Thursday, March 20, 2014

Retired general to Cudia: join AFP reserves

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 20): Retired general to Cudia: join AFP reserves

Not all hope is lost, a retired general from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reminded embattled Cadet 1st Class Jeff Aldrin Cudia.

Retired Brigadier General Jesus Dizon said in a statement that there are ways which Cudia could exploit so his classmates at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) could welcome him again.

“It is not the end of the world for Mr. Cudia if he resigns,” Dizon said. “He has an alternate and honorable path to success if he wants to continue in the military service.”

Dizon, who is a Vietnam War veteran, said that Cudia could apply for the Reserve Force of the AFP, and if accepted, apply for active duty.

He added that in “all probability,” Cudia could be assigned to combat duty where he could then “show his worth.”

“His superiors would not be blind to note his outstanding performance and would just be too glad to recommend him for commission in the Regular Force of the AFP,” said Dizon, who was part of PMA Batch 1951, the first post-World War II class.

 He said that if Cudia would perform well in the reserve force, he could be included at the tail of PMA Class 2014.

“In due time his former classmates will be proud to ‘adopt’ him as a member of Class 2014,” Dizon said.

Dizon, however, said that Cudia’s attempts to take his case to the civil courts of the Philippines could further alienate him from his peers and the PMA.

“He will most likely be ostracized by the entire PMA Alumni including his peers and superiors on active military duty,” Dizon said. “Even a ‘man of steel’ could not last in this environment of rejection.”

Gov't ready to defend constitutionality of Bangsamoro deal

From the Philippine Star (Mar 20): Gov't ready to defend constitutionality of Bangsamoro deal

The Philippine Government (GPH) peace panel is ready to answer before the Supreme Court (SC) any petition questioning the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) which will be signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) next week, which seek to bring lasting peace in Mindanao, an official said.

Government peace panel member Yasmin Bursan Lao issued the statement during a public forum held at Western Mindanao State University in the face of reported opposition and critics claiming that the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes bore questions of unconstitutionality.

Lao appealed to the critics and opposition to cite specific questionable provisions of the FAB, its four annexes and the addendum on the water territory so the panel can discuss the issue. Lao said the government peace panel negotiated within the constitution.

“We expect people to submit petition in the Supreme Court questioning some portions of the agreement, but we do not see anybody saying the entire thing is unconstitutional. So we are ready to face whatever challenge it is,” she said.

She said their peace panel’s legal people stood by the constitutionality of the agreement it forged with the MILF.

“But you know, a legal provision can have many interpretations,” she said.

“Ang problema sa mga karamihan sa columnist ang nagsasabi unconstitutional, hindi naman nila tinutukoy specifically ano 'yun. Hindi naman pwede 'yung buong agreement ay unconstitutional. Ibig sabihin lahat 'yun unconstitutional. What we are saying is that point to us specifically ano yung sa tingin niyo is unconstitutional, but do not say that all the entire agreement is unconstitutional,” she added.

Lao assured that even before the signing of the framework agreement and its annexes, and until they have reached the addendum on water territory, they have been updating the Congress of the different agreements to ensure that they will understand the positions that were agreed upon.

Zamboanga City leaders told both panels that the city territory is excluded in any form of Bangsamoro government, citing ambiguities in terms of land and water territory.

Rep. Celso Lobregat of the first district of this city said the framework on agreement contained a provision which is silent in terms of water boundary for the proposed Bangsamoro entity.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace panel chief and head of the 15-man transition commission, recognized the observation and said they cannot comment on the silent provision, saying it now depends on the Congress.

Lao said the MILF is open to accept the outcome of the basic law that will come out in Congress.

“But of course everybody will at least issue that principles in the agreement will be in the basic law,” she said.

Lumads back Bangsamoro creation but…

From MindaNews (Mar 20): Lumads back Bangsamoro creation but…

Lumad or indigenous peoples leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed support to the creation of the Bangsamoro region, but are worried on the fate of their ancestral domains in the new entity.

In a press conference on Wednesday at the Philippine Information Agency office here, Timuay Alim Bandara, a Teduray tribal leader, said that indigenous peoples have expressed to their representatives in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) the need to respect their ancestral domain claims.

The BTC is drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the charter that would govern the new Bangsamoro region once passed by Congress and ratified by the constituents in a plebiscite. The Bangsamoro, the product of the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, will replace the ARMM.

Bandara said they were worried about their own claims even at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

“What we are after is the awarding of our CADT (certificate of ancestral domain title) and CADCs (certificate of ancestral domain claims) so that if the Bangsamoro is created, we don’t have to worry about outsiders selling our land or spoiling our natural resources,” Bandara said.

He added their ancestral domains continuously face environmental threats such as mining and logging.

“We would like to insist on our own rights, too,” said Bandara, head claimant of the unified claim of the Teduray Lambangian and Dulangan Manuvu ancestral domain claim.

The group has been pursuing their claim since 2005.

“What we are afraid of is the clashing of national laws. We have the NCIP, we have the Bangsamoro, and these are both legitimate issues,” he said. “Where are the indigenous peoples in all of this?”

Bandara feared that the government would say that the “IPs no longer need help because there is already the NCIP for them to process their claims.”

But there is no NCIP office in the ARMM, Bandara said.

He said they will follow the democratic processes, including going to Congress to express the side of the indigenous peoples.

“We want our voices heard. The government treats indigenous peoples as tourist objects and are shown whenever visitors need to applaud,” Bandara said. “This shouldn’t be the case. We have voices, too.”
“What would happen to the resources within our land?” he asked. “We’re afraid because we don’t know what will happen to our claims when the law is signed.”

