Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cop hurt in shootout with alleged MILF members

From ABS-CBN (Feb 18): Cop hurt in shootout with alleged MILF members

A member of the police Special Action Force was hurt in a shootout with alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Brgy. Daliao, Maasim, Sarangani early Tuesday morning.

Policemen went to Brgy. Daliao where an MILF member wanted for bombing incidents, Mohammad Maguid, alias 'Maguid' and his troops were allegedly staying.

They were supposed to serve a search warrant when the rebels fired on them.

The shootout lasted for almost 30 minutes.

PO1 Chester Diwan was wounded while some rebels were arrested. Maguid was able to escape.

Authorities believe that he was responsible for attacks in Sarangani and similar other bombing incidents in 2008.

He was arrested in 2009 but escaped from jail in 2010.


Gov't to seek roster of MILF fighters

From ABS-CBN (Feb 19): Gov't to seek roster of MILF fighters

The government will seek a full listing of all Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters prior to the decommissioning of its forces, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles said Tuesday.

Deles told the House peace and reconciliation committee chaired by Basilan Rep. Hajiman Hataman-Saliman that a third party that would include foreign observers would verify the roster of fighters of the MILF and the dismantling of its armed groups.

“We don’t want this to be an issue between the government and the MILF,” she said.

Deles said the listing would be needed in the eventual grant of amnesty to MILF members.

“We have learned our lesson from the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front). We did not have a full accounting of their members. There were those who were integrated into our security services, but we don’t know what happened to those who were not covered by the integration,” she said.

Deles reiterated that the dismantling of MILF armed forces could start as early as May, when a commission drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be ready with its draft.

“We intend to submit the proposed law to Congress in May,” she said.

“There will be decommissioning of certain forces once the draft law is submitted. There will be decommissioning of some forces once Congress approves the law. Every step of the way, decommissioning will happen until the agreement is fully implemented,” she said.

During the hearing, representatives of the Misuari and Sema factions of the MNLF said they would join the new peace process if invited by the government.

Rep. Ashley Acedillo of party-list group Magdalo, a former rebel soldier, said his organization would oppose the lifting of the warrant of arrest for MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari if that is one of the conditions for his group’s participation in the peace effort.

“Appeasement with Misuari has not worked in the past. A new approach should be tried,” Acedillo said.

He said he was still a soldier when the Misuari group used to attack some towns in Mindanao.

Misuari is facing criminal charges in connection with the occupation of his loyalists of several coastal villages in Zamboanga City last September.

“Appeasing Misuari this time would dishonor the 25 soldiers and policemen and scores of civilians who died during his men’s siege of Zamboanga City,” Acedillo said.

Images of bus attackers released

From ABS-CBN (Feb 18): Images of bus attackers released

Batangas police released on Tuesday the computerized facial composites of suspects involved in the burning of 7 buses inside the terminal of Jam Transit in Lemery, Batangas.

The facial composites were based on the description of two drivers who saw the suspects.

One of the suspects was described as a skinny man, around 5 feet 7inches tall,, bearded, and between 38 to 40 years old.

The other suspect was described as a woman between 30 to 40 years old, around 5 feet 3 inches tall, and medium built.

An armed group that allegedly identified itself as belonging to the New People's Army (NPA) torched the Jam Transit buses.

A few weeks prior to the incident, the company allegedly received a letter from the NPA demanding revolutionary tax.

Investigations are ongoing to identify the rest of the suspects in the incident.


Rebels set up community, recruit members in outskirt of a barangay in DavNor

From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 18): Rebels set up community, recruit members in outskirt of a barangay in DavNor

The chief of the farthest barangay in Kapalong  gets  apprehensive about attempts of the New People’s Army (NPA) to establish communities and to carry out massive recruitment.

 Gupitan Barangay Capt. Evangelio Warag revealed the recruitment activities and modes of the rebels to establish communities in his barangay aside and that he divulged last year’s anniversary celebration of New People’s Army  was held in one of the sitios in his barangay.

 “The NPAs not only require every sitio to produce recruits but they are also enlisting “underage” individuals to join their movement,” Warag said.

 “Kung walay mopasakop, murag naa silay balaod nga gikahadlukan sa mga tribal leaders.  (If nobody would like to be recruited, I think they have a policy that  tribal leaders fear of),  he said.

Warag could not outright tell the policy but said the NPAs lengthened their period of stay to conduct seminars from six days to 12 days in areas where they would find it hard to recruit.

To take back recruits

Warag revealed holding a conference with tribal leaders and purok leaders who expressed common desire to stay away from insurgency problem and away from the crossfire between the military and the NPA.

 “Dili na unta mi hilabtan, (We hope we would be left by ourselves.) he said.

 Tribal leaders would like to take back tribal community members recruited by NPAs.  They also wanted the military to return the tribe members who have joined the  Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU).

  He admitted having no problem with the military  but Warag had difficulty with NPAs who had various reasons of turning down requests to return their recruits.

“Lisod ang pagbawi sa tribo sa mga misampa sa ilaha, daghan sila alibi.  Boluntaryo man daw nga misulod sa ilaha, (It’s difficult to get back those who joined them; they have a number of alibis. “Why get them back when they voluntarily join us?,” they would say.),  he said referring to NPAs.

He and the tribal council  leaders were thinking of holding a local dialogue with the  NPAs whom they had asked to send a representative. While the NPA has yet to respond to the request, the tribal council still has to find somebody to mediate the talk.

