Saturday, January 18, 2014

‘NPA not ready for peace’

From the Manila Times (Jan 18): ‘NPA not ready for peace’

The New People’s Army (NPA) is not ready to negotiate a peace deal with the government, a Palace official said  on Saturday.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda made the statement as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted that the NPA is still a threat to national security.

“The government remains open in pursuing peace talks with them, but the conditions that they’ve created, which is the issuance of JASIG pass to their consultants, is something that we cannot comply with because there is no basis for such list [of consultants],” Lacierda told Radyo ng Bayan.

JASIG is the joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees inked by the two parties dating in 1995.

The National Democratic Front is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA.

Lacierda said the NDF/CPP-NPA camp was asked for a list of their consultants, but instead of giving a list, the rebel camp gave a defective floppy disk that supposedly contained the list of the consultants.

“Since we can’t operate the floppy disk is not working, we cannot have confirmation on who are the consultants and the basis of that list. The government is ready [to negotiate], but the other camp is not yet coming to the negotiating table. In the mean time, our Armed Forces will be ready to defend our country and our people,” he said.

AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said the military called a command conference to assess the military’s performance and the threat posed by various armed groups in the country.

“The CPP-NPA is still the most potent challenge to security, to internal security and peace efforts that we have,” Tutaan said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s biggest threat, but it’s the threat that we have to contend with the reality as far as internal security is concerned,” he added.

The AFP believes that the NPA only has around 4,800 armed members scattered across the country.

The other threat groups are the rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf.

CPP/NPA Panay: The Filipino people had long wanted to make Hugo pay for his crimes

Propaganda statement just posted to the CPP Website (Jan 6): The Filipino people had long wanted to make Hugo pay for his crimes

Julian Paisano
NPA Panay Regional Command (Coronacion "Waling-Waling" Chiva Command)
Demetrio Capilastique Jr aka Hugo was gunned down last December 30, 2013 by a team of New People’s Army (NPA) as he resisted the Red fighters who were assigned to arrest him. The arrest of Capilastique was ordered by the duly-constituted people’s court in Panay in order for him to face charges of multiple murder, abduction and mutiny.

The 15 murdered victims or so mentioned in the previous statement were civilians who got in the way of the RPA’s gangster ways. He would have been arrested first but his armed resistance sealed his fate. The arrest would have resulted in getting information from him as to the whereabouts of Luisa Posa and NIlo Arado, two legal activists who were abducted by the AFP intelligence and supported by Hugo’s RPA-ABB in its execution. The military and RPA were both culpable in the said abduction and people in the military are yet to be held accountable for the abduction. Last December 10, 2007, we had issued a statement on the abduction and the entire list of those indicted.

Nevertheless, Hugo was an armed paramilitary commander of the AFP’s special civilian armed auxiliary force. Found in his belt bag were hand grenades and a Taurus pistol. The RPA-ABB is actively engaged in supporting the military operation against the NPA in Janiuay-Lambunao- Leon-Tubungan, Miag-ao-San Joaquin and Ibajay-Pandan. As such, the RPA-ABB is an armed hostile organization against the NPA. And the RPA commander, as such, was a legitimate military target for the NPA.

Rustico Cutanda, aka Rolly, pretended to be the victim as he roll-called Mokong, Arce, Joven—all RPA operatives who were killed in military actions by the NPA before Hugo. What he failed to mention was that they were engaged in armed operations against the NPA together with regular troops of the AFP. They became legitimate military targets therefore—or did Cutanda pretend to fail to notice that there’s an ongoing people’s war wherein the NPA defends itself and the people against recurring attacks by the military including armed attacks from the remnants of the RPA. Cutanda himself insisted that they are still a ”revolutionary” army different from Major Tiongson’s allegations that the RPA has been transformed to a civilian organization of “Kapatiran” of the Tabara faction.

Yet Cutanda claims that the NPA resorted to arms and killed them just because the RPA split from the reaffirmist CPP-NPA due to ideological differences. Definitely, the Party’s ideological and political line is an ocean apart from the RPA gangsterist, surrenderist-collaborator line of march to the side of the enemy. They wave the flag of ‘socialism’ that they learned from CIA literature. The better guage for a correct ideology is manifested by the fact that the Party, the NPA and the revolutionary masses has grown by folds since the rectification. While the RPA has folded up into grouplets that are fighting each other— like the Tabara and dela Cruz factions. We need not have to resort to arms in order for the RPA to self-destruct. Simple differences in share of the loot have resulted in RPA splits and disintegration.

