Wednesday, February 12, 2014

OPAPP, DILG to mainstream peace, dev’t

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 12): OPAPP, DILG to mainstream peace, dev’t

The Office of the Presidential Assistance on the Peace Process (OPAPP)and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)  have joined forces to mainstream peace and development in local governance.

They conducted two-day Local Peace and Development Assessment and Planning Workshop for each of the provinces of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental aimed at updating the status of the peace process with the CPP/NPA/NDF and revisiting the existing conflict analysis of the PAMANA province.

Running from Feb. 10 to 14, the planning workshop was also aimed at identifying the gaps and peace building needs based on the conflict analysis as well as resources to address these gaps and proposing of enhancements to the existing PAMANA implementing structures and processes.

The activity is designed to integrate the peace and development agenda within the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC)’s Integrated Area Community and Public Safety Plan or Peace and Order Public Safety Plan.

During the on-going planning-workshop for Davao del Norte conducted from Feb. 11 to 12 at the Garden Oases in DavaoCity,  seven modules are being discussed.

The modules deal on  Local Governance and Peacebuilding, Orientation on Government Peace-building Programs, the Local Peace and Development Situation, Revisiting the Conflict Analysis of the Province of Davao del Norte; Identifying Gaps in Responding to Identified Conflict Issues; Assessment on Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan; and Discussion on the PAMANA Operational Arrangements.

Aside from local government executives, participants to the planning workshop also include officials from the Philippine Army, national line agencies which are identified members of the Provincial Peace and Order Councils (PPOC)s and civil society organizations.

Palawan police on alert vs possible NPA retaliation after arrest of top leader

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Palawan police on alert vs possible NPA retaliation after arrest of top leader

The Palawan Provincial Police Office (PPO) has placed on heightened alert all its municipal police stations (MPS) in 23 towns against the remaining armed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) for possible retaliation following the arrest of its top leader during the weekend.

Police Senior Superintendent David Martinez, head of the provincial police, said Wednesday that he issued a directive placing all MPS to be on heightened alert after the capture of Sonny Gonzales, alias Gilbert Silagan, Ka Marlon and Ka Glenn, the provincial commander of the leftist movement in the province, and his wife Alma Moreno, alias Ka Carol in Bataraza town last weekend.

"All our municipal police stations are now on heightened alert because I immediately issued a directive to them after the arrest of Gonzales. We have a directive for them to be extra vigilant against any possible retaliation considering Gonzales' position as provincial commander of the CPP-NPA," he said.

Martinez also added that he has ordered the strengthening of intelligence monitoring all over Palawan to ensure that the remaining CPP-NPA armed members would not to destabilize the peace and order situation in the province.

The provincial police chief also called on residents of Palawan to help authorities to stop the insurgency problem by reporting any movement of the armed members, who remain to be in hiding.

"In this situation, the support of the people of Palawan is very important. They are in the areas and they can see who are new faces moving around," he said.

On Sunday morning, police authorities captured Gonzales and Moreno in Barangay Inogbong, Bataraza after more than 13 years in hiding. Martinez said they did not put up fights.

A total of 20 cases will be filed against them for murder, arson, robbery and others, including failed roadside ambushes staged against troops of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and elements of the PPO stationed in the province.

DSWD-12 completes P24.7M peace projects in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): DSWD-12 completes P24.7M peace projects in North Cotabato

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-12) Thursday announced the completion of a total of P27.7 million of various community peace projects in Pikit, North Cotabato, an agency official said Thursday.

Gemma Rivera, DSWD-12 assistant regional director, said the completed projects are now benefited by 17,319 households in the different villages of Pikit, a conflict-affected town in the region.

Completed projects include community and peace learning centers, water systems, pre and post-harvest facilities including solar drier, off-hand tractor with trailer, rice thresher and miller, corn sheller and others.

“These community projects were identified and considered as the most pressing needs of different villages of the town,” Rivera said, adding that DSWD had consulted beneficiaries about what projects they need badly.

The projects, according to Rivera, go beyond infrastructures since the process itself fosters peaceful relations between and among communities and addresses the root of conflict.

The projects were realized in partnership of DSWD through one of the agency’s poverty-reduction programs, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-A Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) through Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or Peaceful and Resilient Communities (PAMANA) Program, and the local government unit of Pikit.

PAMANA is the government’s flagship peace and development framework to strengthen peacebuilding, reconstruction and development in conflict affected and vulnerable areas that is in line with the goal of putting a permanent and just closure to internal armed conflicts of the country.

Known as Kalahi-CIDSS-PAMANA project, it employs the community-driven development strategy, where peace and development priorities are addressed in a participatory, collective and inclusive decision-making process, according to Hilbert Estacion, DSWD-12 regional corporate marketing chair.

Training of AW-109 pilots, flight crews proceeding smoothly

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 13): Training of AW-109 pilots, flight crews proceeding smoothly
Training for the pilots and flight crews of the Navy's three brand-new AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters is going smoothly.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, said that the training is being conducted by technical representatives of AgustaWestland.

Training started late December and will continue until the end of March.

The PN has around seven pilots assigned per AW-109 while flight crew for the helicopter is placed between 21 to 30 personnel.

During the said period, pilots and their crews are taught to fly the aircraft, operate its various systems and how to maintain and keep the helicopters airworthy.

Fabic said that the PN is pleased with the training support being extended by the manufacturers.

Aside from these, PN personnel are now undergoing training in the proper usage and deployment of the forward looking infrared (FLIR) and night vision equipment (NVG) which are installed in the aircraft.

"With its FLIR, the AW-109s have a more enhanced search-and-rescue capability than any of our existing aircraft. Also, it is fitted with a night vision gear making it very ideal to conduct missions during the night-time," Fabic said earlier.

FLIR uses an imaging technology that senses infrared radiation.

The sensors installed in forward-looking infrared cameras—as well as those of other thermal imaging cameras—use detection of infrared radiation, typically emitted from a heat source (thermal radiation), to create a "picture" assembled for video output.

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

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

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

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

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

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

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

Kerry to take harder US line on Asia maritime disputes to China

From InterAksyon (Feb 13): Kerry to take harder US line on Asia maritime disputes to China

The United States fired a shot across China's bow a week ago by taking a tougher stance on maritime disputes in East Asia, a message Secretary of State John Kerry will amplify in Beijing this week.

The high tensions in Asia over Beijing's territorial claims in the East China and South China Seas will be near the top of Kerry's agenda when he meets senior Chinese officials on Friday. He will also discuss North Korea and climate change.

Kerry's top aide for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel, drew a harder US line last week on a series of maritime disputes between China and its neighbors.

"It (Russel's testimony) certainly indicates a sharper tack in terms of the concerns we have and the steps we want China to take" on maritime disputes, said a senior State Department official. "Secretary Kerry will continue to press the Chinese to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and caution against the provocative nature of some of China's actions."