Anniversary in Gupitan

Meanwhile, Warag revealed reports that about 300-strong NPA troops gathered in sitio Kawayan to celebrate the NPA founding anniversary on December 26 last year.  Warag estimated the area to be about 20 kilometers from the center of Barangay Gupitan.

He feared their continued presence in the sitio where NPAs allegedly demanded that they be given 20 hectares  to set up a communal area to plant trees.

Projecting such  presence to  result in encounters with  the military, Warag was particularly concerned about the elementary and high school students whose classes would consequently be disturbed.

Gov’t interventions

On the other hand, 1003rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer, Capt Marcelino Rafael in a separate interview said the soldiers have laid out security plans, and peace and development interventions for Gupitan to start within first quarter this year.

 Rafael asked tribal community members and leaders to support the peace and development activities that the military will bring to deliver basic services of the government.

The provincial government of Davao del Norte conducted  last year the Convergence for Peace and Development in Gupitan, hauling government services with  the military and the police, aside from implementing road projects.

 It also recently held Oplan ANDAM (Advocacy on Natural Disaster Awareness and Mitigation) in Gupitan to  drum community awareness on the need to prepare for disaster due to  presence of geological hazards and due to adverse effects of climate change.

The municipal government also pushes funding for projects intended for Gupitan which it highly recommends under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program of the Office of the Presidential Assistance on the Peace Process (OPAPP).


Lying at the frontier of Agusan del Sur (in  CARAGA Region), Bukidnon (in Northern Mindanao), Compostela Valley Province (adjacent province of Davao del Norte), Barangay Gupitan covers a land area of about 65,000 hectares, Warag said.

 Among the tribes living in the area are Manobo,  Dibabawon, Umayamnon and Mandaya but Warag said Bukidnon tribes he called as “Tigwahon” have found their way to Gupitan.

Warag said the barangay has 36 registered puroks but 27 other sitios are located at the peripheral areas which, he said, are hard-to-reach.


MILF: Leaders of Philippine Congress to prioritize BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Feb 19): Leaders of Philippine Congress to prioritize BBL

During a civil society organization leaders’ summit held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel last Monday, February 10, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Teresita Quintos- Deles said that Senate President Franklin 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.

Secretary Deles added that President 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, Rep. Bai Sandra Sinsuat –Sema of the 1st District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City 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 is only 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.

Secretary 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. 



CPP: Amid looming hunger and GRP neglect, CPP carrying out rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda areas

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Feb 18): Amid looming hunger and GRP neglect, CPP carrying out rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda areas
Communist Party of the Philippines
  The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said all units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and revolutionary mass organizations in the areas most devastated by supertyphoon Yolanda last November 8, 2013 are undertaking all-out efforts at rehabilitation amid looming hunger and grave neglect by the Aquino government.

“More than 100 days since the Yolanda devastation, the Aquino regime has all but completely abandoned the small peasants, poor fisherfolk, urban poor and ordinary income earners after having declared the end of relief efforts, satisfied at having distributed small grocery bags of emergency food supplies and cramping people in tents and subpar bunkhouses,” said the CPP.

“According to information released by Aquino’s officials, social welfare agencies were able to distribute just above 4.3 million 3-6 kg rice food packs and 395,108 25 kg rice packs to 1.4 million people,” said the CPP. “This would amount to a measly average of 0.15 to 0.20 kg/day of rice, which is just half of the Filipino daily consumption average of rice of .35/kg”

“The DSWD further boasts of promoting a P245-260 per day cash-for-work program (CFW) although this only covered just above 5% of the total number of families for a short period of 10 days.”

“Aquino’s officials boasts that 1,455 families have already been transferred to bunkhouses, when in fact, 1.1 million homes were devastated by the supertyphoon,” said the CPP. “Worse, tens of thousands of people, especially small fisherfolk and urban poor are being prevented from rebuilding their old houses in the Aquino-defined ‘no-build-zones’ within 40 meters of the high-tide shoreline.”

“The Aquino regime is effectively displacing tens of thousands of poor people only to provide their land to Aquino’s big comprador supporters who are now profusely salivating over the prospects of building malls and other capitalist infrastructure in the areas,” said the CPP.

“All in all, the Aquino regime has refused to heed the demand of the people for assistance to resume livelihood,” said the CPP. “It has instead made use of the grave destruction to justify the allocation huge investment in infrastructure projects that it is now offering to its big business supporters.”

“Widespread and prolonged hunger threaten the people whose livelihood were devastated by Yolanda,” pointed out the CPP. “Because of the insufficiency and high prices of rice, poor peasant families have started to consume their buffer palay stock meant for the next planting season, further threatening local production of palay and food sufficiency.”

“With the New People’s Army, revolutionary mass organizations are waging collective effort to carry out rehabilitation to build communal farms in order to produce root crops, vegetables and other food stuff for their immediate consumption,” said the CPP.

“The peasant masses are gearing to wage agrarian struggles. Particularly in Leyte island, which population is comprised largely of poor peasants working in big haciendas and coconut farms, peasant mass organizations are demanding from the big landlords land to till and produce food crops,” said the CPP.

“The people’s democratic government through the National Democratic Front (NDF) is exerting efforts to course funds through revolutionary mass organizations in order to jump start production, even as the peasant masses demand the cancellation of usurious debts,” added the CPP.

