Friday, March 21, 2014

Bayan sec-gen out on bail

From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 21): Bayan sec-gen out on bail

The secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Negros was released yesterday afternoon after posting bail of P1,000 for maltreatment charges, at the Hall of Justice in Bacolod City.

Christian Tuayon, 27, of Brgy. Purisima in Manapla town, Negros Occidental was arrested Wednesday, minutes after he attended a hearing on the case being faced by his fellow militants, on the strength of a bench warrant issued by Branch 1 presiding judge Jose Paolo Ariola of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities.

The warrant was for Tuayon’s failure to attend a hearing on the maltreatment charges filed against him by Police Officer 1 Albert Villahermoso, a member of the 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion, reports said.

Station 2 policemen brought Tuayon and the other two inmates with separate cases to the Hall of Justice at about 2:30 p.m. to get their commitment orders for their transfer to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Senior Insp. Jovil Sedel, station’s chief told the DAILY STAR.

When Tuayon and the police were on their way to MTCC Branch 1, Cesar Beloria Sr. was already there and they proceeded to the clerk of the court to pay the bail bond for his temporary liberty, Sedel said.

Beloria had filed a motion to quash the warrant of arrest and a motion to reconsideration before the MTCC Branch 1, reports said.

Tuayon allegedly tapped the hat of Villahermoso, and hit his nose. This happened in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, during the visit of President Benigno Aquino on May 5, 2012.

Tuayon told the DAILY STAR yesterday that the police and the media present in Talisay then knew how the tension had risen and how the policemen “inhumanely” dispersed and injure people during the rally.

He said he failed to attend only one hearing, since the subpoena from the court had not been delivered to him.

Tuayon, who had been detained at the lock-up cell of Station 2 for almost 24 hours, said he condemn the slow process of his case.

He said his arrest is due to their advocacy for change and respect for human rights.

He said that no matter how many of them will be nabbed, their battle will not stop, they will still continue to seek for justice whether they are in or out of the lock-up cells

Gov't efforts vs KFRG in Zambo yield results with arrest of kidnap leader

From the Zamboanga Today (Mar 21): Gov't efforts vs KFRG in Zambo yield results with arrest of kidnap leader

Government efforts to arrest members of syndicated crimes in Western Mindanao area have finally yielded results after capturing a leader of the kidnap-for-ransom-group (KFRG) involved in the Casipong kidnapping case and other series of kidnapping incidents in Zamboanga Peninsula Region.

Chief of the Presidential Commission on Transnational Crime (PCTC) in Western Mindanao field office Chief Inspector Alexander Lorenzo said that KFRG leader Mamay Aburi together with a certain Moin Dunggan and 3 others were collared at the vicinity of San Antonio Avenue, Parañaque City, at about 12 noon yesterday.

Lorenzo said that Aburi’s group was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for the case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives under criminal case number I-5472 and I-54733.

Authorities tagged Aburi as a leader of a notorious group, which is linked with the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who was responsible for as series of kidnapping and extortion activities in Zamboanga Peninsula.
Aburi’s group was also blamed for the kidnapping of Kathy Mae Casipong, recently freed in Zamboanga Sibugay Province.

The group also planned and executed the kidnapping of Randel Talania; Cynthia Cabiberder, and the 5 year-old Alexa Dela Cruz.

It was also responsible in the massacre of 10 Badjao fishermen at Pandalosan Island, Olutangga, Zamboanga Sibugay last December 26, 2013.

Based on police reports, Aburi and his followers were also tagged behind the kidnapping of the Australian National Warren Rodwell.

The group of Aburi is now under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame.

Last March 7, this year, joint forces of the police and military operated at Aburi’s lair in Barangay Tenan, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, by virtue of a warrant of arrest which resulted to the recovery of high-powered firearms, grenades and explosive materials and the arrest of his followers Alvin Prontosa and Hajer Dunggan.

Authorities said that Aburi managed to slip out from the government forces and flew to Metro Manila where he was arrested.

Lorenzo told Zamboanga Today that the joint government efforts has stretched out to the different parts of the country which came to the arrest of the two former policemen and 3 others in Gatchallian Village, Manuyo 2, Las Piñas City last week.

The five were believed to be members of the Mexican drug cartel in the Philippines.

Ex-cop PO3 Mohammad Pon Mansul and his 4 companions involved in illegal drugs operation were arrested by the PCTC, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Naval Intelligence Security Group (NISG) and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) last March 13, 2014.

Negotiators fly to KL to finalize Mindanao peace pact

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 21): Negotiators fly to KL to finalize Mindanao peace pact

The peace panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to finalize the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will be signed at Malacanang on March 27.

“They are now in Kuala Lumpur to put the finishing touches on the CAB,” Commissioner Abdulla Camlian of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission said Friday at the Conference on Electoral Systems and Political Parties under the Bangsamoro Ministerial Form of Government.

Camlian read a message that MILF chief negotiator, Prof. Mohagher Iqbal, was supposed to give at the conference, organized by the Asia Foundation and the British Embassy in Manila.

Lawyer Jose Luis Martin Gascon of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, who read the message of government chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, said the final CAB document could be completed on Friday or Saturday.

In a statement, the OPAPP said that more than a thousand people are to attend the “big event” at Malacañang.

Ferrer and Iqbal, as the chief negotiators, will sign the CAB with Malaysian Third Party Facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed signing as witness.

“President Benigno Aquino III, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles and MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim are expected to deliver their messages before attendees coming from the international community and various sectors,” the statement said.

Another US ship arrives

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Mar 22): Another US ship arrives

An American transport dock ship is set to drop anchor in Manila on Saturday, the second to arrive this week for a routine port call.

The United States Embassy in Manila said on Friday that USS New Orleans, an assault ship that transports Marines and their equipment to their areas of assignment, will arrive Saturday with 360 sailors and about 750 embarked Marines from the California-based 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The port call “highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

“This visit will allow the ship to replenish supplies as well as give the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation,” said the embassy.

Phl to sign P24B jet, helicopter deals with SKorea, Canada

From the Philippine Star (Mar 21): Phl to sign P24B jet, helicopter deals with SKorea, Canada

The Philippines will sign close to P24-billion worth of defense deals on Friday  as it seeks to  boost its security capabilities.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the contracts to be inked would involve the purchase of 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets worth P18.9-billion from South Korea and eight combat utility helicopters worth P4.8-billion from Canada.

