Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CPP/NPA: Ilantad at labanan ang bulok at mapagpanggap na Oplan Bayanihan!

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 31): Ilantad at labanan ang bulok at mapagpanggap na Oplan Bayanihan! (Expose and fight the corrupt and hypocritical Oplan Bayanihan!)


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Wigan Moncontad
Spokesperson
NPA Ifugao Provincial Operations Command (Nona del Rosario Command)

Noong alas-onse ng gabi ng 21 March 2014 sa Barangay Camandag, Asipulo, naglunsad ang isang team ng Nona del Rosario Command, New People’s Army- Ifugao ng harassment laban sa isang yunit ng 54thInfantry Batallion. Makalipas ang wala pang isang minuto ng pagpaputok ng mga kasama, nagkagulo ang higit-kumulang na 30 na militar na kasalakukuyan noon ang paglalasang sa tabi ng school building at barangay clinic.

Alinsunod sa pinagkaisahang patakaran, sinikap ng mga Pulang Mandiurigma na huwag tamaan ang mga istruktura. Batay sa ulat ng masa, dalawa ang sugatan sa mga militar at kritikal ang klagayan ng isa.

Tinatawag na “Peache and Development Team” ang yunit na hinarass ng BHB. Sila raw ay hindi “panlaban” dahil ang kanilang trabaho ay ipatupad ang OPLAN BAYANIHAN. Magtatayo di umano sila ng eskwelahan sa Barangay. Ngunit hindi naniniwala ang masa sa kasinungalingang ito ng mga militar dahil bukod sa dala ng mga ito na malalakas na armas at bala, nagbaon pa ang mga ito ng napakaraming bote ng alak sa pagpunta nila sa nasabing baryo. Dinumihan at sinira pa ng mga ito ang eskwelahan na pinagkampuhan nila at namaril ng isang kambing.

Mahabang Rekord ng Pasismo ng AFP

Ang Baryo Camandag ay isa sa mga barangay na palagian nang pinupuntahan ng mga mersenaryong Hukbo. Noong 2010, nauna nang pumakat ang 54th IB sa Ifugao. Matagal silang nagkampo sa sityo Pihipi, kung saan nakatayo ang isang high school. Bukod sa paghihikayat sa mga kabataan na pumasok sa kontra-mamamayang trabaho nila at panliligaw sa mga dalaga doon, iyon din ang tiempo na lumaganap ang balita na tuwang tuwa ang mga militar dahil P200 lang ang halaga ng mga babae sa Asipulo. Noong March 2011, pinutol ng mga elemento ng 86th IB ang mga puno ng kape sa lugar na walang paalam nilang pinagkampuhan.

Noong Oktubre 2013, pagkatapos ma-encounter ang yunit ng NDRC, pinagbabaril at inatake ng 54th IB ang mga kabahayan sa sity Binablayan, sinunog nila ang sahig na yari sa kawayan ng isang bahay, sinulatsulatan ang mga pader, sinira ang mga pilapil at tanim na palay at hinarang ang masa na maka-uwi para makuha ang kanilang mga anak.

Ilan lang ito sa mahaba at madugong listahan ng pang-aabuso ng mga militar. Combat man o civil-military na operasyon, biktima ang mamamayan sa panggugulo nila sa kapayapaan- pananakot, walang basehang pagsusupetsa sa mga sibilyan bilang mga rebelde, pambabastos sa kababaihan, walang paalam na pagpasok sa mga kabahayan, pagnanakaw at paninira ng mga tanim at iba pang pag-aari ng masa, basta-basta na pambobomba, pagharang sa mga proyektong pangkabuhayan ng masa at iba pang paglabag sa karapatang pantao.

Hindi katakataka na dahil sa ganitong mga gawain ng mga hambog na militar, malayo ang loob ng masa sa kanila. Sa halip ay ang masa mismo ang kumikilos para sila ay palayasin sa kanilang lugar. Sa sityo Landing kung saan naroon ang Elementary School, halimbawa, mariing ipinapahayag ng mga magulang at guro na ayaw nilang magkampo doon ang mga militar kaya’t nais nila silang palayasin.

Tunay na Bayanihan: Pagtutulungan ng NPA at Mamamayan

Kasaysayan na ang magpapatunay na ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan ang tunay na kaakibat ng mamamayan sa makabuluhan at pangmatagalang pagbabago. Sa Barangay Camandag, halimbawa, kasama ng masa ang Hukbo sa matalas na pagsusuri sa katangian ng proyektong hydropower plant ng SN Aboitiz Power. Sa gabay ng mga rebolusyonaryong organisasyon ng mamamayan, nagkaisa ang masa na ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatan bilang pambansang minorya para sa sariling pagpapasya.

Kasabay nito, alinsunod sa prinsipyo ng pagsandig sa sariling kakayahan, hukbo ang kaakibat ng masa sa pag-abante ng rebolusyong Agraryo upang itaas ang antas ng kanilang produksyon at kabuhayan.

Sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa ay pinatutunayan ng NPA ang walang humpay nitong pagsisilbi sa malawak na mamamayan. Masigla itong nakikipag-aralan sa masa sa kanilang pang-ekonomiya at pampolitikang kalagayan at nakikibahagi sa trabaho sa p[roduksyon habnag isinusulong ang rebolsuyonaryong kultura na kinakailangan sa pagtatagumpay ng Pambansa-Demokratikong Rebolusyon, at bilang Hukbong panlaban, nakahanda itong dusahin ang mga abusadong tropa ng militar na nagdadagdag sa problema ng mamamayan.

Wasto ang Demokratikong Rebolusyong Bayan na isinusulong ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan. Dapat lamang na singilin ng mamamayan ang mga berdugong militar sa kanilang mga kasalanan sa kanila at hadlangan ang anumang pagtatangka na mamalagi ang mga ito sa mga pampublikong lugar tulad ng school building, baranagay hall clinic at iba pa. Dapat lamang na pagtulungan ng BHB at masa ang pagbigo sa mga layunin ng militar at dusahin ang armadong tropa nito na nagpapahirap sa kanila. Sa pagtutulungan ng masa at Hukbo, maisisiguro ang tagumpay ngt DRB na siyang tanging solusyon sa problema ng lipunang Pilipino.

Biguin ang Oplan Bayanihan!
Iabante ang Digmang Bayan!

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140331_ilantad-at-labanan-ang-bulok-at-mapagpanggap-na-oplan-bayanihan


CPP/NDF-ST: Video -- NDFP-ST Lightning Rally for the 45th Anniversary of NPA

NDF-ST propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Mar 31): Video: NDFP-ST Lightning Rally for the 45th Anniversary of NPA

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiocmksv6FA

Philcoa,Quezon City- In celebration of the 45th Anniversary of New People's Army,100 members of National Democratic Front-Southern Tagalog held a lightning rally.

NDFP-ST condemns Aquino's double-faced and deceptive peace talks. The group hits on Aquino's rhetoric on peace stating that long-lasting peace will not be obtained through papers and agreements alone as long as the root causes of the armed conflict are not addressed

NDFP-ST also denounce the illegal arrest and detention of Andrea Rosal who is 8-month pregnant and also Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/

CPP/RCTU: Video -- RCTU held a lightning rally in Mendiola to commemorate the NPA

RCTU propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Mar 29): RCTU held a lightning rally in Mendiola to commemorate the NPA

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8gyhNYP87U

Hail the NPA's 45 anniversary!
Workers, join the NPA!

Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions (RCTU-NDFP)
Member, National Democratic Front of the Philippines

27 March 2014

We celebrate the 45th anniversary of the New People's Army by calling on the Filipino workers and people to join the revolutionary armed struggle against the US-Aquino regime and the entire anti-people semi-colonial, semi-feudal system.

Despite the regime's attempt to portray itself as the best in recent Philippine history, it has unwittingly shown to the Filipino workers and people the truth that to rebel is justified! To advance the revolutionary armed struggle is justified!

Faced with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the emergence of China and Russia as imperialist rivals, US imperialism is working to intensify its plunder of the world's resources and launch more wars of aggression.

Working with the puppet Aquino regime, US imperialism is pushing for changes in the Philippines' 1987 Constitution to allow 100% foreign ownership of lands and other businesses and for the return of US military bases in the country.

Puppet president Noynoy Aquino has increasingly exposed himself as a defender of the country's corrupt pork barrel system, as criminally negligent of Filipinos who were victimized by super typhoon Yolanda, and as anti-poor and anti-worker.

There is growing discontent over chronic unemployment, soaring prices, cutbacks in wages, contractualization of work forces, demolition of urban poor communities, and privatization of social services amidst claims of "economic growth."

The US-Aquino regime has increasingly shown its fascist character, especially amidst mounting protests and impending actions for its ouster. Under Oplan Bayanihan, it has carried out various violations of trade-union and human rights.

It has shown no sincerity in holding peace talks with the National Democratic Front, as highlighted by the illegal arrest and detention of peace consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria. Its approach to the armed insurgency is highly militaristic.

Filipino workers are suffering from the regime's Cheap Labor Policy. Together with the Filipino people, they are showing increasing eagerness to fight for their rights, form unions, and further strengthen the revolutionary trade-union movement.

In this context, we are calling on the Filipino workers and people to fight for their rights and for genuine freedom and democracy for the country. Let us join the revolutionary armed struggle! Let us join the people's army that is the NPA!

The semi-colonial and semi-feudal system ruled by imperialists, compradors and hacienderos cannot be made pro-poor and pro-worker. We need to forcibly overthrow the ruling classes and set up a democratic coalition government.

In this light, we hail the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines which leads the NPA, their cadres and members, and revolutionary martyrs for gaining victories in the Filipino people's struggle for national freedom, democracy and socialism.

Long live the New People's Army!
Celebrate the NPA's 45 years!
Workers, join the NPA!
Down with the US-Aquino regime!
Struggle for national freedom, democracy and socialism!

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/

CPP/NPA: Video: One Billion Rising, by The Red Detachment of Women NPA-Panay

Propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Mar 28): Video -- One Billion Rising, by The Red Detachment of Women NPA-Panay

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gey1CWznaPg

In celebration of the NPA 45th anniversary the Red Detachment of Women NPA Panay joins One Billion Rising for justice and genuine, lasting peace.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/

MILF: MILF chief meets BTC commissioners

From the MILF Website (Apr 2): MILF chief meets BTC commissioners



Two days after the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim spent two hours of fellowship with the chairman and commissioners of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in a hotel in Manila where sessions are being held now since March 28.
  
Meeting the collegial body for the first time since its formal establishment last year, Al Haj Murad extended his belated congratulations for the commissioners for being in the agency that has “historic mission.”

“Your mission is to make sure we would succeed …. by structuring the fruits of the negotiations,” he said before the 15-man commission tasked with the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Murad emphasized the commission is in “the final touch”, with the negotiations having practically ended with the March 27 signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“The works of the TC is no longer part of negotiation, but structuring the fruits of the negotiations; there should be no more adversarial relationship as usually happens in negotiations,” he stressed.

He urged the commissioners to become partners in making sure that the fruits of negotiations would be translated in reality.

The MILF, he stated, considers the GPH as a partner already, that the two are already “marching in a parallel line” towards development.

Murad said the Front recognized and appreciated the efforts of the Commission, especially with the difficult tasks being undertaken under time constraints.

The MILF chair told the commissioners that the struggle now is how to ensure that the agreement is translated into its letters and spirit.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/904-milf-chief-meets-btc-commissioners

MILF: “Be part in the making of Bangsamoro Government,” Moro youth told

Posted to the MILF Website (Apr 2): “Be part in the making of Bangsamoro Government,” Moro youth told

An official of education department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told the graduating Moro secondary school students to “be part in the making of Bangsamoro government” during a commencement exercises.
  
Speaking before the Moro students of Datu Paglas National High School who were to receive their high school diploma on March 29, 2014, Bae Meriam A. Kawit, Al Hadja, Schools Division Superintendent Maguindanao I Division, urged the young Moro to continue pursuing higher degree of education for they will become future servants of the Bangsamoro people.

Kawit said education is vital factor that contributes to the development of the people and communities.

She related the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacanang Palace on March 27, 2014 that will pave way for the creation of the Bangsamoro Government.

The schools division superintendent further told the graduates to thank and honor their parents who have been supportive in their educational undertaking and very hopeful for the bright future of their children.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is currently fast tracking the crafting of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The body has been conducting consultations with various stakeholders to draw recommendations for the inclusive making of the basic law.

The CAB is the basis in the making of BBL which will create the Bangsamoro autonomous region. The BBL will be subject to the approval of Congress.

On the day of CAB signing, the Bangsamoro people in many parts of the country rejoiced, full of hope that the document will bring the realization of their aspiration for self-governance.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/905-“be-part-in-the-making-of-bangsamoro-government”-moro-youth-told

MILF: Forum on FAB and its Four Annexes held in Daguma

From the MILF Website (Apr 3): Forum on FAB and its Four Annexes held in Daguma

The Committee on Information of Daguma; Peace Advocacy Program Committee; Political Committee of Sagabain (Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat) and different line agencies in the municipality, in partnership with Mindanaoan Humanitarian and Development Initiative, Inc.
  
(MinHuDI) joined hands in the conduct of a forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) last March 29, 2014 at Barangay Kangkong, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. 486 Moro residents from the different barangays attended the program.

Mr. Suharto Al-Haj, Information Director of Maguindanao and Mr. Moidjoddin Talusob,   Executive Director of Kalilintad Dev’t Foundation Inc. were the forum speakers.  The former tackled the FAB and its Four Annexes while the latter discussed the proposed Ministerial Form of Government for the Bangsamoro.

During the open forum, one of the participants asked if what will happen to the Moro people that are not residing in the core territory of the Bangsamoro? “No matter where the Bangsamoro are, they will be recipients of the special intervention programs of the Bangsamoro Government” Prof. Talusob answered. “Su wata nu Bangsamoro na apya endaw maaden na wata nu Bangsamoro bon” (Wherever a Bangsamoro is born, he will remain a Bangsamoro”, he added.

“This is just the start of our peace advocacy programs here in Daguma”, he said. Daguma Information Committee and MinHuDI had scheduled peace advocacies in all municipalities of this province (Sultan Kudarat)”, said Norodin Dimaokom, Executive Director of MinHuDi, Inc.
http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/906-forum-on-fab-and-its-four-annexes-held-in-daguma

PNP calls for stronger synergy in addressing insurgency

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 2): PNP calls for stronger synergy in addressing insurgency

A Philippine National Police official  called for stronger synergy  in addressing the insurgency problem in the country.