Timuay Santos Unsad, a Teduray leader, said that even within the NCIP, there was “no consensus about what to do with the IPs in the ARMM.”

Unsad was a former NCIP commissioner.

Datu Roldan Babelon, from Carmen, North Cotabato, said they have been fighting for their own ancestral domains since 1997, when the NCIP and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) were created.

“What will happen to the IPs when the Bangsamoro is created?” he asked, saying that BTC’s recommendations to Congress should include inputs from the tribal leaders.

“Non-Moro indigenous peoples have our own distinct identity, and we want the government to recognize that,” Babelon said.

Datu Al Saliling, leader of the Erumenun nu Menuvu tribe, also said that lumad bakwits (internally displaced persons) should be heard before the signing of the BBL.

Apotanan Colmo, an Obo Manuvu tribal leader, said that “the annexes to the Bangsamoro documents are clear regarding the main holdings, but not about the indigenous peoples’ ancestral domain claims.”

Defense weighs options on P3-b radar

From the Manila Standard Today (Mar 20): Defense weighs options on P3-b radar

The Department of National Defense is looking at two options in its plan to purchase three units of Long-Range Surveillance Radar which the Philippine Air Force needs.

The radar units will be fitted into  the lead-in training fighter jets  the DND  will buy from South Korea.

A  source said the radar units will cost P3 billion or a little more and it’s all up to the Defense officials to decide whether US or Israeli firms will firm up the contract.

The planned acquisition came after President Benigno Aquino III earmarked a P75-billion budget to make Defense and military equipment meet  the “minimum credible defense”.

Documents obtained by Manila Standard Today showed that the Joint United States Military Assistance Group-Philippines will be submitting this month its final report on a US-funded Foreign Military Sale survey and study as requested by the DND and PAF for its planned acquisition of 3 units of air defense radar.

According to a document, the US is offering its TPS-77 model which is very similar to the FPS-117 the American are using.

But the DND and PAF are also considering the Israel-made Elta ELM 2288 Radar system.

A Filipino representative of Elta who is a former military chief said the defense department was “keen” to buy their product.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo for  finance and munitions declined to confirm or deny the supposed interest in the Elta as alleged by the former military chief.

Such a plan so jolted the US that the chief of the Joint Security Cooperation of JUSMAG-Philippines, retired US Army Lt. Col. Frederick A. Riker, wrote the DND to enlighten the agency about the difference between the TPS-77 and Elta ELM 2288 before “finalizing any decisions.”

The 2-page letter dated February 21, 2014 was addressed to Manalo.

Riker said the US Air Force “has conducted radar site and surveys” and also “assisted” PAF’s Long Range Air Surveillance Radar Technical Working Group develops the Systems Requirements Documents (SRD).

The survey and study was in response to the September 18, 2013 Letter of Request for Price for Availability of at least three long range radar and associated support and equipment via the US FMS program the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) submitted to the US.

Riker also said in his letter that the SRD will be submitted to the DND-PAF in March 2014 and that USAF representatives will be briefing the said agencies.

“The US, employs and FPS-117 which is very similar to the TPS-77 radar the DND/PAF are considering. Using a common family of radar will certainly enhance the usefulness of  future radar SMEEs and the US will be in a better position to assist in the development of an AFP air defense capability,” Riker stated in his letter.

Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro initialed today

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 21): Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro initialed today

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will be initialed today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by chief negotiators of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), paving the way for the historic signing on March 27 of the agreement seen to end the conflict in Mindanao.

Chief negotiators of the GPH and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were scheduled to leave Manila for Kuala Lumpur to affix their initials on the CAB.

It mirrors the events surrounding the landmark Final Peace Agreement (FPA) forged by the GPH and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which they initialed in Cipanas, Indonesia, and signed in Manila on Sept. 2, 1996.

Last week the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) announced the CAB’s signing set for March 27.

A highly reliable source told the Manila Bulletin yesterday that the initialing of the CAB will be a low-key event in Malaysia.

The source said GPH peace panel Chairperson Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her MILF counterpart, Mohagher Iqbal, will be putting their initials on the CAB to be witnessed by a Malaysian third-party facilitator.

He said the CAB’s text was already completed, paving the way for its initialing and, eventually, its signing next week. Dignitaries from the Islamic world, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other nations are expected to witness the historic event in Manila.

“The chairpersons of both panels and a few others are leaving for Kuala Lumpur to initial the CAB,” said the source who asked not to be named.

He said a few minor issues are being finalized — but not with the CAB — by the GPH and MILF Technical Working Groups (TWGs) concerning bodies that will operate post-CAB signing.

•Spain Welcomes CAB Signing

Meanwhile, the signing of the CAB continued to generate goodwill, as Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Domecq voiced optimism that it will spur economic and public work activities in the country.

When asked about the CAB signing, Domecq said his government welcomed the signing of the last annex (Normalization) of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

He said he will represent his government at the CAB signing next week.

“Now with that agreement and development on the (Bangsamoro) Basic Law, a whole program of economic reforms and public works will take place that may favor not only Spanish businessmen, but also Filipino businessmen and our foreign partners to help in that endeavor,” said the ambassador.

“I hope to see Spanish investment picking up in the Philippines as we see the country as one of the emerging economies in Asia and we have to take account that Spain is 30th economy in the world and eighth exporter in the world, and 12th largest investor abroad in the world,” said Domecq.

He said he sees Spanish investors interested in sectors such as water, transportation, energy, and tourism.

In the case of Spain, he said it ranks third in the world in tourist arrivals with 60.7 million in 2013, the third most popular destination in the world, and second in revenue only to the United States.

He said bilateral commerce between his country and the Philippines registered US$500 million in 2013.

“Trade balance is very good to our side,” he added.

