Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Military: Cadet Cudia may graduate, but not guaranteed a post in AFP

From GMA News (Mar 4): Military: Cadet Cudia may graduate, but not guaranteed a post in AFP

Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia, who was dismissed from the Philippine Military Academy by the school's Honor Committee last month, may have a fighting chance to graduate—though he will not be guaranteed a post in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But first, the cadet will have to win his appeal before even tackling the issue of his graduation.

"He will not graduate unless there is new evidence to prove his innocence," AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told GMA News Online in a phone interview on Tuesday.

"Graduation depends if he completed his academic requirements but it is not sure if he will be commissioned [by the AFP] because of his case," he noted.

PMA graduates are usually guaranteed a post in the military.

Cudia is technically dismissed from the academy after the Honor Committee found him guilty of "lying" in his explanation as to why he was two minutes late for a class.

The PMA's Honor Code states: "We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so."

Going public

Cudia's dismissal from the country's premier military school has been widely discussed on social media, after his sister posted about it on Facebook. The post gained more than 17,000 shares before it was taken down.

The PMA First Class cadet was supposed to graduate this month. When he was dismissed, he was at the top of his Navy Class, a Deputy Baron and in the top two of the entire Class of 2014.

Cudia's tardiness cost him 11 demerits and 13 hours of touring (walking on grounds). The cadet appealed the punishment given to him, which led to the Honor Committee's hearing his case.

In his written explanation for his two minutes' tardiness, Cudia said that he was dismissed late by his professor. The Honor Committee tagged this statement as a lie, since he was not technically dismissed late but was made to wait after class to received a document from his professor.

Subsequently, the Honor Committee decided to administratively discharge the cadet.

When the PMA asked the AFP to remove Cudia's list on the cadet corps roll, AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista ordered the academy to reopen the investigation.

The case is currently with the PMA's Cadet Review and Appeals Board (CRAB).

In a separate phone interview, AFP spokesman Major General Domingo Tutaan told GMA News Online that CRAB has met with Cudia last week to start the appeal investigation.

However even as the case undergoes a review, Cudia is being ostracized by his fellow cadets.

A source who refused to be named told GMA News Online earlier that only one PMA cadet managed to graduate after being ostracized by his fellow cadets.

"Whatever the results may be, we expect Cadet Cudia to accept the judgement and the public to accept the decision. Beyond public sympathy, it is important to maintain the Honor Code," Zagala said.


Armed men torch ten-wheeler truck in Cotabato

From GMA News (Mar 5): Armed men torch ten-wheeler truck in Cotabato

Unidentified armed men set fire on a heavy equipment parked near the quarry site in Barangay Estado in Matalam town in Cotabato on Tuesday, police investigator said.

Police Chief Inspector Elias Colonia, Matalam chief of police in his report to provincial police office said at least four people armed with high-powered firearms approach the driver of the ten-wheeler truck and ordered him to leave the place.

Before leaving, the suspects confiscated the driver’s mobile phone and poured gasoline on the vehicle before setting it on fire. The incident took place at about 2 p.m., Colonia added.

Also, he said the ten-wheeler truck was owned by the Better Works Construction based in Sultan Kudarat and was commissioned by the private construction firm in North Cotabato.

Colonia however refused to divulge the name of the construction firm that was believed to be owned by a relative of a politician in the province.

The damage on vehicle was pegged at P1.2 million, Colonia said.

Suspects, he said, withdrew in the direction of nearby Barangay La Esperanza in President Roxas town.

Police are still investigating the motive for the attack and the people behind it.


MILF Provincial Police Force conducted advocacy

From the MILF Website (Mar 5): MILF Provincial Police Force conducted advocacy

The MILF Damakling Provincial Police Force held Kanduli or thanksgiving and Islamic Symposium, as gesture of appreciation for the remarkable achievement in the GPH-MILF peace process after the signing of the Annex on Normalization and Bangsamoro Waters and Joint Zone of Cooperation.  
The program was held on February 27 at Idtig, Paglat, Maguindanao. Part of the activities was an advocacy on the Framework Agreement and the GPH-MILF Peace Process. 