Police Director Manuel Barcena, the incoming PNP Executive Director on Communist  Insurgency,  made the call when he graced the flag raising ceremony of the Police Regional Office – Cordillera(PRO-Cor) at Camp Bado Dangwa  here on  Monday.

“Let us continue working for peace and strengthen our efforts to finally put conclusion to this conflict. Armed confrontation is not the solution to the conflict, rather it is synergized effort within and among the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and  local government units,” he said.

Barcena explained  that it is the AFP’s mandate to go after insurgents while  the PNP as a law enforcement agency,  leads  the legal offensive effort.

His  job  he said is  to supervise the filing of cases against Communist Party of the Philippines/New  People Army/ National Democratic Fund(CPP/NPA/NDF) members involved in an atrocity.

According to  Barcena,  the recent arrest of the  high ranking CPP leaders,  Benito and Wilma Tiamzon,  and others in Cebu and Rizal, show  that the  rule of law prevails.

‘It is now high time we keep focused on the law enforcement approach of the PNP and AFP in our legal battle”, Barcena said.

‘It is through the legal battle that we can constrict or limit their movement, especially leaders, since they cannot be arrested by merely identified as commanders or members of the communist group”, he added.

Meantime, in line with PNP’s goal of strengthening its personnel,  it will be hiring 20,000 new police recruits nationwide.

PRO-COR  is  allotted 249 slots,  and  the screening of police applicants started last Monday.

http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=61396323819

'No Israeli weapons in AFP inventory'

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Apr 2): 'No Israeli weapons in AFP inventory'

The military clarified it has no Israeli firearms in its inventory as it vowed to look into claims that an officer connived with California Senator Leland Yee to smuggle guns from the Philippines.

Previous reports said Yee, who belongs to the Democratic Party, had access to Israeli assault rifles through a Filipino military captain.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told The STAR yesterday the AFP does not have Israeli weapons in their inventory.

He said almost all of their firearms were from the US.

“Some of them were manufactured in the Philippines but were licensed by the US,” he said.

Earlier, defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said they need more information about the supposed gun smuggling conspiracy, as the military has no Israeli-made firearms.

“If they can send us the information, we can look into it,” Galvez said.

He said the government does not condone illegal acts such as gun smuggling.

Zagala said they are monitoring the developments in the case against Yee, who ironically is a gun control advocate.

“The investigation is ongoing. We will wait for the results of the investigation of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation),” he said.

Zagala said they are ready to look into the supposed involvement of a military captain in the case. The military, however, has yet to receive a formal complaint against the officer who was supposedly in cahoots with Yee.

Zagala admitted that it is possible that some guns in their inventory would go missing due to negligence.

The military, he said, has an established system of accounting for its firearms.

A supply officer is preparing reports to determine if all firearms are accounted for. An investigation will be conducted if inspectors discover some discrepancies in the inventory.

Zagala said they are ready to support the FBI in its probe if they are asked to do so.

Customs probe

In Cagayan de Oro, the regional Bureau of Customs is set to conduct a fact-finding probe into the reported arms smuggling in this city involving a US lawmaker.

Regional customs chief Roswald Joseph Pague said they expect this week the personnel from the national office to arrive and conduct a joint parallel inquiry.

Pague said district collector Ruby Claudia Alameda has ordered the fact-finding mission to determine the veracity of the report from the US of the alleged arms shipment from the port of Cagayan de Oro.

Pague said he finds it hard to believe that the shipment came from Cagayan de Oro because exports are no longer shipped from this port but at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

“We are always on heightened alert, smuggling can’t occur,” Pague said.

He added that shipments are inspected by Customs personnel and pass through X-ray machines at the port before loading on a ship.
 
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/04/01/14/no-israeli-weapons-afp-inventory

Military raids bomb 'tiangge' in Compostela, nabs 2 NPA suppliers

From the Philippine Star (Apr 2): Military raids bomb 'tiangge' in Compostela, nabs 2 NPA suppliers

A joint team of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Bureau of Investigation has arrested two individuals believed to be suppliers of explosives being used by communist rebels in Compostela Valley.

Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber said authorities raided an explosives "tiangge" in Poblacion Nabunturan last Monday.

Two suspected suppliers of the New People’s Army (NPA) were nabbed during the raid and are now facing charges for selling, manufacturing, possessing and dealing illegal explosives.

Caber said the identities of the suspects would not be revealed for now for security reasons and to avoid preempting future operations.

Seized during the raid were 11 sacks of ammonium nitrate with a total weight of 275 kilos, 1,132 meters of time fuse, 569 pieces of blasting caps, a drum of cyanide and three kilos of mercury chemicals.

Around P300,000 worth of explosives and raw materials were confiscated during the operation.

The recovered explosives and paraphernalia were turned over to Army Explosive Ordnance Division for documentation and proper disposition.

Caber claimed that the raid would have a huge impact on the operations of the NPA in the province.

“If the two suspects provide us information, we will be able to identify other individuals behind the manufacture of these explosives,” he said in a phone interview.

Caber said a total of 465 NPA landmines have exploded in eastern Mindanao since 2010, leaving 138 people dead, 345 others wounded and several civilian properties and government facilities destroyed.

Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III said they would continue their campaign against illegal explosives to ensure the safety of residents in the region.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2014/04/02/1307991/military-raids-bomb-tiangge-compostela-nabs-2-npa-suppliers

WesMinCom shifts focus to NPA, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF

From the Zamboanga Today (Apr 2): WesMinCom shifts focus to NPA, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF


After PH-MILF signing of peace accord the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) is now concentrating its efforts against the CPP-NPA and the Abu Sayyaf group after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last week in Malacanang.

Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero however said they are still on the alert for offensive action from splinter groups originating from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who may disrupt the peace and order situation in the region.

"Meron pa rin spoilers like the BIFF so we have to be on the alert for these people who will try to sabotage the ongoing peace activities," Guerrero pointed out.

Guerrero however dismissed reports on threats from Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces to disrupt the ongoing peace process saying that Wesmincom is continuously in contact with the rebel group's commanders.

"So far lahat ng moderate MNLF Commanders are in contact with our ground commanders so I don't think they would want to create violent activities na may peaceful co-existence na," Guerrero said.

He however admitted that they are still looking out for the MNLF Misuari faction but said that threats in relation to the ongoing peace agreement have so far been "manageable."

Meanwhile, Guerrero expressed hope that the normalisation process with the MILF in relation to the peace agreement will go on smoothly and will be completed within the next two years.

A mechanism has been  reportedly prepared by the government to include activities such as demobilization and disarmament to prepare the MILF forces for their eventual entry into the mainstream of society.

Rustico made the statements during the recent mural wall painting of the concrete wall surrounding the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Camp Basilio Navarro in Upper Calarian.

The mural wall painting, held during the 45th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is said to symbolise cooperation of all sectors to achieve peace in the community.

"It's better to wage peace than to wage war. It's a better option for all of us," Guerrero said.

http://www.zamboangatoday.ph/index.php/top-stories/17125-wesmincom-shifts-focus-to-npa-abu-sayyaf-biff.html

NPA anniversary in Negros peaceful’

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 2): NPA anniversary in Negros peaceful’

The 45th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army in Negros, ended peacefully on March 29, surprisingly without any insurgency-related activity, Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said.

