Monday, April 14, 2014

Armed men attack LGU outpost in Surigao

From GMA News (Apr 15): Armed men attack LGU outpost in Surigao

Armed men attacked a local government unit outpost in Surigao del Sur on Sunday and burned a backhoe before fleeing, local police said Tuesday.

In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Barobo Police Station's investigator PO3 Val Warren Polancos said the incident occurred at around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The three armed men attacked the outpost at Purok-1 Diversion Road in Barangay Poblacion in Barobo town, Bombo Radyo reported.

Citing initial information from police, the report said the men set fire to an Orange Caterpillar PC200 Backhoe (body number 2229) owned by Laurence Ting of L.C. Ting Construction based in Butuan.

During the attack, the men also fired at the outpost and removed streamers reportedly containing slogans against the communist New People's Army (NPA).

The men, who rode on a motorcycle, also destroyed the LGU's tariff tarpaulins.

Polancos said they have yet to identify the suspects, nor the motive of the incident. "Hindi pa sigurado kung NPA nga o nanggugulo lang, pero inaalam pa," he added.

Army: NPAs turn into 'bandits on the loose'

From Solar News (Apr 15): Army: NPAs turn into 'bandits on the loose'

Various units of the New People’s Army (NPA) have resorted to banditry – burning three mining equipment in Mindanao and one in Luzon – following the arrest of their leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

The said incidents, which happened last April 5, 7, 10, and 11, have thus earned these rebels the tag “bandits on the loose” by the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army here.
Capt. Christian Uy, spokesman of the 4ID, said Phil Astron Mining Company in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd., and Apex Mining in Compostela Valley and Freeport McMoran-Phelps Dodge in Ilocos Sur were among the companies whose equipment were burned by the communists armed-wing.
He said with their paralyzed centralized logistics, the rebels have no other means to sustain their organization but to extort from mining firms.  
As these developed, 37 members of Tribal Solid Mass Organization (MASSO) named “Umayam Kawilihan” and members of the Militia ng Bayan under a certain datu of Manobo tribe in CARAGA region voluntarily surrendered Monday morning to 4ID’s 26th Infantry Battalion at Talacogon, Agusan del Sur.
The members of the organization also surrendered 36 firearms and war materials consisting of two carbines, one M-79 grenade launcher, six shotguns, 12 caliber .38 revolvers, 12 Magnum .357 revolvers, two caliber .22 revolvers, one improvised explosive device (IED), one rifle grenade, and one base radio.
Uy said this has been the third batch of mass surrenderees in the 4ID in the last six months. The first was on October 30 last year with 35 former NPA members laying down 42 firearms, followed by last March with 72 former NPA regulars giving up 69 firearms for a total of 144 NPA rebels and 144 firearms.
There was also another group of 13 former rebels who surrendered recently in Compostela Valley to 10th Infantry Division, according to Uy.
Major Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 4ID, said: “The trend in the turn of events in the area of 4ID and other areas in the country only shows the uncontrolled sub-units of the NPA, basically because no one is really leading them. These NPAs are staging sabotage to extort without regard to the effects to the economy of the country which will in turn bring hardship most especially to the ordinary citizen of the country. As I have mentioned before, we will continue accommodating those rebels who would opt to join the mainstream society to enjoy peaceful life with their families."
Visaya likewise reiterates his order to all units of 4ID to continue their combat operation without let-ups to ensure that those rebels who opted to stay in the mountains will not have an easy life by creating havoc and harassing people purposely to extort money and solicit forced cooperation.

1 killed, 5 hurt in shooting

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 15): 1 killed, 5 hurt in shooting

A shooting spree in Brgy. Tan-awan, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, involving five unidentified suspects, claimed the life of a person linked to illegal activities, and caused injuries to five others, Saturday.

Police chief Supt. Salvador Dagoon said yesterday that the victim, identified as Leo Arante, who is reportedly linked to illegal activities, succumbed to 10 gunshot wounds.

Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, acting provincial police director of Negros Occidental, said they have received reports that the suspects are members of the New People’s Army, and that the killing was ordered by the leadership of the rebel group.

Lirazan, however, said they are still validating if, indeed, the NPA was involved in the shooting incident.

Five other civilians, one of whom was allegedly used as a human shield by one of the gunmen, were hit by stray bullets, initial investigations of the Kabankalan police showed.

Injured were Bjormaine Palma, 9, and Ada Pitonga, 8, Jessie Ramos, 16, Shermelin Palma,39, and Ramonito Prado,59. All are now in stable condition, Dago-on said.

Personal grudges are being eyed as the motive for the killing of Arante.

Lirazan said Arante was linked to a series of robbery-hold-up incidents in the area.

Kabankalan policemen, who responded to the incident, recovered eight spent shells of a .45 caliber pistol.

Arante was initially shot at a coffee shop on Saturday in the barangay, that was celebrating its fiesta. The victim, who was chased by the armed suspects, was able to survive the first shot, run and seek refuge at the house of Prado.

While chasing Arante, the gunmen fired at him, hitting some civilians, Dago-on said.
The victim was later cornered at the house of Prado, he added.

One of the gunmen used a minor as a human shield, after shooting the victim, Dago-on also said.

Dago-on and the Kabankalan police probers went to Brgy. Tan-awan, which is about 15 kilometers away from the poblacion of Kabankalan yesterday to get the testimonies of the witnesses.

240 families flee Tipo-Tipo due to military clearing ops vs Abu Sayyaf

From InterAksyon (Apr 15): 240 families flee Tipo-Tipo due to military clearing ops vs Abu Sayyaf

Some 240 families have fled Tipo-Tipo in Basilan for fear of being caught in the crossfire due to the military clearing operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Barangays Silangkong and Baguindan have become ghost towns, said Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Alamia.

The 173 families from Silangkong and the 75 families from Baguindan are now staying in evacuation centers, she said.

In relation to this, the ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action Respose Team will look into the conditions of the evacuees and are set to bring them relief goods.

The 10-man team of ARMM HEART is set to leave for Basilan today for a two-day relief operation carrying 400 food packs of rice, canned goods, and noodles.

Since a few days ago, several soldiers have been wounded and some ASG casualties have been monitored due to the military operations launched against the ASG and its increased kidnapping activities.

This has prompted ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman to call on the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to help the authorities stop the menace of kidnapping in the island-province of Basilan and the rest of Mindanao.

Hataman hopes the peace and order situation in ARMM will improve before the Bangsamoro government takes over.

The ARMM leadership also urged the region’s residents to help fight those who are sowing violence.