In terms of aid, the ambassador said his government had provided the Philippines around P1.8 billion in five years, stressing the two countries’ “special link…has been preserved…we share the same concerns.”

The Spanish diplomat met members of the news media yesterday at his official residence in Forbes Park, Makati City, to brief them on the coming visit on March 23-25 of Jose Manuel-Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister of foreign affairs and cooperation.

He said next week’s visit will be the first in the Philippines for the foreign minister, the first leg of his tour to Southeast Asian nations, including a day each to Vietnam and Malaysia.

Domecq said Spain and the Philippines signed in 2000 the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation which covers ministerial meetings every three years.

Garcia-Margallo’s visit will have 15-man strong official delegation, including 20 chief executive officers (CEOs) and presidents of Spanish companies looking for partners and investments in the Philippines and a contingent of 15 journalists.

The ambassador said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario invited his foreign minister.

Garcia-Margallo itinerary includes an audience with President Benigno S. Aquino III and a visit to Tacloban City to turn over Spanish donations of boats for fishermen in a project in cooperation with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

He will also inaugurate in Clark Field, Angeles, Pampanga, the Humanitarian Assistance Emergency Warehouse (HAEW) which was refurbished by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

The HAEW is equipped with humanitarian aid material to strengthen the preparedness and response capabilities of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

RP, China to face off in Asean naval drill

From the Daily Tribune (Mar 21): RP, China to face off in Asean naval drill

Amid tension over disputed territories, navies from the Philippines, China and the United States will be getting together as participants in a multi-lateral naval exercise among member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and other guest-countries in Indonesia next week.

The Philippine Navy will be sending BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF15), along with its 160 crew members, to join, for the first time, the Komodo 2014, a multi-lateral naval exercise which will be held on March 28 to April 3 along the waters of Indonesia.

Cpt. Carlo Bubuli, public affairs officer of the Fleet-Marine Ready Force, said that this is the first time that the Philippine Navy will be participating in Komodo.

This is the first the first time that the multilateral naval exercises will be held with 16 navies from various countries participating.

Bubuli said the exercises aimed at promoting “naval diplomacy, camaraderie and foster goodwill among Asean and Asean Plus navies.”

Aside from the navies of the 10 member-states of the Asean, other participating navies are the US, China, Russia, Australia, India, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand.

With the theme “Cooperation for Stability,” Bubuli said that Komod 2014 will be focused on humanitarian mission.

“(It) aims to enhance regional and international capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations among Asean and Asean Plus navies,” Bubuli said.

The participating PN personnel will be sent off on Saturday in Subic, Zambales.

Bubuli said that after the naval exercise, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be making a port call in Brunei Darussalam from April 5 to 8.

The multilateral naval exercise will be held amid the growing tension between the Philippines and China over the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Only recently, China blocked re-provision mission for Philippine Navy troops stationed in Ayungin Shoal in Palawan, sparking renewed tension between Manila and Beijing. China even warned the Philippines of consequences of continued stay at Ayungin Shoal, located approximately 105 nautical miles from Palawan.

Philippine authorities were forced to drop supplies for the troops and vowed to continue re-provision mission despite China’s warning.

‘Tabak’ Division commemorates 117th Philippine Army anniversary

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20): ‘Tabak’ Division commemorates 117th Philippine Army anniversary

The Army’s First Infantry “Tabak” Division has lined up series of activities to commemorate the 117th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army on Saturday, March 22.

First Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer Capt. Jefferson Mamauag said Thursday that this year’s anniversary celebration is anchored on the theme “Serving the people, securing the land.”

Mamauag said the activities include blood donation at the camps of the different Infantry Brigades (101st, 102nd, 103rd, and 104th), 2nd Mechanize Infantry Brigade and Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ).

He said there also will be an information caravan at the Gaisano Mall in this city that includes recruitment booth for all applicants willing to join the Philippine Army.

He also said there will be a photo display activity at 8 a.m. Saturday, also at the Gaisano Mall showing capabilities of the Army.

He said that static display activity will start at 9 a.m. where the general public can take a picture with the elite soldiers and armored vehicles.

He said the Tabak Brass Band will hold a show at 3 p.m. at the Gaisano Mall.

He said the Army founding anniversary is celebrated annually to remember its rich history in the preservation of the country’s freedom for the younger generation’s appreciation. and aims to strengthen ties among the active partners and stakeholders who help the Army achieve its mission.

13 municipalities in Caraga region to implement Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA in 2014

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20): 13 municipalities in Caraga region to implement Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA in 2014

Thirteen municipalities in Caraga region are set to implement sub-projects in 2014 under the Payapa At Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) or "Peaceful and Resilient Community" using the community-driven development (CDD) process of Kapit-Bisig Laban Sa Kahirapan-Comprhensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) according to the regional DSWD office here.

In its release to the local media on Thursday, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)Services 13 said that included in the Cycle 1 implementation are the six municipalities of Jabonga in Agusan del Norte; San Luis in Agusan del Sur; Bayabas in Surigao del Sur; RTR in Agusan del Norte; Alegria and the town of Mainit all in Surigao del Norte.

The town of Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte is set for Cycle 2 implementation and La Paz in Agusan del Sur for the Cycle 3 implementation.

Included in the Cycle 4 implementation are the municipalities of Gigaquit in Surigao del Norte; Esperanza in Agusan del Sur; San Miguel in and Tagbina in Surigao del Sur and the town of Veruela in Agusan del Sur.

A total of P53.7 million is allocated for Caraga region covering the 179 targeted conflict affected barangays (CAB) with P300,000 allocation each. The local government units of the identified municipalities had already committed each of their local cash counterparts (LCCs) as required in the project implementation.