The activity speaker was Prof. Esmael Abdula, Chairman of the Campaign and Mass Mobilization, Sub -Committee on Information, Committee on Information, MILF CC and member of the Steering Committee of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI). Also with Abdula were Provincial Chairman of Damakling Provincial MILF Political Committee, the Director of Information, Damakling Provincial Committee of MILF Information and Dir. Moidjoddin K. Talusob, Executive Director of Kalilintad Development Foundation Inc.

Approximately 1000 participants attended comprising 200 members of the Provincial Police Force from the MILF Provincial Committee of Damakling Province, BIAF members from the 109th Base Command Eastern Mindanao Front, the women sector and representatives from the SWC.

Other target areas are lined-up for more consultations and advocacy to be undertaken in the contiguous areas by the BLMI headed by Mr. Abdula, who is also the Training Officer of the BLMI.


MILF: Public hearing and consultations on BBL held in Upi

From the MILF Website (Mar 5): Public hearing and consultations on BBL held in Upi

A responsive public hearing and consultations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was conducted by the Joint Committee on Justice and Security and Committee on Basic Rights of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), in coordination with the Local Government Unit of Upi, Maguindanao   led by former member of GPH peace panel Ramon A. Piang Sr. on February 2 at Upi Municipal Gymnasium. 
The public consultations was attended by about three hundred key leaders and representatives of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Mindanao,  settlers and Moros  from Upi and South Upi. The topics discussed during the consultations focused more   on ancestral domains, indigenous people’s customary justice and dispute resolution.

“My concern is our identity, shall we remain Teduray as called, or  shall will be called Bangsamoro?” – Johnny Modukef of OTLAC asked.

“Our identity as indigenous people will remain, the term Bangsamoro is a symbol of unity of all tribes in Mindanao” - Commissioner Atty. Asani Tammang, Chairman on Committee on Basic Rigths of Bangsamoro indanao Settlers’ Commissioner Pedrito Eisma cited Article I, section 5, “the Parties recognize Bangsamoro Identity. 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.

Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The   freedom of choice of other    indigenous peoples shall be respected.”

"It is not true that we do not support the Bangsamoro. We only wish to assert our rights that are enshrined in the law and in the sacred agreement between our ancestors, Mamalu and Tabunaway." – Timuay Jovito B. Martin, Regional Tribal Chieftain of ARMM emphasized.

One representative from the local office of DepEd suggested that the crafters of the proposed law shall, “include in the Bangsamoro Basic law Republic Act No. 9055 known as Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001.”

All participants that stood for clarifications and queries expressed supports to the upcoming Bangsamoro government.

The commissioners listened attentively to all issues and recommendations raised by the participants who were given five minutes each to say their concerns.

The public consultations were led by Commissioner Atty. Asani Tammang, Chairman of the Committee on Basic Rigths of Bangsamoro and Commissioner Hussein Munoz, Chairman on Committee on Justice and Security, accompanied by Commissioners Froilyn Mendoza, Melanio Ulama, Atty Raissa Jajurie, Said Shiek, Abdullah Camlian, Akmad Sakkam, Talib Benito, at Fatmawati Salapudin.

President Benigno Aquino III last December 18, 2012 issued EO 120 Creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) with the mandate: To draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law with provisions consistent with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The law is based on the Framework Agreement agreed upon by the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed in Malacanang Palace on October 15, 2012. Once is enacted by congress and ratified in a plebiscite, it will replace Republic Act 9054, which created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

To coordinates, conduct dialogues and consultations with National and various stakeholders in furtherance of its functions.

Mr. Sinichi Masuda, a JICA representative attended the consultations as an observer.