Russel faulted recent steps by China, including its November 23 declaration of an air defense zone (ADIZ) in an area of the East China Sea that includes islands at the center of a dispute with Japan, and suggested its South China Sea territorial claims that do not flow from land features are "fundamentally flawed."

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square km (1.35 million square miles) South China Sea, depicting what it sees as its area on maps with a so-called nine-dash line, looping far out over the sea from south China.

The United States is increasingly worried that China is trying to gain creeping control of the waters in the Asia-Pacific region and Russel said its claims had "created uncertainty, insecurity and instability."

Kerry left Washington on Wednesday for a one-week trip to Seoul, Beijing, Jakarta and Abu Dhabi.

Even though it will be Kerry's fifth visit to Asia since taking office a year ago, he has faced criticism for the time he has devoted to Middle East peace efforts rather than President Barack Obama’s much vaunted policy of rebalancing the US military and economic focus toward Asia.

Doubts about this US commitment were highlighted in October when Obama called off plans to attend two summits in Asia because of a budget crisis at home, so the tougher stance signaled by Russel will be welcome in much of the region outside of China.

Analysts said Russel appeared to firmly blame China for the territorial disputes, warned against any attempt by the Chinese to declare a new ADIZ in the South China Sea and suggested that Chinese claims were not supported by international law.

'New model relationship'

China, in response to Russel's comments, accused the United States of undermining peace and development in the Asia-Pacific in a Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday that also said "these actions are not constructive”.

Chinese officials described Kerry's trip as an "important" visit in which China would explore ways to strengthen ties and seek to deepen the "new model relationship" proposed when the US and Chinese presidents met in California last year.

"We want to make that concept come alive," one Chinese official said on Tuesday.

Jonathan Pollack, an analyst with the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, said the United States and China may have very different concepts of a "new model" of great power relationships, a phrase both have used.

"What Kerry will probably say is that the all too frequent kind of truculence that China is demonstrating in relation to a number of its neighbors is hardly the kind of confidence-builder that would leave the US assured of the ability to create that kind of relationship," Pollack said.

"He will undoubtedly be explicit that the United States wants the relationship with China to be stable and productive in the longer term, but it's not going to be done at the cost of critical relationships with states that are China's near neighbors," he added.

Kerry met Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington on Friday and stressed the US commitment to defend Japan and stability in the Asia-Pacific region against the backdrop of Chinese territorial claims.

The United States flew B-52s through the Chinese air defense zone after it was declared last year. US officials have warned that a declaration of another zone in the South China Sea could result in changes to US military deployments in the region.

Jia Qingguo, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, said Beijing may try to reassure Kerry it does not want a conflict with Japan, even though it has not backed down over the East China Sea ADIZ.

"You have to stand up to the US when the so-called important interests of China are concerned," Jia said of the Foreign Ministry's angry response to Russel's comments, saying this reflected domestic politics as well as foreign policy.

"But this does not mean that the two countries cannot pragmatically manage this kind of issue," he said.

The first stop on Kerry's trip is Seoul, where the main topic is likely to be North Korea, which over the weekend rescinded an invitation to a US diplomat to visit Pyongyang to discuss the fate of an imprisoned US missionary.

Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old Korean-American, has been held for more than a year in North Korea after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges of trying to overthrow the state.

The United States has long sought to persuade China to use its economic leverage over the North, which has conducted three nuclear tests, to rein in its nuclear program.

From Seoul he travels on to Beijing and then to Jakarta, where he will give a speech on climate change in a country that is among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because it is an archipelago made up of more than 17,000 islands.

With South China Sea tensions as backdrop, Obama visits Philippines in April

From InterAksyon (Feb 13): With South China Sea tensions as backdrop, Obama visits Philippines in April

US President Barack Obama will seek to ease questions over the staying power of his strategic shift to increasingly tense East Asia in April with stops in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea.

Obama's visits to Manila and Kuala Lumpur are intended to make up for his no-show when he cancelled a previous Asia tour in October amid domestic political strife in Washington.

A subtext to his visit will be rising territorial tensions between several US allies and China, which deepened over Beijing's recent declaration of an "air defense identification zone" in the East China Sea.

Beijing was also angered last week when Washington stiffened its line on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, calling for it to adjust or clarify its claims.

Obama's stops in Japan and South Korea will also bolster close US alliances, at a time of aggravated political tensions between its two Northeast Asian friends.

It was an open secret that Obama would call in Japan in April, to take up an invitation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December 2012.

But the decision to add South Korea to the trip came after rising pressure from Seoul and from the Asia policy community in Washington.

The move also reflects a desire to signal to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un that there are no gaps in US and South Korean resolve to counter Pyongyang's nuclear program and belligerent rhetoric.

It also indicates that Obama is keen to avoid dealing a political slight to South Korean President Park Geun-Hye that could result from a presidential visit to Tokyo and not one to Seoul.

Relations between the two nations were severely rattled by Abe's December visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among Japan's war dead.

Obama's Asia itinerary also includes one noticeable exception -- a stop in China. But he is expected to return to the region later in the year for regional summits in Australia, Beijing and Myanmar.

The White House said in a statement that Obama's April trip will highlight his "ongoing commitment to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region."

He is certain to try to push negotiations on a vast Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that would include 12 nations, and is seen by some observers as an attempt to meet the economic challenge of a rising China.

The president however may encounter some skepticism from regional partners because Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, a key Obama ally, has expressed skepticism about granting him expanded powers to negotiate trade deals.

In light of Reid's remarks, Pacific Rim nations may be loath to make concessions in the trade talks, fearing that any deal agreed may be modified by the US Congress.

Obama will stop first in Japan where he will meet Abe. Then he will travel to Seoul for talks with Park, likely to be dominated by North Korea's latest maneuvering on the divided peninsula.

Pyongyang is currently fuming at the prospect of annual US-South Korean military exercises starting later this month and that it views as an act of war.

From Seoul, Obama will head to Malaysia to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak to discuss deepening defense and military ties.

Obama's final stop will be Manila, where he will meet President Benigno Aquino and discuss evolving military relations designed to include rotations of US troops in the country.

The White House did not give exact dates for the trip, other than saying it would take place in late April.

Obama has declared he is America's first "Pacific President" and announced a rebalancing of military and strategic resources to the dynamic, fast-growing region.

But the cancellation of his trip last year, and the departure from his administration of big political hitters committed to the Asia pivot like former secretaries of state and defense Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, have prompted some concern in the region over US staying power.

4 rebels surrender in Northern Samar

From the Philippine Star (Feb 12): 4 rebels surrender in Northern Samar

Four communist rebels recently surrendered to military troops in Northern Samar and will avail of the government’s social integration program.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, spokesman of the Army’s 3rd division, said a New People’s Army (NPA) member identified by the aliases “Macky” and “Baba” turned himself over to the 34th Infantry Battalion last February 7.