The launching and MOA signings are scheduled until next month. The DSWD said that anchored in its objectives to reduce poverty, improve governance and build capacities, PAMANA is the national government's peace and development framework to respond and to strengthen peace building, reconstruction and development in conflict affected areas.

It is funded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and assisted by concerned line agencies including the DSWD, LGUs and the civil society groups.

Indemnification of civilian landmine victims does not remove rebel liability

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20): Indemnification of civilian landmine victims does not remove rebel liability

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday announced that efforts of National Democratic Front (NDF) to indemnify the civilian victims hurt in the rebels' indiscriminate landmine attacks in Matanao town, Davao Del Sur last March 2 does not remove their legal liability.

The wounded civilians, all professional medical personnel, were hurt after their ambulance were hit by a New People's Army (NPA) landmine.

The wounded civilians were out to help troopers wounded in another NPA landmine attack in Bansalan town, also in Davao Del Sur.

"It does not remove their (legal) liability even they offered to pay the victims as their actions broke the law," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

"Indemnification is an admission of guilt that they attacked civilians. The payment does not exonerate you from the crimes you did, you must be accountable to the people you've hurt," he added.

Zagala said rebels who conducted these attacks must be held accountable for their actions.

"If they are sincere, they should submit those who are responsible to face the law because that action is the only way that the people they hurt will get justice," the AFP public affairs office chief stressed.

The NDF earlier offered to pay the sum of P10,000 to civilians hurt in their landmine attacks.

Earlier, the Eastern Mindanao Command, in a bid to document the rebels' illegal use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines against government and civilian targets in its area of operation, announced that it has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Campaign Against Landmines.

The group is against the use of landmines and IEDs against civilian and military targets, Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson said.

He added the agreement aims to document the indiscriminate use of landmines by the New People's Army regardless of the casualty it caused against its targets.

"Through this, we are hoping to build public pressure against the rebels so that they stop using this weapon which can cause mass casualties and death," Caber said.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to participate in 'KOMODO 2014'

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20): BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to participate in 'KOMODO 2014'

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), one of the country's most modern warship, will be participating in this year's "KOMODO 2014" which will be hosted by Indonesia from March 28 to April 3.

Her send–off ceremony will be conducted in Subic, Zambales on March 22 with Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Jaime S. Bernardino as the keynote speaker.

It will be the first time the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar will be participating in such event.

She is commanded by Cmdr. Joe Anthony C. Orbe and will have on board 46 officers and 114 enlisted personnel.

On their return trip, they will have a port visit to Brunei Darussalam from April 5 to 8.

Sixteen nations, including the Philippines, will be participating in this multi-lateral naval exercise.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, said that naval units attending are from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN Plus navies.

"KOMODO 2014" seeks to promote naval diplomacy, camaraderie and foster goodwill among ASEAN and ASEAN Plus navies.

Fabic said the theme for "KOMODO 2014" is “Cooperation for Stability” which aims to enhance regional and international capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations among ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Navies.

This year, the Indonesian Navy will host the event with the harbor phase, sea phase and civil-military operations phase to be conducted in Indonesia's area of operations.

All PN MPACs operational, Fabic says

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20): All PN MPACs operational, Fabic says

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Thursday denied a report stating that all of its six MPACs (multi-purpose attack craft) are out of service and undergoing repair.

"The report is erroneous. (The) MPACs are operationally deployed in different parts. One is in Palawan, two are in Zamboanga, one is in Cavite, one in Cebu and one in Colorado Shipyard (in Cebu City) undergoing maintenance check," Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said.

He added that this is part of the PN's Deploy, Sustain, Repair and Train (DSRT) cycle policy wherein all MPACs should undergo mandatory inspection and maintenance check every four years.

"It includes repair and servicing of hull, propulsion system and other information system components," Fabic stressed.

Fabic said that all MPAcs are considered efficient and serviceable as of this posting.

"They (MPACs) are widely used during the defense of Zamboanga; humanitarian and disaster relief operations during the Bohol earthquake and super typhoon 'Yolanda' and search-and-rescue operations during the sinking of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas in Cebu and the recent collision of fishing boat F/B Dan Israel-L at the vicinity of Ternate and Caballo Islands," he stressed.

These ships are 16.5 meters long, 4.76 meters wide and have a draft of one meter and a top speed of 45 knots.

Each one cost around P90 million and has a range of 300 nautical miles.

The hull is made of high-quality aluminum and is crewed by one officer and four enlisted personnel.

It is capable of carrying 16 fully-equipped troopers or two tons of cargo.

The MPAC is capable of operating in territorial waters up to "Sea State 3" (slight waves) without any system degradation.

It is armed with one .50 caliber and two 7.62mm machine guns.

Japan extends USD 855,325 grant for Mindanao projects to boost peace in the region

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 20): Japan extends USD 855,325 grant for Mindanao projects to boost peace in the region

Japan demonstrated anew its full support to the Philippine government’s peace initiative in Mindanao with the granting of USD 855,325 (P38.48 million) for eight development projects in the region’s conflict-affected areas.

Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe formally signed the eight grant contracts in the presence of the respective recipient organizations in ceremonies held at the Astoria Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center in Pasig City on Thursday.

The grant was timely with the scheduled signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on March 27 to end the long-drawn Mindanao armed conflict.

These projects are funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) implemented by the Embassy of Japan as part of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD).

Present at the signing were Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP); Mohammad Shuaib Yacob, executive director of Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA); and Maj. Gen. Datu Abd Samad Bin Yaakub, head of mission of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

The new package of assistance will form part of Japan's commitment to peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

The package includes construction of 18 classrooms, an agricultural training center, and four vocational training centers mainly targeting youth and women. The projects are the following:

-- Agricultural Training Center for Talaanding Tribe in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

-- Classrooms for Sapakan Elementary School in Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

-- Women Training Center in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

-- Classrooms for Sulon National High School in Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao.