Misuari: The Battle of Bud Dajo - Jolo, Sulu, Philippines 1906

From the Facebook page of Nur Misuari (Mar 4): The Battle of Bud Dajo - Jolo, Sulu, Philippines 1906

by March 1906, more than a thousand Moros -- men, women and children, made their way to the crater. Gen. Wood would not have any of their nonsense. He ordered his officers to gather in ...Jolo. Col. Duncan with about 800 officers and men from the 6th and 19th infantry, the 4th Cavalry, the 28th Artillery Battery, the Sulu Constabulary and sailors from the gunboat Pampanga, with mountain guns, rifles, bayonets, fast-firing pistols and grenades launched the assault on March 5.

The thousand or so Moro men, women and children were armed with kris, barungs and spears. By March 7, the smoke of battle has cleared. The people in the crater fought bravely, to the last Moro. There were no survivors. The Americans lost two dozen men and some seventy wounded. It was a complete massacre.



NorCot grenade blast victim dies in Davao hospital

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 5): NorCot grenade blast victim dies in Davao hospital

Authorities said one of the wounded victims in the grenade attack here Monday night has died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Davao City.

Midsayap Mayor Romeo Arania said 22-year-old Charles Guhitia died Tuesday morning due to severe shrapnel injuries in his head and vital organs.

Guhitia was among the eight persons, including minors, who were hit by shrapnel parts after a hand grenade exploded at 8:45 p.m. in the fish section of Midsayap public market while the town was experiencing power outage.

Arania said initial investigation showed that the grenade was planted in a Styrofoam box which was used by fish vendors in preserving the sea products.

"It exploded while one of the victims was pulling off fishes from the box," Arania said. "That's one version, there is another angle we are looking into," he added.

He said police were trying to determine who planted the grenade in the pile of fish boxes at the fish section.

Arania also said the local government unit will pay for the medication of the wounded victims, four of them still confined at a local hospital here.

Senior Inspector Henry Narciso, deputy police chief, said investigators are looking into sabotage angle with the suspects in car theft cases carrying out the grenade throwing incident.

He said one of the suspects, a certain Anwar Gutierrez, was arrested by lawmen for car theft and his companions would like to get even by throwing grenade at a populated area which was the public market.

Arania also said his office will raise bounty for anyone who can provide information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspects. He did not say how much.

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

“All the victims were market vendors closing shop at the time of the explosion,” Narciso said.

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

But another victim told investigators that the grenade went off in the middle of pile of fish boxes near the fish section.

Narciso said police were looking into the possibility that rivalry among fish vendors was behind the attack or that it was some form of retaliation by people related to suspects in thefts of motor vehicles.

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

Police and military authorities are also looking at the possible involvement of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who have been linked to previous bomb attacks in Midsayap and other North Cotabato towns.


PHL hosts its first-ever Global Terrorism, CBRNE Conference

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): PHL hosts its first-ever Global Terrorism, CBRNE Conference

In a bid to counter threats posed by international terror groups and chemical and biological attacks, the Philippines is hosting its first Global Terrorism and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Explosives (CBRNE) Conference from March 4 to 7.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, said the event brings together senior security professionals from around the world to share innovative solutions in countering the emerging threat of chemical and biological attacks.

He added that the activity is organized by Smart Technology in partnership with the AFP and the Department of National Defense.

The three-day event is being held at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

Smart Technology is a private company founded and developed with some of the biggest organizations to improve security and safety in general.

It focuses on countering the new threat of cyber warfare, electronic terrorism and CBRNE weapons both on security and safety perspective, especially around the Asia Pacific.

Zagala said that the event is one of the biggest conferences of its kind and a multinational event designed to improve information sharing, knowledge, and networking among counter-terrorism and CBRNE professionals.

Expected to attend as speakers are the president of Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association, Dr. Chua Teck Mean; president & CEO of NHDetect, David Trudil; and president of Emergent Biosolutions, Singapore, Kelvin Lim; while Undersecretary of National Defense Honorio S. Azcueta served as guest of honor and speaker.

They were joined by Oscar F. Valenzuela, executive director of Project Management Committee, Anti-Terrorism Council; and Kevin Salim, managing director of Smart Technology Inc.