NPAs violate human rights anew

Posted to Samar News (Apr 4): NPAs violate human rights anew

  CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, SamarNew People’s Army violated human rights anew when it abducted and killed a former New People’s Army at Brgy. Magdawat Pinabacdao, Samar on March 9, 2014.

Based on the report from Lt Col William P. Peñafiel Jr., the Commanding officer of the 52nd Infantry (CAFGU) Battalion based at Brgy. Caticugan, Sta Rita, Samar, Allan Rafales, called aka “Benny” a former rebel was forcibly taken by NPA insurgents around 9 a.m. on March 9, 2014. It was reported that aka “Benny” was participating in a Pintakasi or cockfighting event at Brgy. Magdawat when he was kidnapped. His lifeless body was found around 5p.m. of the same day.

Aka “Benny” surrendered to the 52nd Infantry (CAFGU) Battalion on January 6, 2012, as he wanted to start a new life with his family. After receiving his benefits from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process of OPAPP, he was released from the custody of 52IB and went home to Sitio Canlobo, Pinabacdao, Samar purposely to cultivate a small lot as augmentation to support his family, until that fateful day when he was killed by the rebels.

When members of his family were reached out, they confirmed that their father was forcibly taken and killed by the rebels, but they were not around when the crime happened. It was only relayed to them by their relatives. They added that, their father was vent on starting a new life, but it was cut short by the rebels when they killed him.

The case of aka “Benny” is just one of the crimes against humanity that the NPA rebels have been doing for the past 45 years. They are saying that they are the defenders and protectors of the rights of the poor yet they are doing otherwise. How many more aka “Benny” will the rebels kill? How many more children will be orphaned because the NPAs do not want their fathers to lead a normal and peaceful life for their families

Maj Gen Jet B. Velarmino AFP, the Commander of the 8th Infantry Division 7777 “For almost 45 years, many Filipinos have been victims of NPA operations. We enjoin everyone to condemn in strongest terms the violence and killings the rebels are perpetrating.

“The use of armed struggle to attain political ends is not acceptable to the Filipino people and has no place in a civilized and democratic society. It is a thing of the past as it will only bring misery and poverty among our people. Let us then give peace a chance and not resort to violence to attain political ends as the NPA is advocating,” he added.

MSU graduates urge to play role in successful implementation of CAB

Posted to the MILF Website (Apr 14): MSU graduates urge to play role in successful implementation of CAB

“In making MSU a world-class university, and for successful implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro as well as the making of a new Bangsamoro entity, you as graduates of this great institution have important roles to play, stand up and be counted”, Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga, Executive Director of Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) and member of the MILF Peace Panel told the graduates of the Mindanao State University during their 49th baccalaureate services at the university main campus in Marawi City last April 9.
Prof. Lingga, guest speaker during the baccalaureate services also told the graduates that the CAB and the Bangsamoro Government that will be entrenched are not for the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) Front but for the entire Bangsamoro people.

As young graduates, Prof. Lingga said, they have many things to offer in building a successful Bangsamoro entity – they have the ideals, innovative and creative ideas and capacity to think outside the box.

He also urged MSU to play active role in the building of a new Bangsamoro.

Specifically, he mentioned policy formulations on governance and the exercise of the 58 exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro Government and to provide trainings for the human resource needs of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and the regular Bangsamoro Government where MSU can contribute so much.

The CAB is a unique approach to resolve the decades’ old armed conflict between the Bangsamoro people and the Philippine Government. “The CAB is all about system change and building of institutions to support the new political and economic arrangements for the Bangsamoro”, Prof. Lingga said.

Prof. Lingga also told the graduates that successful implementation of the CAB will not only end the armed conflict but will usher in a new era in the Bangsamoro homeland where there will be no more evacuees, no more Bangsamoro children out of school, no Bangsamoro will die without seeing a doctor, and no Bangsamoro will go hungry. In the new era every Bangsamoro will be free from fear of violence, and free to exercise his/her democratic rights. The young Bangsamoro will have the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial activities that will drive the Bangsamoro economy towards growth and prosperity.

A successful Bangsamoro Government will certainly bolster the bid of MSU for world-class status.

Meanwhile, MSU President Macapado A. Muslim informed Prof. Lingga that MSU is organizing a national academic conference in May that will be focused on what should be done to make the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro work. Dr. Muslim said that the CAB is a “superb peace formula to resolve the Mindanao conflict.”  

Among the 1,795 graduates 17 graduated magna cum laude, 81 cum laude and 13 with honors.

MILF: Central Mindanao youth convene to help shape a better Bangsamoro

Posted to the MILF Website (Apr 14): Central Mindanao youth convene to help shape a better Bangsamoro

About a hundred youth leaders comprised of Moro, Indigenous People and Christians from Central Mindanao gathered in the recent Bangsamoro Youth Peace Summit to understand deeply the Bangsamoro situation and their role in supporting the peace agreement and the envisioned Bangsamoro government.
The activity, held at the Pacific Heights in Cotabato City on April 6 to 8, 2014, provided an opportunity to the delegates to learn more about the history of Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination, values formation, peace-building, and human rights advocacy.

Spearheaded by the Young Advocates for Peace and Development Network (YAPDN), the activity was realized with the support of partners namely International Organization for Migration, Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

In his inspirational message, BDA Executive Director Dr. Mohamad S. Yacob cited the youth as one of the important sectors of society.

He said the energy of the youth and wisdom of the elderly when mixed together makes a society progressive and sustainable.

Abdulbasit Benito, Chairman of Mindanao Human Rights Action Center, tackled the Role of Moro Youth in Human Rights Advocacy.

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development,” he said.

He added that human rights documentation, culture, passive and apolitical and having no sustained Moro human rights groups are the challenges in the past faced that need to be addressed.

Benito enjoined the youth to be active in human rights advocacy so that “the culture of impunity will not perpetuate in the Bangsamoro homeland.”

Among the highlights of the activity was the consultation of the BTC which also provided inputs on how the delegates could effectively participate in the realization of the establishment of Bangsamoro government.

Engr. Mohajirin Ali from the BTC narrated the roadmap of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He explained the Annexes of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the addendum on Bangsamoro waters.

The delegates underwent workshop on Bangsamoro Community Visioning whose outputs will be integrated in the formulation of Bangsamoro Development Plan.

Thanking the summit organizers, an IP participant said, “It's an opportune time for the participants to be equipped with knowledge and skills they needed. We feel honored to be part of this historic activity.”