The NPA did not just take action against Hugo because he left the NPA. Membership in the NPA is voluntary. As you could get in, you could get out of the NPA voluntarily and many did so without any retribution on the condition that they keep what they know in secret so as not to compromise the security of those they left behind. What Hugo did was mutiny. He not only left but instigated many more to leave, formed a separate armed group that is actively hostile to the NPA and collaborating with the enemy to attack the NPA. This is why mutiny is punishable by death.

Hugo’s crimes were not arbitrarily compiled. Each murder and abduction were investigated and sufficient evidence by witnesses were gathered from the very start. For instance, the RPA, as instigated by their intelligence handlers, has now began sowing bloody intrigue by identifying their supposed suspects among the legal mass leaders and activists. Such intrigue sets up these people to simple harassment or to justify murder by RPA retaliatory action. This is noted and remembered/recorded through the years when such intrigue will result in fascist attacks on innocent victims. This intrigue was what the military started with in setting up the abduction of Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado; by branding them, legal activists, as ‘communist terrorists’ .

The national democratic movement has a long memory and does not forget. While it cannot protect all the people that the RPA or their military handlers victimize, it can surely exact justice when justice is due. Bde Gen Quiapo would have Hugo’s victims find justice in the regime’s courts. But surely, Gen Quiapo is very much aware of the fact that a basic reason why people join the NPA is for them to exact fair, speedy justice in its people’s court that they could never find in the GRP’s courts. The Janiuay police could not even have the RPA arrested, when the latter ambushed their own policemen. The victims were just pacifying intoxicated RPA men who were abusing the local people in Patongpatong ,Janiuay . And the Butcher Gen Palparan is coddled and hidden by the very military while the supposed arresting agents look the other way. The Maguindanao massacre victims have years more to suffer the impunity of so blatant a crime. Even the Marcoses and Estrada are back in power with their plundered loot protected by Gen Quiapo’s men. So much for ‘Justice’ under the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Yet revolutionary justice is also judicious and It does provide for amnesty to those whose crimes are admitted and atoned for like those of General Jarque. Before his death at an age past 70, Sgt. Porfirio Cataluna who killed so many Tumandoks whom he suspected as suporters of the NPA, was granted amnesty under the same conditions and for humanitarian reasons. On the other hand, Hugo was an incorrigible example of a murderer doing ‘dirty jobs’ for the military and was an armed hostile enemy and had to pay the price for it.

His death, was celebrated not only by the national democratic movement. Tens of thousands more people all over Panay were relieved and overjoyed. Of course, if one asks them over media as to Hugo’s death, they would just keep mum because the RPA stragglers and their military handlers are still around to hound them. But they now offer more support for the NPA, the army who broke the White terror imposed by Hugo, the RPA and the armed forces of the Philippines in their localities and helped them achieve justice.

NPAs kill ex-Ifugao village official

From the Philippine Star (Jan 18): NPAs kill ex-Ifugao village official

New People’s Army (NPA) rebels killed a former village official in Kiangan, Ifugao for his alleged “crimes against the people,” according to a belated police report.

Three hit men of the NPA’s Nona del Rosario Command gunned down 36-year-old Francis Tayaban Habawil, a former councilman of Barangay Amdugtog, Asipulo town, last Jan. 8 and then left a letter with the communist unit owning up to the killing.

Habawil had been cooperative to local military units, said Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, Ifugao police director, prompting probers to believe that he was slain for helping get rid of rebels in his community.

Policemen and two teams from the Charlie Company of the Army’s 54th Infantry Batallion responded to the slay.

Habawil died from seven gunshot wounds in the chest and left armpit. Five spent shells from a .45-caliber pistol were found at the scene.

Chief Superintendent Isagani Nerez, newly installed Cordillera police director, earlier had urged NPA rebels in the region to join the peace efforts of the government, but added that they face the full might of the law if they go against it.

