Friday, April 11, 2014

2 MNLF arrested in Bukidnon

From the Sun Star-Manila (Apr 11): 2 MNLF arrested in Bukidnon

GOVERNMENT security forces have arrested two alleged "generals" of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for possession of a firearm and ammunition in Kadingilan, Bukidnon on Thursday, police said Friday.

A report from the Bukidnon provincial police office named the suspects as Heneroso Calma and Cresildo Calayca, both members of the MNLF who hold the rank of brigadier general.

The MILF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996. A faction of the group under MILF founding chairman Nur Misuari is opposed to the peace agreement recently signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The report said Calma and Calayca were nabbed by police and military forces at a checkpoint in Sitio Kibagsil in Kibogtok village around 4 p.m. Thursday.

"Both suspects are alleged members of the MNLF Northern Command," the report said of the suspects, who yielded a cal 45 pistol, ammunition, a magazine and a hunting knife.

Police said Calma and Calayca, who were clad in camouflage Army uniform when arrested, failed to present legal documents covering the firearm, thus they were detained. Investigators are preparing a case against the two.

Rights lawyer seeks protection from surveillance, inclusion in military 'watch list'

From InterAksyon (Apr 11): Rights lawyer seeks protection from surveillance, inclusion in military 'watch list'

Human rights lawyer Catherine Dannug Salucon (second from left) with Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay (left to right) and colleagues Rey Cortez, assistant secretary general for legal affairs of the National Union of People's Lawyers, and NUPL-National Capital Region chairman Julian Oliva after filing a petition for writs of amparo and habeas data before the Court of Appeals. (photo courtesy of Karapatan)

A human rights lawyer on Friday filed petitions for writs of amparo and habeas data before the Court of Appeals as she sought protection against alleged harassment and surveillance by state forces and her inclusion in a military “watch list.”

The petition filed by lawyer Catherine Dannug Salucon names President Benigno Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista, Intelligence Service of the AFP commander General Eduardo Año, Philippine Army chief General Hernando Irriberri, 5th Infantry Division commander General Benito Antonio de Leon, Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima and acting Region 2 police director Chief Superintedent Miguel de Mayo Laurel.

Salucon, a founding member and current auditor of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said she had been told by human rights worker Willliam Bugatti - who accompanied her on May 24 to a hearing of clients accused of being communist rebels and charged with murder and frustrated murder in Lagawe, Ifugao - that he had noticed that “surveillance was being done on them … especially during scheduled hearings for the case in Ifugao.”

The evening of that same day, Bugatti, who worked with the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-Ifugao, was gunned down in Kiangan town.

Bugatti’s name was number 21 on a purported list of 28 “target persons” supposedly drawn up by Charlie Company of the 86th Infantry (Highlander) Battalion, which is based in Barangay Impugong, Tinoc, Ifugao.

The list described him as a human rights worker yet also tagged him as “utak ng NPA (brains of the New People’s Army).”

Leaders and members of legal activist organizations are regularly and openly accused of having links to the communist revolutionary movement and there have been countless accounts of activists listed in so-called military “orders of battle” who end up victims of extrajudicial killings or enforced disappearances.

It was after learning of Bugatti’s murder that Salucon said she “learned from a very reliable source” that the intelligence division of the Region 2 police office had been ordered to conduct a background check on her as a “Red lawyer” and that she was being followed by ISAFP agents.

She was also informed that her name was in a military “watch list” of “so-called communist terrorist supporters rendering legal services.”

The petition also recounted several incidents during which Salucon and her staff observed unidentified men following her.

“It is strongly believed that the threats and intimidation against Atty. Salucon are due to her involvement in various cases involving human rights violations, including the case pending in RTC, Lagawe. Ifugao, and because of his close association with the NUPL and other human rights groups, it is evident that the respondents are in possession of information which indicate that they have unlawfully compiled information on her, which they used as basis in including her in the “Watch List” of so called “communist supporter” and which erroneously and maliciously tagged her as a “communist lawyer,” the petition said.

“By reason of such data and information, the life, liberty, and security of Atty. Salucon is under constant threat from the respondents and their agents. As in fact, the continued surveillance on Atty. Salucon by the respondents and their agents is an indication that there is an existing threat on her life, liberty and security, and that the respondents are still gathering information on her in violation of her right to privacy and security,” it added.

Salucon asked the appellate court to order the respondents to “disclose … and to provide her with copies of all the facts, information, statements, records, photographs, dossier(s) and all other evidence, documentary or otherwise, pertaining to her in their files or record including the watch list of alleged communist supporters and the Memorandum Order of the PNP;” and “to direct the respondents, and/or any persons acting on their behalf, to destroy any information gathered on Atty. Salucon.”

The human rights group Karapatan said the “harassment and surveillance of … Salucon is not only a violation of her rights but also of the right of the people to counsel, especially the poor who are falsely charged."

Both kidnap victims safe, says Esscom

From the Star Online (Apr 12): Both kidnap victims safe, says Esscom

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian officials are working with their security counterparts in the Philippines to secure the freedom of two women kidnapped from a Sempo­rna resort dive resort 12 days ago.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) director-general Datuk Mohamad Mantek said both Chinese tourist China tourist Gao Huayuen, 29, and hotel worker Marcy Darawan, 40, were safe.

“We cannot provide more information at this time as it could affect efforts in getting them released,” he said here yesterday.

Both Gao and Marcy were abducted from the Singamata Reef Resort on April 2.
Security officials in the Philippines believed that their captors had taken them to the southern island of Jolo known as that country’s “kidnap capital”.

They were kidnapped by seven gunmen who were believed to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said on Thursday that Malaysian authorities had received a note stating that the kidnappers wanted 500 million pesos (RM36.4mil) for Gao’s release.

He had also said that a team had been dispatched to meet the purported middleman of the kidnappers to discuss reducing the ransom amount.

China says unaware of Semporna ransom demand

From the Malay Mail Online (Apr 12): China says unaware of Semporna ransom demand

China officials are in the dark over a 500-million Philippine peso (RM36.4 million) demand for the release of one of the country’s citizens kidnapped from Semporna, Sabah last week.

Despite Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announcing on Thursday the demand by the abductors who took two women from a resort there, representatives of the Chinese consulate here told the country’s state media that this has not been communicated to the embassy.

The report by Beijing Times and reproduced by did not, however, name the country’s officials who made the apparent denial.

On Thursday, Zahid announced the ransom note for Chinese tourist Gao Huayun, 28, before adding that negotiations were ongoing to secure her release. The minister added that no demand was made for the Filipina resort worker who was taken at the same time.

On April 2, just a day after the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (Esscom) first anniversary, six gunmen snatched Gao and Marcy Dayawan, a 40-year-old receptionist from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna.       

Sabah police have since reclassified the abductions as kidnappings after allegedly receiving phone calls from the perpetrators, but had refused to divulge information on the ransom demands.

The Abu Sayyaf, a group of Filipino militants known to have taken several tourists and Malaysians hostage for ransom, are the suspected perpetrators.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen also abducted a Taiwanese tourist last November from Pulau Pom Pom, off Sabah’s east coast, killing her husband during the abduction.

The abduction of the Chinese tourist came just as a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying mostly Chinese nationals disappeared on March 8 while en route to Beijing.

Relations between China and Malaysia that is now in its 40th year now appear strained as a result of both incidents.

