Monday, March 3, 2014

Military to sue NPA members for Davao mine attack

From the Sun Star (Mar 3): Military to sue NPA members for Davao mine attack

CASES of frustrated murder and violation to the International Humanitarian Law will be filed against New People's Army (NPA) rebels responsible for planting of improvised explosive devices (IED) in a Davao del Sur town, a military official said Monday.

In a phone interview, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) human rights division chief Colonel Sonny Tutaan said cases will be filed against alleged NPA members Menandro Villanueva (alias Nelson) and Roberto Rosete (alias Bobby), after the IED they have planted in Banlasan Town in Davao del Sur have exploded on Sunday evening, causing injuries to five civilian volunteers of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC).

Tutaan said Villanueva and Rosete, both officials of the NPA group belonging to Guerilla Front 51 Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), ordered their members to plant the landmines.

"Though may kasamang soldiers 'yung convoy, it does not mean na it's for combat operation. May ipi-pick-up lang sila na mga iba pang sundalo sa isang encounter site, kaya 'yung ginawa nila na 'yun labag talaga sa batas at agreement," he said.

On Sunday night, a convoy of ambulances from Davao Del Sur PDRRMC, Red Cross Davao del Sur Chapter and 39th Infantry Battalion (39IB) was hit by the landmine planted by the NPA rebels.

The convoy was supposed to evacuate the military personnel who were wounded in an encounter with an undetermined number of NPA rebels in Barangay Managa, Bansalan town.

Tutaan identified the wounded civilians as Henaro Dumayas, Alberto Cabual Jr, Arnel Valeroso, Ivan Malingo and Bonita Dela Cruz.

Dumayas, who sustained wounds at the left forearm, left thigh and inferior side of the head, and Cabual, who was wounded at his left arm, are in critical condition in Digos Doctors Hospital, while the other three suffered minor wounds.

The ambulance of Davao del Sur PDRRMC was also heavily damaged from the explosion.

Tutaan said it is clearly stated in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, to which the NPA is one of the signatories, that the use of IED's as landmines is prohibited to prevent damages to civilians.

"The AFP condemns this desperate attack by the NPAs who continue to sow violence in rural areas in the country. The NPA’s use of IEDs as landmines which endangers the lives, as well as sow terror, to civilians in the immediate area of attack," he said.
Villanueva and Rosete remain at large.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2014/03/03/military-sue-npa-members-davao-mine-attack-331154

Commentary: Understanding the Bangsamoro construct

From GMA News (Feb 26): Understanding the Bangsamoro construct (by

The first understanding that needs to be put in the ‘right place’ is the very use of the word - ‘Bangsamoro’. This is a new political construct dating from the MNLF use of the word in 1972.

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro or FAB and the 4 Annexes use the word Bangsamoro in three levels: Bangsamoro as Identity; Bangsamoro as Territory; and Bangsamoro as Government.  In all three levels, Bangsamoro is NOT merely historical or cultural concept; it is a political construct, first and foremost. The 4 Annexes are actual negotiations of powers and wealth sharing and territory.  
 
The word Bangsamoro in all three levels is a paramount political construct, because IDENTITY matters. It is an important issue that must not be taken lightly. This new political construct would define and shape the Bangsamoro identity, territory and government.  It  would have consequences to the existing other political constructs like Muslim Mindanao, Indigenous Peoples and ‘Christian Settlers’ in Mindanao.  
 
FAB defines ‘Bangsamoro’ as “those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and their descendants whether of mixed or of full blood shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription”. Then it goes further to recognize the spouses… To wit: “Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro”.  
 
The non-Islamised people of the Southern Philippines ask whether the word Bangsamoro would include ALL the inhabitants of the Bangsamoro Territory.  The current definition and uses of the word Bangsamoro as defined in the FAB and the Annexes point to an Identity that is ‘Exclusive’ to the natives and original inhabitants, their spouses and their descendants no matter whether they are mixed or pure blood.  Thus the IP’s are classified as Bangsamoro, the Christian Settlers and their descendants, however, are excluded unless they are of ‘mixed blood’ or ‘spouses’ of a Bangsamoro. 
 
The people also ask whether the Basic Law would recognize and respect different and multiple identities within the Bangsamoro Area? Would the Bangsamoro identity enjoy certain privileges and entitlements that the non-Bangsamoro would NOT enjoy like qualifying for certain positions either elective or appointive? 
 
If the Bangsamoro Identity would mean entitlement and privileges, the non-Bangsamoro inhabitants within the territorial coverage of the autonomy would feel not only discriminated but they would feel that the equal protection of laws would not apply thus it would be violative of the Constitutional equal protection clause. 
 
In the existing ARMM, though both RA 6734 (Cory’s Organic Act) and RA 9054 (post 1996 FPA) do not discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity, the actual practice has been ‘exclusion’ of IP’s and Christians in all top positions both elective and appointive. To wit: NO Christian or IP has ever been appointed since 1989 to any cabinet positions or elected to the Regional Legislative Assembly. While the Law allows for sectoral representations, the ARMM government, particularly the RLA, has NOT acted on this provision. As a result, NO IP or Christian inhabitant had occupied any cabinet position or a member of the RLA (except when PNoy directly appointed sectoral representation even without any RLA legislation.
 
While in the National Government there are growing awareness to become inclusive both in the appointive and elective positions, the same cannot be said of the ARMM. While the moves in the national level are still wanting, but one sees genuine efforts and attempts to be inclusive in governance. Except for PNoy Government, there always has been Muslim Representation in the Cabinet since the time of President Diosdado Macapagal. 
 
The creation of the two Commissions - The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that enjoy cabinet ranks is, yet, another testimony of this inclusive attempt.  While we still await an appointment of qualified Muslim or IP as Justice in the Supreme Court, there are strong moves and lobby to this effect.
 
With the above considerations, the question whether there would be IP or Christian (minority) representation in the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) would tell whether the new Bangsamoro would be inclusive or exclusive. If the Bangsamoro Transitional Commission (BTC) would be the measure, one sees the inclusive attempts on the part of both the GPH and the MILF by including among their nominees, IPs and Christian. As it is, the BTC has two IPs and a Christian notwithstanding the exclusionary clause in the FAB.
 
While Bangsamoro Identity is limited to the natives and original inhabitants (prior to the conquest and colonization), spouses and their descendants, the Bangsamoro Territory and the Bangsamoro Government should be inclusive of all inhabitants of the areas. There should be NO religious or ethnic or national test for both appointive and elected positions within the Bangsamoro structures. Else the whole Bangsamoro becomes exclusionary and discriminatory, and such institution/s would not be sustainable, in the long terms. CUIDATE!
 