Three days after the celebration, Aying, who supervises the internal peace security operations in Negros Occidental, said they have not monitored any insurgency-related activity of the NPA, or even the display of NPA streamers in public places.

Maybe they heeded my call not to resort to violence, Aying said.

In the past years, the military had noted that the NPA marked its anniversary by launching tactical offensives against state security forces, or vital installations.

Aying also belittled claims of the Leonardo Panaligan Command that it members grew by 10 percent in almost a year, despite the sustained military operations.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, claimed in a statement that almost a platoon has been added to its existing military structure.

But Aying said the NPA may have been referring to the platoon-sized unit of the South East Front in Negros Oriental, the supervision of which was transferred from the Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas to the KR-Negros.

The KRSB has reportedly been dissolved in the south eastern portion of Negros island.

Regalado claimed that in over one year, they were able to conduct 20 tactical offensives in central Negros and confiscated 30 firearms.

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2014/April/02/topstory6.htm

State wants Tiamzons in Manila jail

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 2): State wants Tiamzons in Manila jail

A government prosecutor involved in the multiple murder case against Benito and Wilma Tiamzon said they should be detained in the Manila City Jail and it was “utter disrespect” on the part of the Philippine National Police to ask the Manila Regional Trial Court for continued custody of the couple without consulting the prosecution.

“(The arresting officers) should have sought conformity, which they never did. We’re on the same side. (The Tiamzons) should be committed to the Manila City Jail, the nearest jail to the court,” said Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong during a clarificatory court hearing on Tuesday.

Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, chair and chief finance officer, respectively, of the Communist Party of the Philippines, are currently detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City, the national police headquarters. They are coaccused in a multiple murder case in connection with a mass grave discovered by the military in Inopacan, Leyte, in 2006.

The skeletal remains that were found were believed to be those of victims of “Operation Venereal Disease” launched by the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front to purge their ranks of suspected military informers.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/591077/state-wants-tiamzons-in-manila-jail

Army troops recover explosives in NPA camp in Isabela

From the Manila Times (Apr 2): Army troops recover explosives in NPA camp in Isabela

GAMU, Isabela: The military recovered explosive materials from a New People’s Army (NPA) camp in a remote village in Isabela province.

Reports said the Army’s Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division (ID) troops seized the communist camp following a 15-minute firefight with undetermined number of NPA members in Barangay Villa Robles in coastal Palanan town around 7:30 a.m. on March 28.

No one was hurt among their troops while the enemy side sustained an undetermined number of casualties.

http://www.manilatimes.net/army-troops-recover-explosives-in-npa-camp-in-isabela/87107/

Japanese marines immerse in Philippine culture

From the Manila Times (Apr 2): Japanese marines immerse in Philippine culture

The commander of the Escort Division 13th of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commander encouraged his newly commissioned officers to understand the strategic and cultural importance of the Philippines in Southeast Asia at the Manila South Harbor Pier 15 on Wednesday.

The JMSDF is part of the Japan Training Squadron who visited the country to improve Japan-Philippine relations.

“The newly trained officers just graduated last April in Etajima, Hiroshima, Japan.

The main purpose of these visits is to understand the culture and tradition of the Philippines,” JMSDF Commander Hideto Ikeda said.

Ikeda added that they were in the country for visitation purposes and no training will be conducted with the Philippine Navy.

The JMSDF consists of the vessels JS Shirane (DDH143) and JS Asayuki (DD132).

Ikeda said JS Shirane was composed of 360 persons with two patrol helicopters, while JS Asayuki consisted of 200 persons with two patrol helicopters. Each helicopter is manned by three crew members who are trained in patrol, gunnery, mine sweeping, convoy operations and maritime transportation.

“It is my second time to visit the Philippines. The last time was 30 years ago when I was a trainee like them. I was also a new graduate crew then and the training was conducted on Subic Bay,” Ikeda said. Ikeda emphasizes Japan’s strong friendship with the Philippines and is hoping for future training exercise with the Philippine Navy.

Ikeda lauded the capabilities of the Philippine Navy in maritime self-defense but did not disclose his position on the conflict between Philippines and China over the Ayungin Shoal.

The training squadron of the JMSDF last visited the country on May 29 to June 1, 2012 with the vessels JS Kashima (TV 3508), JS Shimayuki (TV 3513) and JS Matsuyuki (DD 130). The Force’s ships have visited the country more than 50 times since 1966, which made the Philippines one of its most frequent destinations.

Philippine Navy vessels will escort Ikeda and his crew to the training on Manila Bay today, Thursday. The Japanese maritime vessels will leave the country on April 5. After its Philippine visit, the JMSDF’s will go to Guam.

http://www.manilatimes.net/japanese-marines-immerse-in-philippine-culture/87144/

Photo: Goodwill visit

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 2): Photo: Goodwill visit



Two Japanese vessels JS SHIRANE (DDH143) and JS ASAYUKI (DD132), part of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force,  are docked at the Manila South Harbor on April 2 for a goodwill visit. DANNY PATA

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/04/03/goodwill-visit-2/

PHL-China sea row not likely to trigger major military confrontation – analysts

From GMA News (Apr 2): PHL-China sea row not likely to trigger major military confrontation – analysts

Territorial conflicts between the Philippines and China would not likely trigger a major military confrontation, according to analysts, but they warned the tense situation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) could lead to miscalculations or accidents that will spark brief skirmishes.

The Philippine case advanced to the next stage when it submitted before The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration last Sunday a 4,000-page document, called a memorial, containing legal evidence and maps to bolster its complaint against China.

Manila’s submission, analysts said, could set off a series of retaliatory moves by China, but war may be a far-fetched option.

They can retaliate in many different ways not just the military way,” said Syracuse University Professor Marwyn Samuels at a conference held at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila Wednesday.

China has said the Philippines’ move to bring its disputes over the resource-rich waters was a “mistake” that “seriously damaged” relations between them.

Samuels said there are “all kinds of other possibilities” of putting pressure on the Philippines that does not resort to military attack. But if miscalculation occurs, Samuels believes any confrontation would be “low-level.”

China, he said, “will try to diminish it” and “make sure the events are small and quick.”

Asked on the possibility of China crossing the military line, Samuels said: “They will try not to and they don’t want to.”

“A lot of China’s strategy is deterrence, to be very tough and very strong, to react if they need to, but not too much or not too harsh,” he said.

The Philippines said it decided to seek arbitration after all its efforts, including bilateral talks, failed to prevent Chinese incursions over its territories.

But China argued arbitration is not a guarantee that it will resolve the disputes and instead urged the Philippines to resume bilateral talks to resolve their territorial row.

Direct negotiations had proven “successful” for China, its embassy in Manila said, noting it has settled boundary and territorial issues with 14 of its land neighbors in an “equitable and reasonable way,” including one with another South China Sea claimant – Vietnam.

Manila and Beijing have been embroiled in a long-running territorial row over some parts of South China Sea which Philippine officials say are within the country’s jurisdiction, but is being claimed by China as its own. Areas in the South China Sea that fall within Philippines’ exclusive economic zone were renamed West Philippine Sea by Manila.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have rivaling claims to the waters where undersea oil and gas deposits have been discovered.

