Friday, March 28, 2014

2 NPA members surrender in Capiz

From ABS-CBN (Mar 29): 2 NPA members surrender in Capiz

Two members of CPP-NPA central front committee surrendered to the Philippine Army in Tapaz, Capiz on the eve of the CPP-NPA anniversary on Friday.

Alias “Boy” was the finance and logistics officer of the rebels before deciding to end his nine years of armed struggle. He said he decided to surrender for the sake of his wife and children.

His comrade alias “Nonoy” was also a member of the CPP-NPA for nine years. He was involved in an encounter in the town of Tapaz and municipality of Mambusao in the province of Capiz.

The two ex-rebels have appealed to their former comrades to surrender.

They are now under the custody of the Philippine Army as part of the social integration program.

Meanwhile, the 502nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army figured in an encounter with suspected members of the New People’s Army at the tri-boundary of Palanan, San Mariano and Ilagan City in Isabela on Friday.

According to 502nd IB Commander Gen. Inocencio Mayangao, they swooped down on the rebel camp and recovered improvised explosive devices, guns and subversive documents. They also found common hardwood flitches in the camp.

Gen. Mayangao said group may be involved in illegal logging in the mountains.
Operations of the soldiers are continuous in the area. No casualty or injuries were reported from both camps.

CPP/Sine Proletaryo: Video -- Kasamang Bill

Sine Proletaryo video posted to the CPP Website (Mar 27): Video: Kasamang Bill


Message of Ka Bill, Regional Operations Commander of NPA-Northeast Mindanao Region, for the 45th anniversary of the New People's Army.

CPP/Sine Proletaryo: Video -- Platoon

Sine Proletaryo video posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): Video: Platoon


Composite platoons from the Pulang Bagani Battalion and Guerrilla forces from Southern Mindanao.

CPP/Sine Proletaryo: Video -- Southern Tagalog

Sine Proletaryo video posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): Video: Southern Tagalog


Messages from various revolutionary organizations in the Southern Tagalog region, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the New People's Army.

CPP: CPP condemns arrest of Andrea Rosal, filing of concocted criminal charges

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): CPP condemns arrest of Andrea Rosal, filing of concocted criminal charges
Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the Aquino regime and its armed forces for arresting Andrea Rosal, her companion Rafael de Guzman, and the filing of trumped-up criminal charges against them. Andrea is being accused by the fascist AFP as being a member of the CPP in the Southern Tagalog region.

Andrea is 8-months pregnant and was accosted as was preparing to deliver her child. Andrea is the eldest daughter of former CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal who passed away in 2011. Her mother, Rosemary, was felled by fascist bullets in 2011 in an armed encounter in Quezon in early 2011.

“Indeed, the arrest of Andrea is an apparent case of fascist payback after having failed to arrest her beloved father, Ka Roger, whom the military hated with extreme prejudice for having effectively representing the revolutionary cause and exposing the abuses of the AFP.” Rosal was never arrested by the AFP despite non-stop braggadocio.

“It seems to be a cruel joke that the AFP is now charging Andrea with kidnapping, when she herself was a victim of kidnapping 25 years ago by officials of the Southern Luzon Command,” pointed out the CPP. “In 1989, then 3-year old Andrea was snatched away fascist soldiers from her grandmother’s arms with whom she grew up in Ragay, Camarines Sur.”

“The SolCom would later release Andrea after Ka Roger and Andrea’s grandmother would protest the kidnapping over radio and the media, yet none of the perpetrators of that crime was ever punished,” pointed out the CPP. “In fact, not one official of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, has ever been punished for the innumerable abuses perpetrated by the AFP against the people.”

The CPP condemns the Aquino regime and the AFP for filing one criminal case after another against the leaders and members of the CPP in order to justify their arrests and prolonged detention. “This is in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine, a principle upheld even by the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines, which stipulate that filing criminal charges for offenses committed in the course of one’s political belief is a violation of human rights.”

“The Aquino regime, like the Marcos dictatorship, denies holding political prisoners, because activists and revolutionaries who are bent on exposing opposing his puppetry, mendacity, corruption and brutalities are being accused of criminals and being charged with such common crimes as murder, illegal possession of firearms and now kidnapping,” said the CPP.

The CPP calls on the international community of human rights advocates to look into this practice of filing trumped up criminal charges, of filing charges against aliases, and arresting activists and others and accusing them of having such-and-such alias found in their concocted criminal charge sheets.

CPP: On the lies dished out by the AFP against the Tiamzons

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): On the lies dished out by the AFP against the Tiamzons

Communist Party of the Philippines
Over the past few days, the spokesman of the AFP has been doing the rounds of the media, spending most of the day in radio and media interviews, to justify their arrest and continued incarceration of comrades Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, peace consultants of the NDFP and senior leaders of the CPP. The AFP has resorted to dishing out one concocted story after another against the Tiamzons and against the revolutionary movement.

In the spirit of fair-reporting, we hope that the big media organizations will give space to the views of the CPP and report on the other side of the truth.

1. The arrest of Comrades Benito and Wilma are in gross violations of the JASIG. Wilma Tiamzon is clearly among the list of NDFP peace consultants, as she has been listed under her true name, i.e. she is not listed under an assumed name, with Document of Identification No. ND978226. Comrade Wilma’s case can not be covered by the tactic used by the Aquino government over the past months blocking the release of NDFP consultants because their aliases can not be verified.

The NDFP asserts that Comrade Benito is among the listed consultants of the NDFP under the assumed name Crising Banaag with Document of Identification No. ND978227.

Contrary to Aquino’s Justice Sec. Leila de Lima’s opinion, the criminal justice system of the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) is not above the JASIG nor the other agreements forged between the GPH and the NDFP. All the agreements between the GPH and the NDFP are of the nature of international treaties, to which national laws are subsumed.

This is explicitly stated in the JASIG where the signing parties agree to subsume their police and court processes to the higher goal of peace negotiations. Part II, Section 2 stipulates: “the prosecutors shall move for the suspension, during the peace negotiations, of criminal proceedings or processes including arrest and search, for acts allegedly committed prior to the effectivity of this Joint Agreement.”

Thus, Comrade Wilma’s jumping bail cannot be used against her protected status under JASIG. In fact, the Ramos regime, then, recognized Comrade Wilma’s status as NDFP consultant, knowing full well that she had standing cases in the courts of the GPH.

Failing to disprove Comrade Wilma’s status as NDFP consultant, Aquino’s officials has resorted to coming up with another excuse claiming that the JASIG cannot be in effect because the talks are suspended. This is easily refuted by taking a look at the agreement itself which states that the JASIG can only be terminated with a written notice and only 30 days after receipt of such notice.

2. Contrary to the fascist intrigues of the AFP, there is no rift between Comrades Benito and Wilma or the Philippine-based leadership of the CPP and the senior members of the CPP in The Netherlands. The NDFP Negotiating Panel and Comrade Joma were among the first to condemn the arrest of Comrades Benito and Wilma.They are among the comrades who are vigorously fighting for the release of Comrades Benito and Wilma, as well as all NDFP consultants and the 400 plus political prisoners.

