Monday, March 17, 2014

China digs up details vs PH on Ayungin

From Rappler (Mar 18): China digs up details vs PH on Ayungin

Warning Manila to prepare for "consequences," China armed itself with more details against the Philippines in its latest statement on the disputed Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

In a media briefing on Monday, March 17, China listed specific promises that previous Philippine administrations supposedly made in relation to Ayungin, which Beijing calls the Ren'ai Reef.

For China, the Aquino administration should heed these promises whether or not aligned with the Philippines' current policy. Otherwise, the Philippines risks its "credibility."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei explained that the Philippines, in 1999, made an "unequivocal commitment to China on many occasions that it would tow away the ship" grounded in Ayungin.

Hong said the Philippines claimed the ship was grounded due to "malfunction."

Hong said the Philippines, in 2003, "made another solemn commitment that it would not become the first country to violate" the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea in connection to Ayungin.

The DOC includes a commitment to "undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.”

On the Philippines' supposed promises, the years cited by China involve the Estrada administration from 1998 to 2001, and the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2010.

It was only under President Benigno Aquino III that the Philippines filed a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). China views Aquino as "provocative" compared to the “more receptive" Arroyo, a think-tank said. (READ: Why China prefers Arroyo over Aquino)

'Shocking' contradiction

For China, however, Aquino's stance doesn't matter. If a previous administration made a promise, China said the Philippines should fulfill it. (READ: China on Ayungin: PH broke its promise)

[Video: China on Ayungin PH broke its promise]

"More shockingly," though, Hong said, the Philippines is now contradicting itself. He said from promising to remove a "malfunctioning" ship, the Philippines is now claiming the ship was deliberately grounded in 1999 "with the aim of illegally occupying Ren'ai Reef."

"The sitting Philippine government was not the one 15 years ago, but as a country, the Philippines should honor its commitment. Otherwise, it will lose credibility to the international community," Hong said.

He added China "will never allow any form of occupation of the Ren'ai Reef nor violation of the DOC by the Philippine side."

"China watches closely and is highly vigilant on further possible provocations in the South China Sea by the Philippines and it must bear all the consequences arising therefrom," he said.

No categorical denial

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, has not categorically denied China's claim that it agreed to pull out of Ayungin in 1999.

In a two-paragraph statement last Friday, March 14, the DFA only said the stranded ship was placed in Ayungin before the DOC was signed in 2002.

The DFA said: "The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine naval vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine government installation in response to China’s illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995. This was prior to the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002."

"The Philippines reiterates that Ayungin Shoal is part of its continental shelf over which the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction," it added.

A day before the DFA issued this statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the Philippines had made an "unequivocal commitment" to tow the ship away from Ayungin, which the Chinese government calls the Ren'ai Reef.

"However, the Philippines is yet to live up to its promise and haul away the rusty ship. To make matters worse, it sent two ships to transport construction materials to the Ren'ai Reef, with the aim of building facilities and 'maintaining a presence' at China's island," Qin said.

The Ayungin dispute heated up after the so-called "water cannon incident," which involves China driving away Filipino fishermen from the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal using a water cannon. (READ: Water cannon incident can be used vs China)

The Ayungin and Panatag incidents came before the deadline of Manila's written pleading in its case against Beijing. (READ: PH faces major hurdle in China case)

Experts have warned the Philippines about a possible backlash because of this pleading.

Army brigade strengthens disaster risk reduction operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 17): Army brigade strengthens disaster risk reduction operations

The 502nd Infantry Brigade of 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (502ID-PA) based in Echague town has strengthened its disaster risk reduction operations through the army’s conceptualized “Oplan Lifeguard” to save lives, protect properties and minimize damages in disaster-affected areas.

502nd Army Infantry Brigade assistant commander Col. Reynaldo Labanen reported during the regional peace and order council held at Diffun Quirino, province at the Japi Travellers Hotel held over weekend that the Oplan Lifeguard objective is to conduct search and rescue operations to better respond to needy civilians who are in danger situations in times of calamities.

The 502nd infantry Brigade’s area of operations covers the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan.

Labanen said the army continuously conducting trainings on disaster risk reductions to its disaster unit soldiers through collaborative efforts with other stakeholders to effectively conduct search and rescue and even in relief operations.

He said that the military takes part in local disaster risk reduction and management council meetings from provincial, city, municipal and barangay as the military are attending meetings of the council in is area of operations as part of civil military operations.

The soldiers are also participating in tree planting activities of stakeholders, bloodletting activities and continuously conducting symposia to schools to enlighten the youth on security awareness.

Lananen said the army will continuously perform its mandate to secure and defend the country and the people.

PA, ABS-CBN hands over school building to Casiguran, Aurora

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 17): PA, ABS-CBN hands over school building to Casiguran, Aurora

The Philippine Army (PA) and ABS–CBN "Sagip Kapamilya" turned over a school building for the students of Casiguran, Aurora during a simple ceremony on Monday.

Army commander Major Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, together with Tina Monson-Palma, formally handed over a two-unit classroom to the school authorities of Casiguran National High School, with the presence of local officials of the municipality.

The project was jointly undertaken by the Northern Luzon Command, the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, the 522nd Engineering Battalion, and the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. – Sagip Kapamilya; and secured by the 56th Infantry Battalion.

It can be recalled that Aurora was struck by Typhoon "Labuyo" last Aug. 12, affecting many towns including Casiguran.

It became isolated for days due to the impassable roads.

Electricity was also down and houses and schools were destroyed by the strong winds.

In his speech, Iriberri said he strongly admires the resiliency of every Filipino.

As embodied in the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the PA engages with other stakeholders to help deliver basic services to the people.

Army confirms P2.4-B acquisition of 63,000 brand-new automatic rifles

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 18): Army confirms P2.4-B acquisition of 63,000 brand-new automatic rifles

The Philippine Army (PA) confirmed Tuesday the acquisition of 63,000 brand-new automatic rifles which will be delivered and issued in several batches this year.

Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Army spokesperson, said that these new rifles are the M-4 which is worth P38,402 each.

The entire order is estimated to be worth P2.4 billion.

The M-4 is a shorter and lighter variant of the M-16A2 assault rifle. It is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder-fired weapon with a telescoping stock and 14.5 inch (370 mm) barrel for easy close quarter combat.

The rifle fires the .223 caliber, or 5.56-mm NATO round.

During the March 16 graduation of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that the military will soon be retiring its Vietnam-era automatic rifles with the delivery of 63,000 brand-new rifles.

US to keep jurisdiction over erring servicemen

From the Manila Times (Mar 17): US to keep jurisdiction over erring servicemen

The United States government will have jurisdiction over American servicemen who violate Philippine laws while they are deployed in the country, a member of the Philippine panel negotiating an agreement on the increased rotational presence (IRP) of US forces said.

“On matters of jurisdiction, yes [the US is in charge],” Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya told a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.

Malaya said the erring American soldiers will be governed by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which the Philippine Senate ratified on May 27, 1999.

Jurisdiction over US troops who commit crimes in the Philippines has been a thorny issue ever since US Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipino inside the Subic Bay Freeport in 2005.

On December 4, 2006, a Makati Regional Trial Court found Smith guilty as charged and sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

Instead of spending time in a local jail, Smith was detained at the US Embassy in Manila, despite a Supreme Court ruling ordering his transfer to Philippine custody.

Smith was later allowed to return to the US following an amicable settlement with the family of the rape victim.

Malaya said local enforcers would be allowed access to the areas that would be occupied by American servicemen in the “exercise of their police power” but cannot make any arrests.