Organic garden project makes use of military camps, supplies food to soldiers and families

From the Business Mirror (Mar 2): Organic garden project makes use of military camps, supplies food to soldiers and families



















In Photo: Major Gen. Nicanor E. Dolojan, commander of the Light Armor Division, Philippine Army, and Dr. Isa Cojuangco Suntay, chairman of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation, are shown in front of the entrance of Hardin ng Lunas in Camp O’ Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. Pulling carts laden with fruits and vegetables harvested from the camp’s Hardin ng Lunas are two Boer goats being raised in the camp. (Photo courtesy of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation.)

IF Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang would have his way, all 15 military camps under his command would have farms.

Catapang, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), would have camps planted with various vegetables and fruits, with ponds teeming with tilapia, and goats and cattle grazing the wide-open fields.

If only each camp would be planted with organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, and with each camp contributing 10,000 hectares each to the organic-farming project, at least 150,000 hectares of military land would become production centers of organic vegetables, herbs, fish, fruits, and goats and cattle, he said.

After all, Catapang added, the “Hardin ng Lunas” currently operating in three of his camps supply 60 percent of the food requirements of his soldiers.

On February 10, together with the Tarlac Heritage Foundation, Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac, celebrated their second “Harvest Festival.”

Also inaugurated that day was a bahay kubo, symbolic of the Filipino farmer’s rest hut in the middle of the field, and a kiosk where the Hardin’s vegetable and fruit harvests were displayed and sold to the public.

The camp’s Hardin is an ongoing project of Camp O’Donnell’s Mechanized Infantry Division, initially headed by retiring Maj. Gen. Nicanor E. Dolojan.

Dolojan said his soldiers spend their spare time tending the gardens while performing their training activities to defend the country.

The Tarlac Heritage Foundation, under Dr. Isabel Cojuangco Suntay, launched the organic garden in the camp in September last year. It is the third showcase garden under the foundation’s project showcasing organic planting, and animal and fish raising in the province of Tarlac.

The first farm is found in Barangay Camangaan East in Moncada, Tarlac, while the second is at Camp General Servillano Aquino in Barangay San Miguel, Tarlac City.

Suntay said the Hardin project encourages military personnel and civilian employees to plant and tend organic vegetables, fruits and medicinal herbs in military camps, which has become a source of food and livelihood for the soldiers and their families.

On November 26, 2013, the foundation and Nolcom’s Mechanized Infantry Division shared the bounty of their harvest with residents of several barangays in Tarlac in a pre-Christmas celebration.

Aside from performing to the delight of the local villagers, the soldiers gave away the fruits of their gardens. The food bags contained tomatoes, pechay (Chinese cabbage), eggplants, okra (gumbo), brown rice, locally called  pinawa, and several live tilapia (cichlid fish).

Suntay said President Aquino, her second-degree cousin, launched the first Hardin on December 1, 2012, in Camiling, Tarlac, with the first Hardin opening on July 1, 2013 at Camp Gen. Servillano A. Aquino on a 2-hectare fairway lot. The Hardin was planted with 75,038 vegetable seedlings consisting of 56 varieties, 123 fruit trees, 150 ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) trees and 600 tilapia fingerlings.

Several typhoons that passed through Central Luzon the past two years flooded the gardens and emptied the camps’ fishponds, but the foundation and the soldiers persisted.  The three Hardins were replanted with fruits and vegetable seedlings, and the ponds restocked with tilapia fingerlings.

Catapang may still get his wish of gardens teeming with organic plants and ponds full of tilapia.

NPA leader, camp captured

From Tempo (Mar 3): NPA leader, camp captured

Government troops arrested a New People’s Army (NPA) leader when they overran the rebels’ camp in Southern Mindanao over the weekend.

The Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday claimed another blow to the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) after their big camp was overran by the combat maneuvering troops of the 73rd Infantry Battallion (73rd IB) in Malita, Davao Occidental over the weekend.

ILt. Mary Cecille S. Sombong, Civil Military Operation Officer (CMO) of the 73rd Infranty Battalion identified the captured NPA leader as Rodane Antiodo, alias Dandan, team leader of Squad 1, Platoon Uno of Front Committee 75.

She said the troops arrested Antiodo after a 20-minute firefight with the insurgents that resulted in the seizure of the NPA camp at Sitio Solo, Barangay Manuel Peralta, in Malita.

The seized camp can accommodate up to 70 persons, is complete with running trenches, training area, makeshift huts, and kitchen.

Soldiers also recovered from the site an Ak-47 rifle and live ammunition, a rifle grenade, 30-meter long electric wire, two sacks of rice, personal belongings and anti-government documents.

http://www.tempo.com.ph/2014/03/npa-leader-camp-captured/#.UxVWyM-PIcA

Abu Sayyaf tagged in kidnapping of priest nabbed

From the Philippine Star (Mar 3): Abu Sayyaf tagged in kidnapping of priest nabbed

A suspected Abu Sayyaf member, tagged in the kidnapping of a catholic priest, was captured by the combined military and police forces in Basilan Sunday night, according to an official.

The suspect  has been identified as Imam Bakal alias Abubakar Bakkang, who has standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping with serious illegal detention, according to Capt. Rowena Muyuella, spokesman of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

She said the suspect was tagged to be involved in the kidnapping of Fr. Cerilo Nacorda sometime in June 1994 when the priest was abducted while 15 other commuters were executed somewhere along the highway of Barangay Matarling, Isabela City.

The military said the suspect was also tagged to have participated in the ambush on the marines who were checking on the possible presence of abducted Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi in 1997 in Al-Barka town. At least 14 of the marines were beheaded and mutilated by the attackers.

Muyuella said combined army troopers and police forces captured Bakal about 9 p.m along the waters of Maluso town following a pursuing operation.

The captured suspect was turned over to the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for proper filing of charges,  Muyuella added.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/03/03/1296627/abu-sayyaf-tagged-kidnapping-priest-nabbed

AFP backs amnesty for Muslim rebels under Bangsamoro

From the Philippine Star (Mar 3): AFP backs amnesty for Muslim rebels under Bangsamoro

The military on Monday welcomed the proposal to grant amnesty to Muslim rebels once the Bangsamoro political entity is formed and reiterated its support to the peace process.

“That’s within the framework agreement and annexes. If this is part of the agreement that will redound to peace, why not?” Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We have to look at greater good of the peace process. We have to look into it to bring lasting peace in the area,” he added
.
Last week, President Aquino revealed that the Bangsamoro law would have an amnesty provision for rebels who fought for an independent Islamic state for decades.