Comrades Benito and Wilma and the entire central leadership of the CPP continue to support the work of the NDFP negotiating panel. The Philippine-based leadership has retained the offices of the NDFP negotiating panel with hopes that peace negotiations with the GPH, however tenuous and difficult, will continue to proceed. Comrades Benito and Wilma and the CPP have long wanted peace negotiations with the objective of addressing the people’s myriad problems of landlessness, unemployment, low wages, skyrocketting costs of living, human rights violations and military abuses, lack of government infrastructure to address natural calamities and other outstanding socio-economic problems which continue to fuel the armed revolution.

At the same time, the CPP leadership continue to firmly grasp the principle that without arms, the people have nothing. Negotiations under the Ramos and Estrada governments have proved that substantial agreements can be forged despite (or perhaps because) of the raging civil war. Aside from the historic Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed under Estrada, and the JASIG signed by Ramos, there are no less than 10 significant agreements signed from 1992 to 1998. Such a principle was cast away by the Arroyo regime during which time peace negotiations lost significance as a forum to address the outstanding issues at the roots of the armed conflict; and became a tool for deception in the vain hope of inveigling the NDFP and the NPA to surrender.

Aquino, despite all his peace rhetoric, has adopted the anti-peace negotiations stance of the Arroyo regime.

3. The Tiamzons were arrested on the basis of trumped up charges. Contrary to in the media that they were being arrested for murder charges filed in Northern Samar, the warrants of arrest presented to Comrades Benito and Wilma was for the charges of murder for the so-called Hilongos “mass graves”, which have been the same case filed against at least 50 other activists, including former congressman Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna. The Hilongos “mass graves” is a legal concoction of the AFP started under the Arroyo regime’s so-called Inter-Agency Legal Advisory Group (IALAG) headed by then Justice Sec. Raul Gonzales, one of the most rabid of Arroyo’s officials.

Fearing that the Hilongos case will not stand against the Tiamzons, they also filed a case of illegal possession of firearms despite the fact that the Tiamzons had no firearms when accosted. The Tiamzons and their five staff members where unarmed when arrested. Even the initial report of the Carcar police, which effected their arrest, did not mention that they were carrying firearms (something which the AFP spokesman insists on forgetting). This is consistent with the practice of key officials and cadres of the CPP to not carry firearms when travelling outside the war zones as this makes them prone to random checks and arrests by the reactionary police and military forces.
The CPP condemns the Aquino regime and the AFP for filing one criminal case after another against the leaders and members of the CPP in order to justify their arrests and prolonged detention. Such a practice is in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine, a principle upheld even by the GPH Supreme Court which stipulate that filing criminal charges for offenses committed in the course of one’s political belief is a violation of human rights.

4. The arrest of the Tiamzons will not stop the advance of the revolution. The displacement will be temporary and short-lived. The responsibilities that were being shouldered by Comrades Benito and Wilma have been automatically transferred to other officials of the CPP Central Committee.

As succinctly pointed out by Comrade Joma, the CPP has a “deep bench”. The CPP has 15 regional committees, scores of subregional committees, more than a hundred front committees and tens of thousands of Party branches and sections in the New People’s Army and organs of political power that daily lead the work of the CPP and carry forward the people’s war.

Add to that is the fact that the CPP’s leadership and membership is ever expanding with young blood as it continues to draw from among the ranks of the Filipino youth whose future can only be secured by waging a revolution to put an end to the oppressive and exploitative ruling system.

5. The Tiamzons were not living a lavish lifestyle. The AFP was utterly frustrated that they failed to show any shred of evidence from the house rented by Comrades Benito and Wilma to support their long-standing claims that the leaders of the CPP were leading a lavish lifestyle. They have long used this as a media spiel against the CPP leaders. As shown in the footages taken by news reports, the Tiamzon’s rented house only had work tables and chairs, wooden beds, a dining table, a small television set and nothing much more.They upheld the standards of simple living and arduous struggle.

A look into the report of the National Finance Committee will indicate that the Tiamzons and their staff were spending around P50-P55 per day for every individual. This is within the budget of around P60 which the CPP allows to be spent for the daily food allowance of its full-time members.

Having failed to do prove that the Tiamzons were living lavishly nor of spending money for themselves, the AFP resorted to accusing them of spending large amounts of money for their pets. Indeed, despite her asthma, Comrade Wilma is a cat lover who takes in pusakals (pusang kalye or common household cats) and feeds them leftovers.

The pet dogs, however, were part of the finance projects and source of additional income of the Tiamzon staff. They were breeding dogs to help augment their budget and make them less reliant on the central fund. Breeding dogs and cats for sale is common among working-class and middle-class families seeking additional income. Dog and cat food, when bought in bulk, can be bought for around P500-700 per sack from among breeders (contrary to the exaggerated claims by the AFP that each sack costs P2,000).

CPP/KM:Pamarisan ang rebolusyonaryong buhay ng mga Tiamzon! Pagtagumpayan ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan

Propaganda statement from Kabataang Makabayan (KM-Nationalist Youth) posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): Pamarisan ang rebolusyonaryong buhay ng mga Tiamzon! Pagtagumpayan ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan!

National Capital Region Kabataang Makabayan (Lucille Gypsy Zabala Brigade)

Mariing kinukundena ng Kabataang Makabayan-Brigadang Lucille Gypsy Zabala ang pag-aresto at pagkulong ng reaksyunaryong pamahalaang US-Aquino sa mga lider ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas na sina Benito Tiamzon at Wilma Austria at sa mga kasamahan nila. Wala nang pagtatanggi sa lantarang pambabalasubas at desperasyon ng rekasyunaryong pamahalaan na pahinain at durugin ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa pagkakadakip ng dalawang lider komunista.

Sa dinaloy ng usapang pangkapayapaan, ang estadong ito mismo ang nagsasara ng pintuan upang mapag-usapan ang makatwiran at pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa bansa. Tinatalikuran nito ang ugat kung bakit mayroong armadong pakikibakang nagaganap at minamadali ang proseso. Sa halip na unahin ang Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms na naglalatag ng lahat ng demokratikong kahilingan ng mamamayan tulad ng tunay na repormang agraryo at pambansang industriyalisasyon ay inuuna nito ang pagpapababa ng armas o kapitulasyon ng digmang bayan, hinuhuli at kinukulong ang mga konsultant ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Tumatandang paurong ang reaksyunaryong pamahalaang US-Aquino sa pag-aasta nitong kolektor ng mga susing lider sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa pagnanais na idemoralisa at pilayin ang ating hanay. Wala na siyang pinagkatandaan at natutunan sa mga nakaraang mga pamahalaan na ubos kayang nagtangka at sa kadulu-duluha’y nilamon ng kanilang kabiguan. Patunay dito ang kawastuhan ng matapang na pahayag ni Ka Wilma Austria habang naka-posas na “Binabati ko ang ika-45 anibersaryo ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan. Patuloy na lumalakas. Hindi matalo-talo ng AFP!”