Sources in the Defense department said the jurisdiction issue cost Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos Soreta his place in the Philippine panel.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario removed Soreto even before the start of the first round of talks last January after Soreta opposed conceding jurisdiction to the US.

He also insisted that the Philippine military gain control of the equipment and facilities that would be brought in or built by the Americans.

Another panel member, Ambassador Lourdes Yparaguirre, explained that ousting Soreto was a decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“In these negotiations we talked about rotational presence as one of the modalities, we also have a rotation mechanism in the Philippine foreign service. What was not changed however is the commitment of the Philippine panel to advance the Philippine interest in this negotiations,” Yparaguirre said.

The accord will be signed against the backdrop of the increased Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

House leaders see the balance of power in the disputed waters maintained with the presence of American troops in the country.

“The increased rotational presence of US forces in the country should be allowed since it will have a significant impact of balancing the forces in the Southeast Asian region. China has been increasingly aggressive on [their stance vs.] smaller countries like the Philippines. This certainly will deter China from further bullying us,” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a former Marine captain and the Vice Chairman of the House National Defense and Security panel, said in a text message.

“The mere presence of US forces in our soil and our adversary’s knowledge that the US is our ally would at least retain the status quo in the West Philippine Sea. That way, China won’t fully occupy it [PH islands in the Exclusive Economic Zone],” Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption, the House Deputy Majority leader, added.

“Just like in the Cold War, an effective balance of power will ensure all parties to the negotiating table to forge a peaceful settlement,” Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol said.
But for Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, allowing Americans on Philippine soil will only make the country a target of China’s lingering ire and a pawn of the power struggle between Washington and Beijing.

“There is no such thing as free lunch. The US, not exactly known for its generosity but instead for pursuing its own interests, will extract its pound of flesh from us,” Ilagan said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda agreed that the presence of US servicemen will strengthen the country’s hand in the face of sea disputes with China.

“Does this help in terms of the presence—the rotational presence—of the Americans? Certainly it would help. And the reason why it helps is because there’s some technology transfer, there’s knowledge sharing between the American forces and the Philippine forces when they do conduct military exercises,” Lacierda said.

He said such an agreement would improve the “quality of the Philippines in terms of preparedness.”

“Let me also emphasize that a part of this rotational presence is now focusing on disaster preparedness and disaster reduction.

That’s one of the big improvements especially when it comes to increased rotational presence where we saw the involvement of the American military when Typhoon Yolanda hit Central Visayas,” Lacierda said.

On Sunday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. assured the agreement would not allow the US government to set up permanent bases in the Philippines but would only “share” camps with the Philippine military.

Misuari camp hits out at govt tactics

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 18): Misuari camp hits out at govt tactics

The Moro National Liberation Front-Nur Misuari faction on Monday accused the government of employing a “shepherd”  in an attempt to discredit its founding chairman Nur Misuari who went into hiding after the attacks on Zamboanga City last year.

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza identified the “shepherd” as  Hadji Abul Khayr Alonto, a former founding member of the muslim rebel movement.

 The Misuari camp  issued the statement after  Alonto last week declared Misuari “persona non grata” for leadership blunders, inviting all factions within the Misuari faction, including the MNLF Council of 15 led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema  to join them.

Alonto was being utilized by the government as an option to  solidify  the MNLF and eventually ease out Misuari, Cerveza said.

“I think the government is using him (Alonto) for the government’s own purpose to form another MNLF whom to deal with because they could not remove Misuari,” Cerveza said.

The Misuari camp said  Alonto sufrace after Jimmy Labawan, Misuari’s deputy, tried but failed to be recognized as the sole representative of the MNLF in the supposed resumption of the Jakarta tripartite talks on the final peace agreement.

Labawan was sacked by Misuari for misrepresenting the MNLF during the aborted talks in Jakarta last year, few months before the Zamboanga City incident.

“The government wanted to organize a group  with  whom it could deal because they can’t remove Misuari from the organization,” Cerveza said.

 He said Alonto was only sowing intrigue purposely to create a vacuum in the MNLF leadership, a tactic used by the government to unseat Misuari.

New monitoring team vows ‘commitment’

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 17): New monitoring team vows ‘commitment’

The new batch of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) tasked to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have assured both panels of their “commitment” to be a party in the “pursuit of peace.”

Major General Dato Abd Samad Bin Hj Yaakub, head of the IMT for Mindanao batch 9, said they would like to see that ‘peace prevails in Mindanao.”

This developed after the expected signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, a product of more than 17 years of GPH-MILF arduous negotiations, is set to take place on March 27.

Brigadier General Edmundo Pangilinan, the newly-installed head of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) for the Philippine government, led the welcoming party for Batch 9 of the IMT peace monitors in Cotabato City.

Pangilinan, former combatant-turned-peace maker, said they only hope for a united Mindanao despite differences in faith and political orientations.

Also present during the welcoming party was Abbas Salung, head of the CCCH for the MILF.

Salung lauded the good relations between the GPH and MILF ceasefire committees, and the international peace monitors.

He cited as basis the zero recorded incidents of armed encounters between the government forces and the MILF.

Malacañang assures: No permanent US bases

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 18): Malacañang assures: No permanent US bases

No permanent bases, just access to military facilities.

Malacañang yesterday reiterated its assurance that there will be no permanent bases to be established by the United States in its military deal with the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that while talks on the Framework Agreement on the Increased Rotational Presence of US troops here are yet to be completed, he assured that there will be no permanent military bases by the US.

“Any concerns about whether it’s permanent bases, certainly, it is not. This is, again, only providing them access,” Lacierda said.

“We are very cognizant of the limitations imposed by the Constitution and other applicable laws. So the Philippine panel works around those parameters, and so there should be no issue as to permanent basing,” he said.

Lacierda said that while the Executive and Legislative branches of government have different interpretations on whether or not the agreement needs ratification by the Senate, the best thing to do is to just wait for the agreement to be completed.

The Palace had had said over the weekend that there is no need for a ratification of the agreement by the Senate. However, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago insisted that there should be Senate ratification.

“Until such time that we have the agreement, then we will see, but we have not seen the language of the agreement yet. But we are very, very cognizant of the applicable laws and of the Constitution,” Lacierda said.

“It is an agreement that builds upon and/or implements the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement. Both agreements have been ratified by the Senate,” he explained.

“So in the view of the Executive branch, these are merely provisions which implement both treaties, which have already been previously ratified by the Senate,” he added.

Ratification Issue

Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV backed the position of the Executive branch that the proposed enhanced military cooperation is an executive agreement that does not need ratification by the Senate.

The enhanced RP-US agreement, according to Trillanes, is a merely a specific implementing guideline of the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) signed during the Estrada administration.

Trillanes stressed that this new agreement has nothing to do with the current Philippine-China territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

“Well, let China interpret that particular… We don’t need to send a message I suppose. The medium is the message,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda when ask, “What message is the Philippines sending out to China as it continues to settle on a Philippines-US defense treaty on increased presence of American troops in the country?

But Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, vice chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Senate wants to know the specific provisions of the proposed agreement, particularly on the US troop presence in the country.

He also agreed with the view of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon that senators should be briefed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND). Angara said the Upper Chamber should not readily accept Malacañang’s position that it needs no Senate ratification.

Earlier, Malacañang had assured that the negotiations between the Philippines and the US on the framework agreement for the increased rotational presence of US military in the country will not be hastened for the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama next month.


Last week during the sixth round of talks held in Washington, DC, the negotiations made a breakthrough as the Philippine government agreed to allow US forces to use military bases in the Philippines.