China said it will not join the arbitration proceedings, saying  Manila’s case carries unacceptable allegations and lacks legal merit.

It argued that the five-man tribunal, operating under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, does not have jurisdiction over Manila’s case because it does not apply on resolving territorial disputes.

China claims historical and indisputable claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, an assertion the Philippines branded as “excessive” and “a violation of international law.”

Prior to Manila’s filing of the memorial, China was reported to have blocked supplies, food and fresh troops to an offshore military outpost in Philippine-claimed Ayungin Shoal.

Former ABC News Beijing Bureau Chief Chito Sta. Romana, who has worked in China for nearly four decades, warned that the margin of error on both sides “is really very small.”

“I agree with the policy of maximum tolerance, maximum restraint and not to open fire first because the Chinese policy is if you fire or attack, they will certainly counterattack,” Sta. Romana said.

“The idea is for us not to make a mistake: to ram their ship, to arrest their fishermen, to fire at the Chinese fishermen. If we make any of those mistakes, I think we lose an island,” Sta. Romana said.

Any miscalculation by the Filipino government and military, would be very costly for the Philippines, Sta. Romana warned.

“If we make another mistake I think the Chinese will probe the weak spots and if they could achieve it, they would want to control all the disputed islands before a decision (by the tribunal) is made,” he said.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/355218/news/nation/phl-china-sea-row-not-likely-to-trigger-major-military-confrontation-analysts

Moro rebels begin changes after peace deal

Posted to ABS-CBN (Apr 2): Moro rebels begin changes after peace deal

Moro rebels are beginning a transformation after the signing last week of a peace agreement with the Philippine government that puts an end to their more-than-40-year-old insurgency.

"The first phase of the transformation is in the mind, the psyche. We have seen that all the leaders and members of the MILF have undergone transformation as far as the psyche is concerned, from pursuing the cause through armed struggle and changing that approach through the democratic process," chief rebel negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said at a press conference.

MILF stands for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an 11,000-strong force that forged a peace deal with the Philippine government on behalf of Muslims and native residents collectively called Bangsamoro in southwestern and central Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was signed March 27, seeks to establish a semiautonomous Bangsamoro political entity by 2016, a move viewed at ending violence in Mindanao that has claimed 150,000 lives and stunted economic development in the resources-rich region.

MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar told Kyodo News on Wednesday the group's leadership has started preparing themselves and their armed combatants mentally by explaining what the peace process is about and the benefits of having a Bangsamoro government.

"When the Bangsamoro government is there, we don't see the need of arming ourselves anymore. Besides, it will become a problem to the leaders of this government if many firearms remain in the hands of unauthorized people," Jaafar said in a telephone interview.

"So, we are preparing the minds of the entire leadership and especially the armed component, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. And it's starting already."

He added that the BIAF strength is more than the government estimate of 11,000 armed with around 5,000 firearms.

Under the normalization annex of the agreement, the MILF will decommission its armed forces and their firearms will be warehoused. With the government they will also ensure all private armed groups in the area are disarmed.

The parties agreed the MILF weapons will be held under the control of a third party.

"We could imagine how our members feel (about laying down their arms). Although we are very clear that there is no element of surrender and there is destruction of firearms. But in order to have the Bangsamoro government in Mindanao, we have to pay for it, and one of the payments is the decommissioning," Iqbal said. "So, it requires a lot of educating our commanders and fighters in the field. But, I think, we are moving towards the positive direction. They understand that. Our commanders understand very well the wisdom behind this."

For security, a police force will be set up within the Bangsamoro and the Philippine military will retain some installations necessary for national defense and security.

Parallel to the decommissioning is the introduction of socioeconomic development to transform the formerly armed fighters into civilian members of society.

Jaafar expressed confidence the MILF fighters will not hesitate to lay down their arms at the proper time, saying the entire organization always follows the decision of the leadership.

He expects they will eventually go into farming, fishing, trading, government work or the Bangsamoro police force.

As regards its camps, Jaafar said these will be converted into farms for coconut, rice, corn, rubber, coffee and other crops.

But, the logging as a potential source of livelihood is not planned because it is prohibited and the MILF wants "to conserve our forest for future generations."

The normalization annex identified six MILF camps in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato provinces that will be assessed and developed into "peaceful and productive communities."

MILF negotiating panel member Abhoud Syed Lingga said that while it will remain and not disband as an organization, the MILF will become a "social movement," not an armed group.

It is "almost decided to have its own political party" to contest elections for a Bangsamoro government in 2016, he said.

"The Bangsamoro government is under the Philippine government. So, if it is necessary to raise the Philippine flag in offices or in schools, we'll see," Jaafar said.

"But we are still part of the Philippines. We are not creating an independent state. We are still citizens of the Philippines, although our identity is Bangsamoro," Iqbal reiterated.

Asked if he still regards himself a rebel even if he already signed the comprehensive agreement, Iqbal said, "not so much."

"I'm not yet decommissioned. But we are moving towards that situation. We would be participating in the democratic process, especially the election," he said. "By that time, I can say with certainty that I'm no more a rebel pursuing our objectives through the use of arms."
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/04/02/14/moro-rebels-begin-changes-after-peace-deal

PH Navy ready to pay price for maintaining 'ghost' ship

From the Philippine Star (Apr 3): PH Navy ready to pay price for maintaining 'ghost' ship

Preserving the decrepit BRP Sierra Madre and keeping it habitable for a handful of soldiers guarding the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal may be costly, but the stake – the country’s sovereignty – is priceless.

This is according to the Marines assigned to the remote outpost, which of late had been a target of harassment by Chinese vessels enforcing Beijing’s claim over numerous islets, shoals and sandbars in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine Navy deliberately grounded the former World War II transport ship in 1999 to serve as garrison for troops tasked to guard or defend the country’s maritime borders.

The STAR, which joined resupply and troop rotation operations last March 27 to 31, learned that a small ship traveling to and from the site of the grounded vessel consumes on average 83,000 liters of diesel fuel.

Ships carrying supplies for Sierra Madre usually come from the headquarters of the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) in Ulugan Bay in Palawan.

With a liter of diesel costing P44, every re-supply operation thus costs the government P3.6 million.

“I have ample provisions. Even if it will take me one month, I am not returning. I am bringing in fresh troops and bringing home our colleagues who have been deployed at BRP Sierra Madre for almost five months,” said LtSg. Ferdinand Gato, who led last Saturday’s successful delivery of supplies to the Sierra Madre garrison.

A Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel was used in the operations. “It is my order and I will carry it out,” Gato said.

Two previous attempts to rotate the troops from Ayungin were blocked by Chinese coast guard vessels, which have been guarding the shoal since May last year.

“We are also spending aviation fuel for our air support as well as thousands of liters of fuel for other ships mobilized as backup each time we conduct our resupply and troop rotation operations. But it’s worth it. Our freedom, territorial integrity and sovereignty are priceless,” a Wescom official who asked not to be named said.

There are other expenses apart from fuel, officials said.

Soldiers deployed to areas being claimed by China are entitled to extra “loneliness pay.”