Ipinakilala ng reaksyunaryong pamahalaang US-Aquino sa mga kabataang Pilipino ang buhay na halimbawa ng simpleng pamumuhay at puspusang pakikibaka para sa interes ng mamamayan. Higit na nagkahugis at nagkamukha ang mga ehemplong dapat pamarisan ng mga kabataan sa katauhan ng mag-asawang Tiamzon. Parehong mga intelektwal mula sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman ang mga Tiamzon. Kapwa sila produkto ng Kabataang Makabayan na unang nagpabugso sa bagong tipo ng pambansa demokratikong kilusan hanggang sa tuluyang umanib sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan at buong panahong inalay ang kanilang kabataan, talino at lakas para sa pagtatagumpay ng rebolusyong magwawakas ng pagsasamantala ng tao sa tao. Kahit ang kanilang relasyon bilang magkasintahan hanggang mag-asawa ay binuo nila at hindi ipinagkait upang pagsilbihin ito sa interes at kagalingan ng mamamayan.

Sa tiwala ng at sa masa, naiabante nila ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa katayuan nito ngayon – matibay na nakaugat sa masa, matayog sa mga pagsubok at patuloy na yumayabong dahil nagtatagumpay. Pinanday sila sa pagkabihasa sa Marxismo-Leninismo-Maoismo at ang paglalapat nito sa praktika at sa malakolonyal at malapyudal sa kaayusang panlipunan kung kaya mahusay na nadidireksyunan ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas ang lahat ng kasapi at di kasapi nito sa pagsusulong ng makatwirang rebolusyon.

Taliwas sa inaasahan ng estado na mapapahina o kaya’y matutuldukan na ang digmang bayan dahil sa pagkakakulong ng mag-asawa, sinabuyan nito ang naglalagablab na rebolusyonaryong diwa ng kabataan at mamamayan. Higit nitong pinagtibay ang katumpakan ng prinsipyo’t paninindigan na tangan ng Kabataang Makabayan.
Gabundok na mga tungkulin ang nakaatang sa ating mga balikat lalo pa’t tinatanaw nating maabot sa nalalapit na panahon ang pag-abante ng digmang bayan sa estratehikong pagkapatas. Bukas ang mga balangay ng Kabataang Makabayan sa papalaking bilang ng mga nais sundan ang yapak ng mga Tiamzon patungo sa mga larangang handang tumanggap sa mga kabataang rebolusyonaryo.

Lubos na ipinagmamalaki ng Kabataang Makabayan na magkaroon ng mga kasapi na tulad ng mag-asawang Tiamzon. Walang pagtatangging kaya nating pagtagumpayan ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan hanggang sa isang komunistang lipunan kung ang ganitong rebolusyonaryong buhay at kasikhayan ang pamamarisan ng lahat ng kasapi at magiging kasapi ng Kabataang Makabayan. Ating iwagayway ang bandilang pula at sumulong sa landas ng digmaang magwawaksi sa lahat ng pagsasamantala sa inaaping uri!

Palayain ang mag-asawang Tiamzon!
Kabataan, Paglingkuran ang Sambayanan!
Sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!

CPP/NPA: New AFP battalion unleashes barbaric operations in Maco

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): New AFP battalion unleashes barbaric operations in Maco

Daniel Ibarra
NPA ComVal-Davao Gulf Sub-region Sub-regional Command
The Comval Davao Gulf Subregional Command-New People’s Army condemns the recent killing of a civilian by members of the 9th Infantry Battalion, 1001st Brigade-10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Freshly deployed from Camarines Sur early this year, the 9th IB has resorted to the AFP’s usual cowardly yet barbaric means to retaliate against Red fighters and to instill fear among the civilian populace in order to protect big mining interest.

The 9th IB abducted, tortured and killed on March 24 evening Wilmar Bargas, 21, of sitio Tinago, Brgy. Elizalde, Maco. A companion of Bargas who was taken along with him and who was able to escape witnessed how the soldiers mauled and strangled to death Bargas near the military’s camp in Tinago.

Bargas is the 8th victim of extra-judicial killing of civilians and civilians killed indiscriminately by death squads under the 1001st Brigade-10th ID under the US-Aquino regime in the area of jurisdiction of the subregion, and the first to suffer under the hands of the new Army battalion.

Since its arrival, the 9th IB occupied all barangays of Maco and conducted census-taking, interrogation of suspected members of the underground peasant organization, interview of non-residents and control of the entry and exit of villages. On March 10, the soldiers ransacked a house of one of the civilians in Brgy. Panuraun. The hamletting and militarization continued even as Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP Chief General Ariel Bernardo made a bare-faced lie to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a February dialogue that AFP soldiers will not encamp in and near civilian communities. Earlier in January, peasants picketed the Provincial Capitol in Nabunturan to protest against the intensified RSOT operations in their civilian communities.

The deployment of 9th IB complements the reign of terror of the 71st IB in Maco, Pantukan, Mabini and Mawab towns, areas which are being targeted for expansion by current large mining firm operators US-owned St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., and Malaysia-owned Apex mining. The 71st IB now concentrates in Pantukan as protector and private army of St. Augustine which holds a 4,000-hectare Mineral Production Sharing Agreement concession, while the 9th IB focuses in Maco where Apex mining is operating in more than 3,000 hectares.

In Pantukan, St. Augustine has put up roadblocks and checkpoints to collect permit fees and royalties from small-scale miners. Despite massive opposition from the people, the company continues to employ terror and deception tactics against Lumads and poor miners and mine workers to pursue the large-scale mining project.

In Maco, Apex mining is pushing for the expansion of its open pit project despite the massive damage it wreaked in the environment and the people’s livelihood after Typhoon Pablo. Due to the perseverance and militancy of peasant and small-scale miners association who demanded for damages, they were able to secure 3-million pesos as reparation from the company last October. Recently, under the new management, the firm instigated a new scheme which involves the termination of subcontractors and workers.

The NPA shall see to it that revolutionary justice is attained for Bargas and other victims of Oplan Bayanihan as it continues to advance the level of people’s war in the sub-region. In fact, Red fighters have met the arrival of the 9th IB with successive tactical offensives in the last two months.

In the NPA’s February 16 ambush against the 9th IB in Barangay New Barile, Maco, four soldiers were killed and three wounded. The NPA also confiscated four military packs, one night vision goggle and sensitive military documents. On March 12, the NPA again staged an ambush against the 9th IB in Barangay Panuraun, Maco, where five soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded. Four military packs were confiscated. The AFP’s indiscriminate aerial bombing against several communities in Panuraun followed the NPA’s tactical offensive.

No amount of civilian killings and RSOT operations can stem the tide and advance of the revolution. Covert and overt AFP death squads shall answer for their crimes against the people in the vast fields of the people’s revolutionary movement. The NPA and revolutionary forces are prepared to intensify the struggle and build organs of political power in the countryside.

Bangsamoro peace deal: The road to 2016

From GMA News (Mar 27): Bangsamoro peace deal: The road to 2016

On Thursday, the Philippine government and Muslim rebels will sign a pact to end one of Asia's longest and deadliest insurgencies following 17 years of negotiations.

