Saturday, December 28, 2013

Army joins nation in commemorating Dr. Jose Rizal's 117th death anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 29): Army joins nation in commemorating Dr. Jose Rizal's 117th death anniversary

The Philippine Army (PA) will be joining the entire nation in commemorating the 117th death anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal this Monday.

Capt. Anthony Bacus, Army spokesperson, said a flag raising and wreath laying ceremonies would be simultaneously held at the Rizal Monument in Burnham Park, Baguio City and at the Rizal National Monument in Manila around 7:00 a.m.

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the commemoration in Baguio City. He will be joined by PA chief Lt. Gen. Noel A. Coballes.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay will lead the offering of wreath at the Rizal Monument in Manila, with Army vice commander Major Gen. Romulo M. Cabantac as one of the military co-hosts.

True to this year’s theme, “Rizal: Inspirasyon Noon, Ngayon, at Bukas”, Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s legacy remains alive among Filipino soldiers, Bacus said.

“Today we draw inspiration from the non-violent struggles of Rizal. We fight for peace the way Rizal advocated for reforms – through peaceful means,” he added.

This peaceful resolution of conflict is embodied in the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, in which the Army recognizes the more important end state of “winning the peace rather than defeating the enemy”.

Rizal was a proponent of freedom by peaceful means through institutional reforms rather than by revolution.

He believed that the peaceful ways of reform was the way to liberate the Philippines and the Filipino people from the colonizers.

Kidnapped Sulu treasurer freed

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 28): Kidnapped Sulu treasurer freed

The kidnapped provincial treasurer of Sulu was freed on Christmas Day and has since been reunited with his family here.

Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan said Jesus Cabelin, who was abducted allegedly by Abu Sayyaf bandits, was released by his abductors in Patikul town but provincial officials were not aware of Cabelin’s release until after he had arrived in Zamboanga City and reported his release to the authorities.

Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of  Joint Task Force Sulu, said he was also not aware that Cabelin had been released.

Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, the Sulu provincial director, said he was informed of Cabelin’s release the day after the victim walked out of captivity.

“Cabelin was freed by his abductors around 7 p.m. on December 25 in Patikul and the next thing we knew, he was already with his wife, Naira Cabelin, in their house in Tugbungan in Zamboanga City,” Orbita said.

He said police gathered that Cabelin’s relatives had pleaded for his release but “we don’t know if there was ransom paid to the abductors.”

Cabelin was the third Abu Sayyaf captive released this month.

On December 4, Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani was freed while Taiwanese Hei An Wei Chang alias Evelyn Chang, who was kidnapped in Sabah, Malaysia, was released in Sulu on December 20.

Photo: Ka Oris beaming at CPP’s 45

Propaganda photo posted to the pro-CPP online publication, Davao Today (Dec 27): Ka Oris beaming at CPP’s 45

Ka ORIS BEAMING AT CPP's 45. Ka Oris, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front - Mindanao smiles to reporters during a press conference on the 45th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines last December 26 somewhere in Agusan del Sur. Ka Oris called red fighters to advance the armed struggle to achieve stalemate in the next few years ( photo contributed by Leah Valle)

Ka Oris beaming at CPP’s 45. Ka Oris, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front – Mindanao smiles to reporters during a press conference on the 45th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines last December 26 somewhere in Agusan del Sur. Ka Oris called red fighters to advance the armed struggle to achieve stalemate in the next few years ( photo contributed by Leah Valle)

‘People’s Revolutionary Municipality’ formed

Propaganda piece posted to the pro-CPP online publication, Davao Today (Dec 27): ‘People’s Revolutionary Municipality’ formed

RED BASE. Representatives of "revoluationary" organizations comprising a communist "revolutionary municipality" somewhere in Compostela Valley wave flags to signal the opening ceremony of their assembly. (

RED BASE. Representatives of “revoluationary” organizations comprising a communist “revolutionary municipality” somewhere in Compostela Valley wave flags to signal the opening ceremony of their assembly. (

SOMEWHERE IN COMPOSTELA VALLEY –Members of underground organizations found this year’s celebration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) “more meaningful” with the founding of what they called ‘People’s Revolutionary Municipality’ in a guerilla base here.

“Kaning ika-45 na anibersaryo sa Partido kay nagahatag og kadasig sa amoa para makapadayon sa pagserbisyo og sakripisyo alang sa katawhan (This 45th year anniversary of the Communist Party encourages us even more to continue with our service and sacrifices for the people),” said Ka Tina, a peasant and a CPP member.

The CPP has declared in its 45th year anniversary statement that barrio and municipal revolutionary committees are being formed rapidly in many parts of the country.