NCMF, AFP partners for youth peace camps in Mindanao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 10): NCMF, AFP partners for youth peace camps in Mindanao

The two-day peace camp ended Tuesday where the participants expressed their appreciation for being able to attend such an event.One youth leader-participant said his experience during the camp is one that he will carry on and remember for a long time.Participants did not only enjoy meeting with youth representatives from other provinces but were also equipped with the tools and knowledge on disaster preparedness and response, and got oriented on climate change.

They were also updated on the status of the peace process through video presentation, courtesy of OPAPP.The participants also underwent peace building and appreciative inquiry workshops, and were also given sessions on community awareness and response to emergencies with the Philippine Red Cross-Zamboanga demonstrating to them basic first aid responses.

Dr. Yusof Roque Morales-Focal Person In Charge-National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (FPIN-NCMF) said this peace camp is a result of a MOA signing between the AFP and the NCMF held October 8, 2013 at the General Headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City where both parties agreed to launch four initial peace and development programs that will counter RIDO conflict, address “gun culture” and promote a culture of peace in Mindanao.

Dr. Morales said this peace camp is the third in the four initial peace programs, the other three include Bayanihan for Peace, Reconciliation, and Healing; Peace Radio; and Enhancement of Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity Awareness among AFP personnel.

“This peace camp is the first leg of a series of camps. The next leg will be conducted in Cotabato, Tawi-Tawi, Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur and Davao.”

“We hope to create critical mass of youth in these key areas who would become able partners of the government,” Morales added.

He also informed that the youth-participants would become counterpart-volunteers for the one million Bayani Challenge- a commitment made by the AFP-NCMF to raise 1million volunteers for the Bayanihan Challenge.

CPP/NDF-Bicol: Gen Bautista Hallucinates With His AFP’s “Forthcoming Victory”

BDF-Bicol propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 7): Gen Bautista Hallucinates With His AFP’s “Forthcoming Victory”
Maria Roja Banua
NDFP Bicol Chapter
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen Emmanuel Bautista deliberately conceals from the people the basis for waging armed revolution. But the people are resolved that armed revolution is their principal method of breaking away from the wide-ranging and ever-worsening crisis being sponsored by an oppressive and exploitative system. Only with armed revolution, through the New People’s Army, have the people caught sight of hope in achieving genuine liberation, and claiming their rights to land and livelihood. They know fully that their establishment and defense of a truly democratic government rely upon the strength of the people’s army.

Moreover, the National Democratic Front-Bicol remains sincere in proceeding with the peace negotiations in order to pave the way towards resolving the roots of armed conflict between the Government of the Philippines and the NDFP. The people have long yearned for a peace based on justice.

This is in stark contrast with Bautista’s deathly peace that he aims to impose upon the people. For Bautista, peace is the stockpiling of arms and other materiel, under the guise of an anomalous modernization plan, in order to intensify the armed suppression of the people’s discontent. Bautista’s peace is the sustained positioning of soldiers that terrorize the peasant masses in the countryside.

It is laughable how Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista’s impudence drives him to announce the so-called downward trend of the New People’s Army in the Bicol region, and subsequently lie about the AFP’s supposed forthcoming victory. Has early senility afflicted the self-assertive architect of Oplan Bayanihan? Bautista must have already failed to recall his admission only months ago that the AFP has been unsuccessful at implementing the first phase of their campaign to render irrelevant the people’s revolutionary movement.

Oplan Bayanihan has miserably failed in Bicol as it has been unable to occupy more than 10% of the region’s territories. The purported achievements of the so-called Peace and Development Teams have only succeeded in exposing the failure of each counter-insurgency campaign that go under a different name in every regime-change. The situation in the town of Bula in Camarines Sur province is an accurate example of how Special Operations Teams of the 80’s have mutated into present-day PDTs and have ruined the peace and order in the town. The AFP coddles former NPA members that have been expelled from the people’s army due to incorrigible corruptness. These former NPA members are driven by their handlers to misrepresent themselves as active members, perpetrate crimes in the areas, and persecute upright villagers, before attributing their vile deeds to the revolutionary forces.

What victory does Bautista take pride in? It is disgraceful how the failed general gathers the gall to lie to himself, to his soldiers, and to the people. But then again, Bautista displays his pigheadedness to the psywar component of Oplan Bayanihan – mumbling illusions of victory amidst abounding news of NPA victories in the field.
The truth is that Bautista had to check on the 9th Infantry Division in order to constrain the demoralization that permeate amongst his troops in the face of Oplan Bayanihan’s failure to coerce the people to fight the revolutionary movement. Not even the military’s expected allies in the bureaucracy and the courts have delivered their presumed support. Also, Bautista had to assuage his troops’ anxiety as the New People’s Army continues to score outstanding victories across the nation despite the AFP’s self-assured triumph in capturing some of the revolution’s leaders.

Moreover, Bautista called on his soldiers in order to ensure Danding Cojuangco’s economic interest in profiting from the people through his control over power generation and distribution in Bicol. Bautista likewise wanted to guarantee the protection of the pro-imperialist APEC gathering in the region.

The AFP chief could very well wallow in his Oplan Bayanihan delusions. He could spring from AFP camp after AFP camp babbling about his perceived “weakening” of the revolutionary forces. But no sooner will his falsehoods be refuted by surprise attacks of the NPA. Bautista’s lies will be answered by the masses’ active offering of their best sons and daughters to join the NPA. Because the masses understand that without a people’s army, nothing else is in store for an oppressed and exploited people.

Long live the revolution!
Long live the Filipino people!

CPP/NDF-Bicol: On the Declaration of a Unilateral Ceasefire this Holy Week

NDF Bicol propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Mar 11): On the Declaration of a Unilateral Ceasefire this Holy Week

Maria Roja Banua
NDFP Bicol Chapter
Dear Jonathan,

We extend our warmest greetings to you in behalf of the National Democratic Front-Bicol.

Your query whether the CPP-NPA-NDF in Bicol will declare a unilateral ceasefire this Holy Week signifies your leaning towards the people’s welfare amidst the ongoing armed conflict between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. We value such position of yours.

The revolutionary forces recognize and respect the people’s religious traditions and activities. The document GUIDELINES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT guarantees the rights of the people to enjoy their freedom of conscience and religion.

Moreover, in the middle of the ongoing armed conflict between the AFP-PNP and the New People’s Army, the NPA strictly adheres to the provisions in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that ensure the rights of civilians and those taking no active part in the hostilities.

The revolutionary forces therefore guarantee the safe undertaking of the people’s Pabasa, Visita Altares, Siyete Palabras, and other religious activities in the guerrilla zones. With or without the presence of a ceasefire declaration, the people can freely carry out such activities because the People’s Democratic Government uphold their rights.

As of today, the Military Commission of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Central Committee has yet to declare a unilateral ceasefire. It is the NPA’s central leadership which takes the rightful position to evaluate the national situation and declare a unilateral ceasefire if need be. Please be assured that we will inform you of any development regarding this matter.

The New People’s Army in Bicol will maintain a posture of active defense. Our forces must be vigilant of the AFP-PNP’s devious ploys, most especially at a time when the people are in deep observance of their traditions. You may call to mind, Jonathan, that despite the AFP’s declaration of a Suspension of Offensive Military Operations last Christmas Season, widespread violations were committed as AFP forces continued to launch attacks on our territories.