Outgoing Ayungin Shoal detachment commander, 1Lt Mike Pelotera, said troops assigned at Ayungin are receiving extra allowance equivalent to half of their monthly base pay, or much higher than the P500 combat allowance their land-based colleagues are entitled to.

While the extra perks are measly compared to those received by their Vietnamese counterparts, Pelotera said he and his men don’t mind it at all.

“We are soldiers and as such it is our duty to follow orders and perform our assigned mission,” said one of Pelotera’s men.

Pelotera and his men were each given a bronze cross and a two-week furlough.

A Vietnamese official, meanwhile, told The STAR in Manila that their soldiers assigned in disputed areas are hailed as heroes and treated differently from ordinary soldiers.

Vietnamese soldiers assigned in the South China Sea receive higher pay and their families back home are entitled to preferential treatment by the government.

The soldiers’ families, according to the official, get free housing and education, as well as comprehensive medical benefits.
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/04/02/14/ph-navy-ready-pay-price-maintaining-ghost-ship

Tawi-Tawi cops hunt down killers of education official

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): Tawi-Tawi cops hunt down killers of education official

Police authorities in Tawi-Tawi have launched a province-wide manhunt against the companions of gunman who murdered a school division official on Tuesday, police here said.

The gunman was later killed in a shootout with responding police officers.

Chief Superintendent Noel Delos Reyes, police regional director for ARMM whose office is based here, has ordered the Tawi-Tawi police provincial office and the Bongao town police chief to dig deeper into the murder case and identify, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.

Also education officials in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have expressed alarm over the series of attacks against education officials, the latest of which was the daylight murder of the second highest education official of Tawi-Tawi.

Police in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi remained clueless on Tuesday morning's murder of Nihma Lakian Undah, assistant schools division superintendent of Tawi-Tawi who was shot in front of her son along a busy spot of Bongao.

Undah and her son were walking out of the provincial office of the Department of Education (DepEd) when attacked by one of the two gunmen who approached them casually then opened fire.

Undah died on the spot. His son was spared by the suspects who fled on board a motorbike.

ARMM Regional Education Secretary Jamar Kulayan, quoting a report from Tawi-Tawi education office, said the gunman was later killed in a shootout with pursuing policemen.

“Sadly, it ended that way. We could have wished the suspect to be alive or wounded so he can tell who was behind the murder of Indah," Kulayan told reporters.

However, he expressed hope the investigation will not end with the killing of the suspect. His companions must be put behind bars to give justice to the fallen education official, he said.

Kulayan said Undah was a very hardworking education official in Tawi-Tawi have served the division for a long time. He had good plans for the youth of Tawi-Tawi until his death.

In a statement, Rep. Ruby Sahali of Tawi-Tawi has called for an extensive investigation of Undah's murder even as he condemned the murder and attacks against education officials.

Police said the slain gunman remained unidentified.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=631558

Marines to pull out from Cotabato; Army SFB to come in

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): Marines to pull out from Cotabato; Army SFB to come in

After augmenting security forces in this city for nearly four years, the 350-strong Marine Battalion Landing Team – 1 is set to leave Cotabato City this weekend for a new assignment.

Replacing the task vacated by the MBLT-1 here is a 5th Special Forces Battalion (SFB) from the Philippine Army, an equally potent force against lawless elements.

The MBLT-1 has been instrumental in the neutralization of kidnapping syndicates operating in this city and the near environs that had preyed on a number of local Filipino-Chinese traders, among others, over the past several years.

“We, Cotabate├▒os, are saddened by the impending departure of the Marines here. The city would not be as it is today, a first class urban center, if not for the vigilance of the community and the Marines against criminality,” Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. said.

Still, Guiani added, the city welcomes much the entry of the 5th SFB as deterrent against criminal groups in the locality.

Lt. Col. Ronaldo Juan, MBLT-1 commander, said a company-size unit of Marine troopers would be retained to help the SFB familiarize with security procedures the Marines undertook here during the duration of their stay.

Initial reports said the MBLT-1 would be assigned in the island-province of Basilan, a component area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

A turnover ceremony is set to take place between the MBLT-1 and 5th SFB on April 5.

 http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=631601

AFP sends more troops in Davao region for security

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): AFP sends more troops in Davao region for security

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) central headquarters recently deployed additional forces in Davao region to beef up security measures amidst rebel atrocities in the past weeks.

Speaking at the AFP-PNP Press Corps forum Wednesday held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, Lt. Col Lyndon Paniza, chief of public affairs office Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said two battalions of soldiers from Luzon and one battalion from Central Mindanao were transferred recently to Region 11 to augment the region’s current military forces.

Paniza could not ascertain the exact number of military forces in the region but said one division is composed of about 4,000 soldiers.

He made the statement when asked about the military’s move over the recent threat of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to mount more offensives against the Aquino administration following the arrest of CPP-NPA leaders couple Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria on March 22.

Paniza said retaliatory attacks from the rebel movement is expected as a "desperate move."

"If they want to attack they can do that but through the use of landmines and improvised explosive device (IED) because they could not succeed in a face-to-face attack with the military," he said.

He cited the landmine and IED incidents recently in Matanao, Davao del Sur launched by the rebel movement as worst for it killed seven soldiers and a policeman, and wounded about 30 soldiers.

But Paniza said the retaliatory attacks which he said the NPAs are boasting have not yet emerged in the region.

However, he assured the public of full security in the region.

Lt. Col Patrick Cinco, chief public affairs office of the 10th Infantry Division, for his part, said the “10th ID is on the upper hand against its adversaries” (particularly the NPAs).

He said the 10th ID is ready against any retaliatory attacks from the rebel movement using its current 14 battalions, four infantry brigade, rangers and special forces.

“Our forces are enough and we are ready always as these forces are already deployed in the communities,” he noted.

Cinco said military operations continue particularly in critical areas of the region.

Paniza also clarified that aside from security purposes, AFP Central Office has decided to reposition its soldiers by sending additional troops to Region 11 with Mindanao now prone to calamities.

He elaborated that in times of calamities, the military is usually the first responder to calamity-hit areas.

Hence, he said the augmentation of forces to Mindanao is to secure the island from rebel violence and to respond to disasters.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=631680

13th RPSB received 71 new PNP scout graduates

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): 13th RPSB received 71 new PNP scout graduates

Butuan City -- The 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion (13th RPSB) based in Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez, this city accepted 71 new graduates of the PNP Scout Class, Tuesday.
The reception did away with the traditional 30 kilometers endurance run which usually start at the Regional Special Training Unit (RSTU) Camp, based in Santiago, Agusan del Norte, but instead did a 10 kilometer run dubbed as the "13th RPSB Run" from the rotunda of Brgy. Ampayon and culminated at the parade grounds of Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez at 5:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m.

The said run was participated in by officers and personnel from PRO 13 led by Caraga PNP director Chief Supt. Dominador E. Aquino, Jr. the 13th RPSB, Butuan City Police Office, City Mobile Group, Agusan del Norte PPO and PPSC, Regional Headquarters Support Group, Regional Health Service, K-9 Unit, R2 and the 71 new graduates of the PNP Scout Class CL-08-2014 "SILAB."

A short program followed where the new graduates were accepted as members of the 13th RPSB by the officers led by PSSupt. Joseph D. Plaza, the Battalion Commander.

