Saturday, February 8, 2014

Army Recruits Candidate Soldiers

From the Negros Daily Bulletin (Feb 7): Army Recruits Candidate Soldiers

The Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Division at Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz is inviting the youths to join the profession of arms for the next batch of candidate soldiers who will undergo military training enlistment as regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Maj. Ray Tiongson, Chief, 3rd Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) said in a press release that the Division will be accepting 190 best applicants, who will undergo the military training at the Division Headquarters, Camp Peralta.

Interested applicants have 4 venues to undertake the 3-day pre-screening process.
301st Brigade at Camp Hernandez, Dingle, Iloilo on February 15-17, 2014; 302nd Brigade, Camp Kilat, Tanjay, Negros Oriental on February 7-9, 2014; 303rd Brigade, Camp Gerona, Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental on February 11-13, 2014; and Headquarters 3rd Infantry Division, Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz on February 18-22, 2014.

Maj. Tiongson advices the applicants to the folder with tabbing of the following requirements upon reporting to the above-mentioned units and venue: a) whole body picture (Colored 3R); b) accomplished Bio-data/Resume’ with 2x2 ID picture; c) original copy of NSO Birth Certificate with official receipt; d) original copy of NSO marriage contract of parents with official receipt; e) Certificate of legal beneficiaries; f) original transcript of records (College/Vocational) or Form 137 & 138 (High School) with visible school dry seal; g) diploma (with school dry seal); h) PAATB Result (Official Result authenticated by the Examiner); i) PME Result (Authenticated and signed by the Commanding Officer, Camp Peralta Station Hospital); j) PFT Result (Authenticated and signed by the Commanding Officer, Camp Peralta Station Hospital); K) Drug Test Result ; l) HEPA Test Result; m) Local Clearances (Shall be from the place of residence for at least ten (10) years) - barangay, police, mayor, RTC; n) NBI Clearance; o) Affidavit of being single; p) original copy of NSO CENOMAR with official receipt.

PH to China: We’ll see you in court

From the Manila Times (Feb 8): PH to China: We’ll see you in court

The Aquino administration made the call to China in the aftermath of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s statement likening China’s aggression in West Philippine Sea islands to Adolf Hitler’s move in expanding the territory of the Nazi-ruled Germany during the Second World War.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda noted that China should not take offense of President Aquino’s remarks, considering that Philippines already brought the conflicting claims of Philippines and China on West Philippine Islands before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas.

China, however, has nixed this move and has stuck with its nine-dash argument which virtually claims the whole of West Philippine Sea, overlapping the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam as provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas where Manila and Beijing is a signatory.

“The analogy used by the President only speaks of a situation where we should not be appeasing someone and the aggression has to stop. What China failed to address is that we have brought this to international arbitration proceedings. We should talk about the claims there in court,” Lacierda told Radyo ng Bayan.

An opinion piece in the China state media Xinhua tagged President Aquino as immature and ignorant over the Nazi rule comparison.

Further, China has consistently pushed for a bilateral dialogue over the conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea.

Lacierda, however, argued that bilateral dialogue is not the way to go since the Philippines and China are not the only countries who have claims in the resources-rich islands in the West Philippine Sea.

“We can’t keep the dialogue between the two countries and resolve this on our own because this issue involves a lot of countries. We are going on a rules-based approach here, and that’s why we sought international arbitration,” Lacierda stressed.

“Let’s settle this before the arbitration court,” Lacierda added.

Civilians numb to MNLF-BIFF union

From the Manila Times (Feb 8): Civilians numb to MNLF-BIFF union

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has vowed not to support or form an alliance with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) but admitted that some MNLF members have relatives among the fighters, Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 6th division said in a report.

But Mindanao civilians are indifferent to the possible union of MNLF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said over the weekend.

Gutierrez said civilians in Mindanao are tired of moving from one place to another, noting what they had encountered in a bloody siege during the conflict between the MNLF and the military troops.

But the bishop believes that even if the MNLF and the BIFF forces unite, they cannot defeat the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He added that through prayers, all evil doings will be defeated.

Some MNLF members are reportedly helping the BIFF since some followers of MNLF founder Nur Misuari have relatives among the fighters.

On the other hand, the military could not disclose the number of MNLF members who have kin in the BIFF.

FilAm sailor on US warship greets Pnoy on his 54th birthday

From the Manila Times (Feb 8): FilAm sailor on US warship greets Pnoy on his 54th birthday

Chief Petty Officer Geraldine Igualdo

Chief Petty Officer Geraldine Igualdo

ONE of 10 Filipino-Americans on the crew of the United States (US) Navy guided missile destroyer that is visiting Manila sent a video greeting to President Benigno Aquino 3rd who celebrated his 54th birthday Saturday.

Geraldine Igualdo, 26, a chief petty officer of the USS Pinckney, posted the greetings at her Internet site at the start of the ship’s five-day goodwill visit in the Philippines.

A native of Buguias Central Benguet, Igualdo made a video birthday greeting, which she hopes the President can watch when he has the time.

Igualdo is one of the crew of USS Pinckney (DDG91), which docked in Manila Friday for a routine port call that highlights the strong historic, community and military connections between the US and the Philippines.

In her Facebook page, Igualdo said she finished nursing at the University of Baguio and now lives in San Diego, California.

The US Embassy invited media men to inspect and photograph the vessel as a sign of its goodwill to the Filipinos. The vessel is home ported in San Diego, California and is here to restock and for a rest stop for its crew.

The 155.30-meter and 9, 300-ton destroyer will remain in Manila until February 11, the embassy said.

The embassy said while in Manila, the sailors of USS Pinckney are eager to strengthen their understanding of the country with such historical ties with the US.

Named after World War II hero Cook First Class William Pinckney, the destroyer deployed a month ago for maritime security operations and sea exercises, is the second American ship to arrive in the Philippines this year following USS Shiloh, which docked in Cebu last January 31.

The missile cruiser, manned by 390 sailors, was in Cebu for four days for restocking and rest and relaxation.

The USS Pinckney is part of the US Pacific Fleet led by Cdr. Frank E. Okata with approximately 300 sailors, including the 10 Filipino-American crew.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney has 10 Filipino-American crewmembers.

No end in sight to war of words

From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 8): No end in sight to war of words

There seems to be no end in sight to the war of words between Manila and Beijing over the unresolved dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

President Benigno S. Aquino III hit back at the Chinese state media for resorting to vicious name-calling instead of addressing the maritime conflict.

Instead of getting offended, the President said he is actually thankful for the “insults” hurled by Xinhua news agency.

It only bolstered the country’s position in the territorial row with China, Aquino said.

“Nagpapasalamat na lang ako sa Xinhua dahil ang sabi nga parang nire-reaffirm iyong validity nung ating mga posisyon [I thank Xinhua because it reaffirmed the validity of our position],” the President said in a media interview after the change of command ceremony at the Philippine Army.

“May kasabihan na kapag hindi mo kayang sagutin iyong isyu e mag-name calling ka na lang [There is a saying that if you can’t answer the issue, you resort to name-calling],” he added.

The President’s reaction came as proposals seeking the revival of mandatory military training for college students started to gain strong backing among members of the House of Representatives majority bloc as solons have become wary of China’s bullying over the West Philippine sea territorial row.

Congressmen urged government to restore the Reserve Officers Training Corps in the college curriculum as they stressed a necessity of instilling patriotic and nationalistic fervor among the country’s youth.