President Benigno Aquino III and Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), will oversee the signing of the peace deal during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Manila. The MILF is the biggest remaining Muslim rebel group yet to sign a peace accord after the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forged a similar agreement with the government in 1996.

Read: Timeline of the Mindanao peace process

Read the highlights of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in 2012 below, with links to the documents.

Annex I. On Transitional Arrangements and Modalities

The President shall issue an executive order creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). This will be composed of 15 members who are all Bangsamoro: seven will be chosen by the Philippine government while the remaining eight – including the chair – will be selected by the MILF.
  • The BTC will draft the Basic Law and propose amendments in the Philippine Constitution to accommodate the Bangsamoro.
  • The Basic Law will be submitted to the President, who shall certify it as urgent and pass it on to Congress as a legislative proposal.
  • The Basic Law will provide for the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will act as the interim government until the election of officials for the Bangsamoro government in 2016. The President shall appoint its members, led by the MILF.
  • A third-party monitoring team will be put up to see through the implementation of the agreements. It is an independent body composed of a chairperson from an international body and four other representatives from local and international non-government organizations.
    Annex II. On Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing

    All taxing powers already granted to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) shall be transferred to the Bangsamoro, which shall collect all taxes within its jurisdiction (i.e. capital gains tax, documentary stamps, donor's tax, estate tax) instead of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
  • The Bangsamoro government will get 75 percent of taxes, fees, and charges for the Central Government collected within its jurisdiction, as well as the power to grant tax exemptions and other incentives.
  • It will also have power over existing government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and financial institutions operating exclusively in its territory. Government income derived from natural resources shall be divided between the Bangsamoro and the Central Government as follows: 75 percent to the Bangsamoro on metallic minerals, and 50 percent each on fossil fuels. Revenues from non-metallic minerals (i.e. sand, gravel, quarry resources) will all go to the Bangsamoro.
  • The Central Government shall provide a block grant to the Bangsamoro equal to or higher than the last budget received by the ARMM immediately before the establishment of the BTA. The formula for the grant will be subject to review after 10 years.
  • The Central Government will provide for a Special Development Fund to the Bangsamoro for rehabilitation and development purposes upon the ratification of the Basic Law.
  • Five percent of the Bangsamoro's development funds will be dedicated to support programs and activities for women.

  • Annex III. On Power-Sharing
    The Bangsamoro will have the authority to regulate the affairs of its local government units (LGUs), while the Central Government will ensure the Bangsamoro's participation and representation in national agencies.
  • The Bangsamoro will have a ministerial form of government with a democratically-elected assembly representative of its constituent political units as well as non-Moro indigenous communities, women, and other sectors. It shall be composed of at least 50 members.
  • Powers that the Bangsamoro and the Central Government have over the territory will be delineated into three levels:
  • - reserved, or those that the Cental Government will retain (i.e. defense and internal security, foreign policy, citizenship, immigration)
  • - exclusive, or powers to be held by the Bangsamoro (i.e. agriculture, economic and cultural exchange, tourism, budgeting)
  • - concurrent or shared powers (i.e. social security and pensions, land registration, civil service, funding for maintenance of national infrastructure)

    Annex IV. On Normalization
    The MILF shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of firearms, defined as “a process aimed at helping the members of its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) in the transition to a civilian life.” (Note: The document does not specify what will be done to firearms held by MILF members.)
  • The government shall redeploy AFP units and troops from and within the Bangsamoro, only retaining installations necessary for national defense and security.
  • The disbandment of private armed groups shall be a joint priority of the Philippine government and the MILF.
  • Both parties will jointly undertake detection and clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance, as well as mine risk education.
  • The Bangsamoro police force shall be professional and civilian in character, reporting to both the Bangsamoro and the Central Government.
  • The following mechanisms shall be established to ensure effective security collaboration prior to the establishment of a fully operational police force in the Bangsamoro territory:
  • - Joint Normalization Committee
  • - Joint Peace and Security Committee
  • - Joint Peace and Security Teams

  • The MILF, the government, and independent observers warn a lasting peace is far from guaranteed, with many obstacles still to be overcome before Aquino steps down in 2016. The infographic below traces the critical steps that still need be taken after Thursday's peace deal is signed, until the new Bangsamoro political entity is put in place.

    No vacuum in NPA leadership despite Tiamzon couple’s arrest –Joma

    From GMA News (Mar 28): No vacuum in NPA leadership despite Tiamzon couple’s arrest –Joma

    UTRECHT, The Netherlands – The recent arrest of the Tiamzon couple will not create a vacuum within the revolutionary movement, according to Jose Maria Sison, the self-exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

    In a recent interview, Sison said the movement has been following a system for more than 40 years that makes succession automatic once a leader is arrested.

    “There cannot be [a vacuum], there's a system of succession, this is a system that has been growing for the last 45 years. It says take bench when someone's out. And let's not forget that there are more members of the movement now compared to when I was arrested. There are a lot of really good ones too,” he said without mentioning any names.

    Authorities last week arrested Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria in Cebu. The two are political consultants of the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

    In the interview, Sison recalled his arrest in 1977 as a proof of this systematic succession. “When I was arrested in 1977, I was replaced within 24 hours,” he recounted.

    Sison added that this system is a lesson from what he calls the historic arrest of Emilio Aguinaldo.

    “The revolutionary movement has learned from Aguinaldo's arrest. Once a top ranking leader is caught, they will never let him go. To not prejudice the movement in case the arrested leader shares the movement's secrets, the movement uses this succession as protection of its ranks. The arrested leader is automatically out of position,” he explained.

    The CPP's armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), will celebrate its 45th anniversary on Saturday, March 29. Sison said there are no plans of a retaliation from the movement's side on the day but expects a 21-gun salute for the Tiamzon couple.

    Casipong family paid ransom for teacher's release says Cong Lilia

    From the Zamboanga Today (Mar 28): Casipong family paid ransom for teacher's release says Cong Lilia

    The family of released kidnap victim Cathy May Casipong sold their family home to deliver the ransom payment demanded by kidnappers for the freedom of the abducted Zamboanga teacher.

    Casipong met with  Zamboanga legislator Lilia Nuno last Sunday to discuss matters relative to the incident and her future career and personal plans.

    Casipong's parents, who were present during the meeting, informed Nuno about the travails experienced by the family when Casipong was kidnapped last December.

    In an interview, Nuno said that the parents of Casipong themselves admitted the sale of their family home in barangay Zambowood for at least P300,000 to help pay the ransom demanded by their daughter's abductors.

    The abductors initially demanded P5-million for the release of Casipong but reportedly settled for a lower amount after negotiations with the victim's family.

    Casipong was reportedly scheduled for release early March after family members relayed to kidnappers the availability of the P300,000 ransom payment obtained from the sale of their residential house and lot

    Kidnappers however reneged on the deal and refused to hand over Casipong while demanding a higher amount as ransom payment.

    Casipong was finally released on March 11 after family members delivered a higher amount as ransom payment to kidnappers. 

    Nuno refused to state the actual amount paid. Sources however said that the ransom amounted to P500,000.