“This is the ideal time for all of the Bangsamoro to work hand in hand to achieve one goal,  that is to change the status quo. We must commit ourselves in this gigantic task and the challenge is on for all of us," YAPDN President Morsidin Husain said in his message to the participants.

He said one of YAPDN's thrusts is to explore innovative programs and services towards sustainable human development taking into consideration the value of partnership and complementation.

Husain pointed out, “Let us bind ourselves with purity of intention because everyone plays a vital role in building the future for Bangsamoro.”

YAPDN also appreciated the overwhelming support of other agencies such as Health Organization of Mindanao, Coordinating Development Office-Bangsamoro Youth Affairs and the Bureau of Public Information of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as well as the forty (40) youth organizations and non-government organization which comprised the 104 participants.

The host organization further thanked the International Organization for Migration (OIM) for its sponsorship on the youth peace summit.

The participants expressed their commitment to support the peace agreement and the upcoming Bangsamoro government for the better future of the people in the homeland.

Incomplete Bangsamoro draft law sent to Aquino

From Rappler (Apr 15): Incomplete Bangsamoro draft law sent to Aquino

A transition commission pressed for time submits a draft law without the parts on the police structure for the political entity, automatic block grants, special development fund, and Bangsamoro waters

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) submitted to Malacañang a draft law for the proposed Bangsamoro political entity on Monday afternoon, April 14, but it's incomplete.

In an ambush interview at Mendiola before his scheduled meeting with Undersecretary Mike Musngi in Malacañang, BTC chairman Mohagher Iqbal admitted that the partial draft has yet to incorporate details on:
These documents would be submitted afterwards, Iqbal said.
Malacañang confirmed it received the partial draft at around 7:45 pm Monday.

The draft law will be reviewed by the Office of the President before it is transmitted to Congress and certified as urgent by the President.
Watch this video below:

[Video: Incomplete Bangsamoro draft law sent to Aquino
This sets the stage for the second phase of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is an equally difficult one: congressional approval of a planned political structure that aims to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and a plebiscite after to determine which towns or provinces would be under its control.
[Video: Iqbal: Draft basic law submitted to Malacañang not yet complete]

The first phase was last month's signing of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF, which aims to end more than 4 decades of armed conflict in Mindanao.
But the process continues to face challenges.

Friction within BTC?
A source privy to BTC matters said some commissioners nominated by the government were not satisfied with how the affairs of the MILF-dominated BTC were being conducted.

Some commissioners were complaining that some protocols set by the commission in the drafting of the law were not being followed, the same source said.
For instance, the partial draft submitted to Malacañang had yet to be signed by all members of the commission since it is not yet complete.

In a Mindanews report, Iqbal, who also served as the chief negotiator of the MILF during the peace talks, denied that the Bangsamoro Basic Law was being railroaded.
“Hindi naman (No). Do you think the commissioners will agree to a railroad?” he told MindaNews.

Iqbal did not respond to Rappler's text asking whether the initial draft of the basic law will be released to the public.
Upon missing its self-imposed deadline to submit the draft on March 31 - just 4 days after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro – the BTC released a statement saying it has "established a working arrangement with the Office of the President" on the submission of the draft.

On proposals to amend Constitution
Under the final peace pact and Executive Order 120, the BTC is allowed to recommend amendments to the 1987 Constitution "whenever necessary."

Iqbal said the BTC has agreed to submit a separate document for provisions that would require constitutional amendments.
"There is now a consensus among the commission of the BTC that there would a separate paper for those that would require amending the constitution but the draft would be a separate document," Iqbal said.

It remains to be seen how the proposed amendments will be incorporated in the draft law to be submitted to Congress. Already, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago considers the peace agreement illegal.
Malacañang said it hopes to finish evaluating the draft law when Congress resumes session by May.

Both the government and the MILF hope to install the new Bangsamoro government by 2016, before the President steps down.

PH won’t ban nuke-capable US ships under pact

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 14): PH won’t ban nuke-capable US ships under pact

Malacañang said nuclear-capable vessels of the United States will not be banned from entering the country under the proposed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between Manila and Washington.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said what the 1987 Constitution specifically bans is the entry of vessels carrying nuclear weapons.

“You have to draw the distinction between nuclear-capable as those carrying nuclear weapons because the distinction is very obvious in the Constitution,” Valte said.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia said all forms of nuclear weapons will be prohibited in the country under the EDCA in accordance with the Constitution.

Last year, the Palace had to explain to the public that the docking in Subic of the USS Cheyenne, a nuclear-powered submarine, did not violate the Constitution.

The USS Cheyenne made a port of call in February 2013 for a “routine ship replenishment.”

Over the weekend, a Palace official said President Benigno Aquino III will use the 1987 Constitution as well as the national interest in reviewing the EDCA draft once it is submitted by the Philippine negotiating panel led by Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma also denied that both sides are rushing the agreement to time the signing during the visit of United States President Barack Obama, tentatively on April 28.

“There is no deadline for the signing of the agreement. What’s important is that this pact must reflect the highest interest of our country in terms of national defense,” Coloma said.

Cuisia earlier disclosed that the EDCA will only allow the American military to access and use facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines “at the invitation of the Philippines.”

Cuisia said the US will also be required to get the consent of the Philippines as to what they can bring into the country.

But the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan warned that Filipinos must not be fooled into thinking that the US would willingly serve as a counterbalance to China through its Asian pivot without getting the lion’s share from the EDCA.

“The imminent signing of the so-called EDCA will be a gross violation of Philippine sovereignty and the Constitution,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

“The oft-repeated rationale is that we need this agreement with the US to protect ourselves from Chinese incursions. So what Aquino is basically saying is, to protect Filipinos from the neighborhood bully, we’re inviting a rapist inside our house to do as he pleases. That is the implication of this agreement. We’re being told we’re getting a good deal but in fact we’re getting the short end of the stick,” Reyes added.

He said the US cannot be trusted to respect Philippine sovereignty, citing that American troops have “always considered themselves above the laws of their host countries.”

“Everywhere in the world where US troops are stationed, whether as an occupation force, or through foreign bases or military exercises, the problems are the same,” Reyes said.

Abu Sayyaf gunman killed in new clash in Jolo

From GMA News (Apr 14): Abu Sayyaf gunman killed in new clash in Jolo

A Muslim extremist has been killed in fighting between soldiers and Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines, a day after 12 people died in a similar shootout, the military said Sunday.

Troops in the strife-torn island of Jolo were on patrol when they clashed with the Islamist guerrillas on Saturday, said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Zagala.

Intelligence reports indicated that at least three Abu Sayyaf fighters were wounded in the clash, he added.