In a press forum in Quezon City, Reps. Roy Seneres (OFW Family Partylist) and Rodel Batocabe (Ako Bicol Partylist) urged the Department of Education and the Department of National Defense to conduct studies on how to reform the mandatory military program for college students.

Previous to this, Reps. Mark Llandro Mendoza (NPC, Batangas), Amado Bagatsing (LP, Manila); Jose Cari (LP, Leyte), and Winston Castelo (LP, Quezon City) strongly backed the call for the inclusion of ROTC in the college curriculum.

“Love of country and national security are strong arguments that should convince government to revive it,” said Mendoza.

Seneres said Filipinos should stand up to China’s bullying tactics even as he stressed that diplomacy remains the key solution to the South China sea issue.

Seneres, a former ambassador and labor attaché, also proposed that government must extend invitation for its allies to set up military bases in the Philippines as part of a “military tourism program.”

Seneres and Batocabe lauded President Aquino for comparing China’s threats to the German despot Adolf Hitler’s bid to dominate Europe during World War II.

In related developments:

• In Washington, incoming US ambassador Max Baucus pledged Thursday to build trust with China as fellow senators confirmed him to the post at a time of high tensions in Asia.

The Senate approved Baucus in a rare unanimous show of support for one of President Barack Obama’s high-profile nominees, although four senators including Baucus himself did not vote.

• In Hong Kong, the administrative government has more room to increase sanctions against the Philippines if it fails to heed the diplomatic restrictions that began yesterday, Executive Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee says.

Ip, also the former security secretary, said the Philippines is concerned that the sanctions will be extended to other travelers such as businessmen and entertainers, and to visas other than those of domestic helpers.

The 14-day visa free arrangement for Philippine officials and diplomats was suspended yesterday as the first phase of sanctions over the Philippine government’s refusal to apologize for the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy in which eight Hongkongers were killed by an ex-policeman.

Ip stopped short of saying if the next phase of sanctions would include other travelers.

Interview with Joma Sison on turning 75, peace and Duterte as president

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Feb 8): Interview with Joma Sison on turning 75, peace and Duterte as president


(Photo courtesy:

Turning 75 this February 8, Professor Jose Maria Sison, chief consultant of the National Democratic Front on the peace negotiations, answer questions from Davao Today on current issues ranging from peace talks to the possibility of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte running as president.

DT: How does it feel to have lived three quarters of a century, especially with regard to how Philippine history has turned out since your move to re-establish the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968?

JMS: I feel happy for having lived long enough to see how the CPP has grown nationwide and struck deep roots among the toiling masses of workers and peasants. The CPP has 150,000 members. It leads the thousands of Red fighters in the New People’s Army and the millions of people in mass organizations. It is at the helm of the people’s democratic government in 115 guerrilla fronts which cover large portions of 71 provinces.

DT: Do you have a secret to longevity?

JMS: My key to longevity: Fighting spirit in the service of the people and a sense of humor to provide relief for the hard work.

DT: Speaking of longevity, how do you look at President Benigno Aquino III, can he survive all these controversies?

JMS: Definitely, the controversies have exposed the fact that Aquino is running a treasonous, exploitative, corrupt, cruel and mendacious regime. The propaganda that his regime is clean and honest and is good at delivering services is practically dead. Thus, the broad masses of the people and the patriotic and progressive forces are now trying to oust Aquino from power. They will become strong through the struggle, whether they succeed or not in overthrowing Aquino before the end of his term in 2016.

DT: On the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), what is the impact of this Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, and how different is this with the Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 peace accord signed by the government and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chair Nur Misuari? Follow up : What is your assessment of the Bansamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)?

JMS: There are uncertainties surrounding the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement , the annexes and the Bangsamoro basic law. Constitutional issues will be raised in Congress and the Supreme Court against certain provisions. The MILF will have to consider how far it can submit itself to the state based in Manila and how other forces of the Bangsamoro like the MNLF and the BIFF will react. The BIFF is now trying to seize the political and military initiative in areas known to be MILF home ground.

The first provision of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 stipulated that the Moro question was to be resolved within the framework of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity and the last provision stipulated that all agreements were subject to the constitutional processes of the Manila government. The MILF arose in opposition to such provisions. Now the BIFF is rebelling against the MILF for the same reasons that the MILF rebelled against the MNLF.

The MILF was previously critical of the 1996 peace accord between MNLF and the Manila government. Now, the MILF expresses the view that it can validate and take on board such accord in a new comprehensive peace agreement. But speaking on behalf of MNLF, Nur Misuari has denounced the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement as contrary to the peace accord of 1996.

DT: How attainable is peace? What are the prospects of GPH-NDF peace negotiations?

Peace is not attainable in the Bangsamoro areas so long as there is no satisfaction of the Moro people’s demand for respect of the right to self-determination, ancestral domain and their democratic aspirations and so long as the US and other foreign plunderers and the local big compradors and landlords continue to exploit and oppress the Moro people.

The Aquino regime and its US imperialist masters are extremely vicious against the revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDFP. They think that Oplan Bayanihan can destroy or cripple the revolutionary movement. The Aquino regime has attacked The Hague Joint Declaration as a document of perpetual division and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as inoperative and it has wantonly violated the Comprehensive Agreement of Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Since April 2013, it has publicly terminated the JASIG and the peace negotiations without giving the required notice of termination to the the NDFP.

The Aquino regime is responsible for blocking the peace negotiations. It has not shown any interest in its resumption. To keep alive the hope for peace negotiations, the NDFP has expressed its willingness to negotiate with the next regime.

DT: In relation to that, the CPP has declared that revolutionary forces are poised to leap to a higher level of struggle or what it terms as strategic stalemate. How viable is this call?

JMS: The call is viable. It is highly probable that within the next few years the CPP membership would rise from 150.000 to 250,000, the number of Red fighters of the New People’s Army from around 10,000 to 25,000, the guerrilla fronts from 120 to 200 and the mass movement and the people’s democratic government (local organs of political power) would involve many millions more of the people. The revolutionary forces and people of Mindanao are outstanding and are showing the way to grow in strength and to advance.

The worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system is favorable for the advance of the people’s war from strategic defensive to strategic stalemate.

DT: What’s your assessment of Davao City Mayor Duterte? Do you see him as a possible presidential candidate come 2016? Rights advocates, including agencies under the GPH tag him for the summary killings in Davao, what’s your take to that?

JMS: The local revolutionary forces in Davao City consider Mayor Duterte as someone they can negotiate with and make reasonable agreements with. Perhaps, if he becomes president, he can act like a statesman and negotiate with the NDFP. But will the big financiers and media lords allow him to win the presidential elections?

The Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly accused Duterte of violating human rights but refuses to take up Duterte’s challenge to put up or shut up. The same commission has never said anything critical of the gross and systematic violation of human rights by the Aquino regime and its military, police and paramilitary forces.

DT: What is your take regarding the rice smuggling issue?

JMS: Rice smuggling is the consequence of the trade liberalization policy and the undermining of local rice production since the time of Cory Aquino. Currently, relatives and friends of BS Aquino are the biggest rice smugglers. Aquino is a liar for misrepresenting the rise of rice smuggling as the rise of local rice production.

DT: In this day and age, how valid is the philosophy of Marx to academics, students and political analysts?

JMS: The teachings of Marx in philosophy as well as in political economy and social science remain valid today. They are shining now in opposition to the capitalist and imperialist system of exploitation, ever worsening crisis, state terrorism and war. There is renewed interest in the teachings of Marx among the academics, students and political analysts because such teachings expose the root causes of exploitation and oppression and show us the revolutionary way out.

