Monday, April 7, 2014

Groups to sue 57th IB over ‘child warrior’ controversy

From MindaNews (Apr 7): Groups to sue 57th IB over ‘child warrior’ controversy

The human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights) and a nongovernment organization are set to file charges of abduction and violation of a child’s rights against an Army unit in North Cotabato.

Lindy Trinilla, officer-in-charge of the Davao City-based Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), said the complaints stemmed from the case of a 12-year old boy who was placed under the custody of the 57th Infantry Battalion in Makilala, North Cotabato last month.

Trinilla accused the 57th IB of “coaching” the boy into admitting he was a child warrior of the New People’s Army (NPA).

She also criticized Lt. Col. Noli Vinluan, commander of the 57th IB, for presenting to media the boy, identified only as Balong, without the presence of a social worker or any of his immediate family members and relatives.

“That, in itself, was a violation and the Army is answerable to that,” she said.

For his part, Vinluan said he is willing to face any charges in any court to prove their innocence.
He also challenged Karapatan and the CRC “to tell the truth” and not twist facts just to deny that the NPA was “actually using child warriors in their guerrilla warfare.”

Vinluan, citing as basis Balong’s statement, said the NPA operating in Mount Apo had at least nine child warriors.

The Army official maintained that Balong voluntarily surrendered to authorities and was not arrested as earlier claimed by Karapatan.

It was on March 22, he said, that Balong sought help from a barangay chair in Kidapawan City after he escaped from a military offensive in Magpet town in North Cotabato.
“The village chair then brought the boy to the city police station. But the police asked us to handle the boy, which we refused at first. Since nobody is willing to take care of the boy, we acceded to the police request,” said Vinluan.

He explained he presented Balong to the media as proof he did not inflict harm on the boy and that it was his decision to seek help from authorities.

The military official said he expected Karapatan and other “left-leaning” organizations to come to the boy’s rescue.

“When these groups learned of this, they immediately accused me of coaching the boy, which was a big lie. I challenged these groups to be true to themselves and not hide the fact that the NPAs are actually using children as their warriors,” he added.

Kidnap victims kept on the move to confuse pursuing troops

From the Manila Times (Apr 7): Kidnap victims kept on the move to confuse pursuing troops

Members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are constantly moving their latest kidnap victims between Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in a bid to confuse pursuing government troops, a police intelligence officer disclosed on Monday.

The Manila-based intelligence officer who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the case said the Chinese tourist and a Filipina resort worker abducted a week ago from a resort in Semporna, Sabah were being transported in speedboats to the islands of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“They’re doing this to confuse troops and while negotiations are ongoing,” the intelligence officer said.

The two women were snatched by seven heavily-armed men. Authorities said the gunmen could be members of the Sawajaan, a subgroup of the ASG based in Patikul, Sulu.

The police source added that the victims may have been taken by their captors nearer to a camp of the Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu as added security.

The ASG is the smallest, but the most vicious of all threat groups operating in the southern Philippines. It has been blamed for bombings and kidnappings in the past.

4,000 MILF troops join MNLF

From the Manila Times (Apr 7): 4,000 MILF troops join MNLF

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, South Cotabato: Some commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have joined forces with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) along with thousands of their men because they do not want to give up their high-powered firearms and ammunition.

Ustadz Pendie Colano, the overall chairman of the Selatan State Revolutionary Committee, a sub-wing of the MNLF, told The Manila Times that four top MILF commanders have rejoined his group.

Each commander has 1,000 combatants under him.

“So this means that if four commanders are not willing to lay down their firearms, 4,000 MILF fighters will merge with us.

That is the reason why I have said that the annex on normalization will not be fully implemented because MILF forces, especially the followers of Chairman Ibrahim Murad, are against laying down their firearms,” he said.

Colano added that more MILF commanders will soon join the MNLF.

He made the revelation when he met with MNLF senior leaders in General Santos City over the weekend.

The annex on normalization outlines steps to decommission MILF firearms. It is one of three annexes that comprise the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which was signed by the heads of the government and MILF peace panels in Malacanang on March 27.

Under the annex on normalization, an independent decommissioning body (IDB) composed of three foreign and four local experts will oversee the laying down of MILF guns.

The IDB will also monitor the inventory of weapons, their collection, transport and storage.

The other annexes deal with transitional modalities and arrangements, revenue generation, wealth-sharing and power-sharing.

Another reason why the four MILF commanders joined their group is that they do not want to support Malaysia’s supposed plan to use the MILF to help them maintain control over Sabah, Colano said.

The MNLF leader added that the commanders revealed that Malaysia wants the MILF to fight the MNLF, particularly its forces who are protecting the family of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd of the Royal Sultanate of Sabah and Borneo. The sultanate is claiming Sabah, now part of Malaysia.

“Aside from their refusal to surrender their firearms to the government, these MILF forces do not want to fight us,” Colano told The Times.

He noted that the four commanders also threw their support behind the MNLF’s demand for full implementation of the 1996 peace agreement signed by the group with the government.

Colano claimed that the MNLF, not the MILF, is the “franchise holder” of the peace agreement recognized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

He did not identify these commanders because they are yet to inform the MILF chairman of their move to join the MNLF.