MILF group stopped from setting up office in Zambo City

From the Philippine Star (Jan 18): MILF group stopped from setting up office in Zambo City

The Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) yesterday prevented a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) group from setting up a Bangsamoro office in this city ahead of the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement with the government.

The IMT told the MILF group in a dialogue at the gymnasium in Barangay Cawit, a coastal village west of the city proper, that any structure set up before the signing of the accord is not sanctioned and illegal.

Malaysian Army Col. Zol Hashim, head of IMT Team 3, also requested the MILF group to dismantle the structure it had put up in Barangay Cawit.

“To the MILF on the ground, please do not do anything foolish that may hinder, jeopardize the peace process. Don’t do anything please, unless this thing (peace agreement) will be signed, then let us wait for the letter of instruction from them (central committee),” Hashim told the MILF group.

The plan of the MILF group, with 3,000 members, to establish its Bangsamoro political office was learned after the group led by Jursalin Nursalin, acting as mayor, and Alex Baris, sitting as barangay zone chairman, submitted a letter of request to Barangay Cawit chairman Rey Modillas.

Modillas immediately sought clarification with the government’s Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), if the plan of the MILF group has legal basis and sanctioned by the MILF leadership.

Maj. Abe Sirajan, AHJAG team leader who was tasked by the OPAPP to look into the matter, said the MILF Central Committee has not sanctioned the setting up of a Bangsamoro office here.

Sirajan said the MILF leadership also reiterated that it respects the stand of the Zamboanga City government against being part of the Bangsamoro entity.

“Clearly, they have no instruction and the establishment of the Bangsamoro office was not sanctioned,” he said.

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar reminded the MILF group that the city is not part of the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro or other forms of autonomy.

Salazar urged the MILF leadership to inform their members what the peace process is all about to prevent them from making misrepresentations.

Hashim also saw the need for the MILF to inform its members of the current peace negotiations with the government.

“There appears to be misconception on the part of some members on the ground due to lack of information,” Hashim said.

MILF leaders tackle peace talks with Maguindanao officials

From the Philippine Star (Jan 17): MILF leaders tackle peace talks with Maguindanao officials

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Muhaquer Iqbal, presiding chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (right), shakes hand with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu (left) after their two-hour brainstorming session Friday afternoon in Buluan town in Maguindanao. JOHN UNSON

Local officials and members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) on Friday agreed to hold continuing dialogues on the gains of the on-going talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Maguindanao, which has 36 towns, is the main bastion of the MILF, whose central headquarters is located in Darapanan area in Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of the province.

The BTC, chaired by the MILF’s chief negotiator, Muhaquer Iqbal, and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu had also conceded to cooperate with each other in disseminating the ramifications of putting up a Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao before the term of incumbent regional officials end in 2016.

Members of the BTC and local executives from across the province talked about the on-going government-MILF talks lengthily during their first ever meeting last Friday in Buluan town in the second district of Maguindanao.

During the meeting, Iqbal briefed Mangudadatu and his constituent-mayors on the objectives of replacing ARMM with a new, more politically and administratively empowered Bangsamoro entity.

Peace talks between the government and the MILF started in January 7, 1997, and is now being supported by Malaysia, the European Union, Japan, Norway, and other international donor outfits, and foreign organizations involved in peace overtures in different countries.

Besides Malaysia, other member-states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim countries, including petroleum-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa, have also been helping push the 17-year GPH-MILF talks forward.

Mangudadatu, chairman of the provincial peace and order council, said he was elated with the BTC’s effort to reach out to the political community in the province.

“The political leadership of the province and all members of Maguindanao’s league of mayors have been very supportive of the government-MILF talks. No one from us had ever stood against it. We want lasting peace and development in all Moro areas to set in through an honest-to-goodness peace process,” Mangudadatu said.

Friday’s meeting between Iqbal and Mangudadatu was the first ever in recent years. Mangudadatu’s predecessor, the now detained former Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr., and his children were known for their deep-seated animosity with the MILF.

It was for the Ampatuan clan’s hostility to the MILF that it established private militias and stockpiled firearms enough to arm two Army brigades apparently in preparation for a showdown with the rebel group in case it gets to the helm of a political entity that would have jurisdiction over towns and provinces in the ARMM.