Ka Tina cited gains in communal farming that were made possible because of their municipal revolutionary committee, while Ka Emaly, another CPP member, told Davao Today that “with their newly-founded people’s municipality, they will be able to create more projects for people’s economy and livelihood.”

She considered Thursday’s fete a sort of “thanksgiving” for the CPP because, “the Party helped us recover from the disaster brought about by Typhoon Pablo, and urged us to establish our own government because the Philippine government has failed to do its task of helping us.”

Ka Yasmin Guerra, a staff of the People’s Revolutionary Municipality said that “the Party celebration commends the efforts of the masses in Compostela Valley for persevering in rebuilding and rehabilitation after Typhoon Pablo and now, founding its own government.”

Guerra pointed out that “because the government of the Philippines neglected in giving the much-needed social services for its people, the Party has led in establishing a people’s democratic government to address the needs of the majority.”

Thursday’s festivities started with a flag-raising ceremony and singing of Internationale, the communist anthem, at seven in the morning. Two hours later, three couples were prepped up for an “interview” and were wed in a ceremony officiated by the ‘revolutionary mayor’ Ka Sixto. A lunch consisting of pork humba, macaroni salad and fruit juice followed the wedding.

Formal program started at 1 pm and was attended by some 800 participants who came from 12 barangays of Compostela Valley. In the ceremony, Ka Sixto and other officials of the revolutionary municipal government were inducted and presented to the public.

In his speech, Ka Sixto said, “there is basis to establish the municipal revolutionary committee that will take care of the people’s economy, sustainable agriculture, education, health and other social services.”

Meanwhile, Nene (not her real name), a teen-ager Lumad, told Davao Today that she praised the efforts of the New People’s Army for responding to their appeal for assistance particularly in the reconstructing their houses.

In this community, at least 20 residences were constructed by the NPA as part of the rehabilitation program of the municipal revolutionary committee.

“Wala ko nakaeskwela og engineering pero nakatuon ko og buhat sa among balay pinaagi sa paningkamot sa tanan (I did not take up engineering but I learned how to build houses, mainly because of our collective efforts,” Nene said.

Reds doubt peace talks can resume under Pnoy but Deles says govt committed to negotiations

From InterAksyon (Dec 28): Reds doubt peace talks can resume under Pnoy but Deles says govt committed to negotiations

Communist rebels are doubtful peace negotiations to with government can resume within the remaining 30 months of President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

In a statement marking its 45th founding anniversary Thursday, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines blamed this gloomy prospect on what it called Aquino’s disinterest in pursuing a just conclusion to the armed conflict.

“In view of the proven unwillingness of the Aquino regime to negotiate a just peace, the revolutionary movement does not expect the resumption of peace negotiations with the regime. It has no choice but to wait for the next regime to engage in serious negotiations,” the CPP said.

But government said it is not ruling out a return to the negotiating table until the rebels categorically say so.

“For the record, the government has not received any official communication from the CPP expressing their intent to no longer negotiate with the current administration,” presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos-Deles said in a text message.

“If this is indeed their intent, the government, on the other hand, remains committed to work for a peaceful settlement of all internal armed conflict. Government will not close the peace table to those who want to pursue sincere and truthful dialogue in responding to our people’s call for peace,” she added. “We will continue to seek ways to resume negotiations on the basis of a doable and timebound agenda.”

Stalled tracks

The rebels, represented by the National Democratic Front, have been engaged in on-and-off talks with government for two decades now.

When talks resumed under the Aquino administration after six years of being stalled, the negotiations followed a regular and a special track.

The regular track, done through the peace panels, involves building consensus on four substantive agenda as defined by The Hague Joint Declaration inked by the parties on September 1, 1992.

The regular track has been stalled since February 2011, mainly over the issue of government’s refusal to release detained NDF consultants.

The talks broke off during discussions on the second agenda, social and economic reforms. The first agenda, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, was concluded through an agreement inked on March 16, 1998.

The third agenda is political and constitutional reforms and the last is cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces.

The special track, on the other hand, involved a rebel proposal for an alliance and truce, and was supposed to run parallel to and complement the regular track.

However, the special track stalled in February this year after the parties failed to agree on a joint declaration on, among others, upholding national sovereignty and the need for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

Unrealized meeting

Had the joint declaration been agreed on, it could have paved the way for a meeting between Aquino and Sison this year similar to the one with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo.

The Aquino-Murad meeting helped hasten peace negotiations between government and the MILF.

The CPP said “the Aquino regime is not at all interested in peace negotiations but the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary forces and people under the guise of unilateral simultaneous indefinite ceasefires.”

“It has rebuffed the offer of the NDF for truce and alliance or cooperation on the basis of a concise general common intent to realize and carry forward national independence, democracy, social justice, development through land reform and national industrialization, people’s culture and international solidarity,” it added.