“They do not want Murad to know that they are already with us.

But if they are summoned [by the MILF leader], they said that won’t be a cause for concern because they hid their firearms in a secure place and there is no danger that these arms will end up in the hands of government troops,” Colano said.

He added that some MILF commanders have “long planned” to return to the MNLF fold but were just waiting for a chance to do it.

“Now they have this chance,” Colano stressed.

The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF.


 Colano also claimed that the transfer of thousands of MILF fighters to their group greatly boosted their numbers.

“[President Benigno] Aquino [3rd] is very confident in ignoring the MNLF final agreement signed on September 2, 1996 because he believes that we are not capable of waging another war. That is the blunder of Aquino because half of the 30,000 forces of the MILF are with us now and the more that [our number] increases, [the more] ready we are to face war. We have enough forces to send to help the royal family of the late Sultan Kiram and fight the Malaysian government who has the interest in Sabah,” he said.

He added that Malaysia brokered the peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF only “because of Sabah.”

“It’s not that we don’t want peace. We look up to and give high respect to the head of state. But it’s President Aquino who provoked the situation,” Colano said.

He explained that the President expedited the peace deal with the MILF because he wanted to become “a hero” by showing that he can succeed in negotiating peace with the MILF like what former President Fidel Ramos did when his government signed the final agreement with the MNLF.

Colano said the 4,000 MILF fighters who rejoined them are ready to fight alongside MNLF commandos if the 1996 peace agreement is ditched by the government.

He warned that a “greater and more serious problem” will arise if Aquino insists on the implementation of the CAB.

But Jimmy Labawan, the vice chairman of the MNLF Central Committee, said his group wants to avoid a shooting conflict because they also want peace in Mindanao.

Labawan called for restraint during his consultations with MNLF ground commanders.
He said though that the signing of the CAB was “treacherous” because by doing so, the government set aside the peace pact with the MNLF.

Labawan added that the Aquino administration copied some provisions of the peace agreement with the MNLF. What were changed, he said, were the methods by which the provisions of the CAB will be implemented.

Draft law

 Meanwhile, Malacañang said the proposed law that will create the Bangsamoro entity is expected to be in Congress by May.

Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino intends to submit the proposed Bangsamoro Basic law to Congress next month since the draft is still being crafted under the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

“The timeline is really to submit it as early as possible. We are hoping that we will be able to finalize the review process in time for filing sometime in May,” Lacierda told reporters on Monday.

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

“Once it is okayed by the Office of the President, we will submit it to Congress. The President will certify it as urgent. Hopefully by the end of this year, we will have the Bangsamoro Basic Law enacted,” Lacierda said.

Legislators are on a Holy Week break. They will report back to work on May 5, 2014.

When asked if he expects the law to have “smooth sailing” in Congress, Lacierda said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles has “already made the rounds with the House and the Senate” to brief lawmakers on the CAB.

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

ISAFP: We may be snoops, but we’re not political snoops

From Malaya (Apr 8): ISAFP: We may be snoops, but we’re not political snoops

The Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) yesterday said it is not engaged in monitoring political enemies of President Aquino’s administration.
“We never do that, that’s very ungentlemanly,” said ISAFP chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año on allegations that the military group is spying on critics of the President.
“ISAFP, under my leadership, is a professional intelligence organization,” he said.
Earlier reports said ISAFP is using “radio frequency test equipment,” a German technology used also by the US, which can reportedly gather massive amounts of information from emails and cellular phones.
The budget department released the funds for the acquisition of the equipment in October 2011.
Reports said a team of intelligence personnel had been already formed to monitor critics of Aquino and his administration, with the use of the P135-million equipment.
“We still do not have that kind of technology,” said Año. “If we have, we will never use it for any political purpose or unauthorized purpose...Our main focus is to gather intelligence against threats to national security and terrorist groups.”
But the ISAFP has been used for political interests.
During the 2004 elections, ISAFP recorded conversations of then President  Gloria  Arroyo and then elections commissioner Virgilio Garciliano on expected vote margins.
Told that ISAFP was used by previous governments to spy on its enemies, Año said: “Yes, there were allegations, issues before. Of course, I cannot speak for those especially because I was not the commander (of ISAFP then).”

CPP/NPA: Video -- North Central Mindanao Region NPA's 45th

Video posted to the CPP Website (Apr 6): Video: North Central Mindanao Region NPA's 45th


Published on Apr 6, 2014
Celebration of the NPA's 45th anniversary from North Central Mindanao Region

IESB: Possible audio message from the Abu Sayyaf Group

Posted to the Islamic Emirate of Sulu-Basilan (IESB) Facebook page (Apr 7): Possible audio message from the Abu Sayyaf Group

Allahu Akbar !

bukun jama'at abu sayyaf in magpangidnap sin mga bangsa muslim..
Alhamdulillah yari awun ba'go message audio daing ha hambuuk ameer malagguh sin tumpakan JAMA'AT ABU SAYYAF ha lupah sug(alharakatul islamiyyah)kakilahan ha ngan pagtawag kanya hi AMAH HAJAN daing ha group tanum patikul sulu.