“He surrendered due to the hardship and difficulties he had experienced inside the rebel movement,” Gutierrez said.

The rebel also surrendered a .22 pistol to the Army troops.

Three more insurgents, who used to be part of an NPA militia unit, surrendered the following day in Gamay, Northern Samar. The military, however, declined to identify the three rebels, citing security reasons.

Gutierrez attributed the surrender to the military's development programs in the area.

Under the local social integration program of Northern Samar, a rebel returnee will receive P10,000 worth of immediate assistance and P30,000 worth of  livelihood assistance. The former rebels will receive their benefits after completing some documentary requirements.

“The surrender of the NPA personalities depicts the general sentiment of the people in communities where NPA rebels have influence but given the chance to choose between the path to peace and violence, NPA rebels will choose peace,” said Lt. Col. Rodrigo Ilustrismo, chief of the 34th Infantry Battalion.

“With the program that Northern Samar is implementing, we are looking at more NPA rebels returning to the mainstream and contributing to the nation’s march to peace and progress,” he added.

Meanwhile, a soldier was wounded in a clash with NPA members in Monkayo, Compostela Valley last Tuesday.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao, said the encounter happened within the vicinity of Sitio Sapdan, Barangay Casoon at around 12:30 p.m.

“A soldier was wounded in the one-hour clash while civilians reported that the NPA (rebels) were seen dragging three heavily-wounded companions,” Caber said.

“Troops are on its effort to search NPA casualties and their armaments left in the area,” he added.

Members of the 25th Infantry Battalion recovered two M14 and M16 rifles, two landmines, 200 meters detonating wire, medical paraphernalia, personal belongings and subversive documents from the encounter site.

MNLF-BIFF alliance formed

From Tempo (Feb 12): MNLF-BIFF alliance formed

A Moro leader yesterday confirmed the alliance between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a development that could threaten the framework agreement entered into by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government.

Hadji Acmad Bayam, former chief propagandist of the then undivided MNLF, confirmed the alliance between the BIFF and the MNLF faction of founding chairman Nur Misuari.

The other MNLF factions are led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema and Habib Mujahab Hashim of the MNLF-Islamic Command Council.

“This will complicate the overall peace process,” said Bayam.

The BIFF has fought the military in Maguindanao after rejecting the peace talks between the government and MILF.

Misuari, on the other hand, also made known his opposition.

Bayam claimed “the 1976 Tripoli Agreement is the only (peace deal) regarding the Mindanao problem that is unanimously supported by the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation).”

He said the GPH-MILF’s Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) does not satisfy the letter and spirit of the Tripoli Agreement as per the OIC and MNLF’s interpretation.

Bayam, however, did not venture to say what concrete action the MNLF-Misuari and BIFF intend to do to spoil the GPH-MILF peace process.

Bangsamoro transition team to hold info campaign in Zambo, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi

From the Zamboanga Today (Feb 12): Bangsamoro transition team to hold info campaign in Zambo, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi

The 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission will visit Zamboanga City this week for an information campaign to update and keep the public well informed on the status and developments of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

A source said the Transition Commission will visit the city to inform status of their mission and to help explain about their work on the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with all agreements entered and that may be entered into by the Parties.

The source said the visit aims at conducting talks over developments of the Transition Commission’s mission. But it did not say whether the province of Basilan including its component city, Isabela, is included or not in the itinerary of BTC.

All leaders and stakeholders including the local government officials in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi will also discuss what has been agreed by the government and the MILF in so far the final annexes on normalization and addendum on the Bangsamoro waters.

Sulu Rep. Habib Tupay Loong, chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, confirmed the visit of GPH and MILF peace panels to the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

He said he received an invitation from the provincial government of Sulu informing him that the GPH and the MILF peace panels  will be in Sulu on February 13, Thursday, for a public hearing.

“I understand after Sulu, they will proceed to Tawi-Tawi,” said Loong, adding that the visiting peace team will be headed by the chairmen of the GPH and the MILF panels Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal.

“Their principal purpose of going to Sulu is to inform the people on what is being agreed by the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF. So we have to wait for the result of their report on what transpired therein in the final annexes on normalizationt,” Loong said.

Asked about his impression on the on going peace process, Loong said: “The government with the OIC, MNLF and the MILF should sit down together and discuss carefully all the differences of the two Fronts.”

Loong said he wants government and the MILF to incorporate the 42 consensus points that had been agreed upon by government, MNLF and Organization of Islamic Conference in the tripartite review, which have been engaged by the concerned parties since November 2007.

According to Loong, “This (42 consensus points) must be incorporated in the proposed Organic Act so that the advocacy of the MNLF will become part on the Bangsamoro basic law that we are going to ratify. If they’re going to abolish the ARMM, which is considered as a fruit of sacrifices of the MNLF, without incorporating the 42 consensus points the MNLF will feel as if they are taken for granted, but what foresee this will (issues) be discussed properly and extensively before this will be discussed in the final forum (in the committee level and in the plenary).”

However, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Deles earlier shrugged off the critics’ claims that they abrogated the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

Stressing that the government wishes to incorporate into the proposed Bangsamoro basic law all the best features of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, as well as those in the Organic Act on the ARMM or Republic Act [RA] 9054, Deles explained that the government had adopted the 42 consensus points agreed upon during the tripartite process involving the Philippine government, the MNLF and the OIC.

“These consensus points have already been conveyed to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that is tasked to prepare the draft bill to be submitted to the President and Congress,” Deles said.

The proposed political entity or Bangsamoro ministerial government is facing resistance from the majority people of Zamboanga City who opted not to be part in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2007 and 2001 plebiscites.

It is also opposed by Nur Misuari-led MNLF faction and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a disgruntled faction of the MILF.

Former mayor now Congressman Celso Lobregat of the 1st district of Zamboanga City questioned the legality of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and its four annexes. He said there are “gray areas” in the FAB, which need public scrutiny

The FAB, comprised of four annexes – the modalities and transitional arrangements, wealth sharing, power sharing, and normalization, or the decommissioning of rebels and introduction of programs to help them, will  pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity.

Lobregat  has  always criticized the government-MILF talks since he was mayor of Zamboanga City for three consecutive terms, prior to his election as congressman in 2013.

The BTC is eyeing a March 31 deadline to complete the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Its main task: Rework the four annexes of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement into specific legislative measures. This will then serve as the legal basis for the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro government.

The BTC is also working on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreements.

It is also tasked to coordinate whenever necessary development programs in Bangsamoro communities in conjunction with the MILF Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and other agencies.

Since it was created in April last year, the Transition Commission has conducted several formal sessions and other informal gatherings.

A referendum that will define the Bangsamoro government’s core territory should be held at least by early next year.

The Commission is moving heaven and earth to stay on track, since the ultimate goal is to have the new political entity in place by 2016.