The signing of the deal for the South Korean jets was supposed to be held this week.

However, the schedule was moved to March 28 to accommodate the schedule of Young Ho Oh, president of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

“Our initial plan was to have the signing on March 22 but the representative of KOTRA requested that it be moved to March 28 in view of the non-availability of the president of KOTRA,” Manalo told reporters Friday.

“I was told that the president of KOTRA will accompany the president of South Korea in her official visit to Germany,” he added.

KOTRA is the agency in charge of the South Korean government’s commercial transactions. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will be the supplier of the jets, which will be used for territorial defense operations.

“This is a manifestation of the trust of the two countries,” Manalo said.

“This project has long been delayed many many years since the approval of the Republic Act 7898 in 1995. We should have acquired these (jets) before,” he added, referring to the Armed Forces Modernization Act.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the chiefs of the Air Force, Navy and Army and other defense officials are expected to attend the signing ceremony.

KAI President and Chief Executive Officer Ha Sung Yong and South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hyuk Lee are also expected to witness the event.

KAI will be providing FA-50 jets, which are derived from the family of T-50 advanced jet trainer air assets. The first batch of jets will be delivered late next year. The delivery of the jets is expected to be completed by 2017.

VIP helicopters

Meanwhile, three of the eight combat utility helicopters to be acquired from Canada will be used to transport top Philippine officials.

“Three of these eight helicopters will be configured as VIP helicopters,” Manalo said.

“We were able to negotiate that if the contract is signed within the month of March, within first quarter of 2014, then they’ll be able to deliver at least three of the helicopters in September in time for the hosting of the Philippines of the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation),” he added.

The remaining five helicopters will be used to replace aging Bell 412 helicopters acquired during the Ramos administration.

Manalo said the helicopters to be acquired from Canada also belong to the Bell 412 variant but with more advanced features.

The Defense department will acquire the helicopters through a government-to-government transaction with the Canadian Commercial Corp.

Bayan: US has yet to pay damages over Tubbataha incident

From the Philippine Star (Mar 20): Bayan: US has yet to pay damages over Tubbataha incident

More than a year after a US Navy ship ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, the US government has yet to pay the damages for the destruction of corals at the world heritage site, militant group Bayan said on Friday.

"The US Navy is a respondent to our Supreme Court petition regarding the damage wrought by the USS Guardian on the Tubbataha reef in January 17, 2013. More than a year since the incident, not a single cent has been paid. Not one soldier has been made accountable under Philippine law as the US officers merely got a slap on the wrist," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Reyes said the situation is aggravated by the docking in Manila of the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the US 7th Fleet in the Pacific.

"In light of the US' continuing refusal to pay damages, every port call by US ships is an affront to our sovereignty. Every port call is an insult to our people. If the US can act with impunity in Tubbataha, we have every reason to be worried with the ongoing access negotiations which aim to bring more ships and troops in the country for a longer period of time," he added.

With this development, Reyes said their group will also oppose the new de facto basing agreement between the Philippine and US governments.

"The US 7th Fleet Commander tries to sweet talk Filipinos into accepting a one-sided access pact and into forgetting US violations of Philippine laws," Reyes said.

Masbate town official escapes NPA ambush

From InterAksyon (Mar 21): Masbate town official escapes NPA ambush

The administrative officer of the municipality of Batuan in Masbate cheated death Wednesday when New People's Army guerrillas detonated an improvised explosive device and fired at him as he passed by.

Police said Alfred Yuson, 44, was riding his motorcycle to work when the ambush happened on the road between Barangays Canvanez and Nasanding around 1:30 p.m.

Yuson managed to flee the area unscathed and reached the town’s police station.

Police and military teams that rushed to the area found a large hole in the ground caused by the explosion, detonating cord and empty M16 shells.

Yuson has reportedly long been threatened by the rebels, who suspect him of being a government informer, charges he has denied.

1 dead in AFP-NPA encounter in Rizal

From ABS-CBN (Mar 20): 1 dead in AFP-NPA encounter in Rizal

A New People's Army (NPA) guerrilla died in an encounter with the Philippine Army in Sitio Wawa, Barangay San Rafael in Rodriguez, Rizal Thursday.

According to Senior Superintendent Rolando Anduyan of Rodriguez Police Station, joint forces from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) intensified its efforts to clear the area of rebels
They are also expecting the death toll to increase as clashes continue.

The military strengthened its security patrol operations in the area in time with the NPA's celebration of its 45th founding anniversary on March 29.

Mayor says MNLF should be held accountable for deaths of IDPs

From the Zamboanga Today (Mar 20): Mayor says MNLF should be held accountable for deaths of IDPs

Worried by the rising death toll at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex (JFEMSC) and Cawa-Cawa Boulevard, Mayor Ma. Isabelle "Beng" Climaco-Salazar said the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels should be held accountable for the deaths of the evacuees.

Mayor Climaco said the 101 deaths (of evacuees) should be included in the list of casualties as a consequence of the MNLF attack in Zamboanga City, September last year.

"We have to put accountability where accountability should be," she said in a press conference at City Hall last Monday.

"Why are we in this particular situation? We are here because the MNLF attacked the city of Zamboanga who wanted to plant their flag in the city," she added.

Expressing hopes that United Nations humanitarian agencies will extend their assistance program for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zamboanga City, the mayor said the city is not yet capable of being fully independent at this time.

Mayor Salazar stressed that "at this very moment, because we are still in our early recovery stage, the city of Zamboanga, particularly the 26,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) cannot go yet without external support."

"But nonetheless, our team in the city government is also preparing for the plan wherein the local government unit will be absorbing all of our displaced people," she said, referring to the Zamboanga Action Plan 2014.

She appealed to the generous patron to provide fresh drinking water for children, Cerelac, and energy drinks, as well as allergy medication for the children.

"What we are concerned about is the acute nutrition that is the cause of the death and the chronic nutrition that our local government is responding," the mayor said.