“There will be an amnesty provision in the new Organic Act for the Bangsamoro. But I understand the process has not been proposed. Congress will have to act on it. They will have to concur for it to become law,” the president said.

Aquino said his administration wants to transform the fighters to “productive citizens.”

The Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will form a political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, will have to secure the approval of Congress.

Tutaan said the grant of amnesty would not put in vain the soldiers who died fighting the rebels.

“Because of the supreme sacrifice made by the soldier, the conflict led to just and lasting peace,” he said.

The amnesty, Tutaan said, should be viewed in the context of efforts to attain peace in Mindanao.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are expected to sign a final peace agreement this month.

Last week, authorities arrested MILF commander Wahid Tundok by virtue of arrest warrant issued by a local court. Tundok, the leader of the MILF 118th Base Command, was accused of multiple murder and arson.

The MILF commander was not placed in a regular detention facility but was allowed to stay at the Kampilan hotel in the 6th Infantry Division headquarters in Maguindanao.

Three days after the arrest, government negotiators announced that the warrant against Tundok had been recalled and that preparations for his release were underway.

Some security sources are dismayed by Tundok’s release, saying his criminal cases were not related to the MILF’s advocacy. They believe Tundok should face the justice system because he was involved in clan wars that affected several civilians.

Tundok rejoined the MILF last weekend and thanked the military for the “humane treatment” extended to him.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/03/03/1296686/afp-backs-amnesty-muslim-rebels-under-bangsamoro

Military cited for humane treatment of MILF leader

From the Philippine Star (Mar 4): Military cited for humane treatment of MILF leader



The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has thanked the military for the humane treatment extended to its commander, Wahid Tundok, who was arrested last week for criminal cases, but was freed after his arrest warrant was recalled.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the group expressed gratitude during a thanksgiving event in Maguindanao on Saturday.

The event, known locally as kanduli, was a gesture of Tundok’s gratitude for the care given to him while he was with the military.

“The MILF expressed their sincere thanks and recognition for the statesmanship of Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, who handled the situation for the sake of peace,” Hermoso said.

Tundok, who was accused of multiple murder and arson, was arrested in Cotabato City last week based on a warrant issued by a local court.

Hermoso said Tundok’s impression of the military changed because of the humane treatment he had received while staying at the Kampilan Hotel inside the compound of the 6th ID camp.

“Tundok promised to convince his comrades to uphold peace and members of other armed groups in Maguindanao to join the government-MILF peace bandwagon,” he said.

Three days after the arrest, government negotiators announced the warrant against the MILF leader was recalled and that preparations for his release were underway.

Some camps expressed dismay over the decision to release Tundok, noting the criminal cases against him were not related to the MILF’s advocacies.

 They said Tundok should face justice as he was tagged in clan wars that affected several civilians.

Tundok’s arrest warrant was recalled as the government and the MILF were preparing to sign a final peace pact, which they believe, will put an end to the Mindanao conflict.
Officials expect the peace agreement to be inked this month.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/03/04/1296691/military-cited-humane-treatment-milf-leader

CPP: Obama, Aquino equally drenched with the blood of victims of rights abuses—CPP

Anti-US propaganda statement posted  to the CPP Website (Mar 3): Obama, Aquino equally drenched with the blood of victims of rights abuses—CPP
Logo.cpp
Communist Party of the Philippines
 
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) charged that the US government is just as responsible as the Aquino regime for the grave violations of human rights perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and various state paramilitaries under the regime’s Oplan Bayanihan.

The CPP statement was issued in reaction to the published contents of the US State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which cited continuing extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces in the Philippines.

The US government cannot feign innocence because it has been providing the AFP and its agencies with military advice, training and aid. In fact, the AFP’s current campaign of suppression deceitfully named Oplan Bayanihan was drafted under the close supervision of US military advisers and patterned after the US government’s Counter-Insurgency Guide of 2009,” said the CPP.

“Under Oplan Bayanihan, entire communities are being militarized, with the people’s human rights abused by the operating units of the AFP in the name of so-called peace and development,” said the CPP. “US military advisers have taught the AFP to describe every campaign of suppression as ‘peace and development’ in hopes of concealing the brutalities and abuses daily being committed by the fascist troops against the people.”

“Furthermore, since 2011, the US government has increased Foreign Military Financing to the Aquino government by almost 300% from USD11.9 million to USD40 million in 2013 in order to enhance the capacity of the AFP and reward Aquino for allowing the US unrestricted access for its rotational warships and troops.”

The CPP described the US human rights report as an effort to “wash its hands of responsibility over the dismal state of human rights in the Philippines.”

“While describing the serious human rights abuses in the Philippines, the US has understated the extent of the violations by citing dubious figures from police and other government agencies and downplaying more accurate reports coming from independent human rights organizations,” pointed out the CPP. “It does not even make mention of Oplan Bayanihan nor of the fact that rights abuses perpetrated by the AFP are being committed under this US-designed campaign of suppression.”

“The US report failed to point out that since he assumed power in 2010, Aquino’s armed forces and armed paramilitaries have perpetrated an average of one extrajudicial killing per week, racking up a total of 164 cases,” said the CPP. “This pattern continues to date, with six cases since January.”

“The CPP calls on the Filipino people to raise their voices of protest against human rights abuses being committed by the US-backed Aquino regime.”

“The scheduled visit of US President Barack Obama in April must furthermore be greeted with protests demanding an end to US military aid to the AFP, denouncing US interventionism in the Philippines and condemning violations of Philippine sovereignty with the increasing frequency of US war vessel dockings in Philippine territorial waters and the permanent stationing of US troops in exclusive facilities in the Philippines.”

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140303_obama-aquino-equally-drenched-with-the-blood-of-victims-of-rights-abuses-cpp

CPP/NDF: NDFP demands release of Consultant George Geluz and other NDFP consultants

Posted to the CPP Website (Mar 2): NDFP demands release of Consultant George Geluz and other NDFP consultants

56_louie2
Luis Jalandoni
Chairperson
NDFP Negotiating Panel
 
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel strongly condemns the illegal arrest and detention of NDFP Consultant George Geluz. He is the holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND 978309 under the assumed name: Siloy Dimagiba. As an NDFP Consultant in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP, he is covered by the protection of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) of 24 February 1995.

The JASIG was subsequently approved by the Principals of the GRP and the NDFP. It is an effective and binding reciprocal peace agreement.