DT: Looking at the present crop of Filipino activists and revolutionaries, how do they fare with the activists of the First Quarter Storm and the activists of the 1960s?

JMS: There are definitely more competent and militant Filipino activists and revolutionaries now because of the long series of mass struggles since 1960s. They should fare better than those of the 1960s and the First Quarter Storm of 1970. They can arouse, organize and mobilize far more people now. There should be more proletarian revolutionaries who study Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and are ready to participate in the people’s war.

DT: On lighter things, what are your favorite books and movies in the past ten years?

JMS: I have favored the books that show the recurrent and worsening crisis of monopoly capitalism and the resurgence of the people’s anti-imperialist and socialist movements. I have also favored the documentary and feature films films critical of neoliberal greed and imperialist wars.

DT: What would be your birthday wish?

JMS: To stay healthy and live longer in order to further serve the people.

Plebiscite to form Bangsamoro substate set with 2016 polls

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 9): Plebiscite to form Bangsamoro substate set with 2016 polls

The plebiscite for the transformation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao into a Bangsamoro territory has been prepared by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the coming May 2016 national elections.

“The plebiscite will happen before 2016. The Bangsamoro Transition Commission will submit the Bangsamoro Basic Law to the OP, to the Office of the President,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Lacierda explained that the Bangsamoro bill would be certified by President Aquino as urgent so that his political allies would consider its immediate passage in the committee and plenary debates.

Lacierda said the draft proposed bill would have to be reviewed first by President Aquino’s advisers before it would be filed in Congress for “scrutiny.”

“We will submit the bill to Congress and certify it as urgent,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda quoted Senate President Franklin Drilon as saying “they hope to finish the bill before the year-end.”

“And then after that, there will be plebiscite after the bill becomes law. And after that, there will be a Bangsamoro Transition authority which by the time, hopefully, by 2015, it will be in existence,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said there will be a one-year period of experience in governing the Bangsamoro first local elections, “then we’ll synchronize it with the 2016 national election”.

“So by the time 2016 enters, we have Bangsamoro Juridical Entity,” Lacierda said.

Cotabato Rep. Jesus Sacdalan whose province petitioned and got the Supreme Court to stop the August 5, 2008 signing of the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) of the national government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is now actively campaigning among his colleagues in Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that would govern the future Bangsamoro.

The future Bangsamoro will be the new autonomous political entity that would replace the 24-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and would have a ministerial form of government.

Sacdalan was one of the six members of Congress sent by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to assure the GPH and MILF peace panels of their support to the peace process.

House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur said he was confident they have the numbers in the House to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law because “this is our last chance for peace.”

But questions have been hounding the peace process if indeed the Aquino administration could muster the required number of votes given that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on Nov. 19, 2013.

The pork barrel has been used by several administrations to push for their pet bills.Balindong said the pork barrel should not be a consideration in voting for peace. The House of Representatives has 289 members. A simple majority of 145 votes is required to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Congress could pass the law but the question remains if it will carry the provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) drafted.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed a Final Peace Agreement with the Philippine government in 1996, complained that Republic Act 9054 which amended RA 6734, the Organic Act creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), did not reflect the provisions agreed upon in the 1996 peace pact.

MNLF chair Nur Misuari repeatedly said RA 9054 rendered the ARMM less autonomous than it was.

The panels signed the last of the four Annexes—the Annex on Normalization, the Addendum to the wealth and power-sharing annexes on the Bangsamoro waters, paving the way for the completion of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on Oct. 15, 2012, the panels agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and that they would work for the creation of the Bangsamoro which would have a ministerial form of government.

In his State of the Nation Address on July 22, 2013, Aquino urged Congress to pass the BBL before the end of 2014.

“I urge you to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the end of 2014. This way, we will have ample time to prepare for the election of a new Bangsamoro government come 2016,” Aquino said.

Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas yesterday called on the governors, mayors and other elected officials of Mindanao to extend their all-out support to the Framework Agreement for Bangsamoro.

The agreement was forged recently by the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

According to Roxas, the local officials are in the best position to explain to their constituents the advantages of creating a new Bangsamoro Region as a necessary step in securing just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

Roxas said during the opening ceremony of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) office in Cotabato City that the framework Agreement is a crucial and necessary first step towards lasting peace and development in Mindanao.

Roxas joined Sec. Teresita Deles, the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, in the opening ceremony also attended by the 15 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

The 15 members of the Commission, of which seven were nominated by the government, and eight recommended by the MILF, include Akmad A. Sakkam, Johaira C. Wahab, Talib A. Benito, Asani S. Tammang, Pedrito A. Eisma, Froilyn T. Mendoza and Fatmawati T. Salapuddin Robert M. Alonto, Abdulla U. Camlian, Ibrahim D. Ali, Raissa H. Jajurie, Melanio U. Ulama, Hussein P. Munoz and Said M. Shiek.

Mohagher Iqbal, current chair of the MILF peace panel will serve as chairperson of the commission.

The Transition Commission is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be certified urgent by the President and submitted to Congress for passage.

Iriberri: I will transform Army into credible fighting force

From the Business Mirror (Feb 7): Iriberri: I will transform Army into credible fighting force

In Photo: President Aquino hands over the command saber to the 56th Army commander, Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri (left). The command saber was returned to the President by Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, former Army commander, during change of command ceremony at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, on Friday.

THE newly installed Army commander, Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, vowed on Friday to prioritize the transformation of the Army into a credible fighting force and the pursuit of the counterinsurgency plan Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.

Iriberri, a protégé of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, said the organization would continue to “build up” from the Army Transformation Road map (ATR) and the IPSP Bayanihan under his term.
“While we have made dramatic progress in both pursuits, there is much left to be done in our journey toward achieving our vision of a world class Army,” he said during his installation as the 56th chief of the Army.
“There is much more we can do to translate our strategy into operational terms, to align all our units to our strategy and to make strategy execution the job of every officer and soldier,” he added.
Iriberri, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, succeeded Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes as chief of the Army as the latter reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.
The new Army chief edged out his former commander and a more senior officer for the post, the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, member of PMA Class of 1981.
Before Catapang assumed command of Nolcom in July 2013, he led the Army’s 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division, the post that was inherited by Iriberri.
Until his appointment as Army commander, Iriberri was reporting to the man he beat for the position of Army chief, as the 7ID was under the direct operational supervision of Catapang, being the Nolcom chief.
During his assumption of command attended by President Aquino on Friday, the new Army chief said that it “never dawned” on him that he would lead the more than 80,000-strong Army.
Iriberri’s rise in the military hierarchy was meteoric—from being the senior military assistant of Gazmin, he was named commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade, which he held only for months before he was named division commander, a post that he occupied for seven months on his way to becoming the Army chief.
In his assumption speech, Iriberri thanked several retired and active officers, including Gazmin, who he said molded him into a military leader.
Aside from the Army transformation program and IPSP Bayanihan, Iriberri said he would enhance the interoperability of the Army with other agencies and foreign militaries and turn the Army into a decisive force.