MILF: Bangsamoro alliance formed to help address concerns affecting Muslims in Gensan

From the MILF Website (Feb 12): Bangsamoro alliance formed to help address concerns affecting Muslims in Gensan

Different Moro organizational and tribal leaders in General Santos City formed an alliance to solidify their ranks and work altogether to help address issues and concerns affecting the Bangsamoro constituents of town.

After series of meetings and consultations, the concerned Moro leaders formally created the Bangsamoro Organization for Cooperation (BOC) on February 9, 2014.

The Moro leaders realized the need to build stronger alliance to deal with the major issues such as poverty, marginalization, lack of representation of Moro in the local legislative bodies and discrimination against Muslims especially on employment.

“Muslim job seekers have to use Christian names when applying for jobs to get hired,” lead convener Morie Guiam said in his presentation.

Some of the Moro leaders noted the difficulty for Muslims to rent for an office spaces in Christian owned buildings.

Other concerns they identified include lack of scholarship opportunity, absence of praying area in hospitals, colleges and terminals, absence of Muslim blood  bank, and lack of Muslim public cemetery on which the city government is bent on establishing one.

Ustadz Akman Abtahi, chairman of Purok Bangsamoro in Barangay Calumpang, said their group is willing to work with the city government and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos to help develop the Muslims in Gensan.

BOC will serve as the voice of the Muslims in Gensan. Its primary objective is to initiate actions geared towards the socio-cultural, educational and economic development of the Muslims in the city.

Abtahi enjoin the Moro constituents of the city to partake in their endeavor as it will benefit the majority of the Muslims. “If everyone moves, we will be able to resolve many problems we are facing,” he stressed.

Guiam said they still welcome other Moro organizations and stakeholders to join BOC. The conveners have outlined series of initiatives and capability-building trainings geared towards strengthening their alliance.

Ahmad Bello, one of the BOC conveners, said they consider various options to realize their undertakings especially collaborating with government agencies. He said BOC will exist as non-partisan to political parties.

BOC join other concerned groups pushing for a Maguindanaon representation in the Sangguniang Panlunsod and has nominated names to the city mayor that will constitute the Task Force Public Muslim Cemetery.

The city government has allotted P5M for the Muslim cemetery. The conveners and other concerned Muslim leaders have already tapped the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 12 to help locate public land that can be develop as memorial site for the Muslims.

More than 20 Moro leaders, development workers and concerned Muslims constitute the alliance coming from the Maguindanaon, Maranao, Sangir and Tausog tribes.

Navy donates allowances for Leyte, Bohol school buildings

From ABS-CBN (Feb 12): Navy donates allowances for Leyte, Bohol school buildings

Members of the Philippine Navy donated a day’s worth of their subsistence allowances to help in the construction of school buildings in calamity-devastated Leyte and Bohol.

A Navy man receives a subsistence allowance of P90 per day.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano also asked regular and civilian personnel to donate a day’s worth of their meal allowances to the same cause.

The Navy has so far generated P1.8 million.

Victims in Yolanda-battered Leyte and earthquake-hit Bohol earlier appealed to the Navy Civil Military Operations Group for new school buildings.

“They asked for the construction of school buildings...To them, school building is not a place where children are taught but also a place where children learn how to interact with other children. School buildings are valuable to them,” said Marine Col. Edgardo Arevalo.

He said an unspecified amount was also generated by Navy Officers’ Wives Association, Philippine Military Academy-Navy chapter, and Navy Golf Club.

Arevalo said personnel of the Naval Combat Engineering Brigade will also lead in the construction of the school buildings to save on labor.
“The materials will be bought, using the amount generated by the Navy,” he said.

OPAPP turns over P12.9M for Pamana projects in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 12): OPAPP turns over P12.9M for Pamana projects in North Cotabato

More farm to market roads are expected to be constructed in the province of North Cotabato after the office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) turned over the initial tranche of the peace and development funds to the provincial government Wednesday, officials said.

The funds, amounting to P19.2 million, will be used to finance a farm-to-market road in the towns of Matalam and Tulunan, North Cotabato under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program of OPPAP.

In a simple turnover ceremony held at the office of Provincial Governor Emmylou Mendoza, Interior and Local Government 12 Regional Director Reynaldo Bungubung gave four checks with a total amount of P12.9 million to Vice Governor Gregorio Ipong who represented Mendoza.

Ali Abdullah, DILG-North Cotabato provincial director, Department of Trade and Industry provincial director Anthony Bravo and employees of the provincial governor witnessed the turnover ceremonies.

Bungubung said the funds will be used for a farm to market road concreting project that will connect Barangay Salvacion to Kibudoc in Matalam and Barangays Damawatu and Galidun sa Tulunan, North Cotabato.

The fund was about 80 percent of the P24-million funds set aside by OPAPP-PAMANA for the province of North Cotabato.

Bungubung said several other peace and development projects are already in the pipeline to be implemented in the next months.

PAMANA (PAyapa at MAsaganang PAmayanan or Peaceful and Resilient Communities) program, is the national government’s peace and development framework for empowering conflict-affected areas in the country, special in Mindanao.

Spearheaded by OPAPP and supported by concerned government line agencies, local government units (LGUs) and civil society groups, PAMANA follows a convergence strategy to close the gaps in development and bring progress to areas, particularly conflict-affected ones, where they are needed the most.

A complementary track to peace negotiations, PAMANA ensures that communities benefit from improved delivery of basic social services and are served by a responsive, transparent and accountable government.

Among the first communities which benefited the program were Talayan in Maguindanao and Pigcawayan, North Cotabato where thousands have been displaced due to violent clashes between government and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces following the failed signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in August 2008.

PAMANA has been keen on addressing the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Central Mindanao through the construction of IDP core shelters.

Congress leadership to prioritize Bangsamoro bill – OPPAP

From MindaNews (Feb 12): Congress leadership to prioritize Bangsamoro bill – OPPAP

The leadership of both houses of Congress have manifested to the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be bumped up in both chambers’ agenda as a priority bill, OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said.

Speaking to reporters during a civil society organization leaders’ summit held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel last Monday, Deles said that Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other Congress leaders have agreed to prioritize a law that will be endorsed to both houses by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

She said that Congress is aiming for the law to be passed by December 31, 2014.
Deles added that Aquino has also given the BTC until March 31, 2014, for the crafting of a draft for the basic law.

In an interview at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Maguindanao and Cotabato City Rep. Bai Sandra Sinsuat A. Sema said that a basic law that would create the Bangsamoro would also push for the economic development of the areas that would identify themselves as Bangsamoro.

“We really need to move on this,” Sema said, lauding the multi-stakeholder nature of the process. “The (Moro National Liberation Front) is on board, the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is on board.”

Sema added that those who will craft the law needed to learn from past experiences and integrate what they learned into the crafting of the new law. “We’re hoping for economic development. We want those in the Bangsamoro to be able to be self-productive,” she said.

