTO (Land Transportation Office),” Daniel said.

He said the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon’s capital, pursued the rebels but were ambushed in Barangay Migcawayan in Damulog town.

He said nobody was wounded when a landmine exploded, but some shrapnel hit the holster of PO1 Michael Salvacion. “He was lucky because he was on low-holster, otherwise his leg would have been hit.”

PPSC commander Supt. Enrico Engreso said the rebels withdrew to Sitio Patag, Barangay Mascarinas, Kibawe, a village by the Pulangi River.

Engreso said around 50 rebels staged the attack. “Maybe they wanted to accomplish something because their anniversary is coming.”

The Communist Party of the Philippines, which controls the NPA, will mark its 45th founding year on December 26.

In an interview, Lacoste told MindaNews that after he was hit he almost passed out. He recalled that one of the attackers who entered the room where he was sprawled said, “pasagdi na kay patay na man na” (leave him alone, he’s already dead).

He said it was still a little dark outside when the rebels arrived. “I don’t know how many rebels came, but judging from the volume of gunfire there were several of them,” he added.

Juban, who was confined in the same room, begged off from being interviewed as he still found it hard to catch his breath whenever he spoke. He was undergoing blood transfusion when MindaNews arrived at the hospital.

Town Mayor Minerva Casinabe said the policemen tried to defend their post but were no match for the estimated 50 rebels.

Casinabe said the attack was the first of its kind in Kibawe. “Nothing like this happened even during Martial Law.”

Daniel said they had intelligence information that the NPA might launch attacks but they could not pinpoint the exact target.

For her part, Casinabe said Senior Supt. Glen de la Torre, provincial police chief had warned police chiefs in the province Tuesday to be on alert.

The mayor said the local government had requested reinforcements from the provincial police office and the military.

Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr, who went to Kibawe around 7:30 a.m., said he will address insurgency in Bukidnon via dialogue.

“I extend my hand for peace. If the (peace process) is not solved in the national (level), we can do it in local,” he added.

Zubiri appealed to the “armed men in the mountains” to spare Bukidnon from attacks.
Earlier this week, suspected NPA rebels burned two dump trucks owned by Mayor Levi Edma of San Fernando town.

On December 1, rebels killed three persons and injured a boy in Sitio Abel, Miarayon, Talakag town.

In 2007, the NPA also attacked the police station in Dangcagan, a town next to Kibawe A police officer was killed, and the rebels snatched seven firearms and ammunition.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz to conduct sovereignty patrols in West Philippine Sea

From InterAksyon (Dec 12): BRP Ramon Alcaraz to conduct sovereignty patrols in West Philippine Sea

DFA file photo of BRP Ramon Alcaraz

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) will be sent to the West Philippine Sea to conduct sovereignty patrols in the area, which is also being claimed by China.

The Philippine Navy's second Hamilton-class cutter arrived in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Tuesday and was deployed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command whose area of responsibility includes the Kalayaan Island Group and some parts of the West Philippine Sea, according to Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic.

Fabic said the ship, which is capable of operating in rough weather and deep sea conditions, would be also utilized to safeguard critical infrastructures such as the Malampaya oil gas separation platform off the Palawan coastline.

"These ships (BRP Ramon Alcaraz and sister-ship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15)) are ideal vessels (due to their large size and excellent sea-keeping qualities) for high seas patrols, they are not limited to coastal operations," Fabic said.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar is still serving as communications-and-command ship off Tacloban City, which is still reeling from the onslaught of super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).

Prior to the ship's deployment to Palawan, BRP Ramon Alcaraz stayed for three weeks off Tacloban, helping the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts in the city.

The frigate was commissioned last November 22 and sent to Tacloban with 123.7 relief goods and 12 Navy Seabees the same day.

CPP/NPA: Condemn AFP’s chronic disrespect for human rights in the Cordilleras! Defeat Oplan Bayanihan! Fight for just and lasting peace!

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Condemn AFP’s chronic disrespect for human rights in the Cordilleras! Defeat Oplan Bayanihan! Fight for just and lasting peace!

Magno Udyaw
NPA Mountain Province Provincial Operations Command (Leonardo Pacsi Command)
On the occasion of the commemoration today of the international human rights day, the Leonardo Pacsi Command of the New People’s Army strongly condemns the 5th Infantry Division and PNP-Cordillera for their recent spate of human rights violations.

In just a span of one week, 13 civilians, including four minors and a foreigner, fell victim to military abuses in the ongoing combat operations of the 41st IB, 50th IB, 503rd Infantry Brigade PA, all under the 5th ID, and the PNP in Mountain Province and its boundary with Abra. Two of the minors were supposed to gather firewood when they were chanced upon by the operating military and police troops last November 13 in Lesnadan, Bangaan in Sagada. The other two minors were also held by the military and police just for having two cellphones each and an extra battery.