A conflict reporter's close call in Maguindanao

From GMA News (Feb 7): A conflict reporter's close call in Maguindanao

A video grab shows a Philippine Army Simba after almost being hit by the blast from an improvised explosive device believed to have been planted by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters along a road in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Tuesday, Feb. 4. GMA News

A dull, muffled explosion shook our vehicle and our field of view quickly filled with black smoke. The wall of smoke swallowed the armored personnel carrier (APC) in front of us just as rock and shrapnel rained down on our vehicle.
Last February 4, our media car had been following a convoy of military vehicles on our way to the town of Rajah Buayan in Maguindanao when the IED (improvised explosive device) detonated along the roadside.
News safety protocol dictates journalists following military vehicles should always keep a good distance behind the convoy in case the soldiers come under attack. We were at least 10 car lengths away from the last APC in the convoy when the IED exploded.
For a few seconds, we sat in silence, trying to make sense of what had just happened. The military vehicles did not even slow down and quickly disappeared.
Suddenly, everyone in the car was talking and giving directions to our driver. I kept shouting for him to not go forward, while the other members of my team were screaming for him to put the vehicle in reverse.
"Naka-roll ka ba?" I said to no one in particular, hoping someone had been filming when the explosion happened. Our camera was rolling.
The vehicle lurched forward and backward like a stricken beast. I ordered my crew out and started walking away from the explosion.

I tried to keep calm, both for myself and to keep my cameraman and other members of the crew from panicking.  
I fought every urge to run as fast as I could to the other media personnel who were already filming the aftermath a hundred meters away from us.

Years of covering southern Philippines as well as my training taught me to always expect a secondary bomb within the vicinity.
Thankfully, there was no second explosion.
Agence France-Presse freelance photographer Mark Navales, a veteran of the long-running Maguindanao conflict, was also in the media convoy.  
"This is the first time I've actually seen an IED explode in front of me," he tells us.
Rommel Lopez of TV5 and Ron Gagalac of ABS-CBN were also with us along with their crews.
It had been a close call, one that came a few days after two fellow journalists, Jeff Caparas and camerman Adrian Bulatao of TV5, were wounded in a secondary bomb explosion in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao.
Before that, another IED went off in the town of Datu Piang, injuring two civilians.
Triggering devices
Military and police officials in the province believe the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was responsible for the blasts.
The BIFF, which has been launching periodic attacks against government troops since it splintered from the MILF in 2008, had been the subject of a government offensive since Jan. 27.

The military operations are meant dislodge the rebels from their communities in Datu Piang and Shariff Saydona Mustapha.
"They are getting desperate, that's why they are resorting to terrorism, " says Colonel Edgar Gonzales, the commanding officer of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade.
Among the items recovered from one of the camps of the BIFF were mortar rounds and other military munitions. The military also found two-way radios and mobile phones in various states of disassembly. The military said these were used as triggering devices for the IEDs.
Also found in one of the camps were books on Islamic jihad and the accomplishments of al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, as well as instructional materials on electronics.
Even more chilling information was found in a small note that listed the various thicknesses of body armor used by soldiers, SWAT and local police as well as the most effective distances to neutralize each type of armor.
Khalifa Islamiyah?
A black flag with white Arabic letters was recovered by the troops from among the things left behind by the BIFF rebels. What it represents is still uncertain.
A source from the military intelligence community says similar flags have been recovered deep inside rebel lairs in the Lanao area and in Basilan.

They say the flag belongs to the shadowy Khalifa Islamiyah, a group of radicals purportedly led by foreign terrorists and bomb experts Marwan and a certain Mauwiyah.
Military officials in Maguindanao say they are constantly validating reports of the group's existence.
IEDs not aimed at media
Police Senior Superintendent Rodelio Jocson, Maguindanao Provincial Police Office director, says despite the close calls, the military and police will not restrict the movements of members of the press.

"We will, however, advise you which areas are dangerous. But, ultimately, it will still be your call whether to proceed or not," he says.
He says there is no evidence that whoever was setting off the explosions was targeting members of the media. He said, though, that since IEDs are a reality that journalists have to consider whenever covering Maguindanao, training and proper safety equipment are a must. 
Thankfully, our news team had both.

Photo: USS Pinckney docks at Manila harbor

From GMA News (Feb 8): Photo: USS Pinckney docks at Manila harbor

Destroyer USS Pinckney docks at Manila South Harbor on Saturday February 8, 2014, for a routine port call and a five-day goodwill visit to highlight strong ties between the US and the Philippines.

No ceasefire with BIFF - Deles

From ABS-CBN (Feb 8): No ceasefire with BIFF - Deles

Military check-point in Zamboanga

[Video Report]

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita "Ging" Deles on Saturday said there will be no ceasefire between government troops and the renegade group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

This is following the statement of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief peace negotiator Mohager Iqbal that the MILF has already done its part in trying to convince the BIFF to join them in crafting the Bangsamoro Government.

"Walang ceasefire between the government and the BIFF. Sa kabila ng pagsisikap ng MILF na makipagusap at magkaroon ng pagkakaintindihan sa kanila, wala pa rin nangyari. Klaro na ang BIFF they are not covered by the ceasefire," Deles said during the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in Cotabato City.

Iqbal said, "Ang concern namin is yung collateral damage sa mga sibilyan. Lahat ng paraan ginawa po namin para magkaintindihan sa grupo ni Ameril Umbrakato."

Nonetheless, the MILF is not closing its door to the BIFF and is still hopeful that the rebel group will join its endeavor of achieving peace in Mindanao through the soon-to-be Bangsamoro Government.

"Yung bridge namin hindi pa rin namin pinuputol yan, it's still open... Ipagkakatiwala na lang namin sa Poong Maykapal kasi naubos na lahat ng effort natin na magkabalikan... Sana bigyan tayo lahat ng Allah ng liwanag at mabuting pag-iisip para makamit ang tunay na pagkakaisa," Iqbal said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, who was present at the inauguration, said government troops will continue to run after BIFF bandits since they have outstanding warrants of arrest.

"There are outstanding warrants for Umbra Kato, mayroong sinusunod na protocol ang tropa ng gobyerno. Nagpapaalam sa MILF kung may operation. In fact recently nagkaroon ng matagumpay na pagpapatupad nitong protocol na ito kung saan hinahahabol itong mga rebelde, nagkaroon ng maneuver para hindi tayo makasakit o makadamay ng mga hindi naman kasama diyan sa paghahabol na yan," Roxas said.

Since the the normalization annex of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement was signed by both parties, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is now fully operational in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Deles said they hope the bill will be submitted to the Congress on December 31 of 2014 as an urgent bill.

"Seryoso ang dalawang party, walang naglolokohan dito...talagang mangyayari ito...hindi lang ito para sa mga MILF kundi para sa buong Bangsamoro," Deles said.

"Ang leadership ay nagpulong na at pursigido na tutukan ito... Kung ayaw maraming dahilan, kung gusto may paraan," Roxas added.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman, meanwhile, reiterated that they are ready to step down anytime the transition authority starts to operate.

"Immediately after nung plebiscite, magkakaroon ng transitory commission, ilalagay doon yung kelan yung effectivity at composition ng transitional that time ready kami iturn-over yung present ARMM sa bagong transition authority," Hataman said.

MILF: Editorial -- Good Legislation

Editorial posted to the MILF Website: Good Legislation

The 17-year peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) have never been easy.  In fact, they have been marred not only by impasses, breakups, walkouts, no show-ups, cancellations, and verbal “wars” but also by real bloody wars. The ceasefire between them has been more breached than being honored.
Remember the countless minor fighting since July 1997 and the three major wars of 2000, 2003, and 2008? How many precious lives lost, properties destroyed, and billions of money spent to stop the war?

Frankly, there is no way these negotiations can be done again; human endurance would not allow it, and more importantly, the engagement is now on the final stretch. It is only a matter of time, God willing!  before the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will be signed by the parties.