Government forces on Friday launched an operation in Basilan island, another southern stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, to capture two top leaders of the Al-Qaeda-linked group which is accused of beheadings and kidnappings.

They failed to apprehend either Puruji Indama or Isnilon Hapilon.

Seven Abu Sayyaf fighters, two soldiers and three members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighting on the side of the Philippine military were killed in Friday's violence.

Zagala said Saturday's clashes in Jolo were not related to the operation to capture the two chiefs.

The Abu Sayyaf was set up in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network. It has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country's history including bombings.

Sabah team heading to Mindanao to help free abducted Chinese

From GMA News (Apr 14): Sabah team heading to Mindanao to help free abducted Chinese

A team from Sabah is heading to Mindanao to help free a Chinese tourist abducted, along with a Filipina resort worker, from a floating resort in Sabah last April 2.

The Eastern Sabah Security Command sent a team of officers to southern Philippines for the purpose, Malaysia's Bernama news agency reported late Monday.

Bernama quoted ESSCom head Datuk Mohammad Mentek as saying the agency's officers had held discussions with Filipino intelligence authorities “to find the best way to release the female tourist.”

Mohammad said their findings showed four of the identified suspects involved in the abduction had settled in Semporna without any valid travel documents.

He added three of the four suspects were believed involved in smuggling activities to southern Philippines while another allegedly worked in Semporna town.

Last April 2, armed men believed to be from the Abu Sayyaf bandit group abducted Filipina resort worker Marcelita Dayawan, 40, and Chinese tourist Gao Hua Yuan, 29.

The gunmen had reportedly demanded RM36.4 million (P500 million or $11 million) for Gao's release, though Mohammad said there was no official claim from the abductors so far.

“Maybe there are other parties that are demanding ransoms,” he said.

On the other hand, Mohammad maintained ESSCom never appointed certain individuals to represent it in negotiations for Gao's release.

He also said ESSCom may introduce a standard operating procedure for companies seeking to set up resorts in the state. He said ESSCom would discuss this Tuesday.

MILF, Abu ‘connived’ during Basilan clash

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 15): MILF, Abu ‘connived’ during Basilan clash

At least five Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders and their fighters aided elements of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group who were the subject of military operations in Basilan province last Friday.

The intense firefight lasted for a day, resulting in the deaths of two soldiers and the wounding of 31 others while 18 casualties were reported on the Abu Sayyaf and MILF fighters’ side although not a single body was recovered.

A reliable military source identified MILF personalities involved in the encounter as commanders Parang Pais and Malista Malangka Sapaat, supporters of commanders Hamsa Sapanton, Abbas Salong and Rashid Iklaman.

“They (MILF fighters involved in the clashes) were related to the targeted Abu Sayyaf personalities,” the source said.

The military last Friday launched combat operations against the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama in Unkaya Pukan town.

Other Abu Sayyaf commanders targeted were Nurhasan Jamiri, Bashir Kasaran, Ibrahim Malat.

Another source supported the allegation of involvement of MILF fighters in the latest clash in Basilan.

“That (MILF aiding Abu Sayyaf) cannot be avoided because some, if not most, of Abu Sayyaf fighters, especially those operating in Basilan, are also MILF members or close relatives of MILF members,” the source said.

In fact, the second source stressed, the targeted Abu Sayyaf lair was located only 250 meters from an MILF-identified camp.

“That has become the tactic of the Abu Sayyaf, they establish lairs very near the MILF camps to avoid military operations,” he said.

But Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. denied that MILF elements were involved in the clash that ended Saturday.

“I would say they can be former MILF members who left or former MILF members who broke away from MILF itself and engaged in criminal activities. It’s not correct to say it’s MILF per se. It’s probably individuals on their own accord who are part of these activities,” he said.

Tutaan also cited the coordination between the Army’s 104th Brigade, under Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, and the MILF command in the area under Dan Laksaw Asnawi.

“That is not true. The MILF has not acted on this. In fact, Brigadier General Galvez is in close coordination with the 114th Base Command (of the MILF) as they pursue the operation,” the military official said.

The involvement of elements of the MILF came despite the recent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF which is designed to attain peace in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Malacañang yesterday said both the GRP and the MILF peace panels are aware of the possibility that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law could face scrutiny before the Supreme Court.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law is meant to create a Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Well, some groups have already made known their intention to challenge the Bangsamoro Basic Law perhaps. That has not been passed yet to Congress. The both panels in their negotiations have already had that in mind,” deputy presidential spokesman Abgail Valte told a press briefing. She also stressed that both panels are prepared for these “challenges.”

2 Abu bandits killed, 6 wounded as commandos storm safehouse

From the Business Mirror (Apr 14): 2 Abu bandits killed, 6 wounded as commandos storm safehouse

POLICE commandos stormed a hideout of suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits blamed for kidnappings and extortion, triggering a firefight that led to the killing of two gunmen and the capture of six others, officials said.
Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas, National Police Special Action Force commander, said on Monday his men raided a house Zamboanga City where an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and his followers were believed to be hiding.
A policeman was wounded in the clash that ensued, while three suspected bandits were arrested, Napeñas added in his report to the National Police chief, Director General Alan M. Purisima. Four pistols and three grenades were recovered at the site.
Three other suspected bandits were arrested in a follow- up operation in the city, Napenas said. All six arrested men were taken to the police headquarters in Zamboanga City for interrogation.
On Sunday security forces also captured a wanted Abu Sayyaf gunman during an operation in Basilan province, near Zamboanga City. A day earlier, Marines patrolling a wooded area near a hill in Sulu province’s mountainous Patikul town stumbled on about 30 Abu Sayyaf fighters. An ensuing 30-minute clash killed one militant and wounded an undetermined number of other gunmen, the Marine brigade commander in the area, Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto, said.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for beheadings and deadly bombings, has been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization. It is one of at least three armed Islamic groups outside of a peace deal the government signed last month with the main insurgent group in the south, the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

4 MILF fighters killed in military-ASG clashes

From ABS-CBN (Apr 14): 4 MILF fighters killed in military-ASG clashes

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) First Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar on Monday said 4 MILF fighters were among those killed in the clashes between the military and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Tipo-tipo, Basilan.

Jaafar said the MILF central committee has yet to determine how and why their fighters in Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-tipo were among those attacked by the military.

"Hindi namin alam paanong nadamay ang mga BIAF eh malayong-malayo naman yung kampo ng MILF-BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) sa lugar na kinaroroonan ng mga Abu Sayyaf," he said.

He said a contingent of the MILF-BIAF only retaliated against government troops after they were attacked.