Earlier, Dr. Rodel Agbulos, head of the City Health Office (CHO), disclosed that the deaths of people at grandstand and Cawa-Cawa boulevard shoreline evacuation centers have reached to 101, in which 41.5% were females and 58% were males while 48% were reported in children under 5 years old.

Agbulos said diarrhea was the leading cause of mortality for children under five years (37.5%) and pneumonia (14%) was the leading cause of morbidity among the 5-59 age group.

He added 57% of deaths occurred outside health facilities (i.e. in the evacuation centers - JFEMSC and Cawa-Cawa shoreline) and that 76 dengue cases were reported from January 1 to March 10, 2014.

The CHO said the top causes of death include age, pneumonia, cardiac arrest/heart attack, asthma, neonatal deaths (home delivered), and complicated diseases (DM, stroke).

The sports complex and R.T. Lim Boulevard have been the temporary shelters of thousands of evacuees since the crisis broke out last September 9, 2013 following the attack of MNLF renegades loyal to Nur Misuari on at least six villages in the city.

Evacuees mostly belonging to Badjao, Sama, Tausug, and Yakan tribes have been severely affected by the September siege, with virtually all of their homes, including stilt houses and properties were burned and destroyed.

On Tuesday, Climaco met with the UN humanitarian agencies headed by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho to evaluate and revise the humanitarian Zamboanga Action Plan for its possible extension beyond the end of March 2014.

Since the start of the assistance program, the UN through its donor countries and different humanitarian agencies such as Australia, the Spanish government, Japan, and others - has provided more than P100 million aid for IDPs in Zamboanga City.

MNLF’s ‘Top 90’ joins Jabidah rites

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 21): MNLF’s ‘Top 90’ joins Jabidah rites

Surviving members of the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) “Top 90” set foot on the island of Corregidor last Tuesday to join the commemoration of the so-called Jabidah massacre, an event in the late 1960s that prompted them to mount a rebellion against the government.

The “Top 90” was the MNLF’s first batch of 90 fighters who trained in guerilla warfare in Jampiras Island in Malaysia. The surviving members joined 200 others from various sectors in the 46th commemoration of the event, jointly organized by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the office of Anak-Mindanao Partylist Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman.

At the commemoration rites, Hataman said they would “want to give more emphasis to the historical significance of the Jabidah Massacre” especially in the context of the ongoing Mindanao peace process.

She said the massacre of young Moro recruits on March 18, 1968 was a tragedy that united the Moro people, regardless of tribes and callings, in a fight against injustice and oppression.

In the same manner these days, she said, the final peace pact, set to be signed this month by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), serves as inspiration that must rally together the Bangsamoro as one.

“This is now the Bangsamoro struggle,” she said.

At least 32 of some 50 surviving members of the MNLF “Top 90” batch met recently to select batch-mate Abukl Khayr Alonto as their chairman, replacing Nur Misuari, whom they accused of various misgivings to the front.

The surviving pioneer batch members passed a manifesto in support of the MILF’s peace process with the government, furnishing personally a copy of the document to MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim at their meeting in Cam Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Another faction led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, anointed MNLF chairman by its Council of 15, sent to Bulletin a commemoration message, batting for the harmonization of the intents of the MNLF-government 1996 final peace agreement with the MILF Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

MNLF invited to peace accord signing – Palace

From the Manila Bulletin (Mar 21): MNLF invited to peace accord signing – Palace

Preparations are underway for the historical signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Malacanang on March 27, an official said yesterday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said thousands of guests are expected to attend, including members of the diplomatic corps, members of the International Contact Group( ICG) and International Monitoring Team (IMT), as well as particular individuals who helped in the peace process over the years.

Lacierda said that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has also been invited but has yet to confirm his attendance.

The Malaysian Prime Minister had earlier said he will be attending the signing of the comprehensive peace pact. However, developments on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight No. MH 370 remains a priority.

Lacierda said the government had also sent invitations to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“Wala pa kaming final list (We still do not have a final list of confirmed attendees) but there has been an invitation extended to MNLF,” he said.

Lacierda said the crafting of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is still with the Transition Commission (TC).

“We are hoping that they would be able to finalize everything by March or by April but we need the draft to be submitted to us early so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission will forward it to the Office of the President for further review. Once okayed by the OP, we will now submit it to Congress and the President will certify it as urgent,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the Palace is optimistic that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed swiftly by Congress.

“Hopefully by end of this year, we’ll have the Bangsamoro Basic Law enacted,” he said.

Meanwhile, the One Bangsamoro Movement, or 1-Bangsa (1-Nation) is launching a signature campaign in support of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The signature campaign to gather one million signatures from both Muslims and non-Muslims will start immediately after the CAB’s signing on March 27 in Malacañang.

1-Bangsa lead convenor Maulana ‘Alan’ Balangi, Muslims in Metro Manila, including those who will come from various parts of the country, such in Mindanao, Luzon, and the Visayas will also hold a prayer rally in front of the Palace on March 27.

“Our organization is now presently preparing for the historic signing of the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Bangsamoro people are anticipating the end of the decades of conflict in Mindanao,” he said.

Intelligence officer ng militar, patay sa operasyong partisano ng NPA

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 21): Intelligence officer ng militar, patay sa operasyong partisano ng NPA (Military Intelligence officer killed in an NPA partisan operation)

Samuel Guerrero
NPA Sorsogon Provincial Operations Command (Celso Minguez Command)
NAPATAY ng mga Pulang mandirigma si Philippine Army Sgt. Jo Estrada sa isang ispesyal na operasyon sa palengke ng Casiguran, Sorsogon nitong Marso 20.

Si Estrada, na nagkukubli sa alyas na Joel Diño, ay nagkukunwang kontratista sa construction habang aktibo bilang ahente ng military intelligence. Nagmula siya sa 49th IB at naging kumander ng special operations team (SOT) ng naturang batalyon sa mga barangay ng Rizal, Burgos at Sta. Cruz sa Casiguran noong 2010-2011. Personal na sangkot si Estrada sa mga abuso laban sa mga residente ng naturang mga barangay na isinailalim sa SOT.