The illegal arrest of NDFP Consultant George Geluz on 8 February 2014 and his detention at the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail in Daet is a serious violation of the JASIG.

Despite having a permanent committee tasked to oversee the implementation of the JASIG and resolve problems and issues arising from it, as provided for in Executive Order 276 dated 19 September 1995 issued by GRP President Fidel V. Ramos, the BS Aquino regime, through its Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), refuses to abide by the JASIG and has exposed itself as without word of honor in complying with solemn agreements entered into in the course of peace negotiations.

The NDFP demands that NDFP Consultant George Geluz be immediately and unconditionally released. The same demand goes for all the other NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected NDFP personnel arrested and detained in violation of the JASIG.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140302_ndfp-demands-release-of-consultant-george-geluz-and-other-ndfp-consultants

New Army chief, 48 other military officials take oath before PNoy

From GMA News (Mar 4): New Army chief, 48 other military officials take oath before PNoy

The new head of the Philippine Army and 48 other officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday formally took their oaths before President Benigno Aquino III.

During a ceremony in MalacaƱang, Aquino administered the oath of 49 newly appointed generals and flag officers of the AFP including Army chief Major General Hernando Iriberri, AFP spokesperson Major General Domingo Tutaan, and Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., commander of the North Luzon Command.

Aquino appointed Iriberri, the former spokesman of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, early February during the retirement ceremony of former Army chief Lieutenant General Noel Coballes.

Catapang's promotion to a higher rank was also approved by the bicameral Commission on Appointments last month. 
 

Advocacy for indigenous community held in Colombio

From the MILF Website (Mar 4): Advocacy for indigenous community held in Colombio



An advocacy program on the Framework Agreement and the GPH-MILF Peace Process was held for the B’laan indigenous peoples in Colombio, Sultan Kudarat.

The activity was held on February 26 at Barangay Mayo. Prof. Esmael Abdula, BLMI’s Steering Committee member; Moidjoddin Talusob, Executive Director of Kalilintad Development Foundation, Inc. (KDFI) and the Director of Damakling Provincial Committee on Information were the guest speakers. 
   
The forum was attended by 500 mixed participants from the indigenous peoples and Maguindanaon residents in contiguous areas of Maguindanao and was sponsored by the indigenous people of Mayo in coordination with the local political committee of Damakling Province and the Municipal Government of Colombio.

The program achieved overwhelming positive responses from the B‘laans after listening to the salient features of the FAB and the inclusiveness of the basic law that is being crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). For the B’laans, the agreement will ultimately redound to lasting peace and sustainable development in Mindanao.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/846-advocacy-for-indigenous-community-held-in-colombio

MILF: Philippine Military turns over arrested MILF CommanderTundok

From the MILF Website (Mar 4): Philippine Military turns over arrested MILF CommanderTundok

After having been arrested, placed under military custody and freed on February 25 upon order by the court, a thanksgiving ceremony was held on March 1 when security forces turned over arrested Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) MILF-BIAF Commander Wahid Tundok to his group.
  
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, was quoted saying, “The thanksgiving or “kanduli” would be held amid the positive outlook on the peace talks between the government and the MILF.

“The higher interest and peace prevailed. We are moving toward that because the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro will be signed anytime,” he said.

Tundok is the commander of the MILF’s 118th Base Command and has been charged with multiple murder and arson.

Combined members of the Philippine Marines and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested Comdr. Tundok in Cotabato City last Sunday, February 23 by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 15 of Cotabato City.
 
Three days after the arrest, government negotiators announced that the warrant of arrest against Tundok had been recalled and the cases filed against him shall be reinvestigated.

They even thanked the ceasefire panel and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group for ensuring the “smooth resolution of the matter.”

The recall of Tundok’s arrest warrant came as the government and the MILF are preparing to sign a historic final peace deal, which they believe, would solve the Mindanao problem.

Officials said the peace agreement may be signed by the end of the month.
http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/845-philippine-military-turns-over-arrested-milf-commandertundok

Training for AW-109 mission essential equipment to be completed by Q2

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Training for AW-109 mission essential equipment to be completed by Q2

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Tuesday announced that training for mission essential equipment for its brand-new AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters will be completed by the second quarter of this year.

This includes hoists, night vision gear (NVG) and forward looking infra-red (FLIR) equipment, Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

Training started last December.

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.

"With its FLIR, the AW-109s has a more enhanced search-and-rescue capability than any of our existing aircraft. Also, it is fitted with NVG 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.

I'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 seas 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.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=621761

AFP condemns NPA rebels for latest landmine attacks in Davao Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): AFP condemns NPA rebels for latest landmine attacks in Davao Del Sur

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday vehemently condemned the latest landmine attacks perpetuated by the New People's Army (NPA) which wounded 16 people, five of them civilians, in Bansalan town, Davao Del Sur Sunday.

"The AFP condemns this desperate attack by the NPAs who continue to sow violence in rural areas in the country. The NPA’s use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as landmines endangers lives, as well as sows terror among civilians in the immediate area of attack," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

He pointed out that under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law to which the NPA is one of the signatories, the use of IEDs as landmines is prohibited to prevent damages to civilians.

Zagala said that the AFP will pursue the perpetrators in view of ending their violent activities and in bringing peace and development in rural communities.

NPA fighters earlier conducted two landmine attacks in Bansalan town, Davao Del Sur Sunday.

The latest explosion occurred in Sitio Tower, Barangay Managa, at 7:30 p.m.

This attack hit an ambulance convoy on the way to help the 11 soldiers wounded in the first landmine blast in Sitio Balutakay, Managa town at around 11:18 a.m.

Col. Marcos Norman Flores Jr., 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, identified the wounded civilians as Henaro Dumayas, Alberto Cabual Jr., Arnel Valeroso, Ivan Malingo and Bonita Dela Cruz.

All five are members of the Davao Del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Dumayas, who sustained wounds at the left forearm, left thigh and inferior side of the head, and Cabual, who was wounded at his left arm, are in critical condition in Digos Doctors Hospital while the other three suffered slight wounds.

Initial reports stated that Menandro Villanueva, Secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee personally ordered the land-mining of the civilian ambulance.

“We condemn to the highest degree this barbaric, brutal and inhumane act of the NPA clearly and gravely violating the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. We call on various human rights group, including the Karapatan, who remained mum whenever the NPA commits serious human rights violations but are active whenever there are alleged, unfounded and deceitful propaganda against the government, to put a stop and to condemn the heinous crimes of the NPA,” Flores said.