For the CPP, the truce and alliance or cooperation “are meant to promote the accelerated negotiation of the remaining comprehensive agreements in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration.”

More offensives

The CPP urged its supporters to “do our best to cause the ouster of the Aquino regime or compel Aquino’s resignation from his office...” over the next few years.

“We consider our efforts to remove Aquino from power as part of the process of strengthening the revolutionary movement and overthrowing the entire ruling system...” the CPP said, citing the role of the legal mass movement in ousting the Marcos and Estrada governments, 15 years apart from each other.

“Even if this would not succeed, the movement would still be strengthened and will further cause the US-Aquino regime to fail in its brutal attempt to destroy the armed revolution of the people,” the CPP added.

The group also ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army to “intensify the offensives” against enemy targets.

“We must wage battles to wipe out enemy units and seize their weapons. This is the way to strengthen the people’s army for the purpose of overthrowing the reactionary state,” said the CPP, which aims to increase its fighting strength to 25,000.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has estimated NPA strength at around 4,000 armed fighters as of mid-2013.

The CPP hopes to capture political power through total military victory, building its armed strength from the countrysides where the state is weakest.

Harvests in Pablo areas mark CPP’s 45th celebration

Posted to the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Dec 27): Harvests in Pablo areas mark CPP’s 45th celebration

Somewhere in COMPOSTELA VALLEY – A year after Typhoon Pablo destroyed crops in this area, about 100 kilometers from Davao City, farmers have now harvested some 12,000 sacks of rice, made possible through their rehabilitation efforts with the New People’s Army.

New People’s Army and farmers celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines somewhere in Compostela Valley. ( photo by Mart D. Sambalud, Dec 2013)

New People’s Army and farmers celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines somewhere in Compostela Valley. ( photo by Mart D. Sambalud, Dec 2013)

This, the farmers declared during the celebration of the 45th year anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), as they also formalized 12 barrios (villages) consisting of around 1,800 families, in a new municipality under the “people’s democratic government.”

In an interview with Davao Today, Ka Sixto, leader of the red area’s Municipal Revolutionary Committee, said that the CPP in Southern Mindanao helped organized farmers and implement the communal farming system. “Because of the Party’s effort, small farmers and lumads were given help.

Since the communal farming started, the people were able to eat and survive,” said Ka Sixto.

The communal farming involved farmers taking turns in farming and maintaining the crops. Ka Sixto showed the farm occupying 55 hectares, planted with crops such as rice and corn. The farmers also planted vegetable farms crops such as upo (white squash), okra, and egplant.

Ka Sixto said the communal system ensured food security for the communities, especially after Typhoon Pablo destroyed their farms and livelihood last December 4, 2012.

He said in the last six months, not only were they able to harvest, they were also able to process their harvested grains through a rice mill built by the NPAs.

“With the rice mill, people no longer need to go far to the market to mill their harvested rice,” he said.

The harvests gave farmers more reason to celebrate the CPP’s 45th anniversary in this area. Some 800 farmers, women, youth and lumads gathered on a hilltop at 1 pm yesterday (Dec. 26), and held a cultural program with songs and dramatization of the farmers’ plight and calls to continue the “national-democratic revolution.”

Sixto said the Aquino government has failed to provide the farmers adequate rehabilitation materials. He claimed the government only favored military deployment and mining operations that made them poorer.

“Instead of giving the basic needs of toiling masses, the Aquino government intensified militarization in poor communities,” Sixto said.

He added that the Party’s “ideological” support helped them find ways to survive Pablo. “The Party may not give abundant material things, but the ideology guides the masses to overcome their poor situation,” he said.

The CPP’s 45th anniversary statement released yesterday Dec. 26 said “organs of political power in the countrysides” covering barrios (villages) and “sub-municipal or municipal organs of political power” are tasked to conduct “mass struggles and mass campaigns.”

NPA amazon surrenders in Cagayan

From Tempo (Dec 28): NPA amazon surrenders in Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – A New People’s Army (NPA) amazon involved in the ambush-slaying of at least seven members of the Special Action Force (SAF) on May 27, 2013 in Allacapan, Cagayan, voluntarily surrendered to local authorities here.

Maritess Alicuman, 21, alias Ka Jessy, Ka Tracy and Ka Isabel, a member of the Ernesto West Cagayan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA), surrendered to Senior Inspector Geoferson Gannaban, Allacapan town chief of police, and Allacapan town Mayor Leonila Onia, on December 19, 2013.

During police interrogation, Alicuman admitted his involvement in the ambush-slaying of seven policemen in Allacapan town and the raid of the police detachment in Barangay Labben of same town.

She decided to surrender to the government because she was already tired of hiding in the mountains.