"Nagkaroon ng engkwentro, wala silang nagawa kaya lumaban sila," he said.

Jaafar, however, believes the incident will not affect the current peace talks.

He said they are hoping this will serve as a lesson to the government troops when launching any law enforcement operations.

"Dapat sa susunod, maging maingat na sila...alamin nila kung sino ang inaatake nila... Sana magsilbi itong aral sa kanila lalo pa't may ceasefire agreement tayo."

"Sa tingin ko hindi naman ito makakaapekto ng malaki sa peace talks, pero dapat hindi na ito maulit," he said.

Jaafar said the MILF will hold its own investigation into the incident.

'Tubong-Tubong' project benefits 4 conflict areas in Panay island

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): 'Tubong-Tubong' project benefits 4 conflict areas in Panay island
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office 6 convergence of services “Tubong-Tubong” with Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other various government and non-government organizations will benefit four conflict areas in Panay island.

Tubong-tubong also means "bayanihan" where the agencies pool their resources and complement their programs to benefit local government units (LGUs) in Panay island and the whole of Western Visayas region.

The initial beneficiaries are LGUs of Tapaz, Capiz and Tubungan, Iloilo which were already able to receive livelihood assistance.

Tapaz received on Sept. 3 last year DOLE’s share of P950,000 for the implementation of P1.8 million Abaca Production Project for the 321 indigenous people who are residents of the town.

Tubungan Small Coconut Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative has been recipient of DOLE’s financial assistance in the tune of P997,612 for its Coconut Industry Development Project which is expected to benefit 72 members, 1,500 coconut farmers, 30 members of women’s organization, five persons with disabilities as well as 15 rebel returnees. The assistance was released on March 27, 2014 only.

The other two LGUs identified as “Tubong-Tubong” beneficiaries are Libacao in Aklan and San Remigio in Antique. They are also going to be recipient of the financial and technical support to be extended.

The town of Bingawan town in Iloilo province is also embracing the program as the fifth LGU, if ever.

Suspected NPA men raid mayor’s house in Davao Occidental

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 14): Suspected NPA men raid mayor’s house in Davao Occidental

Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided the house of Mayor Jimmy Joyce of Jose Abad Santos town in Davao Occidental on Sunday morning, carting away firearms.

Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, provincial police director, said some 60 rebels arrived at Joyce’s house in the village of Culaman in Jose Abad Santos town at around 5 a.m. Sunday.

Joyce and his family were not around when the rebels arrived and took at least 11 homemade shotguns before fleeing toward the mountainous area of Barangay Caburan Small.

Lt. Renz Duazo, head of the 73rd Infantry Battalion augmentation team, said the raid could be a diversionary tactic of the NPA as soldiers pursue rebels in nearby Malapatan, Sarangani province.

First Light Armored Cavalry troop is best unit for separate company for Q1

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): First Light Armored Cavalry troop is best unit for separate company for Q1

CAMP MELCHOR DELA CRUZ, GAMU, ISABELA -- The 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (5ID-PA) First Armored Cavalry Troop was adjudged as Best Unit for Separate Company category for the first quarter in a search conducted by the Philippine Army.

Army Sergeant Louie Tamayo of 5ID, Philippine Army armored cavalry troop based here, said that among the seven armored cavalry troop in the country, the first armored cavalry troop of 5ID was adjudged as best among the seven troops.

Sergeant Tamayo said the armored cavalry troop received a total score of 70.18% overall score and adjudged as winner for the first quarter.

Tamayo said that in the last quarter of 2013, his troop was adjudged as second and he is hopeful that in the next quarter of this year, the armored cavalry troop of 5th Infantry Division will be retained in the succeeding quarters.

He said the cooperation of every unit of the army division has resulted in the recognition. The personnel, intelligence, operation, logistic, communication, civil military and training has contributed in the award received by the cavalry troop of the 5th Infantry Division.

2 suspected kidnap-for-ransom gang members killed in Zambo shootout

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): 2 suspected kidnap-for-ransom gang members killed in Zambo shootout

The police have killed in a shootout two suspected kidnap-for-ransom gang members and arrested six others, including a policeman and a barangay official, an official announced Monday.

Four other KFRG members managed to escape while a raiding team member was wounded in the ensuing shootout, according to Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro.

Casimiro said the joint raiding team swooped down the suspects’ safe house around 1:30 a.m. Monday to serve a search warrant issued by the court for violation of Republic Act 10591 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Casimiro said a shootout erupted as the suspects fired at the raiding team that injured Police Officer Carlos Buraig of the Special Action Force (SAF).

Casimiro said they have yet to identify the two suspects who were killed in the shootout.

Six suspects were arrested and they are identified as the following: Mamarin Pilay, 51, the barangay captain of Lakiki, Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte; PO1 Saudi Apion, 35, who is assigned in Lamitan City, Basilan; Alraf Apion, 27; Jakaria Jamani, 22, Allan Abdullah, 29; and, Nasser Siddik, 24.

Casimiro said the raiding team recovered from the suspects’ safe house four caliber .45 pistols with ammunition and three fragmentation grenades.

Casimiro said the group is being linked to three previous kidnappings -- one in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte, and two in this city.

“We are also checking if the group was involved in the kidnapping of Michael Kho,” Casimiro said.

Kho was kidnapped last April 2 in Barangay Poblacion, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

Kho was released around 6 a.m. Sunday in Barangay Labuan, this city.

Casimiro said that the group is reportedly planning to kidnap a high-profile personality at any given opportune time in this city.

He said the suspects are also involved in gunrunning activities but did not further elaborate as investigation is ongoing to determine the extent of the suspects’ operations.

He said that they are still determining whether the suspects have ties with the Abu Sayyaf Group or to any other lawless groups.

He said the presence of the suspects was monitored by the intelligence unit of the police.

Meanwhile, Casimiro said the Special Investigation Unit of the ZCPO is preparing to file appropriate charges against the suspects.

Zambo Norte kidnappers charged; hostage freed

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): Zambo Norte kidnappers charged; hostage freed

Criminal charges have been filed in court against eight people tagged as responsible for the kidnapping of a businessman’s son in Zamboanga del Norte.

Zamboanga del Norte police director Senior Superintendent James Mejia identified the accused as follows: Omar Wahab alias Binday; Jamaruddin Alih alias Boy Takas; Bader Salpuddin; Roger Kalas; and, four other John Does.

Mejia said they were charged for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with no bail recommended before a Court in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping of Michael Kho.