CSupt. Aquino congratulated the new PNP Scouts for their success and admonished them to be responsible law enforcers and community leaders.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=631689

Bontoc policeman injured in latest NPA ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 3): Bontoc policeman injured in latest NPA ambush

More than 20 heavily armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels wounded a policeman when they ambushed a police patrol in Bontoc, Mountain Province Wednesday afternoon.

Police Superintendent Oliver Emodias, director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Mountain Province provincial office, said Police Officer 1 Emmanuel Dagsan, a member of the Bontoc police office, is now being treated at the Bontoc General Hospital (BGH) for a big wound in the right thigh.

”The encounter happened when we responded to the complaints of the people in Sitio Bantonil, Barangay Dalican, Bontoc, Mountain Province for the alleged rampant revolutionary taxation of an NPA group led by a certain leader ‘Naug-san’. The site was not far from the boundary with Sagada town where two members of the Regional Safety Batallion (RSB) were killed last March 29,” Emodias said.

Bontoc town is some 100 kilometers north of Baguio City. the encounter site is a boundary area between the towns of Bontoc and Sagada.

He narrated that after the first volley of shots, the lawmen tried to exchange fire but have to “prioritize the evacuation of Dagsan to save his life”.

Meanwhile, the RSB aided by other government troopers in the province were able to occupy two NPA training camps in Sagada, Mountain Province but the elusive group of ‘Naugsan’ were no longer in the area.

According to Emodias, the rebel group operating in the area have the advantage of knowing the forested place very well.

However, he said the lawmen will persist to protect the communities in the area from NPA taxation “which in truth so burdensome to the poor villagers.”

Although insurgency in the Cordilleras was almost totally decimated with the help of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) since 1986, there are die-hard communist NPA rebels who persisted to stay in the far-flung and pocket areas within the boundaries of Abra, Mountain Province and Kalinga.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=631895

Fort Magsaysay can accommodate visiting US forces -- NOLCOM chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): Fort Magsaysay can accommodate visiting US forces -- NOLCOM chief

Northern Luzon Command head, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, said that Fort Magsaysay, the largest military reservation and facility under his command, can be made available to American forces once the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDC) is finalized.

"We can make available Fort Magsaysay (in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija) for them once the (EDC) is finalized," he said in Filipino.

He added that the 45,000 hectares base, the largest military facility in the Philippines, is more than adequate to handle US troops and their equipment.

"They can adequately place their equipment there and train there," Catapang said.

He also stressed that what makes Fort Magsaysay more useful is that it is very near and accessible to Northern Luzon Command headquarters in Tarlac.

Aside from this, Fort Magsaysay is also near Dingalan Bay which is owned by the 7th Infantry Division, one of the Filipino units based in the facility.

"It's a six-kilometer beach frontage (property) and that area can be also used for naval maneuvers," Catapang stressed.

The 7th round of the EDC talks was concluded last March 27, with both Filipino and American panels claiming significant progress.

In the agreed minutes, both the Philippine and United States negotiating panels described the discussions as “open and substantive” and achieved “further progress.”

The two sides reached consensus on a number of additional provisions.

However, Defense undersecretary and Philippine panel chair Pio Lorenzo Batino did not comment on what these items are.

But he added that the negotiations were “proceeding at a deliberate pace,” noting the progress so far achieved.

“We are moving forward on many key provisions and it is crucial at this point that both sides are clear on their common understanding of these key provisions and of the thrust of the agreement,” he added.

An eighth round of negotiations is expected to be held in Department of National Defense (DND) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo early April.

The proposed agreement will allow the sharing of defined areas within certain Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) facilities with elements of the US military on a rotational basis and within parameters consistent with the Philippine Constitution and laws.

Batino earlier underscored that with the “changing regional security environment” and changes in both sides’ internal environments, there is a need to find a “new model for our security engagement” and emphasized that the new security engagement model must fully observe our constitutional requirements.

For his part, Ambassador Eric John, United States negotiating panel chair, earlier said that he looked forward to “reaching an agreement that helps strengthen further our individual and collective defense capabilities,” even as he recognized and reaffirmed the importance of respecting Philippine sovereignty.

“The other issue we agreed on at the outset of this (negotiation) was the respect for the sovereignty of the Philippines. And that’s a message that you (the Philippine Panel) made very clear the very first round, and that’s the message all of us took back to Washington,” Ambassador John said.

“And it is in the best spirit of respect for sovereignty and respect for long-standing partnership that we entered into these negotiations,” John added.

Batino emphasized that, as in the preceding six rounds, the Philippine negotiating panel is guided by the principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops and no US basing in the Philippines, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, including the prohibition against nuclear weapons.

The other members of the Philippine negotiating panel are Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya, Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III and Defense assistant secretary for strategic assessments Raymund Jose Quilop.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=631620

133 new soldiers join PA's 10th Infantry Division

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): 133 new soldiers join PA's 10th Infantry Division

A total of 133 enlisted personnel graduated from their candidate soldier's course on Wednesday and joined the roster of the Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

Capt. Ernest Carolina, 10th ID spokesperson, said the graduation ceremonies took place at Camp Manuel T. Yan in Mawab town, Compostela Valley.

"These new soldiers will further strengthen our efforts to gain the lasting peace and development that we have been working for in active collaboration with all stakeholders," 10th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Ariel Bernardo said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=631634

DND chief lauds Northern Luzon Command for a job well done

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): DND chief lauds Northern Luzon Command for a job well done

As the Northern Luzon Command celebrated its 27th founding anniversary on Tuesday, Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin commended all its officers and enlisted personnel "for a job well done" in protecting the area against all forms of threats.

"I must commend (Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio) Catapang for the sustained high standards of discipline, training and performance of the officers, men and women of the Northern Luzon Command," Gazmin said in his anniversary message.

He added that these traits are ideal of Filipino troops and must be emulated by other commands and units in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"As I have known it to be, I have utmost confidence in the professional capabilities of (the) Northern Luzon Command. Its leadership dynamic, as it should be, has adhered to the lofty stands in marching its personnel to the path of genuine service for our nation and countrymen," Gazmin stressed.

The DND chief added that the Northern Luzon Command has managed efficient and effective deployment of its forces in various critical operations in its vast areas of responsibility.

"This is especially true in the precarious job of neutralizing the enemies of the state and all forms of lawlessness under its operational jurisdiction," Gazmin said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=631595

Bangsamoro agreement unconstitutional – Sen. Santiago

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): Bangsamoro agreement unconstitutional – Sen. Santiago

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday said the recently-signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of constitutional supremacy.

The lady senator said the CAB which includes as an integral part some 12 agreements, including the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, said the Agreement establishes not a mere autonomous region as provided for by the Constitution, but a substate which will exercise certain sovereign powers that should be reserved only for the central government.

Santiago, a former professor of constitutional law at the University of the Philippines, appeared to be particularly incensed by the Agreement which provides in Part 7, para. 4, subpara. (b), that one of the functions of the Transition Commission is the following:

“To work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior past agreements.”

Santiago, chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, said the provision is “beyond ridiculous.”

”The basic function of a constitution is to list the powers of the state and to list the rights of the citizens. The constitution is a list of sovereign powers that are reserved for the government, meaning to say, all the three branches. This is the principle of constitutional supremacy. It is beyond ridiculous to state that the Philippine Constitution should accommodate the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary,” Santiago said in her commencement speech at Gordon College in Olongapo City.