Mindanao companies seek talks with NDF to continue operations

From the Business Mirror (Dec 28): Mindanao companies seek talks with NDF to continue operations

SOMEWHERE IN AGUSAN— The National Democratic Front (NDF) “many” companies and business ventures have sent feelers to talk with them than become the target of punitive attacks that befell two US banana and pineapple companies and a consolidator operation last year.
“Ka Oris,” the nom de guerre of Jorge Madlos, NDF spokesman in Mindanao, said the revolutionary front would only talk with those with no record of destroying the environment and those with no standing complaint of abusing workers or residents in the host communities.
Oris said that while owners of business operations in the countryside have been normally seeking their favor against punitive attacks by paying revolutionary taxes, he said more have been sending feelers to talk with them.  These include the management of a banana company in Bukidnon that its armed unit, the New People’s Army (NPA), swooped down upon in February last year and confiscated the weapons of its plantation guards.
“But we told them to stop expanding their farm and improve its treatment of its workers,” he said, when asked to assess the compliance of companies to its previous warning of avoiding damage to the environment and abusing the residents.
In February last year, NPA units swooped down on the Del Monte and Dole plantations in Bukidnon and surprised the companies’ guards.  The guerrillas collected weapons.
In June  it also attacked the guards of the Korean brokerage operation company Shanalynne.
“Ka Norsen Mangubat,” the nom de guerre of the spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in North Central Mindanao, said the attacks were part of the major military operation of its armed wing to carry out the order of the NDF to mount punitive actions against erring companies.
Years earlier, it also mounted damaging attacks on foreign mining companies in Surigao del Norte and Bukidnon.
The CPP commemorated its 45th founding year on December 26, becoming Asia’s longest-running revolutionary movement.
While Oris admitted that the NDF has moved back its projection made in 2010 of achieving the strategic stalemate stage in five years, or about two more years to a more uncertain period, he said it was not an indicator of odds against them.
On the contrary, he said the revolutionary movement has already organized 2,000 barrios in 200 municipalities in 19 provinces in Mindanao, a figure that he said was already double what it was five years ago.
It has also increased its military engagement with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police, from 200 tactical operations in 2010, to 350 operations the following year to 400 in 2012. It has conducted about 420 operations this year.
“The AFP lost an average of an equivalent of one battalion of its men per year in our battle engagements while we lost an equivalent of one platoon per year,” he said.
He said the NPA has already formed 10 battalions in Mindanao that were now spread in 46 guerrilla fronts in five regions. This number was being backed by one battalion of local militias.
“In Mindanao, there are now 10 million organized masses,” he said.

NPA asked to give up ‘fruitless insurgency’ of over 65 years

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 27): NPA asked to give up ‘fruitless insurgency’ of over 65 years

The Armed Forces of the Philippines called on the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army to give up their armed struggle, calling it a “fruitless insurgency.”

On its anniversary on Thursday, the communist rebels declared they were no longer going to negotiate peace with the administration of  President President Benigno Aquino III, saying they also that they planned to increase the number of NPA fighters to 25,000.

“Instead of waging violence to make themselves relevant, the CPP-NPA should just lay down their arms and commit themselves to the peace process without preconditions. After decades of fruitless insurgency the CPP-NPA should stop being part of the problem and start becoming part of the solution,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs chief.

The Philippine communist insurgency, now the world’s longest, actually began in 1946 under the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and its military arm, Hukbong Mapaglaya ng Bayan, which were reorganized in 1968 under the leadership of Jose Maria Sison as the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army.

Zagala defended the military’s counterinsurgency campaign called the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan after the communists belittled it.

Zagala claimed the peace plan has “freed 29 provinces from communist influence, further limiting the NPA’s mass base support and restricting their area of operations.”

“With this, basic social services are effectively and efficiently delivered to rural areas formerly affected by the insurgency,” Zagala said.

The military spokesman added that the peace plan was not solely a military effort, but was a “national effort” that involves government and the Filipino community.

“It is a plan that attempts to find peaceful solutions to the social problems that fuel the insurgency. This is also the reason why the CPP is so threatened by this plan because it does not promote violence as a means to an end,” Zagala said.

Zagala said the CPP’s “hardline stance against our government is one that is not shared by all their members.”

“We believe that people join the NPA to find solutions for their problems. It is not their fault if they succumb to the empty promises of the CPP. We hope that they find enlightenment and see the light of peace. We appeal to them to lay down their arms and join the rest of the nation in finding solutions that do not cost lives, limb, and property,” Zagala said.

The CPP said it would no longer negotiate with the Aquino administration, accusing it of unwillingness to find “just peace.”

The communists want the Aquino administration to scrap its conditional cash transfer program and the rehabilitation program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process called PAMANA before it would negotiate peace.