Earlier in the morning, troops of the 39th Infantry Battalion under 1st Lt. Ian Rogel Ngalew, were victimized by another NPA landmine while conducting security patrols in Sitio Balutakay, Managa town.

This started an hour-long firefight which resulted in the wounding of 11 soldiers, two of them officers.

On the other hand, community members reported that the NPA brought with them four dead members and several wounded from the firefight.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=621499

3 BIFF rebels, soldier die in Maguindanao clashes

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): 3 BIFF rebels, soldier die in Maguindanao clashes

Three Moro bandits and a soldier were killed when Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked an Army base in Maguindanao, police and military authorities said Monday.

Reports reaching the 6th Infantry Division information unit said three BIFF members were killed when government forces returned fire after the rebels harassed Saturday dawn the Salvo detachment of the 45th Infantry Battalion of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

Two other soldiers were slightly wounded after an hour-long firefight.

Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, admitted they harassed the Army base.

Col. Edgardo Gonzales, 2nd Mechanized Infantry brigade commander, said the more rebels could have died when the military used artillery fire against a group of BIFF in Barangay Lower Salvo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Three other BIFF were confirmed hurt in the skirmishes, Gonzales said.

According to Mama, they will continue harassing government forces in retaliation to their offensive three weeks ago.

Gonzales said the military will remain on defensive position and will not hesitate to use its full military might to counter any BIFF offensive.

At least 50 BIFF guerillas were killed when the military launched offensive against them in four Maguindanao towns which also led to the recovery of its main camp in Barangay Ganta, Datu Shariff Saydona.

Government forces were to serve warrants of arrest against BIFF members facing multiple murder charges when the skirmishes intensified and led to massive military offensive.

Mama also denied they were behind attempts to topple down power lines in Maguindanao, saying if power outages occurred they too would suffer, a claim the Army laughed off and described as mere propaganda.

Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, 6th Infantry Division chief, said the military will remain on active defense to ensure the safety of national highways and civilian populace.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, police regional director in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), also directed the Maguindanao PNP to ensure safety of civilians and road networks.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=621490

Task force formed to hasten probe on ambush of Sarangani town mayor

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): Army, PNP on alert vs BIFF ahead of signing of GPH-MILF peace deal

Police and military authorities here have been placed on heightened alert in preparation for possible escalation of attacks by the lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) with the expected signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are optimistic the CAB, the final GPH-MILF peace accord, can be signed within the month.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, regional police director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), on Friday has ordered component municipal and provincial police offices to closely monitor possible movements by the BIFF to sabotage the signing of the CAB.

The BIFF, a breakaway faction of the MILF, is said to be opposed to the signing of the final peace deal and vowed to push for Islamic independence in Mindanao.

On Friday, three BIFF members were killed while five others were wounded following a firefight that started with the BIFF harassing an Army base in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Soldiers foiled the attempt by preventing the bandits from closing in by using mortars and machineguns, killing three of them.

Three soldiers belonging to the 45th Infantry Battalion were slightly wounded.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said there is a possibility the BIFF will mount more attacks as the signing of the CAB gets closer.

Hermoso said the 6th ID has deployed plainclothes agents in public terminals and markets in Central Mindanao to help the police guard against possible attacks by the BIFF to sabotage the now culminating GPH-MILF peace overture.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=621506

Filipino Korean War veteran receives more than hearing aid from Korea’s Araw force

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): Filipino Korean War veteran receives more than hearing aid from Korea’s Araw force

Korean War veteran Sofio T. Lobrigo only wished for a new hearing aid from the Republic of Korea Joint Support Group (Araw Contingent); but he got more - a newly-repaired house.

Lobrigo, 85 years old, of Barangay District 9, Dagami is one of the three Korean War veterans whose houses were repaired by the Korean contingent as their expression of gratitude for their help during the war.

“Around 63 years after I fought in Korea, never in my wildest dream I thought that this will happen,” he shared.

However, he narrated that after typhoon Yolanda, he saw a Korean car parked in front of Dagami church. He told the group that arrived that he was among the Filipino soldiers who fought during the Korean War.

The Koreans took his picture and five days later they came back and informed him of their plan to repair his damaged house, which they did in two weeks.

The Araw Force repaired the roofing, floor, bedrooms and kitchen and even the extension of the house including the electrical wiring. They also had it repainted.

They also put up a partition in the house that will serve as Lobrigo’s office upon learning that he is the district commander of the Veterans Federation in the Philippines in the 2nd district of Leyte.

Lobrigo was 22 years old when he was sent to Korea under the 14th Battalion Command Team to take part in the Battle of Yultong Bridge and Battle of Hill Eerie.

The Filipino troops during the Korean War happened to be the 4th largest military contingent with 7,500 enlisted personnel.

He said that he did not expect that after 63 years, the Koreans will give him such importance.

“I am very thankful to the government of Korea and at the same time to all the officers and enlisted men who made it possible what my home looks right now,” said an obviously happy Lobrigo.

The Korean forces also gave him two boxes of noodles, two boxes of cookies and bottled water.

He was also given a hearing aid, the only request he made from the Araw Force.

The family of Lobrigo in return and as sign of their gratitude, prepared native food and delicacies such as "moron", "binagol" and roasted pig or lechon, for the Koreans and the AFP Engineering brigade.

Last month, the ROK joint support group also repaired the house of another Filipino Korean war veteran in Carigara, Leyte.

Within two weeks, the group is hoping to finish the repair of another veteran's house in Tacloban City.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=621563

Grenade blast hurts 8 in North Cotabato public market

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Grenade blast hurts 8 in North Cotabato public market

At least eight people were injured Monday night when a hand grenade exploded inside this town’s public market, police said.

Senior Inspector Henry Narciso, deputy police chief, said witnesses saw one of two motorcycle-riding men hurled a fragmentation grenade at the fish stalls and hurriedly fled.

The blast came while the town was experiencing power interruption at 8:40 p.m, Narciso said.

The blast injured Kryza Jane Torrejas, 13; Virginia Cablas, 56; Quintin Trastisa, 32; Anne Pocapotan, 14; Paula Angelie Masicampo, 20; Rodrigo Cataytay Jr., 31; Bernie Cuerpo, 22; and Charles Monsanto Guhitia, 22, all residents of Midsayap.

“The victims were among the market vendors closing shop at the time of the blast, we are still investigating as of now,” Narciso said.

Cablas said she first heard a loud thud followed by a loud blast seconds later.

Guhitia who sustained shrapnel wounds in the head was rushed to Davao City for further treatment.

Narciso said the fragmentation grenade landed right beside Guhitia who was sitting in one of the market stalls.