Reports said that under the draft accord, the Philippines will allow US forces joint use of facilities in some military bases such as those in Manila, Clark, Palawan, Cebu, Nueva Ecija, and La Union.

President Aquino himself said they want to ensure that the framework agreement will conform to Philippine laws as well as to those of the US government.

The negotiations for the Framework Agreement on increased Rotational Presence of US troops began on August 14, 2013.

China warns PH: Don’t even think of challenging blockade

From Malaya (Mar 18): China warns PH: Don’t even think of challenging blockade

China warned the Philippines on Monday to abandon a disputed shoal in the South China Sea after Manila said it planned to challenge a Chinese naval blockade of the area by sending supplies to its troops stationed there.
Last week, a senior Philippines military official said his country would send civilian supply ships to its soldiers deployed on a vessel that ran aground on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in 1999. The shoal is known in China as the Ren’ai reef and in the Philippines as Ayungin.
“The Chinese government’s attitude on maintaining the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. We will never tolerate the Philippines illegal occupation of Ren’ai reef,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
“China is on high alert for the Philippines possibly taking more provocative acts in the South China Sea. The Philippines must accept responsibility for the consequences of what will happen,” he added.
Second Thomas Shoal, a strategic gateway to an area believed to be rich in oil and natural gas, is one of several possible maritime flashpoints that could prompt the United States to intervene in defense of Asian allies troubled by increasingly assertive Chinese maritime claims.
China claims the Philippines is trying to start construction on the reef, which it claims as part of its own territory. The Philippines claims the shoal is part of its continental shelf.
Beijing’s claim over islands, reefs and atolls that form the Spratlys, a group of 250 uninhabitable islets spread over 165,000 square miles (427,000 square km), has set it directly against US allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the South China Sea.

Cudia leaves PMA hours after graduation rites

From InterAksyon (Mar 17): Cudia leaves PMA hours after graduation rites

Dismissed Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia left the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City Sunday night several hours after the graduation of the “Siklab Diwa” Class of 2014.

“We released him to his parents, his sister and a lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office,” Major Lynette Flores, head of the PMA’s Public Affairs Office, said in a phone interview Monday.

According to Flores, Cudia had the option to leave the PMA premises since February 10, the day his indefinite leave became effective after he was dismissed from the Cadet Corps by the Honor Code Committee for lying about why he was two minutes late for class.

"Kaso siya ang nag-decide na huwag umalis ng PMA [But he was the once who decided not to leave the PMA]…He decided to stay kaya [that's why] he has to file a request for him to stay," said Flores.

Flores said Cudia's stay at the academy, even in the barracks, was unauthorized because he was on indefinite leave. "Pero technically kahit nga sa barracks unauthorized ‘yong stay niya kasi naka-indefinite leave siya."

The PMA had decided to dismiss Cudia.  He appealed his case to President Benigno Aquino III and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Bautista ordered the PMA superintendent to review Cudia's case and the result was a reiteration of the earlier decision to dismiss the cadet from the service.

Bautista approved the second decision and referred this to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for submission to the Office of the President.

Last Saturday night, Cudia and his parents met with Aquino and Gazmin. The President listened as the Cudias presented their case.

After the meeting, Gazmin said Aquino had ordered Bautista to review once more Cudia’s appeal.

Bautista asked for ample time to review Cudia's case. He said he would submit his final recommendation to Aquino.

But as far as the PMA is concerned, Flores said Cudia’s case is already closed unless the AFP chief would decide otherwise. “Ito’y depende na po sa magiging desisyon ng AFP chief [This depends on what the decision of the AFP chief will be]."

What are the benefits of increased rotational presence of US forces in PH? Palace makes a list

From InterAksyon (Mar 17): What are the benefits of increased rotational presence of US forces in PH? Palace makes a list

Sealing an agreement for an increased rotational presence of American forces in the Philippines will bring in wide-ranging benefits for the country, a Palace official said.

The agreement, which will be buoyed on existing agreements with the US such as the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty, will certainly help the Philippines in terms of technology transfer and disaster response, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

“The reason why it helps is because there’s some technology transfer, there’s knowledge sharing between the American forces and the Philippine forces when they do conduct military exercises,” Lacierda told reporters.

“It improves the quality of the Philippines’s defense in terms of preparedness. And let me also emphasize that a part of this rotational presence is now focusing on disaster preparedness and disaster reduction,” he added.

The Philippine government sees a big improvement when it comes to increased rotational presence particularly when the American military sent its assets to Central Visayas in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda.

The US sent ships, planes, helicopters, and military vehicles to assist in transporting relief goods, supplies, and equipment in the affected Visayas region.

Why it does not need Senate concurrence?

A new agreement does not need ratification of the Philippine Senate because an increased rotational presence pact with the US will be built on previous agreements already ratified by the Senate.

“It is an agreement that builds upon... or to be implemented based on the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty, as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement. Both agreements have been ratified by the Senate,” Lacierda said.

“So in the view of the Executive branch, these are mainly provisions which implement both treaties that have already been previously ratified by the Senate.”

Wescom temporarily halts search ops for missing Malaysian plane

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 18): Wescom temporarily halts search ops for missing Malaysian plane

The military’s Western Command (Wescom) has temporarily stopped search operations for the Malaysian Airlines jet that went missing more than a week ago after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, in a telephone interview by members of the Defense Press Corps (DPC) yesterday, said that search teams from the Wescom has already scoured the country’s area in the West Philippine Sea but found no signs of the Boeing 777 jet.

“Temporary stop. They (Wescom) already went around our entire area,” Gazmin said. He stressed the stoppage is temporary until new clues are found.

“As of now, we have scoured the entire area, we flown C130 several times in wider coverage, nothing was found,” Gazmin added.

The Wescom launched search operations immediately after the Malaysian authorities informed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board.

“The Malaysian armed forces provided information...that started the search, we cooperated,” Gazmin said.

Lt. Cherryl Tindog, spokesman of Wescom, said that the last search operation was conducted last Saturday involving Islander aircraft. There was no activity on Sunday.

“We just temporarily stopped the search since Sunday but we are not totally suspending, depending on the developments,” Tindog said.

She maintained that Wescom is ready to resume search should there be new developments.

“Also, we have covered almost our entire exclusive economic zone and the Kalayaan Island Group but yielded negative results,” Tindog said.

The Wescom sent out several air and naval assets to conduct search operations in the West Philippine Sea, including two ships, multi-purpose attack craft, Islander aircraft and even C130. However, the Wescom reported no signs of the missing plane as of Sunday.

The Malaysian Airlines went off the radar screens after taking off from Kuala Lumpur last March 8 bound for Beijing. Earlier search focused along the waters of Vietnam but has since widened but up to now, there have been no signs of the jet.

Palace insists new bases pact an executive deal

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 18): Palace insists new bases pact an executive deal

The Palace insisted yesterday that the new rotational basing agreement or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation deal the Philippines and the United States governments agreed on will be “mere provisions” in treaties already ratified by the Senate and thus will constitute an executive arrangement.

The Senate, the other day, had stated it will have the last say on whether the agreement which will allow the sharing of local military bases with American forces would be an executive agreement or a new treaty adding that the agreement needed a Congressional review.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, however, said the new agreement builds on or implements the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the Visiting Forces Agreement, which are agreements already ratified by the Senate.

“So in the view of the Executive branch, these are merely provisions which implement both treaties, which have already been previously ratified by the Senate,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the new agreement was crafted partly because of the current territorial conflicts in the region. The Philippines is currently in a deadlock with China on overlapping claims over South China Sea.