We hope that we have responded comprehensively to your query. We would gladly entertain written interviews coming from our friends in the media. You may send your questions via our facebook account, or to our email address at We will strive to submit prompt replies.

Advance progressive journalism for the masses!

For the people,
Ka Roja

‘AFP skims P40m bounty’

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 11): ‘AFP skims P40m bounty’

AN OPPOSITION lawmaker on Friday accused the Armed Forces, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior and Local Governments Secretary Manuel Roxas II of pocketing almost half of the P41.45 million in reward money for the arrest of top communist leaders.

The accusation by Bayan Muna Rep. Isagani Carlos Zarate came in the wake of the misdeclaration by the Armed Forces of the bounty imposed on captured communist leaders, one of whom was shown to be a case of mistaken identity, and another of whom was discovered to be missing since 2007.

The top two communist leaders, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, claimed they had P1.5 million in hard cash intended for the Yolanda victims when they were captured in Cebu last month but said the military claimed it only recovered P23,000 from the couple.

Zarate said the documents from the Defense Department under Gazmin and the Interior and Local Government Department under Roxas showed the bounty on the heads of the Tiamzon couple was pegged at P10 million each, for a total of P20 million.

But the Armed Forces had understated the amount and publicly announced the reward collected was P11.52 million, or P5.6 million per head, Zarate said.

“Secretary Gazmin and Roxas, as well as the AFP, should account for the total amount actually   released as the two officials have been quiet about the AFP’s understated funds for reward money that they had collected. This involves a total of P41.45 million, of which amount, the AFP claimed to have collected only some P22.4 million. So where is the rest of the reward money?” Zarate said.

He said a “hit list” issued by Roxas and Gazmin was used as a money-making venture by the Armed Forces, even after the Court of Appeals ascertained that one of the “leaders” was just a security guard.

“The AFP collected the P5.6 million in reward money and refused to return the bounty despite the CA ruling,” Zarate said.

Zarate gave credence to the claim made by the Tiamzon couple that the Armed Forces, along with other state agencies that arrested them, might have taken the P1.5 million meant for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda “considering that it seems to be standard AFP practice to misdeclare funds.”

“Case in point is the supposed bounty for Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria which after about a week of their capture the AFP announced that they had P5.6 million each on their heads, but based on the Joint Memorandum 2012-14 of the DILG-DND which they are using, the bounty is P10 million each. It was only after we filed a resolution to investigate this that they corrected the figure,” Zarate said.

Aside from the understating of the Tiamzons’ bounty, Zarate said, three other similar cases had been recorded.

“Another case is the supposed bounty for Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, which again they said was P5.6 million but in actuality was P7.85 million,” Zarate said.

Zarate also cited the case of Leo Velasco, which the Armed Forces stated to carry P5.6-million bounty on his head but based on the joint memorandum was more than P8 million.

“What is more bizarre though is that they increased his bounty even if they knew that Velasco was missing since 2007,” Zarate said.

“With this pattern of fund misdeclaration, it is not far off that the AFP also got the P1.5 million and only declared P23,000, dividing the remainder among themselves,” he said.

Zarate said the memo from the Defense and Interior departments with a 235-person hit list for communist leaders was just being used by officials to collect reward money.

This was the same list used to arrest Rolly Panesa, a security guard, who the Armed Forces said was a ranking communist leader , Danilo Benjamin Mendoza, with a P5.6 million reward on his head, Zarate said.

“The Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals ordered Panesa freed last August 27, 2013,” said Zarate.

“This is dangerous and alarming. The hit list allows anyone to be captured, just like in the case of Panesa, who was mugged and tortured by his military captors. Panesa, a security guard, was jailed for several months in a case of mistaken identity that the CA declared as such,” Zarate said.

What was worse, Zarate said, was that the Armed Forces had collected the supposed P5.6-million bounty and never returned the money despite the CA ruling.

“This hit list and other similar lists should not be used again because it endangers the lives of individuals even those not in the list,” Zarate said.

Two rebels killed in Cordillera

From the Manila Times (Apr 11): Two rebels killed in Cordillera

CAMP ACMOR, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE: Two members of the New People’s Army died during an encounter with government troops on Wednesday at Bandung Hill in Cordillera region.

One of the two fatalities was identified as Daniel Alunday alias Katikid from Poswoy, Kalinga Apayao. Soldier Manuel Dagsan, who was hurt in the clash that lasted for more than an hour, is in stable condition.

AFP's 'Bayanihan' gets 'above satisfactory' marks from Visayas CSOs

From InterAksyon (Apr 11): AFP's 'Bayanihan' gets 'above satisfactory' marks from Visayas CSOs

Samar newsman Rommel Rutor delivers the Visayas assessment of the military's implementation of of Oplan Bayanihan. (photo by Ricky Bautista,

Civil society groups in the Visayas gave the Armed Forces of the Philippines an “above satisfactory performance” rating for the implementation of “Oplan Bayanihan” in the Visayas last year.

The rating was given during an assessment conference on the military counterinsurgency program Thursday at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Aside from assessing Bayanihan, the conference also tackled security reforms.

Civil society “Bantay-Bayanihan Network” teams gave their assessment of the military plan.

As far as the Bayanihan operational indicators of the military is concerned, the AFP is hitting ‘above satisfactory,’ but we should take note that the consistency of its impact to communities is anchored on concrete policies, which is the second part of our assessment, and (in) that, the AFP is lagging behind” Samar Island Press Club president Rommel Rutor, who presented the Visayas assessment, said.

“In 2013, I would say that the so-called whole nation approach is still a military approach,” Rutor said.

Reacting to the Visayas assessment, Colonel Francisco F. Mendoza Jr., who represented the Cebu-based Central Command, said: “I agree on your observations and rest assured that we will also advise our lower units to correct any negative practice as far as policy implementation is concern to make the assessment and evaluation more comprehensive.”

NegOr to be declared "conflict-manageable, development-ready”

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 11): NegOr to be declared "conflict-manageable, development-ready”

With the continued strengthening of peace efforts in Negros Oriental, a joint declaration of "Conflict-Manageable and Development Ready Province" will be held on April 28 at the Perdices Memorial Coliseum, this city. 

According to Deputy Commander Col. Cristopher Estella of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, with the Oplan Bayanihan and military combat operations, the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) forces continue to dwindle fast.

A recent encounter between NPA forces and government troops in Pamplona town resulted to two rebels killed and a number of them wounded and the recovery of high-powered firearms.

Col. Estella said the military has reduced the level of the enemy’s capabilities to threaten the stability of the government and for the civil authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of Negrenses.

He added that based on some parameters, the NPA’s support system has been greatly reduced in the hinterland barangays, as the residents themselves informed the military through text messages the presence of unidentified armed men in the area.

“Once a province is declared as conflict manageable and development-ready, there are advantages that enhance the general feeling of security for the Negrenses, and the province will experience development in its economic and boost tourism industry,” Col. Estella explained.

Expected to sign the joint declaration in a formal ceremony include Gov. Roel Degamo, Armed Forces of the Philippines Commander of 3ID Major General Aurelio Baladad, and Regional Director P/CSupt. Danilo Constantino of Police Regional Office-7.