-- Community Technical and Training Center for Women Empowerment in Malapatan, Sarangani.

-- Darapanan Youth and Children Center in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

-- Classrooms for Lamuak Elementary School in Pikit, North Cotabato.

-- Construction of Center for Capacity Building and Training in Mati, Davao Oriental.

These projects are part of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD), the Japanese government's package of assistance in support of peace and development in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

Since the J-BIRD was launched in 2006, Japan has supported 75 GGP projects in the total amount of USD 6.8 million (P300 million pesos).

In addition to the GGP support, the Government of Japan has retained senior advisors in the IMT to assist the reconstruction and development of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao since October 2006.

Since October 2009, Japan has been a member of the International Contact Group (ICG), which performs such roles as giving advice to the parties concerned on the Mindanao peace process and participating in peace talks as observers.

China 'posturing' to seize Ayungin – Golez

From Rappler (Mar 19): China 'posturing' to seize Ayungin – Golez

Former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez is convinced that the latest moves by China show that it is "posturing" to seize Ayungin Shoal and Recto Bank, features located within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.

He warned that this puts in "grave jeopardy" the Philippine Marine detachment at sea.

"Today, I believe China's next move is to seize and occupy Ayungin Shoal, placing in grave jeopardy our Philippine Marine detachment there. China has a window of opportunity, which is before the implementation of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation that will give US forces access to the country's military bases," Golez said in a statement posted on his blog.

"But China's more important goal is the seizure of Recto Bank, this huge oil rich table mount owned by the Philippines, just off Palawan, and long the subject of proposed oil exploration by the Philippines as early as in the 1980's even before the Malampaya facility. But work was halted because of China's bullying tactics," he added.
China has urged the Philippines to remove from Ayungin its grounded ship Sierra Madre, which has served as a detachment for the Philippine Marines. China claimed the Philippines committed in 1999 to tow away the ship. (READ: China to PH: Remove ship from Ayungin and China digs up details vs PH in Ayungin)

Chinese coastguards recently blocked navy-commissioned civilian ships that was going to bring food and water to troops stationed in Ayungin. (READ: PH sending ships to Ayungin despite blockade)

Golez is worried for the Marines deployed there, recalling how China violently seized Paracels and Johnson Reef from Vietnam. He said the government should prepare for this scenario.

"Seizing Ayungin will be a child's play for China compared to their brutality in seizing the Paracels from Vietnam in 1974 and in the 1988 naval encounter in the Johnson Reef area, where 3 Vietnamese ships were sunk and more than 70 Vietnamese sailors killed," Golez added.

Another volatile areas is Panatag Shoal located off Zambales and also located within the country's EEZ. The rocky sandbar, however, is now practically occupied by the Chinese coastguards after the Philippines withdrew its ships in 2012.

Golez went to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He reached the rank of captain (equivalent of a colonel) in the Philippine Navy before he joined politics.

The Philippines and the US are in the final stages of a new military-to-military agreement that will allow American troops to access and build facilities in our military bases.

Alleged head of gang that kidnapped Australian, massacred 10 Badjaos falls to CIDG

From InterAksyon (Mar 20): Alleged head of gang that kidnapped Australian, massacred 10 Badjaos falls to CIDG

The police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on Thursday said it had captured the alleged leader of a kidnap-for-ransom gang responsible for the 2011 abduction of Australian Warren Rodwell and the Christmas massacre that killed at least eight Badjao fishermen.

Mamay Aburi and two of his cohorts, one of them identified as Moin Dunggan, were nabbed along Dr. A. Santos Avenue in Barangay San Antonio, ParaƱaque City Thursday noon, a CIDG statement said.

Several firearms and a hand grenade were seized from them.

In his report to CIDG director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalon, Superintendent Alexander Tagum, acting chief of the Anti-Organized Crime Unit, said that the Aburi gang operated in the Zamboanga Peninsula in coordination with the Abu Sayyf group in Basilan.

Aside from the Rodwell kidnapping and the Badjao massacre, Aburi also admitted to the kidnappings of Randel Talania, Cynthia Cabuberder, five-year old Alexa Dela Cruz and Kathy Casipong, who was recently released, Tagum said.

Rodwell was kidnapped in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay in December 2011 and released in March 2013. Before he was freed, his captors uploaded a video of him on YouTube.

On the other hand, nine of 11 Badjao fishermen went missing after their boats were strafed by gunmen on Christmas Day in waters off Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay. In early January, a police marine patrol found eight headless bodies, including those of two boys, in a boat drifting off Zamboanga City.

Cudia fails to secure TRO on his dismissal, high court orders PMA, AFP to comment on cadet's plea

From InterAksyon (Mar 20): Cudia fails to secure TRO on his dismissal, high court orders PMA, AFP to comment on cadet's plea

Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia's failed to secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court t to stop his expulsion from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Instead, the high tribunal's third division chaired by Justice Presbitero Velasco ordered the PMA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to comment on Cudia's petition within 10 days.

Cudia, supposedly the salutatorian of his class, was expelled and not allowed to graduate for allegedly breaking the PMA's honor code. He was dismissed from the academy for allegedly lying about the reason why he had come late for class for two minutes.

In his March 10 petition for a TRO or a status quo ante order, Cudia asked the high court to nullify the proceedings done by his peers because of grave abuse of discretion.

Cudia claimed that by pressuring a cadet to vote for his dismissal, PMA's Honor Committee was able to manipulate the result of the voting to 9-0 from 8-1.