The victims were immediately rushed to different hospitals for medication.

Among the motives police investigators are now looking into are rivalry among fish vendors or sabotage act by companions of persons involved carnapping cases.

“We have so many arrested persons involved in carnapping, their companions might have retaliated, but the rivalry issue is the likely motive,” he said.

Residents of Midsayap are no stranger to bombings, having witnessed in many years, and until lately, attacks by extortionists and by the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Army intelligence officials in North Cotabato said there is a possibility that the BIFF was behind the latest bombing in Midsayap.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=621748

IED attacks done to inflict maximum casualties

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): IED attacks done to inflict maximum casualties

The landmine attacks in Bansalan town, Davao Del Sur Sunday, which wounded 16 people, five of them civilians, were done by the New People's Army (NPA)'s to inflict the maximum amount of casualties, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Major Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr., said on Monday.

Tutaan issued this statement as he noted that the rebels deliberately targeted a convoy of ambulances racing to extricate the 11 troopers wounded in the NPA's first improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Sitio Balutakay, Managa town around 11:18 a.m. Sunday.

"We can see that the convoy of ambulances we have were subjected to (an) IED explosion in Davao Del Sur wherein five civilians were hurt," Tutaan said.

This IED blast occurred around 7:30 p.m. also in the said locality.

He added that the attack was "premeditated to inflict maximum injury."

Despite these attacks, Tutaan said that NPA strength in the Davao Region is on the down swing with just 200 fighters active.

"Their backs are against wall that’s why they resort to these things even non-military vehicles are targeted by them. They are type individuals that (violate with) impunity the International Humanitarian Law," he added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=621560

Test pilot trainings for AW-109 to be completed by end of 2014

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): Test pilot trainings for AW-109 to be completed by end of 2014

Test pilot training for fliers who will be teaching other officers to fly the AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters will be completed before the end of 2014, said Philippine Navy (PN) spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic on Monday.

"Test pilot training will be completed by the end of the year," he said.

Fabic said the latter skills is needed to ensure that the Navy will have a qualified pool of instructors to teach new batches of pilots and test fly the aircraft once it comes out of maintenance or upgrades.

Training for the pilots and flight crews of the Navy's three brand-new AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters is going smoothly.

Fabic said 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 above-mentioned 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 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 were 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.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=621585

Cudia case still being reviewed, AFP says

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): Cudia case still being reviewed, AFP says

The case of Philippine Military Academy Cadet Jeff Aldrin Cudia, who was ordered dismissed from the PMA for alleged "Honor Code" violations, is still undergoing review, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Major Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said on Monday.

"The Cadet Review and Appeals Board is continuing to review the case of Cadet Cudia," he added.

Tutaan also said the PMA is now looking into Cudia's claims that the "Honor Committee" initially voted 8-1 before changing it to 9-0.

A vote of 9-0 is needed to convict and dismiss cadets from the PMA rolls.

The "Honor Committee" is composed of six senior cadets and three junior ones.

"The PMA wants it resolved as soon as possible," Tutaan said.

PMA spokesperson Major Agnes Lynnette Flores said Cudia's case underwent due process.

She made this statement after noting that the officer-in-charge of the "Honor Committee" along with the PMA legal team reviewed the verdict for possible lapses or errors.

After this check, the group then forwarded the case folder to the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets who then submitted it to then PMA superintendent, Vice Admiral Edgar Abogado, for final review.

Flores said that all verdicts or decisions of the "Honor Committee" are subject for automatic review to ensure that due process is observed.

Cudia was found guilty by the "Honor Committee" of lying and ordered dismissed from the Cadet Corps.

The PMA "Honor Code" considers lying, cheating, and stealing its three top offenses.

With the orders of AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to re-investigate Cudia's case, the case folder of the latter is now undergoing review by senior officers in the PMA.

No time frame was given on when the review will be concluded.

Should any lapses in the handling of the matter be found, the senior officers will then return the case to the "Honor Committee" for re-investigation.

The PMA earlier stated that all trainees of the institution are duty-bound to adhere to the above-mentioned precepts.

"The development of character and integrity among the cadets is a fundamental objective of the PMA," Flores stressed.

She added that the "Honor Code" and the "Honor System" are among the primary instruments in attaining this objective.

Flores said this is a unique system, which moulds all the cadets to develop themselves into upright leaders of tomorrow.

"Members of the Cadet Corps, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CCAFP) are bound by the 'Honor Code' which they swore to uphold. The essence of the 'Honor Code' is that the cadets do not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate among them those who do. The 'Honor Code' is absolute and it does not distinguish between the degree of the offense committed. Once they lied, cheated, stole or tolerated the commission of these offenses, there is only one punishment -– separation," the PMA public affairs office chief stressed.

"Cadet Cudia’s case is not an issue about being late in class. While it started as a violation of the regulations, which is coming to class late, the findings of the preliminary investigation conducted revealed a possibility of Cadet Cudia violating the 'Honor Code' which led to the opening of formal investigation by the 'Honor Committee.' While the Academy recognizes his academic performance, this does not exempt him from strict observance of the Code," she pointed out.

"As the breeding ground for future leaders of the AFP, PMA will continue to uphold the tenets of the 'Honor Code' which have been emplaced for generations. This code takes its roots within the heart and continues to live on long after each cadet graduates from the Philippine Military Academy. This binds the Cadet Corps with its alumni or the members of the long gray line," Flores stated.

And while saddened by the turn of events, she stressed that the PMA cannot be selective in its application of the "Honor Code."

"We are deeply saddened in seeing such great talent go. But the PMA, and the Cadet Corps, in particular cannot be selective in its application of the Code regardless of a cadet’s academic performance and even personal circumstances," she concluded.

 http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=621569

3rd Infantry Division conducts fun shoot, tree planting activities to fight climate change

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): 3rd Infantry Division conducts fun shoot, tree planting activities to fight climate change

The Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division together with its police counterparts, local government units in its area of operations, private individuals and groups have conducted a fun shoot and tree planting activities in a bid to fight climate change.

This took place from Feb. 28 to March 2.

Proceeds from the events will be used to plant trees in a bid to stop the effects of climate change.

Dubbed as “Shoot for the Environment”, 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad hosted a Commander’s Cup 2014 shooting competition at the firing range of the 82nd Infantry Battalion.

The opening ceremony last Feb. 28 was graced by Mayor Macario Napulan of Miagao town, Capiz.

A tree planting activity followed after the opening ceremony at the firing range participated by Napulan, Baladad, ranking police officials and private individuals.