NPA trying to get back lost territories

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 7): NPA trying to get back lost territories

The New People’s Army is now attempting to recover its guerilla bases in the hinterlands of Escalante, Toboso and Calatrava (ESTOCA), that are now the focus of development by the Negros Occidental provincial government.

Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said this is in tandem with the non-government organizations, civil society as well as state security forces, including the military and police.

Baladad said that if not for the local government units, civil society and other stake holders, the military will not succeed in their peace and development campaign, especially in the guerilla bases of the Northern Negros Front in the ESTOCA areas.

On Saturday Baladad honored individuals, LGUs and various organizations, who assisted the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan campaign, with the active involvement of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, through its Provincial Peace and Integration Development Unit.

Baladad said the NPA has moved out from the ESTOCA areas after experiencing military debacles, and the government is now moving in to pour projects into those areas.

He, however, warned that the NPA is bent on recovering its lost territories in the ESTOCA areas.

“For us to preserve our gains, we, in the military, should integrate our efforts and coordination, especially in the aspects of intelligence, operations and civil military operations. Externally, we also maintain the synchronization of our efforts with the LGUs, NGOs, Church, and the civil society,” Baladad said.

Progressive organizations has earlier called for the pull-out of Army soldiers in the ESTOCA areas, claiming that government forces are staying in populated areas and harassing residents suspected of being supporters of the NPA.

Baladad, who officiated at the 62nd Infantry Battalion turnover of command between Lt. Col. Efren Morados and Lt. Col. Rommel Cordova, praised the military in northern Negros for winning the peace campaign in the ESTOCA areas, by harnessing the support of the community.

“The presence of so many stakeholders who were given awards is a testament to the paradigm shift of the AFP campaign”, he said, adding that the solution to the insurgency problem is everybody’s business.

More than 20 Bayanihan teams of the Philippine Army have been deployed in the so-called guerilla zones of the NPA in northern Negros, helping concerned local LGUs in the delivery of basic services to its residents.

He also praised Morados, who is now up for new assignment at the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz, for his outstanding leadership as 62IB commander for 25 months.

With the 62IB having ranked second best infantry battalion of 3ID for 2012 and 2013, he challenged Cordova, its newly-installed commander, to duplicate, if not surpass, the achievements of Morados in harnessing the support of the people in winning the peace campaign in northern Negros.

Baladad also said that he was impressed by the performance of company commanders, platoon and squad leaders and specifically mentioned PFC Arturo Facelo, a Bayanihan Team member of the 62IB Alpha Company, who had accomplished his assigned mission with a big impact, although new to the military service.

“He is a good model for Enlisted Personnel,” Baladad said, in commending Facelo in publicly for a job well done as a Bayanihan Team operator.

During the stint of Morados, the 62IB recovered 11 high-powered firearms from the NPA,including M16,M14 and AK 47 assault rifles, effected the arrest of 10 high-profile NPA personalities, and neutralized 22 others, who either surrendered, were captured or killed in gunbattles.

Morados also received a Military Merit Medal and Command Plaque from Baladad, for his outstanding leadership.

CPP/NPA: Pasistang Terorismo ng AFP, Hindi Nakaligtas sa Bomba ng BHB-Masbate!

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 3): Pasistang Terorismo ng AFP, Hindi Nakaligtas sa Bomba ng BHB-Masbate!
Luz del Mar
Public Information Officer
NPA Masbate Provincial Operations Command (Jose Rapsing Command)
Marso 30, 2014 – Matapos ang dalawang araw ng pambulabog at paghahasik ng takot sa masang magsasaka ng ilang barangay sa mga bayan ng Cawayan, Placer at Palanas, matagumpay na inambus ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan – Jose Rapsing Command (BHB-JRC) sa probinsya ng Masbate ang mga bayaran at reaksyunaryong komboy ng pinaghalong 92nd at 93rd Division Reconnaisance Company (DRC) sa ilalim ng 9th ID.  Alas-9 ng gabi, pinaputukan at pinasabugan ng command-detonated explosives (CDX) ang sasakyan ng mga sundalo sa Sitio Pulanduta, Brgy. Tuburan, Cawayan, Masbate. Nagresulta ito sa pagkamatay ng dalawang sundalo at pagkasugat naman ng anim na iba pa kasama na ang kanilang opisyal na si Cpl. Piñano. Pilit mang itago ang pangyayari, hindi mapapasinungalingan ang dalawang bangkay at mga sugatang naghandusay sa gilid ng kalsada, mga nagkalat na pyesa ng nawasak na sasakyan at iba pang bakas ng pagkapinsala ng pasabog.

Bago nito, ilang araw ring naghasik ng takot ang lakas kumpanyang operasyon ng militar sa hanay ng masa. Ilang kabahayan ang pinasok at hinalughog ng militar para maghanap ng “ebidensiya” ng pagsuporta ng mga masa sa BHB at rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Tuwirang paglabag ito sa karapatan ng mamamayan dahil wala naman silang ipinakitang legal na batayan o search warrant para sa kanilang pamemerwisyo. Malaking pinsala rin ang idinulot ng mga ito sa kabuhayan ng masa sa ilang araw na paggalugad ng mga ito sa erya. Hindi malayang nagampanan ng masa ang kanilang pang-araw-araw na gawain sa produksyon dahil sa takot na mapagbuntunan ng galit ng pagod na tropang militar. Maging ang taunang masaya sanang selebrasyon ng araw ng pagtatapos sa ilang eskwelahan ay naantala ng ilang oras at binalot ng pangamba.