“Does this help in terms of the rotational presence of the Americans? Certainly, it would help,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said benefits to the country from the agreement includes technology transfer and knowledge sharing between American and Philippine forces during the conduct of military exercises.

“It improves the quality of the Philippines in terms of preparedness,” Lacierda added.
Lacierda downplayed legal questions that may arise from the agreement that would be concentrated in the strategic coasts of Mindanao, Ulugan Bay in the west coast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, facing the Spratly group of islands, in the port of Subic and Cebu.

“Well, again, the details of the agreement have not been completed yet and, therefore, any concerns about whether it’s permanent bases, certainly, it is not,” Lacierda said.

“(The agreement) only provides (American forces) access. We are very cognizant of the limitations imposed by the Constitution and other applicable laws,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the Philippine panel is working within the legal parameters on the agreement and that there should be no issue with permanent basing of foreign troops.

He said there are still some talks between the RP-and US panels scheduled over the details of the agreement and other substantive issues with the Americans.

“So let’s wait until the agreement is finalized,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda admitted there was some disagreements as to the interpretations of the existence of the new RP-US agreement as to whether it would have to pass the ratification of the Senate to be valid.

Lacierda cited as an analogy for the agreement the pet project of Aquino which is the comprehensive peace agreement that seeks to create the Bangsamoro substate.

”I am certain, like what we did with the Bangsamoro annexes, the agreement will be provided the Senate,” he added.

“As to whether it would require confirmation, well, at least both sides have already stated their positions, so let’s wait for the agreement, and see whether there should be a need for ratification,” Lacierda said.

“I think maybe that fear of a head-on clash (between the Executive and the Legislative) is something that we have not reached that point yet, precisely because the details have not been completed,” Lacierda said.

He said that until such time that they have the agreement already, “then we will see, but we have not seen the language of the agreement yet”.

“But we are very, very cognizant of the applicable laws and of the Constitution,” Lacierda said.

A former partylist representative of Partido ng Manggagawa, Renato Magtubo, meanwhile, slammed the leadership of the House of Representatives for prematurely endorsing an illegal and dangerous military bases pact being cooked up by Malacañang and the White House.

The new security deal would allow the US free access and use of Philippine bases particularly in Manila, Clark, Palawan, Cebu, Nueva Ecija and La Union.

Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino who headed the Philippines’ negotiating panel explained earlier that the agreement does not violate the Constitution.  There is also no need for this to be ratified by the Senate because it is just an implementing document of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

House leaders Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna on their part welcomed this news as they approve the concept of “rotational presence” of American troops in the country.

But in a statement Magtubo said, “The new pact, from  whatever model it shall be patterned, is aimed at getting around the constitutional ban on the presence of foreign troops in the country, the same way the VFA was framed under the guise of joint military exercises to justify temporary presence of American troops in the country.”

Magtubo pointed out that under the new deal, the Philippines does not just welcome the US forces as “visitors” but accepts them as a conjugal operator of its facilities under the veil of “rotational presence”.

He insisted that instead of giving a blanket approval, Congress should forewarn the Executive about the dangers in executing a kind of agreement that would clearly undermine the Constitution, otherwise they both fall under suspicion of plotting to bring this country back to the era of cold war where a weak country is forced to side with either of the contending global powers.

Magtubo argued further that giving the US forces unlimited access and free use of our facilities to serve as deterrent to China is in fact the weakest security argument of this pact, saying China is not blind to the mighty land, air, and naval powers the US had in the Pacific.
“So what do we gain from showing to China that we have a 24/7 US soldiers in our soil?  Nothing, we are just giving China “the bully” more reasons to believe that the Philippines exercises no sovereignty and independent foreign policy and thus may be a worrisome play pawn by the US,” said Magtubo.

Partido ng Manggagawa is advocating a negotiated solution to the disputed claims over the group of islands in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.

Magtubo said disputed islands are better left for common use and development of all claimants rather than making them springboards to a senseless war.

CPP/NDF: Pahayag ng Rehiyong Bikol sa ika-45 taong Anibersaryo ng Partido Komunista Ng Pilipinas

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 13): Pahayag ng Rehiyong Bikol sa ika-45 taong Anibersaryo ng Partido Komunista Ng Pilipinas (Statement of Bicol Region on the 45th year anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines)
Maria Roja Banua
NDFP Bicol Chapter
Nagpupugay ang Partido Komunista, Bagong Hukbong Bayan at National Democratic Front ng Rehiyong Bikol kasama ang mga kasaping rebolusyonaryong organisasyon at sambayanang Bikolano sa ika-45 Anibersaryo ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-Marxismo Leninismo Maoismo (PKP-MLM).

Patuloy na sumusulong ang pambansa demokratikong rebolusyon sa bansa sa ilalim ng pamumuno ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas. Nanatiling matatag at lumalakas ang Partido sa ideolohiya, pulitika at organisasyon at yumayaman ang dunong mula sa 45-taong karanasan ng pakikibaka laban sa imperyalismo at lokal na reaksyon. Ang naging paglihis sa wastong pampulitikang linya ng matagalang digmang bayan noong dekada ’80 ay nagresulta ng pansamantalang pag-atras at kinailangang ilunsad pagpasok ng dekada ’90 ang Ikalawang Dakilang Kilusang Pagwawasto upang mapangibabawan ang mga pinsala at makabalik tungong tamang landas at muling makasulong.

Ang naging resulta ng pagbawi ay lumampas pa sa rurok na inabot noong taong 1985 sa buong bansa at sa rehiyon noong 1987. Ang malaganap at masinsing pakikidigmang gerilya sa mas malawak at malalim na baseng masa ay nagbunga ng paglakas ng pwersa at mga karagdagang larangang gerilya na siya ngayong tuntungan sa pagpaunlad sa hinog na subyugto ng estratehikong depensiba at tumanaw sa estratehikong pagkapatas.

Buong-tatag na nag-aambag ang rehiyong Bikol sa kabuuang pambansang pagsisikap na ito para sa kabuuang pagsulong. Buong-sikap nitong inihahanda ang mga rekisitos para sa lahatang panig na pag-unlad upang abutin ang huling yugto ng estratehikong depensiba. Umaabot na sa mahigit sampung libo ang mga kasapi ng Partido na mas masikhay at patuloy na nag-aaral sa MLM bilang teoretikal na pundasyon sa pagsusulong ng digmang bayan. Aabutin sa ilang daang libo ang baseng masang tumatangkilik sa pamumuno ng Partido at nag-aambag at nagpapaunlad ng kanilang kakayanan para sa ibayong pagsulong ng ating digma. Masigla ang mga gawain sa pagsisinop ng pagpapatupad ng programa sa rebolusyong agraryo at isinusulong ang iba’t-ibang tipo ng kooperasyon sa produksyon para sa sariling pangangailangan at suporta sa armadong pakikibaka ng mga ganap na samahang masa. Katulad ng maraming malalaking lupain sa mainland ng Bikol, naisasakatuparan sa Masbate ang maksimum na programa ng pamamahagi sa lupa at umaani ng paglakas ng Hukbo, paglawak ng baseng masa at pagdami ng kasapian ng Partido sa masang magsasaka.
Patuloy ang paglawak ng kasapian ng mga magigiting na pulang mandirigma ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa higit sa sampung larangang gerilya at sinusuportahan ng libu-libong kasapi ng mga yunit milisya at yunit pandepensa sa baryo. Binigo ng BHB sa rehiyon ang mga Oplan ng pagkubkob at paglipol ng AFP mula panahon ng diktadurang Marcos at sa mga pumalit na reaksyunaryong papet na rehimen hanggang kay Noynoy Aquino. Patuloy ang pagbigay-dagok ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa mga pwersang militar ng kaaway sa ilang matatagumpay na opensiba at kontra-depensiba nitong nakaraan sa mga labanan tulad ng nangyari sa Irosin, Sorsogon noong June 11, 2013, reyd sa Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte, ambus sa Presentacion at ambus sa Camalig, Albay, noong Mayo 2013 kakumbina ng maliliit na taktikal na opensiba, aksyong atritibo at pamamarusa sa may kasalanan sa mamamayan.