Noong Nobyembre 2012, kabilang si Estrada sa isang grupo ng mga operatibang militar na dumukot at nagtortyur sa sibilyang si Jeffrey Hapin sa Sta. Cruz, Casiguran.
Si Sgt. Estrada ay lehitimong military target ng NPA at ang pagpatay sa kanya ay pagbibigay ng rebolusyonaryong hustisya sa kanyang mga naging biktima.

CPP: Revolutionary justice for Romeo Capalla’s murder will be exacted upon the US-Aquino regime and its military perpetrators

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 20): Revolutionary justice for Romeo Capalla’s murder will be exacted upon the US-Aquino regime and its military perpetrators
Concha Araneta
CPP Panay Regional Committee
Only about two months have elapsed since the RPP-ABB, upon the instruction of their military handlers, broadcasted their bloody intrigue against legal personalities of the people’s movement when Romeo Capalla was murdered right at the entrance of the Philippines National Police-guarded Oton Public Market last March 15, 2014.

Simultaneously, two small-scale sugar mills of Panay Fair Trade Center (PFTC), of which Romeo Capalla served as an officer, were torched down in Janiuay town.

Such despicable extrajudicial killing (EJK) of Romeo Capalla and arson inflicted on small farmers organization’s property is the signature modus of the US-Aquino regime’s military and their special units and paramilitary outfit (such as the RPA-ABB). Such units are maintained for such ‘dirty jobs’ against people’s organization and personalities. The Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino regime secretly sanctions such atrocities so long as they do not implicate the regime who belabors its Human Rights credentials as a victim of the Marcos Dictatorship while coddling the deposed dictator’s military hatchetmen.

And why would Romeo Capalla suffer the wrath of Aquino’s henchmen? Why would a legitimate businessman-exporter of muscovado sugar be victimized by Aquino’s hitmen?

His being an NPA commander during Martial Law was spread around by the military psychological warfare agents apparently to justify his assasination by military agents.

But Romeo Capalla as a rebel was a legitimate freedom fighter who led in waging armed struggle against the Marcos Dictatorship. Even the new law of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines recognizes all those who fought the dictatorship and are so honored. He was wounded in battle and was captured by Marcos agents while convalescing in a hospital from a debilitating leg wound in 1987.

Upon release from jail, he dedicated three decades of his life to furthering the livelihood of small sugar farmers and workers by extending farm financing, agricultural extension and secure the fair market value for their exported muscovado produce in the world market. His company was granted capital by people’s organizations and fair trader entities in Europe and South Korea to put up more small-scale mills all over the island of Panay to benefit more sugar farmers and workers. Lately, the company and its workers were immersed in seeking resources from partners abroad to contribute to the campaign for relief and rehabilitation of Typhoon Yolanda victims all over the island.

Apparently such activities of Romy and PFTC rub the regime’s military the wrong way since the various civil military campaigns failed to win over the hearts and minds of a people cynical about an armed force who bludgeoned and intimidated them to death and now pretends to advocate human rights.

Romeo Capalla was arrested in August of 2005 based on a trumped-up charge of arson by the Armed Forces of President Arroyo. Along with him in the made-up case was Councilor Fernando Baldomero of Aklan. The evidences presented were so ridiculously manufactured that the case was dismissed. But even then, continuous attempt at harassing him and his business abound.

The PFTC’s sugar mills in the far-flung countryside were already similarly attempted to be burned down for several times. An explosive device was thrown at the door of another mill. The extra-judicial killing of Councilor Fernando Baldomero in July 2010 opened up a new chapter of serial killing, this time by henchmen adopted by the Benigno Aquino regime from the past Arroyo administration.

In providing for the continuity of the Oplan Bantay-Laya of the fascist Arroyo regime in the form of Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino regime provided an elaborate facade of “respect for human rights”. Riding on the coattails of the anti-Marcos dictatorship prestige of his parents, Aquino II devised Oplan Bayanihan which continued the assault on people’s rights with impunity to boot by the state security forces while claiming respect of human rights. Such pretentions and impunity are documented and denounced by various human rights organizations including the very State Department of the United States.

A case for this assertion, Romeo Capalla, himself, let on among his circle of friends that during the abduction of Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado, he and a relative approached a member of then Arroyo’s very exclusive Congressional Oversight Committee for Internal Security(COCIS) . The COCIS member matter-of-factly confirmed that the two abducted were already killed and the operation was sanctioned because of strong demand from lower military officers.

Until now these Arroyo henchmen were never investigated, much more prosecuted and those military men are the very same people that the Aquino regime remains beholden to. Therefore, the trail of blood from Capalla’s extra-judicial killing leads to the very regime’s doorstep. But it went by roundabout ways passing through the gates of Camp Peralta, headquarters of the Third Infantry Division and its Military Intelligence Battalion, handlers of most secret liquidation teams and the paramilitary RPA-ABB.

Major General Baladad could now upgrade his achievements from the mere illegal arrestor of the Morong 43 (a group of legitimate health worker in training) to being the new overseer of a continuing serial political killing by military men in Panay. This he could rightly claim as the foremost commander of all counter-insurgency initiatives in Panay and Negros. No major extrajudicial killing by the forces under him could be executed unless he approves. This is not to say however , that we could rule out the fielding of a team directly from the national headquarters of the Armed Forces intelligence service.

Of course, the military could do all the dance and song routine about their innocence, demand proof of accusations from the victim’s family and associates and even offer reward money for the arrest of perpetrators. They could even ridiculously claim zero human rights violation as certified by an apologist Commission on Human Rights. The police could eventually provide a fall guy(s) who would be at large or even arrested as what happened to the killing of Fernando Baldomero. What could the public expect if one of those assigned to investigate the killing was also the intelligence officer, that Romeo Capalla claimed before as the one, together with other agents, engaged in stalking him surreptitously?

The state psywar experts aligned to some media outlets could even insinuate that Romeo Capalla’s murder was in retaliation for the execution of the Hugo by the NPA, a convicted mass murderer—armed and dangerous. But such scenario would portray then that the state military (using their surrogate, the RPA-ABB) are aping the Japanese Kempetais in World War Two. Ten innocent civilians were murdered for every Japanese soldier killed by Filipino guerrillas. We have no doubts that if the RPA-ABB was involved, it could be upon the instructions of their military intelligence handlers.

Or these top officials could let the public outcry die down and the case shelved among numerous other unsolved cases as what happened to the enforced disappearances of Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado.