After reciting this provision, Santiago said in her trademark expression: “Say again?! Wh a - a - a - t ?! The Agreement embodies the consent of the executive branch to amend the Philippine Constitution, in order to accommodate the Agreement!”

Santiago also said that preliminary studies show that the Agreement apparently contains provisions very similar to those contained in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which the Supreme Court previously declared as unconstitutional.

”Both the MOA-AD and the Bangsamoro Agreement appear to facilitate the secession of the Bangsamoro from our country, in a manner similar to the secession of Kosovo and Crimea,” she said.

Santiago listed the reasons why she believes that the Bangsamoro will turn into a substate, as follows:

a. The powers of the central government shall be determined by the Agreement, thus turning Bangsamoro into a substate.

b. The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, which is provided for by the Constitution, will be abolished by mere agreement with the MILF, which is not surprising if you consider that the Bangsamoro has become a substate.

c. Allocation to the Bangsamoro of all powers exercised by the national government over local government units.

d. Although the Constitution provides that natural resources belong to the state, in the Bangsamoro territory, only Bangsamoro will have exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources.

e. The Annex on Power Sharing gives to Bangsamoro so-called “exclusive powers,” which is defined as a tautology, as “powers or matters over which authority and jurisdiction pertain to the Bangsamoro government.”

f. Only the Bangsamoro shall be under a ministerial form of government, while the rest of the country will operate under a presidential form of government.

g. The Agreement in Part 7, para. 4, subpara (b) enumerates the functions of the Transition Commission which at present is reportedly drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law. One of the functions of the Transition Commission is as follows: “To work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of amending and enriching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreement.”

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=631709

2 Japanese destroyers for PHL goodwill visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 2): 2 Japanese destroyers for PHL goodwill visit

The Philippine Navy (PN) announced that two Japanese ships, the JS Shirane (DDH-143) and JS Asatuki (DD-132), arrived Wednesday at the Pier 15, Manila South Harbor for a goodwill visit that will last until April 5.

These ships of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force are commanded by Capt. Hideto Ikeda, JMSDF Escort Division 13 chief.

In connection with the visit, Ikeda together with the commanding officers of the two ships, visited the Headquarters Philippine Navy and rendered an office call to Rear Admiral Isabelo H. Gador, the Navy's vice commander.

The visit will also include activities such as goodwill games, ship tour and receptions to promote camaraderie and friendship between the PN and JMSDF.

Moreover, personnel from the Philippine Fleet and Defense Acquisition System Assessment Teams (DASAT) for frigates will be given an opportunity to familiarize with the advanced weapon and communication systems of the ships.

The visit is expected to enhance ties and promote military to military cooperation between the two countries.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=631752

FOCUS | Philippine soldiers on lonely Ayungin Shoal outpost face the 'enemy'

From InterAksyon (Apr 2): FOCUS | Philippine soldiers on lonely Ayungin Shoal outpost face the 'enemy'



In this photo taken March 31, 2014, Philippine Marine Lieutenant First Class Mike Pelotera stands to attention with his 8 colleagues before receiving bronze cross medals after a five month mission manning the Philippines' remote outpost on the Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratlys Island in the South China Sea, at the Naval Headquarters in Palawan. AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO

Nine hungry marines guarding the Philippines' loneliest outpost aboard a rusted World War II vessel had just one option after Chinese vessels blocked fresh supplies from reaching them -- go fishing.

The troops were 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the nearest major Philippine island, holding on to a tiny reef in the South China Sea as part of a decades-long territorial row that in recent months had grown increasingly hostile.

"We knew about the dangers signing on to the job, but my worry was we were running out of supplies," Mike Pelotera, the leader of the Marine unit, told AFP after his five-month mission ended this week and he returned to shore.

"But we are marines and we adapt, we went fishing."

In a remarkable act of military doggedness, the Philippines has since 1999 stationed a tiny number of marines on a former US Navy boat that was deliberately grounded on a group of islets and reefs called Second Thomas Shoal.

The 100-metre (328-foot) BRP Sierra Madre, built during World War II then acquired by the Philippines in the 1970s, is now little more than a rusted hull and incapable of sailing.

But it has thwarted Chinese efforts to occupy all of the area, which is believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas.

The Philippines grounded the boat at the tiny shoal in response to China's military occupying Mischief Reef, about 40 kilometres miles away, in 1995.

Both are within the Philippines' internationally recognised exclusive economic zone, and roughly 1,100 kilometres from the nearest major Chinese landmass.

But China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. Taiwan has a similarly large claim to China.

The competing claims have made the sea, which is also home to some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, a potential trigger for major military conflict.

Dozens of Vietnamese soldiers died in losing battles in 1974 and 1988 with Chinese forces for control of the Paracel islands in the sea's north.

 China increases pressure

China had largely tolerated the Philippines' plucky effort to hold on to Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys archipelago to the south, but last year began increasing pressure to end what it termed an "illegal occupation".

In May the Philippines said a Chinese warship had begun "provocatively" circling the Sierra Madre, and lodged a formal protest.

Since then, the Philippine military has reported a near constant presence of Chinese vessels encircling the marines.

However China had always allowed the Philippine vessels to sail up to the reef and deliver new supplies to the marines, who generally do tours of duty lasting between three to six months.

This changed last month when vessels marked "China Coast Guard" blocked two civilian resupply boats, forcing Pelotera and his men to cast their fishing lines into the sea.

The marines said they were relieved a few days later to see a tiny twin-propeller Philippine military plane fly low and drop sacks of food near the boat.

Some of the marines jumped into the water and swam out to collect the bags. They filmed the joyous moment and the military this week released that footage, as well as clips of the initial blockade, to AFP.

"We were happy when the plane dropped the supplies... we were good for another few weeks," a heavily bearded and deeply tanned Pelotera said.

"But we were also worried because we knew the Chinese ships were still around."

The Philippine military sent another civilian vessel last weekend with a fresh batch of marines to rotate with Pelotera's crew, plus many months' worth of food.

Vessels marked with "China Coast Guard" again tried to form a blockade, which was witnessed by AFP reporters flying above in a Philippine military plane.

But after a dramatic stand-off lasting two hours, the smaller Philippine boat out-manoeuvred the Chinese ships and sailed into the shallow waters of the shoal.

"Some of the troops jumped 40 feet (12 metres) from the top of the deck to the sea in celebration," Pelotera said.

"It meant we could now go home to our families, have a haircut and showers."

The Chinese government reacted with fury to the defeat, with the mood in Beijing souring further when the Philippines also appealed on the weekend to the United Nations for it to rule that China's claims to most of the sea were invalid.

China has refused to take part in any UN arbitration, saying it will only negotiate directly with rival claimants but at the same time insisting it will never concede any territory.

"The Philippines must bear all consequences for its provocations," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday.

For Pelotera, 30, confronting China at sea was more daunting than other missions fighting deadly jungle battles against Islamic militants in the southern Philippines.

"Both missions are dangerous. But here, we are against a bigger enemy. And we are protecting our sovereignty, not just fighting a small group of rebels... here we are always in danger."
http://www.interaksyon.com/article/83999/focus--philippine-soldiers-on-lonely-ayungin-shoal-outpost-face-the-enemy