Mulat ang mga pulang mandirigma sa mahigpit na ugnayan ng pagbubuo at pagpapatatag ng baseng masa, rebolusyong agraryo at pagsusulong ng armadong rebolusyon sa mga larangang gerilya. Ito rin ang nagpapasulpot ng maraming milisyang bayan, aktibistang masa at pangmasang kasapian ng Partido. Lumalahok ang hukbo sa gawaing produksyon, pangkultura at iba pang serbisyong pampamayanan at higit na naghihinang ng relasyon ng Partido at Hukbo sa masa.

Bagamat nagdulot ng pinsala sa ilang probinsya at ilang nangungunang kadre ang kampanya ng kaaway sa Oplan Bayanihan sa rehiyon dulot ng ilang kahinaan sa manera at pagbabase, ay masasabing malaking tagumpay pa rin na bigo ang kampanya ng kaaway na wasakin ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan at mamamayan sa rehiyon.

Nanatili ang mahigit sa sampung larangang gerilya na maaaring umabot sa dalawampu sa loob lamang ng ilang madaling taon. Tuluy-tuloy ang naging paglawak sa mga isla ng Masbate at Catanduanes at pagsinsin ng mga larangang gerilya sa Sorsogon at Camarines Sur. Kasinungalingan ang mga pinalalabas na mababang estadistika ng kaaway hinggil sa papahinang kalagayan ng NPA at rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa rehiyon. Wala ni isa mang larangang gerilya ang nawasak maging sa Albay na hindi binibitiwan ng operasyong militar at masinsing posisyon ng mga kampong militar at detatsment ng mga CAFGU taliwas sa ipinagyayabang ng 9th ID.

Nabigwasan ng kilusang masa sa rehiyon ang US-RP Balikatan, Oplan Bayanihan, Pork Barrel, Eleksyon, Pagtaas ng Presyo ng Langis at mga sektoral na isyu tulad ng Coco Levy, Anti-GMO, at iba pang anti-mamamayang patakaran at programa ng papet na rehimeng Benigno Aquino III at imperyalismong Estados Unidos. Ang ligal at demokratikong pakikibaka sa kalunsuran at hayag na pakikibakang magsasaka sa mga kapatagan ng Bikol ay nagpapalawak ng mga aktibista at naglalatag ng malawak na kasapian ng Partido sa puting-purok.

Ang patuloy na pagsulong sa loob ng 45 taon ng Pambansa Demokratikong Rebolusyon ay kumpirmasyon na makakamtan natin ang tagumpay sa kagyat na hinaharap. Ang PKP, BHB, NDFP-Bikol ay kumpyansadong maaabot ang hangaring ito dahil sa pag-ani ng mga tagumpay sa maraming larangan at sonang gerilya sa kanayunan ng rehiyon at bansa. Naninindigan ang PKP-Rehiyong Bikol sa kanyang tungkulin na gawin ang ubos kayang pagtupad sa mahahalagang tungkulin at panawagan ng pambansang pamunuan sa taong 2014 at para sa mga susunod pang mga taong paglarga ng digmang bayan nang may lipos na determinasyon at lubos na kasiglahan.

Tiyak na matatamo ang tagumpay sa wastong pamumuno ng PKP-MLM. Ang pangdaigdigang krisis ng imperyalismo at ang resultang pagsuray ng sistemang panglipunan sa bansa ang siyang pumapaypay sa galit ng mamamayang higit na lugmok sa kaapihan at kahirapan. Ang pagkilos at pagsulong ng milyun-milyong mamamayan na masikhay na nagtatatag ng mga gobyernong bayan sa buong bansa at ang paglakas ng mga pwersang dudurog sa mga armadong pwersa ng papet na republika kasabay ng amo nitong imperyalismong Estados Unidos ang nagbibigay ng buong kumpyansa sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan at sambayanan sa pagsulong tungo sa ganap na tagumpay.

Mabuhay ang Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-Marxismo Leninismo Maoismo sa ika-45 Anibersaryo!

 Mabuhay ang Demokratikong Rebolusyon ng Bayan!

CPP/NDF: Ka Maria Roja Banua Takes Off as the New Voice of Bicol’s Revolution

NDF statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 13): Ka Maria Roja Banua Takes Off as the New Voice of Bicol’s Revolution

Maria Roja Banua
NDFP Bicol Chapter
The National Democratic Front-Bicol introduces its new spokesperson in the person of Ka Maria Roja Banua. Carrying on the late Ka Greg Bañares’ deferred task as brought about by his martyrdom, Ka Roja continues NDF-Bicol’s further mandate of broadcasting the revolutionary standpoint of Bicol region’s oppressed and exploited masses in their struggle for a genuinely free, just, and progressive society.

Leaping off from such stance, Ka Maria Roja Banua, in behalf of the NDF-Bicol, salutes the Communist Party of the Philippines-Bicol’s creditable leadership in advancing the people’s revolutionary movement. In her statement “Pahayag ng Rehiyong Bikol sa Ika-45 Taong Anibersaryo ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas”, Ka Roja celebrates CPP-Bicol’s victories in the ideological, political, and organizational lines of work. According to the NDF-Bicol’s new spokesperson, the Party’s 45 years of firm grasp and practice of the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has resulted to an ever-strengthening organization sharpening itself in wisdom to combat imperialism and local counter-revolution.

The revolutionary movement in the region led by the CPP-Bicol prides itself in its resolute exertions in fulfilling the requisites contributing to the national direction of completing the advanced sub-stage of the strategic defensive of the people’s war. In doing so, the Party in the region is now fortified by more than ten thousand members that fervently study Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the foundation in waging revolution. These Party members are deeply-rooted among hundreds of thousands of Bicolano masses that acknowledge the CPP’s leadership and extend their efforts to further the people’s war.

Ka Maria Roja Banua likewise states the establishment of more than ten guerrilla fronts in the region, which are aimed to develop into at least 20 in the coming few years. In these guerrilla fronts, programs of agrarian revolution are being implemented and various types of cooperation in agricultural production are undertaken in order to provide for the people’s needs, along with yielding the mass organizations’ support to the armed struggle. In the same way as in many parts of the Bicol mainland, revolutionaries in Masbate are implementing the maximum program of land distribution. And inasmuch as agrarian revolution greatly benefits the peasant masses, Party members as well as New People’s Army recruits consequently surge from their ranks.

In this connection, Ka Roja denounces the 9th ID Philippine Army’s deceit of a “weakened” NPA and revolutionary movement in the region. On the contrary, voluntary enlistment in the people’s army continue to expand in Bicol’s more than ten guerrilla fronts. These NPA platoons, augmented by thousands of militia units and barrio self-defense corps, continue to render defeats on enemy forces and frustrate their offensives against NPA units. These are well exhibited in the Presentacion ambush of May 2010 in Camarines Sur, the Maot PDT raid of April 2012 in Camarines Norte, the Camalig ambush of May 2013 in Albay, and the Irosin counter-defensive of July 2013 in Sorsogon.