They claimed these government projects were merely bribing people into giving intelligence information about NPA rebels.

Diabetes killed MNLF commander wanted for Zamboanga battle–military

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 27): Diabetes killed MNLF commander wanted for Zamboanga battle–military

An image of Khabier Malik posted at the main entrance of Central Police Station in Zamboanga City. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / EDWIN BACASMAS

It was not bullets but his uncontrolled high blood sugar level that killed commander Habier Malik of the Moro National Liberation Front, the Philippine Daily Inquirer was told Friday.

In separate interviews, two sources gave two different versions of Malik’s death but both traced his eventual demise to his diabetes.

But his death last November confirmed one thing: that Malik escaped from the heavy fighting between a group of MNLF guerrillas which he led and government security forces in Zamboanga City last September.

Malik led some 300 fighters MNLF fighters loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari in what the military claims was an attempt to take over Zamboanga City on grounds that the government had abrogated a 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF to be replaced with a deal the government is negotiating with Moro Islamic Liberation Front, one a faction of the MNLF.

“We know Malik has died. It is a matter of recovering his body,” the Inquirer’s military source said, requesting anonymity.

The source said that Malik was wounded in the Zamboanga fighting. He tried to recuperate in Talipao, Sulu but because he was diabetic, his wounds did not heal. Apparently, the wounds became infected, eventually killing Malik, the source said.

The other source said that Malik escaped to Tawi-Tawi. “After fasting, he supposedly overate and suffered a stroke,” the source said, also on condition of anonymity.

“Malik was diabetic. He tried to take insulin shots to control his sugar level but the medicines didn’t work. He died soon after,” the source said.

The source said that before fleeing the fighting in Zamboanga, Malik left his mobile phone on the body of a slain guerrilla to mislead authorities into believing that the corpse was his.

Malik’s fate after the fighting remained under question, with some Zamboanga City officials saying that knowing what had happened to the rebel leader would put closure to the three-week siege.

In early November, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin expressed confidence that Malik had died because he had not surfaced since the end of the Zamboanga siege.

As for Misuari, the Inquirer sources said that the MNLF founding chairman remained in hiding in Sulu.

The military has given out more than 2,000 combat medals to the officers and men who took part in repelling the MNLF fighters, with the rescue of some 200 hostages as their main mission.

Army brass condemns NPA attack

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 29): Army brass condemns NPA attack

The 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on Saturday condemned the killing of Private First Class Akmad Maruhom by suspected NPA rebels in Sitio Ulayanon, Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon in the evening of December 26.

In a press statement, 1Lt Norman M Tagros, spokesman of the 8th IB Philippine Army, said “this atrocity manifested contempt of the NPA pronouncement. It appeared that they (NPA rebels) just made lip service in their declaration of their short lived ceasefire. If only the CPP/NPA leadership is truly genuine with their assertion, it only shows that they have no complete control of their minions in the field. It is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.”

Lt. Col. Carmelo Landingin, Commanding Officer of the 8th IB, 4ID made a similar statement, saying that the killing of Maruhom was “a clear violation of the CPP’s declaration of ceasefire.”

Landingin added that the CPP-NPA wants the people to continue with their misery so that they can continue to deceive them.

On Dec. 26, at about 6:30 p.m. the Barangay Assistance Team for Peace and Development Troops of the Philippine Army assigned at SitioUlayanon, Barangay Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon Province was attacked by suspected NPA rebels, who were allegedly armed by high-powered assault rifles.The attack killed Maruhom.

ON Dec. 8, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines declared a truce starting on 12:00 am of December 24 to 11:59 pm of December 26; and 12:00 am of December 31 to 11:59 p.m. of January 2, 2014.

‘Our Barangay Assistance Teams who are deployed in the areas in Impasugong, Bukidnon are not aimed at waging war against the NPA and other threat groups. The program is rather implemented to address local issues which are commonly exploited by the NPA so as people may be recruited to its ranks and pursue armed struggle. This is very unfortunate because we sent our people for peace not for war and yet they shot our solider,” Landingin added.

Landingin also called on Jorge Madlos alias Ka Oris of the NPA to surrender the attackers and have them charged before the courts.

‘Explosive’ year for Mindanao

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 28): 2013: ‘Explosive’ year for Mindanao
(First Of Two Parts)
Literally, 2013 is a very “explosive” year for Mindanao after a series of explosions rocked the various parts of the island – which resulted in the killing many people, and destruction of millions of pesos worth of properties and infrastructure that left uncertainties in the minds of the people – particularly those in the remote areas of the country.

The first explosion happened in the evening of July 26 at the Rosario Arcade of the Limketkai Center in Cagayan de Oro City – venue of the physicians’ convention, with the participation of pharmaceutical salespeople.