On Monday, March 17, Cudia left the PMA in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City several hours after the graduation of the “Siklab Diwa” Class of 2014.

AFP sends choppers to help contain Mt. Banahaw wildfire

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 20): AFP sends choppers to help contain Mt. Banahaw wildfire

Photo courtesy of Jerome Quejano
As the fire in Mount Banahaw rages, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has sent its helicopters to help extinguish the wildfire.

The AFP spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, said the military has already sent three helicopters to conduct Bambi Bucket operations, aerial inspection and damage assessment on the forest fire that swept through the mountain Thursday.

Zagala said that one Huey II helicopter and two UH-1 Huey helicopters, under the use of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, have already been deployed to Sariaya Quezon to support the aerial firefighting operations.

According to Vicente Tobazar, Office for Civil Defense Director for Calabarzon, the fire had hit 50 hectares of land atop Mt. Banahaw. He said ground personnel have managed to climb the mountain to inspect the causes.

He said that there was no need for the citizens to evacuate the area and no citizens are within the five kilometer radius from the fire.

NPA must face law after landmine blast – AFP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 20): NPA must face law after landmine blast – AFP
After the New People’s Army’s landmine blasts injured 16 people in Davao del Sur, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have posed a challenge for the insurgents: bring the perpetrators to a court of law.

Even if the NPA offered financial aid to the victims of the blast, the AFP wants the insurgents to present those responsible to a court of law, which is the only place that the victims can achieve justice.

“Our challenge is, if they are really sincere, they must surrender to face the law; it is the only way the people who they hurt would get justice,” AFP Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said Thursday.

Zagala said that the NPA should be accountable to their acts. He said the insurgents’ offer of financial aid to the victims does not negate their acts.
“Paying is not enough,” Zagala said.

“They used improvised explosive devices and landmines; landmines are already banned and it’s inhumane,” the spokesman said. “This only shows that the NPA does not respect human rights and they do not abide by international laws.”

Maoists pay $225 each to 4 civilians wounded in raid

From the Gulf Today (Mar 20): Maoists pay $225 each to 4 civilians wounded in raid

A church-based group confirmed that the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has paid $225 each to four civilians including a Red Cross worker who were wounded in a recent landmine attack in Davao del Sur province in restive Mindanao.

The Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) admitted it has been chosen as the “conduit” to pay $225 each as compensation to the four victims wounded during simultaneous raids staged by the NPA on the police headquarters in the town of Bansalan, Davao del Sur on March 2.

Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the EJP head, said the four were volunteer workers aboard a government ambulance rushing to fetch the wounded soldiers and policemen when the landmine set off by the NPA rebels exploded.

At least seven soldiers led by a junior officer and policemen were killed in the attack for which the NPA had apologized especially in the wounding of the four rescue workers. But Senior Superintendent Michael John Dubria, the Davao del Sur provincial police chief, pointed out the NPA apology and admission have strengthened the criminal charges filed by the government in court against the rebels as he stressed:

“There could never be any justification for the incident. The victims were civilians and were in an ambulance but still, they were targeted.” Lieutenant Colonel Norman Zuniega, the regional military spokesman, also condemned the attack which he described as “barbaric and brutal because it violated human rights and international humanitarian laws.”

Duterte accused of being a ‘rebel financier’

From the Sun Star-Davao (Mar 19): Duterte accused of being a ‘rebel financier’

A FORMER party-list representative of the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad) accused Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of being a supporter of the New People's Army (NPA).

The accusation came in light of the statement of Duterte opposing the idea of reviving the anti-communist group Alsa Masa in Davao del Sur as proposed by the local leaders there.

Duterte said last Friday that the revival of the Alsa Masa will only create animosity and will not be good for the peace and order situation not just in Davao del Sur but in the entire Davao Region as well.

In reaction, former Anad representative Pastor Alcover Jr. however accused Duterte of being a "supporter of the Maoist terrorist NPA".

"He is their consultant and financier. He is an NDF consultant. Every Christmas, he visits NPA camps and brought them gifts like combats boots, uniforms, food, medicines, etc. He is feeding the enemy," Alcover was quoted as saying.

Earlier Alcover offered to help Davao del Sur organize the Alsa Masa and info drive for the constituents.

Duterte is not available for comment as of this posting.

IRIN Analysis: Prospects for peace in Mindanao

IRIN (Mar 19): Prospects for peace in Mindanao

Analysts warn that a peace accord due to be signed on 27 March between the Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel force, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is unlikely to bring an immediate end to violence and displacement on the southern island of Mindanao.

A key drawback of the deal is the exclusion of important stakeholders.

"If groups are disenfranchised, like the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), they may work to fill a vacuum by gaining critical mass and stepping up insurgency-style attacks," Matt Williams, Philippine director of the international security think tank Pacific Strategies and Assessments, told IRIN. "This could be a scenario of unintended consequences, where any leap forward negotiating peace with the MILF is offset by factions excluded from the agreement.”

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) envisages the creation of a new autonomous region covering a chunk of southwestern Mindanao as well as numerous islands further southwest. The proposed region is broadly similar to the current Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARRM) which it will replace.

Under the deal, MILF will cease as a rebel force and reform itself into a political group that will take the reins of the newly established autonomous region by 2016 when President Benigno Aquino ends his six-year term. The government and MILF will share income from taxation, as well as power in the newly named Bangsamoro political entity, which would cover areas traditionally claimed as the "ancestral domain" of Muslims and indigenous groups.

Why inclusivity matters

However, the deal does not include BIFF, a group of hardline Islamists who split from MILF in 2009 and advocate the complete independence of the Bangsamoro people, despite calls by the government for BIFF to join the peace process.