Sema said the House of Representatives was just waiting for the transition commission to submit their draft.

“The challenge now is how to attract more people to support this. What we need to come up with is a law that will really address what we are fighting for in the ARMM, like poverty,” she said.

Deles said that the agency is hoping for more people to support the peace process so that “it’s not just a scrap of paper.”

She added that the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Bangsamoro itself are “generally a product of peace” as it was agreed upon by all the protagonists, not just the MILF and the government of the Philippines but also included other stakeholders.

The peace process adviser appealed to opponents of the measure to reach out, especially addressing Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari for his being a major player in the Final Peace Agreement signed in 1996.

Iqbal to CSOs: fast-track consultations on Bangamoro Basic Law

From MindaNews (Feb 12): Iqbal to CSOs: fast-track consultations on Bangamoro Basic Law

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) wants civil society organizations to “fast-track” their consultations so the Commission can submit the draft to Congress by March 31.

BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal late last year announced they were targeting April 2014 for submission of the draft BBL to Congress. But in their courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacanang on January 30, Iqbal said they accepted the challenge to submit the draft sooner, on March 31.

Iqbal is also peace panel chair and information chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

According to Malacanang’s website, the President urged the BTC to “draw up soonest the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law so it can be ratified and implemented in time for the 2016 elections.”

Last year, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, the President urged Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law “before the end of 2014” so that “we will have ample time to prepare for the election of a new Bangsamoro government come 2016.”

Iqbal told the Mindanao CSO (Civil Society Organizations) Leaders Peace Summit at the Royal Mandaya Hotel on Tuesday afternoon that BTC is going to organize a special committee that will process the feedbacks and recommendations of the consultations for consideration by the 15-member Commission during the drafting of the bill.

“If there is a need for it, we will continue to engage and try to inform you about our recommendations to your recommendations,” he said.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal answers queries from members of the civil society organizations at the Mindanao CSO Leaders Peace Summit at Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on February 11, 2014. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal answers queries from members of the civil society organizations at the Mindanao CSO Leaders Peace Summit at Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on February 11, 2014. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Whether or not the BTC submits on March 31 or April, Congress will still be on recess by then. It has sessions from January 20 to March 14 and will take a break from March 15 to May 4, resume on May 5 and will go on sine die adjournment from June 14 to July 27. The President will deliver his SONA on July 28.

On October 18 last year, the BTC and the Mindanao Civil Society Organization Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) signed a memorandum of agreement on the conduct of “public engagements and consultations from the drafting of the Basic Law up to its enactment.”

This is aside from the consultations conducted by the government and MILF peace panels and other groups helping in the peace process.

The BTC partnership with MCSOPP, a platform comprising at least 120 groups and networks, aims to “promote transparency, inclusiveness and active participation of the local stakeholders” to generate “massive public support and ownership” of the BBL.

The MOA provides that at least 128 consultations will be conducted at the district level in the proposed core areas of the Bangsamoro and in every municipality included in the target expanded areas, with the consultation design approved by both the BTC and the MCSOPP.

On Thursday, the MCSOPP submitted initial results from the Bawgbug Consulting Team in Sulu, Women Engaged in Action on 1325, Arumanen Manuvu Tribe, Lanao Peace Partnership, North Cotabato Consulting Team, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Mindanao Peoples Caucus/Bantay Ceasefire and SUCCEED (Sustainable Cooperation for Equitable Enterprise Development, Inc.).

The GPH and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012 the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) to pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 23-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by June 30, 2016, the end of the Aquino administration.

Four annexes to the FAB are needed to complete the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB): power-sharing, wealth-sharing, normalization, and transitional arrangements and modalities.

Although the peace panels were not able to complete the annexes by end of December 2012, as agreed upon in the FAB, they signed the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities in February; wealth-sharing and revenue generation in July; power-sharing in December and the Annex on Normalization and Addendum on Bagnsamoro waters, on January 25.

The peace panels are finalizing the text of the CAB which will be set for signing “in February or March,” Iqbal and government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer had earlier said.

CPP/NDF: Proposal to revitalize and expand the work of the Center of Social Studies

Posted to the CPP Website (Feb 12): Proposal to revitalize and expand the work of the Center of Social Studies
Juliet de Lima-Sison
National Democratic Front of the Philippines


The Center for Social Studies has been formed since 1991 as a center for research and training activists to counter the ideological, political, economic, cultural and military offensives of the US and its allies and puppets.

Under the direction of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the Center has achieved a modest amount of success in organizing conferences and seminars to allow the representatives of progressive Filipino organizations to exchange ideas and experiences with the representatives of partner organizations in other countries.


In connection with the celebration of Prof. Sison’s 55 years of service to the Filipino people and his 75th birth anniversary, we propose that a campaign be undertaken to raise financial and other resources in the next six months for the purpose of revitalizing and expanding the work of the Center of Social Studies.

The plan to is to raise enough resources in order to achieve the following:

Undertake research projects on vital issues pertaining to the social, economic, cultural, political, security and environmental aspects of the global situation;

Increase the number of conferences and seminars of activists from various countries and generate a common understanding of vital global issues and the courses of action to be undertaken within the frame work of mass work for effecting fundamental change; and

Produce educational films and other audiovisual materials in aid of mass education and mass organizing

Maintain a website in order to publish the results of research projects, conferences and seminars, and serve as the medium of information and communication among all activists interested in the work of the center.

Maintain a staff to assist Prof. Sison in leading the work pertaining to Nos. 1, 2 and 3 above.

Solidarity and Cooperation

Prof, Sison is in a unique position to lead the work of the Center and to promote the solidarity and cooperation of participants because of his rich political experience since the 1960s in the work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people to wage revolution against imperialism and the repressive local regime, and because of his long experience in promoting international solidarity and cooperation among parties and mass organizations, and his wide range of current relations in his capacity as Chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

The Center can undertake more research projects, conferences and seminars. But the main point is to design and use them as the basis, means and propellant for revolutionary mass work. The Center holds the view that political parties and mass organizations are responsible for revolutionary activities in their countries, and can effect revolutionary changes through efforts of their own people. But learning the principles, policies and methods for effecting change has no national boundaries. The main thrust of the Center is to promote mass work for the purpose of revolutionary change.

Draft Concept Project PRISM

People’s Resource for International Solidarity in Mass Mobilizing

To mark 55 years of Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s service to the people’s revolutionary cause, the Center for Social Studies has decided to establish a people’s resource for international solidarity in mass organizing with the primary objective of conducting social investigation and research to answer the practical and theoretical needs of the people’s movement for revolutionary change. It aims to enhance the capability of organized revolutionary forces and people’s organizations to confront the socioeconomic, political, and cultural dominance and control of the imperialists and all reactionaries against the interests of the people. This means confronting problems in advancing and sustaining the people’s struggle against the imperialists, other exploiting classes, and their dominant institutions.