A total of 253 shooting enthusiasts coming from the different Gun Clubs, business community, the media, local government units, government agencies, AFP, PNP and other law enforcement agencies all over Western Visayas participated in the event.

Notable in the event was the participation of the two Ilonggo world class shooters -- Philip Chua, World’s Number 4 in the Revolver Standard Division; and Nelson Uygongco, the only Filipino to hold all five Pistol Division with an open Rifle Division Championship crown in the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) shooting sports.

Nelson Uygongco, the overall champion for standard division, in an interview with reporters, said “I am grateful to be part of this admirable undertaking of the Philippine Army. It was evident in the face of the shooters the patience to wait despite the influx of participants; and they were so happy because of the festive mode and excellent facilities behind the interesting courses of fire.”

During the awarding and closing ceremonies, Baladad, who emerged as the overall champion for the AFP/PNP Generals category, said “We are fortunate that we have world class shooters here in Western Visayas who participated in this event. Aside from improving our shooting skills, we have likewise gained experience and learned from these shooters and it was also a good thing to promote camaraderie among the enthusiasts.”

Baladad also expressed his gratitude to the sponsors (a total of 53), shooting participants, and other individuals and organizations who supported the noble undertaking for the restoration of the environment damaged by "Yolanda."

Ten seedlings for each sponsor and shooter were planted by the 3rd Infantry Division in affected areas.

One particular area was inside the military reservation in Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz.

Out of the number of shooting participants and sponsors (306), a total of 3,060 seedlings were planted by the 3rd Infantry Division on their behalf. The proceeds of the event will be used for the reforestation project of the unit through propagation of seedlings in the nursery to ensure growth once the seedlings are planted.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=621641

China on 'offer' to PH: 'Sheer fabrication'

From Rappler (Mar 3): China on 'offer' to PH: 'Sheer fabrication'
 
The Chinese Foreign Ministry flatly denied a report that China offered the Philippines incentives to stop it from filing its memorial, or written pleading, in its historic case over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a media briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang denounced reports on these incentives as “sheer fabrication.”

“No one can shake the Chinese government's resolve of safeguarding national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We will never trade away our sovereignty and territory,” Qin said Friday, February 28.

He made this statement after Rappler on Wednesday, February 26, reported that China proposed the mutual withdrawal of ships from the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in exchange for the Philippines not submitting its memorial by March 30.

Roilo Golez, a former national security adviser, said a back channel in the territorial dispute tipped him off on the proposed “carrot” from China. Two insiders in government also confirmed this to Rappler.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines earlier had “no information to offer” about this.

On Friday, Qin explained: “With reference to the Philippines' attempt of initiating arbitration proceeding against China regarding South China Sea dispute, China is firmly opposed to and will by no means accept that. This clear-cut position will not change.”

'Reject China's incentives'

China's reported offer drew the ire of Filipinos, one of the countries they distrust the most according to pollster Social Weather Stations.

On Monday, March 3, party-list group Akbayan carried placards that said, “Reject China's incentives,” in a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City.

The group slammed China for the water cannon incident that triggered a recent protest from the Philippine government.

“The Filipino people will not fall for this crude ‘good cop, bad cop’ antic being employed by China,” Akbayan Rep Walden Bello said in a statement.

Philippine senators, for their part, cautioned the government about China's offer.

“Will it move us forward? Is it mutually beneficial to China, the Philippines, and other claimant countries? If we are to avoid a confrontation, we must come up with a win-win situation. Our foreign policy must be clear. It’s not about withdrawing ships. This is not Divisoria. This is not haggling or bartering. Our long-term national interest must be clear,” Sen Gregorio Honasan II said.

The Philippine government hopes to win the case by 2015.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said it's a “doubly difficult” task for the Philippines, especially because China has rejected the arbitral proceedings.

To help PH 'save face'

“No. Don't take that carrot," reader Alexis Lao said in Rappler's comments section.

Lao recalled that China did the same thing to the Philippines during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. During her administration, Arroyo entered into deal with China to jointly explore the South China Sea, a move seen as giving up the Philippines' rights over its marine resources.

China then viewed the Arroyo administration as “more receptive” compared to the “provocative” leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, according to the International Crisis Group.

Because of this, Lao said the Philippines “should first establish” the West Philippine Sea “as rightfully ours.” Only then can the Philippines “invite China to invest in the exploration since they have the money.”

For Arturo Sarga, another reader, a mutual withdrawal of ships from Panatag “seems fine if only to ease the tension and avoid accidental firings that can lead to a shooting war.” He said China's offer “is a safe saving face for both China and the Philippines.”

“Going to the international court? We will only deplete public funds for hiring... lawyers for [an] indefinite time,” he said.

Joseph Zamora questioned the mere idea that the Cabinet discussed this. “There's nothing to think about,” he said. “Why do we have to consider their offer?”

http://www.rappler.com/nation/52005-china-denies-incentives-philippines-dispute

Cudia faces PMA appeals board

From Rappler (Mar 3): Cudia faces PMA appeals board
 
Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet Jeff Cudia last week faced the Cadet Review and Appeals Board (CRAB) to present his case against the decision of his classmates in the Honor Committee to dismiss him, according to Armed Forces spokesperson Major General Domingo Tutaan.

"Cadet Cudia was made to appear before the CRAB. He did appear last week and the investigation is still continuing," Tutaan told reporters on Monday, March 3.

"Cadet Cudia is going to submit some documents. They have not been submitted," he added.

The CRAB is a body in the PMA headquarters composed of the academy's officer corps. It is now reviewing the decision of the Honor Committee – a body composed entirely of PMA students – to declare Cudia guilty of violating the academy's honor code.

The code implores cadets not to lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those among them who do so. Cudia's tactical officer reported him for allegedly lying in his explanation of why he was late in one class. (READ: Did PMA cadet Cudia lie? Document shows details and PMA: It's not about cadet being late)

Cadets declared guilty of violating the honor code are expected to "resign honorably."

Former PMA Superintendent Lieutenant General Edgar Abogado approved Cudia's "separation" from the service, but Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista ordered a reinvestigation of the case. Tutaan said this is an option for the command in cases when cadets refuse to resign. (READ: AFP chief orders review of cadet's case)

Abogado retired last month. His successor Major General Oscar Lopez is on top of the reinvestigation. Bautista, Lopez, and Tutaan are members of PMA Class 1981.

Fighting it out

Cudia himself is fighting his dismissal. (READ: PMA cadets fights back, gets support). He has been staying in a holding center inside the academy for over a month now.