The incident claimed the lives of eight persons, including Misamis Oriental Sangguniang Bayan Board Member Roldan Lagbas, doctors, and medical representatives from the cities of Manila, Iligan, and Zamboanga who were attending the conference. Some 40 others were wounded in the blast.

Intelligence report showed the group that planted the bomb in Cagayan de Oro was a combination of old members and new recruits of a new group called Khilafa Islamiya Mindanao (KIM). Older members of the group with records at the police intelligence gallery have been positively identified to have participated in planning the attack.

After 10 days or on August 5, another explosion occurred on a busy street in Cotabato City. This time, a car bomb went off in the center of the city, killing eight people, and wounding 26 others. The explosive device was placed inside a vehicle parked near a hospital and a school.

When the explosive device went off, two other vehicles were hit, including the bulletproof vehicle of City Administrator Cynthia Gulani-Sayadi, which was just passing by.

Sayadi escaped unhurt, but her two bodyguards in a separate vehicle were hit, killing them both.

Prior to the Sinsuat explosion, a restaurant manager also died while four others were wounded when two bombs exploded in two separate incidents that happened on July 11.

Authorities identified the fatality as Reynaldo Pascua, manager of Café Florencio. He died while being treated at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center here due to multiple shrapnel wounds.

Before the bombing incident at the café, another explosion occurred at a vacant lot on Manara Street. However, no one was killed or hurt in the blast.

The twin blasts happened a day after two powerful bombs exploded under the Magaslong Bridge in Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

Also, on July 29, an improvised explosive device (IED) went off inside the University of Southern Mindanao Campus in North Cotabato.

Other incidents that also marked the headlines in Mindanao include a motorcycle bombing on July 2 in Lamitan, Basilan.

Army Colonel Carlito Galvez reported that the explosion resulted in the killing of a militant, Reynald Sapilin, and destroyed his motorcycle.

He said that Sapilin may have sought to detonate the explosive in either Lamitan or nearby Isabela but was restricted to move around due to the presence of military checkpoints on the island that has the active presence of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Then on September 23 in Midsayap town, North Cotabato, some 150 militants launched an offensive against government troops.

A number of civilians, including public school teachers, were initially reported to have been used by the attackers as human shields, but were eventually later released.

The Philippine National Police Public Information Office later issued a statement indicating that these civilians were not taken hostage but were trapped during the clash between the attackers and government security forces.

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesperson Abu Missry Mama claimed responsibility for the attacks, where a farmer was reported to have been beheaded by suspected members of the militant group, while another civilian was shot dead.

Last September, many people died and thousands of homes were razed to the ground due to the standoff between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari.

The Rogue MNLF Elements (RME) under the Sulu State Revolutionary Command (SSRC) led by Ustadz Habier Malik and Khaid Ajibon, whose group continues to recognize Misuari as the MNLF chairman, entered Zamboanga City on September 9, 2013, purportedly to raise the MNLF flag of the self-proclaimed Bangsamoro Republik at the City Hall.

It had earlier declared its independence last August 12, in Talipao, Sulu, where a rally was also conducted.

But the supposed flag-raising incident turned out bloody as the rebels engaged authorities in a firefight, extending to the six villages of Zamboanga City – Mariki, Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Kasanyanagan, and Talon-Talon.

The standoff lasted for three weeks, marked sporadic fighting, as the military engaged the MNLF rebels in a “close quarter battle.”

Residential houses, buildings and other structures had been destroyed by a series of fire incidents.

Misuari signed a peace accord with Manila in 1996, but the rebels accused the government of violating parts of the agreement.

The Zamboanga standoff apparently transpired after the attacking group felt excluded from new negotiations between the Philippine government and a rival faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which separated from the MNLF in 1978.

AFP raps NPA for atrocities

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 28): AFP raps NPA for atrocities

The military denounced yesterday the series of atrocities committed by the New People’s Army (NPA) despite its declaration of a ceasefire, saying this proves the communist insurgent group’s insincerity in its alleged pursuit of peace.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office (PAO) chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala noted that last month, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared a ceasefire in areas hit by super-typhoon “Yolanda.” Because of the massive devastation, the CPP said the truce in the affected areas would last up to mid-January 2014.

However, the NPA in Eastern Visayas launched an attack on government forces last Nov. 27 when they ambushed a military KM250 truck transporting personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Barangay Cabintan, Ormoc City.

“Our soldiers returned fire while protecting their civilian passengers. The firefight lasted for 20 minutes until the NPA withdrew towards unknown directions,” said Zagala, adding that fortunately no casualties were reported.