    For his part, Casipong's father refused to comment on issues regarding the payment of ransom saying that threats on their daughter's safety are still present more than a week after the release.

    In a press conference, Schools Division Superintendent Pedro Melchor Natividad said that Casipong had been accommodated as one of the beneficiaries in a government housing project in the east coast without commenting on the reported loss of the family home due to the payment of ransom by the CAsipong family.

    The city government of Zamboanga maintains a "no ransom" policy for kidnap victims.

    It will be recalled that Sibugtuk elementary school teacher Cathy May Casipong was abducted by unidentified men last December 19 while traversing the waters between Limaong island and the Vitali mainland in the east coast.

    Casipong was released by her abductors at the Ipil bus terminal last March 11.

    BIFF still wants Islamic state despite peace pact

    From ABS-CBN (Mar 28): BIFF still wants Islamic state despite peace pact

    The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Friday said it will continue to fight for an Islamic state despite the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in MalacaƱang on Thursday.

    BIFF spokesman Abu Missry Mama said they have nothing against the peace deal between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but they do not support it because what they want is absolute freedom and an Islamic state.

    "Hindi kami sumasali diyan. Hindi rin kami nakikialam kasi magkaiba naman ang ipinaglalaban namin kasi Jihad itong sa amin. Gusto naming ng totoong Islamic state," Mama said.

    He said whatever action they do has nothing to do with the GPH-MILF peace pact.

    "Hindi kami sumasabotahe diyan. Yung mga pang-aatake namin sa mga kampo ng sundalo walang kinalaman diyan... Ang amin lang, gusto naming umalis na ang mga sundalo dito sa Mindanao," he said.

    He said they are currently busy recruiting new members from all over Mindanao.

    "Tahimik pa tayo ngayon kasi marami tayong ni-rerecruit. Actually dumadami pa ang BIFF, meron sa Western, Eastern, Northern at Southern Mindanao."

    President Aquino has called on other armed groups to join the peace process the GPH and MILF are undertaking.

    1996 Final Peace Agreement

    Meanwhile, the Sema faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said they will continue to ask government to implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement through the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

    MNLF faction spokesman Romeo Sema said they appreciate MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim's recognition of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement during his speech in the CAB signing in MalacaƱang, but they will not let the 1976 Tripoli Agreement be forgotten.

    "Nagpapasalamat naman kami sa sinabi ni brother Murad Ebrahim, pero itutuloy pa rin namin ang aming pakikibaka para sa implementasyon ng 1996 peace agreement," he said.

    "Sinisingil lang namin ang obligasyon ng gobyerno sa amin na hindi rin ibinigay," he added.

    Sema said they are not closing their door on the idea of linking the CAB and the 1996 peace agreement.

    "Willing naman kami pero dapat may tamang mekanismo. Pero mahaba-habang proseso yan, mahihirapan kasi pagdating sa issue ng territory," he said.

    He said a bigger territory for the Bangsamoro people was promised by the government under the Marcos administration as stated in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.

    "May ceasefire agreement tayo. We will pursue this in peaceful ways," he said.

    MILF: MILF-GPH inks Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

    From the MILF Website (Mar 28): MILF-GPH inks Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

    After 17 years of negotiations, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Government of the Philippines finally signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27 at the Kalayaan grounds of Malacanan Palace in a ceremony attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, members of the diplomatic corps, UN agencies and international aid organizations, government top officials and a 500-strong MILF delegation.
    MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim referred to the CBA as “ultimate solution to the undying aspiration of the Bangsamoro “while President Benigno Simeon Aquino III hailed it as “an example to the entire world” and as a “testament to how far trust and earnestness can move humanity forward.”

    “With the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the legitimate aspirations of the Bangsamoro and the commitments of the Government of the Philippines to recognize and address those aspirations are now sealed and witnessed by all peace-loving peoples of this nation and the whole world,” Murad said.

    He emphasized that there would be no more valid cause for other groups to pursue through violence because the CAB is already the “fullest articulation of our aspirations.”

    In describing the Bangsamoro, Murad said that it “will not be a government of the MILF” but it is for all. The CAB, he declared, is not only for the MILF but it is for “ the MNLF as well, as much as it is for all the Muslim ethnic tribes, the Christian settlers and the Indigenous Peoples in the prospective Bangsamoro government and territory.”

    PM Razak called the signing of the CAB as a “momentous act of courage” and would change the Filipino nation’s history forever. With it, he said, the GPH affirmed the right of the Bangsamoro to determine their own destiny. The CAB, accordingly, “secures the rights of the Bangsamoro and sovereignty of the Philippine government.”

    The three leaders were agreed that “more works need to be done” after the CAB signing. 

    Murad stressed that for the agreement to become credible and acceptable by all, “it requires the actions of both parties to give concrete forms to the intents and contents of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

    President Aquino, on the other hand, stated that “its success depends on our continuous vigilance.”

    Army: We’re helping improve lives, not establishing bases in northern Negros

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Army: We’re helping improve lives, not establishing bases in northern Negros

    The 3rd Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army said they are helping improve the lives of residents of remote areas in northern Negros, not establishing military bases in communities as claimed by Karapatan human rights group.

    Major Ray Tiongson, spokesman of the 3rd ID, said that troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion are in Barangay Winaswasan, Calatrava, and Barangays Malasibog, and Libertad in Escalante City to conduct peace and development activities to help the residents address their issues and concerns.

    Tiongson’s statement refuted the claims made by Clarissa Singson, regional coordinator of Karapatan, that the Army forces have put up camps right beside the houses of the residents in these villages.

    He added that the Philippine Army, cognizant to the needs of the people, spearheads the developmental projects of the provincial government of Negros Occidental through the Negros First Program to improve the lives of the people in these far-flung areas.

    “So why are these groups trying to prevent the development in these areas?” he asked.

    Tiongson added that water systems were installed in Barangay Malasibog and in Sitio Sampinit, Barangay Libertad to provide the water needs of the residents while a “wellness farm” for organic produce will be set up for the livelihood of the residents in Barangay Winaswasan.

    He added that the troops in these areas are not staying inside the houses of the residents and no one from the Army is threatening or forcing anyone to surrender.

    We are inviting groups such as the Karapatan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan for a dialogue to discuss the issues that will truly address concerns on human rights, Tiongson said.

    Tankers to boost replenishment-at-sea capability of PN -- Alano

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Tankers to boost replenishment-at-sea capability of PN -- Alano

    The Philippine Navy's replenishment-at-sea capability will be greatly boosted upon arrival of the three tankers donated by the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC).

    This involves PN's ability or skill to refuel while on the high seas, Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano said.

    The tankers could effectively increase the patrol range of the Navy patrol ships and gun boats, Alano said.

    "The oil tankers could provide the sustainment capabilities for our naval operations," he added.

    The PN and the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on March 26 where the oil firm formalized its intention to donate three tanker ships to the Navy.

    The MOA was signed by Alano and PNOC development and management corporation vice president, Atty. Joseph M. Literal.