The event is aimed at bringing tremendous benefits not only to improve networks but also serve as platform for the Philippines as a host nation to establish and extend coordination and links with international partners to improve threat awareness, learning new technologies, information, and strategies in order to develop better CBRNE defense and security of the country.

Some of the topics to be covered during the conference are Terrorism Network in the Philippines; Global Counter Terrorism; Mass Decontamination; Protection of Critical National Information Infrastructure in the Philippines; and CBRNE Terrorism Threats, Issues and Recommendations.

Following the conference, a CBRNE Capability Demonstration by the Philippine Army will be held at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on the third day, and a table top exercise to be held on the last day of the event.


New Army Chief, 48 other new generals, flag officers take oath before President Aquino

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): New Army Chief, 48 other new generals, flag officers take oath before President Aquino

Newly-appointed Philippine Army Chief Major General Hernando Iriberri and 48 other newly-promoted generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) took oath before President Benigno S. Aquino III at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall on Tuesday.

Other high-ranking officials who joined Army Chief Iriberri were Commodore Raul Ubando, commander Presidential Security Group; Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, AFP spokesman; Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, ISAFP chief; Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., commander of the North Luzon Command; Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, commander of Eastern Mindanao Command; and Maj. Gen. Oscar Lopez, Philippine Military Academy superintendent.

Also promoted were Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, Maj. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo, Maj, Gen. Edgar Fallorina, Rear Admiral Isabelo Gador, Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, Maj. Gen. Gamaliel Cruz, Rear Admiral Jose Renan Suarez, Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad, Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, Major General Rodelio Santos, Maj. Gen. Julius Cesar Guillermo, Maj. Gen. Eusaquito Manalo, Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, Maj. Gen. Yerson Depayso, Brig. Gen. Demosthenes Santillan, Brig. Gen. Arnold Quiapo, and Brig. Gen. Rolando Malinao.

Also joining them were Brig. Gen. Andre Costales Jr., Commodore Primitivo Gopo, Brig. Gen. Raymundo Elefante, Brig. Gen. Rodrigo Diapana, Brig. Gen. Teodorico Raqueño, Brig. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, Brig. Gen. Richard Lagrana, Brig. Gen. Alex Capiña, Brig. Gen. Ricardo Jalad, Brig. Gen. Vic Castro, Commodore Bayani Gaerlan, Brig. Gen. Ivan Samarita, Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, Brig. Gen. Ruben Carandang, Brig. Gen. Donato San Juan, Brig. Gen. Anselmo Junsay III, Brig. Gen. Victor Bayani, Commodore Aurelio Rabusa Jr., Brig. Gen. Roger Salvador, Brig. Gen. Manuel Gonzales, Commodore Severino David, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Mutiangpili, Brig. Gen. Ronald Albano, Brig. Gen. Rodolfo Santiago, and Brig. Gen. Henry Sabarre.

After the oath-taking ceremony, the newly-promoted generals and flag officers along with their respective families had a photo opportunity with the President. The President was joined by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.


CHR condemns NPA's use of landmines in Davao del Sur attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): CHR condemns NPA's use of landmines in Davao del Sur attack

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Tuesday it firmly condemned the use of landmines by the New People's Army (NPA) rebels in the Davao del Sur attack that left at least eight soldiers wounded last Sunday.

“The incident is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the government and the communist insurgents in 1998 that bans the use of landmines,” CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales said.

Rosales described landmines as anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines that do not differentiate between civilians and soldiers, and may claim lives even of farmers, their wives and their innocent children.

She added that landmine blast is an infringement against the right to life as landmine devices remain lethal for decades once laid.

She urged the NPA rebels to stand for the agreements set forth in the landmine accord and cease to persist with the impunity of landmine use.

She said she had instructed the CHR regional office in Davao to immediately conduct an investigation to ascertain the circumstances of the attack.


Terrorist nature of NPA revealed in Davao Del Sur IED attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Terrorist nature of NPA revealed in Davao Del Sur IED attack

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday stated that the unprovoked improvised explosive device (IED) attack on ambulances racing to extricate troopers wounded in another IED assault in Bansalan town, Davao Del Sur only demonstrated the terrorist nature of the New People's Army (NPA).