The state security forces enforces such selective heinous crimes with impunity so long as the Aquino regime could claim such killings as isolated cases or its incidence had decreased after the Marcos dictatorship. The important thing is for the Aquino regime to inflict the minimum level of white terror and intimidation that could contain the growing opposition to his rule. What matters to the regime is the chilling effect to those people that denounced its inutility and criminal neglect of Yolanda victims .
But the people are not intimidated. The public are not paralyzed by white terror nor their voices stilled by the rain of bullets. The Aquino regime and its murderous minions will reap what they sow.

For one, the dastardly killing of Romeo Capalla will bring into focus the impunity for crimes perpetrated by the state security agents under the US backed Aquino regime. The regime itself is swathed in human rights pretentious bloodline. Such sharp public awareness would bring to fore the anti-insurgency model (Oplan Bayanihan) from which stem the tactic of selective liquidation of progressive personalities by state security agents so as to zap the militancy of a people swamped by poverty, destroyed property and loss of livelihood. The serial killing of Baldomero and Capalla in a three year span and the enforced disappearance of Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado three years before Baldomero’s murder highlights the fascist character of the state security forces unrepentant from the days of the Marcos dictatorship. Only this time, the Aquino regime provided the human rights trappings concealing their murderous hands.
All the preparations for the secondary Association for Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conferences, all the come-ons to potential business investors, all the multimillion spent on infrastructure and beautification projects would go to waste because the island had become one killing field of legitimate businessmen and leaders of people’s organization. As if the killings of rival drug personalities in gang wars, were national security forces are involved, are not enough.

Such political crimes, freshly awashed in Romeo Capalla’s blood, will bring out again and again, in increasing numbers, thousands of people to the streets in a public outcry that will resound all throughout Panay, all over the country and even in the countries of Europe and Asia. The death of Romeo Capalla and the deep sorrow from the loss of a dedicated person in the service of the poor and oppressed would break through the terror effect of his assassination and strengthen the commitment for justice and freedom of all comrade-in-arms, activists and the conscious masses

Squads and platoons of NPA will be raised out of able-bodied men and women who could no longer stomach the criminal inutility of the Aquino regime in the face of widespread destitution and corruption in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. These revolutionaries would rather opt to engage in armed struggle amidst sustained fascist attacks on legitimate protest actions and economic endeavor to assist the peasantry and farm workers as what happened in the past.

Right now, the National Democratic Front in Panay, in the midst of revolutionary struggle, will redouble its effort in the campaign of the people rising to repair the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath and restore normalcy in their daily lives. Having acquired the organized strength and some element of empowerment, the people rising shall exact justice for the martyrs in the national democratic struggle and for the people’s oppression as a whole including that for Romeo Capalla. In so doing, the people shall march firmly in the path of ousting the US-Aquino regime and establish genuine democracy and freedom.

3ID celebrates Army anniversary with civic activities

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): 3ID celebrates Army anniversary with civic activities

The 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) based in Jamindan, Capiz will be undertaking a series of socio-civic activities to mark the Philippine Army's 117th Founding Anniversary slated this Saturday, March 22.

In a statement, Maj. Ray Tiongson, 3ID's head for community relations, said the army unit will undertake repairs of schools in Capiz that were badly damaged at the height of super typhoon Yolanda last year.

Tiongson said schools to be repaired are the Candelaria National High School in Brgy. Roxas 8 Extension and Tapaz National High School, and Tuburan Elementary School in Brgy. Tuburan, Maayon.

On top of this, the 3ID personnel were able to collect at least P380,000 from their subsistence allowance to fund the preparations and installation of water facilities, he said.

In Negros Occidental, units under 3ID will install water system facilities in Brgy. Gen. Luna in Toboso; Brgy. Winaswasan in Calatrava; and Brgy. Malasibog in Escalante City.

Earlier, the 47th Infantry Battalion based in Cauayan, Negros Occidental partnered with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and Cauayan-Child Labor Educational Task Force in conducting a food feedingand gift-giving program last March 16 to about 250 school children in Brgy. Tiling, Cauayan City.

In Negros Oriental, the 79th Infantry Battalion in collaboration with Oriental Negros Children's Advocacy Network and the local government unit of Sta. Catalina, initiated a "Bayanihan para sa Kabataan Lakbay Aral" for the 70 students of Avocado Elementary School in Brgy. Talalak, Sta. Catalina, on March 21. The children were able to visit key historical places as well as government buildings.

Meanwhile, the 62nd Infantry Battalion based in Sagay City, Negros Occidental conducted a bloodletting activity March 18, in collaboration with the Philippine National Red Cross, the Local Government Unit of Cadiz City and the barangay officials of Brgy. Tinampa-an. The activity yielded 215 donors.

Other Infantry Battalions under 3ID and other units under its operational control will also hold their bloodletting activities in their respective area of responsibility on March 22.

Also on March 22, the 82nd Infantry Battalion in collaboration with the Kayang Kaya Missions International Incorporated, which has been the Philippine Army's partner in its corporate social responsibility initiatives, will conduct a Medical Civic-Action Program in Brgy. Calajunan, Mandurriao in Iloilo City.

At SM City Iloilo, the 301st Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General Arnold Quiapo, has installed its information booth that features film showings, photo displays and informational materials for those interested to join the Philippine Army.

These activities are in consonance with this year's theme, "Serving the People, Securing the Land."

"As the Philippine Army embarks into a new milestone of true and dedicated service to the country and the people, your Army here in Western Visayas remains committed to its mandate to serve the people and secure the region towards sustainable development and a just and lasting peace, " said 31D commander, Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad.

5 army scout rangers hurt in road mishaps

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): 5 army scout rangers hurt in road mishaps

Five scout rangers assigned with the army’s 4th Infantry Division in Bukidnon were hurt in a road accident in Bugo, 10 kilometers east of here, Thursday night, a police report said on Friday.

Police Officer Armando Agravante, of the Puerto Police Precinct, identified the injured soldiers as SSgt. Michael Jason Dumanalis, Cpl. Rolando Manicap, TSgt. Adroline Bolivar, Pvt. Mark Dennis Diaz, and Pvt. Michael Mendres, all members of the army’s scout ranger battalion.