“We ask them to listen to the plea of their own brothers and sisters to give peace a chance,” the government's chief peace negotiator, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, said in an official communiquĆ© in January.

It also fails to include followers of former rebel leader Nur Misuari - currently on the run - who in the early 1970s founded MNLF, the forerunner of MILF. 

Also excluded from the deal are Islamist groups like the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and Khalifa Islmiyah Mindanao, a shadowy group of jihadists reportedly comprised mostly of young Muslim radicals who believe their MILF counterparts have betrayed the independence aspirations of Muslims in the south; both groups have been labelled as “terrorists” by Manila.

Leaders of indigenous peoples in Mindanao (collectively known as `lumads’) have also been consulted on the peace deal, and many MILF members are `lumads’, but the extent to which they are included in CAB as a distinct group is also unclear.

According to a recent UN report evaluating progress in building lasting peace in countries emerging from conflict since 2010, “exclusion is one of the most important factors that trigger a relapse into conflict… Almost all cases that have avoided such a relapse have had inclusive political settlements, achieved either through a peace agreement and subsequent processes or because of inclusive behavior by the party that prevailed in the conflict.”

Inclusion in a peace process for all groups affected by a conflict, and in the future governance of a country, is an important tool in ending conflicts, said a recent policy brief on the current situation in South Sudan.

MILF disarmament

Inclusivity is just one of a number of challenges: Many details of the CAB are not yet being openly discussed.

Pacific Strategies' Williams says that while the peace deal - if signed - is a step in the right direction, there remains "a greater law and order challenge to be addressed before meaningful peace is achieved".

"It is highly unlikely that the MILF will totally disarm," he said. "It is unclear if the Philippine government will look the other way and accept this as a fair compromise or push for strict interpretation of disarmament."

BIFF and other armed groups would continue to "play agitators", potentially destabilizing Mindanao over the near term, he said.

While the accord envisages the demobilization and disarmament of thousands of MILF fighters, details of the process (which would probably not be completed until 2016 according to MILF vice-chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar) remain unclear.

"The first phase of decommissioning would focus largely on inventory and verification of MILF weapons and combatants," Coronel-Ferrer said. "The actual mechanics will be drawn up by the Independent Decommissioning Body in consultation with the parties. We have been studying different models, including warehousing, which most likely will be the option. But how, where to do this, would still require a lot of planning and negotiation."

It [the disarmament] will be gradual and “commensurate” with other steps, said Jaafar in a recent interview.

And then there is the idea that some of these same fighters will somehow be integrated into the ranks of the armed forces or the police - a goal not yet fully explained.

"Incentives are the key to mitigating threats. Even the MILF combatants are threats because of the possibility of crossing over to other groups. Unless they are provided with the right incentives and feel secure about their livelihood, they will hold on to their guns,” warned Ed Quitoriano, a political analyst who does risk assessments for various Western embassies in the Philippines and who has studied the arms trade in Mindanao.

Many hurdles ahead

Getting CAB signed is only the first of a number of steps before the deal can be implemented.

If and when CAB is signed, President Aquino, who had promised to end the decades-long insurgency by the time his six-year term ends in 2016, must marshal his party members in Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (which lays down among other things the structure of the government of Bangsamoro, the relationship of Bangsamoro with the central government, and the rights of residents).

A referendum would then follow on the areas to be included in the autonomous region, a potentially politically sensitive issue given the presence of local warlords who may not want to come under Muslim rule.

In terms of governance, the plan is for the region to be ruled as an autonomous state with its own parliament elected by local residents.

"Political challenges will come from traditional, local politicians who view the change of the status quo could affect their standing in the region," said Rommel Banlaoi, who heads the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research which has been closely following the talks.

"If their interests are threatened they can undermine the peace process and hijack the political agenda of the proposed autonomy," he warned.

And then there is the role of MILF itself. Eventually, it is envisioned that MILF will transform itself into a political organization and lead the autonomous region, a challenge given that most rebel commanders lack education.

"Implementation won't be easy… That is to be expected in a complex situation with many stakeholders who have to be brought together, and whose respective interests have to be addressed," Coronel-Ferrer conceded.

Firstly, members of Congress would "have to be engaged" on complex issues that would need to be covered by the law, she said, while MILF would have to ensure "unity and discipline" in its ranks.

"As I have said before, things would still get worse before they become decisively better," she said. "There will be ups and downs, eruptions of some kind of violence that cast doubts on the viability of the process. But we cannot be disheartened. We're on our toes. We cannot be derailed by these peddlars of violence," she stressed, referring to splinter groups that have vowed to sabotage the deal.

A recipe for more violence?

The Muslim rebellion began in the early 1970s led by the MNLF, and has left large parts of mineral rich Mindanao mired in poverty. Investors shied away, and millions have been displaced over the years.

MILF split from MNLF in the late 1970s, and the latter eventually signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996 to settle for limited autonomy within ARMM. However, some, including President Aquino, describe the region’s establishment as a "failed experiment" where warlords with their own "private armies" operate.

In 2008, more than 700,000 people were displaced after fighting broke out when a peace agreement, which gave the MILF control over more than 700 areas in the south they considered their ancestral domain, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

However, Manila says the new political autonomy offered to MILF is more inclusive and should encourage economic growth.

"The government is conscious that the process should lead to empowerment, not short-term appeasement based on patronage," Coronel-Ferrer said. "There is that awareness that the peace dividends must reach everyone, and if not allocated justly, could in fact lead to dissension in their ranks."

Banlaoi of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research warns that violence could erupt if the deal does not produce concrete economic results. “Armed oligarchs" who had traditionally profited from lawlessness in the south posed a danger to the peace talks, and will sow chaos if the promised economic incentives from the deal do not take root, he said.