“NPA Red fighters have been instructed to plant a minimum number of food crops including a quota of banana trees, camote and other root crops and other vegetables together with the revolutionary peasant mass organizations in the areas devastated by Yolanda,” said the CPP. “In anticipation of the planting season this May, NPA units, Party committees and mass organizations are busy training people in planning out production and administering their communal farms.”

The CPP added: “The people’s democratic government is stepping up efforts to raise funds to purchase or produce farm implements, as well as provide locally applicable infrastructure to raise agricultural productivity, including basic irrigation systems. The NDF is also mobilizing resources to acquire and distribute motor bancas to kickstart the livelihood of poor fisherfolk.”


CPP/NPA: 41st IB Bravo Coy, expelled by the people of Mataragan

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Feb 9): 41st IB Bravo Coy, expelled by the people of Mataragan

Danreb Bringgas
NPA North Abra Front Operations Command (Procopio Tauro Front
NPA-North Abra)
Red salute to the victorious protest actions of the people in Mataragan, Malibcong, Abra against the Bravo Coy, 41st IB, AFP. The people expelled the military unit after finding the soldiers guilty of human rights violations, and disregard of laws pertaining to military encampment in civilian areas, particularly those of indigenous peoples.

Complimentary to the peoples’ protests were attacks launched by the NPA , such as the September 29, 2014 sniping operations and the burning of the said detachment on the night of February 8, 2014.

The incessant presence of the detachment of the Bravo in Mataragan has long been a problem of the people. According to laws and conventions, military camps should be located more than 500 meters away from civilian areas, to secure the people from possible crossfire; however, the said detachment is just a stone’s throw away from houses. Moreover, the soldiers’ flagrant disregard of the rights of women are rampant, making local women subject of lust and oppression. Farm animals, poultry and fruits and vegetables are robbed by the soldiers, and people are forced to serve as guides during military operations. The women, fed up with exploitation and oppression from the soldiers of the Bravo Coy spearheaded protests, that were later supported by the entire community, including the Barangay Council.

The people consolidated the various cases against the Bravo Coy, such as violation of laws and conventions pertaining to military camps, against oppression and disrespect of women, public disturbance and harassment and intimidation against the people. The people’s indigenous court found the Bravo Coy guilty and imposed ang P100,000 fine against the soldiers.

However, the military unit disregarded the people’s decision and instead left a measly P6,000, and sneaked out of the detachment on the night of February 8, 2014. Clearly, this incident unmasked the AFP, through the 41st IB, as a fascist military institution, fighting for the ruling classes and against the people. After sneaking out of their camp, an NPA team burned the deatchment left by the Bravo Company, to the delight and cheer of the people of Mataragan!

This exemplifies the strong bond between the people and the NPA, and the fact that people’s struggles are also fought by their true army, the NPA!

This experience have shown that the people’s protests and the NPA’s tactical offensives can, and will defeat the exploitative and oppressive enemies of the people. The unity between the people and the NPA have shown that the revolutiuon can never be defeated.

We call on all the people to actively fight for the dismantling of all detachments and military camps of the fascist AFP, CAFGU and PNP. Let us expose and oppose all human rights violations of the AFP, CAFGU and PNP. Let us use and advance all forms of struggles, from filing of cases, collective and militant actions, metalegal actions and armed revolutionary struggle. Join the New People’s Army!

Frustrate and defeat Oplan Bayanihan!
Advance the People’s War!
Achieve the estrategic stalemate until final victory!


CPP/NPA: NPA-Abra mounts series of attacks vs 41st IB

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Feb 17): NPA-Abra mounts series of attacks vs 41st IB
Diego Wadagan
NPA Abra Provincial Operations Command (Agustin Begnalen Command)
Delayed field reports from the Procopio Tauro Front (PTF-NPA) confirmed that Red Guerrillas torched the Company Command Post of the Bravo Company, 41st Infantry Batallion, in Mataragan, Malibcong, Abra.

 The incident took place on on the night of February 8, 2014. Fifteen (15) camp structures were burned to the ground. Troops of the Bravo Coy are now stationed in Poblacion Malibcong and in Sitio Aguibo, along the Abra-Kalinga road. The NPA guerrillas torched the said military camp after the people of Mataragan protested against the incessant violations of the Bravo Company, 41st IB.

Another attack was launched by the Procopio Tauro Front against troops of the Alpha Company, 41st IB at 9:15pm on February 16, 2014. The NPA unit monitored the movements of the AFP soldiers and launched a hasty ambush. Two (2) soldiers were killed, while five (5) others were wounded.

The first volley of fire was unleashed by the NPA guerillas just two (2) meters away from the walking soldiers, instantly killing the 1st two (2) soldiers. The ambush was undertaken at sitio Lenneng, Baay-Licuan, Abra.

These attacks were launched by the NPA not only to foil the 2nd phase of Oplan Bayanihan in Abra, but also as punitive actions against the much-hated 41st Infantry Battalion that has gained notoriety among the masses of the Abra countrysides due to various acts of human rights violations, oppression and exploitation of women, disrespect and disregard of the indigenous peoples’ culture, and servility to large-scale mining interests, among others.

The US-Aquino Regime’s desperate efforts to fast track Oplan Bayanihan are being frustrated by the people and the revolutionary movement. Capt. Reggie Go, the 41st IB’s Public Information Officer, hallucinates when he refers to the NPA Red Fighters as “remnants”, fooling only himself and his masters that the revolutionary movement in Abra is already a spent force.

Captain Go habitually announces that NPA presence “is reported by the people because of extortion.” But let the actions and words of the ordinary masses in areas incessantly plagued by the 41st IB’s presence speak the truth.