Maguindanao town back to normal as feuding MILF factions leave

From the Philippine Star (Dec 28): Maguindanao town back to normal as feuding MILF factions leave

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Normalcy started returning to the strife-torn Barangay Bakat in Rajah Buayan town after two rival Moro factions that squabbled for control of the area agreed to leave Friday through the intercession of local officials and senior leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The spate of hostilities between the two groups, one from the MILF’s 105th Base Command, and the other from the front’s 106th Base Command, erupted almost two weeks ago, and dislocated close to 300 Moro families in Barangay Bakat and surrounding districts.

Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan, chairman of the municipal peace and order council, said the tension that gripped Barangay Bakat since the two groups started fighting each other using assault rifles and shoulder-fire 40 MM grenades waned Friday after the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces deployed a peacekeeping contingent in the area.

Ampatuan said the MILF’s peacekeeping initiative is being properly coordinated with the joint ceasefire committee, which is comprised of representatives from the rebel group, from the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces.

The central leadership of the MILF deployed the task force in Barangay Bakat to help the Rajah Buayan local government maintain law and order in the area, and work out the return of evacuees.

“The situation in Barangay Bakat has normalized. The peacekeeping task force is now in control of the conflict stricken-area,” Ampatuan said.

Ampatuan said he is grateful to local religious and traditional leaders for helping convince the feuding rebel groups to reposition away from Barangay Bakat to hasten the return of Moro families driven away by hostilities.
Ampatuan said the multi-sectoral municipal peace and order council, the MILF leadership, and local Islamic clerics, and traditional community leaders are now cooperating in addressing the security issues in Barangay Bakat to prevent a repeat of the recent armed conflicts that rocked the area.

PN assures sufficient number of pilots to man AW-109s

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 28): PN assures sufficient number of pilots to man AW-109s
With three AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters now in service and two more to arrive by 2014, the Philippine Navy (PN) has assured that it has more than sufficient pilots and flight crews to man these brand-new aircraft.

At present, there are seven pilots assigned per helicopter, Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said, adding that an equivalent number of AW-109 trained co-pilots and crewmen are also available.

"More (pilots and crewmen) are now undergoing training to ensure that the aircraft can be manned at all times," the PN spokesperson stressed.

The Naval Air Group (NAG), the unit tasked to operate and maintain the PN's aerial assets, has more than 50 pilots at its roster.

Prior to the arrival of the AW-109s last Dec. 8, the inventory of the NAG consists of one Robinson R-22 helicopter, Blohm B0-105 helicopter, two Islander aircraft and four Cessna light utility planes.

With the arrival of three AW-109s, the number of flyable assets of the NAG has increased to 11.

NAG pilots are trained to fly the AW-109s in Cesto Calende, Italy. They said that the AgustaWestland aircraft is very much maneuverable and very ideal for shipboard deployment.

The AW-109s will be deployed to increase the range, surveillance and detection capability of the two Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates in Philippine Navy service.

300 Korean soldiers in Visayas for rehab

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Dec 28): 300 Korean soldiers in Visayas for rehab

Some 300 members of the South Korean Army were deployed on Friday to different towns in the Visayas to conduct rehabilitation work in communities recovering from Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hyuk Lee said an additional 200 personnel from the Korean Navy are scheduled to arrive, also to help in the rehabilitation efforts.

Koreans on a humanitarian visit in Philippines

KOREANS ON A HUMANITARIAN VISIT. Medics and engineers in the Korean Armed Forces arrive in Mactan, ready for their assignments in Palo, Tolosa and Tanauan, among other places still recovering from Super Typhoon Yolanda. They will not immediately visit Tacloban City, where most of the international aid has been focused. (Alan Tangcawan)

The international community has pledged an estimated P20.99 billion worth of non-cash assistance in Yolanda’s wake, including the work done by enlisted personnel and trained civilians alike.

So far, the Philippine Government said it has received P592.58 million in cash, out of the P23.79 billion pledged by various countries, after the United Nations (UN) appealed for help in rebuilding after one of the worst storms on record.

As of Friday, December 27, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council recorded P36.69 billion in lost crops and fallen infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and town halls. More than one million houses need to be fixed or rebuilt.

At least 6,111 have died, and 28,626 suffered injuries, with 1,779 others still missing.
The UN recently appealed to the international community to speed up and scale up its assistance, and to not let Yolanda/Haiyan become “a forgotten crisis.”

The 300 members of the Republic of Korea Army Unit arrived Friday at the Mactan Benito Ebuen Airbase in Lapu-Lapu City, together with the ambassador.

Korean nationals who have been staying in Cebu, barangay health workers from Cordova and some Cebuanos waited for the arrival of the guests. They brought little Philippine and Korean flags.

A send-off ceremony was held right at the air base.