Various estimates say Mindanao is believed to have a large chunk of the nation’s estimated US$840 billion in gold, copper and other mineral reserves. It also has vast fertile fields that remained uncultivated because of the conflict.

"If the proposed Bangsamoro government becomes weak and fails to deliver on its promises, it could be a recipe for more violence," Banlaoi said, noting that an immediate threat could come from BIFF or the followers of MNLF's Misuari.

Law and order challenge

In September, Misuari's group launched a daring, three-week siege of the port city of Zamboanga, leaving thousands displaced and over 200 dead; and more than 10,000 people were also displaced when the military in January 2014 launched a targeted assault on BIFF positions, an event that was hailed at the time in the pro-government media as the virtual annihilation of BIFF.

"They [BIFF] still have access to small arms and light weapons and they can still make trouble," Banlaoi noted. "The challenge now is how to tame these groups and effectively convince them that they have more to gain than in waging armed struggle."

MILF's Jaafar says the rebel leadership is prepared to share the fruits of peace, but “we will not tolerate any armed attacks from them [splinter groups] and threats to destabilize our work."

Coronel-Ferrer said BIFF was known to harbour foreign jihadists and terrorists. The military, she said, will continue to go after BIFF remnants to "force them to remain dispersed and unable to establish any significant foothold" in one place.

[IRIN humanitarian news and analysis is a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs]

$850m arms buys to upgrade Philippine military

From AsiaOne (Mar 19): $850m arms buys to upgrade Philippine military

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino has unveiled new arms purchases worth at least 30 billion pesos (S$850 million) to modernise the Philippine military amid recent skirmishes with China in the South China Sea.

In a speech on Sunday before graduating cadets of the Philippine Military Academy, Mr Aquino announced that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would receive 63,000 new firearms to replace the Vietnam War-era M16 and M14 rifles that most of its soldiers are still using.

The Philippine military also has in its arsenal newer versions of the M16, the M4 carbine and Steyr Aug assault rifle, but these are mostly reserved for special forces units.

"Look at the rifles our soldiers use. Most of them were used during the Vietnam War. The good news: we expect 63,000 new rifles for our Armed Forces in the coming months," said Mr Aquino.

He said the country is also purchasing 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea, eight combat utility helicopters and two anti-submarine helicopters.

The 12 FA-50s, light attack aircraft costing 18.9 billion pesos, should be in service next year.

These purchases are part of the AFP's 15-year modernisation programme that started in 2012.

The Philippines has so far spent 41.2 billion pesos on 36 modernisation projects since 2012, and it has earmarked another 40 billion pesos till 2017.

The modernisation programme is being spurred largely by increasing tension between Manila and Beijing in recent years over their territorial disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea, which has seen increasing skirmishes between the two sides.

PSWDO-Ifugao closely monitors implementation of PAMANA projects

From the Philippine Information Agency (Mar 19): PSWDO-Ifugao  closely monitors implementation of PAMANA projects

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) here is closely monitoring the implementation  of Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA)  projects  in the province.

The PAMANA program is the national government’s peace and development framework for empowering conflict-affected areas in the country.

For the Cordillera Region,  the PAMANA is largely the  implementation of the provisions of the closure agreement between the Government of the Philippines  and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (GPH-CBA-CPLA) signed in  2011.

The agreement provides for disposition of arms and forces of the CPLA members, their economic reintegration,  their transformation into a potent socio-economic and unarmed force and the development of communities.

According to the PSWDO’s latest report, they were able to profile 85 members of the CPLA and inventoried 41 firearms with a valuation cost of P681,258.00.

Out of the 85 who were profiled, two were trained and integrated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 30 were hired as forest guards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and 51 formed two people’s organizations that were  given livelihood projects worth P16.415 million under the Economic Re-integration Component.

Under the Community Development Component, 13 infrastructure projects were undertaken costing P30.96 million. Seven  of these projects were already completed and  six  are still ongoing.

The completed projects are the concreting of Sta. Maria-Bangar-San Mateo section road worth P3.5 million and  the Junction-Caragasan Road worth P1M;  Construction of the P1M Caragasan Tribal Center,  all in the municipality of Alfonso Lista.

Improvement of the Pitawan-Puntagguwan Road amounting to P2.140M, Purchase of the O-ong-Cababuyan ambulances(P300,000); Construction of the Mompolia Multi-Purpose Gymnasium and Peace Center(P3M)and Purchase of the Mompolia-Umalbong ambulances(1M), all in the municipality of Hingyon.

Meanwhile, the on-going infrastructure projects are the Improvement of the Uhaj-Poblacion Road worth P4.130 million, Construction of the Tribal Multi-Purpose Development Center(P4.230M), Improvement of the Junction-San Fernando Elementary School Road, and  the Junction-Gohang National High School Road worth P4.130M each, all located in Banaue.

Construction of the Minangga Farm-to-Market Road and seedling production costing P1M each, both in  Alfonso Lista.

According to the PSWDO, as of February 2014, already downloaded  is P29.078M of the P30.96M fund for infrastructure projects but disbursed only P12,932,776.09.

For the livelihood projects, downloaded was P16,415,000.00, which was  all disbursed.

Under the Transformation of the CBA-CPLA into a socio-economic organization component, PO assembly meetings, orientation of 32 to the DENR integrated forest guards, and  mandatory training on Community-Driven Enterprise Development were conducted, as well as   downloaded the 10 percent mobilization fund for the livelihood projects and trainings on project proposal making.

The PSWDO  also reported providing  psycho-social profiling, stress debriefing, trauma healing, counseling sessions and financial assistance to six  former CPLA rebels.