Kho, 27, whose father is a businessman, was seized by the suspects in the evening of last April 1 while he was at the family-owned gasoline station in Barangay Poblacion, Siocon.

Mejia said that except for Wahab, all of the other suspects remain at large.

He said Wahab was arrested in a follow-up operation last April 4 in Barangay Malambunhangin, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

He said that intelligence monitoring and manhunt operation continues in a bid to arrest the other suspects.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro disclosed that Kho was released around 6 a.m. Sunday in Barangay Labuan, west of this city.

Casimiro said that Kho was recovered by his relatives and was rushed to a hospital in this city for the treatment of a slight bullet wound in his chin.

Eastern Mindanao Command welcomes PMA Class of 2017

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): Eastern Mindanao Command welcomes PMA Class of 2017

The Eastern Mindanao Command welcomed the 195 members of Philippine Military Academy Class of 2017 who visited their Davao City headquarters Monday.

Accompanying the cadets were 46 staff and faculty members of the PMA faculty.

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the visit is part of “Southern Cruise” and educational tour of the PMA cadets to various units and installations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

He added the visit aims promote and advertise PMA in the Davao Region in order to recruit the best, brightest and the fittest applicants for the Officers Corps of the AFP.

The cadets and training staff joined the flag raising ceremony of the Eastern Mindanao Command led Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III at the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao parade ground in Davao City.

An arrival honor was also accorded to PMA superintendent Major Gen. Oscar P. Lopez who was among the 46 staff and faculty members.

Among the major activities during the tour will be the launching of Foster Parents Program at the Almendras Gymnasium, Davao City on April 16, that is part of the PMA’s personality and social development program for the cadets that started way back in 1979 in Baguio City.

At the second year of the cadetship, a cadet is adopted by families in the city to give them a “home away from home”, a way of helping PMA mold future leaders of the AFP.

A silent drill exhibitions will also be performed by the cadets on April 15, at 9 a.m., at the parade ground of University of South Eastern Philippines and in Tiongko Field, Ecoland on April 16 at 10 a.m., where residents of the city are invited to watch.

The cadets will also interact with students of some colleges in the city.

During the courtesy call of the cadets to Cruz, the Eastern Mindanao Command urged these students to live up to the Honor Code of the institution.

“The Honor Code must be a way of life even outside the PMA walls,” he added.

Naval center to beef up capability with help of private sector, academe

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): Naval center to beef up capability with help of private sector, academe

In a bid to boosts its capabilities, the Naval Research and Development Center on Monday announced that it will be conducting a "NDRC Triad Meeting" at the Philippine Navy headquarters in Naval Station Jose V. Andrada in Roxas Boulevard, Manila this coming April 16.

Participating in this event is some of the best minds in academe, government agencies, and private industry.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, PN spokesperson, said this iniatiative is part of the collaborative efforts of NRDC's to enhance, beef up its capabilities and “leapfrog” the capability of the organization by collating and applying the best practices, experiences, assets, facilities, and skills these entities have in producing exquisite technological products.

These will be the tools in exploiting available resources in developing our own technological systems to address growing maritime concerns.

Fabic said that the PN thru the leadership of the Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano decided to reactivate the NRDC (formerly the Naval Systems Engineering Center) last April 3, 2013 and strengthen its research and development (RD) capability.

R&D as one of the pillars of the PN’s modernization efforts is making its way through the initiatives of NRDC. With the current trend and advent of technology, absorption of new technologies will pave the way to be at pace with modern technological advancements.

Since its reactivation, the NDRC has already formulated strategies on how it can pull off its mission and vision particularly in carrying out its research activities and projects.

A major highlight of this strategy is involving people from the academe, government agencies, industry and foreign research and development centers.

Fabic said the NRDC will adopt the tripartism concept (concept adopted from DND Defense Technology Research and Industry Development or D-TRID) in linking these entities in the triad, with NRDC as the orchestrator or core integrator of the projects.

Incidentally, the NDRC is headed by Capt. Rommel Jason L. Galang.

The former is sub-unit under's the PN's Naval Sea Systems Command currently commanded by Rear Admiral Leopoldo M. Alano.

The members of the triad invited from the academeare the Far East Air Transport Incorporated University (FEATI), University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and the MAPUA Institute of Technology. From the government agencies are the PCIEERD and MIRDC of the Department of Science and Technology,Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Philippine Aeronautics Development Center (PADC) and the Manila Observatory.

Also invited in this event are the presidents and chief executive officers of selected Industries.

The brightest minds from these entities will comprise the future key players of the major projects that will be undertaken by the NRDC

Fabic said R&D may sound highly technical and complicated but in the real modern world, it is a must undertaking. It is an element which will pull and identify the organization as one of the credible AFP units in securing our maritime domain.

"The Philippine Navy never rest on its laurels in pursuing its mandate to serve and protect the Filipino nation. With the support and cooperation of the different entities involve, the Naval Research and Development Center is committed in leading the organization at par with modern technological standards," he concluded.

Army Reserve Command to give Pacquiao a Military Merit Medal

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): Army Reserve Command to give Pacquiao a Military Merit Medal

For his convincing win against American boxer Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday (American time), the Army Reserve Command is recommending that Filipino boxing champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao be awarded the Military Merit Medal.

Brig. Gen. Alexis Tamondong on Monday said they have the authority to give Pacquiao this decoration.

Tamondong said the Military Merit Award is in addition to the other honors and awards the Armed Forces headquarters may plan to give the Filipino boxing champion.

The Army Reserve Command chief said this award can be given to Pacquiao during a flag-ceremony event.

However, Tamondong stated the conferment of the medal is dependent on the availability of the boxing icon.

He added that "Pacman" is entitled to such as he is a member of the Army Reserve Command with the rank of lieutenant colonel and does much to promote and honor the country and the reservists cause through his ring-side and charitable activities.

Number of ASG dead in Friday's Basilan encounter now at 18 - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): Number of ASG dead in Friday's Basilan encounter now at 18 - AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday announced that the number of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands killed in the April 11 clash with military units at the boundaries of Unkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo towns, Basilan has now climbed to 18.

As this develops, the number of terrorists wounded in the fighting has now climbed to 14, AFP spokesperson Major Gen. Domingo Tutaan, Jr., said.

He added that soldiers killed in the fray is placed at two with 31 military personnel wounded in the fighting which took place 2:25 a.m. Friday.

Tutaan stated that this information came from Western Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero

"They received reports about several casualties from the ASG. I have talked to him (Guerrero). The reports state that 18 of the ASGs died and 14 were wounded. These are all reports they (have) received from the ground," he added.