Meantime, more Bayanihan Team Operations and combat focus operations will be conducted by the Army to stop insurgents.

Instead of engaging in armed conflict, the Army also encourages militants to consider different avenues in returning to the “folds of the law” such as asking for assistance from local government units, the military official said.

Col. Estella said the Army continues its efforts to collaborate with the LGUs, government agencies, non-government organizations, and the local communities in pursuing the goal of the province to become insurgency-free.

(UPDATE) Leftist rebels storm mining firm in ComVal

From the Philippine Star (Apr 11): (UPDATE) Leftist rebels storm mining firm in ComVal

Leftist rebels from the New People 's Army (NPA) raided a mining firm in southern Philippines and burned 21 assorted heavy equipment, a military spokesman said today.

Capt. Ernest Carolina, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division, said some 30 NPA guerrillas stormed the motor pool of the Apex Mining Co. in Masara village, Maco town in Compostela Valley province on Thursday afternoon.

Carolina said the leftist rebels torched drilling machines, payloaders, and backhoes.

Military officials, however, could not yet provide the cost of damage inflicted by the leftist rebels. No one was also reported killed or wounded in the incident.

Carolina said they have yet to establish the motive for the attack.

He said troops from the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Battalion have been deployed to pursue the NPA guerrillas.

The attack took place just a week after leftist rebels swooped down on the Phil Alstron Mining Co. in Agusan del Norte province and burned eight heavy equipment.

The military said the NPA guerrillas raided the mining firm for its refusal to pay "revolutionary tax."

Peace and Order Councils of 3 Samar towns declare their towns as "Peaceful and Development Ready Municipalities"

Statement from the Division Public Affairs Office, 8th Infantry Division posted to the Samar News (Mar 26): Peace and Order Councils of 3 Samar towns declare their towns as "Peaceful and Development Ready Municipalities"

Samar Peaceful and Development Ready Municipalities joint signing

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, SamarPeace and order councils of three towns of Samar Province declare their towns as Peaceful and Development Ready Municipalities in a joint signing of declaration held at Marju Krishel Hotel, Calbayog City.

The towns of Tagapul-an, Sto. Niño and Almagro all of Samar were declared by the peace and order councils of said municipalities headed by their town mayors as peaceful and development ready.

The joint signing and declaration of said towns was made possible after the towns met the parameters stipulated under National Internal Peace and Security Plan, namely: different threat groups failed to function as organized insurgent movement; there is minimal threat to stability, peace and order and development, as well as transgression of laws; no established support system for threat groups; effort to infiltrate unaffected areas and sectoral organizations has been prevented; and the arouse, organize, mobilize (AOM) and Ideological, Political and Organizational were thwarted and prevented.

These mean that rebel activities need minimal military interventions as it can be easily addressed by the PNP troops in said municipalities.

The declaration was attended by Hon Kathleen S. Prudenciado, Mayor of Almagro, Samar; Hon. Lilia A. Coñejos, Mayor of Sto. Niño, Samar; Hon.Vicente F. Limpiado Sr., Mayor of Tagapul-an, Samar and Ms Luz D. Tacal of Samar PSWDO, representing Hon. Sharee Ann T. Tan, Governor of Samar. It was also attended by Maj Gen Jet B Velarmino AFP, the Commander of 8th Infantry Division, Col Wilson B. Leyva, the Commander of 801st Brigade, Philippine Army and Lt Col Glen C. Calambuhay, the Commanding Officer of 43rd Infantry Battalion. While Philippine National Police was represented by Chief Inspector Felipe R. Tan, Chief, Police Community Relation, Samar Provincial Police Office.

The declaration of the three towns as peaceful communities and ready for development symbolizes that a new era of peace and progress has started in Samar Province. That rebellion is a thing of the past and no longer the craze or fad of the masses. This also indicates that the 8th Infantry Division is still on the running to meet its target for the whole Samar Province to be declared as Peaceful and Development Ready comes June 2014.

In her message, Hon Lilia A. Conejos, Mayor of Almagro, Samar said: "There were so many violence in my town in the past, people got killed because they do not give in to the extortion demands of the NPA rebels. I thank the military for helping us to move on and cleansed our town of NPA rebels and help us realized our dream of a having a peaceful community to live on."

Maj Gen Jet B. Velarmino AFP, the Commander of the 8th Infantry Division said: The Joint Declaration of the municipalities of Almagro, Sto. Niño and Tagpul-an of Samar Province as 'Peaceful and Development Ready Municipalities' shows that the spirit of Bayanihan is strong among the Army, the Local Government Units and other stakeholders in these municipalities."

"We are very happy to be part of this endeavor and we can proudly say that we are moving towards the right direction. Together, we are sending a strong message that these municipalities believe that it is through peace and development efforts, and not armed struggle, that we can achieve a sustainable development and a just and lasting peace in this part of Samar Province," he added.

MILF: Muslim community leader urges gov’t to sincerely implement the Bangsamoro peace deal

From the MILF Website (Apr 12): Muslim community leader urges gov’t to sincerely implement the Bangsamoro peace deal

A Muslim community leader urges the Philippine Government to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) sincerely with notion that “We do not want to repeat the same mistake again for according to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) not all provisions of the Philippine Government-MNLF peace agreement were implemented.”
The government and MNLF, represented by MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari, signed in 1996 the final peace accord with hope that the agreement will bring peace and development in Southern Philippines.

“A Mu’min (believer) should not be bitten twice by the same snake coming from the same hole,” said Ustadz Akman Abtahi, President of Al-Hiqma Learning Institute and Chairman of Purok Bangsamoro in Barangay Calumpang, General Santos City, during the Muslim Leaders Consultative Dialogue/Forum on April 8, 2014 at Mindanao State University- Gensan.

Abtahi pointed out that for the Muslims, an agreement is indeed sacred and it deserves respect and “must be implemented.”

Imam Jimmy Ubpon, President of General Santos City Council of Imams, further stressed the need to adhere to an agreement for Muslims consider it sacred.

Abtahi added, “What will happen if the Bangsamoro peace agreement won’t be implemented? I do not want to predict.”

“Is there a guarantee that the draft basic law will still be 100% intact after it will be  scrutinized by Congress?” he asked. “How will the MILF react if they will not be satisfied?” he further asked.

“Actually there are no changes in the process now compared with the MNLF deal,” he recalled.

He said the government has three branches, executive, legislative and judiciary which he suggested should have representatives that had constituted the GPH Peace Panel “so that there will be no more question.”

“We should have also looked at that matter unlike now, only the executive entered into agreement with the Bangsamoro,”  he elaborated.

Still being drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will provide the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the ARMM.

employs tedious consultations with various stakeholders, both Moros and non-Moros, drawing ideas and recommendations for the inclusive formulation of the basic law. The BBL will be ratified by qualified voters in Bangsamoro territory through a plebiscite.

Ustadz Ansar Kudanding urged fellow participants to put their trust to the MILF leadership who are fighting for the rights of the Bangsamoro people in diplomatic process and enjoined everyone to pray that the peace agreement will truly bring the realization of Bangsamoro governance.’t-to-sincerely-implement-the-bangsamoro-peace-deal

No 'immediate' threat to upcoming Obama visit so far, but intel community on the job

From GMA News (Apr 11): PNP: No 'immediate' threat to upcoming Obama visit so far, but intel community on the job

At least for now, the Philippine intelligence community has not detected any "immediate" terrorist or criminal threat to the visit of US President Barack Obama on April 28 and 29.

Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac on Saturday said the PNP and other agencies continue to validate information involving threats.

"Wala pa kaming nkaukuhang info at this date and time na ikababahala ng ating kababayan... Wala pa kaming nakikitang immediate threat, whether terrorist or criminal, subali't tuloy ang pag-validate," Sindac said on state-run dzRB radio.

He said other government agencies involved in validating possible threats include the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

On Friday, Philippine Ambassador to Washington D.C. Jose Cuisia Jr. said Obama is due to visit the Philippines April 28 and 29.

Cuisia said Obama and President Benigno Aquino III are expected to discuss defense and security cooperation, trade and people-to-people exchange.

He added it will be "working visit" for Obama.

Obama will also visit Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia this month. He was supposed to visit the Philippines in October 2013 but it was canceled after the US government went into a shutdown.

Philippines, US agree on new security deal

From ABS-CBN (Apr 11): Philippines, US agree on new security deal

The Philippines and the United States reached agreement on Friday on a new security accord allowing American military forces to share local bases for maritime and humanitarian operations, a senior Philippine defense official said.

The two oldest allies in the Asia-Pacific region had been negotiating a new military deal for nearly eight months to increase U.S. rotational presence in the Philippines and improve its former colony's defense capability.

The pact will also raise the level of protection against China, which has strengthened its naval presence in disputed areas in the South China Sea after seizing control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

Pio Lorenzo Batino, Undersecretary of Defense and chair of the Philippine negotiating panel, said both sides had reached a "consensus on key points" during an eighth round of talks.

"The draft provisions on key points of an enhanced defense cooperation will be submitted to the president for his review," Batino said in a statement. The accord is expected to be signed during President Barack Obama's April 28-29 visit to Manila.

The agreement will be a highlight of Obama's visit to Asia, underscoring the U.S. "rebalance" to Asia despite preoccupations elsewhere, including Ukraine, Iran and Syria.

"No, I don't think there should be any doubts to the U.S. rebalance to Asia," said Jose Cuisia, the Philippine ambassador to the United States.

Cuisia said the Philippines stood to receive more U.S. military assistance once the pact was signed. For this year, the U.S. allocated about $50 million in foreign military financing, nearly double the previous year's sum.

"It's up to the Philippine Armed Forces to determine what they need," Cuisia said. "I think they are looking at getting newer vessels."

He said Washington also promised to help acquire long-range maritime patrol aircraft to enable the Philippines to keep closer watch on its maritime borders in the South China Sea.

Military sources said the agreement would increase ship visits and deployment of surveillance aircraft. Last year, there were 149 U.S. navy ship vists, up from 68 in the previous year.

Batino said the agreement complied with the Philippine constitution, meaning U.S. forces will have no permament presence and will set up no military bases.

"United States access to and use of the armed forces of the Philippines facilities and areas will be at the invitation of the Philippines," he said.

The agreement, he said, excluded the import of nuclear weapons and also had "robust provisions on the protection of enviroment, human health and safety".

The United States had two large military bases in the Philippines up to November 1992. The Philippine Senate voted to evict the American military forces in 1991, ending 45 years of special relations from Manila's independence in 1946.

The U.S. military returned in 2000 after Manila signed an agreement allowing the two sides to train and hold exercises together on conventional and counter-terrorism operations.

Reds will respect Holy Week rites in Bicol

From ABS-CBN (Apr 11): Reds will respect Holy Week rites in Bicol

BICOL – The underground communist movement on Friday said it will respect people's religious traditions and activities in the Bicol region during the coming Holy Week.

The National Democratic Front-Bicol's (NDF-Bicol) Ka Roja, in a statement to ABS-CBN News, said people will be allowed to hold "pabasa," "visita altares," and "siyete palabras," among others, in areas in the region where there are New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

"[We] guarantee the rights of the people to enjoy their freedom of conscience and religion," Ka Roja said.

Ka Roja also said they adhere to the provisions in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that ensure the rights of civilians and those taking no active part in the hostilities.

"With or without the presence of a ceasefire declaration, the people can freely carry out such activities," Ka Roja said.

However, the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP) Central Committee has yet to declare a unilateral ceasefire for the Holy Week.

"It is the NPA's central leadership which takes the rightful position to evaluate the national situation and declare a unilateral ceasefire if need be. Please be assured that we will inform you of any development regarding this matter," the letter said.

Ka Roja said NPA rebels in Bicol will maintain "active defense.";postID=8409958853604650827

Government troops pursuing Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Government troops pursuing Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan

Government troops are hot on the trails of a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits who disrupted Friday the implementation of road concreting project in the municipality of Tipo-Tipo, this province.

Being pursued as of press time is the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama, “who are now occupying school buildings in Barangay Baguindan,” Tipo-Tipo.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela the group of Indama is responsible in extortion activities victimizing project contractors concreting the Magkawa-Al-Barka section of the Basilan Circumferential Road.

The pursuit operation came after two clashes ensued early Friday that left 18 soldiers from the Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion wounded.

Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade information officer Capt. Richard Enciso disclosed that eight of the 18 soldiers were wounded when a clash erupted around 2:25 a.m. Friday in at Sitio Kurellem, Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo.

Another clash ensued several minutes later in the same area that resulted to the injury of another 10 soldiers.

Enciso said the Abu Sayyaf bandits were believed to also have suffered casualties during the two succeeding clashes.

Muyuela said the soldiers, who suffered slight injuries, were airlifted to the military’s Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.

Muyuela said the troops were conducting combat operations when they encountered a group the Indama-led Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Muyuela said the combat operation is primarily aimed against the Abu Sayyaf bandits who were responsible in extortions activities victimizing contractors undertaking government projects in Tipo-Tipo area.

She said the combat operation is purposely to clear the areas of Tipo-Tipo and Albarka of Abu Sayyaf influence to pave the way for the normalization and development of the two depressed areas.

Military, NPA clashes anew in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Military, NPA clashes anew in Misamis Oriental

Fresh fighting erupted anew in the hinterlands of Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental Thursday afternoon, the military reported on Friday.

Capt. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the army’s Public Affairs Division (PAD) here, said that elements of the army’s 58th Infantry Battalion was on combat patrol when they encountered a group of Communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the farming village of Banglay in Lagonglong, Thursday afternoon.

“Contrary to reports, the military did not suffer any casualty in the ensuing firefight that lasted only for more than three minutes,” Uy said as he denied the military suffered two casualties.

He said that the presence of the military caught the NPA rebels by surprise that they (rebels) simply fired their guns elsewhere and hastily retreated towards the hinterlands.

Uy said the combat patrol initiated by the military in the hinterlands has become routine in response to report by the civilians about the presence of unidentified groups in their areas.

He said that the hinterlands of Lagonglong and Salay, all of Misamis Oriental, have been identified as places where the armed communist rebels have frequent sightings.

“We want to make sure that the civilian populace are secured in places where the presence of NPA rebels are frequently reported,” Uy added.

He said that the morale of the communist NPA rebels has plummeted following the recent arrest of Benito Tiamzon, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and his wife Wilma in a safe house in the Central Visayas province of Cebu.

As a result, the NPA rebels have been reported to be resorting to terror attacks on a nationwide scale, prompting the military to be on a heightened alert at all times, Uy said.