Military on alert for 2 Malaysian bomb experts

From the Philippine Star (Feb 19): Military on alert for 2 Malaysian bomb experts

Military forces in Mindanao raised their alert level following reports on the alleged presence of two Malaysian bomb experts out to train local terrorists.

Intelligence reports circulating in Cagayan de Oro said the Malaysians are in addition to four Jemaah Islamiyah members – three Indonesians and one Singaporean – in the region engaged in training the Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao.

The report said a foreign terrorist and 10 BIFF members were targeting Cagayan de Oro for bombing.

The BIFF had earlier threatened to bomb key areas in Mindanao and Manila after it suffered heavy casualties from last week’s firefights with government forces in Central Mindanao. Some 50 BIFF members were reportedly killed in the armed conflict.

The reports named the Singaporean as Mawiya Husayfa who carries a $1-million bounty on his head, and the other three as Abdul Kiram, Mujair Algozi and Basit Usman, whose bounty was placed at $10 million.   


BIFF rebels expel leader for beheading

From the Philippine Star (Feb 19): BIFF rebels expel leader for beheading

A hard-line Muslim rebel group said Tuesday it expelled a top leader and about 30 of his followers for beheading a farmer in the southern Philippines and said that it does not practice such brutality.

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement spokesman Abu Misry said the expulsion of vice chairman Mohammad Ali Tambako proves the group is not a terrorist band.

Regional military spokesman Col. Dickson Hermoso, however, said the rebel group expelled Tambako after facing widespread condemnation for the beheading in September.

The group has been staging bombings, kidnappings, extortion and other acts of banditry and could not gain acceptability despite Tambako's expulsion, he said.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement is one of at least four armed groups outside of a new peace deal between the government and the main Muslim rebel group in the south, the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Both sides are expected to sign an agreement on a Muslim autonomy deal in the near future.

Misry's group of about 300-400 armed fighters broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front three years ago and vowed to continue fighting for a separate Islamic state in the south of the largely Roman Catholic country.

Tambako and about 30 of his armed followers were expelled after violating the breakaway rebel group's policies and for staging the beheading, according to Misry.

The breakaway Bangsamoro group does not practice such brutal acts like the violent Abu Sayyaf group, Misry said.

"We're aspiring for a Islamic way of life and such violent acts are un-Islamic," he said.

The smaller Abu Sayyaf, which has had past links with al-Qaida militants, is notorious for deadly bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.

It is based on southern Jolo and outlying islands and has been weakened by years of U.S.-backed local offensives.

Washington lists the Abu Sayyaf, which has more than 300 armed fighters, as a terrorist organization.


Salceda to declare Albay as rebel-free province

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): Salceda to declare Albay as rebel-free province
With the silence of the New People's Army rebels in Albay during the past few months, Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said Tuesday that he is set to declare the province as insurgency free soon.

Albay is where the bulk of rebels had concentrated in the past decades -- specifically in the '80s.

“Albay will be the first insurgency-free province in the country under the helm of President Benigno Aquino,” the governor said.

His pronouncement came after the province opened its door as an international gateway for chartered flights from other countries early this month.

Salceda also underscored the development projects going on in the countryside and expressed belief that this will eventually solve the four-decade insurgency problem in the province.

The concurrent Regional Development Council chairman said development through infrastructure projects and investments can hasten economic growth in the hinterlands.

The provincial government of Albay, in partnership with Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade under Col. Raul Farnacio, has launched a series of development programs dubbed as “Countryside Development Caravan."

The initiative is being done in coordination with local government units, nongovernment organizations, Office of the Civil Defense, national government agencies and uniformed services to push economic development in far-flung areas, thus, rendering the presence of rebels here irrelevant.

Salceda said the caravan is the initiative of the provincial government based on the "Pledge of an Albayano" to make the province the most livable place in the country.

The caravan is a multi-discipline partnership of the government to give free medical and dental mission and provide livelihood development training, animal health services and information education campaign to the people residing in far-flung areas here.

Before the launch of the countryside development caravan here, the provincial government and the Philippine Army rolled out the Kalayaan sa Barangay Program (KBP) to bring basic services to communities.

Under the KBP, Army engineers have constructed school buildings, electrification systems, water systems and farm-to-market roads.

Aside from development projects, the government troops have beefed up security to prevent NPA rebels from extorting from contractors of development projects in Bicol.

Salceda said the development programs, disaster and rescue operations, and respect for human rights have drastically diminished the influence of the CPP-NPA in Bicol, specifically in Albay.

Earlier, AFP Chief of Staff general Emmanuel T. Bautista lauded the efforts of government forces in Southern Luzon, specifically in Albay, for achieving peace in the countryside.

In terms of disaster preparedness, Albay leads the way as first disaster responders.


SOLCOM commander calls bus burning incident as economic sabotage

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): SOLCOM commander calls bus burning incident as economic sabotage

The commanding general of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) on Tuesday condemned the armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who torched eight buses of JAM Liner Bus Company in Lemery, Batangas on Sunday.

SOLCOM commander Lt. Gen. Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo said the arson incident constitutes economic sabotage of the outlawed group to paralyze transport business.

Lt. Gen. Ordoyo said the attack was meant to pressure the bus company management into paying revolutionary taxes.

“This incident manifests the NPA’s lack of concern for the welfare of ordinary workers. Senseless as they are and their rampant extortion activities, the crime they committed could result in closure of companies and thereby make people jobless,” the SOLCOM commanding general expressed.