Mangudadatu said that since his first election to office in 2010 he had been trying to resolve clan wars involving MILF commanders and big Moro families just for the 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the rebel group to take off in areas troubled by the iron-fisted policy of the Ampatuans in dealing with groups opposing their leadership in the province, from 2001 until they got incarcerated in December 2009 in connection with their having allegedly masterminded the infamous "Maguindanao Massacre," that left 58 people dead, more than 30 of them journalists.

During the past five years, Mangudadatu had brokered for the settlement of over 30 violent disputes involving key members of the MILF, and local Moro political clans.

Iqbal said that they are keen on initiating more multi-sectoral, and inter-faith dialogues to allay fears and misconceptions about an MILF-led Bangsamoro political entity.
He told local officials during the meeting that they will focus on governance and help address the socio-economic woes besetting Moro communities once they achieve a final peace deal with government.

Iqbal, who is also of ethnic Maguindanaon descent, said the MILF will stop to exist as a revolutionary organization once a new Bansgamoro entity is in place. He said the MILF will, by then, will focus on how to create a peaceful Bangsamoro homeland to become at par with more advanced regions in Mindanao.

The BTC is comprised of seven representatives from government and eight from the MILF. The commission’s primary role is to oversee the gradual setting up of a Bangsamoro entity to replace the ARMM, based on the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Iqbal was assisted by BTC commissioners representing the MILF in explaining to Mangudadatu and the mayors the dividends and directions of the peace talks, which local sectors believe might culminate positively within the year.

NAG response time greatly improved with speedier AW-109s

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 18): NAG response time greatly improved with speedier AW-109s

With the faster AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters now in its inventory, the response and deployment time of the Naval Air Group (NAG) for emergencies and calamities have become much quicker.

This was revealed by Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic last Friday.

"It is even faster than our Britten Norman Islander (turboprop) aircraft in level flight. It can respond to emergencies much quicker than any of our existing assets," he said.

The twin-engined Islander aircraft has a top speed of around 170 miles per hour.

On the other hand, the AW-109, which is a rotary-wing aircraft, has a top speed of 177 miles per hour or seven miles faster than the twin-engine plane.

This makes it ideal for patrol, surveillance, resupply and medical evacuation missions, Fabic said.

The PN operates two models of the Britten Norman Islander plane for patrol, surveillance, transport and resupply missions.

Prior to the arrival of the AW-109s, the NAG operates only one Robinson R-22 helicopter, one Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm B0-105 helicopter, two Islander aircraft and four Cessna light utility planes.

All of these air assets have an average top speed of only 150 miles per hours.

Two more AW-109s, the attack version of the helicopter, are expected to join the NAG by the third quarter of this year.

Signing of armored contract deal with Israeli defense manufacturer to boost PA's firepower capability --DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 18): Signing of armored contract deal with Israeli defense manufacturer to boost PA's firepower capability --DND
With the impending delivery of 28 brand-new armored fighting vehicles, 14 of which are armed with automatic 76mm cannons, the Philippine Army's capability to provide support to its infantry units will be greatly enhanced.

Contract for these armored units, which is worth P888 million, was awarded to one of Israel's leading defense manufacturer, Elbit Systems Land and C4I, last week.

Aside from "fire support units," six of the Israeli-built armored vehicles are classified as the "armored personnel carrier" models, four as "infantry fighting vehicles and the remaining four as "recovery and repair" units.

Full delivery of these vehicles is expected within a year or around January 2015.

DND Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez earlier noted that these armored vehicles are very capable.

Once in service, 14 armored vehicles armed with 76mm cannon will act as the mobile artillery units of the PA which at the moment is armed with 273 units of heavy guns.

Around 24 of these weapons are the heavy 155mm howitzers with the remaining guns consisting of various models of the 105mm howitzer, an artillery piece capable of being towed or tracked into combat.

These weapons are constantly being maintained and modernized to provide Army units with a relatively heavy punch.

Palace: Gov't remains open to talks with communist rebels but will protect citizens from NPA attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 18): Palace: Gov't remains open to talks with communist rebels but will protect citizens from NPA attacks

Malacañang on Saturday maintained the government is open to peace talks with communist rebels, but will continue to protect citizens from the rebels' attacks.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the peace talks could not push through since the rebels had been making difficult demands.