    The MOA provides that the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation (PSTC) crew will turn-over the tankers with all its appurtenances to the PN before the departure of the tankers from the Lamao Anchorage in Limay, Bataan.

    The PSTC crew shall also assist the PN personnel in familiarizing themselves on the machineries and navigation systems of the tankers and the transfer of the tankers from Lamao Anchorage to the designated port or location identified by the PN.

    The tankers were donated to the PN following PSTC's cessation of its business operations.

    PSTC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PNOC engaged in conducting, managing and carrying on the business of shipping, tinkering, lighterage, barging, towing, transport and shipment of goods, chattels, petroleum and other products.

    PSTC issued the notice of donation to the PN on Oct. 30, 2013 and received from PN the letter dated Feb. 18 confirming the readiness to receive the tankers.

    The tankers are scheduled to be handed to the PN by May 22.

    Signed CAB removes one of major three thorns on peace process – Iqbal

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Signed CAB removes one of major three thorns on peace process – Iqbal

    With the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the major thorns blocking the achievement of the lasting peace in Mindanao have gone down to two.

    ”The peace process is a long process. One of the major thorns is the signing of the CAB. It took us 17 years to finish that. So that is the first thorn,” Iqbal said in a press briefing at the Manila Hotel on Friday, a day after historic signing of CAB between the Philippine government and the MILF at the Malacanang Palace.

    Iqbal said the next thorn is how to translate the peace pact into legal document through legislation in Congress.

    ”Our next step is to submit it to the Office of the President and the President will certify that as urgent bill, submit it to Congress and Congress will act through legislation,” the MILF peace panel head explained.

    Senate President Franklin Drilon has promised to approve the Bangsamoro basic law within this year and ratify it early next year.

    The third thorn, Iqbal told the media, is the implementation phase of the agreement so that everybody will benefit on the ground, particularly the people of Mindanao.

    ”You know documents will not implement itself. It takes intervention of the people before an agreement would be implemented on the ground,” the MILF official said.

    After the passage of the basic law on the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity, Iqbal said a referendum will be held to get the approval of the people in the areas covered by the agreement.

    Once the agreement has been implemented on the ground, Iqbal said the MILF and other groups including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) can participate in the democratic process specially the election that hopefully will take place in the 2016.

    Under the process of normalization, Philippine government peace panel head Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said an independent body will be formed to supervise the decommissioning of firearms and MILF combatants.

    ”The most important end goal is to institute what has been the major aspiration in this process and that is creation of Bangsamoro political entity that will enable them for self-governance. It’s a gradual phase of the process,” Ferrer said.

    Iqbal clarified that the there is no element of surrender or destruction of firearms.

    ”It simply means a firearm will be decommissioned and a third party will be putting up a warehouse and these will be put there. It’s like a car. It will be garaged. The MILF nor the government neither control key,” the MILF official explained.

    Aside from the decommissioning of MILF forces, Iqbal said there has to be disbarment of private armed groups and undertake socio-economic intervention on the ground.

    ”When everything has been settled and has been put in place and then, who is in need of firearms?” he said.

    The MILF official expressed optimism that the peace agreement will finally put an end to almost four decades of armed struggles in Mindanao because of the trust that the MILF leadership gave to the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

    ”What we need here is a leader who is honest and has foresight. And we saw that in our President. The presence of almost 90 percent of the MILF leaders show our trust in this government,” Iqbal said.

    Iqbal said the strong leadership of President Aquino made the MILF leadership decides to invest in the peace process under the present government.

    Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Ging Deles said the government of President Aquino is committed to deliver to the Bangsamoro people what has been achieved in the peace agreement.

    ”The instruction from the President is clear that we will not sign anything that will not be delivered, Deles said.

    Canada to deliver 2 Bell 412 in August 2015

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): Canada to deliver 2 Bell 412 in August 2015

    The Philippines and Canada formally inked the Php 4.8 billion contract for the eight Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters Friday afternoon.

    The Canadian government has committed to deliver two of the aircraft by August 2015.

    The contact for helicopters was signed by Armed Forces chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, Neil Reeder.

    Initially, Reeder said that the two helicopters will be delivered "midpoint 2015."

    However, this was changed to "August 2015" after he spotted Jonathan Koh, Business Development Manager, Asia Pacific-Bell Helicopter, and asked for the exact timetable.

    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.

    The aircraft is capable of carrying 14 passengers and is capable of flying at a maximum speed of 140 knots (around 259 kilometers), cruise speed of 122 knots (226 kilometers per hour) and a range of 402 nautical miles (745 kilometers).

    It is powered with an enhanced Pratt and Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac.

    The helicopters will be acquired government-to-government through Candian Commercial Corporation.

    PAF seals F/A-50 contract

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): PAF seals F/A-50 contract

    Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Friday the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is no longer the butt of jokes among aviation military circles with the signing of the Php 18.9 billion contract for the 12 F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft.

    "Our Air Force has found a promise of new life with the realization of our AFP modernization program. With the eventual delivery and acquisition of these new air assets our Air Force can already forget the lingering and naughty joke that it is all air without force," he stressed.

    Gazmin made this statement shortly after Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency president and chief executive officer Young Ho Oh and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Ltd president and chief executive officer Ha Sung Yong formally signed the contract for the Php 18. 9 billion project.

    "It is heartening to know that in the near future, we will see this air assets fly across the Philippines. To say that the journey was not easy would be an understatement, for those closely involved in the tedious process that we went through," he added.

    "I am sure that personal sacrifices have been made, I'm happy to say however that all these seemingly endless discussions, long lines and never ending communications have paid of. I would like to thank the hard working men and women whose efforts have made this day possible. To our DND Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) chaired by undersecretary Fernando Manalo, the DND SBAC secretariat and the technical working groups for the two acquisition projects. let me express my gratitude and warmest congratulations for a job well done," he added.

    As this develops, Manalo said that the first two F/A-50 jet aircraft will be delivered 18 months after the opening of the letter of credit, the next two will be delivered 12 months later and the remaining eight jet planes to be delivered in staggered basis within eight months.

    The F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

    The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

    The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

    KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.

    The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

    The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

    There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

    An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

    Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

    The F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI.

    The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

    The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.4-1.5.

    Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

    'Bayanihan' reducing insurgency in the Philippines

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): 'Bayanihan' reducing insurgency in the Philippines

    The implementation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) "Bayanihan" has helped curb insurgency in the country.

    Guided by the IPSP "Bayanihan", which advocates for a whole-of-nation approach in ending conflict, the Philippine Army was able to carry out focused military operations against the communist terrorists as well as peace and development initiatives all over the country.

    The PA strongly condemns the various human rights violations committed by the NPA.

    The NPAs are responsible for various crimes committed against the people, among which are ambuscades and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, that harm not only soldiers but innocent civilians as well.

    In the first quarter of 2014 alone, the PA recorded a total of four IED attacks that killed and wounded security forces and civilians.

    Last March 2, soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion and civilian volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council were wounded in an IED attack perpetrated by the NPA's Guerilla Front 51, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

    In another incident on March 7, troops from the 69th Infantry Battalion were landmined by NPA rebels in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District, Davao City.