Through the Facebook posts of his supporters, Cudia's case exposed the otherwise confidential proceedings of the Honor Committee.

His family claimed it was a mistrial, citing among others a supposed move to change the voting results from 8-1 to 9-0 in favor of his dismissal. A unanimous vote is required to punish a cadet.

The Honor Committee has since ordered the "ostracism" of Cudia, saying the public statements about the case broke rules.

The PMA graduation is scheduled 2 weeks from now, March 16. His sister claimed he's supposed to graduate salutatorian and on top of the Navy class.

Tutaan said the PMA wants to resolve the issue as soon as possible but the CRAB is waiting for Cudia to submit some documents.

Tutaan also said allegations of vote rigging within the Honor Committee will also be looked into.

Tutaan dismissed criticism that the PMA is following a "primitive" honor code. "We have a cadet honor code and honor system handbook. The last of which is series 2011. It cannot be primitive," he said.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/52019-cudia-faces-pma-appeals-board

Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits seize 2 children, maid, driver in Sulu

From InterAksyon (Mar 3): Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits seize 2 children, maid, driver in Sulu

Two children and their driver and maid were seized Monday morning in Barangay Alat, Jolo, Sulu by five armed men believed to be members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group.

Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, Civil Military Officer of the 2nd Marine Brigade, said the kidnapping incident happened at about 7 a.m. while the victims were on their way to school.

“The abduction transpired at the vicinity of Scott Road. Hot pursuit operations to recover the victims and arrest the kidnappers were ongoing,” Lacuesta said.

The victims were identified as Mohammad Zaher Naim, 10, and his sister Raiza Karanain, 8, their 18-year-old maid Almalyn Abuhail, and family driver Saddam Amlih.

“The victims were on board a family vehicle when flagged down by five armed men and forcibly taken them at gunpoint on board a Tamaraw jeep and fled towards the direction of Barangay Anuling in Patikul town,” Lacuesta said.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/81921/suspected-abu-sayyaf-bandits-seize-2-children-maid-driver-in-sulu

Shariff Aguak mayor binigyan ng parangal sa kanyang suporta sa peace process

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Mar 3): Shariff Aguak mayor binigyan ng parangal sa kanyang suporta sa peace process (Shariff Aguak given major awards for her support of the peace process



Umani ng parangal mula sa Moro Islamic Liberation si Shariff Aguak Mayor Zahara Upam Ampatuan dahil sa mahigpit na suporta nito sa peace process sa Mindanao.

Ginawaran si Mayor Upam Ampatuan ng dalawang pagkilala sa kanyang walang-humpay na pagsisikap upang maisulong ang kapayapaan sa kanyang lugar. Ibinigay ang naturang pagkilala sa ika-18 anibersaryo ng Shariff Aguak, isa sa mga bayan ng Maguindanao na kabilang naman sa Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Saksi sa pagbibigay ng naturang pagkilala si MILF leader Ustadz Wahid Tundok na malaki naman ang respeto kay Mayor Upam Ampatuan, at mga opisyal ng militar sa pangunguna nina 6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz at 1st Mechanized Brigade commander Col. Edgar Gonzales, at kanilang battalion commanders, gayun rin si Maguindanao police chief Senior Supt. Rodelio Jocson and mga kinatawan ng ibat-ibang grupo at sektor sa lalawigan.

Nagbigay rin ng kanyang talumpati si Ustadz Abdulwahid Tundok upang puriin ang pagsisikap ni Mayor Upam Ampatuan.

Naroon rin ang mga kinatawan at kawani ng pamahalaang lokal at mga ordinaryong mamamayan na nagpasalamat rin kay Mayor Upam Ampatuan dahil sa kanyang magandang pamamalakad sa nasabing bayan.

“In honoring the extraordinary efforts and assistance as a local government chief executive and public servant rendered for the greater success of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Process, further bolstered with the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro at Malacanang Palace on October 15, 2012 and hearing the commitment and resolve that prove beneficial in sustaining the support and ownership to the peace process and the facilitation of understanding and cooperation amongst peoples regardless of race and religion geared at winning the peace for the country and the Bangsamoro aspirations justice, peace, prosperity, self-governance and right to self-determination for a better future of our children and generations to come,” ani pa Mohagher Iqbal, ang MILF vice chairman at chief peace negotiator, sa ibinigay nitong Tribute of Commendation.

Maging ang MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities ay nagbigay rin ng pagkilala kay Mayor Upam Ampatuan dahil sa suporta nito sa peace process sa Mindanao.

“For her invaluable and unwavering cooperation and support to the duties and functions of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities in partnership with the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team composed of the governments of Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, Norway, Indonesia, and European Union in the implementation and monitoring of the GPH-MILF agreements on general cessation of hostilities, socio-economic reconstruction, civilian protection and humanitarian rehabilitation and development, thus sustaining the goodwill, confidence-building measures and momentum for the success of the GPH-MILF Peace Process,” wika pa ni Abbas Salung, ang chairman ng MILF CCCH, sa ibinigay nitong Plaque of Recognition, kay Mayor Upam Ampatuan.

Nagpasalamat naman si Mayor Upam Ampatuan sa parangal na iginawad sa kanya ng MILF at sinabi nito malaki ang partisipasyon ng komunidad at ng mga mamamayan sa Shariff Aguak upang mabigyan ng malaking suporta ang peace process.

“Ang mga awards na ibinigay sa akin ay awards na rin ng bawat isang mamamayan dito sa Shariff Aguak dahil ako ay instrumento lamang ng lahat na mga nagnanais ng kapayapaan hindi lamang dito sa aming bayan at lalawigan ng Maguindanao, kundi ng buong bansa,” sabi pa ni Mayor Upam Ampatuan sa panayam ng Mindanao Examiner.

Pinasalamatan rin ni Mayor Upam Ampatuan ang mga mamamayan at ang ibat-ibang sektor sa Shariff Aguak at Maguindanao, at sa ARMM sa kabuuan dahil sa suportang tinatanggap nito. Nangako pa rin Mayor Upam Ampatuan na lalong itataguyod at palalakasin ang suporta nito sa peace process at sa Bangsamoro political entity na isinusulong ng Pangulong Benigno Aquino.









Si Shariff Aguak Mayor Zahara Upam Ampatuan sa pagtanggap ng mga parangal mula sa Moro Islamic Liberation Front sa pangunguna ni MILF leader Ustadz Abdulwahid Tundok sa Maguindanao province. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Mark Navales)

http://mindanaoexaminer.blogspot.com/2014/03/shariff-aguak-mayor-binigyan-ng.html