 They were held at gunpoint, together with seven other individuals including the foreigner, who were earlier illegally arrested by the said troops. “We are not safe in our communities,” a mother of one of the minors aptly described the situation in Mountain Province.

At a later incident on November 16 in Mount Amtinangad, Besao, two residents of Bangaan who were on their way home were also held against their will by a different unit of the 50th IB. The military refused to let the two go despite their protestations and forced them to act as guides and used them as human shields in a battle that later ensued between the military and the NPA. One of the civilians was injured in the said battle.

Other recent atrocities of the 5th ID and PNP include the positioning of armed troops, two howitzers and other armaments in known tourist and production areas like Lake Danum and Langsayan-Pilaw Ridge, and a forced entry on a gardener’s cabin in Lake Danum. Residents of Sagada already expressed outrage in August this year when the AFP indiscriminately bombed a watershed area of Sagada, just a few kilometers near barangay Aguid. And it can be recalled that February this year, military operating troops also positioned themselves in Lake Danum and the Langsayan-Pilaw Ridge earning the ire of the Sagada community who petitioned the military to vacate the said area and the entire town of Sagada. And again, in the ongoing military operation, the Sagada people are vehemently protesting the presence of the military troops and are demanding them to pullout from Sagada.

The ongoing combat operation in the boundaries of Mountain Province and Abra is part of a massive military operation of the 5th ID and PNP that encompasses a number of provinces in the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions, while the whole world remains appalled by the failure of the Aquino government and AFP/PNP to efficiently respond to the catastrophic situation in the typhoon-ravaged provinces of Visayas. (di lang sa Eastern part)

The human rights situation in the country continues to worsen under the Aquino regime’s new counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan which has already been exposed as just a rehash of the much dreaded Oplan Bantay Laya I and II of the Arroyo regime. Militarization in both the countryside and urban poor communities continues. There is no letup in extra-judicial and media killings. And proven perpetrators in the AFP and PNP, the likes of Gen. Palparan, remain at large, or worse, were even promoted to higher ranks and offices.

No amount of blatant lies by the AFP and PNP about respect for human rights and international humanitarian law can cover-up the continuing list of military abuses of government troops. No massive propaganda machinery of the AFP-PNP under the failed Oplan Bayanihan can conceal the truth about the worsening human rights situation in the country. On the other hand, Oplan Bayanihan has failed to attain its target to reduce the NPA to an inconsequential force by the end of 2013. The armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA continues to grow stronger and the people’s war is on its way to attaining a higher level.

In line with its commitment to attaining just and lasting peace, the revolutionary movement reiterates its call for the resumption of peace negotiations between the NDFP and GPH to tackle the remaining substantive agenda on economic and political reforms, and for the GPH to act on its part in implementing previously signed agreements especially the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The CPP-NPA remains firm in protecting and upholding the political and economic rights and interests of the people. Only through its program of genuine land reform and national industrialization can the foundations of peace be truly established. The NPA, consciously guided by the principles of human rights, shall continue to render justice for the Filipino masses whose human rights have long been ignored and trampled upon by the current exploitative system.

In this light, we call on the masses to continue in actively reporting and demanding justice for every single human rights violation perpetrated by the AFP, PNP, their para-military groups and the entire reactionary state. We also call upon soldiers and policemen within the AFP-PNP who are disgusted by the countless human rights violations, and who were themselves victims of inhumane treatment by their superiors, to come forward, expose and fight these abuses and join the masses in supporting the armed revolution.

CPP/NDF: People’s Democratic Government indicts 71st IB, GPH Fiscal, PNP, AFP officials, Aquino for murder of 8-year old Roque Antivo

Posted to the CPP Website (Dec 12): People’s Democratic Government indicts 71st IB, GPH Fiscal, PNP, AFP officials, Aquino for murder of 8-year old Roque Antivo
Rubi Del Mundo
NDFP Southern Mindanao Chapter
A Special Investigative Body formed by the Compostela Valley People’s Democratic Government found “sufficient basis to constitute a people’s court to try” the officers and members of the 71st Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Jerry T. Borja, Col. Angelito de Leon of the 1001st Brigade, Major Jake Obligado and GPH Prosecutor Graciano Arafol, Jr. for “ planning, aiding, abetting and conspiring in the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of Human rights and international humanitarian law in the murder of Roque Antivo and frustrated murders of Jefrey Hernan and Earl Jhun Antivo” last April 3, 2013 in Brgy. Anitapan, Mabini, Compostela Valley.