    Luckily, the Army troops survived the incident unscathed.

    Seven soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded in another IED attack in Barangay Saboy, Matan-ao, Davao Del Sur on March 10.

    The soldiers were in route to support the Matan-ao Police Station in Barangay Poblacion which was attacked early that day, wherein two policemen and two rebels were killed.

    Another landmine incident occurred in Compostela Valley on March 12 that resulted in the death of one soldier, and the wounding of four others.

    The soldiers were verifying reports of civilians regarding the presence of armed men in Barangay Panoraon when the NPAs detonated the landmine.

    Just recently, two Army soldiers were killed when they were fired upon by NPA rebels in the boundaries of Barangay Binahian A and Barangay Cogorin, Ilaya, Lopez, Quezon on March 24.

    The troops were on their way to a medical mission in Barangay Vegaflor, Lopez when they were fired upon by the rebels.

    Four others were also wounded in the incident.

    Meanwhile, elements of the 41st Infantry Battalion discovered a mass grave believed to be that of the NPAs in Barangay Dominglay, Licuan-Baay, Abra on March 7.

    This indicates that the vicious cycle of internal purging in the NPA is continuing.

    The PA also accounted various incidents of harassments, arson, and robbery against civilians.

    The acts committed by the rebels speak volume of the NPA’s criminal nature with no traces of principled ideologues.

    Forty five years of fighting and opposing the Philippine government only brought suffering instead of the ideal society the communists had been advocating.

    Theirs is not a story of triumph in the struggle for liberation, freedom and democracy, but a tale of abuse, harassment, and exploitation against the very people they vowed to protect.

    After 45 years, it is now high time for the NPAs to abandon the armed struggle and follow the path towards peace and development.

    AFP chief accepts formal surrender of 72 rebels

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): AFP chief accepts formal surrender of 72 rebels

    Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) chief-of-staff Emmanuel Bautista on Friday formally welcomed the surrender of 72 New People's Army (NPA) fighters who wanted to live peacefully and productively with their families.

    Aside from this, the ex-rebel surrendered 69 high-powered firearms.

    The military said the 72 former rebels were regular NPA members while others were members of the Militia ng Bayan (MB) operating in the mountainous areas of CARAGA and Region 10 composed of 48 individuals from Bukidnon, 18 from Agusan Del Sur, three from Surigao Del Sur, one from Agusan Del Norte, and two from Misamis Oriental.

    This was held at 4th Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan De Oro City.

    Besides Bautista, Army commander Major Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri was present in the ceremonies which was dubbed as "Pagbabalik-Loob 2".

    Also present during the ceremony were local officials of Northern Mindanao who have always been effective partners of the Philippine Army in its peace and development advocacies.

    For surrendering their weapons, the former rebels will paid a significant sum each.

    And as a demonstration of support to the former rebels as they join the mainstream society, the Philippine Army through the 4th Infantry Division will grant them a parcel of land which they could use for their livelihood.

    Under the government's social integration program, former rebels are provided access to economic and social opportunities including capability building and skills training, livelihood and employment opportunities.

    If favorable ITLOS decision is rendered, it will add weight to PHL position on sea dispute --Palace official

    From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 28): If favorable ITLOS decision is rendered, it will add weight to PHL position on sea dispute --Palace official
    A Malacanang official said on Friday that if a favorable decision is rendered by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the country's challenge to China's claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), it will add weight to the Philippine position.

    The Philippine government is filing a memorandum, called Memorial in international law, challenging China's territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea. The Memorial will be filed on Sunday before the Tribunal of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at The Hague in the Netherlands.

    Its purpose will be to oppose China’s nine-dash line territorial rule, which dotted line refers to the demarcation line used by China for its claim to the South China Sea.

    “...Assuming that a favorable decision is rendered, then that is additional weight for the Philippine position when it comes,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a Palace media briefing.

    She said that the tribunal is empowered to pass judgment on the sea claims based on international law, which is upheld by most countries that subscribed to it.

    Valte said that for the Philippine government, all factors have been taken into consideration when the discussions were held on the matter of arbitration and the only thing left to do was wait.

    “Let’s wait for whatever happens after the filing (of the memorial),” Valte said.

    DND, suppliers to sign multi-billion contracts for trainer jets, attack choppers

    From InterAksyon (Mar 28): DND, suppliers to sign multi-billion contracts for trainer jets, attack choppers

    The Department of National Defense (DND) will be signing on Friday contracts with suppliers for the manufacture of 12 training jet fighters worth P18.9 billion and 8 attack helicopters worth P4.8 billion.

    South Korea’s Korean Aerospace Inc. (KAI) will be supplying FA50 jets and the Canadian Commercial Corp. will manufacture Bell 412 combat utility helicopters.

    The defense materials are all intended for use by the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

    President Benigno Aquino III had approved a total amount of P75 billion for the DND and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to achieve at least a “minimum credible defense” in the face of China’s aggressive incursions in the West Philippine Sea where it illegally posting Philippine territories.

    Since the standoff in 2012, China’s naval, maritime and fishing vessels have virtually roped off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales which is well within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the country. Since last year, Chinese ships have been maintaining their presence at Ayungin Shoal, Kalayaan Island Group, Palawan despite the decades-long presence of a Philippine Marine detachment on a grounded landing ship tank (LST) there.

    Manila has filed a complaint before the United Nations’ arbitration tribunal over the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea where China has to prove the legality of its 9-dash line over the entire South China Sea including portions of the West Philippines Sea.

    In an interview, PAF spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the acquisition of the FA50s is a good start to enhance the present air capability of PAF.

    “Well, the FA50s will greatly enhance our air defense capability. This would signal the start of our territorial defense initiatives so that brings us closer to what we want to attain, what we plan to achieve which is the minimum credible defense. Definitely, this is a positive start towards that end,” he said.

    But Okol said the acquisition of the FA50s does not stop there because the aircrafts are just training fighter jets.

    “Eventually we will be acquiring multirole fighter (MRF) jets when the time comes, and that is another level of territorial defense,” Okol said.

    With the FA50s, the DND has yet to decide which Long Range Surveillance Radar System it will buy, whether the United States-made TPS-77 or the Israel-made ELM 2288.

    PAF is planning to acquire 3 radar units worth about P3 billion for the country’s air defense and to also fit with the FA50s.

    “The radars provide situational awareness so they look far beyond the horizon to see if somebody is infringing on our territorial sovereignty. The maritime patrol aircraft, the long range patrol aircraft are the ones looking into our maritime domain awareness,” Okol said.

    The DND is also eyeing the purchase of 4 anti-submarine helicopters worth P5.4 billion for its BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, two 47-year-old decommissioned Hamilton-class cutters the Philippine Navy acquired from the US Coast Guard.

    The helicopters, AW 159 “Wildcat”, are manufactured by Augusta Westland.

    THE GUNS FALL SILENT | Awaiting the signing of the CAB at Camp Darapanan

    From InterAksyon (Mar 28): THE GUNS FALL SILENT | Awaiting the signing of the CAB at Camp Darapanan

    The afternoon sun was searing as hundreds of Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and their supporters gathered at Camp Darapanan, in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao Thursday to await the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

    Despite the heat, the fighters did not break ranks.