Be not be mistaken, however, that while the body is weak after all those long drawn-out peaceful parleys (and bloody wars), but as long as the aspiration of the Bangsamoro for self-determination and freedom is not addressed, there will always be those who are ready to pick up the struggle and continue it until it succeeds. History can testify that since the war with Spain in the 16th century to the American regime in the 20th century and to this day, this flame of resistance has not died; in fact, it is getting more well-focused, sophisticated, and costly.

Indeed, the past peace journey had been hard, long, and winding, but the task ahead after the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the four Annexes (Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Wealth-sharing, Power-sharing, and Normalization) are signed is equally daunting. Real and genuine peace is not yet in our midst. It is still a work in progress.

The solution to the Moro Question, which the two parties have agreed to find right from the start of their negotiations in January 1997, and is now prescribed in these agreements, is still not fulfilled. The Bangamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has yet to craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law and submit it to President Benigno Aquino III, who would then submit it to Congress as a certified urgent bill.

In short, it is Congress, as part of the entity called GPH that the MILF is talking to, now holds the key to solving the Moro Question by way of making a good legislation, without watering down the contents of the FAB and the four Annexes signed by the parties. It is this good sense of Congress clearly exhibited in December 2012 when it endorsed President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 120 creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the statesmanship of every congressman and senator to ensure the smooth passage of a good legislation that would finally put to rest the centuries of restlessness in Mindanao. It is their collective wisdom that we can bank on for the passage of this good legislation.‘good-legislation’

MILF: Tawi-Tawi professionals hopeful with Bangsamoro Government

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 8): Tawi-Tawi professionals hopeful with Bangsamoro Government

In a meeting last January 23 with MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar in his office at Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, some 20 executives representing the bulk of professionals of Tawi-Tawi have shown positive outlook on the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
According to Professor Ali Ibrahim, one of the senior members of the group, they are part of 120 group of professionals of Tawi-Tawi who are mostly occupying different executive positions in the government and in the business sectors. Most of them are Sama, the majority among the tribes of the province of Tawi-Tawi and were graduates and employed with the Mindanao State University (MSU)-Tawi-Tawi and Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College (TRAC), the prominent government state colleges in the province.

Jaafar enlightened them on the progress of the negotiation, particularly with the remaining Annex on Normalization of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

The group was headed by Dr. Alpha Amirulhadj and Mr. Sirata Dais, the organizers. Tawi-Tawi Board Member Renier Samsuya was also with the group.

Meanwhile, Jaapar urged them to intensify the process of organizing people in the province and re-echo the updates on the peace process. As some members of the group are businessmen, business opportunities were discussed like joint ventures with  Singaporeans businessmen in putting up palm oil and rubber plantations in Tawi-Tawi.

They are scheduled the following day to meet MILF Chairman Al-hadj Murad Ebrahim to extend their support to the Moro Front and its officialdom relative to the peace process.

MILF: Drilon Assures BTC of Senate support

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 7): Drilon Assures BTC of Senate support


Saying that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be on “top of the common legislative agenda” of the 16th Congress of the Philippines, Senate President Franklin Drilon expressed the Upper House’s full support to the workings of the Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) which gave him a courtesy visit February 6.
The head of the Senate even told the BTC chairman and commissioners that he and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. have imposed upon themselves December 31 of this year as target for the enactment of the law that would govern the new Bangsamoro government.

Along with fellow Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, Drilon warmly welcomed the delegation headed by BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal and 12 other commissioners. OPAPP Sec. Teresita Deles was also present during the courtesy call.

Drilon was emphatic in saying that the Senate is unanimous in believing that the peace process is critical not only for Mindanao but for the entire country.

He urged the BTC to “submit the BBL as early as possible,” noting that there is urgency for passage of the said law.

In reply thereto, Iqbal reiterated their self-imposed target of March 31 this year for the submission of the BBL to the President. During their January 30 visit to Malacanan, Iqbal told President Benigno Aquino III that they would submit the BBL to the latter by the end of next month.

Iqbal told Drilon that they have never doubted the sincerity of the Senate President in supporting the BBL. Part of reasons why the BTC went to the Senate is to seek advises from the latter’s officials. Iqbal said they need technical advises even from international and local experts because as revolutionaries they were not used to making laws.

Drilon admitted that he was one of those who opposed the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on issues of constitutionality. Thus, he stressed before the BTC that it must craft a basic law that does not contain provisions contrary to the Philippine Constitution, otherwise there would be a “lot of convincing needed”. He advised the BTC to pursue constitutional amendments in other forums since it is a “separate process.”

From among the significant portions of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the veteran senator admitted he finds no constitutional infirmity on the ministerial form of government for the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal also added that till now, the Commission has not yet encountered anything that requires constitutional amendment.

Sen. Guingona III, whose Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation would eventually scrutinize the BBL, expressed hopes for the final closure of the peace process who described it as “17 years of negotiations, patience and hardwork.”

Iqbal also relayed to Drilon the greetings of the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

A press conference attended by various national media outfits was made afterwards.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also showed up to meet and exchange pleasantries with the BTC officials.

CPP/Sino Proletaryo: Video -- JMS 55/75 Trailer

Sino Proletaryo video posted to the CPP Website (Feb 7): Sino Proletaryo Video: JMS 55/75 Trailer


Video: JMS 55/75 Trailer]

Happy Birthday greetings from all of us to Prof. Jose Ma. Sison on his 75th birthday and 55th year of service to the Filipino people. (Full length video to follow).

CPP/Sino Proletaryo: Video -- Joma 55/75

Posted to the CPP Website (Feb 8): Sino Proletaryo Video: Joma 55/75


[Video: Joma 55/75]

Sine Proletaryo presents "JOMA: 55/75", a 21-minute video which provides a broad overview of the 55 years of revolutionary service of Jose Ma. Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), on the occasion of his 75th birthday on February 8, 2014. The video features underground youth and workers activists, NPA Red fighters, leaders of the CPP and NDF, NDF peace consultants and advocates of anti-imperialism whose insights provide a glimpse of the profound significance of Ka Joma's life of service to the Filipino proletariat and international communist movement.

The video features the song "Malipayong Adlaw", a song by Agaw Armas, a revolutionary cultural group from the Southern Mindanao Region, typically sang by Red fighters to greet the morning of a comrade's birthday to further boost their revolutionary spirit.

CPP/NDF: Militant and Hearty Greetings to Ka Joema on his 75th Birthday and 55 Years of Service!

From the CPP Website (Feb 8): Militant and Hearty Greetings to Ka Joema on his 75th Birthday and 55 Years of Service!
Alan Jazmines
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
  I and other National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants, and other political prisoners here at the Camp Bagong Diwa, join many others in militantly and heartily greeting Comrade Jose Maria “Joema” Sison on his 75th birthday this February 8, and most especially his 55 years of service to the people and the revolutionary movement.

For more than five decades now and running, he has contributed so much of value to the socio-economic, cultural, political and ideological education and struggle this far, not only of the revolutionary forces and people in this country, but also in the world.

His contributions have been and continue to be of great lead and help to a multitude of progressive and revolutionary forces.

They have,in particular, been of great lead and help to me and continue to do so.

In mid-1971, disgusted at finding out after a year of working with its management team, that the only company I had aspired to work for was supposed to serve as the country’s forerunner of national industrialization but had no true intent and no real basis for such, and that the ruling state and system all the more had no real interest in national industrialization, I decided to no longer work for the exploiters, and instead to give my everything, including my full-time to what would really serve for the upliftment of the lives and progress of the people.