"Insofar as pursuing peace negotiations, we've always been open. This has been our statement for so long, pero may hinihingi silang condition na we cannot comply with because these were conditions which they themselves created (We've always been open but they have been seeking conditions we cannot comply with because these are conditions they themselves created)," Lacierda said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He cited the demand of the rebels to confirm the list of peace consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

But he said the supposed list was in a floppy disk whose contents cannot be accessed.

In the meantime, he said that while the talks have yet to resume, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue to defend citizens from rebels' attacks.

"Habang ayaw nilang lumapit sa negotiating table, may obligasyon ang estado, ang AFP, na ipagtanggol ang ating kababayan. The mandate of the AFP is to protect and defend our countrymen so yan pa rin ang ating gagawin (So long as the rebels don't want to return to the negotiating table, the state, through the AFP, has an obligation to defend our citizens. The mandate of the AFP is to protect and defend our countrymen so it will continue doing that)," he said.

Despite rundown in NPA strength, AFP not taking rebels lightly

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 18): Despite rundown in NPA strength, AFP not taking rebels lightly

Despite the reduction in the New People's Army (NPA) threat, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has said it is still not taking the rebels lightly.

"They (NPA) still pose challenges," AFP spokesperson Major Gen. Domingo Tutaan said, adding that steps are being taken to ensure that these challenges are eliminated.

The military earlier disclosed that the NPA miserably failed in achieving its goals bound on its "5-Year Central Plan," which was supposed to end in 2013, as they were unsuccessful in expanding their mass base support since 16 more provinces were normalized last year.

This makes the latest overall success to 43 provinces (to include Pampanga) out of the 64 NPA-affected provinces nationwide (56 percent).

Also, a total of 824 NPA personalities were neutralized and 425 firearms were recovered in 2013.

PH to China: No halfway meet, 'join us in arbitration' over disputed territories

From InterAksyon (Jan 18): PH to China: No halfway meet, 'join us in arbitration' over disputed territories

The Philippines has rejected China's proposal for the two countries to meet halfway on new Chinese fishing rules in the disputed West Philippine Sea and instead reiterated its challenge to China to “join us in arbitration” on issues related to the latter’s insistence on claiming “undisputed sovereignty" over the South China Sea.

The Philippines said China's new law that covers the jurisdiction of Hainan province and requires foreigners to seek permission to fish in disputed territory is the country's strategy in pushing its "undisputed sovereignty" in practically the whole of South China Sea.

"Hainan fisheries law is only one of the unilateral measures by China to force a change in the regional status quo in order to advance its nine-dashed line position of undisputed sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea," said Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Raul Hernandez in a text message sent to reporters Saturday afternoon.

[READ RELATED STORY: DFA chief rallies Asean peers on territorial rows amid new fisheries, air curbs by Beiijing]
Nine-dashed line 

Hernandez said China's nine-dashed line claim "is in gross violation of international law," and "is the core issue that must be singularly and fully addressed."

On its Chinese maps, Bejing outlines the scope of its claim with reference to the nine-dashed line that covers 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square kilometer South China Sea
The said boundary was officially published on a map in 1947 by China’s Nationalist government and since then has been included in subsequent maps issued under the communist rule.

However, the territorial boundary using the nine-dashed line appears to be vague. A U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks in September 2008 reported that Yin Wenqiang, a senior Chinese government maritime expert, had "admitted" he was unaware of the historical basis for the dashes.

'Join us in arbitration' 

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that  while China was bent  on protecting its territorial sovereignty, “we always put forth efforts to resolve the relevant issue through dialogue and consultations.”

But Hernandez said the Philippines would instead push its claim via arbitration. "To this end, we reiterate our invitation to China to join us in arbitration as we intend to proceed with our without China for a final disposition."

Manila had filed in early 2013 a complaint before the United Nations arbitral tribunal against China’s “excessive claims” of sovereignty in the South China Sea, where Manila and five others---including three fellow ASEAN members---have overlapping claims.

[READ RELATED STORY: Philippine report spies more assertive, aggressive China in West Philippine Sea]

Hernandez said that in 2011, the Philippines had proposed to China that "we should proceed with moving forward with our major bilateral agenda while abstracting the contentious issues and dealing with them separately."

"This became the content of a signed declaration between the Philippines and China's presidents then. We are hopeful for adherence to the agreement," he said.