Para pagtakpan ang kanilang kabiguan, napilitang magIubid ng kasinungalingan ang mga militar. Itinago ng mga ito ang tunay na bilang ng kanilang ka-tropang namatay at nasugatan. Ayon pa sa kanila, nawawala at pinaghihinalaan nilang dinukot ang dalawa nilang kasamahan na sina Pfc. Erwin Talla at Gilbena Mechica. Pero ayon sa mga nakasaksi kagyat matapos ang pangyayari, dalawang bangkay ang nakitang nakabulagta sa kalsada. May ilang masa rin ang nakapagkwento na may anim na sundalo ang ipinasok sa provincial hospital ng Masbate na kaagad rin namang inilipat sa Legaspi City.

Walang nabihag ang BHB-JRC. Namatay sa pagsabog ng kanilang sasakyan ang dalawang sundalong iniuulat nilang nawawala at dinukot. Ayaw nilang aminin na ang kanilang operasyon ay umani ng kabiguan at demoralisasyon sa kanilang hanay.

Waring mga torong umuusok ang ilong ng mga pasista matapos ang pangyayari. Sa itinayo nilang tsekpoynt malapit sa pinag-ambusan, habang nagpakaamba ang kanilang mga sandata, isa-isa nilang pinatigil ang mga sibilyan at pilit na siniyasat. Ilang sibilyan ang hindi nagawang tumigil sa tsekpoynt dahil sa takot. Kapalit nito, nabugbog, kinulata at dinitine ang mga ito. Samantala, pinagpipilitan rin nilang may dalang kalibre .38 si Dong Dong Condor, isang sibilyang naka-motorsiklo, kaya nila ito hinuli. Pinalalabas nilang maaring kasamahan rin ng BHB-JRC si Dong Dong.
Pwersahang pinasok at hinalughog nang walang search warrant rin ang ilang kabahayang nakapalibot malapit sa tinambangan. Ikinalat ang mga kagamitan, isinabog ang mga bigas, mais at iba pang pagkain mula sa mga lalagyan sa paghanap ng ebidensya.

Nasa likod ng operasyong militar ang pagkukumahog ng military na abutin ang kanilang misyon ng paglusaw sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan. Maliban sa layuning guluhin ang pagdiriwang ng ika-45 na anibersaryo ng pagkakatatag ng BHB, ginamit rin ng mga palalong sundalo ang kanilang pagkilos para ikintal sa masa na kaya nilang gamitin ang mabangis na mukha ng estado. Lantarang ipinakita ng mga ito na hindi nauuna para sa kanila ang kapakanan ng masa, kasabay nito, tuluy-tuloy ang pagpapalipad ng eroplano ng Filminera Resource Corporation sa pagsarvey ng yamang mineral ng Masbate.

Ang mga Masbatenyo, kasama ang sambayanang Pilipino ay dapat magkaisa`t labanan ang pagyurak sa kanilang mga karapatan ng mga bayarang abusadong sundalo. Sandigan ang BHB ng mamamayang inaapi at lumalaban. Hindi matitinag at patuloy na lumalakas ang BHB anumang oplan ang kanilang subukan dahil sa patuloy na suporta ng mamamayan. Patuloy na ipaglalaban ng BHB ang mga demokratikong karapatan at kaligtasan ng mamamayan laban sa militarisasyon at mga abusong kaakibat nito.

Mabuhay ang ika-45 Anibersaryo ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan!
Lumahok sa digma ng pagpapalaya!

CPP/NPA: NPA holds Army Sgt. as POW, warns Big 4 logging lords in Davao Norte, Comval and Agusan Sur

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 6): NPA holds Army Sgt. as POW, warns Big 4 logging lords in Davao Norte, Comval and Agusan Sur
Aris Francisco
NPA Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Sub-region Sub-regional Command
Red fighters apprehended in its checkpoint, Sgt. Jeric Bucio Curay (serial number 803477) of the 72nd Infantry Battalion at 8am April 4, 2014 in Brgy. Andap, Laak, Compostela Valley. Curay, who came from a military detachment in Brgy. Panuramin and was riding his motorcycle when he was arrested, is now being held as Prisoner of War (POW) under the custody of the Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command- New People’s Army.

Consistent with its practice of lenient treatment towards POWs, the NPA custodial force ensures the safety and security of POW Curay as he undergoes an investigation for his involvement in counterrevolutionary and anti-people activities in Laak.

The arrest of an enlisted personnel of the 72nd IB is timed with the NPA’s renewed campaign against AFP units (the other one is the 60th IB) responsible for protecting big logging firms which have wiped out the forests of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur provinces. Wanton destruction of remaining forest cover and unchecked commercial logging in these areas have greatly impoverished Lumads and peasants and have made them more vulnerable to environmental disasters and climate change.