"The attack against the ambulances is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law and it's shocking because they (NPAs) are signatories to Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

He also said that there were no security lapses in securing the roads since civilian and medical evacuation vehicles should be spared from being attacked.

Zagala added the use of IEDs or landmines, due to its indiscriminate explosive nature, is strictly prohibited to prevent damages to civilians.

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

NPA fighters earlier staged 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 out to help the 11 soldiers wounded in the first landmine blast in Sitio Balutakay, Managa town 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 attack of the civilian ambulance.

“We condemned 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 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.


MSNA students visit Naval Forces Western Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): MSNA students visit Naval Forces Western Mindanao

Forty nine students of Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) Regular Class-49 visited Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) headquarters in Zamboanga City Monday afternoon.

These students were headed by Fermin R. De Leon Jr, PHD, MNSA, National Defense College of the Philippines

They rendered courtesy call to Rear Admiral Jesus C. Millan Commander, Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

The visit of the students is part of their Academic Enhancement Travel and Sub-National Development Studies.

During the courtesy call, De Leon with some of the students and NFWM commander regarding the relationship and engagement of Philippine Navy to other countries especially to the members of ASEAN.


Palace condemns NPA landmine attack in Davao del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Palace condemns NPA landmine attack in Davao del Sur

Malacanang condemned the landmine attack by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur that injured several soldiers and civilians.

“We join the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) in condemning the latest attack of the NPA in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. This brazen act of the NPA is in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) that was signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in The Hague, Netherlands in March 1998,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a press briefing Tuesday in Malacanang.

Sixteen persons, including 11 soldiers and five civilians, were hurt when the landmine exploded in Davao del Sur Sunday night.

The Armed Forces said the incident took place at around 7:30 p.m. Sunday when the convoy that included three ambulances of the Davao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) and the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion were on their way to Barangay Managa in Bansalan.

The convoy was transporting soldiers injured in an earlier encounter with the NPA when the landmine exploded and damaged passing vehicles.


Power interruption during AFP oath-taking ceremony only a ‘technical problem’ --Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Power interruption during AFP oath-taking ceremony only a ‘technical problem’ --Palace

Malacanang has clarified that the power interruption during the oath-taking ceremony of 49 officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday morning was merely due to “technical problem.”

The ceremony was held at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang where power went off twice -- the first time before the arrival of President Benigno S. Aquino.

Power went off a second time while families of the AFP officers who took their oath before the President were having their photos taken.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr., in a Palace press briefing, explained this following speculations that the power interruption might be related to the rotational blackouts in some Mindanao areas.

It can be recalled that some areas in Mindanao are currently experiencing rotational brownouts due to tripping of line faults or disturbances.

“Ang sabi po ng director ng fiscal plant ay may technical problem lang naman daw yun,” Coloma said. “Nadiskubre naman nila agad.”

“Nag-brownout kasi ng panandalian, nai-restore, sa kalagitaan ng picture-taking ay naulit,” he added.

“Nagbawas lang ng ilang ilaw, nai-balik na rin naman. Walang dapat ipag-alala. Wala ring relasyon sa mas malalaki pang problema sa enerhiya,” Coloma said.


6th round of EDC talks to be held in Washington - DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): 6th round of EDC talks to be held in Washington - DND
The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday announced that the Philippine and United States panels will hold the 6th round of negotiations on the proposed Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDC) on March 4 to 5 (US time) in Washington, D.C.

“We look forward to building on the substantive progress we have had during the previous round in this forthcoming sixth round,” DND Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo F. Batino, chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel, said.

“The Philippine negotiating panel will continue to articulate and promote our national values and interests and will remain guided by the principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops and no US basing in the Philippines, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, including the prohibition against nuclear weapons," he added.