A new era of peace dawns in Mindanao (Special Report)

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): A new era of peace dawns in Mindanao (Special Report)

A new era of peace has dawned in Mindanao with the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that would finally pave the way to full development of untapped mineral resources, including oil, that are abundant in the region.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said that alongside with the economic development of Mindanao dubbed as the “Land of Promise,” millions of children – Christians, Muslims and Indigenous Peoples of school age - will benefit with a lasting peace in place in southern Philippines which was hounded by violence since the Spanish era.

“Of course, school children will greatly benefit with the signing of the CAB,” Deles told the Philippines News Agency at the sideline of the Forum dubbed as “Women at the Peace Table” at the SDC Conference Room in Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City last Tuesday.

The historic signing will be a plus factor as this will enable children in conflict areas to pursue their studies and attain a higher education as their ticket to a better future.

The government and non-government organizations (NGOs) have been working hand-on-hand in providing free books and feeding program for children in poverty-stricken areas in Mindanao.

These noble programs are being pushed by the Ninoy and Cory Foundation, the MyLibrary Program of Ayala Foundation/Philippine Development Foundation, to name a few.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) headed by Deles conducted a series of consultations with various sectors long before the signing of the CAB on March 27, 2014.

Aside from that, she and members of the GPH peace panel chaired by Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer also talked with “Cabinet secretaries for consultations with the whole of government moving.”

But most of all, Deles acknowledged that Masses and prayers offered by prayer warriors all over the country long before the CAB signing greatly helped because “if we have only ourselves to depend on, we won’t get it.”

The OPAPP chair also quoted Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, as saying that the impact of the signing was felt on the ground, apparently referring to the MILF people.

During the Ateneo forum, the women members of the GPH peace panel led by Ferrer were asked if women-dominated panel was a factor in the signing, the panel said that maybe “women are more meticulous.”

Ferrer hastened to add kiddingly: “Men are comfortable delegating work to women,” that generated laughter from the audience.

She also said that during the early stage of the peace negotiations, there were “some nasty remarks” about women as “second class” but “we got over with.”

Breaking the ice during those tense moments were the jokes and funny stories, including gender jokes made by both sides.

It was a learning process and during the negotiations there were lots of haggling.

Ferrer said it was a meaningful participation even as both panels “played hardball (and) dealt with lots of lawyers.”

For the GPH peace panel, “we pushed the limit of our mandate.”

On the other hand, Deles said that the “very difficult” part of negotiation was about power and revenue sharing.

During the negotiation period that lasted for 43 rounds spanning over 17 years, there was a lot of burdens and sacrifices on both sides.

But there was hope and the faith persisted that with the many “problems we can work together,” Deles said.

The GPH panel agreed with Deles that at the beginning of the talks it was “hard sell.”

While there was lot of pressure during the talks both panels did not lose hope.

In fact, the GPH women panel members dubbed themselves as “women of steel.”

Asked by TV host Che Che Lazaro, the moderator of the forum, on what was the “stress buster” when things were rough, the panel members said aside from ranting while going home, they would go shopping “guerrilla-style” – meaning shopping for small items in one store then moving to another, and of course eating.

But they praised Iqbal for keeping his cool.

The GPH panel is composed of Prof. Ferrer as chair with Undersecretary Zenonin Brosas, Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman, Undersecretary Yasmin Busran-Lao and Iona Gracia-Jalaiijali, head, panel secretariat.

Wrapping up an agreement - delicate as the CAB - was not easy to resolve 17 long years of conflict that started in 1997 shortly after the government and the then Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the main Muslim rebel group, mounted a rebellion in southern Philippines in 1974 following the infamous burning of Jolo, Sulu.

The MILF, which broke away from the MNLF after the latter signed a final peace agreement with the government on Sept. 2, 1996, opposed the peace accord and continued the war in Mindanao.

Knowing its implication, then President Fidel V. Ramos reached out to talk to the breakaway MILF which resulted in the signing of the Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities and its Implementing Administrative Guidelines on July 21, 1997, followed by the Sept. 12, 1997 Implementing Operational Guidelines of the (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities on Nov. 14, 1997.

When the six-year term of President Ramos ended on June 30, 1998, incoming President Joseph Estrada took over the reins of government.

There was a lull in the government peace negotiations with the MILF as the latter resumed the hostilities.

In 1999, the peace process was in limbo and by year 2000 the Mindanao conflict broke into the open when MILF forces occupied the town of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and took hundreds of civilians as hostages.

This prompted President Estrada to declare an all-out war against the MILF.

The military crushed the MILF during a four-month bloody war in the summer of 2000 and captured 46 MILF camps, including Camp Abubakar Al-Saddique, the main and the largest MILF camp on July 9, 2000.

Though defeated in battle, the MILF remained a force to reckon with as it continued its armed struggle.

For Deles, the signing of the CAB was “a day of joy and gladness.”

In her speech on March 27, Deles said: “Today we embrace peace with the crushing might of a people; and banish war with the great power of a nation united. Today we embrace peace with the courage of equals rather than the cowardice of bigots, deceivers, and exploiters. Today we embrace peace with deep gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift, the blessing of peace, that only Providence can truly bestow upon humanity.

“And speaking of blessings, I also remember the gift bestowed upon us in the person of Ibrahim Rahman, a village leader of Pigkawayan, North Cotabato, in Mindanao. One night in August of 2008, amidst the distant clap of cannons and gunfire, Ibrahim woke up to the sight of hundreds of children of all shapes and sizes, in front of his house.

“The children were apparently told by their parents to flee their homes for safety — by themselves, without food, with only the clothes they wore on their frail bodies. In ragtag fashion and with the bravado of hardy sons and daughters of war, they crossed the Libungan river in bancas to safer sanctuary, and landed, luckily, in Ibrahim’s front door. Ibrahim called out to others in the community.

“They took in the young ones in different homes, fed them, and sheltered them in the madrasah. In a state of confusion, the child refugees or “bakwits” would cry themselves to sleep and wake up not knowing where their parents were.

“It was weeks later that their parents came for them and brought them back home, when the guns were silent for a while. Ibrahim would later lend his 10-hectare ancestral land to these children’s families, whose areas of residence kept changing, depending on where and when it was safe — depending on when and where the bombs fell or the guns roared.

"Today those families are sheltered in Ibrahim’s ancestral land, and are being served by the government’s shelter assistance program. And on this day itself, as they hear the words said in this historic ceremony, they are finally invested with hope in a permanent peace, the hope that their children will finally have the chance not only to survive, but to live and to thrive in an enduring community.

"We stand here today to declare that, henceforth, no family shall be forced to drive their children away for fear of their being maimed and wounded by conflict; and that no child has ever again to cross a raging river and knock on a stranger’s door to beg for protection.

"Outside these gates, parents, students, and children are in Luneta flying kites for peace, while our allies from many noble persuasions are in Mendiola and Quiapo in solidarity with us. In various areas in Mindanao, people have turned major roads green with waving peace flags and will be holding "peace-tahan" events to celebrate today's momentous occasion.

"The signal and prayers are so strong and unrelenting -- no more war, no more children scampering for safety, no more evacuees, no more lost schooldays or school months, no more injustice, no more mis-governance, no more poverty, no more fear and no more want. Tama na, we are all tired of it.