He also pointed to the insurgents’ desperate move of disguising themselves as government soldiers by wearing military camouflage uniform when they carried out their devious ways.

Ordoyo also described witness’ accounts how the lawless group disarmed security guards and roused the drivers and conductors from their sleep inside the buses.

At gun point, the alleged arsonists ordered the bus drivers and crew to disembark before dousing the vehicles with gasoline and setting them on fire.

“That is why this dastardly act by the NPAs hampers our economic development. These rebels are out to sabotage our development efforts for four decades already,” Ordoyo said.

He belittled NPA’s wicked moves and assessed the dissident group is incapable of mounting large scale attacks against authorities.

Ordoyo added this is the reason the NPA misguided elements instead sow violence against “soft targets” in order to support their propaganda war against the government.

“The NPA cannot defeat the AFP head on; hence, they are waging a protracted war to destroy our economy. We should not be pressured by these terroristic acts but fight and defeat the NPA,” he challenged.


Mangudadatu, Army’s 6ID launch twin programs for Maguindanao constituents

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 19): Mangudadatu, Army’s 6ID launch twin programs for Maguindanao constituents
The Maguindanao provincial government and the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division (6ID) jointly launched here Tuesday the “Light for Work” and “Solar Street Lights” programs aimed at easing poverty and development problems in the area.

The “Light for Work” program aims to generate employment to some 25,000 constituents in the region, with sure jobs waiting for them in Saudi Arabia.

Expressing their earnestness to the initiative, the 6ID opened here a one-stop shop for interested parties to process documents before personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Job offers include welding, carpentry, masonry, electrical works, and driving and household services, among others.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu declared that the jobs’ program is also open to families of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operating in the province.

"No one should be left behind in this development effort,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, 6ID commander, said that recruiting agency Global Asia Alliance Consultant, Inc (GAACI) has assured that all processing procedures at the camp are for free.

“There are absolutely no illegal recruiters with this type of program,” he said.

Raul Catuiran, GAACI operation supervisor, said those qualified are assured of their safety abroad as they would consistently monitor the whereabouts of the workers with their employers.

This developed as Mangudadatu said the provincial government is set to erect soon solar-powered light posts in remote areas of the province.

Each solar-powered post costs P64,000 and these are imported from China.

“I just hope that community-beneficiaries of this lighting project would take care of the posts for them to somehow enjoy the benefits of having lights at night,” the governor said.

Maguindanao, whose capital is Shariff Aguak in the second district, has 36 towns with 506 villages bordering the provinces of Lanao del Sur to the north, Cotabato to the east, and Sultan Kudarat to the south.


Soldiers hunting down killers of 4 people in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 19): Soldiers hunting down killers of 4 people in Basilan

The Zamboanga Del Sur-based 1st Infantry Division is now conducting hot pursuit operations against the armed group who shot and killed on Tuesday four men, two of them militiamen, in the boundaries of Barangays Bohe Baka and Bohe Libung, Tipo-Tipo town, Basilan in what authorities believed to be "rido" related violence.

Capt. Jefferson Mamauag, the unit's spokesperson, said the incident transpired around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday.

He identified the slain militiamen as Umbongan Gungkal, and Burak Usahon and the two civilians fatalities as Uwahid Upisyalin and Havilim Upisyalin.

Also wounded in the encounter was Abdila Toria, who is now undergoing treatment at the Lamitan Hospital.

Mamauag said that the victims were on their way to Sitio Manabuli, Barangay Bohe Tambak, Tipo-Tipo after visiting their relatives at Barangay Bohe Libung when ambushed by still unidentified armed men believe to be members of a rival clan with a grudge against them.

All four victims suffered multiple gunshots wounds and were killed on the spot.

Mamauag stated that troopers from the 18th Infantry Batttalion, a field unit of the 1st Infantry Division, immediately responded and succeeded in driving away the gunmen and in the process saved the badly wounded Toria.

Hot pursuit operations are still ongoing.


Rebel surrenders to Army unit in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 19): Rebel surrenders to Army unit in Negros Oriental

Tired of the incessant and causeless fighting, a New People's Army (NPA) fighter has voluntarily surrendered to troopers of the 79th Infantry Battalion conducting a routine security patrol in Barangay Nagbalaye, Sta Catalina, Negros Oriental.

In a report forwarded to the PNA Wednesday, Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, the unit's commanding officer, the surrenderee was identified as Juvani Suarez, 39 and a resident of Sitio Aponoy, Barangay San Francisco, Sta. Catalina.

The latter is the second in command of Squad 3, SDG Platoon, South Eastern Front operating in the areas of Sta Catalina, Siaton and part of Valencia, Negros Oriental.

Suarez also handed to authorities one .357 Smith and Wesson Magnum revolver with five rounds.

The former rebel claimed that all he wants is to be reunited with his family and restart a meaningful life in the community.

“It is because of the teamwork between the local officials, communities and 'Bayanihan' teams on outreach program in the far flung areas that awakened NPA members and encouraged to abandon the armed struggle,” Pascua stressed.

He also urged remaining NPA members to lay down their arms and join the mainstream society and avail the programs of the government for armed struggle has no place in the province of Negros Oriental.


Ranking NPA leader bagged in NegOcc

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): Ranking NPA leader bagged in NegOcc

Troopers from the 3rd Infantry Division and the local police arrested a ranking New People's Army (NPA) leader during an operation in Hacienda Dos Hermanas, Talisay City, Negros Occidental Monday morning.