The AFP spokesperson, however, said that they are still to recover bodies of the ASG slain in the encounter.

He attributes this to the Muslim custom of retrieving the bodies of their slain companions and burying them immediately.

Tutaan added that the Western Mindanao Command is still continuing its effort against the ASG specifically in the Tipo-Tipo and Al-Barka, Basilan, areas which are known enclaves of the brigands.

The AFP spokesperson also denied reports that Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters reinforced the ASG during the encounter.

"That is not true, the MILF has not acted (this way), in fact Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez of the 104th Infantry Brigade is in close coordination with the (MILF) 114th Base Command as they pursue the ASGs," he added.

Tutaan placed the number of remaining ASG brigands at around 400, of which 25 are under the command of Furuji Indama.

The firefight broke out around 2:25 a.m. after the military encountered ASG men under Puruji Indama, Isnilon Hapilon and Nur Hassan Jamiri in Sitio Pansul, Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo town.

Joint elements of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, Joint Special Operations Unit 2 (JSOU2), and 18th Infantry Battalion were conducting operations to arrest Indama when they engaged the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants.

The operation was launched in response to reports Indama's group threatened and tried to extort P5 million from the contractor of the ongoing Magkawa-Al Barka Road project in the province.

The ASG commander has also been blamed for numerous kidnappings for ransom and terrorist attacks in the Southern Philippines.

Among their victims include former Australian Army soldier Warren Rodwell who was seized December 2011 and released in March 2013.

The military also believed that Indama commanded the beheading of 10 Marines in Basilan in 2007, an ASG attack on Isabela City in April 2010 that left 13 people dead, and the ambush and killing of 19 Amy Special Forces troops in Al-Barka in October 2011.

13 cops involved in Atimonan shooting incident dismissed from service

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): 13 cops involved in Atimonan shooting incident dismissed from service

Thirteen police officers and men who were involved in the so-called Atimonan shooting incident in January 2013 were dismissed from the service, the Philippine National Police said on Monday.

PNP Director General Alan Purisima signed the dismissal order of Supt. Hansel Marantan, Supt. Ramon Balauag, Senior Insp. John Paulo Carracedo; Chief Insp. Grant Gollod; Senior Insp. Timoteo Orig; Senior Police Officer 3 Joselito de Guzman; SPO1s Claro Cataquiz Jr. and Arturo Sarmiento; PO3 Eduardo Oronan; PO2s Nelson Indal and Al Bhazar Jailani; and PO1s Wryan Sardea and Rodel Talento.

The PNP chief affirmed the decision of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) who found the accused liable for serious breach of operational procedure on Jan. 6, 2013.

The accused police personnel faced administrative and criminal charges in connection with the summary execution of 13 men led by suspected gambling financier Vic Siman.

Balauag was among police officers led by Supt. Hanzel Marantan and a group of soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Battalion accused of gunning down Siman’s group on Jan. 6, 2013 in Barangay Lumutan, Atimonan, Quezon.

The Atimonan incident was reported initially as a shootout between joint police and military operatives led by Marantan but was later reinvestigated due to some discrepancies that pointed to a rub-out case.

Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, chief of the PNP-Public Information Office, said two more administrative charges are pending before the IAS against the group of Marantan, including grave misconduct relating to the death of Siman and 12 others.

The second one is grave misconduct which involves Balauag and Carracedo for obstruction of justice reportedly relating to the alleged attempt to cover up the incident.

Sindac said they received report that the group of Marantan will be filing a motion for reconsideration, intended to reverse the dismissal order.

According to IAS, at the course of the investigation, it was found out that there was indeed an operation mapped out against a group of persons supposed to be carrying high-powered firearms from the Bicol region to Manila.

The operation had a go-signal at the leadership of the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) regional police and was actually covered with a Case Operational Plan (COPLAN).

Part of the operation was to set up three layers of checkpoint along a national highway in Atimonan town, with the policemen being backed up by a group of soldiers at the second checkpoint. The distance among the checkpoint areas was some 500 meters.

“The Office of the Chief PNP finds the establishment of the checkpoints as authorized as the same was covered by a COPLAN,” an excerpt of the IAS decision read.

“However, serious irregularity in the performance of duty was committed by the respondents in the conduct thereof,” it added.

By serious irregularity, the IAS findings counted the ways as to why the group of Marantan committed serious irregularities.

First was that the distance between the three checkpoints “is deemed unusual since the personnel manning each layer (checkpoint) could hardly see each other.”

The first checkpoint, manned by Insp. Ferdinand Aguilar, PO3 Benedict Dimayuga, Police Officer 1 Allen Ayobo and Police Officer 1 Bernie de Leon, was set up in Barangay Tanauan in Plaridel town.

The problem, however, was that the checkpoint set up was in violation of the seven-man team rule for each checkpoint and worse, the checkpoint area was beyond the jurisdiction of the five cops. The five policemen were from the Atimonan police while the checkpoint was set up in the nearby Plaridel town.

The third checkpoint was set up in Atimonan town and was manned by Insp. Evaristo San Juan (who is now retired) and two other cops — the setup was also undermanned.

This resulted in the IAS recommendation for a one-rank demotion on Aguilar and Dimayuga from the first checkpoint, and San Juan from the third checkpoint.

The two rookie cops, Ayobo and De Leon, could not be demoted further and as such, were handed with six-month suspension without pay.

Marantan and Balauag were the ones leading the second checkpoint, backed up by soldiers from the local military force. The problem, according to the IAS report, was that they were in civilian clothes.

“Said personnel, as well as the other persons in civilian attire in the area, displaying in full view high- powered arms and actively participating in the conduct of the checkpoint, have in the first place no business to be at the checkpoint, much more participate in its conduct, basically because of their appearance (in civilian clothes and carrying high-powered firearms),” the report read, citing Section 3, Rule 25 of the Police Operational Procedure.

The same report noted that the vehicles used in the second checkpoint were not marked police vehicles, which also violated the rules on setting up of checkpoints.

“The required signages in the checkpoint operation were not complied with,” it added.

It was at the second checkpoint where the alleged rub-out occurred, with the policemen and soldiers accused of peppering the convoy of Siman with bullets.

Marantan, for his part, had claimed that the first shot was fired by the group of Siman, as revealed by the two bullet wounds he suffered during the supposed shootout.

The basic arguments as to who fired the first shot and if the case was a rub-out are now the subject of the criminal case against the group of Marantan, which is separate from the administrative charges handled by the IAS.

The issue of rub-out was further amplified with the allegation that Marantan had all the motive to liquidate Siman allegedly over turf war on illegal gambling operations in Laguna.