"A new dawn has come, the dawn for books, not bullets; for paintbrushes, not knives; for whole communities, not evacuation centers; and for rewarding toil, not endless strife. The work is far from over even as the pledges are sealed.

"But I bear faith that our common intentions will drive us forward, and that noble leaders will clasp hands and pull our future together. Most of all, I bear the deepest faith that the Almighty will hold us all in the palm of His hand — constantly delivering us from the instincts of war and keeping us within the fold of peace each waking day.

"Today, the Bangsamoro rises with Mindanao, the nation, the region and the world — part of our great heritage and identity as a nation, a political and economic force for all generations

"Mr. President (Benigno S. Aquino III, thank you for leading us forward with a clear vision and indomitable steadfastness. Now I know that 'tuwid na daan' also means peace for all. We could not have made it without you.

"Mr. President, allow me to express our gratitude to Malaysia for being a faithful and patient partner of the peace process. We can ask nothing more of a good and trusted neighbor. Chairman Murad, you are truly a warrior for all seasons; we salute your fortitude and tenacity in leading the MILF in war and now in peace.

"To all who have been our partners in the journey, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I am humbled by your own love for peace and your willingness to live and fight for the dream.

"And to you all who have toiled by my side and chose to walk these difficult paths and navigated the complicated currents of peace-making as we know it now.

"You know who you all are -- the men and women of OPAPP, with our families, I can only say thank you."

American destroyer to arrive in Manila Friday

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): American destroyer to arrive in Manila Friday

The US Embassy in Manila announced that the USS Howard (DDG-83), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, will arrive at the Manila South Harbor for a routine port call this Friday.

The visit highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.

The USS Howard's visit will allow the ship to replenish supplies as well as give the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation.

While in Manila the sailors of the USS Howard are very eager to strengthen their understanding of a country with such strong historical ties to the United States through tours of the city and surrounding historical sites.

The USS Howard is part of the US Pacific Fleet and is homeported in San Diego, California.

She is commanded by Cmdr. David G. Zook and crewed by approximately 300 sailors, of whom about 15 are Filipino-American.

The ship is named in honor of Marine Corps First Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard, a Marine staff non-commissioned officer who led an 18-man reconnaissance patrol in a battle against the Viet Cong in June 1966. Howard was the sixth Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest US honor for heroism in combat in Vietnam.

Army troops hunting NPA rebels who torched mining equipment in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Army troops hunting NPA rebels who torched mining equipment in Compostela Valley

Troopers from the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division are now pursuing a New People's Army (NPA) band who torched the equipment of a mining firm in Barangay Masara, Maco, Compostela Valley province on Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Ernesto Carolina, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the unprovoked attack against the motorpool of the Apex Mining Company and Atlas Cooperative transpired at around 2:30 p.m.

He added that a force of 25 to 30 rebels barged into the compound and burned 21 units of mining equipment consisting of drilling machines, backhoes, loaders, cement mixers and vehicles.

Carolina said there were no reported casualties.

VP Binay to Marines: PHL no pushover, will defend territories 'to the last blood'

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): VP Binay to Marines: PHL no pushover, will defend territories 'to the last blood'

Vice President Jejomar Binay said Thursday evening that the Philippines is no "pushover" and will defend its disputed territories to the last blood, but only after all peaceful means have been exhausted.

"Up to the last blood. I think that must be our position. That we are ready to die up to the last blood," Binay told reporters after Philippine Marines manning the Ayungin Shoal made a courtesy call Thursday. "But as much as possible, we will always resort to peaceful means."

1st Lt. Mike C. Pelotera, TSgt. Julio Ventoza, Pfc. Mario Gerlene Pajarillo, Cpl. Rogelio Tabilisma, TSgt. Joselito D. Panganiban and Sgt. Edwin Galvan, members of the "Ayungin 9," met with Binay to relate their experiences at the BRP Sierra Madre stationed at the disputed shoal.

The other members who were unable to meet with Binay are Pfc. Ryan Esteban, Sgt. Rey Sarmiento, and Cpl. Sheffrey T. Luna.

The "Ayungin 9" was replaced by fresh troops during the March 29 mission twice blocked by Chinese vessels.

According to Binay, the fact that the Philippine Navy was able to send replacements to defend the shoal sends the message that the Philippines will always assert its sovereignty.

The Vice President also expressed his pride at the actions of his fellow Marines, adding that all Filipinos should be "very proud" of their heroism. Binay is a reserve Marine colonel.

"Kita mo naman iyong sacrifice doon. Katulad nito five months ito na-delay pa, dapat three months lang. Pero sabi nga, sundalo ay sundalo. Walang iyakan. I think when they were assigned there, that was in compliance with the order, so the order must have to be defended by all means," he said.

Binay also expressed hope that relations between the Philippines and China will continue even while the issue of sovereignty over the territories is being resolved. He acknowledged that the resolution of the issue will take time.

AFP hosts Summer Peace Camp

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): AFP hosts Summer Peace Camp

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in partnership with Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM) and Junior Chamber International (JCI)–Manila, will host this year’s Summer Peace Camp.

The event started Friday.

The AFP recognized the importance of teaching peace in the formative years of a child and integrating an inter-generational approach on peace building, supports the vision of having a peaceful society where young generations of different faiths, cultures, and ethnic groups work together to build a culture of peace and promote peace as a way of life, military public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

He added that this year the TPBPM and JCI-Manila will join together on a project that would reach out and educate children on values contributing to peace.

One of its major projects is the Summer Peace Camp which will be attended by groups of Christians, Muslims, Badjaos, Dumagats, and Aetas ages 9 to 13.

Zagala said the activity is aimed toward building a culture of peace among the younger generations and empowering the children and youth to be peace builders and peace heroes.

Anchored with the theme “The Culture of Peace Adventure,” the Summer Peace Camp will teach the concept of peace through music, theater, sports, and being stewards of the environment.

It will revolve on educating the children about inter-religious, inter-cultural, and inter-generational understanding and unity among the Filipinos from diverse background.

Zagala said the AFP will participate in this noble and worthy endeavor as it is in line with the objective of strengthening the peace program support to the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) "Bayanihan", especially from the Muslim and Indigenous People’s communities.

Obama PHL visit set April 28 - 29

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): Obama PHL visit set April 28 - 29

US President Barack Obama is slated to visit the country on April 28 and 29, Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia announced on Friday.

Cusia said specific details of the visit – the first by an American President in 11 years – are still being fleshed out but noted it is expected that areas on defense and security, economy, trade and people-to-people exchange will be taken up in a meeting between Obama and President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Obama will also be visiting Japan, South Korea, Malaysia ahead of the Philippines.

“It will be a working visit,” said Cuisia who was invited to speak before a dialogue with the Makati Business Club and Management Association of the Philippines in Makati City.

Obama’s schedule will be very tight and chances of him visiting the typhoon-ravaged Visayas region like what his Secretary of State John Kerry did in December last year will not take place.

"He has very limited time,"Cuisia said.

The US President, he added, will not be travelling with his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, as well.

Obama’s visit will take place at a time its defense ally, the Philippines, is embroiled in tense maritime row with China, whose sprawling claims in the South China Sea eats into Manila’s territory.

Obama is seen to re-affirm US support for the Philippines and renew its commitments under a 1951 military treaty that it will defend Manila against aggression even in the South China Sea.