Among the significant victories of the NPA-Bicol is the frustration of Oplan Bayanihan’s aim to defeat the people’s revolutionary movement in the region. Aside from performing military tasks, the NPA is well loved by the masses because their army likewise participate in production, conduct cultural work, and carry out various social services. Thus, the Party, the people’s army, and the masses are as bonded as ever.

Also, Ka Roja values the mass movement for having struck heavy blows against RP-US Balikatan, Oplan Bayanihan, the Pork Barrel System, and relentless increases in oil prices. Militant Bicolano masses have also determinedly pushed for sectoral issues such as the Coco Levy Fund and anti-GMO campaigns, and have fought various other anti-people policies and programs of the US-Noynoy Aquino regime. Ka Roja notes that the legal and democratic struggles in the urban areas, as well as the legal peasant struggles in the lowlands of Bicol, have also produced scores of activists and are therefore fountainheads of Party members in the white areas.

In concluding her statement, Ka Roja expresses the NDF-Bicol’s optimism in achieving the National Democratic Revolution’s victory in the forthcoming years. The CPP-Bicol, the Romulo Jallores Command, and the NDF-Bicol hold on to this confidence based on the victories reaped from across the guerrilla fronts and guerrilla zones of the region, as well as from all over the country. The year 2014 and the succeeding years will bear witness to Bicolano revolutionaries advancing the people’s war replete with resoluteness and fervor.

The NDF-Bicol’s new spokesperson ends: “Victory is certain with the CPP-MLM’s correct leadership. The global crisis of imperialism and the resulting trembling of the country’s social system fan the flames of anger of a people gravely subjugated by exploitation and poverty. The surging of the masses in their millions ardently establishing people’s democratic governments across the country, coupled with a strengthening people’s army that will crush the puppet republic’s armed forces and their US imperialist masters, give full confidence to the revolutionary movement and the people to march towards complete victory.”

CPP/NDF: NDF-SMR order of indemnification for Davao del Sur medical responders

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 17): NDF-SMR order of indemnification for Davao del Sur medical responders
Rubi Del Mundo
NDFP Southern Mindanao Chapter
The Regional Council of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Region orders for the indemnification of Mr. Genaro Doronio Dumayas, Ms. Bonita dela Cruz, Mr. Arnel Comandante Veloroso and Mr. Alberto Simbajon Cabual who were wounded during the New People’s Army’s tactical offensive in Barangay Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur, on March 2, 2014.

Third Party Facilitators, comprised of church people, medical practitioners and other advocates, is hereby requested to expedite the public dispensation of indemnification today, March 17, 2014 in Digos City.

The order acts upon the apology and recommendations submitted by the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army. This is a unilateral exercise of revolutionary political authority by a government of the working class and peasantry that has its own legal and judicial system and rules in accordance with its political principles and circumstances.

The NDF-SMR Order of Indemnification is in compliance with the Geneva Conventions for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces, the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the NDFP Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977, the Constitutional Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government, and the Basic Rules of the New People’s Army.

The revolutionary government is intrinsically founded on the absolute respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. It is waging a just war for the genuine emancipation of the majority exploited Filipino people. It wages a war to dismantle the ruling system and in particular, targets the fascist machinery of the state, the AFP. It holds in high esteem members of the medical and emergency response profession who have the noble occupation of preserving life amid strenuous circumstances.

Thus, we condemn any attack against this profession and any act that violates the rights of its members. We denounce the AFP for endangering medical responders by concealing their identities in the battlefield and by putting their lives in danger.

We deplore the revival of Alsa Masa and the maintenance of state-sponsored paramilitary groups or armed vigilante groups in Davao del Sur. The Alsa Masa will not only be used to deter the New People’s Army but it will also target civilians, ordinary peasants and progressive leaders. By sponsoring Alsa Masa, covert vigilante groups and arming civilians, local GPH officials and the AFP are opening the floodgates for more human rights atrocities.

Through the rabid Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP and the US-Aquino regime violate the rights of the Filipino people by subjecting civilians to grave forms of atrocities and serious crimes like extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearance, and massive displacement. Up to now, the AFP and the current regime have not made any serious indemnification to any of its victims, nor has it even approximated the earnestness made by the NPA when it comes to rectifying its errors. Every day, the Filipino people witness how the GPH continues to make a mockery of its own justice system by pampering criminals, cheats, and the corrupt in its own government. Its judicial system is for the exoneration of perpetrators and the perpetuation of exploitation by the ruling class.

Filipino emergency workers get indemnification from rebels

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Mar 17): Filipino emergency workers get indemnification from rebels

Communist leaders have ordered rebels to indemnify four emergency workers who were wounded in a roadside explosion while heading to evacuate government soldiers injured in clashes with the New People's Army in southern Philippines.

It was not immediately known how much the rebels would indemnify the four workers, but Rubi del Mundo, a spokesperson for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), said the NPA has also apologized for the attack that wounded Genaro Doronio Dumayas, Bonita dela Cruz, Arnel Comandante Veloroso and Alberto Simbajon Cabual in the village of Managa in Davao del Sur's Bansalan town during the NPA's tactical offensive.

"The order acts upon the apology and recommendations submitted by the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People's Army.  This is a unilateral exercise of revolutionary political authority by a government of the working class and peasantry that has its own legal and judicial system and rules in accordance with its political principles and circumstances," Del Mundo said.

The move, Del Mundo added, is in compliance with the Geneva Conventions for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces, the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the NDFP Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977, the Constitutional Guide for Establishing the People's Democratic Government, and the Basic Rules of the New People's Army.

The NDFP also denounced the military for endangering medical responders by concealing their identities in the battlefield and by putting their lives in danger.

Del Mundo said rebel forces are intrinsically founded on the absolute respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. "It holds in high esteem members of the medical and emergency response profession who have the noble occupation of preserving life amid strenuous circumstances," Del Mundo said.

The rebel offensives have sparked the revival of anti-communist vigilante group called Alsa Masa in Davao del Sur.

Del Mundo said the Alsa Masa will not only be used to deter the NPA, but it will also target civilians, ordinary peasants and progressive leaders. "By sponsoring Alsa Masa, covert vigilante groups and arming civilians, local government officials and the military are opening the floodgates for more human rights atrocities," Del Mundo said.

NPA rebels have been waging a secessionist war for decades now in order to put up a communist state in the country.

Alonto replaces Misuari as new MNLF chairman

From the Zamboanga Today (Mar 17): Alonto replaces Misuari as new MNLF chairman

The founding chairman of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has been replaced by a lead figure in the “Top 90” batch as the new MNLF chairman.

Datu Hadji Abul Khayr Alonto, the legitimate MNLF vice chairman, will succeed Prof. Nur Misuari as the new Chairman of the MNLF Central Committee.
A report posted on, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s official website, says that “The pioneers of the Bangsamoro struggle, the surviving MNLF FF90 (Freedom Fighters) have recently signed Resolution No. 01-2014, a Resolution of Unity.”

In the resolution, “Out of the 90 brothers who were part of the inception of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), 39 are left and 33 have resounded themselves through this manifesto calling for peace and justice in Mindanao and elected Datu Abulkhayr Alonto as new chairman of the group to replace Nur Misuari,”
It also states that “by virtue of law of succession and the noble covenant of the Original MNLF Central Committee, we have obliged MNLF Vice Chairman Datu Hajji Abulkhayr D. Alonto, to assume the MNLF Chairmanship.”

The 32 signatories had affirmed the legitimacy of Misuari and Alonto as chairman and vice chairman of the MNLF, respectively; and they manifested their support for the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro and the Transition Commission in the crafting of the Basic Law for the establishment of the Bangsamoro State in Muslim Mindanao.