Agravante said that the soldiers were immediately transported to the Army Hospital in Camp Evangelista in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.

Initial investigation disclosed that the victims were on board a military truck from Bukidnon en route to Butuan City for a “military mission” when their service vehicle collided with a private dump truck about 9:00 p.m. Thursday.

Agravante did not disclose the details of the collision except that the incident is now being investigated.

Phil Army conducts series of peace dialogue in CDO

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Phil Army conducts series of peace dialogue in CDO

The army’s 4th Infantry Division here started a series of peace dialogue in various barangays to strengthen the peace and security of this premier capital of Northern Mindanao, a military official said on Friday.

Capt. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the army’s Public Affairs Division, said that the peace dialogue headed by the army’s “Bayanihan Alert for Peace and Development Teams” has started Friday afternoon in Barangay Lapasan.

On Friday afternoon, the dialogue was in Barangay Consolacion and on March 23, the team would move to Barangay Macabalan, in Barangay Bugo on March 25 and on March 26 in Barangay Cugman, Uy added.

Uy said that the dialogue aims to inform the role of the local constituents in maintaining peace and working together in the spirit of volunteerism to attain a lasting peace in the community.

He said that resource persons and representatives from the city government would join the series of dialogue to answer issues and concerns raised by the local residents.

According to Uy, the series of peace dialogue would also serve as an appropriate venue to disseminate information about the various government programs and the basic services extended by the government to the people.

Rebel killed in Samar clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Rebel killed in Samar clash
At least one rebel was killed and several other insurgents were wounded in Thursday’s clash between government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) members in an outskirt of Pinabacdao, Samar, the military reported.

Captain Amado Gutierrez, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the encounter resulted in the recovery of one M-16 Armalite rifle from one of the slain NPA rebels.

The clash took place 11 a.m. in the upland village of Canlobo in Pinabacdao, Samar, approximately 43 kilometers of Tacloban City.

“Scores of rebels were also wounded in the said encounter based from the traces of blood, along their withdrawal routes and from the accounts of civilians, who witnessed the rebels carrying their wounded comrades,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

Based on the report of the 87th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Barangay Polangi, Calbiga, Samar, troops under the said unit were verifying an information provided by a concerned civilian about the presence of NPA rebels in their barangay when the troops were fired upon by rebels which triggered a 45-minute firefight.

The military claimed that the rebels were planning to stage an attack against government forces in connection of the upcoming 45th NPA anniversary on March 29 when troops detected their location.

“Historically, the NPAs celebrate their anniversary by conducting crimes and atrocities against the Filipino people before, during or after their anniversary to portray an image of strength in order to intimidate and force the people to support their underground movement,” Gutierrez added,

Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, commander of the 8th Infantry Division said: “I congratulate my men for thwarting the planned atrocities of the NPA rebels. On the other hand, I would like to extend the deepest sympathies of 8ID to the family of the NPA rebel that was killed. It is tragic that he took up arms against the Filipino nation when the Filipino people understand that only through peace can development and social justice be attained.”

Philippine Army is battle-tested for 117 years

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Philippine Army is battle-tested for 117 years

Since its founding 117 years ago, the Philippine Army has undergone acid tests of national survival that thousands of soldiers have offered the supreme sacrifice in defense of freedom and democracy.

The bravery of the Filipino soldiers was chiseled by the founders of the Philippine Revolutionary Army (PRA), the forerunner of the Philippine Army, at Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite on March 22, 1897 by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first President of the Philippines.

Then Gen. Artemio Ricarte was named as Captain General, whose rank is equivalent today to a four-star general as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

History shows that it was Gen. Antonio Luna who designed the uniform and insignias of the PRA.

The first Filipino Army was armed with the Spanish M93, Remington Spanish rifle "lantakas," Krupp guns, Hontoria guns, and a few others.

Artillery weapons were made of water pipes reinforced with bamboo or timber, which could only fire once or twice.

Less than two years after its formation, the Philippine Revolutionary Army went into battle when the Philippine-American War erupted on Feb. 4, 1899, wherein the Filipinos suffered heavy losses.

Col. Tuts Detoyato, current Philippine Army spokesman, said that when the Philippine Commonwealth Government was established on Nov. 15, 1935, President Manuel L. Quezon sought the services of American Gen. Douglas MacArthur to evolve a national defense plan.

Thus the Commonwealth Act No. 1 was enacted into law, which paved the way for the formation of the new Philippine Army.

In the early 1950s, just five years after World War II, the Korean War erupted when communist North Korea invaded South Korea.

Without hesitation, the Philippines, one of the first members of the United Nations (UN), sent five battalions composed of 7,500 Philippine Army officers and men to Korea to help defend the beleaguered South Koreans.

The fighting unit was called the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) whose mission was to uphold the struggle for democracy.

Again, the Filipino soldiers showed to the world their bravery and fighting capability against all odds that an American officer was quoted as saying that he would fight anywhere in the world as long as he had with him Filipino soldiers fighting with him side by side.

Two most outstanding battles experienced by Filipino soldiers during the Korean War were the Battle of Yultong and the Battle of Eerie Hill.

The Battle of Yultong was a fierce fighting between the Chinese People's Volunteer Army 44th Division and the Filipino 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT), north of Yeoncheon, for two days -- from April 22–23, 1951.

In that historic battle, the Chinese attacked the US 65th Infantry Regiment of the US 3rd Infantry Division near Yeoncheon in the evening of April 22, 1951.

The 10th BCT, which was attached to the 65th Infantry Regiment, was caught in the fighting at Yultong.

Although the Filipinos had lost all contacts with the outside world, they held their ground and stopped the Chinese offensive on the morning of April 23, 1951 and enabled the US 3rd Infantry Division to successfully withdraw from the battlefield.

Another epic battle during the Korean War that involved Filipino soldiers was the Battle at Eerie Hill on May 21, 1951.

The PEFTOK unit tapped to conquer Eerie Hill occupied by Chinese forces then Ist Lt. Fidel V. Ramos, a fresh graduate of the US West Point.

Lt. Ramos successfully led his troops in conquering the strategic hill following a two-hour fierce gun battle.