During the fifth round of negotiations in January, both the Philippines and the United States negotiating panels reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing their cooperation in the security and related fields, particularly in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

While acknowledging that the proposed agreement must be guided by the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement and other international legal instruments and consistent with their respective Constitutions and laws.

The sixth round is being held back-to-back with the Philippine-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) on March 6 to 7, which will also take place in Washington D.C.

The other members of the Philippine panel on the EDC negotiations are Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparaguirre, Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya, Undersecretary of Justice Francisco F. Baraan III and Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose G. Quilop.


PAF acquires brand new REI, PMEL

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): PAF acquires brand new REI, PMEL

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Tuesday announced that it has received brand-new radio electrical, instruments (REI) and precision measuring equipment laboratory (PMEL) worth P42.02 million.

The said equipment will be added to the inventory of the 410th Maintenance Wing which is based in Clark Field, Pampanga.

PAF spokesmann Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the new equipment aims to address the current capability gap in attending to aircraft REI components repair, overhaul and calibration.

While the PMEL will serve as a facility in which modification, measurement and repair of precision tools and equipment takes place.

With this capability, Okol said the PAF can now ensure reliability, accuracy, and traceability on its systems, subsystems, and equipment for all its aircraft.


Deles says roadmap to a lasting peace in Mindanao is done within boundaries of the Constitution

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 4): Deles says roadmap to a lasting peace in Mindanao is done within boundaries of the Constitution

The government’s comprehensive roadmap to a lasting peace in Mindanao is done within the boundaries of the Constitution that will strengthen the politics of reconciliation and build an economy of equal opportunity to everyone – Muslim, Christian or Indigenous Peoples, according to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles

Deles extensively discussed last week about the Bangsamoro peace agreement before the officers and staff of the Lina Group of Companies (LGC).

“Through the Bangsamoro, we shall strengthen the politics of reconciliation and build an economy of equal opportunity. No one – Muslim, Christian, or Indigenous Peoples – will be left behind,” she said.

“Each will enjoy the benefits of good governance, social equity, and, most of all, the rule of law in a society of cultural and religious diversity,” she said.

Deles said that with the positive trust ratings of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the peace process in the Mindanao could weather impending challenges.

She said the country has an “overwhelming domestic political capital” to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.”

“Let me say before you today that never have we had the overwhelming domestic and political capital to make this peace deal endure with stability and permanence,” Deles added.

“With the leadership of our President, P-Noy, who has enjoyed the highest sustained trust ratings of any President in our history, plus the massive international support that is funneling into the Mindanao peace process, we can overcome all the spoilers, we can obtain the support we need to build the Bangsamoro, we will win this game – this historical endeavor – in the end,” she pointed out.

Deles was referring to the new Bangsamoro region that will be established as a result of the negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Both parties are expected to sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which is the final peace deal, at the end of this month.

Both sides have earlier signed the fourth and last annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), making a great leap in completing the CAB.

The CAB comprises the FAB and its annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, Power Sharing, and Normalization, as well as the Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters and Zones of Joint Cooperation.

Deles said among the qualities of the current southern peace talks are the gradual decommissioning of firearms on the ground, which she described as a “true testament to the sincerity and genuine desire of the MILF to fully embrace the cause of peace.”

“As business people, you know how vital peace and order is to the growth of your companies. The peace agreement covers this, with provisions for the creation of a Bangsamoro police force, based on recommendations of an Independent Commission on Policing and under the umbrella of one Philippine National Police, to enforce law and order and secure the Bangsamoro from terrorism and religious extremism,” she said.

“Human security, combined with additional sources of revenues under the Annex on Wealth-Sharing for social services, infrastructure development and environment management, will sustain peace and productivity in the Bangsamoro communities,” she added.

“This is our comprehensive peace roadmap for Mindanao. As you can see, the process is very detailed, and also very, very challenging,” she added.“Our roadmap is designed precisely to ensure that everything is done within the boundaries of our Constitution including its flexibilities, accompanied by broad consultations, and a very transparent, inclusive, and democratic process,” she said.