They also recognized Alonto of the Triumvirate of 1964 who organized the Youth Wing of the Moro Malay Muslim Movement in the Middle East & the Philippines, a participant in the “1965 Covenant of Jabbal Noor, Makkah Al-Mukarramah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the true founding leader of the MNLF.

“Wherefore, resolve as it is hereby resolved, and by virtue thereof, and having ordained and unanimously elected... he shall immediately assume as such and officially exercise all the powers and authorities inherent thereof.”

Alonto, the first speaker of the maiden autonomous region created by the government in 1978, also signed the resolution in conformity with and acceptance of his selection.

The resolution cited the “unfortunate blunders” of Misuari that “hauled down the MNLF into an abyss of leadership crisis, and its lamentable fragmentation as well as the exodus of able and dedicated Mujahideen (freedom fighters), either into the Philippine government bureaucracy, or to private lives of seemingly but definitely unwanted complacency.”

“Whereas, without the knowledge nor the approval of the Original MNLF Central Committee and their members, Mr. Nur Misuari veered away from the very principle that the group has sworn their lives for, when, among others, he publicly proclaimed Sulu, nearby provinces & the island of Palawan independent from the Philippine Republic with the inclusion of Sabah, Malaysia; and allegedly participated in the “March 2013 Lahad Dato Stand Off” & led “the September 2013 Zamboanga City Siege”, that caused the loss of hundreds of lives and destruction of properties.”

Wherefore, premises considered, resolve as it is resolved that authority is hereby granted to the Honorable Chairman, Datu Hajji AbulKhayr D. Alonto, to initiate the immediate reconsolidation, reorganization and revitalization of the MNLF in consultation and collaboration with the MNLF Central Committee, the General Secretariat and the Heads of the Higher MNLF Military, Political, Economic, Religious, Social Services, Tribal Communities, Women & Youth Commissions.”

The Resolution was done and signed on the 3rd day of February 2014, at the MNLF-LAM ALIF Lama Maradeka, Kuta Marawi, Buadi Sa Kayo, Islamic City of Marawi. It was signed by members of the FF 90 AB’20, FF 90 CD’21, FF 90 H’14, and top 91 Brother Abdullah (Al) Camlian .

Zambo also blames MNLF over deaths in evacuation camps

From the Philippine Star (Mar 17): Zambo also blames MNLF over deaths in evacuation camps

The city government is also blaming the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) renegade rebels that held hostage residents, triggering a standoff with military troops, for the growing number of deaths in the evacuation center.

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar blamed the followers of fugitive MNLF chairman Nur Misuari on the dire condition of thousands of residents who were forced to evacuate from at least five barangays during the September 9 MNLF attack, which was part of its attempt to declare independence.

“[These deaths] should also be...included in the listing of dead as a consequence of their attack in the city,” Salazar told newsmen in her briefing.

Over 120,000 people were evacuated during the 23-day period of standoff between the government forces and the MNLF rebels loyal to Misuari.

The City Health Office (CHO) reported that the death toll in the evacuation camp at Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex (JFEMSC) has breached the 100 mark.

City Health Officer Dr. Rodelyn Agbulos said since September up to this month they have listed 101 mortalities in the evacuation camp.

He said around 41 percent of those who died  were  aged fived-year old and below,  and the rest were five years old and above. Most of the fatalities were females.

Agbulos said the major causes of death were pneumonia, acute respiratory infection, and hypertension. Cases of tuberculosis and dengue were also reported inside the camps.

The health officer said they are continueing the monitoring of cases of acute malnourishment and deworming.

Agbulos said they have also embarked on a  massive medical assistance to prevent diseases  in the evacuation camps.

Five rebels yield in CAR

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 17): Five rebels  yield  in CAR

Five members of the New People's Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to the members of the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PRO-COR) and Philippine Army to rejoin mainstream society recently.

Chief Superintendent Isagani Nerez, Regional Director of the PRO-COR, said that the rebels have decided to “give-up arms due to the hardship that they have experienced inside the rebel movement.”

According to the rebel returnees, they were persuaded to join the underground movement because of the sugar-coated promises of the NPA leaders who recruited them but such promises of good life turned to be false and instead they experienced difficulties in hiding from the continuous and unrelenting operations of the government forces in the Cordillera.

The first to surrender was   22 year old  native of Asipulo, Ifugao, and  a member of the Squad Dos, Nona Del Rosario Command, Samahang Partidosa Platoon (SPP) Ifugao.He surrendered to the members of the Intelligence Operatives of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) with the help of his family.

This was followed by the surrender of three members of the Leonardo Pacsi Command of the Kilusang Larangang Guerilla (KLG).  A 32 years old  man from  Aguinaldo, Ifugao, gave himself up to police personnel of the Ifugao Police Provincial Office (IPPO) while  a   father and daughter who were listed as No. 12 and No. 6 in the watchlist respectively surrendered to the joint personnel of the Regional Intelligence Division- Mt. Province Intelligence Branch (PIB), Natonin Municipal Police Station and members of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG), and 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) in coordination with the barangay chairman   and municipal social welfare and development office of Natonin, Mt. Province.

The last to surrender was  a 37 years old man Balbalan, Kalinga. He surrendered to the joint elements of the Regional Intelligence Unit  Kalinga provincial police office and members of the 503 Infantry Brigade at barangay Bantay, Tabuk City, Kalinga. He is also number 33 in the PSRTG Watchlist.

The rebel returnees are now undergoing debriefing for their inclusion in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government while the concerned agencieshave begun facilitating the provision of livelihood and cash assistance for the NPA rebel returnees.

Nerez said teamwork and the close coordination between and among the local officials, the communities, and the Peace and Development Teams in the areas are important factors that led to the surrender of the rebels.

“I commend the rebel returnees for their decision to come back to the folds of the law and re-enter the mainstream of our society and its democratic way of life,” Nerez said.

“With the reintegration program that is being implemented by the government, we are looking to more NPA rebels returning to the mainstream of society and contributing to the nation’s march to peace and progress,” Nerez  added.

Jalandoni hits PNoy on peace talks

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 17): Jalandoni hits PNoy on peace talks

Former priest Luis Jalandoni said President Benigno Aquino III runs the risk of destroying chances for negotiated peace with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, with more than two years left of his term, by his acts of violating the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Jalandoni, a Negrense, chairs the NDFP negotiating panel. In a statement it issued, he cited the attack of the framework and foundation agreement of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, and violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees by arresting and detaining their consultants, and JASIG protected personnel, among others.

He said the Royal Norwegian Government and peace advocates have declared support for the willingness of the NDFP to hold informal peace talks with the Aquino government. But he also said that President Aquino runs the risk of leaving a legacy as being the one who killed the peace talks with the NDFP.

Jalandoni also claimed that the appointment of former police General Lina Sarmiento as a chairperson of the Victims’ Claimants Board and the exclusion of genuine representatives of the almost 10,000 victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship, constitute acts to sabotage the GPH-NDFP peace talks.

The CARHRIHL of 1998 solemnly recognizeas the rights of the thousands of victims to be compensated through their rightful representatives. The exclusion of SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detention at Aresto) and other genuine representatives of the victims in the Claims Board are condemnable, he added.

Furthermore, by arresting hundreds of political prisoners and charging them with common crimes is a violation of the JASIG doctrine and the CARHRIHL, Jalandoni, also said in the statement.

Talks between the government and the NDF had been suspended since 2011 over the rebels' demand for the release of some of their detained commanders.