Meanwhile, the case of Police Chief Supt. James Melad, former Calabarzon regional director, and Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, who was the director of the Quezon Provincial Police Office, has already been forwarded to the National Police Commission (Napolcom),) Sindac said.

According to Sindac, Melad and De Leon are presidential appointees so the IAS could not act on their case and the Napolcom will now handle their case.

He said that in the meantime that the legal battle will continue, all of them will remain in the Custodial Office where all of them are detained.

Defense deal won’t allow US warships to bring nuclear weapons to PHL --Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 14): Defense deal won’t allow US warships to bring nuclear weapons to PHL --Palace
Malacanang assured on Monday that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDC) agreement between the Philippines and the United States will not allow the US to bring nuclear weapons within the Philippine territory.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a Palace media briefing, made the clarification following the conclusion of the eighth round of negotiations on the agreement last week.

The agreement includes the increased rotational presence of US troops in the country.

Valte said the agreement reached will have to be under the ambit of the 1987 Constitution and the existing framework of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

She added that the Philippine panel has always been “very cognizant” of that aspect of the agreement.

“What I can tell you is that the explicit guidance of the President (Benigno S. Aquino III) is to make sure that the agreement and the negotiations are conducted with strictest compliance with our existing laws,” Valte said.

“Again, with the negotiations, they were very cognizant as well of our limitations, as well as the laws that we have to follow, at least on the Philippine side,” she added.

Nuclear weapons are banned from entering the Philippine territory, according to the 1987 Constitution.

UNTHINKABLE IN THE PAST | Top military execs visit MILF's Camp Darapanan

From InterAksyon (Apr 14): UNTHINKABLE IN THE PAST | Top military execs visit MILF's Camp Darapanan

Unthinkable in the past, high-ranking officials of the 6th Infantry Division stepped inside the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, not in war but in peace.

The visit is to show the military’s support for the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and the growing solidarity between the government soldiers and MILF rebels, said 6th ID Commanding General Romeo Gapuz.

No one wants peace more than soldiers, who risk life and limb every time there’s fighting in Mindanao, said Gapuz.

Also in attendance at the People’s Victory for Peace celebration were the top officials of the Philippine National Police, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the International Monitoring Team, and other local officials.

Gapuz thanked the MILF leaders, headed by MILF Chairman Ustadz Murad Ebrahim at MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar, for the warm welcome at the camp.

The celebration in Camp Darapanan was an initiative of Shariff Aguak Mayor Bai Zahara Upam Ampatuan.

The signing of the agreement will quiet the hearts of the women of Mindanao, especially the wives and daughters of MILF and government fighters, said the mayor.

Those who joined the peace celebration also watched the Pacquiao-Bradley boxing match together at the Sultan Kudarat gym.

SC transfers trial of MNLF members in Zamboanga crisis to Taguig

Posted to InterAksyon (Apr 14): SC transfers trial of MNLF members in Zamboanga crisis to Taguig

The Supreme Court has ordered the transfer of the trial of Moro National Liberation Front leaders and members from Taguig City to Pasig City for security reasons.

The MNLF members are facing charges over their close to month-long incursion into Zamboanga City last September, which triggered fighting with government forces that claimed the lives of more than 200 combatants and civilians, saw more than 10,000 homes and buildings destroyed, and displaced more than 120,000 people.

The en banc ruling dated April 1 adopted the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator and "noted the letter dated March 3, 2014 of Judges Lorifel Lacal Pahimna and Leili Cruz Suarez, Presiding Judges of Branches 69 and 163, respectively, RTC (Regional Trial Court), stationed in Taguig City."

The April 1 resolution amended an earlier one dated October 17 last year granting the request of the Department of Justice to transfer the venue of the cases against leaders and members of the MNLF by changing or transferring the venue of the subject cases from Taguig City to Pasig City.

The new resolution "directed the executive judge of RTC, Pasig City, to conduct the raffle of the subject cases among the courts designated to hear family court cases, namely: Branches 158 and 261 in Pasig City; Branches 69 and 163, stationed in Taguig City; and Branch 162, stationed in San Juan City."

More than 200 members of the MNLF have been charged with rebellion.

Aside from this charge, MNLF founder Nur Misuari, his trusted aide, Habier Malik, who led the foray into Zamboanga City, and several other leading figures have also been charged with “crimes against humanity.

The DOJ has already indicted a total of 280 respondents.

Groups performs songs for peace, environment for the Talaingod war evacuees in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 13): Groups performs songs for peace, environment for the Talaingod war evacuees in Philippines

The group Samahan ng mga Artista at Manunulat para sa Bayan or Sambayan held a cultural night for some 927 Talaingod Manobo evacuees from Davao del Norte province now staying at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound in the southern Philippine city of Davao.

The performances rendered songs calling for peace and the protection of the ancestral land and the environment.

Niel Cervantes, chairperson of Sambayan, said: “What we are witnessing is only a bit of the rich culture and arts of the Lumad through their dances and songs. But more than our performances, this is a night to unite with the roots of our country.”

“Our lumad sisters and brothers here are calling for the pull-out of military troops in their areas after they experienced aerial bombing and many forms of abuse from the soldiers. Any form of aggression upon their land like military operation ultimately destroys their culture,” he added.

Several artists’ groups from Davao also joined the event - the group Kaliwat, in their songs, expressed their solidarity with the evacuees whom the group considered as “the defenders of Pantaron Range,” the source of all our bodies of water in Mindanao, and the Manobos are the ones defending it against its aggressors like the big logging and mining companies.

The group said sung Agila, a song written by Joey Ayala.

Kathara, also one of the performing groups, rendered the traditional Manobo dance. The groups Silab, Jazzistas de Davao, Spiral and Kuntaw likewise performed.

Children evacuees from the Salugpongan Learning Center in Sitio Dulian also performed, singing their school anthem “Salugpongan”, and “Tagumpay nating lahat” popularized by Lea Salonga.

The group Sambayan stated: “We are joining the evacuees in their quest for genuine peace. We believe in peace that is based on justice- it also means respect for human rights and asserting the rights of the lumads to self-determination and their ancestral domain.”

The group is calling for the immediate resumption of the peace talks between the government and communist rebels as it hopes for the approval of significant agenda in the said negotiation particularly on Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.

 Natives (that) fled military offensives in Davao del Norte's Talaingod town enjoy songs by various groups in Davao City in southern Philippines. Two photos sent by Kilab Multimedia to the Mindanao Examiner regional newspaper show young fire performers.