Raising social theory through practice

We live in a world whelmed with theories and theoretical writings but lacking in practical actions to test them. This makes the practice of revolution so much more complicated as too many well meaning progressives spend more time honing their swords to prepare for revolution – churning or chasing theories – rather than to use the sword by engaging in social practice, by waging revolution. Some well-intentioned people who see the oppressive and exploitative conditions and the need for revolutionary change go into protracted pre-party formations, simply wishing for favorable conditions to arise, rather than going among the masses and conducting social investigation as a means for arousing, organizing and mobilizing them to fight for their own interests.

The International League for Peoples’ Struggle has had some limited success in building a broad anti-imperialist united front. But its activities and direct engagement in encouraging mass organizing has been limited. It has excelled in analysis and issuing statements on what is to be done but it has not done enough in encouraging or causing the proliferation of progressive and revolutionary mass organizations. Despite the favorable conditions brought about by the crisis of monopoly capitalism, we have not seen the significant growth of organized revolutionary forces with mass support.

I therefore wish to spring a surprise on Joma as ILPS Chairperson by proposing that the League adopt PRISM as its core project, with the Center for Social Studies as initiator. I propose that such adoption be put on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the ILPS International Coordinating Committee set to discuss the 5th International Assembly, and that the 5th IA bring about the rebirth of the League as a vehicle for encouraging the proliferation and growth of progressive and revolutionary mass organizations and the development of ever higher levels of revolutionary theory nurtured by social practice.

PRISM shall avail of Joma as teacher, resource person, and consultant, given his rich practical experience of arousing, organizing and mobilizing people on various global and Philippine issues to advance the struggle for social liberation and democracy. If there is anything at all that Joma has instilled among our proletarian revolutionary comrades in the Philippines, it is their daring and astuteness in immediately applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the concrete practice of the revolution, of people’s war in the Philippines. It is the capability to do this that we wish to share with all aspiring revolutionaries all over the world.

For the purpose of realizing PRISM’s core objective, we are launching a campaign to raise material resources to immediately initiate work: a limited number of staffers to maintain a website and coordinate the work; fund and other resources for conducting webinars, seminars and conferences; on-the-spot trainings on social investigation and mass organizing, including cost of travel, food and allowances. We also need volunteers willing to share their time and talent for our purposes. In the next few weeks, we shall make a detailed presentation of the specific resources that we need to raise.

PRISM shall be a vehicle for Joma to use his still youthful intellect, daring, and determination in the twilight of life to be reborn in a new dawn – the revolutionary victory of the working class and the people. This requires multitudes of individual visionaries with persistent passion and sustained stamina for revolution, ever youthful intellect, integrity, daring and determination to advance the peoples’ interests. Let us support PRISM to help in producing them.

Let us help win the battle for democracy, not as the bourgeoisie – the exploiters and oppressors – forge or fake it – but as the people themselves forge it!

3 NPA tigok sa militar sa Compostela Valley

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Feb 12): 3 NPA tigok sa militar sa Compostela Valley (3 NPA killed by military in Compostela Valley)

Patay ang tatlong rebelde at sugatan naman ang isang sundalo sa panibagong sagupaan sa grupo ng New People’s Army sa Compostela Valley province sa Mindanao.

Sinabi ni Capt. Alberto Caber, ang spokesman ng Eastern Mindanao Command, na umabot ng isang oras ang labanan sa Barangay Casoon sa bayan ng Monkayo na kung saan ay humihingi diumano ng salapi ang NPA sa mga mamamayan.

Nabawi naman ng mga tropa ng 25th Infantry Battalion ang dalawang automatic rifles, dalawang landmines, 200 metro ng detonating cord at mga medical kit at sari-saring mga kagamitan, kabilang ang mga anti-government propaganda.

“Tuloy-tuloy yun operation natin sa area at hinahanap natin yun iba pang mga pampasabog ng mga rebelde,” ani Caber sa Mindanao Examiner.

Pinuri rin ni Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, pinuno ng Eastern Mindanao Command, ang tropa sa pagkakabawi sa mga bomba na mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ang gamit nito sa buong mundo.

Kamakalawa lamang ay anim na sundalo ang sugatan sa labanan sa NPA sa Digos City sa Davao del Sur na kung saan ay patuloy ang banta ng rebeldeng grupo laban sa militar at pamahalaan.

Troops capture gunman in Marawi City

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Feb 12): Troops capture gunman in Marawi City

Government soldiers arrested a man who is allegedly behind the shooting of a civilian in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province, an army spokesman said Wednesday.

Capt. Jefferson Mamauag, of the 1st Infantry Division, said troops were patrolling when the shooting occurred in the village of Bangon. Soldiers pursued the gunman, Lito Mala, and cornered him at a bridge.

Mamauag said Mala, who is being implicated in the shooting of Usoph Manalusog, 23, was handed over to the police. Initial investigation said family feud was the motive behind the attack.

Mala’s weapon, a .380-caliber pistol, was also recovered by the soldiers. Police are investigating the case.

Abu Sayyaf rebels ambushed marines

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Feb 12): Abu Sayyaf rebels ambushed marines

Gunmen ambushed a group of marines and killing one soldier and wounding at least three more in the southern Filipino province of Sulu.

The soldiers were returning to their base from a tree planting activity in the town of Parang when gunmen attacked them, sparking a firefight that killed the marine.

It was unknown if there were casualties on the side of the gunmen and no group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the military blamed the ambush to the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Just recently, military forces launched an operation to capture Abu Sayyaf gunmen tagged in the spate of kidnappings in Sulu.

Marines had earlier clashed with rebels under Sihata Latip and Abraham Hamid in Talipao town that left at least 9 Abu Sayyaf gunmen dead and wounded and one of the slain has been identified as Rakib Jal.

Troops also captured a rebel encampment on a remote village used by the Abu Sayyaf to launch attacks on civilian and military targets in the province.

The camp was being used by Abu Sayyaf leaders Sibih Pisih and Idang Susukan. It was unknown if there were weapons or bombs in the base which is now being held by the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2.

Several government militias who are members of the Barangay Peace Action Team were also wounded and that two of them - Niko Minuddin and Sabor Sasapan - had been evacuated to Zamboanga City for emergency medical operation, local police said.

Last month, provincial police forces led by Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita clashed with a small band of Abu Sayyaf gunmen that eventually swelled to about 400 after armed supporters of the terror group attacked them in the village of Tanduh Bato in Luuk town.

The fighting was so fierce that Orbita’s group, backed by a pair of armoured carriers, managed to hold their ground until police reinforcement arrived, but the gunmen broke into smaller groups and dispersed.

The Abu Sayyaf, which means “Bearer of the sword,” has been linked by authorities to the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya and is blamed on the spate of bombings in the southern Philippines.