He added that the Aquino regime renders impossible the negotiations on social and economic reforms by declaring through Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Teresita Deles, and government negotiating panel chairperson Alexander Padilla, that land reform and national industrialization are “ideologically charged concepts”, and therefore cannot be part of the agenda of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

DND allocates P5.4B for 2 anti-submarine choppers

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 17): DND allocates P5.4B for 2 anti-submarine choppers
The Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday announced that it has allocated P5.4 billion to fund the acquisition of two brand-new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Philippine Navy.

This was confirmed by DND undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations, and munitions Fernando Manalo in a message to the PNA.

"The ASW helicopters is one of the projects included in the list of the AFP Modernization Program. The project is for implementation," he added.

Manalo said the budget for acquiring the two ASW helicopters is placed at P5.4 billion and the acquisition process for the aircraft is expected to be completed by this year.

The PN earlier announced that it is looking at the possibility of acquiring the AW-159 "Wildcat" as its ASW helicopters.

The Navy is in the market for two ASW helicopters.

This is part of the country's Medium Term Defense Acquisition List for the next four years.

The ASW choppers will be assigned to the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).

The AW-159 (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter.

The AW-159 will serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles.

The helicopter has been ordered for the Royal Navy and British Army.

It is to enter service with the British Army in 2014 and with the Royal Navy in 2015.

It has a crew of two, has a maximum speed of 291 km/h (181 mph), range of 777 km (483 miles), ferry range of 963 km (598 miles) and an endurance of one and a-half hours (fours hours and 30 minutes if fitted with auxiliary fuel)

The AW-159 is fitted with forward firing CRV7 rockets and machine guns, pintle mounted machine gun, Sea Skua missiles and Sting-Ray torpedoes and depth charges.

The acquisition process for these ASW helicopters is expected to go on full gear once the PN completes its five AW-109 order deal from AgustaWestland by the third quarter of 2014.

Does pact allowing more US troops conform with Charter? Angara says Senate should check

From InterAksyon (Mar 16): Does pact allowing more US troops conform with Charter? Angara says Senate should check

The vice chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is requesting the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense to brief the Upper House on the framework agreement between the Philippines and the United States that would allow greater presence of US troops in the country.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said the Senate should know the details of the pact so that lawmakers would be able to determine if the agreement would need to be ratified by the Upper House and conform with the Philippine Constitution.

Angara said the pact should have a "solid legal footing" that can stand questioning before the high court “(S)ila rin ang matatamaan n'yan sakaling may pinasukan silang alangananin. Pero sa aming panig, siyempre gusto din namin na malaman bilang independent branch ng gobyerno kung ano ang nilalaman nya dahil kung saka-saling may mag-kuwestiyon sa Supreme Court, kailangan solid ang legal footing ng isang executive agreement,” Angara said in a radio interview.

[They will be the ones affected if ever they get into something doubtful. But from our part, we as independent branch of the government will of course like to know the contents of the pact so that it will have solid legal footing if ever it is questioned before the Supreme Court.]

Angara said the Senate should not take at face value the Palace's pronouncement that the pact is an executive agreement that does not need the Upper House's approval.
"Mahirap 'yong gano'n na tatanggapin mo lang. Kailangan talaga makita 'yong kasulatan at ano talaga...iyong obligasyon na legal ng ating pamahalaan [It's hard to just accept it like that. We should really see the documents and know the legal obligation of our government],” the neophyte senator said.

The 1987 Charter clearly states that agreements on the permanent structure of foreign troops in the Philippine should have the Senate's nod otherwise, it will be deemed illegal, according to Angara.

“Well, klaro naman ang Saligang Batas natin d'yan. Kapag may bases na o kaya kapag may troops na permanently stationed dito, kailangan ng Senate approval. Nasa Article 18 po ng ating Saligang Batas ‘yon [Our Constitution is clear on that. If there are already bases or there are troops that are permanently stationed here, it needs Senate approval. Its on Article 18 of our Constitution], ” he said.

Angara supports the position of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Santiago was quoted in news reports as saying that the deal had to be approved by the Senate first because “it cannot be classified as an executive agreement but as a treaty to which the Philippine Senate must give its concurrence.”

Pact to respect PH sovereignty 

On Sunday, the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) quoted Malacañang as saying that the Philippines' granting of greater access to U.S. military shall respect Philippine sovereignty.

“The proposed agreement will allow the sharing of defined areas within certain AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) facilities with elements of the US military on a rotational basis within parameters consistent with the Philippine Constitution and laws," said Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.

At the instance of the Philippine panel, the United States panel agreed to the inclusion of provisions on environment and safety, and opportunities for potential Philippine suppliers of goods, products and services,” Coloma told Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma said the aspects of humanitarian assistance and disaster response in this agreement are significant given the country’s experiences following the onslaught of super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) last year.

Mahalaga po ‘yong aspeto ng humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Nakita po natin ito noong tayo ay tinamaan ng super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ at naging hayag po ang suporta ng Estados Unidos sa pamamagitan ng pagpapadala ng mga modernong kagamitan na malaki ang naiambag sa pagtugon sa emergency situation,” he said.

Quoting Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino, who heads the Philippines’ negotiating panel, Coloma said the agreement remains “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.”

Coloma added that while he he respected the opinions of the critics of the agreement, he advised them to wait for the completion of the deal first so that they could have a better grasp of all the issues at hand.

“Ang aking panukala ay hintayin na lamang natin na maging pinal at matapos nang ganap (ang pag-uusap) dahil ongoing pa naman, hindi pa naman po completed, at hindi pa finalized. Hintayin po natin ang magiging final and complete form nitong kasunduang ito para po masuri ang mga isyung tinatalakay sa kasalukuyan,” he said.

CPP/NPA: 21-gun salute for all the heroes of the New People’s Army and the people’s democratic revolution

Propaganda statement posted  to the CPP Website (Mar 17): 21-gun salute for all the heroes of the New People’s Army and the people’s democratic revolution

Communist Party of the Philippines
On the occasion of the 45-year milestone of the New People’s Army (NPA), let us give the highest honors to all fallen Red commanders and fighters of the NPA and heroes and martyrs of the Filipino people’s national democratic revolution.

Let us pay tribute as well to all the eminent proletarian revolutionaries who have persisted in four decades of arduous struggle and who continue to help lead and guide the people’s democratic revolution as it set its sights on the next higher phase of the people’s war.

It is with their sacrifices and selflessness that the Filipino people have achieved great victories in waging their national democratic revolutionary struggle. Let us recall and have their names etched forever in the Filipino people’s granite wall memorial which we shall erect at the moment of complete victory of the people’s democratic revolution.

Let us make use of the upcoming 45th anniversary of the NPA’s establishment to celebrate the people’s victories in waging revolutionary armed struggle, carrying out agrarian revolution to smash land monopolies and improve the conditions of the peasant masses and building the organs of the people’s democratic government from the ground up. Let us prepare to wave bigger struggles as we set our sights to achieving greater victories in the coming years.

Let us also celebrate the outstanding victories in democratic mass struggles achieved by the Filipino people as they carry forward the struggle for national and social liberation. In the past four decades, they have overthrown two reactionary puppet states and are determined to put an end to the current puppet, oppressive, mendacious and corrupt regime.

On March 29, 2014, all regional, subregional and front commands of the NPA and units of the people’s militias under their leadership will fall in formation to parade the flags of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the People’s Democratic Government and subsequently raise them high above the celebration grounds.

At high noon, prior to the general public singing of the Internationale, NPA commands and people’s militia units in formation will give a 21-gun salute. Depending on prevailing military and security conditions, different NPA commands and people’s militias can modify this plan by either extending, abbreviating or rendering an alternative gun salute.