An indictment was released last December 10, 2013 to 23 Respondents that also included GPH Pres. Benigno Aquino III, GPH Department of National Defense Chief Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista, and Eastern Mindanao Command Commander Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz. Aquino,as commander-in-chief, and Bautista were indicted for designing and carrying out, respectively, the Oplan Bayanihan which targets civilians like Roque.

The Special Investigating Body composed of Osang Quijano, Mario Renante and Julius Senajon “recommended an order for the immediate arrest and commencement of the trial of the Respondents by a competent tribunal duly constituted under the revolutionary laws, legal and judicial system and processes of the People’s Democratic Government.” Appropriate penalties will be implemented following the trial.

The Special Investigating Body which documented the circumstances surrounding the April 3 incident said the troops under a platoon of the 71st IB led by 2nd Lt. Felipe Llorca were responsible for the killing of 8-year old Roque Antivo, the wounding of his uncle Jefrey Hernan and the severe psychological trauma of Roque’s elder brother Earl Jhun. It also found the Mabini police and members of the crime laboratory for having committed the cover-up in the crimes by “presenting, giving credence and by upholding the clearly tampered evidence at the crime scene and for deliberately showing two sets of bullets to insinuate that two armed groups were involved in an armed encounter.”

The Special Investigating Body also indicted GPH Provincial Prosecutor Graciano Arafol, Nabunturan town who issued a Resolution dated September 17 dismissing the charges filed by the family last May 28, 2013. His acts constituted of “abetting in the further denial of justice to the victims and their families by partially dismissing the case without regard to the direct and clear testimonies of eyewitnesses by instead relying heavily on the respondents’ unsubstantiated and self-serving alibis of a phantom encounter between the responsible AFP unit and the NPA.”

The Special Investigating Body also affirmed that Roque Antivo was not killed due to a legitimate encounter between the AFP and the NPA, saying that “(G)eographically and physically it would be impossible for the nearest NPA unit F2 platoon or even a detached team to arrive at about two hours later at Kidaraan,” the site of the incident.

The indictment also said that because of the small number of empty shells found at the scene of the crime, it would be impossible to say that an encounter occurred on the night of April 3, given that “AFP units have no fire discipline and that they expend bullets in the numbers in an attempt to show superior strength whenever they are in armed encounter with their enemies.”

The Indictment, likewise, singled out Maj. Jake Obligado, 10th ID Civil Military Operations Battalion Chief “for acts of bribery and for influencing the victims’ family to deny justice and erase culpability of the Responsible Army unit.” Obligado was said to have offered scholarship and small amount to the Antivos to prevent them from filing charges against the Army.

Antivo’s murder and the frustrated murders of the other two children show grave violations of children’s rights. As the AFP units desperately seek to control countryside villages, children who are at least 10 years old, or who looks 10 years old, are at risk of being falsely accused as NPA combatants and are thus considered enemies of the state.

Already exploited on account of poverty and oppression, children are deliberate targets of AFP operations in hapless communities that are suspected to be under the control or are supportive of the revolutionary movement.

Eastern Mindanao Command draws accolades from military chief

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Dec 12): Eastern Mindanao Command draws accolades from military chief

Philippine military General Emmanuel Bautista has visited troops at the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City and spoke to member of the armed forces and praising them for their peace and development feats and awarded deserving soldiers.

Eastern Mindanao Command chief General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III led senior military officers in welcoming Bautista. 

“During his talk to the troops, General Bautista congratulated the officers and men of Eastern Mindanao Command led by General Cruz for a job well done. He also urged the troops to continue the Bayanihan in an effort to bring peace and development and progress to areas covered by the Eastern Mindanao Command.,” Captain Alberto Caber, the chief information officer, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said Bautista also reminded troops to maintain their good rapport and relationship with the civilians and other stake holders to ensure peace in the region.

The awarding ceremony at the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davaio City in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine rebels raid police station

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Dec 12): Philippine rebels raid police station

Google Maps of Kibawe town in Bukidnon province in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dozens of communist rebels raided a police station early Thursday and shot dead one officer in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon, officials said.

Officials said three other people were wounded in the New People’s Army raid on Kibawe town’s police headquarters. The local mayor said the rebels, numbering about several dozens, carted various weapons from the police headquarters.

The raiders who arrived in vans caught policemen by surprise and were immediately disarmed. Police earlier warned all its commanders in the province to stay on high alert because of intelligence report of an impending raid by rebels.

The NPA did not give any statement about the raid, but it previously warned of fresh offensive in the restive region of Mindanao.

Last year, communist rebels also killed six government soldiers and wounded 16 others in separate attacks in the town of Kitaotao in Bukidnon province. The soldiers were members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion and the 8th Infantry Battalion.

The rebels have been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a separate communist state in the country.