During the Vietnam War, the Philippine Civic Action Group to Vietnam (PhilCAGV) was sent to South Vietnam on a mission of peace, where Army engineers helped build communities and Army doctors and nurses provided medical services to the people.

The onset of the 1960s ushered an expansion of the Army’s roles, which included participation in the socio-economic program of the country, Col. Detoyato said.

“To achieve greater flexibility and effectiveness, infantry divisions took the place of the military areas in the seventies. On 21 September 1972, the Martial Law era began. During the decade, military operations supported by civic action blocked the escalation of insurgency,” the Army spokesman said.

At the height of the campaign against the escalation of communist insurgency, Army forces seized MB Karagatan loaded with hundreds of M14 rifles in Isabela, he added.

“These had been intended to arm the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Apart from internal security operations, the Philippine Army also played an additional role in national development,” he stressed.

Also in the 1950s and 1960s, the Army had its hand full in containing the Huk rebellion, the Kamlon campaign in Sulu, the rebellion of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from 1974 up to Sept. 2, 1996 when a peace agreement was signed.

The Army was also in the thick of the fighting against the breakaway group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which after 17 years of warfare is slated to sign a peace deal with the government on March 27, 2014 to end the bloody fighting in Mindanao.

Likewise, the Army has been at the forefront in the war against terror, particularly the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group.

The Army’s combat record can be attested by the 26 Army soldiers who were decorated the Medal of Valor, the highest military award in combat.

The following were the recipients of the Medal of Valor award:

MGen. Paulino T. Santos

Maj. Ferdinand E. Marcos

Cpt. Jesus A. Villamor

Maj. Emigdio C. Cruz

MGen. Mariano N. Castañeda

Cpt. Conrado D. Yap

Cpl. Weenee Martillana

MSgt. Francisco M. Camacho

Cpl. Bienvenido V. Fajemolin

1Lt Hilario A. Estrella

MSgt. Francisco G. Granfil

Sgt. Roberto F. Salvador

Cpt. Arturo B. Ortiz

Cpt. Cirilito E. Sobejana

1Lt. Bartolome O. Bacarro

2Lt. Jose E. Bandong

SSgt. Roy L. Cuenca

SSgt. Miguel D. Pastolero

Cpl. Romualdo C. Rubi

Sgt. Claudio Forrosuelo

Cpt. Edward M. Lucero

2Lt. Herbert D. Dilag

SSgt. Lucio G. Curig

LtC. Noel S. Buan

SSgt. Leopoldo C. Diokno Jr.

PFC Ian Paquit

Also since its inception, the Philippine Army has always been present and responsive when disasters such as typhoons, floods and earthquakes hit the country.

In 2013, Army troops were deployed to conduct disaster response and relief efforts in areas affected by super typhoon "Yolanda." Soldiers also responded when Bohol, Cebu, and other parts of the Visayas region were devastated by an earthquake. The Philippine Army also helped in the search and retrieval operations following the landslide in Zambales.

In 2012, the Army soldiers were also the first responders when typhoon Pablo struck Mindanao, particularly Compostela Valley province and Davao Oriental.

In 2011, thousands were rescued in various DROs during and after typhoons and other calamities that hit various parts of the country, particularly during the onslaught of typhoon Sendong. Tons of assorted relief goods/cargoes were transported through Army channels that benefited thousands of affected residents.

"In partnership with the National Disaster Coordinating Council, we established an Operation and Action Center at the Philippine Army Gym for the first time during typhoon ‘Ondoy’ in September 2009. This has been a centralized response, rescue and relief operations center whenever disasters befall our country. This has also served as drop-off point of relief items donated by individuals and private organizations/companies. Since then, the Philippine Army Wellness Center (PA Gym) serves as Relief Center during disasters," Detoyato said.

"The PA exhausts all available resources of the command in response to the immediate needs of fellowmen who fall victim to natural calamities and disasters. We do not only mobilize our soldiers in DRO efforts but also our civilian personnel.

“In the spirit of 'Bayanihan', we involve the community stakeholders in all DROs by coordinating with the LGUs for the orderly distribution of relief goods. We have resources like trucks and rescue equipment which can be of help for the efficient implementation of the DRO,” Detoyato added.

In the 21st century the Philippine Army has brought into the forefront the so-called Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR). The program is:

Anchored on the Performance Governance System (PGS) and the Balanced Scorecard Technology (BST), the ATR sets the direction of the Philippine Army in pursuing genuine reforms founded on good governance, operational excellence and organizational excellence. It promotes an Army that focuses on the institution rather than the personalities; and it aims to transform the Army into a more capable, responsive, reliable, and professional organization committed to its mandate.

From 2010 to 2013, all efforts of the Philippine Army were geared towards achieving the 2nd ATR Base Camp, which is to be a disciplined and motivated Army capable of addressing all internal security threats. By 2016, the Philippine Army aims to be a well-equipped Army that has established a respectable image in Southeast Asia.

By 2022, it expects to be a modern and respected Army in Asia; and by 2028, the Philippine Army anticipates the realization of its vision to be a world-class Army that is a source of national pride.

There are five strategic perspectives in the ATR: Stakeholder Support, Finance and Logistics, Human Resource, Internal Processes, and Constituency.

Among its 12 strategic objectives are engaging and partnering with key stakeholders; institutionalizing good governance; adopting effective and efficient management of resources; developing the character and competence of personnel; actively supporting nation-building; and to be a professional Army loved by the people.

The journey to transformation involves every member of the Army organization. Recognizing that governance begins with every individual, all Army personnel crafted their personal scorecards, stating therein the measures, targets and initiatives with the end goal of contributing to the realization of the ATR vision.

Palace hopes Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted by yearend

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): Palace hopes Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted by yearend

With barely a week before the final signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), Malacanang on Friday expressed hope that the basic law will be enacted before the year ends.

The signing of the CAB on March 27 fastens the partnership for long-lasting peace between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

It also combines all the major agreements signed by the parties in the course of the 17-year negotiations and its most important parts are the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the four Annexes.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a Palace media briefing that over 1,000 guests are expected to witness the historic event, which will be held in Malacanang.

“We are expecting members of the diplomatic corps, members of the International Contact Group (ICG), the International Monitoring Team (IMT), and also particular individuals who helped in the process over the years,” Lacierda said.