As the southern peace agreement brings stability, Deles said a new regime of peace from the upcoming Bangsamoro political entity in southern Philippines will enable the country, especially Mindanao to benefit optimally from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration that will start next year.

“As we prepare for the ASEAN economic integration that takes place next year, we are doing our own economic integration at the national and regional levels, with a more peaceful Mindanao emerging as our attractive gateway to global and regional trade and investments. Two of our neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, have among the largest Muslim constituencies in the world. Poised to achieve peaceful transformation into a viable and sustainable political and economic entity, the Bangsamoro shall be our front door to regional trade,” she said.

The regional ASEAN bloc will harmonize and pare away trade and economic barriers starting late next year under its ASEAN Economic Community strategic plan. This will make easier the movement of goods, services and finance between the bloc’s 10 member-nations.


1002nd Infantry Brigade support Davao Del Sur provincial government indignation rally vs landmines, IEDs

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 5): 1002nd Infantry Brigade support Davao Del Sur provincial government indignation rally vs landmines, IEDs

The Sarangani-based 1002nd Infantry Brigade announced that it strongly supports the condemnation rally of the Davao Del Sur provincial government against the deliberate use of landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the New People's Army (NPA) against civilians.

Capt. William Alfred T. Rodriquez, the unit's spokesperson, said the protest against against the rebels' continued use of landmines and IEDs was held at Digos City around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The activity aims to generate social pressure to force the NPAs from using these weapons of war.

Rodriquez said that the Davao Del Sur provincial government was particularly incensed by the NPA’s recent landmine atrocity in Bansalan town last March 2 which wounded 12 soldiers and five civilians.

“I, together with the people of Davao del Sur, condemn in its strongest term the landmine attacks perpetrated by the New People's Army rebels in Bansalan town. We enjoin every peace loving Filipinos to sustain the social pressure in rendering the NPA irrelevant and in massively calling for an end on the use of landmines. We hold the CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) accountable for the recent landmine attacks against the soldiers and civilians,” Davao Del Sur Gov. Claude Bautista said.


Kidnappers demand P5 million for release of Filipina mother

From the Mindanao Examiner blog  site (Mar 5): Kidnappers demand P5 million for release of Filipina mother

A photograph of Sabrina Ikabala Voon from her Facebook account.

Kidnappers have reportedly demanded P5 million ransom for the safe release of a young mother they seized in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.

Police also have filed criminal charges against the 28-year old Abdul Hassan Yusop, who was among those who kidnapped Sabrina Ikbala Voon, a native of Sulu province, on February 19.

Local police chief Angelito Casimiro said the kidnapper has been identified through his photo on a falsified driver’s license he used to hire the van in Zamboanga. Casimiro said Yusop, who used the name Rey Santos in his identification card, is a native of Tuburan town in Basilan province, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.

It was not immediately known whether Yusop is a member of the Abu Sayyaf group operating in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Voon was forcibly taken by at least six gunmen disguised as policemen from her house in the village of Mercedes and dragged the woman to a waiting van that had been recovered by the police who pursued the gang.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but authorities had previously blamed kidnapping cases to the Abu Sayyaf group.


Woman abducted at Zamboanga mall

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Mar 4): Woman abducted at Zamboanga mall

Police said a woman was reportedly abducted on Tuesday at a shopping mall in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga.

Police identified the woman as Arsina Kahing Nanoh, 20, who is in jewellery business. She was allegedly abducted at Mindpro Mall in downtown Zamboanga.

Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, a regional police spokesman, said the woman’s husband reported the abduction and that authorities were investigating the incident.

“One Alnajil Nanoh reported that his wife identified as Arsina Nanoh was allegedly abducted by unidentified suspects at Mindpro Mall,” Huesca told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Nanoh, a native of Basilan province, was allegedly forced by unidentified men out of the shopping mall unnoticed and into a waiting vehicle where other men were waiting, other reports said.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Nanoh ran for vice mayor in Hadji Muhtamad town in Basilan under the United Nationalist Alliance, but lost to Nadzra Hasim, of the Liberal Party.