I resigned and immediately turned to full- time, intensive research and social investigation by reading written works and interviewing people to rethink and determine where I should devote the whole of myself for the rest of my life.

I immediately concentrated on studying radical revolutionary writings on society in the Philippines and the world, including proposed solutions to the socio-economic-cultural-political problems of the people.

Among the writings I concentrated on and found most accurate and incisive in reflecting reality in the depiction of the country and people, and most insightful and profound in proposing solutions to the deep and long-standing problems of the people and society were Ka Joema’s Struggle for National Democracy and (under the pseudonym of “Amado Guerrero”) Philippine Society and Revolution, as well as the Communist Manifesto and various classical works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao Zedong, plus John Eaton’s Political Economy.

I particularly closely concentrated on Ka Joema’s works as I found them most immediately useful for the present situation and struggle of the Filipino people, while at the same time I also devoted much time on the voluminous classical writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and others who made profound analyses of the situation in their respective countries and in the world.

After attending various fora, study circles and going around, interviewing people who had something to do with various social movements in the country (including, activists and rallyists), I was fully convinced that the movement for national democracy is presently the most apt, given the present semicolonial and semifeudal conditions of Philippine society and the present stage of the socio-economic-cultural-political revolution that needs to be completed in the country —as I learned from Ka Joema’s writings. I thus decided to give my time and the full of my life to the present national democratic revolutionary struggle and its revolutionary socialist perspective.

It did not take long before I personally met Ka Joema. There were later times when Ka Joema and I would meet to talk about particular tasks I was then participating in.

I was, however, arrested (for the first time) in early 1974 and released after three years — after the Amnesty International exposed the crimes of torture committed by the Marcos martial law regime against us political prisoners, and we also wrote about and filed legal complaints about those crimes of torture.

By then, Ka Joema had been arrested (in November 1977) in La Union. He underwent brutalities and, throughout his martial law detention, was kept in an isolation cell in Fort Bonifacio and intensively subjected to cruel restrictions. He had to climb the walls of his isolation cell just to be able to talk with other political detainees also kept in neighboring isolation cells to the left and to the right of his own.

More importantly, even under very restrictive conditions of detention, Ka Joema — with the help and partnership of his wife, Ka Juliet, as his note-taker and co-author, continued to put out sharp ideological and political revolutionary writings, that have continued to be of great value and help to the national democratic revolutionary movement and the proletarian revolutionary party in its lead. Most incisive were his criticisms of some confused socio-economic analyses (including the exaggerated estimate of the level of urbanization and industrial development already reached in the country, as against the continuing and even worsening pre-industrial and semifeudal socio-economic state of the country) and, more importantly, his criticisms of some revisionist errors in revolutionary tactics prevailing then, including the premature “Strategic Counter-Offensive” and “Regularization of the New People’s Army”, given that the people’s war was then still at the early sub-stage of the strategic defensive. After his release from prison and initial peace talks were held between the NDFP and the Cory Aquino government, he criticized the NDFP’s handling then of the peace talks and wrote about how it should instead be handled. What he wrote about has been how it has been handled ever since he took over as the NDFP peace panel’s Chief Political Consultant.

The determined pursuit of the rectification campaign throughout the national democratic movement, actual realities and later developments and progress have been proving the correctness of the criticisms initiated by Ka Joema.

Soon after we were released from martial law imprisonment, together with some other leading ex-political prisoners, we held occasional meetings at Ka Joema’s residence in an apartment in La Loma, Quezon City.

In our several meetings there, one of those we agreed upon and worked on was the formation of the Partido ng Bayan (PnB), a precursor of the Makabayan Coalition and its progressive party-list organizations.

Ka Joema was the Chairperson of the PnB Preparatory Committee, but had earlier been committed to and had to leave for a long series of engagements abroad. Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia,Chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, was then elected and took over to become the Founding Chairperson. I was then the Secretary-General.

PnB was fast organized nationwide and won some congressional and local seats in the ensuing elections. But all along and afterwards, it terribly suffered extra-judicial killings and other grave human rights violations, including the killing of Ka Lando and the killing and attempted killing of a big number of other PnB leaders, personnel and supporters.

The lives and security of other PnB leaders, personnel and supporters continued to be endangered, and even shifting mobile offices and quarters could no longer be safely maintained.

I had little choice but to go underground, often living with and kept secure by the worker and peasant masses.

In Ka Joema’s case, he was obliged to stay in exile abroad. But the reactionary state and successive reactionary regimes would not let him stay in peace even outside the country. His life and security remained constantly under threat.

The reactionary state has also delved into coming out with numerous concoctions of several criminal charges against Ka Joema. The Arroyo regime’s Inter-Agency Legal Action Group was specifically busy day-in and day-out manufacturing trumped-up criminal charges against Ka Joema and other leaders of the national democratic movement.

With the connivance between U.S. imperialism and successive kowtowing regimes in his home country, Ka Joema has been placed and continues to be maintained in the list of “terrorists” and thus made vulnerable to arrests and harassments.

In late August 2007, the U.S. and its puppet Arroyo regime went to the extent of conniving to make the Dutch police arrest and place him in solitary confinement. Ka Joema’s and the NDFP leadership’s and peace panel’s papers, computer disks and files were confiscated. As the Dutch court found no sufficient basis for his imprisonment, he was released after 16 days, and the files were also returned but important files were damaged.

Even in exile and subjected to threats and harassments, however, Ka Joema remains undeterred from continuing with his work and contributions to the people’s struggles and revolutionary movement in his home country and in the world. His comprehensive grasp of and insights into local and world situation and sharpness in thusly defining revolutionary strategy and tactics have not at all dulled but have even become more advanced and developed with age, the protracted struggle and rich summed-up experiences and revolutionary practice.

Aside from his continuing ideological and political leadership in the revolutionary movement in the homefront and his being chief political consultant of the NDFP and its peace panel, Ka Joema presently chairs the International League of People’s Struggles, an international organization with the objective of promoting peoples struggles and progressive organizations throughout the world.

He has also been very keen on the need to help strengthen fraternal relations among revolutionary parties and to help develop the international communist movement.

All these continuing efforts and work of Ka Joema are evident that prison and exile—itself an extension of prison—are still not enough to shackle revolutionaries like Ka Joema.

His efforts,keenness, work and achievements continue to guide and inspire us, political prisoners. with revolutionary and pro-people aspirations, and a great many more in the revolutionary movement outside of prison.

CPP/Sison: Remarks at Launch of Three Books

Posted to the CPP Website (Feb 8): Remarks at Launch of Three Books

Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman
Communist Party of the Philippines
 At the University of the Philippines SOLAIR,
Diliman, Quezon City on February 8, 2014

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am deeply pleased and honored by the publication of the three books: “Defeating Revisionism, Reformism and Opportunism”, “Building Strength through Struggle” and “Celebration”. I thank the publishers and the organizers, speakers and all other participants in the launch of these books today.

I am delighted that this book launch marks and lends meaning to the 55th year of my service to the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people as well as the 75th year of my existence outside the womb.

Defeating Revisionism, Reformism and Opportunism and Building Strength through Struggle are the second and third books in the series of five books under the general title of Continuing the Philippine Revolution. The first book is Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution and was issued in July last year. The fourth and fifth books, Detention and Defiance Against Dictatorship and Continuing the Struggle for National and Social Liberation, will be issued in the next few months. The five books span the years 1968 to 1990.