“We’re also inviting congressional leaders -- the House of Representatives and the Senate -- to witness the historic signing and also some countries which have participated through their ICG and the IMT,” he added.

Currently, Lacierda said that the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is still being crafted under the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“We are hoping that they would be able to finalize everything by March or by April, but we need the draft to be submitted to us early so that the process will be moving faster,” Lacierda said.

He noted that the BTC will next forward the draft to the Office of the President (OP) for further review.

“Once it is okayed by the OP, we will submit it to the Congress...The President will certify it as urgent...hopefully by the end of this year, we will have the Bangsamoro Basic Law enacted," Lacierda added.

When asked if he expects the law to have “smooth sailing” in the Congress, Lacierda said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Deles has “already made the rounds with the House and the Senate and briefing them on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

“We certainly would hope that the House and the Senate realize how important and how vital this particular peace agreement is to the development in Mindanao...,” Lacierda stressed.

“If there would be some issues raised, I think the Executive branch will be there to help our fellow legislators clarify some of their concerns,” he said.

Lacierda also said that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was also sent an invitation to the event but its leaders have yet to confirm.

Meanwhile, he noted that aside from the law ensuring peace in Mindanao, it is also very vital to the economic development of the area.

“It (Mindanao) has been for the longest time been neglected...” Lacierda said

“I would imagine that the Mindanao congressmen will call all the support of the other regional legislators because the improvement and development in Mindanao will redound to the benefit of the entire Philippines,” he added.

PHL to sign contract for 12 F/A-50 'Golden Eagle' this March 28

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 21): PHL to sign contract for 12 F/A-50 'Golden Eagle' this March 28

In what could be the most welcome development for the AFP Modernization Program, the Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday announced that contract signing for the 12 Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) F/A-50 "Golden Eagle" jet aircraft will take place this March 28.

This was confirmed by DND undersecretary for finance, modernization, installations and munitions Fernando Manalo.

"As far as our schedule is concerned, it will be on March 28," he confirmed.

The contract for the 12 F/A-50 is worth P18.9 billion.

In attendance for the signing is DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista and Air Force and other major service commanders, KAI president and the head of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and Ambassador of South Korea to the Philippines.

When asked what prompted the change of signing date to March 28 or six day late from the March 22 announced by Gazmin, Manalo said that this was done to accommodate the request of KOTRA as their president will not be available at that time.

"I was told that the president of KOTRA will accompany the President of South Korea in her official visit to Germany (at that time)," Manalo stressed.

He added that the contract signing is very significant as the F/A-50 deal is a government-to-government one and that this is a manifestation of the trust of the two countries to enhance their cooperation on logistics, so that the opportunity for a government to government transaction will be strengthened.

Manalo welcomed this development as the F/A-50s will give the AFP its minimum credible defense posture capability.

The new jet planes will also highlight the fact that the AFP is now capable of doing its territorial defense mandate.

As this developed, Manalo also said that the DND will also sign the contract for the eight combat utility helicopters with Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) this Friday.

The project is worth P4.8 billion.

Like the F/A-50, this is also a government-to-government contract.

CCC is the designated Canadian agency for the government-to-government procurement of equipment.

"Three of these eight helicopters will be configured as a VIP helicopter and the delivery we are able to negotiate that if the contract will be signed within the month of March, first quarter of 2014, then they’ll be able to deliver at least three of the helicopters in September in time for the hosting of the Philippines of the APEC," Manalo stressed

He added that these new helicopters are intended to replace the five aging Bell 412 helicopters of the Office of President which were acquired during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos.

Manalo said that these new helicopters are also variants of the Bell 412 but more modern and capable.

Philippines, MILF gear up for historic signing of final peace deal

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Mar 21): Philippines, MILF gear up for historic signing of final peace deal

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have firmed up preparations for the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27 at the Malacañan Palace.

GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that the CAB signing seals the partnership for peace and prosperity between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “This partnership is based on our shared aspiration to heal the wounds of conflict, enable meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro, and nurture peace and development in Muslim Mindanao."

The CAB brings together all the major agreements signed by the parties in the course of the 17-year negotiations. Its most important parts are the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the four Annexes. These documents provide for the road map and the terms pertaining to the creation of the Bangsamoro entity and the transformation of the MILF from an armed group to an active participant in governance and societal reform.

“From the FAB to the CAB, we have come a long way,” said Coronel-Ferrer. “We dedicate the signing of the CAB to all the people who have helped us reach this stage in the journey. To them we owe this opportunity to bring our people closer together toward shared peace and prosperity under one country standing tall before the global community.”

Big event

More than a thousand people are expected to attend the event at Malacanang.

Coronel-Ferrer, as the Government chief negotiator and MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal will sign the CAB with Malaysian Third Party Facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed signing as witness.

President Benigno Aquino III, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles and MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim are expected to deliver their messages before attendees coming from the international community and various sectors.

Meanwhile, simultaneous celebrations are being organized by different organizations in various parts of Mindanao and Metro Manila to welcome the signing of the CAB.

Drafting the law

The CAB serves as basis for the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law being done by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. The draft law will be submitted to Congress and certified by the President as urgent. A plebiscite will then be held at the areas identified in the agreement after the law is passed.

These areas are the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in six municipalities of Cotabato province.

Other geographic areas that are contiguous to the enumerated places and that wish to join the plebiscite may do so through a resolution passed by the local government unit concerned or a petition of at least 10 percent of registered voters in the locality two months before the conduct of the plebiscite. The Bangsamoro Basic Law will provide for the modalities that would allow them to join the plebiscite.


At the same time, the GPH and MILF panels are working on the terms of reference for the different bodies that will be created as part of the normalization process.

These bodies include the Joint Normalization Committee that will oversee the programs for normalization, including the transitional security arrangements that will build on the current cooperation under the ceasefire agreement.

“We are also going to invite local and foreign experts who will sit in the Independent Decommissioning Body that will manage the inventory and verification of the MILF combatants and armory,” Coronel-Ferrer said.  “Moreover, we will form a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission that would study and propose programs that would address historical grievances and heal the wounds of war.”

The two panels have continued with their consultations and dialogues in different parts of the country to update the people on these steps that are being taken.