    Silence gripped the crowd as the ceremonies began and, one by one, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and, finally, President Benigno Aquino III, spoke.

    And then, the moment they had all been waiting for -- the signing of the CAB by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, sealing an end to decades of conflict.
    Cheers and shouts of “Allahu akbar (God is great)” erupted, followed by prayers of thanks.

    At long last, war was over.

    Smiling MILF members flash peace signs as they wait for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

    Women sit together under a canopy in Camp Darapanan to wait for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

    MILF fighters in formation.

    MILF fighters sit on the grass to await the CAB signing.

    MILF fighters raise their weapons as they cheer the signing of the CAB.

    MILF fighters pray in thanksgiving after the CAB is signed.

    RAISING THE STAKES | Defying China warning, PH pursuing arbitration case over West PH Sea

    From InterAksyon (Mar 28): RAISING THE STAKES | Defying China warning, PH pursuing arbitration case over West PH Sea

    Pag-asa Island in the Spratlys (Reuters)

    Defying a fresh warning by Beijing, the Philippines said Friday it will file its formal pleading on March 30 against China at an arbitration tribunal on the South China Sea dispute, subjecting Beijing to international legal scrutiny over the increasingly tense waters for the first time.

    Manila is seeking a ruling to confirm its right to exploit the waters in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as allowed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, its team of US and British lawyers said.

    A ruling against China by the five-member panel of the Permanent Court of Arbitration could prompt other claimants to challenge Beijing, experts said.

    But while legally binding, any ruling would effectively be unenforceable as there is no body under UNCLOS to police such decisions, legal experts said.

    Philippines to defy China

    Manila said Friday it planned to defy Chinese warnings and pursue a case in the United Nations challenging Beijing's claim to most of the South China Sea, which Manila calls West Philippine Sea.

    Manila is to file as scheduled its "memorial", or formal pleading on Sunday (March 30), which would allow the UN arbitral tribunal to study the Philippine argument that the Chinese claim covers parts of Filipino territory, officials said.

    Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino, said the government was pursuing the case despite official Chinese warnings of fallout in bilateral relations.

    "At least for the Philippine government we can say that all factors have been taken into consideration when the discussions were being had on the matter of the arbitration," she told reporters at a briefing.

    China claims most of the strategically important body of water as well as islets and reefs which border major sea lanes and are reputed to sit on vast oil and gas reserves.

    The Philippines, whose forces are dwarfed by its giant neighbor in an increasingly tense stand-off over some reefs and shoals, sought UN arbitration in January 2012 to settle the dispute, but China has rejected the move.

    Warning from Beijing

    China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei warned the Philippines on Wednesday against proceeding with the UN case.

    "China will never accept nor participate in the international arbitration unilaterally initiated and pushed by the Philippines, and China's position has a solid basis in international law," Hong told a news conference in Beijing.

    "We hope that the Philippine side... returns to the right track of resolving the dispute through negotiation and consultation as soon as possible, (and) stops going any further down the wrong track so as to avoid further damage to bilateral relations."

    Valte said the Aquino government was aware the UN tribunal may not be able to enforce its ruling if it decides against China.

    "(But) at least assuming that a favourable decision (for the Philippines) is rendered, then that is additional weight for the Philippine position," she said.

    The Philippine case alleges that Chinese claims to areas of the South China Sea and its seabed cover areas as far as 870 nautical miles (1,611 kilometres) from the nearest Chinese coast, and are thus illegal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    Both countries are signatories to the 1982 treaty.

    In the latest hostile encounter between the two, Chinese coastguard ships this month blocked two Filipino-flagged vessels headed for Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly group, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan.

    The Philippines said the vessels were bringing supplies to Filipino marines aboard a decrepit navy ship that it beached on the shoal in 1999.

    The Philippine has also accused China of firing water cannon at Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal, another South China Sea outcrop.

    Nine-dash-line claim

    China, which has refused to participate in the case, claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

    The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich waters.

    The UN convention gives a country 12 nautical miles of territorial control with claim to sovereign rights to explore, exploit and manage natural resources within 200 miles. China claims several reefs and shoals in Manila's EEZ.

    The head of the Philippines' legal team, Paul Reichler, a lawyer at US law firm Foley Hoag, told Reuters a submission would be sent electronically on Sunday, meeting a March 30 deadline set by the tribunal. Manila filed an initial complaint in January 2013.

    Legal experts said it could take months for the panel to weigh the case.

    Diplomats and experts who follow the tensions in the South China Sea said Manila was going ahead despite pressure from China to delay or drop its submission.

    "They've crossed a significant line here ... the pressure to withdraw before actually mounting an argument has been intense but they've stayed the course," said Carl Thayer, from the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra.

    Arbitration would clarify Manila's rights to fishing and other resources in its EEZ as well as rights to enforce its laws in those areas, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

    "We see arbitration as an open, friendly and durable solution to the dispute," Del Rosario told a business forum recently.

    China reiterated this week that it would not take part.

    "We demand the Philippines ends it mistaken actions and stop going further down this wrong path to prevent bilateral relations from being further harmed," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing on Wednesday.

    "China's determination and resolve to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering."

    Tensions growing

    Diplomats said the case was the focus of growing interest across East Asia and beyond given China's assertiveness in both the South and East China Seas.

    Washington has stiffened its rhetorical support for Manila's action, even as it insists it does not take sides in regional territorial disputes.

    The State Department warned this month of the "ambiguity" of some claims to the South China Sea and called for disputes to be solved legally and peacefully, through means such as arbitration.

    Tensions have been on full display in recent weeks.

    Earlier this month, Manila protested action by Chinese coastguard ships to block two Philippine civilian vessels resupplying marines on the disputed Second Thomas Reef.

    The Philippines instead airdropped supplies to the marines, who live on an old military transport ship rammed onto the reef in 1999 to mark Manila's territory.

    While Chinese vessels regularly surround the reef, it was the first time China had blocked a routine re-supply mission, a move Thayer said could have been related to the arbitration case.

    Further north, the two sides have traded angry words over the Scarborough Shoal, where in January Philippine officials said a Chinese coastguard ship fired water cannon at Filipino fishermen.

    Manila says both reefs lie within its EEZ. China says they are part of its territory.

    Much further to the south, Chinese naval ships staged exercises in January at the James Shoal, a submerged reef within Malaysia's EEZ.

    Less visibly, China has applied pressure behind the scenes, attempting to isolate the Philippines within the Association of South East Asian Nations, one regional diplomat said.

    "China has let us all know that they are very angry ... The message is clear -- you must not support this in any way," said the envoy, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    Diplomatic sources in Vietnam have told Reuters that China put pressure on Hanoi over joining the case at the tribunal.

    A Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman last month said Hanoi reserved the right to apply "all necessary and appropriate peaceful means" to protect its sovereignty.

    Malaysian officials have given no indication they are planning to join the action or launch their own case.