Among the guests were Undersecretary Eduardo Batac of the Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs of the Department of National Defense, Cebu Korean Association Chairman Bong Hwan Cho, Major General John Bonafos of Central Command and Colonel Chul Won Lee, commander of the Republic of Korea Joint Support Group.
Also present were Cordova Municipal Mayor Adelino Sitoy and Vice Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy.

In his welcome speech, Ambassador Lee recalled that in 1950, there were 7,400 Filipino soldiers sent to South Korea to help fight in the war against North Korea.
Lee said there were 112 Filipino soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of South Koreans. He said the Philippines was the first Asian country that immediately responded to help them during the war, which lasted for three years.

“Now Korean troops are here not to fight, but to help with the reconstruction and rehabilitation,” he said.

A press statement from the Korean Government said the force is named “ROK Unit Araw.”

“The Korean Government named the dispatched contingent ‘Araw’ with hopes that the unit will send messages of courage and hope to the Filipinos through their devoted disaster recovery activities,” a part of the press statement read.


The Araw group consists of personnel from the Korean Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Many are engineers and medics.

They will provide medical aid and repair public infrastructure, including the water systems. The ambassador said they brought with them some equipment, which will be used in rebuilding houses.

Ambassador Lee said the members of the Korean army will be staying in the Philippines for six months up to a year, and they will be deployed to the towns of Tanauan, Palo and Tolosa in Leyte and other areas.

“Tacloban is taken by many other international governments and NGOs (non-government organizations) so we feel that other areas were a little bit neglected,” Lee said.

Once the group is done with their jobs in a particular area, they will move to other communities to continue their rehabilitation work.


On behalf of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Batac extended his “profound appreciation” for South Korea’s “unwavering friendship and support.”

Batac said their challenge will be to coordinate all the foreign assistance.

In his speech, Bonafos said South Korea is one of the countries that immediately responded by providing relief goods and medicines to the typhoon survivors in the Visayas.

Earlier, the South Korean Government gave $5 million in assistance to the Philippine Government for the typhoon survivors.

Bonafos thanked the Korean Government.

Colonel Lee assured their support to help ravaged communities recover quickly.

“The Philippines is a true friend. We have to return the kindness that the Philippines has shown to us,” Colonel Lee said.

Deles: Gov't won't give up on talks with Reds

From Rappler (Dec 28): Deles: Gov't won't give up on talks with Reds

NOT OFFICIAL: Presidential peace adviser Ging Deles says they have not received official communication from the Communist Party of the Philippines on its position on the peace talks

NOT OFFICIAL: Presidential peace adviser Ging Deles says they have not received official communication from the Communist Party of the Philippines on its position on the peace talks

The government is not abandoning peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) even if the latter said it is leaving the negoitating table, presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita "Ging" Deles said.

"The government remains committed to work for a peaceful settlement of all internal armed conflict. GPH will not close the peace table to those who want to pursue sincere and truthful dialogue in responding to our people's call for peace," Deles said.

This comes after the CPP central committee issued a statement during its 45th anniversary celebration on December 26 that it is giving up on the talks with the administration of President Aquino III. (READ: CPP gives up on peace talks, calls for Aquino ouster)

Deles said they have not received any official communication from the CPP saying it is abandoning the talks.

"We will continue to seek ways to resume negotiations on the basis of a doable and time-bound agenda," she added.

The talks collapsed in February 2013 when the 2 panels couldn't agree on the initial agenda of the negotiations. Government chief negotiator Alex Padilla said there's a disconnect between the CPP members on the ground and the Utretch-based National Democratic Front (NDF) members they are negotiating with.

The government mulled "localized peace talks," or discussions with the different CPP leaderships on the ground. The CPP dismissed this.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared it wants to end insurgencies by 2016 so it can focus on external defense. The CPP vowed to grow its force to 25,000.

540 South Korean troops, heavy equipment arrive to help rebuild Leyte

From InterAksyon (Dec 28): 540 South Korean troops, heavy equipment arrive to help rebuild Leyte

A South Korean landing ship transport prepares to dock at Tacloban port to unload troops and heavy equipment that will help with rebuilding efforts. (photo by Lottie Salarda,

More than 500 South Korean soldiers and their heavy equipment arrived here early Saturday afternoon onboard two landing ship transports to assist with rehabilitation and recovery operations in the province over the next half year.

But Colonel Chuw Lon Lee, commander of the Republic of Korea Joint Support Group, said the 540 men and six doctors under him are prepared to stay up to one year.

Philippine Army Colonel Peale Jon Bondoc, who welcomed the Korean contingent, said the foreign troops’ expertise and gear would be a big help.

On Sunday, the Koreans are expected to deploy to the devastated town of Palo, where they will be based for the next six months.