Major Ray Tiongson, the unit's spokesperson, identified the arrested rebel as Romulo Bitoon, secretary of the Regional United White Area Committee and member of the Executive Committee of Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros.

Bitoon was arrested around 6:10 a.m. by virtue of warrants of arrest for murder with Case Number 4311-C issued by Judge Renato Mu├▒es of Cadiz City and arson with Case Number 4201 issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 59, San Carlos City.

Bitoon was positively identified by a former NPA fighter who has long since returned to mainstream society.

Bitoon's murder case stemmed from the killing of Lt. Archie Polenzo of 62nd Infantry Battalion in 2010 in Cadiz City in a sniping incident perpetrated by the Haggard Platoon, Northern Negros Front.

While his arson case involved the burning of Victorias Milling Company Transloading Station in Barangay San Jose, Toboso, Negros Occidental last March 16, 2008 where two cranes, four prime movers and one 10-wheeler truck were destroyed.

“The arrest of Bitoon is another significant accomplishment of the convergence of efforts of all the stakeholders who have been working with us in our peace and security operations here in the Region. We have strengthened our resolve to bring criminals behind bar of justice and we continue with our commitment to maintain an environment conducive to development," 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad said.

“Armed struggle is not the solution to our societal problems. We call on to the rest of the NPA members to lay down their arms, abandon the armed struggle and return to the comfort of their families and join us in bringing peace and development especially to the communities in the countryside,” he added.

Bitoon is now detained at Talisay Police Station.


'Sidewinder' missile also armed PAF fighter aircraft

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): 'Sidewinder' missile also armed PAF fighter aircraft

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) at one time was equipped with jet aircraft armed with one of the sophisticated and capable air-to-air missiles in the world.

This weapon, which was developed by the US Navy during the 1950s, was called the AIM-9 "Sidewinder".

AIM stands for "air-intercept missile".

PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the AIM-9B was fitted to its North American F-86D "Sabrejet", Northrop F-5A "Tiger", and Chance-Vought F-8H "Crusader" jet fighters.

He said the AIM-9B acted as the primary weapon of these jet fighters with 20mm automatic cannon as the secondary one.

Okol said the AIM-9B gave then PAF jet fighters a creditable interception capability.

Sidewinder variants utilize infrared homing for guidance and tracking.

Okol said the PAF acquired and operated 70 units of the F-86s during the 1950s. These planes served as the Philippines' fighter aircraft until 1967 where they were replaced with the supersonic F-5As of which 37 units were acquired.

By the 1980s, 36 units of the F-8Hs were delivered to the PAF. However, these Mach 2 capable jet planes only served for 11 years due to high fuel costs.

It was finally decommissioned and placed in open storage by 1991, leaving the Northrop built "Tiger" as the country's sole fighter jet until its decommissioning in 2005.

Okol said that with the deactivation of the F-5s, the PAF decided to operate the Italian-built S-211 as a fighter.

However, the latter plane is not fitted with pylons capable of carrying and firing the "Sidewinder" missiles being maintained by the PAF.

The PAF is known to operate three to six S-211 airframes out of the total 24 units acquired during 1992 to 1994.

The AIM-9 is one of the oldest, least expensive, and most successful air-to-air missiles, with an estimated 270 aircraft kills in its history of use.

Of these, 100 kills can be attributed to the Israeli Air Force during the Sixth Day War, Yom Kippur War, War of Attrition and 1982 Lebanon War with the other 170 credited to the US Air Force and Navy during the Vietnam War and 1991 Gulf War.

The missile has a top speed of Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound.

Its warhead weigh around 20 pounds and the missile has a length of 9 feet and 11 inches.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier announced that the decision to acquire South Korea's F/A-50 jet aircraft is still on.

Around 12 units are being eyed to replace the S-211 which at the moment consists of the PAF's fighter capability.

He made this statement after noting that the DND has submitted its report to the Office of the President which recommended approval of the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) request that the Philippines pay 52 percent of the P18.9 billion price of the 12 F/A-50 aircraft, which the country is planning to acquire as it interim fighter planes.

Gazmin said that should the Office of the President go ahead with their recommendation, along with the so-called progress billing, the planes will be delivered by June 2015.

The DND chief added that both parties have reached a compromise on the delivery of spare parts to 60 days.

The F/A-50 jet aircraft can also be armed with the "Sidewinder" missile.

DND undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations and munitions Fernando Manalo admitted that some major issues need resolving before the country can push through with its acquisition of the F/A-50 jet aircraft.

He added that the issues are now in the process of negotiations.

These include the turnaround time for spare parts which the Philippines wants 30 to 45 days but which the Korea Aerospace Industries is insisting on 180 days, issue on advance payment with the DND is insisting only on 15 percent but KAI wants 52 percent.

The DND official stressed that the Philippine decision for a less turnaround time for the spare parts is aimed at keeping the jet aircraft flyable at all times.

Manalo said the insistence of South Korea of a 52 percent down payment is a major difficulty as the AFP Modernization Act only allows 15 percents payment with the balance being given on the subsequent deliveries.

He added that they will elevate this issue to the Office of the President to determine whether they can give more than the mandated 15 percent to KAI

"We can recommend to the President to grant their request as the money will be used to invest (in the production line) for the aircraft," he said.

The DND earlier has allocated over P18.9-billion to acquire 12 brand-new F/A-50 jet aircraft from KAI.