The NPA, likewise, warns the big 4 big loggers of these provinces to submit to the revolutionary government’s total log ban policy. Comval Gov. Arturo Uy is behind the Big 4 logging lords, namely, Laak Mayor Reynaldo Navarro, SPO3 Eduardo Bajalia of the Regional Intel Office, SPO Simplicio Samar and Ret. police officer Diosdado Wamilda.

In the boundary town of Loreto, Agusan del Sur, Mayor Dario Otaza and Gov. Edward Plaza are also behind the indiscriminate logging and continued destruction of forests. Thus, they stand to face NPA sanction against environmental plunderers and destroyers of people’s livelihood.

Aside from being goons for logging companies, the 60th IB and the 72nd IB are actively holding checkpoints in the areas to harass residents suspected as revolutionary forces; the soldiers take pictures of these civilians. In their active intelligence work, they also arrested a peasant and released him/her two days later. In their operations last January, they uprooted crops planted by the peasants. A joint operation of the 60th IB, 26th IB and 72nd IB also led to the killing of two peasants in Brgy. Kauswagan, Loreto.

In the face of these abuses, the NPA has intensified its tactical offensives against the AFP. In February, the NPA sniped against the 60th IB during its military operation in Brgy. Ampawid, Laak. Two soldiers were killed and one was wounded. Last month, the NPA has launched eight attritive actions. This month, the Red fighters have targeted a patrolling Cafgu and six detachments of the 72nd IB by holding checkpoints in km12 Brgy. Casoon in Monkayo town, Brgy. Titoy, Lubho and Panuramin in Laak town, Brgy. Kalyawa in Kapalong town and Km 19 in Veruela town, Agusan del Sur. These attritive actions have led to three AFP casualties.

The NPA shall persevere in punishing logging lords and their AFP protectors. The arrest of Curay and other tactical offensives should serve a strong warning against enemy troops that continue to protect exploiters of remaining natural resources at the expense of environmental preservation and people’s welfare.

Bidding for P270-M Navy deal fails

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Apr 7): Bidding for P270-M Navy deal fails

The bidding for the supply of three multi-purpose attack craft for the Navy failed as bidders did not meet the documentary requirements set by the government.

Five parties expressed interest on the P270-million project, which seeks to boost the Navy’s operational readiness in maritime security, domain awareness and mobility for territorial defense operations.

These are the joint venture of Propmech Corp. and Taiwan’s Lung Teh Shipbuilding; the joint venture of Stoneworks Specialist International Corp. and Indonesia’s Multi Prima; Rovia Road Yacht Boat Builder, Colorado Shipyard Corp. and Hong Kong’s Armacraft Co. Ltd.; and Santiago Shipyard and Shipbuilding Corp.

Only four of the five companies that bought the bid documents submitted offers. Local firm Santiago Shipyard and Shipbuilding Corp. did not join the bidding because it lacked time to comply with documentary requirements.

None of the bidders, however, was able to fully satisfy the requirements under the procurement law.

Most of the bidders failed to submit a detailed bill of quantities, a document that specifies all the items and services they plan to provide.

The submission of the detailed document is required under the law to discourage lump sums, which have been perceived as a possible source of corruption.

One of the bidders, the joint venture of Stoneworks and Multi Prima, failed to present a certification from the Indonesian embassy that the English translation of its documents was accurate.

Because of the unsuccessful bidding, the documents of the project will be returned to the Navy for mandatory review.

Security sources told The STAR that the Bids and Awards Committee is likely to hold another public bidding for the project.

The project involves the purchase of the three vessels and initial integrated logistics support, including crew training. A separate project or lot will involve the acquisition of advanced weapons system, including missile launch systems.

The vessels will be installed with a day and night electronic navigation system, communications suite, safety-of-life-at-sea equipment, propulsion system, and seamanship and ship-handling equipment and gears.

The winning bidder is required to deliver the vessels within 540 days from the opening of the letter of credit, which guarantees the supplier that the government will fulfill its obligations.

To be qualified, a prospective bidder should be the manufacturer of the boats it will offer. The vessels being offered must be used by the military of the supplier’s country of origin or by the armed forces of at least two other countries.

2 women abducted in Sabah now in Sulu: report

From ABS-CBN (Apr 7): 2 women abducted in Sabah now in Sulu: report

The two women abducted last April 3 in a beach resort in Sempurna, Sabah, Malaysia have allegedly been brought by their abductors to Parang town in the province of Sulu, an official said.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Alamia said she got this information from the Philippine National Police (PNP)-ARMM.

Based on the report she received, two of the three alleged abductors were identified as Alhabsi Misaya and Jakalal Bagadi, while the other one is still unidentified.

From the beach resort in Sabah where the two women were abducted, the armed men, along with the two victims, allegedly fled to Bacungan Island in the province of Tawi-Tawi using a boat before they proceeded to Parang town in Sulu province.

As of now, the abductors have yet to demand ransom.

The ARMM government is strictly imposing the no-ransom policy of the government.

The two victims were identified as Gao Hua Yun, a tourist from China, and a Filipina named Marcy Danawan.

MILF starts preparations for democratic elections

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): MILF starts preparations for democratic elections

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has started preparations for their eventual active participation in the electoral process in the country once residents of the upcoming Bangsamoro government elect new leaders.