Defeating Revisionism, Reformism and Opportunism is a necessary companion of the first book, Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution. You must read the two books because they are complementary and interlap in time.

Resuming the Philippine revolution in 1968 was not simply a matter of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reestablishing itself by adopting the ideological line of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the general political line of people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war against such obvious enemies as US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.

It was also imperatively a matter of rectifying errors and opposing modern revisionism centered in the Soviet Union and peddled by local revisionists, against reformism most touted at the time by the bourgeois nationalists and labor aristocrats and by both the incubators of Marcosian authoritarianism and clerico-fascism under the shared guise of constitutional reform and against opportunism in the history and circumstances of the old merger party of the Communist and Socialist Parties.

The CPP studied seriously Mao’s victorious leadership of the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution, all the way to his critique of modern revisionism and his theory and practice of continuing revolution under the proletarian state through cultural revolution in order to combat revisionism, prevent capitalist restoration and consolidate socialism.

Even as the cultural revolution was defeated in China itself after some years of victory in the period of 1966 to 1976, the anti-revisionist struggle of Mao has a strong influence on the CPP in terms of firming up the revolutionary will and inspiring the militancy of cadres and members. It explains why and how socialist societies degenerate from within and disintegrate without suffering any defeat from an imperialist war of aggression. It poses the problem of revisionism and capitalist restoration and offers the solution to be realized and developed in the long transition of of socialism to communism.

Building Strength through Struggle is the third book in the series and covers the period from the proclamation of martial law in 1972 to my capture on November 10, 1977. It extends and further develops the founding principles, policies and lines of action in the resumption of the Philippine revolution.

It elaborates the why and how the Filipino proletariat and people struggled and employed the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the armed struggle and the united front against the US-instigated Marcos fascist dictatorship. It contains the documents and articles that guided the nationwide expansion and advance of the revolutionary forces. It shows how the strength of the people was built precisely through revolutionary struggle. It was in the period of 1972 to 1977 that the revolutionary forces struck deep roots among the people, especially among the toiling masses, on a national scale.

Among the most important documents in this period are the following:

1. “Overthrow the US-Marcos Dictatorship to Achieve National Freedom and Democracy”, which was issued shortly after the proclamation of martial law in September 1972, condemned the dictatorship as an ultra-reactionary instrument of US imperialism and the local exploiting classes and called for its overthrow through people’s war.

2. “Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government” , which was promulgated in 1972, laid down the principles, policies and methods for building the revolutionary government in the countryside to replace the counterrevolutionary state of the big compradors and landlords based in the urban areas.

3. “Specific Characteristics of Our People’s War in the Philippines”, which was published in 1975, creatively applied Chairman Mao Zedong’s principles of people’s war to concrete Philippine conditions based on the experience gained by the NPA and taking into account the relatively wide countryside and the archipelagic and mountainous character of the country as well as the domestic and international situation.

4. “Our Urgent Tasks”, which was issued in 1975, sharpened the general political line as one of combating fascism, feudalism and imperialism and called on the revolutionary forces to carry out the the urgent tasks and the proper methods and steps in building various types of mass organizations and the local organs of political power and waging mass campaigns. Since then, the armed revolutionary mass base has grown, providing the ever widening and and ever deepening basis for carrying out protracted people’s war.

5. “The 10-Point Program of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which was first outlined in 1973 and elaborated upon in 1977, spelled out the strategy and tactics for overthrowing the Marcos autocracy. The NDFP has been consolidated thereby as a united front of the basic revolutionary forces and has served as a base for engaging in broader alliances in order isolate and destroy the enemy at every given time.

The decisions taken by the CPP Central Committee were resolutely and militantly implemented by the Party rank and file, the New People’s Army and the masses. The ground for fighting and defeating the Marcos fascist dictatorship was well laid on a national scale from 1972 to 1977. Thus, even after I was captured by the enemy on November 10, 1977, I continued to be confident that the Filipino people and their revolutionary cause would prevail over the enemy.

Prior to my capture, the theoretical and political groundwork had already been set for the people to achieve revolutionary victories, leading ultimately to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. It served to strengthen the fighting will, capabilities and methods (strategy and tactics) of the people and revolutionary forces even against the recrudescence of “Left” and Right opportunism among some elements in the CPP leadership in the 1980s.

It is necessary to read and study all the contents of Building Strength through Struggle in order to understand why and how the people’s democratic revolution had caused the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, how it has continued to fight and win victories against the pseudo-democratic regimes, how it has frustrated subjectivist and opportunist trends and how it has excelled as a torch bearer of armed revolution led by the proletariat amidst the dominance of neocolonialism in the underdeveloped countries, the full restoration of capitalism in former revisionist-ruled countries and the neoliberal plunder and aggression of the imperialist powers worldwide.

I am glad that Celebration is reissued, after improvement and updating. Once more I thank all the contributors to the book for appreciating the service that I have tried to render to the Filipino proletariat and people in their struggle for national liberation and democracy in preparation for a socialist future.

The broad masses of the Filipino people are suffering more than ever before amid the worsening conditions of exploitation and oppression brought about by foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. They have no choice but to wage revolutionary struggle more resolutely and more militantly for national freedom, democracy, social justice, genuine development and revolutionary solidarity with other peoples.

May the books launched today help to shed light on the road of revolution. I am confident that the current and future generations of Filipino revolutionaries will continue to advance the national democratic revolution to victory, and onward to socialism. Thank you.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Unleash a surge of protest to hold the US-Aquino regime accountable

Ang Bayan editorial posted to the CPP Website (Feb 8): Unleash a surge of protest to hold the US-Aquino regime accountable

CPP Ang Bayan
More than two months after supertyphoon Yolanda’s rising seas and howling winds laid waste to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across vast areas of the Visayas, it is now the people’s turn to surge in anger and protest against the Aquino regime’s criminal negligence and extreme incompetence.

On January 25, the collective footsteps of up to 12,000 victims of typhoon Yolanda thundered through Tacloban’s main thoroughfare. Like single waves gathering to create a powerful ocean tide, the people’s mass movement vigorously bared the people’s real conditions and cried for an end to the ruling regime that persists in stifling the reality of widespread devastation, poverty and hunger.

The surge of protest in Eastern Visayas in January provided but a glimpse of the even more powerful surge of action by the Filipino people against the ruling US-Aquino regime. From Tacloban and other Visayan cities, the protests of victims of typhoon Yolanda and others who have suffered from the Aquino regime’s neglect must surge towards the national urban centers.

The unity of the people of Eastern Visayas must likewise be further expanded to include the solidarity of all victims of typhoon Yolanda throughout the Visayas, and other calamities of recent years such as typhoons Pablo, Sendong and Santi, the Bohol earthquake and floods caused by the strong monsoon rains.

The vast majority of calamity victims come from the toiling masses, with their devastation stemming from the ruling regime’s refusal to use the state’s resources to ensure their safety and provide adequate systems and facilities to save people’s lives and properties. Even in the face of such widespread devastation, the ruling regime has confined itself to providing limited relief.

Calamity victims are victimized twice over by thieves in the bureaucracy who pocket disaster and emergency relief funds and even aid provided by international agencies.

They are likewise victimized by the lack of rehabilitation programs tailor-made for victims of disaster. The reactionary regime belittles the havoc that has befallen the masses’ livelihoods and the threat of widespread hunger. It has not undertaken emergency measures such as cancelling or assuming debts owed by farmers from banks or loan sharks or provided investment funds to enable farmers to plant and make the land productive.