Both countries are finalizing an agreement that will increase a rotational presence of American troops to the Philippines and grant them, their equipment, naval vessels and aircraft access to Philippine military bases.

“It will be beneficial both to the Philippines and the United States,” Cuisia said.

The Philippines said a greater US presence will help the country build a minimum credible defense posture amid belligerent Chinese actions in the South China Sea, where Chinese government vessels encroach on areas within Manila’s exclusive economic zone that form part of the West Philippine Sea.

PN completes last stage of institutionalization

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): PN completes last stage of institutionalization

The Philippine Navy announced on Friday that it is the first branch of the military to complete the last stage of institutionalization under the Public Governance System (PGS) Pathway of the Institute for Solidarity of Asia (ISA).

Institutionalized Stage was attained through Public Revalidation wherein PN flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis M. Alano presented before the panel organized by ISA how the PN achieved breakthrough results through the years of implementing the PN Sail Plan under the PGS.

Since its launching in 2008, the PN Strategic Sail Plan 2020 consistently achieves milestones that brings the Navy to a higher level of operational effectiveness and enables a more efficient delivery of services to its stakeholders.

Among the PN Sail Plan Breakthrough Results are One-Stop Shop Clearance System, ISO 9001 Certifications, Establishment and Enhancement of Coast Watch System, Linking Budget to Strategy: Formulation of Annual Plan and Budget (APB) Software and Creation of Civil Military Operations Plan to support peace process and strengthen engagement with external stakeholders.

The PN is the first Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) branch of Service and second National Government Agency to reach the fourth and final stage of the PGS Pathway.

The PGS Pathway has four stages, namely: Initiated, Compliant, Proficient, and Institutionalized.

In March 2008, the PN was granted the Initiated Status upon satisfying its requirements of creating a Charter Statement, Strategy Map and Balanced Scorecard (BSC).

After two years, the PN reached the Compliant and Proficient Status in March 2010 and September 2010, respectively.

In these stages, the PN was able to establish initial alignment of its budget with the Sail Plan as well as to cascade the Flag-Officer-In-Command’s BSC to second-level PN units.

It also instituted its multi-sectoral governance coalition known as the PN Board of Advisers (BOA) and established its Office of Strategy Management (OSM) which is the Center for Naval Leadership and Excellence (CNLE).

PN sends delegates to Japan for staff-to-staff talks

From the Philippine New Agency (Apr 11): PN sends delegates to Japan for staff-to-staff talks
The Philippine Navy (PN) on Friday announced that it has sent a contingent to Japan to participate in staff-to-staff talks with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Navy spokesperson, said this deployment is in response to the invitation of JMSDF chief-of-staff Admiral Katsotoshi Kawano.

He added that the 3rd PN–JMSDF staff-to-staff talks will last from April 8 to 11.

During the talks, topics on security environment, defense policy and build-up defense program, strategy and activities and defense exchange program will be discussed by the participants.

Lessons learned during the disaster relief and rescue operations following super typhoon "Yolanda" will also be discussed.

The PN–JMSDF staff-to-staff talks is conducted to strengthen bilateral relations and discuss matters that will increase the degree of cooperation, promote mutual understanding, trust and contribute stability in the Asia-Pacific Region.

In October 2012, the PN hosted the 2nd PN–JMSDF staff-to-staff talks in Manila.

The talk focused on the terms of the Defense Cooperation and Exchanges (DCE) between the Department of National Defense of the Philippines and the Ministry of Defense of Japan as signed by DND Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and MOD Minister Satoshi Morimoto on July 02, 2012.

The DCE covers the various defense exchanges such as working level exchanges, education and research exchanges, capacity building, exchange of information, multilateral cooperation and other forms of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon by both countries.

MNLF Chairman Alonto calls on Muslim brothers, sisters especially the Misuari faction to support CAB as they abandon the four-decades old war

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11): MNLF Chairman Alonto calls on Muslim brothers, sisters especially the Misuari faction to support CAB as they abandon the four-decades old war

The chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front on Friday calls on his Muslim brothers who are having second thoughts on the signed Comprehensive Agreement for Bangsamoro (CAB) to join them push for peace and ending the four decades-old war in Mindanao.

Ambassador Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Chairman of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said disgruntled Misuari faction should not have a second thought of joining them to this journey by putting a closure to the nonsense Mindanao war which have prove no winners.

“We like to call on all our MNLF brothers and sisters, in whatever breakaway group they may be, particularly in the Misuari faction and the Arroyo administration-sponsored Committee of 15 to stand in unity with the dominant and recognized, reconsolidated and revitalized MNLF at this crucial juncture of our history as a people,” Alonto told reporters at the weekly forum, Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt.

According to Alonto, “whatever mistakes were committed along the way, be they real or perceived, which will have its own due process, be taken as part of the long but seemingly endless journey.”

“We all have rendered sacrifice and service to the Bangsamoro dream. To quote from the wise, a Saint has a past and a Sinner has a future,” Alonto noted.

He said this declaration is a testimony of the solidarity of the veterans of the Mindanao war, the Bangsamoro Army and the original MNLF Central Committee which stayed put and fought in Mindanao and our people who believed and supported the Bangsamoro cause.

“Our body may no longer be as youthful, but just as we have given up our personal aspirations in life in the spring time of our youth, which to us is the best years of our lives but to some Brothers their last, for our oppressed people, the liberation of our homeland and the restoration of our freedom, sovereignty and independence, all for the pleasure of Allah, so we are ready to rededicate the sunset of our years to the fruition of the Bangsamoro dream . . after all there are only two alternatives left for us, victory and martyrdom,” Alonto emphasized.

NPA rebels burn 20 vehicles, equipment of mining firm

From Rappler (Apr 11): NPA rebels burn 20 vehicles, equipment of mining firm

Armed men raid 5 facilities of the Apex mining complex in Maco, Compostela Valley

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Around 100 suspected communist rebels on Thursday, April 10, attacked a mining company in Maco, Compostela Valley, burning at least 20 vehicles and heavy equipment, according to police and military reports.

The armed men appeared to have simultaneously raided 5 facilities in the massive mining complex, according to the latest report from Capt Ernest Carolina, spokesman of the military's 10th Infantry Division, on Friday, April 11. (Editor's note: We published an initial report on this incident Thursday night, April 10)

At the compound's motor pool, the rebels burned a Toyota Hilux, an underground loader, one backhoe loader, one boom-truck and one self-loading truck, Carolina said.

At the Level Four office, a Toyota Fortuner, 2 pick-up trucks and one underground loader were also destroyed. One dump truck and one loader were torched at the Barabadan facility, while in Maligay, the rebels destroyed two drilling equipment and one shotcrete machine.

Carolina added that two dump trucks, two drilling equipment, two loaders, one mixer machine and 10 cap lamps were burned at the Level 840 facility of the mining company.

Target: Mining

The guerrillas are said to belong to the Pulang Bagani Company 3 of the communist New People's Army (NPA) led by a certain Ka Lando.

The suspects fled towards an unknown direction. No casualties were reported.

Police stations in the area remained on alert.

Guerrillas have attacked mining companies in the past. But they have also extorted from them.

Compostela Valley is one of the remaining bailiwicks of the NPA, whose suspected political leader, Benito Tiamzon, was arrested last month.