Following the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, the MILF is expected to actively participate in the May 15 synchronized national and local elections, including the election of CAB officials.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has also announced the schedule of registration of new voters on May 14 until October this year ahead of the preparations for the next national and local balloting.

Voters’ education sessions for combatants and supporters have been initiated by the MILF leadership.

Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said his group will actively participate in the 2016 polls even as the group expects the elections will be cleaner due to experiences on cheating.

In the May 2013 elections, the MILF clearly observed the process and found out that dirty politics was still present and active, particularly in the ARMM.

“There was the prevalence of three Gs – gold, guns and goons,” Jaafar said in a statement. “We hope the government could do something better, it improve the process but as long as guns and goons and money would still be used by politicians the chances of winning of good aspirants are clearly defeated.”

In last year’s election, the MILF helped the government in ensuring the conduct of peaceful and orderly election in areas where there were MILF forces.

The MILF then did not participate but took notice of the dirty process which it fear would still exist in the 2016 elections.

A non government organization working for Islam and democracy in the country, said the MILF should push with its plan to form its own political party as it already agreed to democratic processes of electing leaders.

”As a political party, you have the vote, the power and the machinery,” Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) President Amina Rasul said.

Brillantes said the poll body projects three million new voters to show up to register through biometrics. Poll officials expect more half million will come from MILF and its supporters and sympathizers in areas to be covered by the new political entity.

Presently, the country has more than 53 million registered voters.

Brillantes urged the youth, especially those turning 18 by May 2016 to come out, register and avoid hassle.

He said the Comelec will start implementing expressed lanes for persons with disabilities, senior citizens and detainees during the biometric registration period in compliance with the provisions of Republic Act 10367, or an Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voters Registration.

NCMF, AFP hold peace building, disaster preparedness camp in Zambo City

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): NCMF, AFP hold peace building, disaster preparedness camp in Zambo City

Zamboanga City -- The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos’ (NCMF) Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution (BPCR) is holding a three-day peace building and disaster preparedness camp in this city.

The event, dubbed as 2014 Summer Peace Building Camp, is being held starting Monday until Wednesday at the Girl Scout Camp at the Mayor Cesar Climaco Freedom Park in Mount Abong-Abong, Pasonanca, this city.

BCPR Focal Person in-charge Dr. Yusuf Morales said the peace building camp is part of the programs of the BPCR on instructions of NCMF Secretary Mehol Sadain as a response to the social preparation of the Mindanao youth in preparation and response to the ongoing peace processes of the government.

“We feel that there is a need to prepare our youths to respond to man-made disasters and natural disasters because the next contours of conflict would already be the small sporadic opposition to the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) or the disasters that would happen like the (typhoon) ‘Yolanda’ and ‘Bohol’ (earthquake),” Morales said in an interview.

The participants of the three-day event that formally opened Monday are composed of school-based youths, madrassah-based youths and out-of-school youths.

Morales said that the peace building camp is divided into four components and these are: discussion of present state of the peace process; peace and conflict resolution tools (specifically appreciative inquiry; to prepare the youths for climate change and disaster relief operation; and, the Bayanihan or volunteerism.

“So considering that the youth plays a vital role in nation building, the NCMF decided to host this peace building and disaster preparedness camp in order to start a core group of Muslim and Christian youths who can play an important official role to partner with government agencies in disaster preparedness. They will serve as the Quick Response Team,” Morales said.

The three-day event is being held in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the Army’s First Infantry Division, which is one of the units under the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

First Infantry Division Civil-Military Operations’ Administrative Officer Capt. Frank Suelto said the peace building camp “will be the first of a series of NCMF-AFP Youth Camp” to be held in the region.

Suelto said there will be more similar activities in the future that will advocate peace building to include the role of the youths in nation building.

“The objectives of this activity are to develop the leadership of the youth as preparation for their role in the society and their role in nation building,” Suelto said.

Armed group harasses mining firm in Agusan del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): Armed group harasses mining firm in Agusan del Norte

About 30 armed men believed to be communist rebels harassed a mining firm, burned heavy equipment and snatched firearms and office materials before making their escape to the hinterlands, during the weekend at a mining town in Agusan del Norte.

Reports from Agusan del Norte Police Provincial Office, reaching the police regional headquarters here Monday said that the armed group was believed to belong to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) led by a certain alias "Dodi" of the Guerilla Front 21, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

The group harassed the Philalstron Mining Company (formerly Bintang Mining Company) owned by a Chinese national identified by the police as a certain Mr. Chin. Its office, located in Barangay Tagmamarkay, Tubay in Agusan del Norte, was harassed by the said armed group around 1:15 a.m. on Saturday.

The suspects accordingly disarmed the duty security guards and took the firearms with them when they escaped towards the northeastern direction. Army sources also said that the culprits burned four dump trucks, two backhoes and two bulldozers. The office building was also set on fire.

The armed men also carted away three shotguns, two caliber .45 pistols, four caliber .38 revolvers, a caliber 357 Magnum revolver, a caliber 3516, a compass, a Global Positioning System (GPS), a camera, four units Motorola radio and two laptops, before making their escape towards Sitio Kibadbad, Barangay Tagmamarkay of the said town.

All police and military units operating in the area are now conducting hot pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels.

25 insurgency-affected villages in north Negros focus of dev’t efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): 25 insurgency-affected villages in north Negros focus of dev’t efforts

Twenty-five insurgency-affected villages in northern Negros Occidental will benefit from the development efforts of the provincial government in partnership with the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army.

Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the development programs in these communities located in the city of Escalante and the towns of Toboso and Calatrava (ESTOCA) will be implemented along with the non-government organizations, civil society, and the Philippine National Police.

This development has prompted the New People’s Army to make attempts to recover its guerilla bases in these areas, the Army official said.

Baladad acknowledged the local government units, civil society and other stakeholders for joining hands with the military in their peace and development campaign particularly in the guerilla bases of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front.

Said individuals, LGUs and various organizations, which assisted the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan campaign in northern Negros with Provincial Peace and Integration Development Unit were given recognition during a gathering on April 5 that coincided with the turnover of command of the 62nd IB between Lt. Col. Efren Morados and Lt. Col. Rommel Cordova.

Baladad said the rebel group has left the ESTOCA areas after going through debacles during their encounters with government troops.

The government is now working to bring in projects to these areas, he added.

“For us to preserve our gains, we, in the military, should integrate our efforts and coordination, especially in the aspects of intelligence, operations and civil military operations. Externally, we also maintain the synchronization of our efforts with the LGUs, NGOs, Church, and the civil society,” Baladad said.

Militant organizations had earlier called for the pullout of Army soldiers in the ESTOCA areas, saying soldiers are staying in these areas to harass residents suspected of being supporters of the NPA.

UN honors PHL peacekeepers in Golan Heights

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): UN honors PHL peacekeepers in Golan Heights

The United Nations has bestowed a prestigious service award to Filipino peacekeepers in charge of monitoring a truce line between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights.

On March 22, Filipino troops received the UN Service Medal at Camp Ziouani in Israel’s side of the border after 112 days of service, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) statement said.

The awarding of medals was led by Philippine Ambassador to Israel Generoso Calonge and U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) Commander Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha.

Amid threats to their security, the Philippines maintains 332 peacekeepers, who are part of the U.N. mission monitoring the armistice line in Golan Heights following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

A group of Filipino peacekeepers in the area were abducted in two separate incidents last year by rebels, but later on released after crucial negotiations.

Philippine commanding officer LTC Ted Dumosmog, who was the first recipient of the medal in the group, congratulated his fellow soldiers, saying that “receiving the award was one of the most significant events in a peacekeeper’s life.”

Dumosmog said it was an “honorable recognition by the international community of the vital contribution of the Philippine contingent in maintaining peace in the Golan Heights.”

Singha, for his part, commended the performance of the Filipino peacekeepers, noting how they have done “exceedingly well” in their mission.

In his speech, Singha praised the Filipino troops for being well-prepared and making themselves physically and mentally disposed for their mission.

He also praised them for taking proactive steps in intensifying efforts to achieve safety and security in their respective positions.

Ambassador Calonge, on the other hand, encouraged the Filipino peacekeepers to carry on their good work in the mission and to continue performing their duties with honor and dedication.

He also congratulated them for their hard work and for doing well as Philippine representatives to the UN mission.

The Philippines has been sending troops to Golan Heights since 2009 when Poland turned over its command to the country.

It is also the second biggest troop contributor to the peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights.

The Philippines has more than 700 police, military and jail personnel in eight other U.N. peacekeeping operations, namely: Haiti, Liberia, South Sudan, Cote d’ Ivoire, the disputed territory of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan, the India-Pakistan border, and Afghanistan.

Military will be always there when needed --Navy chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): Military will be always there when needed --Navy chief

As the nation commemorates Veterans Week, Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano assured on Monday that the country's naval service, along with the land and air forces, will always be there to safeguard the people in times of natural and man-made calamities.

Alano made this statement during the Tribute to All Filipino Heroes which was held at the Heroes' Memorial on Corregidor Island.

He said the willingness of the Navy personnel to help disaster-stricken Filipinos was demonstrated during the Bohol earthquake last Oct. 15, super typhoon "Yolanda" which battered a large part of the Visayas last Nov. 8 and some other disasters which hit the country last year.

"We will always be there whenever we are needed," Alano added.

He also took the opportunity to praise and laud the Filipinos who fought and defended the country during World War II, noting that these very same individuals are the reason why the present generation is enjoying freedom and democracy.

At the same time, the PN chief said the military is more than willing to perform its mandate of protecting the country's territories.

"We will continue to do what it is needed," Alano stressed.

AFP launches focused military operations to address rebel threat in Davao Del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): AFP launches focused military operations to address rebel threat in Davao Del Norte

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday announced that it has launched focused military and humanitarian operations to address increased New People's Army (NPA)'s presence in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.

After they were displaced by Typhoon Pablo in December 2011, the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee relocated their site of operations in Talaingod, taking advantage of its volatile indigenous population.

On-going operations that started in March this year resulted in several encounters between the NPAs and the 1003rd Infantry Brigade; and the recovery of four enemy encampments, and two improvised explosive devices, among others.

The unit's successful conduct of focused military operations resulted to the dislocation of SMRC and its Guerrilla Front 55 from their former camps in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod.

As a result, the communist insurgents organized a massive evacuation effort involving Lumads of Davao City affected by the fighting and allegedly abused by the military.

The military is also being blamed for the death of “Biboy” a twelve-day-old who died during the evacuation, which was unnecessary since military operations are focused on armed threats and protection of the Lumad communities.

The military, police and local government of Talaingod already launched humanitarian assistance to evacuees in Sitio Nasilaban where they distributed food packs and assorted clothing.

However, on April 4, a convoy of police, military, and ABS-CBN personnel were landmined at around 2:30 pm at Sitio Opao, Barangay Palma Gil.

The convoy came from a relief operation at Sitio Nasilaban where evacuees are staying.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the attack.

Also, Talaingod Mayor Jose Libayao already declared a state of calamity and denied allegations of militant groups of abuses committed by the military.

Indigenous People’s Mandated Representative of Talaingod, Datu Lumansad, sought Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's assistance to bring back evacuees in Davao to Talaingod.

He also said that the organizers did not inform local authorities in Talaingod of their plan to bring evacuees to Davao City.

Datu Ruben Labawan, Chairman, Supreme Tribal Council for Peace and Development (STCPD) called out to resolve issues locally and asked the communist organizers not to exploit the plight of the Lumads.

The AFP reiterated that its operations in Talaingod are legitimate and focused only on the armed group.

The NPAs are only causing panic among the Lumads by causing unnecessary evacuation, following the loss of their camps during the deliberate and focused military operations.

Thousands attend thanksgiving celebration for signing of Bangsamoro agreement

From InterAksyon (Apr 7): Thousands attend thanksgiving celebration for signing of Bangsamoro agreement

Kanduli for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, 6 April 2014, Maguindanao. DENNIS ARCON/

Thousands of Moros, Lumads, and Christians attended Sunday’s “kanduli” (celebration) in thanksgiving for the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Buluan town, Maguindanao.

The kanduli was meant to show Maguindanaoans’ support and unity for the growing peace and development, said Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.

He said the most of his fellow Maguindanaoans were also tired of the violence, saying it is time for peace.

Thousands of lives have been lost in the numerous battles between Moro rebels and the military over the decades-long civil war in Mindanao.

Among the visitors to the kanduli were Peace Secretary Ging Deles, MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar, and MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohaquer Iqbal.

Many local officials from every Maguindanao town, civil society organizations, the military, the police, businessmen, and students joined the celebration.

Philippines football team Azkals captain Chiefy Caligdong also joined the so-called Peacetahan.

Caligdong taught some students basic football skills.

How to move peace talks with communist rebels? Govt wants agenda to include more than 'procedures'

From InterAksyon (Apr 7): How to move peace talks with communist rebels? Govt wants agenda to include more than 'procedures'

As militant partylist lawmakers push for the resumption of talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the government's chief peace adviser said that the basis of negotiations should be more substantial, and not simply center on the communists' demand of releasing their jailed consultants.

"We don't want to start talks only to fail again so quickly. We don't want to restart talks on the same basis as before," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quntos-Deles said.

Asked to expound on the basis of the talks, she said she was referring to "agenda na hindi mo naman kaya gawin tapus ang nangyayari nagiging ang pinag-uusapan procedural matters, the releases of Jasig (those agenda that you cannot do, and then what happens is we just talk about procedural matters -- the releases of consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees)."

"If we will sit down and just talk about Jasig, it will not bring us anywhere, the people don't care about that, what they want is improvement," Deles said in an interview at the sidelines of the Symposium on Peace and Reconciliation Processes and Initiatives organized by the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR).

Backdoor talks

Deles said there are no formal talks ongoing, but added that "there are friends of the process that are exploring (backdoor talks)."

"There are overtures and there are overtures. We want to resume talks on the basis of doable and time-bound agenda," she added.

The Jasig was one of the agreements earlier signed by the government and the NDF which granted immunity to communist leaders engaged in peace talks.

NDF leaders had asserted that the arrest and continued detention of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, alleged high-ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was illegal because the couple was covered by Jasig.

On Monday morning, Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, and former congressman Satur Ocampo visited the couple in their detention cell in Camp Crame in Quezon City to see their condition.

Colmenares and Zarate earlier filed House Resolution 991 to investigate their arrest.

"We have already heard the side of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other arresting organizations, what we want to hear now is the side of the couple regarding their arrest and how would it affect the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” Colmenares said.

Zarate said the visit also gave them the opportunity to check on the condition of at least 12 other consultants, supposedly protected by Jasig, but have been held by the government.

"It is absurd that the Aquino administration is saying that it wants peace but it is rampantly violating agreements that would ensure the progress and fast tracking of the peace negotiations,” he said.

“They are killing and arresting those that are involved in the talks so how can peace be discussed,” Zarate added.

Ocampo, who was celebrating his 75th birthday Monday, shared a simple lunch of fish and vegetables with the political prisoners. A former political prisoner himself, Ocampo shared his experiences with the detainees.

“For the peace talks between the two parties to go full swing it would be best if the Aquino administration release all Jasig holders they have arrested and honor the previous agreements between the GPH and the NDFP,” Ocampo said.