Military-Launched Operations Abject Failure But Cause Human Rights Excesses’

Maoist NPA propaganda statement excerpted in the Negros Daily Bulletin (Feb 12): ‘Military-Launched Operations Abject Failure But Cause Human Rights Excesses’

Grave human rights violations primarily victimizing farmers and indigenous peoples intended to destroy what the military thinks would be the guerilla New People’s Army (NPA) have been committed over a number of weeks starting in January last month extending up to this month, Ka JB Regalado, spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan Command for Central Negros said, in an official statement made available to various media outlets dated February 10, this week still.

The grave human rights violations and violations of International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) happened in the course of raging military operations obviously intended to destroy the guerilla army because of a timetable set by the military in Negros Island’s high military command. But the military operations are a complete failure, said Ka JB Regalado, but which have harmed those living in the hinterlands of Kabankalan and Himamaylan cities.

Used in the military operations starting December 22 up to January 15, 2014 or this year were three army units belonging to the Third Infantry Division’s 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigade, the first operating in nearby Negros Oriental Province and the second based in the province of Negros Occidental.

Deployed army units from both brigades were the 11th IB, 47th IB and the 302nd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC). Even during the December-declared government ceasefire, the troops operated the Central Negros, rebel spokesman said.

"Like a hungry tiger and angry lion, the units encircled and exerted efforts to destroy the NPA units in Tan-awan Village in January 18, and, who threatened, pointed their guns and physically harmed farmers-residents in villages and sub-villages," said Ka JB Regalado.

"The NPA was able to learn about the military unit’s presence after smelling the dried fish the members of the over 200 soldiers cooked as viand. The NPA spokesman wondered aloud why the soldiers were subsisting on dried fish when C-rations consisting of corned beef and sardines were the usual food fare during operations of this kind.

But as usual, those victimized during military operations are people living in villages with cases documented because until now the operation goes on.

In Pangkulan Subvillage, Tan-awan Village, Kabankalan in one of their military operations, soldiers forcibly held Vilma Medes and forced her to tell "where the NPAs were hiding."

In Buco Subvillage in the same village, Tan-awan they stayed in the households of Wachu Medes, Badak Callet and Lollyboy Callet following them wherever they went including when they would relieve themselves.

Soldiers also purposely stepped on plants of Wachu Medes and Muriel Mumbay as well and in one serious evidence, they held 15-year old Dolay Medes pointing guns at her back, a jungle knife so she would tell whether there were rebels in the area. The young girl was hysterical and until now, suffers from trauma. Jovel Sampong was also several times asked to disclose "where the NPA were". Three young children of Gamay Yllano now fear going out of their house for their father, Gamay who is working in Dawahan Subvillage, Brgy. Buenavista in Himamaylan City.

Last January 27, two minors were held by the military in Cunalum Subvillage, Carabalan Village on suspicion they were NPA members having stayed in the house of one Darly. They were later detained for two days aside from having been forcibly interrogated and forced to admit they were NPAs. Remegio Espinas was arrested even without any warrant on January 28, his house searched and a .38 caliber revolver planted.

During the Cunalom Village barrio fiesta January 29-30 soldiers accosted attendees on the road, conducted searches and questions. Many went home.

February 2, Jessie Pacheco Taub was arrested by soldiers while tending to his carabao in Madaja Subvillage, Buenavista Village, hogtied while pointing a machinegun aimed at his head, an M-16 on his back and a knife on his neck.

This to force him to "confess" he was an NPA member. He was released that day but warned to keep mum about his ordeal.

And the soldiers forcibly stayed in the house of Itoman leader biting Pacheco, while Revmar Escano was bathing in the river February 5 in Amaga Subvillage, Buenavista Village and beaten up. A witness heard the cries for help of Escano who until now is missing.

But despite the military’s sustained operations against the NPA what they always find are empty encampments. The soldiers are suffering from hunger and fatigue because of this, but are given as provisions only cassava and bread as solid food.

The troops are cruelly aggressive because they are told they must destroy the NPA within six months and then move over to Panay Island.

The military has already appealed for extension of their deadline which is an additional six months but in their haste to do so, they have become impetuous and committed grave excesses and serious human rights violations.

But JB Regalado said, "no matter how many NPA camps they come across and destroy by burning, the guerillas are in the hearts and minds of peasants and workers already and are being nurtured by the masses.

NPA stages landmine attack in Davao

From Malaya (Feb 12): NPA stages landmine attack in Davao

SIX soldiers were injured Monday in a landmine attack   by the New People’s Army rebels in Digos City which had been declared as insurgency-free last year.
Another soldier, identified as Cpl. Ricky Tuarez, was initially reported missing in action after he got separated from his fellow soldiers but was accounted for seven hours after the fighting.
Capt. Ernest Carolina, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said troops from the 39th Infantry Battalion were dispatched to barangay Kapatagan after residents reported the presence of rebels in their community.
At around 2:30 p.m. Monday, the undetermined number of rebels detonated a landmine on the patrolling troops, followed by a volley of fire. The troops fought back, triggering a one-hour firefight.
Carolina named the injured soldiers as Sgt. Eliseo PeraƱo, Cpl. Marcelino Bagood Jr., Pfc. Olomodin Dicampong, Pfc. Lory Kim Lacal, Pfc. Genesis Quilaton and Pvt. Michael Guibao.
Carolina said they received information that two rebels were injured in the skirmishes.
The official said the NPA group from Front Committee 51 might be trying to re-establish foothold in Digos City.
When Digos was declared insurgency-free in September last year, the military turned over to the city government the lead role in internal security operations. Officials have said that an area cleared of insurgency does not necessarily mean zero-rebel presence.
“Their armed group was at controllable level. It was no longer very significant to the point that the lead role for anti-insurgency or internal security operations can be handled by local government,” said Carolina.
“Since the area is already cleared (of insurgency), we suppose that they are trying to establish their mass base. They have an effort to win it back and the residents reported their presence,” added Carolina.

Abus attack Marines convoy in Sulu; 1 killed, 5 wounded

From the Daily Tribune (Feb 12): Abus attack Marines convoy in Sulu; 1 killed, 5 wounded

Abu Sayyaf terrorists yesterday ambushed a convoy, composed of Marines and civilians, in a vegetated area in Parang, Sulu province, killing a Marine soldier while five others were wounded.

Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, said that elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-9 (MBLT-9), along with members of Jolo Jaycees and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), were returning from a tree-planting activity at around 10:30 a.m. when they were ambushed.

Cenabre said that the troops managed to return fire and engaged the Abu Sayyaf bandits into a 30-minute firefight.

“They had just came from a tree-planting activity when they were ambushed by a group of Abu Sayyaf,” Cenabre said.

“We have one KIA (killed in action) and three wounded in action,” Cenabre added.

According to Cenabre, the three wounded were immediately airlifted to Zamboanga City for proper medical attention. He said the troops were out of danger.

Cenabre said there was no civilian casualty during the ambush.

Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, spokesman of the 2nd Marine Brigade, said the convoy was composed of three M35 trucks, a V150 tank, a KM450 truck and two civilian vehicles.

“Our assessment is that this incident can be attributed to the retaliatory actions of the ASG on the government action last Feb. 8,” Lacuesta said.

Lacuesta was referring to the operation launched by the Marines last Saturday that resulted in the killing of six terrorists in Talipao, Sulu.

The Marine spokesman said that the encountered Abu Sayyaf band was composed of about 30 terrorists.

Meanwhile, soldiers were wounded after hitting a landmine planted by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Davao del Sur province last Monday, belated reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said yesterday.

Capt. Ernest Carolina, spokesman of the Army’s 10 Infantry Division (ID), identified those wounded as Sgt. Eliseo Perano, Cpl Marcelino Bagood Jr., Pfc Olomodin Dicampong, Pfc Lory Kim Lacal, Pfc Genesis Quilaton and Pvt. Michael Guibao.

Carolina said that Cpl Ricky Tuarez initially went missing but found hours after the encounter.

Reports showed that elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion (IB) were sent out to check on the reported presence of armed NPA rebels in Sitio Lutangan, Barangay Kapatagan in Digos City at around 2:30 p.m.

However, the soldiers while on foot patrol hit an NPA landmine, resulting in the wounding of the six troopers.

The Army troops managed to engage the NPA band into a gun battle that lasted for about an hour.

Carolina said that two NPA rebels were reported to have been hit during the clash.
The encountered NPA rebels were from the Front Committee-51, said Carolina.

“They were about 20, platoon size...their purpose we supposed is that they are trying to establish mass base in Davao del Sur which is already cleared (of communist influence)...they have effort to win it back,” Carolina said.

CPP: Video -- Pulang Saludo, Ka Joma

From the CPP Website (Jan 18): Pulang Saludo, Ka Joma (Red Salute, Comrade Joma)


[Video: Pulang Saludo, Ka Joma]

CPP: Video -- Unleash a surge of protest to hold the US-Aquino regime accountable

Posted to the CPP Website (Feb 9): Video: Unleash a surge of protest to hold the US-Aquino regime accountable


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.

[Unleash a surge of protest to hold the US-Aquino regime accountable (ANG BAYAN, 07 February 2014)]

CPP: CPP condemns resumption of Arroyo-era criminal proceedings against Satur Ocampo, others

From the CPP Website (Feb 12): CPP condemns resumption of Arroyo-era criminal proceedings against Satur Ocampo, others

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced the Supreme Court for ordering the resumption of Arroyo-era criminal procedures against former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo and scores of other progressive leaders and activists, as well as consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace negotiations.

Trumped-up charges of multiple murder were filed against Ocampo and around 50 others on the basis of what the Department of Justice and military claim to be a mass grave of victims of a purge by the New People’s Army (NPA) in 1985-1986. The charges were prepared and filed in 2007 by the notorious Inter-Agency Legal Action Group of the Arroyo regime.

“The charges against Ocampo et al are politically motivated as these were filed by the IALAG which then was tasked to concoct one legal case after another against all forces opposing the Arroyo government, especially those in the open mass movement led by the national democratic forces,” said the CPP.

“The resumption of criminal procedures against Ocampo and many other leaders is an outright threat against the national democratic forces which are at the helm of the burgeoning movement demanding the ouster of Benigno Aquino and his corrupt, anti-people, puppet and brutal regime,” said the CPP.

The CPP called on human rights advocates, activists and defenders of civil rights to rally and demand the immediate dismissal of the Arroyo-era criminal charges against Ocampo, et al.

“They must also demand that the Aquino regime withdraw all the trumped-up charges filed against more than 400 political prisoners, comprised mostly of peasant, worker and youth activists, as well as consultants of the NDFP in peace negotiations.”

Ocampo has repeatedly pointed out that he was under detention during the period when the military claimed that the so-called purge was carried out.

“The fact is, there was no such mass purging or killing in Inopacan, Leyte, as claimed by the military,” said the CPP. “The skeletal remains in the so-called mass grave which the AFP claims to have discovered in 2006 were most probably taken from old gravesites, as has been the practice of the AFP for several decades now, in order to concoct stories of mass killings.”

Pascua assumes as new commander of 79th IB

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 12): Pascua assumes as new commander of 79th IB

Lt. Col. Harold Pascua, the new commander of the 79thInfantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, said he will take on the challenges left by his predecessor, Lt. Col. Marion Sison.

Pascua took his oath at the turnover of command at the battalion headquarters Monday that was presided over by Maj. Gen. AurelioBaladad, commander of the 3rdInfantry Division of the PA.

It is a big challenge to lead the 79thIB and a big shoe to fill, Pascua said, on his obligations and the accomplishments of Sison, who had served for two years, two months and five days.

Pascua said he is eager to assume the position and promised to give his best.
He called on local officials, government agencies, organizations and community partners to continue to work together with the battalion to alleviate the lives of the people and bring development, especially in far-flung sitios and barangays.

Pascua also promised to do his best to maintain the culture of excellence in the battalion, and to work on his vision of a cohesive and competent 79thIB.
Sison thanked the local leaders, government agencies, NGOs and the communities for their support and cooperation. He attributed the battalion’s accomplishment in reducing the insurgency problem to community partners, and the shared vision of peace and development.

He said he left the unit with a heavy heart since it had become his second home, where he gained experience, knowledge and true friends.

The turnover ceremony was attended by Gov. Roel Degamo, army and police officials, mayors, and heads of government agencies and civic groups.

NPA condemns Army atrocities

From the Visayan Daily Star (Feb 12): NPA condemns Army atrocities

The Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army yesterday called on progressive human rights advocates and other organizations, including the church and National Commission on Indigenous People, to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by Army soldiers in the hinterlands of central Negros.

In a statement issued by the rebel group, Ka JB Regalado, condemned the numerous human rights violations allegedly committed by 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigade soldiers, including the 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company, in their military operations against the NPA since Jan. 14.

The military operations led to the arrest of an alleged NPA leader in Himamaylan City and the seizure of a suspected NPA training camp in Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City.

The NPA retaliated by killing an unarmed member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit in Brgy. Magballo, and the raid at an hacienda compound and destruction of properties in Brgy. Camansi, all in Kabankalan City, military and police records show.

Regalado enumerated the alleged human rights violations of the Philippine Army, including tactical interrogation of a certain Vilma Medes, destruction of crops of Wachu Medes and Mariel Mumbay in Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, harassment of minors in Brgys. Carabalan and Buenavista in Himamaylan City, apprehension of Remegio Espinas without any search warrant, and planting of a gun in his possession, and that of Revmar Escano, who remained missing, as of this time.

The police said Espinas has a pending arrest warrant for murder, for the death of an Army officer in Cadiz City, four years ago. He was also tagged by the military as a member of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros Finance Bureau.