No reports yet of JIs, BIFF fighters in Cagayan De Oro -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): No reports yet of JIs, BIFF fighters in Cagayan De Oro -- AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it is still to receive reports confirming the presence of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members and "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" (BIFF) in Cagayan De Oro.

"We have no information on that but we still monitor (the area for) presence and the possibility (of) other threat groups but as of now, they have not been active," said AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.

Zagala also said the successful peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could be a factor in the diminishing foreign terror threat.

"That's a possibility (as) the Moro Islamic Liberation Front saw the sincerity of the government (and) they probably do not see the need anymore for violent actions, and the best way to solve our problems in the conflict areas is through peace process and dialogue," he said.

But despite this negative report, Zagala said the military will continue to cooperate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its law enforcement operations.

"We will do our duty by preventing any peace spoiler to undertake (any) plan or terroristic act that (may) put harm to our people and derail the peace process," he stressed.

He also added that the AFP, for the past decade, has significantly diminished the capabilities of the JIs and the Rajah Solaiman Movement through offensive operations.

But the AFP public affairs office chief said this does no mean that they are relaxing their guard.

"Lately, there are renewal of the worldwide Islamic movement that we are also monitoring, I cannot give you the details regarding this movement which we call 'Black Flag'," he said.

"We are closely monitoring them and making sure that they do not carry out any of their plan of terroristic action. Although terrorism is within our midst, we, in partnership with the PNP, are doing all we can to prevent any more actions by this group," he added.

When asked for comment on the report that some politicians are sheltering and providing safe havens to the BIFF, the AFP public affairs chief said they are still to receive such information.

Zagala also dismissed reports that the BIFF are in a position of strength.

"They have splintered into many groups, we have occupied their camps for them to say they are in the position of strength, I don't think so (as) they are still in the run," he said.

And once these BIFF remnants are located, Zagala said the AFP will again conduct "stability operations" against these groups to ensure that they will not be able to target innocent communities again.


AFP modernization still needed to effectively defend PHL territories

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): AFP modernization still needed to effectively defend PHL territories

With the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) poised to sign a lasting peace agreement, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista on Tuesday stressed there is still need to modernize the military in order for it to effectively defend the country's territories.

Bautista noted a well-equipped Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can also help the government in addressing the effects of climate change and natural and man-made calamities.

"We have not invested much in our Armed Forces for a long time (as) we have been so focused on addressing internal security issues and that has diverted us from our primary mandate of defending the territory. Our principal mandate is to protect the people and the state," he said.

And with the MILF now on its way to join the mainstream Philippine society, the AFP chief said the military can now focus on other threats.

"(We can) now focus on the other threats that we face as I mentioned, defending our territory and climate change and also the other threat groups internally like the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army), in the internal security area. We hope they would abandon the armed struggle and also follow the path of peace as the MILF did," Bautista pointed out.


Keeping the peace, AFP role during negotiations with MILF

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): Keeping the peace, AFP role during negotiations with MILF

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista on Tuesday said that keeping the peace was the primarily role of the AFP as government negotiations were taking place with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"As part of our Internal Peace and Security Plan 'Bayanihan' one of our main objectives is to support the peace process, to have a negotiated political settlement with the MILF and that's one of the intent of 'Bayanihan' and what we did was to support the peace process, to maintain the agreed upon ceasefire and to see to it that we present a credible defense posture so that our negotiating panel will have their confidence and their ability to discuss from a position of strength with the MILF," he added.

Bautista also pointed out that during the sensitive negotiations, a ceasefire was announced with the MILF and nothing untoward happened during that period.

"There was ceasefire and nothing untoward happened to disturb that ceasefire except for issues with 'ridos' as a motivation and some criminal activities," he added.

Bautista also took this opportunity to state that he believes that the MILF will agree to the decommissioning of their firearms and other weapons.

"That's part of the agreement and as long as they see that their security is ensured and there are no threats to their personal safety I guess they will agree with the decommissioning," the AFP chief stressed.

The MILF is estimated to have a fighting force of 11,000 men and these individuals are armed with 7,500 types of assorted firearms.

And despite the declaration that the MILF will be allowed to have their police force in their controlled areas, the military will still have a presence in these places, Bautista added.

"First of all, the police is separate from the miltiary, it comes under the Department of Interior and Local Government. The AFP will maintain forces for purposes of national defense, we still have a responsibility, a mandate to defend our country, our territory to protect the people and the state and that is going to be a continuing mandate of the Armed Forces and we will deploy forces nationwide including in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao for purposes of national defense," he pointed out.

Bautista added that the AFP is more than willing to ensure that the peace process is carried out to its rightful conclusion.

"We will defend the peace that we have won, we will address spoilers that threaten the peace process and we have demonstrated that (during the Zamboanga City siege last September)," he added.

Bautista also pledged to address the "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" who have a habit of conducting harassment attacks and atrocities whenever some landmark is reached in the negotiations.


'Zamboanga City will not be part of Bangsamoro' - mayor

From InterAksyon (Feb 18): 'Zamboanga City will not be part of Bangsamoro' - mayor

Zamboanga Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar at a press conference

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar vowed to oppose any attempt to include Zamboanga City in the Bangsamoro entity that will be formed as part of the peace agreement between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“We like to put into proper perspective the official and unwavering stand of the city of Zamboanga: we are reiterating and continue to reiterate that the city of Zamboanga, and/or any of its 98 component barangays and its municipal waters as defined under the Fisheries Code, should be excluded (from) the Bangsamoro,” Salazar, speaking as “one of the members of the various stakeholders” in her city, told a public forum with the Bangsamoro Transition Committee on February 12.