Worse, the Aquino regime has even been invoking the need for rehabilitation to pour funds, not to uplift the victims economically, but to benefit the businesses of its big bourgeois comprador allies.

The calamity victims’ cries for justice must merge with the cries of the entire Filipino people for genuine land reform, a just increase in wages and lower prices for oil, electricity, water, food, medicine and other commodities. Even as they assail the severely inadequate budgets for disaster preparedness and mitigation, they raise their cries against the relentless budgetary cuts for education, health and other social services.

The entire people must unite to hold Benigno Aquino III accountable for his crimes not only in terms of his gross negligence of the victims of disaster, but for paving the way for a handful of landlords, big local and foreign capitalists to exploit the people and cause them to suffer.

The surge of protest in Eastern Visayas must signal the start of giant storms of people’s protests that will put an end to this baleful regime.

Military recruiting Ifugaos to join CAFGU

From the Philippine Star (Feb 8): Military recruiting Ifugaos to join CAFGU

Ifugaos are being recruited to join the Citizen Armed Geographical Unit (CAFGU), the Philippine Army’s auxiliary force in fighting insurgents.

The AFP announced its recruitment campaign in Ifugao in its bid to support its regular forces “in the protection of life and property and to help in the delivery of services to the community particularly in times of calamities.”

The recruitment is open to male or  female natural born Filipino, preferably 18-40 years old but not more than 45 years of age, at least high school level with no pending case and physically fit to perform duty.

Recruited CAFGUs have the chance to be part of the community peace and development and part-time soldier.

Benfits include educational and medical programs and assistance.

Qualified recruits, the Philippine Army said, can avail  themselves of separation gratuity pay for optional resignation of at least five years of CAFGU active auxiliary (CAA).

Those who want to be recruited are required to present  National Statistics Office  birth certificate and clearances from  barangay, police and mayor’s office.

The whole Northern and Central Luzon provinces have been declared insurgency-free.

However, in 2013,  three policemen were killed and two others were wounded when NPA rebels attacked them in Ifugao. Three policemen on training were also killed in Tadian town, Mt. Province  after rebels opened fire at jogging policemen undertaking counter-insurgency training.

Businesswoman abducted by gunmen in Tawi-Tawi

From the Philippine Star (Feb 8): Businesswoman abducted by gunmen in Tawi-Tawi

A group of gunmen suspected to have link with the terrorist group of Abu Sayyaf have abducted a trader in an island town in Tawi-Tawi, police said Saturday.

According to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police regional office, reports received form Tawi-Tawi police identified the abductee as Sugar Diane Buenviaje, 33, a shopkeeper in Mapun.

Police reported that 3 gunmen barged into the shop of the victim on Friday afternoon and took her at gunpoint before herding her towards the getaway speedboat in the nearby shorelines of Lyubud village and sped off towards unknown direction.

Police in Tawi-Tawi province immediately alerted the neighboring provinces of Sulu and Basilan and even Palawan, which are all possible areas where the suspects escaped with their captive businesswoman.

The family of the victim has not received any contact from the kidnappers, according to the ARMM police headquarters.

MILF still open for Kato's return --Iqbal

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8): MILF still open for Kato's return --Iqbal

The chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels, Mohaqher Iqbal, has said his group is open to accept Ameril Omra Kato, chair of the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF).

Iqbal, speaking during the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) main office in Cotabato City, said the MILF has been trying to establish a bridge that would pave the way for the return of Kato to the main guerrilla forces.

"We have been trying to win him back because we are inclusive, but our efforts failed," Iqbal told Secretary Teresita Deles and Local Governments Secretary Manuel A. Roxas who were special guests of the program.

Also in attendance were Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu.

"We did our best but still we failed," Iqbal said, adding that the MILF still remained open to accept Kato back.

Chief government negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer had been urging Kato to help bring about peace in Mindanao by joining the peace process instead of using arms to fight the government and displaced thousands of Muslim civilians whom they vowed to protect.

Kato, about 75 years old, broke away from the MILF in 2008 following the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, formed the BIFF and continued the struggle for Mindanao independence.

Iqbal has repeatedly called on sectors opposed to the establishment of a new Bangsamoro political entity to support the efforts to resolve the decades-old problem in southern Philippines.

"There's no other better option but to support the GPH-MILF peace process because it is inclusive," Iqbal added.

Roxas assured BTC members of Malacanang's all-out support for the passage of the bill that will eventually create the new Bangsamoro political government.

A proposed bill on Bangsamoro is being crafted by the BTC which is composed of seven representative from the government and eight from the MILF.

Deles added that police action against the BIFF will continue even if the peace panels are almost striking a peace deal that would formalize the 14 years peace process.

She said the ceasefire is between the GPH and MILF and not with the BIFF, thus police punitive action will continue.

At least 50 BIFF members were killed when the Army's 6th Infantry Division launched surgical operations against the BIFF forces who resisted when police-led state forces were serving arrest warrants for the rebels facing various charges.

The week-long fighting also displaced about 10,000 civilians in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, many of whom have refused to return home.

US destroyer Pinckney capable of taking care of herself

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 8): US destroyer Pinckney capable of taking care of herself

The USS Pinckney (DDG-91), a guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy now at anchor at Manila's South Harbor for a five-day goodwill visit, has no need of escorts as she is very capable of defending herself against air, surface, and sub-surface threats.

This fact was made known during Saturday's media tour of the ship which was named after Navy Cook William Pinckney, who was awarded the Navy Cross for rescuing a fellow crew member during the Battle of Santa Cruz in Solomon Islands in 1942.

The American vessel arrived at the Manila South Harbor last Friday and will be leaving by Feb. 11.

For starters, the USS Pinckney is armed with Mark 45 Model 4 5-inch caliber which is capable of engaging any air and surface targets with a high rate of fire (around 120 rounds per minute) ensuring of its neutralization.

Aside from this, the ship is also equipped with a 20mm Phalanx CIWS (closed-in weapon system) which is capable of firing 4,500 rounds per minute, literally creating a cloud of lead impossible for any missile, rocket and aircraft to penetrate.

This weapon, as seen by this writer, is located in the ship's stern.

According to Capt. Frank Okada, USS Pinckney's commanding officer, the CIWS acts as the ship's last line of defense against threats emanating from the air.

He said that CIWS can operate independently from the ship's other weapon systems.

Other armaments of the USS Pinckney are two Mark 41 VLS (vertical launching systems) which are capable of firing a mixture of Standard and Tomahawk missiles, anti-submarine rockets and the evolved Sea Sparrow missile.

The two Mark 41 VLS are equivalent to 96 cells (firing tubes).

Adding more punch to the USS Pinckney is its two MH-60R Seahawk LAMPS III which is capable of detecting and destroying submarines.

These aircraft uses sonobuoys to locate submarine threats and once determined hostile, it can sink such threats at will, using its Mark 46 anti-submarine torpedoes.

The MH-60s has a loiter time of three hours and is capable of conducting aerial and rescue missions.

"With the versatility offered by our various weapon systems and our MH-60s, the USS Pinckney is well equipped to deal with any threats," Okada said.

The USS Pinckney is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy.

She is named after Cook First Class William Pinckney (1915–1975), who received the Navy Cross for his courageous rescue of a fellow crew member on board USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Santa Cruz.

The USS Pinckney was laid down on July 16, 2001 by Ingalls Shipbuilding at Pascagoula, Mississippi; launched on June 26, 2002; and commissioned on May 29, 2004 at Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme.