Thursday, April 10, 2014

Army defends hunt for rebs

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 11): Army defends hunt for rebs

TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte—Officials of this upland town appealed to members of a tribal group to return home as the military said there was no reason for the people to flee amid ongoing offensives against communist rebels.

At least 1,300 men, women and children from the Manobo tribe from two villages fled to Davao City on April 2, according to Mayor Basilio Libayao.

Libayao said reports about military abuses in his town were not true because the local government has not received any complaint against military excesses.

On Wednesday, military officials also cried foul over what they said were efforts to paint government soldiers as evil.

Col. Harold Cabreros, head of the Army’s 1,003rd Infantry Brigade, said the Army had not violated any rights in the course of its campaign against communist rebels.

The communities that had been deserted were not even near the sites of clashes between soldiers and rebels, he said.

Maj. Jacob Obligado, civil military operations officer of the 10th Infantry Division, said he did not believe that the operation against the rebels justified the evacuations.

“The question is, what really is causing the suffering here?” he said.

“It is the NPA (New People’s Army) in the first place,” he added. “The military is merely doing its duty,” he said.

‘NPA statement desperate diversionary tactic‘

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 11): ‘NPA statement desperate diversionary tactic‘
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division yesterday dismissed as “desperate diversionary tactics” the justification by the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command of the New People's Army, that the killing of eight civilians and a policeman in Brgy. Puso, La Castellana on January 27 last year, was a legitimate ambush, and not a massacre.

Juanito Magbanua II, spokesman of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, said in a statement it issued to the media, that, based on their investigations, it was a legitimate military action of the NPA against legitimate military targets, Philippine National Police and paramilitary men, including the armed Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team members.

Magbanua also said that it is the concept and principled stand of the NPA not to harm civilians and the fact that they had hitched a ride on board was a failure of intelligence, lax discipline and violation of strict centralism of the CPP and rules of its guerilla unit, the NPA, and primarily warrants only administrative discipline.

Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3ID spokesperson, said the justification made by the NPA aims to clean their name, and escape from their guilt.

“In the end, the fact remains that they have killed civilians, including those who pleaded for their lives”, Tiongson said.

During the first anniversary of the La Castellana massacre on Jan. 27, the Diocese of Kabankalan, in a strongly-worded statement signed by Bishop Patricio Buzon, said “The merciless and treacherous killings of civilians, the random firing at innocent passengers and hitch-hikers that wounded many of them, the unimaginable grief of losing loved ones and bread winner of poor families, and the fear and terror which traumatize persons and communities, are inhuman, evil and detestable. They are downright unjustifiable”.

Magbanua said the NPA has no intention to make force multipliers their targets. But since they were armed and in the company of the police, they became paramilitary men and legitimate targets of military action, he added.

Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, however, said “Nobody believes these people”, apparently referring to the NPA. “The People's verdict is clear. They are guilty of this criminal act”, Aying said.

Magbanua said the two civilians, a woman and the driver, who were among those killed, ended as “collateral damage”. He, however, insisted that the NPA has no criminal liability for the incident, and therefore, it is not under obligation to provide indemnification to the victims.

Nine counts of murder have been filed by the police against the rebel suspects.

"There was also no need to set up a special military court by the NPA to tackle the alleged culpability of the squad that carried out the ambush," Magbanua added.

He also said that the charges could well be tackled and was decided administratively by the Negros Island Party Committee and its military arm, the NPA command in the Negros Island front.

Bishop Buzon, had earlier said in a statement that the CPP-NPA, the group that prides itself as the champion of justice and human rights, publicly admitted responsibility for these killings, with distortion of facts, a bundle of justifications and promises of indemnification, which were meant to sanitize the barbarity of the act and impress the world of the group's faithful adherence to agreements it signed with the government.

He challenged the CPP-NPA to rummage through their ideological aarsenal and see if extermination is a merited penalty for civilians and innocent people whose only crime was to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

NPA rebels attack Apex Mining compound in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 11): NPA rebels attack Apex Mining compound in Compostela Valley
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines—Communist rebels on Thursday attacked a big mining firm in Maco, Compostela Valley, burning vehicles and equipment, police and local officials said.

Senior Superintendent Camilo Cascolan, Compostela Valley police chief, said about 60 New People’s Army guerrillas  swooped down on the compound of the Apex Mining Inc. at Sitio (sub-village) Sawmill, Barangay (village) Teresa and proceeded in setting alight vehicles and drilling equipment at the firm’s motorpool around 2 p.m.

In a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Cascolan said rebels under Oying, Wendy and Binoy of the NPA’s Front 27 and Pulang Bagani (Red Warrior) Company 6 torched two Toyota Fortuner,  a Toyota Hilux pickup and a Toyota Strada sports utility vehicle (SUV) as well as two Atlas Copco Tamrock jumbo drill.

The attackers then fled in two separate directions after the incident as government troops and police conducted pursuit operations, Cascolan said.

Vice Mayor Carlos Arthur Voltaire Rimando confirmed the attack, saying there were no reported casualties during the incident.

“It’s a large-scale mining operation, and hundreds of people from Maco are depending on its operations,” Rimando told the Inquirer by mobile phone. “We condemn this incident.”

Rimando said authorities were still investigating as to the possible motive of the attack.
Authorities have yet to ascertain the cost of the burned vehicles and equipment.

The Manila-listed Apex Mining holds a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) of 2,237 hectares covering the villages of Masara, Teresa, Tagbaros and Mainit and employs some 1,400 workers, according to the company website. The company is into gold and silver production.

Local miner Mapula Creek Gold Corp. holds a 42.96 percent stake to the company, while Mindanao Gold Ltd. of Malaysian investor ASVI, acquired the shareholdings of Mapula’s former partner, London-listed Crew Gold Corp., with 30. 11 percent.

Thursday’s attack was the second for Apex in the last seven years.

Last March 2008, some 50 rebels also stormed the mining company, disarming guards, torching company properties and briefly holding captive a handful of firm officials and employees.

18 soldiers wounded in Basilan clash with Abu Sayyaf

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 10): 18 soldiers wounded in Basilan clash with Abu Sayyaf

Eighteen soldiers were wounded in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan early Friday.

The soldiers were planning to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama and his group who tried to threaten and extort from the ongoing construction of the Magkawa-Albarka Road, a report from the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command said.

The encounter transpired at Unkaya Pukan at 2:25 a.m.

The firefight left 18 soldiers injured while the ASG had undetermined number of casualties.

The wounded soldiers were airlifted to Zamboanga City past 6a.m.

The Abu Sayyaf is occupying school buildings in Baguindan village.

The operations also intended to clear the areas of Tipo-Tipo and Al-Barka of the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which is believed to be responsible for extortion and kidnapping cases in the restive Mindanao region.

Wesmincom said it “will commit all available air and Naval assets in support to this operations in order to immediately seize this group of criminals/bandits.”

Can’t force China to comply–Palace

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 11): Can’t force China to comply–Palace

Even if a United Nations arbitration tribunal were to rule in its favor on the West Philippine Sea dispute, the Philippines cannot compel China to comply with the ruling, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the country’s main purpose in filing the case is to prove that its claim to certain territories in the South China Sea is sanctioned by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), and not to enforce compliance from China.

“The primary objective is to prove that what we claim as part of the West Philippine Sea is based on a prevailing law, and that law is the Unclos,” Coloma said in the briefing.

“The primary objective is not to make a country comply,” he said.

“It’s not within our power to dictate what they (China) should do. What’s within our power is to protect our national interest,” Coloma told a Palace briefing.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza earlier said that the Philippines has always believed that China, as a member of the international community of nations, was “legally bound” to accept and implement the ruling of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos).

The Philippines’ filing of the case drew a sharp rebuke from Chinese officials, which accused the Philippines of seriously damaging the two countries’ relations and shutting the door to negotiations.

Beijing, which claims virtually the entire West Philippine Sea, has refused to take part in the arbitration and has reiterated its position that the dispute should be settled through direct negotiations.

Coloma said, however, that any Itlos ruling favorable to the Philippines would boost the case of countries with “maritime entitlements” under the Unclos.

“If there will be a ruling, not only the Philippines but other countries with maritime entitlements under Unclos will have a stronger basis,” he said.

The Philippines brought its case before the UN in early 2013 after China took control of a disputed shoal off northwestern Philippines. It asked the tribunal to declare China’s claims to about 80 percent of the South China Sea illegal. It also identified eight shoals and reefs—Mischief Reef, McKennan Reef, Subi Reef, Gaven Reef, Scarborough Shoal, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Fiery Cross Reef—that form part of the Philippine territory that China has allegedly illegally occupied.

That number increased to nine after a Chinese Coast Guard ship last month twice tried to block a Philippine civilian ship from proceeding to the Ayungin Shoal to resupply and replace a Philippine detachment stationed on a marooned Navy ship in the disputed shoal.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Thursday welcomed the United States’ latest expression of its commitment to defend the Philippines amid the tensions with China.

“The Philippines welcomes the recent reported comments made in Beijing by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as an expression of support and resolve for a regional ally,” said Del Rosario in a statement.

“The United States and the Philippine-US alliance play an important role in the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. This benefits all countries in enhancing our long-term peace and development,” he said.

While on a visit to China on Tuesday, Hagel said the US was “fully committed” to fulfilling its treaty obligations with the Philippines and Japan.

The US has mutual defense treaties with the two Asian countries which have recently been at odds with China.—

It’s a ‘test of sanity,’ says Ayungin soldier

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 11): It’s a ‘test of sanity,’ says Ayungin soldier

Members of the Ayungin Marines pay a courtesy call to Vice President Jejomar Binay at Coconut Palace. FRANCES MANGOSING/

“Don’t lose hope,” a soldier previously assigned at BRP Sierra Madre tells future men who will be assigned there.

Marine First Lieutenant Mike Pelotera led eight soldiers at the BRP Sierra Madre, a rusting ship that serves as the Philippine Navy detachment in Ayungin Shoal in the disputed West Philippine Sea, a resource-rich territory claimed by China but is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Pelotera’s team was surrounded by water for five months and he said the assignment was “a test of sanity.” Soldiers stationed in Ayungin usually serve for only three months.

The nine-man Marine team was recently replaced by fresh troops last March, a second attempt for a rotation that month.

On March 9, the Philippine government tried to resupply and bring new soldiers, but Chinese vessels surrounding the area blocked them. The next attempt on March 29, a Philippine civilian ship finally got past Chinese blockade after a two-hour standoff.

“If they didn’t make it, we would have been stuck again,” Pelotera told The rotation had been stalled because Philippine ships could not get past Chinese blockade. The soldiers at BRP Sierra Madre had to be content with airdrops.

For five months, the soldiers at BRP Sierra Madre were not able to communicate with their families. “They have to endure loneliness,” Pelotera advised future soldiers of Ayungin.

“But as time passes by, you get tougher,” he said, saying they tried to entertain themselves through fishing, swimming and watching DVDs they had brought with them.

Pelotera said it is also important for the soldiers assigned there to take care of themselves. Asked if he would be willing to be assigned there again, he answered yes without having second thoughts.

President Benigno Aquino III was all praises for the Ayungin soldiers in his speech during the Araw ng Kagitingan last week.. He recognized their “dedication” for “safeguarding our territory.”

The soldiers are on a two-week break before they head back to Marine Battalion Landing Team in Palawan.

Binay meets Ayungin Marines

On Thursday, members of Pelotera’s team paid a courtesy call to Vice President Jejomar Binay at the Coconut Palace.

Binay met them for about 20 minutes where the soldiers shared their experiences at BRP Sierra Madre. Binay, a Marine reservist, commended the soldiers for their dedication.

“We have sent them [China] the message – that we will not always be pushovers,” Binay said of March 29 incident.

18 soldiers wounded in Basilan encounter – AFP official

From GMA News (Apr 11): 18 soldiers wounded in Basilan encounter – AFP official

Eighteen soldiers were wounded in an encounter with suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan early Friday, an Armed Forces of the Philippines official said.

In a text message to GMA News Online, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said government forces encountered some 20 members of the ASG in Sitio Kuralem in Barangay Silangkum in Basilan's Tipo-Tipo town, resulting in the wounding of 18 soldiers.

Zagala said the enemies were believed to be under ASG sub-leader Furuji Indama operating in Basilan.

Also, he said government troops were on Strike Operation when they chanced upon the bandits, adding that the number of wounded on the enemies' side were not immediately determined.

Palace denies rushing to ink US-PHL deal in time for Obama visit

From GMA News (Apr 10): Palace denies rushing to ink US-PHL deal in time for Obama visit

Malacañang on Thursday denied it is rushing to seal the agreement for increased rotational presence of US troops in the country in time for the visit of President Barack Obama late this month.

"On our part here, we have commented on the talks without relation to any other event, because the primary consideration is that the national interest is promoted and upheld," Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a press briefing.

He issued the statement as the US and the Philippines resumed negotiations on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDC) agreement, which includes increased rotational presence of US soldiers in the country.

Coloma said the Philippine panel is working to ensure that the new agreement will enhance the country’s capability to address national security issues.

He also said talks may tackle non-traditional defense, specifically disaster risk reduction and management.

Coloma cited how countries in the region showed the capability of their defense forces in assisting the civilian population in coping with the after-effects of calamities.

"We saw this in the aftermath of Yolanda where we witnessed the comprehensive support extended by the Japanese self-defense forces," he said.

Coloma, however, said the concept of non-traditional defense is not just for the ongoing talks.

"It is a policy of our government in response to the emerging trends in the region and in the world that defense has taken on this new aspect. So it does not pertain specifically to the EDC talks," he said.

MILF: Editorial -- Engaging the "spoilers"

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Apr 9): Engaging the "spoilers"

Frankly, it is very hard to separate genuine comments from those uttered or made by pure spoilers. Not all critical views are in the nature of spoiling. Spoiling takes many forms and shapes.
However, all negative statements can be generally classified as spoiling, because of the timing of their action.  Intention, even the best one, cannot manifest itself. It is a mental process; therefore no one knows, except the doer (and God).

The issue of peace is a neutral issue and the concerned of all. Simple modesty or good taste would require that no one should rock the festive mood provided by the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CB) last March 27. The issue of constitutionality or unconstitutionality of any part of the peace pact rests with the domain of the Supreme Court. A comment even of the best legal mind is mere opinion.

But oftentimes a negative happening is the beginning point of a much improved human relations. This is taking place in our midst right now. No one wants to be openly branded as spoiler.

However, one very serious type of spoiling is one undertaken by “free riders” who strive to gain as much from the opportunities provided by the CAB, but at the same time try to undermine the process, citing alleged inadequate provisions for their groups or those which they pretend to represent. They belong mostly to those who were not seriously affected by the long drawn-out struggle waged by the Bangsamoro people. They are like the proverbial camel which eventually kicks out the poor Arab from the tent after the latter gave way to all its wishes. 

Be this as it may, spoiling is not wholly bad. It is a reality and a given situation in all conflict resolutions in the world. One cannot desire and get a real ideal situation where there are no spoilers. We have to live by it and engage.

Spoilers can be engaged constructively, but the desired results vary. There are at least three categories of spoilers: 1) those who are not informed well and after they understand the issues and concerns they board the peace process; 2) those who understand but refuse to comprehend or have distorted perceptions, and 3) those who understand but his selfish or vested interests are affected negatively by the change of relationship after the signing of the peace accord. Peace-makers should sustain the engagement with the first and second categories, but for the third, engage them also but in doing so, determine their real motives and hit them head on with superior arguments that the real and ultimate beneficiaries of the peace process is the people, not for a selected few.‘spoilers’

MILF: BLMI holds Peace advocacy in Ka’agan territory

From the MILF Website (Apr 11): BLMI holds Peace advocacy in Ka’agan territory

After its peace advocacy programs were terminated in Zamboanga areas and Lanao, the BLMI team held advocacy programs in Compostella Valley and Davao Region that started at the Ka’agan territory of Mati City, Davao Oriental on April 5.
It was held at the Darul Ehsan, Lower Salazar, Mati city and was attended by community leaders and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Provincial committee, Social Welfare Committee (SWC) and sectoral representatives.

Sheikh Sam Alabat, BLMI Extension service Unit officer discussed the importance of Shari’ah, social values, politics and economics in Islamic perspective. He further emphasized that Islam is applicable all the times in any form of governance that prioritize the general welfare of the people.

This writer, BLMI Research Unit Officer focused on ministerial form of Government, electoral system and political party formation for the envisioned Bangsamoro Government. He also dealt on the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The progress of the GPH-MILF peace process was also highlighted and elucidated in layman’s manner through the use of a power point presentation so that the participants can easily understand the issues being discussed.

From Mati City, the team proceeded on April 6 to Madaum, in Davao del Norte and held another advocacy. It was attended by community leaders, professionals, members of the religious sector and women. Vital issues and concerns pertaining to the CAB and the peace process were raised by some participants.

On April 7, the team proceeded to Davao City where an advocacy program was held at Ma’had & Darul Ehsan Center at Barangay Sirawan, Toril. Hundreds of residents flocked to the venue.  Community leaders from the Indigenous Peoples (IP) and Christian sector also attended the program.

From Davao City, the BLMI team travelled to Inawayan, Davao Del Sur. The advocacy program thereat was attended by local government officials, indigenous peoples belonging to the Manobo tribe and some Christian residents.

The issue on inclusiveness of the peace process and  contiguous areas being a serious concerns for non-Moros were threshed out during the questions and answers portion where organizer gave enough time to IP’s and Christians attendees in voicing out and clarifying their doubts and confusions.

The MILF Provincial Committees, local officials, representatives of IP’s and Christian residents expressed their profound gratitude to the BLMI, The Asia Foundation (TAF), Aus–Aid for the conduct of the advocacy program where they were enlightened on issues not very familiar to them.

The BLMI Extension service Unit and Research Unit have been relentlessly spearheading the community activities’ engagements with the active facilitation and involvement of the MILF Provincial political committee, SWC, BIAF, LGU’s and other sectors for their noble undertakings.’agan-territory

MILF: BTC welcomes Miriam’s comments on CAB

From the MILF Website (Apr 11): BTC welcomes Miriam’s comments on CAB


After the pronouncements of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on the alleged unconstitutionality of the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said on Tuesday over a local radio here in Cotabato City that he viewed in a “positive manner” the remarks of the lady solon.
Iqbal, also the MILF peace panel chair, said that the comments of Sen. Santiago have prodded them in the BTC to scrutinize closely what should be properly done with the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). He added that he didn’t take it against the senator and that he considered it good the BTC is now in a “situation” in which they are now keen on looking at the other mandate of BTC, which is to propose constitutional amendments.

He stated that he “respects the intelligence of Santiago, but it’s the Supreme Court that will finally rule on the constitutionality of a law and we haven’t reached that point yet.”

The CAB is a political agreement which must necessarily be translated into the language of the law, which is what the BBL should be. 

Under Executive Order 120 establishing the BTC, the latter is also tasked to recommend to Congress or the people proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution, whenever necessary.

On the submission of the BBL to the Office of the President, Iqbal mentioned that all BTC commissioners are here in Cotabato City to finish the draft law.

The BTC has earlier set March 31 as date of submission of the BBL. Barring unforeseen events, recent developments in the 15-man commission indicate that the draft Basic Law could now be officially transmitted to the Office of the President in the coming days.

Asked whether the BBL takes into account the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement, Iqbal said that practically all the 42 consensus points reached by the Tripartite Review Talks are already incorporated in the basic law.  

The Commission has even invited a high-ranking MNLF official whose identity he did not disclose. In the said talk, it became clear that the 42 consensus points are now part of the BBL.’s-comments-on-cab

MILF: MILF Officials attend “Ka-PEACEtahan ng Maguindanao”

From the MILF Website (Apr 10): MILF Officials attend “Ka-PEACEtahan ng Maguindanao”

Several high-ranking officials of the MILF graced the grand kanduli (thanksgiving feast) sponsored by the Provincial Government of Maguindanao last April 6 at the town of Buluan.
Dubbed also as “Ka-PEACEtahan ng Maguindanao”, the occasion was dedicated to the March 27, 2014 signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacañan.

Leading the MILF delegation were First Vice-Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar, Chief Negotiator and BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Shari’ah Chairman Ustadz Khalifa Nando and Central Committee Secretary Muhammad Ameen.

Iqbal gave an update on the CAB as well as the current drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law which, he said, has two main concerns: “the higher interests of the GPH and MILF to have peace and development in the Bangsamoro” and that “the basic law must be based on the CAB.”

Jaafar, on the other hand, said they came to “be in solidarity with the good intentions of Governor Mangudadatu in holding a kanduli over the signing of the CAB.” He expressed hope that the CAB would be successful so that through it the Bangsamoro would finally have their long-desired government.

He appealed for genuine unity and support from all sectors, especially from the MNLF with “whom they have started the struggle with and hopefully to complete it with them as well.”

Muhammad Ameen read the message of MILF Chairman Al haj Murad Ebrahim who described the event as a “demonstration of the sincere commitment of the provincial government to support the CAB.” He congratulated the Province of Maguindanao for being chosen as the venue of the 1st International Sports for Peace and Development. He also extended appreciation over the various programs of the provincial government such as the distribution of mallard ducks, working animals, tilapia fingerlings, oil palm and rubber seedlings, and scholarship grants.

“These would also be among the priorities that the Bangsamoro would undertake once it is finally established,” the MILF chief said in his prepared message.

The “Ka-PEACEtahan ng Maguindanao” was well attended by national and local officials. OPAPP Sec. Teresita Deles was the keynote speaker. Also seen were Congressman Sajid Mangudadatu of the 2nd District of Maguindanao, military commanders from nearby brigades and several municipal mayors.“ka-peacetahan-ng-maguindanao

MILF: Village officials in Kabacan town organize peace advocacy

From the MILF Website (Apr 9): Village officials in Kabacan town organize peace advocacy

Village officials of Lower Paatan, Kabacan, North Cotabato organized and conducted an advocacy on Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes with the theme “Unity and Solidarity toward Sustainable Development”.
The activity was held on April 5 at Lower Paatan Elementary School where approximately 600 local folks attended that included Moro traditional leaders, Non-Moro community leaders with a majority comprising the women sector.
he program started with a recital of some verses of the Holy-Qur’an by Ustadz Nadzer  Pigkaulan followed by a welcome address by Mr. Abdulracid Dima. Mr. Dima extended his profound gratitude to the participants and guests who graced the occasion. Barangay Council member Nasser Kedal delivered the opening remarks while Ustadz Kamarudin Pedtamanan briefly gave Islamic orientations.
In his message, Barangay Chairman Tony Maganaka said that the very purpose of the activity is to let everybody understand the progress of the GPH-MILF Peace Process.
MILF Information Director of North Cotabato presented the overview of the program.  He said that the advocacy program was the first to be conducted after the signing of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and more advocacies shall be held in North Cotabato.  
Moidjoddin Talusob, Executive Director of Kalilintad Development Foundation, Inc. (KDFI) delved on the ministerial form of government for the Bangsamoro.
Professor Esmael  Abdula, Chairman of Campaign and Mass Mobilization, Sub Committee on Information, Information Committee, MILF Central Committee and BLMI Steering Committee member and training officer provided updates  on the CAB.
 He said that it is a must for every Moro to know and understand the FAB and now, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the latter is the compilation of the FAB and its four annexes.
In the open forum that followed, the Non-Muslim/Moro participants clarified on what would be their rights and roles under the proposed Bangsamoro new political entity. Both Mr. Abdula and Talusob cited the provisions in the FAB on the basic rights of all residents in the Bangsamoro.
They requested for another advocacy in their community that will include at least 5 neighboring   barangays and Non-Muslim residents so they can understand thoroughly and be enlightened about the upcoming Bangsamoro Government. 

MILF: Iqbal urges TPMT to focus on the passage of Basic Law

From the MILF Website (Apr 9): Iqbal urges TPMT to focus on the passage of Basic Law

BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal appealed to the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) to observe closely the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law once it is transmitted already to Congress.
During the April 4 visit of TPMT Chairman Alistair MacDonald and member Karen Tañada to a BTC session in Manila, Iqbal stressed before the former EU envoy and the lady member of the monitoring body that focus should be given to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law since the latter is, among other things, directly related to the commencement of the decommissioning process.  

With only a single commissioner absent, the 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission engaged in an hour-long conversation the two officials of the TPMT at Sofitel Hotel, Pasay City where the BTC held a marathon session beginning March 28 up to the fourth of April.

Iqbal updated the TPMT on several important concerns such as the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB), Transitional Justice & Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Task Forces for the 6 MILF Camps, needs assessment for MILF combatants and communities, and amnesty and pardon.

Iqbal underscored the point that decommissioning is directly linked to political milestones, one of which is the passage and ratification of the Basic Law.

The independent TPMT was set up by the GPH and MILF. Its primary task is to monitor, review and assess all signed agreements between the Parties, especially the FAB and its annexes.

The terms of reference for the TPMT was made in January 2013 and the body was formally launched in July 2013. According to its first Public Report issued last February 28, the TPMT has convened already for three times in the Philippines and “will continue to meet on a roughly two-month basis through till the completion of the Exit Document foreseen in the FAB.

MILF: BLMI embarks on peace advocacies in Zamboanga areas and Lanao

From the MILF Website (Apr 8): BLMI embarks on peace advocacies in Zamboanga areas and Lanao

With a given mandate to enlighten the Bangsamoro People on the GPH-MILF Peace Process, the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) is not letting up its efforts in providing updates to the people wherever they are. Despite the risk, stress and hostile attitudes of some people of Zamboanga City they remained unfazed and proceeded with an advocacy program on March 16.
Advocating peace anywhere and anytime can be done beyond boundary for it is the inherent right and guaranteed by any decent-democratic world. This is the reason why the BLMI team who travelled a long way from Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao bound for the Zamboanga areas to provide updates and enlighten the people thereat on the GPH-MILF Peace Process, the Framework Agreement and its four annexes. 

On March 17, the BLMI team proceeded to Sirawai, Zamboanga Del Norte to hold advocacy program. The activity was hosted by community officials who are Non – Muslim Moros together with the MILF Provincial Political Committees in the area. The activity was held on March 18 at Ma’had Assar-ie, Sahaya Village of Sirawai.

Participants numbered about 1,900 based on the organizer’s registration sheet.
The AFP and PNP personnel who are assigned in the area were also invited and expressed messages of appreciation to the organizers and the BLMI for their peace- building efforts.

“We in the AFP will not allow the peace process to be spoiled by disgruntled groups”. “Rest assured that we are your viable partners in peace- building effort”, an AFP Official said.

On March 20, the team proceeded from Sirawai to Salug, a Moro community in Zamboanga Del Norte. Local folks, mostly farmers and fishermen attended the program.

On March 21, the BLMI team held another advocacy at Kabasalan, Sibugay Province where both Muslims Moros and Non- Muslims attended the activity. The MILF provincial Information Committee also shared updates on the GPH-MILF Peace Process.  

From Kabasalan, the BLMI team proceeded to Pagadian City where an advocacy was held at Dinas town. A huge number of community residents from the nearby municipalities and barangays flocked to the venue. Some local officials were also present and raised their views and concerns.

This writer who is the BLMI Research Unit Officer and one of the resource speakers presented and discussed thoroughly the issue on contiguous areas mentioned in the FAB.  

Another advocacy was held at Piraka, Sultan Naga Dimaporo (SND) Lanao Del Norte after its previous schedule was reset to March 23 with local officials and AFP members in the area attended and shared their views and ways on how to achieve lasting peace in the region.

An officer of the AFP said, “I am hoping that the GPH – MILF signed agreements will be implemented and realized as envisioned. Peace is our ultimate concern”.

 Some members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), the Non – Violent Peace Force and Civilian Protection Component under the IMT were also present and delivered messages of hope and appreciation to all peace builders.

The MILF Provincial Political Committees, local government officials and Bangsamoro residents expressed their profound gratitude to the BLMI, the Asia Foundation (TAF) & Aus-Aid for the success of the undertakings as a way to combat misconceptions and misunderstanding on the Bangsamoro issue and the FAB.

The BLMI team also included Sheikh Sam Alabat, the BLMI Extension Service Unit Officer with the support and untiring assistance of the MILF Provincial Political Committee and the MILF Information Committee. They will continue to engage in advocacy programs until no stones left unturned.

Kidnappers demand P50 M for release of trader’s son

From the Philippine Star (Apr 11): Kidnappers demand P50 M for release of trader’s son

Gunmen holding captive a son of a businessman are reportedly demanding P50-million ransom in exchange for the safe release of the victim snatched in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

The demand was reportedly relayed by the kidnappers to the family of Michael Co during a brief contact late last week, a source who asked not to be named said.

The source, who is privy to the kidnapping case, said the kidnappers contacted Co’s father.

“But, the kidnappers did not show any proof of life of the captive while asking for the ransom,” the official said.

He said the victim’s family could not raise such huge amount of money.

The police declined to confirm or deny the reported ransom demand even as authorities appealed to the family not to pay.

Co, 27, was seized at the family-owned gasoline station in Barangay Poblacion on April 1.

He was reportedly shot in the leg by one of the kidnappers as he tried to fight them.

MILF defection not true – Jaafar

From MindaNews (Apr 10): MILF defection not true – Jaafar

Political affairs chief Ghadzali Jaafar of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denied reports that four of their commanders, including 4,000 of their men, had already joined another Moro group in Southwestern Mindanao.

In an interview, Jaafar alleged the reports were circulated to destroy their organization. “This is highly politically-motivated to sow confusion among our ranks and to the public,” he said.

The reports came out, he added, two weeks after the successful signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacañang.

The deal, he explained, was a product of 17 years of arduous negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF.

Jaafar, however, clarified the MILF central leadership has no plans of “confronting” the source of such reports.

The reports, he said, cited a certain Ustadz Pindi of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who is based in Glan, Sarangani.

“We know what he (Pindi) is up to. But we have no plans, at this time, to confront him,” he stressed.

Jaafar said they already checked their forces on the ground and found out “that none among our men had defected to other groups or to that of the MNLF. Our group is intact.”

Tiamzon, Austria arrest turns into war of words

Posted to Malaya (Apr 11): Tiamzon, Austria arrest turns into war of words

THE military yesterday said government troops seized   P23,545.35 cash from the group of communist leader Benito Tiamzon during his arrest last month in Cebu, and not P1.5 million as the leftist group Bayan is claiming.
Maj. Gen. John Bonafos, commander of the AFP Central Command, said was been returned to Nona Castillo and Rex Villaflor, who signed an inventory receipt.
Castillo and Villaflor were among the five arrested with Tiamzon, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and his wife Wilma Austria, CPP secretary general.
Lawyers of Tiamzon and Austria, who are now detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, said they would verify Bonafos’ claim about having returned the P23,545.35.
On Wednesday, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the military should return the P1.5 million cash that he said was to be used to help victims of typhoon “Yolanda.” Reyes said the information about the P1.5 million was contained in a handwritten letter from Tiamzon and Austria.
Bonafos said: “What the Tiamzons are saying, that we have the P1.5 million in custody, is completely false. As a matter of fact, the recovered money, a total of P23,545.35, and other items were accounted properly, with witnesses,” he said.
Apart from the cash and other items, also turned over to Castillo and Villaflor were two vans, laptop computers, and other personal belongings, Bonafos said.
He said Tiamzon and Austria were living in an air-conditioned apartment which they were renting for P20,000 a month.
Bonafos said the claim of Bayan is meant to “discredit” the accomplishment of the military.
 Lawyer Rachel Pastores of the People’s Interest Law Center said persons like Tiamzon and Austria, who she said are being persecuted by the government because of their political beliefs, could not afford to have a lavish lifestyle.
“Do they have properties similar to what Janet Napoles has amassed? Did we ever see them partying? They do not even own a house,” Pastores said.
“The house that they were renting was very simple… They were not living in a mansion,” she added.
The military described the house as enclosed by a fence about 10 feet high. The compound has three nipa huts or “bahay kubo.” A check showed the going rental rate in Metro Cebu is P6,000 for an ordinary house.

For Air Force no problem, but ‘Gazmin Boys’ a hurdle for AFP post

Posted to Malaya (Apr 11): For Air Force no problem, but ‘Gazmin Boys’ a hurdle for AFP post

MAJ. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, AFP deputy chief of staff for plans, is the likely successor of Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz who is due to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on April 30.
But he would be up against the “Gazmin boys” in the race for chief of the Armed Forces.
AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista is reaching the retirement age on July 20.
Delgado is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982. Then a colonel, Delgado was named senior military assistant of President Aquino in July 2010.
Delgado was assigned with the Presidential Security Group in the 80’s during the presidency of Corazon Aquino, the current President’s mother.
“He is the likely choice,” said a source of Delgado, who he said is backed by a retired Air Force general who is “a trusted man of the President.”
If appointed Air Force chief, Delgado will be qualified to succeed Bautista as AFP chief but his chances may be slim because he will be up against officers who are favorites of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
One of the sources said Gazmin is closer to the President than Delgado’s backer.
Gazmin, a former Army chief, served as PSG commander during the Corazon Aquino administration.
Gazmin is reportedly pushing for the designation of his favored officer, Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, as AFP chief. A member of the PMA Class 1983, Iriberri assumed as Army chief last January.
Apart from Iriberri, the others reportedly vying for the top AFP post are Northern Luzon chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang (PMA Class ‘81), Central Command chief Maj. Gen. John Bonafos (PMA Class ‘82), and Western Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero (PMA Class ‘81).
“The President will likely listen to Secretary Gazmin (in the appointment of AFP chief),” the officer said, adding that the race for AFP chief will be a close fight between Iriberri and Catapang.
A senior Air Force officer said there are three other contenders for  the post of Air Force chief.
He identified the three as AFP deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo (PMA Class ‘81), 3rd Air Division commander Maj. Gen. Nicanor Vivar (PMA Class ‘82), and Chief of Air Staff Maj. Gen. Edgar Fallorina (PMA Class ‘82).
However, the source said, “They have no political backers so it’s anybody’s guess (who will be Air Force chief).”

DND unfazed by China’s threat against RP, Japan

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 11): DND unfazed by China’s threat against RP, Japan

The Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday called on China to be “circumspect” in issuing statements regarding the disputed West Philippine Sea where tensions have been high between the Philippines and Beijing during the past months.

In an interview by Camp Aguinaldo reporters, DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said that the department, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), will continue to perform its mandate.

“We will continue to work within our mandate,” Galvez said.

“To defend our country and, of course, to approach this peacefully as we have mentioned before,” Galvez said.

At the same time, the DND is “unfazed” over China’s warning against the Philippines and Japan not to test Beijing’s resolve in safeguarding its claimed territory.

“I believe that statements such as those, they should be circumspect regarding the giving of statement,” he said.

Galvez reiterated the Philippines will continue to pursue peaceful means, like the arbitration.

“We continue to reiterate regarding what has been agreed by the community of nations as written in UNCLoS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), other international instrumentality regarding Philippine territory,” Galvez said.

Reports said that Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan has warned the Philippines and Japan not to test China’s resolve to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

Chang stressed the Chinese military can be assembled quickly to fight and win any battle.

Chang said territorial sovereignty was a core Chinese interest on which “we will make no compromise, no concession, no trading.”

Tensions between the Philippines and China have been high, particularly in Ayungin Shoal in Palawan where Chinese guard ships have harassed re-provision mission of the AFP for the Marine troops stationed at the grounded BRP Sierra Madre.

MNLF brands Misuari’s death rumors as black propaganda

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 11): MNLF brands Misuari’s death rumors as black propaganda

Words spread yesterday regarding the death of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari, but MNLF spokesmen quickly branded it as black propaganda.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, MNLF spokesman, said that the “rumors” emanated from the intelligence community to cover up their failure to locate Misuari, who is wanted for rebellion and genocide in connection with the September 2013 siege of Zamboanga City.

“That (rumor) came from the intelligence community to ease the pressure of pursuing Chairman Misuari. That’s not true,” Fontanilla said.

“That is black propaganda to demoralize the front and also to serve the intelligence community in order to ease the pressure of pursuing Misuari because they cannot locate him,” he added.

Fontanilla stressed that such occurrence could not be hidden, especially in Sulu, the home province of Misuari.

“If that is true, the whole of Sulu will be mourning and we cannot hide that,” Fontanilla said.

A Tribune source, who was previously involved in tracking down Misuari, said that he was aware that Misuari has been “sickly” lately but could not say if the MNLF founding chairman is dead.

“Last week he was very sick. I have no feedback about that (death of Misuari),” the source said.

Rev. Absalom Cerveza, also a spokesman of MNLF, downplayed the possibility that Misuari died of sickness.

“I was with him last Sunday, the whole day and he was strong and I did not see any sign of illness in him,” Cerveza said.

According to Cerveza, Misuari even walked down from his place to meet him (Cerveza) after he (Cerveza) found himself unable to go up further due to rheumatism.

Misuari has been in hiding since September last year after he was tagged as the brains behind the siege of Zamboanga City laid by more than 300 MNLF fighters.

Government authorities have failed to locate Misuari, who was last monitored in Indanan, Sulu, a known bailiwick of the MNLF-Misuari faction.

CPP: Video -- The Tiamzons' arrest is a blow to the peace talks

Video posted to the CPP Website: The Tiamzons' arrest is a blow to the peace talks [ANG BAYAN 2014 April 07]  


Published on Apr 9, 2014
The arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, both leading cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines and peace talks consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a gross violation of the peace process.

They were arrested with five others in Aloguinsan, Cebu on March 22. To justify their prolonged detention, the arresting police and military operatives planted firearms and arrested them on a trumped-up case of multiple murder.

The Aquino regime has once more demonstrated in this incident its wanton disregard for the peace talks. Surveilling, filing trumped-up criminal charges and arresting the negotiators, consultants and staff of either party are strictly prohibited by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

CPP/Ang Bayan: Interview with Ka Oris

From the April 7 English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website: Interview with Ka Oris

In the first week of March, Ang Bayan interviewed NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Comrade Jorge Madlos, or Ka Oris on the 45th anniversary of the New People’s Army, the strengthening of the armed struggle in Mindanao and the challenges it faces, as well as the current tasks of the revolutionary movement in the island.

“The 45th anniversary of the New People’s Army is a major victory because we have overcome so many enemy attacks, the many problems we have encountered, and the challenges we face… So I congratulate the Communist Party of the Philippines because due to its absolute leadership, the revolutionary armed struggle continues to advance and gain strength all over the country.”

Particularly in Mindanao, the the main factors for the continued advance of the NPA is first, its observance of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ absolute leadership. With its adoption of an offensive posture, it has never lost the initiative amid the brutal internal security plans (ISP) of successive reactionary governments. Under the latest ISP, Oplan Bayanihan, not a single guerrilla front was dismantled. Instead, from 40 guerrilla fronts, we now have 46 guerrilla fronts throughout the island.

Another factor is that the NPA has expanded and taken deep roots among the people in the island. So, no matter what the enemy does to isolate the New People’s Army from its mass support, it is the people who voluntarily support their army because it is their only hope to achieve land reform and national industrialization. The NPA now operates in more than 200 towns and more than 2,000 barangays.

In the past several years, hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from agrarian revolution which has raised the wages of farm workers and reduced land rent and rentals of agricultural equipment like rice mills.

The benefits gained by the people from the agrarian revolution being launched by all the revolutionary forces in the uplands are also a factor in the growth, deepening and expansion of mass support in the entire island. From this, we have also been able to establish barrio revolutionary committees, or organs of political power where the people themselves run their government with the legal reactionary government seemingly still existing. Some organs are at the municipal level.

Aside from this, the NPA has also established many units of the people’s militia to support it in its military work. At present, there are at least 30 to 40 battalions all over Mindanao when concentrated. They are present in the island’s five regions: the Southern Mindanao Region; the Northcentral Mindanao Region; the Northeastern Mindanao Region; the Far South Mindanao Region; and the Western Mindanao Region. They directly support the more than ten battalions of NPA regular forces.

The advance of armed struggle in the entire island can be measured by the number of tactical offensives launched by the NPA in the last four years. In 2010, there were only about 250 plus tactical offensives in the entire island. This grew to more than 300 in 2011, to 400 in 2012 and more than 400 in 2013. These offensives were launched despite the successive attacks under Oplan Bayanihan. In 2014, the NPA will definitely be able to launch more than 500 tactical offensives all over Mindanao.

Consequent to these tactical offensives, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP and CAFGU have been suffering at least a battalion of casualties annually in the last four years. On the other hand, the NPA’s casualties average about a platoon. Thus, although the enemy enjoys a strategic advantage in terms of strength and numbers—there are ten soldiers for every Red fighter—the NPA has demonstrated its superiority over the enemy in gunbattles where the casualty ratio is one Red fighter for every ten enemy elements.

Since the beginning of 2014, the US-Aquino regime has been stepping up its counterrevolutionary war in Mindanao in a desperate attempt to crush the NPA in the island. More than 60% of the AFP’s entire combat force has now been deployed to Mindanao. This deployment is in line with the reactionary state’s objective of defending foreign mining and agro-industrial corporations in the island. The imperialists and comprador bourgeoisie have already invested huge sums of money in these companies. Besides, US imperialism is also keenly interested in building military bases in Mindanao for its troops, planes and ships.

With the influx of AFP combat forces in the island, the US-Aquino government is sure to inflict more human rights violations and other gross injustices on the people. But the people of Mindanao will go on resisting, and the NPA, CPP and NDF in the island will go on fighting whatever grave scheme the brutal US-Aquino regime has in store for Mindanao. The Aquino regime will not succeed, and will in fact have an even bigger problem in its hands because having concentrated its forces and resources in the island, they will have given a big advantage to the revolutionary forces in all of Luzon and the Visayas to advance further.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Victorious military actions

From the April 7 English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website: Victorious military actions

Red fighters launched eight victorious military actions in various parts of the country to welcome the 45th anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Quezon. Ten soldiers were killed, including their commanding officer 1Lt. Rey Jun Blancada and five others were wounded when a unit of the Apolonio Mendoza Command (NPA-Quezon) used a command-detonated explosive (CDX) and rained bullets on a 15-man mercenary force of the 85th IB riding a Hummer-type jeep in Barangay Ilayang Cogorin, Lopez on March 24.

Agusan del Sur. An NPA team under the Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur Subregional Command detonated a CDX on a convoy of four six-by-six trucks bearing 26th IB and Scout Ranger troops at Km. 22, Side 2, Don Alejandro, San Luis at around 12:30 a.m. of March 20, killing two soldiers and wounding 15 others. One of the trucks was destroyed.

Misamis Oriental. A team under the Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeast Bukidnon Subregional Command harassed 58th IB troops on patrol in Libertad, Gingoog City, at around 4 p.m. of March 15, killing two enemy soldiers.

Rizal. Eight AFP troopers were wounded in back to back tactical offensives launched by Red fighters under the NPA Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NAAC) in Baran gay Calawis, Antipolo City on March 3 and 7.

Seven soldiers were wounded when an NAAC squad ambushed elements of the 16th IB conducting military operations on March 7. Earlier, another NAAC squad harassed a detachment of the 59th IB in Sitio Apya of the same barangay on March 3, wounding a soldier. There were no casualties among the Red guerrillas in these two firefights.

Ifugao. Two 54th IB troopers were wounded in a sniping operation by a unit under the Nona del Rosario Command (NPA-Ifugao) on March 21. The military unit was then conducting patrols in Barangay Camandag in Asipulo town. The Red fighters made a safe retreat.

Compostela Valley. Nine soldiers under the 9th IB were killed and 13 others were wounded in two ambushes staged by Red fighters under the Comval-Davao Gulf Subregional Command in Maco. The NPA seized eight military backpacks, a pair of night vision goggles and important documents from the two gunbattles.

Five troopers were killed and ten others were wounded when NPA Red guerrillas ambushed patrolling military units in Barangay Panuraun on March 12. Earlier, on February 16, another unit under the same NPA command ambushed elements of the 9th IB in Barangay New Barile, killing four soldiers and wounding three others.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Declaration of National Sovereignty and Patrimony Week

From the April 7 English language edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website: Declaration of National Sovereignty and Patrimony Week

In the face of heightening US intervention, increasing presence of US and allied foreign troops, intensifying foreign economic plunder and the worsening puppetry of the Aquino regime to the US government, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls on the Filipino people and all their patriotic, democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces to launch a widespread campaign to banner the call for national freedom.

Let us declare April 22-30 as National Sovereignty and Patrimony Week to jumpstart this intensified propaganda and education campaign and drum up the patriotic demands of the Filipino people.

Let us recall the Filipino people’s heroes in ther struggle for national independence, from Andres Bonifacio to Macli-ing Dulag, from Amado V. Hernandez to Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, from Ka Bert Olalia to Ka Roger, from Teresa Magbanua to Juvy Capion, and all those who have died fighting for the Filipino people’s aspirations for genuine independence.

The National Sovereignty and Patrimony Week will cover the scheduled swing-by visit of US imperialist chieftain Barack Obama. It will also cover the upcoming anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). It covers as well as the death anniversary of Macli-ing Dulag and the celebrations of International Earth Day which underscore the issue of increasing foreign plunder of the country’s non-renewable resources and the resulting environmental destruction.

The struggle to uphold national sovereignty and patrimony is set to become one of the Filipino people’s central points of resistance in the rest of the year and in succeeding years as they amplify their demand for the ouster of the current puppet Aquino regime.

This struggle currently involves:

(1) opposing the planned signing of the Agreement for Enhanced Defense Cooperation which will allow the US to carve military enclaves and maintain permanent military presence in the Philippines of several thousand US troops in the guise of “joint exercises,” "humanitarian assistance and disaster response;” and demanding the abrogation of the Mutual Defense Treaty (1956), the Visiting Forces Agreement (1998) and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (2002).

(2) opposing increasing US military interventionism in providing the puppet regime with military funding and arms support, conducting surveillance operations, providing logistical support and direct participation during combat operations and in conducting bombing runs;

(3) opposing the planned amendment of the 1987 constitution (“chacha” or charter change) which seeks to remove restrictions against foreign ownership of land and business operations in the Philippines in order to fulfill the conditions set by the US government to facilitate the Aquino regime’s application to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

(4) opposing the Aquino regime’s campaign to open up wider tracts of land for rubber, oil palm, pineapple and banana plantations and entice more mining operations to extract black sand, gold, zinc, coal and other mineral resources.

(5) opposing the neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation, liberalization and denationalization, especially the Aquino regime’s crony-controlled Public-Private Partnership projects;

(6) opposing the Aquino regime’s refusal to heed the people’s demand for genuine land reform and national industrialization and instead generating an empty economic bubble of office space, mall and condominium construction.

In the economic field, we must set the spotlight on the prevailing grave socio-economic conditions that are a result of US-imposed neoliberal policies which have brought about unprecedented hardships on the people, including the deregulation of the oil industry, the further liberalization of the power industry, the privatization of water services, the use of public funds to augment crony investments in tollways and other infrastructure projects and so on.

We must develop strong national criticism of the Aquino regime and all previous puppet regimes over the past seven decades for their failure to develop a national industrial base and independent economy capable of producing the needs for domestic consumption and production and sustaining employment. We must expose the import-dependent, export-oriented and debt-financed production that oppresses the workers with low wages and the peasants with widespread landgrabbing.

We must condemn the reactionary puppet state for subjecting the country’s national patrimony to foreign plunder, allowing foreign big capitalists to siphon out non-renewable mineral resources; and grab tens of thousands of hectares of land and carve out large tracts into chemical-fed plantations which cause massive soil erosion and widespread public health problems including air pollution and the poisoning of rivers and streams.

We must expose how foreign-owned mines and big logging and plantation operations, like foreign-owned semi-manufacturing plants in the so-called “economic zones” do not serve to develop local production and fail to generate a substantial number of jobs correspondent to the extent of its super-profits and how these are interested only in exploiting the cheap labor and cheap raw materials in the Philippines.

We must expose Aquino’s “rapid economic growth” as “ampaw” or having a hollow core and nothing but an illusion conjured by the influx of the oversupply of money in US and China banks and which is set to explode the moment the US and Chinese financial systems make adjustments causing the massive withdrawal of portfolio investments.

We must aim to reinvigorate the Filipino people’s sense of patriotism and national dignity by carrying out, among others, a sustained campaign to review Philippine history from the nationalist point of view. We must revive the Filipino people’s historic resistance against US military bases.

We must expose how the US has been involved in surveillance, joining trainings, bombing runs, logistical support and other combat operations through its Zamboanga-based Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). We must expose the public relations campaign being conducted by the US military to make US basing and interventionism more palatable, making use of loose change from the overflowing funds of the US military in token school construction and village electrification projects.

We must expose how the Aquino regime is serving to justify the “US pivot” towards Asia involving the deployment of 60% of US overseas naval troops and 50% of its land-based troops in the Asia-Pacific. We must expose, debunk and oppose the claim of the Aquino regime that it is defending Philippine national sovereignty in allowing the US military to maintain its presence in Philippine seas and have unrestricted access to Philippine facilities in order to confront China’s aggressive assertion of its claim over the South China Sea land formations.

We must show how Aquino’s assertion is no different from the justification of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who welcomed US colonial troops to supposedly fight the Spanish colonialists. The result will not be different: foreign military, political and economic dominance. We must assert and prove that upholding and defending national sovereignty and national patrimony can only be carried out as an independent act of a country. To claim that one’s country can assert its sovereignty with the help of a superpower is to beg to become a protectorate of that power.

We must relentlessly oppose US interventionism in the internal affairs of the Philippines. We must expose how the US embassy operates as the center of political power of the reactionary state in the Philippines where policies, laws and programs emanate and Filipino politicians kowtow to the US ambassador and seek his stamp of approval. We must expose how the US military directs the Philippine military in the conduct of the counterrevolutionary war Oplan Bayanihan, which was patterned after the US Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009.

We must shatter the illusion of a “globalized” world being promoted by the imperialists’ ideological and cultural agencies which seeks to break down the national boundaries of third world countries and subject these to military intervention and economic plunder while the imperialist countries race to erect high protectionist walls in their home economic. We must assert the necessity of achieving national sovereignty and defending the country’s patrimony as key factors for securing the country’s future as a modern and progressive state amid the prolonged and continuing crisis of global capitalism.

CPP: US and China are both bullies seeking control of the South China Sea

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 9): US and China are both bullies seeking control of the South China Sea
Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns both the US and Chinese governments for acting like bullies in their effort to fortify their military foothold in the South China Sea to the detriment of the Filipino people’s sovereignty claims over the islands and land formations and territorial waters within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

The CPP denounces both the Chinese and US governments for carrying out maneuvers and counter-maneuvers last March 29 while a Philippine boat delivered supplies to the Philippine outpost ship BRP Sierra Madre which has been stationed at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. The CPP denounces both the Chinese Coast Guard for attempting to prevent the Philippine supply boat from reaching the Ayungin shoal and the US military for carrying out fly-bys to project and assert its power and control of the area.

The CPP further denounces the Aquino regime for playing to the US hegemonist plan to establish its permanent presence in the South China Sea by invoking US military support, seeking increased US military financing and protection. The fly-by of US jets over the Ayungin shoals last March 29 was carried out with the permission of the Philippine armed forces, although AFP officials feigned ignorance. Malacañang also pretended to be unaware of the US fly-bys when it declared that the Philippine supply boat just “somehow managed” to reach the outpost ship despite the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard ship.

The CPP has long supported the demand of the Filipino people to assert Philippine sovereignty over the small islands and land formations in the South China Sea within the country’s 200-mile economic zone. It has long called for a peaceful resolution of the conflicts through diplomatic negotiations and international arbitration.

The Aquino regime seems to act in favor of a peaceful resolution by filing a case supporting the Philippine claim before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS). However, it did so only after years of war-mongering, which heightened tensions with China.

Since 2011, Aquino has kept the tensions high in the South China Sea by allowing the US military to station its warships in the area and invoking protection under the Military Defense Treaty. Aquino would allow the US to sail its warships and fly its fighter plans in the area to project US imperial power in order to provoke China to make counter-aggressive power projection naval and aerial maneuvers.

The US imperialists have long been the biggest violators of Philippine sovereignty. Its historical record of aggression and colonization of the Philippines is incomparable to that of China, which has never deployed its militaries in the Philippines, prior to sailing its coast guard boats in Philippine territorial waters.

Over the past several years, the US has further entrenched itself in the Philippines. It has further strengthened its foothold by maintaining a permanent military presence in the Philippines. It keeps a 700-strong contingent of combat troops stationed in Zamboanga City. Since 2011, it has docked its naval warships, submarines and aircraft carriers several times a week in Philippine ports. US jetfighters, Ospreys, drones and other aerial vessels are permanently stationed in various parts of the country.

At any given time, there are thousands of US troops stationed in the Philippines who sail within Philippine territorial waters and fly within Philippine airspace anytime to advance US hegemonist strategies. The US and Aquino governments seek to further strengthen the foothold of the US military in the Philippines with the planned Agreement for Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDC).

The CPP contends that further strengthening the US’ military foothold in the Philippines does not help the Philippine cause to advance sovereign claims over the South China Sea islands, formations and territorial waters. Heightening US military presence, in fact, counters the Philippines’ efforts to strengthen its sovereignty claims as it puts the Philippines under the dominance of the US military.

In asserting Philippine claims while invoking US military support, the Aquino regime is actually seeking to become a protectorate of the US government, subjecting the entire country, including the international trade routes in the South China Sea, to US control. To be “protected” by a bigger bully who claims to be a friend to fend off another bully is to forever be under the sway of that bigger bully.

The claims to benevolence and friendship of the colonial and later neocolonial US forces are among the biggest hoaxes imposed upon the Filipino people. We must decisively disabuse ourselves of that hoax.