While stressing that the city supports the initiatives of President Benigno Aquino III to end the decades-long hostilities in Mindanao, the mayor said they continue to receive reports of what she called “illegal” MILF activities in Zamboanga barangays.

She also urged the MILF leadership to take full supervision and control of their members.

“It should educate, act appropriately and immediately instruct its members to cease and desist from performing any and all acts that may derail the peace process and the tranquillity of communities, whether within and specifically outside of the core territory under Framework Agreement such as Zamboanga City, to ensure that the processes toward just and lasting peace will succeed,” she said.

She also urged the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to “immediately act on reported MILF presence in areas outside the identified Bangsamoro core territory” and draw up protocols to guide local government units in addressing groups or individuals introducing themselves as MILF.

She said that on January 17, a group of MILF members attempted to put up a political office in Barangay Cawit, on the city’s west coast.

And just a day before the forum, “a group of individuals claiming to be a members of the MILF attempted to conduct MILF-related activities in the island barangay of Sacol but was prevailed upon by our police authorities who ordered a stop to such activities.”

Salazar said their position is the same as their opposition to inclusion in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the Bangsamoro is set to replace.

But although Zamboanga City residents help rallies and overwhelmingly voted not to join the ARMM, “Barangay Cabatangan was made (a) satellite office of ARMM,” she said.

In August 2008, the city government was one of the petitioners against the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Doman, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The decision was followed by fighting between the government and MILF that displaced up to 700,000 people in Central Mindanao.

Zamboanga was also the target of attacks by both the MNLF and MILF, the latest being last September’s incursion by followers of MNLF founder Nur Misuari, which set off almost a month of fighting that left more than 200 dead and displaced more than 120,000 people.

“Our call is for OPAPP and the GPH to continuously dialogue not only with the MILF but also the MNLF and all other groups for that matter.  Do your work and never get tired of talking if we are to attain an inclusive, acceptable and meaningful peace accord,” Salazar said.


4 fishermen killed, 1 wounded in Basilan ambush

From InterAksyon (Feb 18): 4 fishermen killed, 1 wounded in Basilan ambush

Four fishermen were killed and one wounded in an ambush in the hinterlands of Tipo-Tipo town, Basilan Monday afternoon, police said.

Senior Police Officer 1 Ben Naser Saha identified only three of the fatalities: Hussin Piskalin, Wahid Piskalin, and Kasayun Piskalin.
The attackers also remain unidentified.

Saha said the victims were on their way home on motorcycles when they were ambushed abound 3:15 p.m. in Barangay Bohelebbung.


Kerry's push for Code of Conduct in South China Sea boosts PH stance in maritime row - DFA

From InterAksyon (Feb 18): Kerry's push for Code of Conduct in South China Sea boosts PH stance in maritime row - DFA

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday welcomed remarks made by United States Secretary of State John Kerry prodding the ASEAN to fast-track work for the early conclusion of the Code Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, where the Philippines is one of five claimants in a dispute with China.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said Kerry's statements are "fully in line" with Manila’s consistent stance for a rules-based approach and a peaceful resolution to the multilateral maritime row, where Manila and Hanoi have been among the most engaged protagonists in a continuing word war with Beijing.

"The Philippines welcomes the reported comments of US Secretary of State John Kerry made recently in Jakarta on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea," Hernandez said Tuesday .

Manila has been directed by an UN Arbitral Tribunal to present on March 30 its so-called “Memorial” or memorandum summarizing arguments and evidence to bolster its side in a complaint it filed against Beijing in early 2013.

Kerry’s comments, made in a meeting with ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh at ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta, highlighted the importance of exercising self-restraint and the early conclusion of the COC. Hernandez said such comments “are fully in line with the basic Philippine and Asean stance that we should move expeditiously to conclude a binding Code of Conduct in order to reinforce regional peace, security and stability.”

The basis for a COC is the 2002 Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) between China and ASEAN, meant to counter aggressive actions in the region and urging all claimant-states to ensure peace and stability in what are believed to be resource-rich waters.

The COC has no dispute-settlement mechanism.

The US, which has declared a strategic pivot of its military and defense resources to the Asia Pacific Region, has always cited its "strategic interest" in ensuring peace and stability in the region, considered a vital lane for $5 billion in commerce. Washington also said that while it takes no side in the multilateral disputes in the South China Sea, it will take action necessary to always ensure freedom of navigation.

It recently engaged in a word war with Beijing over the latter’s declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea where Beijing and Tokyo have a long-standing territorial dispute. Washington prodded Beijing to be “transparent” about its reported plans to set up a similar zone in the South China Sea, a move widely seen to escalate tensions.

The Southeast Asia, Kerry had said, is at the core of Washington's pivot to Asia policy, which was declared as US moved to bolster its relationships with its allies in the region—especially South Korea, Japan and the Philippines, with which it has standing defense cooperation treaties.

The pivot was announced as China started upping the ante in its push to assert dominance in the region, with a variety of steps ramping up its political, economic and military might in the region.

The US is also helping the Philippines, its former colony, build a minimum credible defense posture to better patrol its territorial waters, after Beijing escalated the maritime tensions with its de facto occupation of the Philippine-controlled Panatag Shoal in 2012.